Disneyland Paris,
February 2001
Yesterland Paris at Yesterland.com
 
Earlier this month, I was at Walt Disney World, enjoying Central Florida’s beautiful February weather. I remembered visiting a different Magic Kingdom seven years earlier—one that was much colder. Here, for the first time, are some photos from my first visit to Disneyland Paris.
Werner Weiss, Curator of Yesterland, February 22, 2008    
Disneypland Paris entrance
Guests arrive wearing warm jackets on a cold, drizzly, dreary day.

I didn’t pick the month of February for my first visit to Disneyland Paris for the “refreshing” weather. And I wasn’t trying to avoid crowds (although it worked out that way). I was in Paris on a business trip for my “real job,” and the dates were beyond my control. At the end of the week, I squeezed in a morning of sightseeing in Paris and a whirlwind visit to Disneyland Paris for the rest of the day.

Walt Disney Studios Park under construction
Walt Disney Studios Park was under construction next door.

I didn’t have to decide how to divide my time between the two parks. The March 16, 2002, opening of Walt Disney Studios Park was still over a year away.

I had to be careful as I walked. Although the air was above freezing, the mist sometimes turned to ice on the walkways.

DIsneyland Paris arcades parallel to Main Street
Covered arcades parallel to Main Street, U.S.A. are pleasant and dry.

As I explored Disneyland Paris, I saw how this park benefitted from everything the Disney Imagineers had learned from the three Magic Kingdom parks that preceded it. For example, you know how difficult it can be to get from one end of Main Street to the other at the original Disneyland Park or at Magic Kingdom Park when there’s a parade? At Disneyland Paris, Main Street, U.S.A. has covered arcades behind the stores on each side of the open-air street. That’s also an advantage in poor weather. The arcades are lovely spaces, with all sorts of clever design details.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril at Disneyland Paris
One cast member is all bundled up; another is squeegeeing water.

At Disneyland Paris, Adventureland is a large land. Compared to two Magic Kingdoms in the United States, the location of Frontierland and Adventureland are swapped. There’s no Jungle Cruise, but this Adventureland is home to the most impressive version of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, the not-so-wonderful Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril roller coaster (especially painful backwards), and Adventure Isle, an area to be explored in the tradition of Tom Sawyer Island stateside. What amazed me was how green Adventureland was. The landscapers did a terrific job picking trees and plants that looked downright tropical, despite being in Northern France in February!

Space Mountain at Disneyland Paris
Light attendance on a dreary day means no line for Space Mountain.

The Paris version of Space Mountain is justly famous of its unique design. The ride is credited with giving the financially troubled park a major boost in attendance when it debuted three years after the park’s opening. Space Mountain - De la Terre à la Lune is a very popular ride, but you would not have known it on this lightly attended February day. No Fast Pass needed.

Euro Disneyland Railroad
The Disneyland Railroad making clouds of steam in the cold air.

One of the highlights of my day at Disneyland Paris was the Disneyland Railroad—or the Euro Disneyland Railroad, as the train was still painted. The view from the train was great. The same mist that made the walkways slippery somehow made the scenery from the train into dream-like vistas.

Big Thunder Mountain at Disneyland Paris
Big Thunder Mountain rises on an island in the middle of the river route.

Unlike the trees of Adventureland, those of Frontierland made no attempt to pretend it wasn’t winter. Deciduous trees were leafless, leaving it to the evergreens to provide signs of life. It made for beautiful, wintery riverbanks.

Sidewheeler Molly Brown and sternwheeler Mark Twain
The sidewheeler Molly Brown passes the sternwheeler Mark Twain.

At one point, my train passed the riverboat Molly Brown as it emerged from behind an island. The riverboat Mark Twain was docked for the winter. It felt as if I were a million miles from the sterile office towers of the Le Defense section of Paris, where I had worked that week.

Critter Coral at Disneyland Paris
No people are at Critter Coral—just wet animals.

The Disneyland Railroad passed Frontierland’s Critter Coral. The trees in the background faded into the mist, making them look more distant. Disneyland Paris is a big park. The train track encircles far more acreage than at the original Disneyland Park.

Discoveryland at Disneyland Paris
The wet pavement reflects the lights of Discoveryland.

The mist continued into the night. The wet pavement acted as a mirror reflecting the park’s lights. The familiar music of the Main Street Electrical Parade emanated from the parade route that followed a similar path to the route at the original Disneyland Park.

Balloon sellers at Disneyland Paris
Balloon sellers are bundled up on Main Street, U.S.A.

As the park’s closing time approached, the mist turned into a light rain. Fortunately, the pavement had warmed enough that the water was no longer freezing on the ground.

Disney Village at Disneyland Paris Resort
If you haven’t had enough cold and rain, there’s Disney Village.

I was cold; I was wet; and I was tired. I was facing an hour-long RER commuter train ride back to Le Defense. But that didn’t keep me from exploring Disney Village and four of the resort hotels. My souvenir purchase at Disney’s Newport Bay Club hotel consisted of several pairs of warm socks, with Mickey Mouse embroidered on them.

Disneyland Paris is a beautifully designed park—even on a cold, drizzly, dreary winter day.


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Updated March 17, 2014.

Photo of Disneyland Paris entry gate: Werner Weiss, 2001
Photo of Walt Disney Studios Park under construction: Werner Weiss, 2001
Photo of arcade parallel to Main Street, USA, Disneyland Paris: Werner Weiss, 2001
Photo of Indiana Jones et le Temple du Peril entrance at Disneyland Paris: Werner Weiss, 2001
Photo of Space Mountain loading at Disneyland Paris: Werner Weiss, 2001
Photo of Disneyland Paris locomotive: Werner Weiss, 2001
Photo of Rivers of America, Disneyland Paris: Werner Weiss, 2001
Photo of riverboats at Disneyland Paris: Werner Weiss, 2001
Photo of ranch at Disneyland Paris: Werner Weiss, 2001
Photo of Star Tours at Disneyland Paris: Werner Weiss, 2001
Photo of Main Street at night, Disneyland Paris: Werner Weiss, 2001
Photo of Disney Village at night, Disneyland Paris: Werner Weiss, 2001