It might not have always received the most favourable reviews, but reveals there’s plenty to like about Disneyland in Paris. WORDS: Tom Benson
Walt Disney once said the way to get started is to quit talking and get doing”. With the opening ribbon barely snipped at the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, a second resort is already planned for mainland China and scouts are even rumoured to be surveying Australia. As the Disney dream continues to widen its reach, it appears that those at Disney are still taking their founder’s words to heart.
The Disneyland Resort on the outskirts of Paris has to date welcomed more than 140 million guests through its gates and is currently the most popular tourist destination in Europe, despite some luke-warm reviews. So what makes these parks so overwhelmingly successful?”
The answer is that the resorts have perfected the art of hassle-free holidaying for anyone with kids in tow. Whereas a trip to Paris itself might be more culturally educational, no real city caters for kids’ needs like the magic kingdom. Name another city where all hotels lie within 2km of the main attractions, where there is never any traffic on the road, where all of the trains take you directly to the one station you need to travel to.
All of the hassles that turn irritable children into little monsters on a normal holiday are removed from the equation and the result is a weekend of unadulterated fun for the kids and comparative relaxation for those looking after them.
Though it could do with a bit of a make over, the park clearly still seems to do the trick for the children and after all, they are why you are here. On no other holiday can the parents put in so little effort and come off looking so favourable in the eyes of their children. While the kids dream of Mickey and Minnie, the parents can make the most of the surrounding countryside with Reims – the champagne capital of the world – only half-an-hour drive away.
Of course the park is by no means perfect. There are still too few real quality rides to ensure that the days of lengthy queues are a thing of the past. Fortunately, most kids don’t mind waiting in line for things they really want – you just have to look at the tailbacks for Father Christmas at Hamley’s every year to know this.
As Walt Disney said: We are not trying to entertain the critics. I’ll take my chances with the kids.” And while they continue to do this at Disney, this world famous brand will continue to go from strength to strength.
Houses of fun
Got kids to entertain – or just fancy a go on the rides yourself? Here are a few more funparks to try
Germany’s biggest theme park is also the largest seasonal leisure park worldwide and recent recipient of a Golden Pony industry award for its creativity. A “vision of a united continent”, European countries are the theme for the park’s layout.
Near Antwerp, Belgium
Traces of the original cowboys ‘n’ indians theme still remain, but these days Bobbejaanland is more of a generic funpark, with adrenaline-charged rides including the 100km/h Sledgehammer and 25m drop of the Typhoon.
Chosen as one of the top ten funparks worldwide by international business magazine Forbes, attractions at Italy’s biggest amusement park include the “spectacular 4D adventures” Robots of Mars, Haunted Mine Ride and Himalamazon.
Opened in 1923, Liseberg is Scandinavia’s biggest theme park and one of the top tourist attractions in Sweden. The wooden rollercoaster is a perennial favourite, though the surrounding parkland is as much of a draw as the rides.
Near Tilburg, Netherlands
Established in the ’50s by Dutch artist Anton Pieck, if Efteling’s rollercoasters and rides don’t leave you feeling quite ill enough, check out the migraine-inducing Villa Volta funhouse.