July 8, 2016

Vintage Disneyland Paris Photos from 1998

The year was 1998, and it was our first (and I thought only ever) visit to Disneyland Paris. My wife and I had saved quite a bit of money to take our growing family to go see our relatives in California. Then, in a surprise move by British Airways, they opened up the Denver to London market by announcing $99 one way to London. Of course, we quickly called them, explained the opportunity, and waved "Farewell" to California but "Hello" to London and Paris. 

A newly opened and freshly planted Parisian Storybookland.

It was the adventure of a lifetime for our 8, 12, 13, and 14 year old kids. It was for us as well as we love to travel but had always seen a trip to Europe as something that financially would never happen. Of course, God had different plans. It was going to be very tight financially to do this, but due to a windfall business situation, my Mom and Dad sent us a few thousand dollars as a gift! We were on our way to Europe on Delta, who had matched the fares of the competition.

The classic Discoveryland attraction.

Amazing tales were the order of the trip! I won't go into any details here that matter to folks outside our family, but suffice it to say, for Americans in London and Paris, our ten days flew by with one discovery after another. 

Given we had our kids with us, we kept things very family friendly with a few rules as we planned: One museum a day and/or one church a day when we visited either, as many famous kid-friendly sights (Tower of London, etc.) as possible, and for dear old Dad in particular, a trip to Disneyland. Not that the family minded!

It all went off without too much of a hitch- that is until a huge storm made it very difficult to get across the English Channel to France. Eventually, we did about 3 am in the morning but at the cost of losing our lunch reservation at the cheapest restaurant at the Eiffel Tower by an hour. (Still a splurge, though! We did get to the top of the Tower later in the week, standing in line next to a family from Cuba. What a treat to meet so many people from different parts of the world.)

The three oldest kids got to ride Space Mountain with Dad. 
The youngest was two inches too short, 
so he settled for Autopia with Mom.

As a Disney park freak, I loved absolutely everything about Disneyland Paris! The incredible and unique Le Visionarium was a favorite as well as the dragon in the castle's dungeon, the stunning new Space Mountain, the Nautilus, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and my favorite version of Pirates of the Caribbean. It's an old family joke now that the castle was "boxed up" for repairs, but at the time I was a bit disappointed.

We all returned home happily exhausted. Mom and Dad determined to return to Europe without the kids one day, and we would do so in 2007 to celebrate our 25th anniversary. (Trip report here.) Nor did we realize we would do it again in 2013 and 2014 due to a business trip I needed to take. (Oops- I just realized I never did finish that series on our 2014 trip to Switzerland and the South of France. No Disneyland Paris at all then.) Together, that's meant three trips to Disneyland Paris in three different seasons and in three different decades. God never ceases to amaze me... 

The kids are much older now with families of their own, but they still talk about this trip! As do we with very fond memories and a few laughs.

(Photographs copyright Mark Taft.)


Prescott Ryker said...

What a wonderful trip. My wife got to go in 1999, and we ended up going together in 2000. It is a beautiful park. At the time I had only been to Disneyland, and well many,many times having grown up in Los Angeles and having wanting trips to Disneyland in lieu of birthday parties while a kid.

At the time my impression of it was like how I might perceive Disneyland in a dream...everything overall is familiar but the details were fuzzy. I remember they used landscaping in very clever ways to break up the generous walkways, and well to hide that there were not as many attractions? Disneyland spoils you with it's density...having now been to Walt Disney World I appreciate how they pack so many attractions in at the original park.

We went on an afternoon discount ticket and since in the summer in Paris the sun stays out til 11 PM, well we didn't feel like it was only half a day. But we concentrated only on the stuff we knew to be "different"- Space Mountain, the Nautilus, The Indiana Jones Coaster and just taking in the ambiance. I regret not going to Pirates, Phantom Manor, & Big Thunder- not realizing at the time how unique the French versions are. At the time the Electrical Parade had been discontinued from Anaheim to much fanfare and so I took special pleasure at seeing it there in Paris, but they ended up bringing it back to the states afterall.

Having now been to Magic Kingdom several times now I see how well the Imagineers managed to split the difference between the Anaheim & Florida Castle Parks with Paris. It manages to be as spectacular as FLorida, but not as overwhelming in scale(even though it's bigger, right?) and yet it packs in as much charm and detail as the California park. Simply a beautiful place, I hope to see it again someday, to stay on property and to really spend a few days taking everything in.

Sorry to go on so long, but I loved your post, and it brought back such fond memories.

Mark Taft said...

Thank you for a great reply! There's many posts and photos on DLP here. Enjoy! And thanks for reading!