In the U.S., there are Disneyland and Disney World; in France, you could call it Disney Universe. There are two parks in this giant resort, the classic Disneyland, complete with the Matterhorn and Space Mountain, and Disney Studios, where you can try your hand at cinematography or delve into the world of cartoons. But the parks are just the beginning of your excellent adventure in Marne-la-Vallée: There are also seven hotels, a golf course, tennis courts, and an ice skating rink, not to mention Disney Village, with its boutiques, restaurants, discotheque, cinema, and IMAX theater. For the purposes of this guide, we’ll just stick with parks. In general, Disneyland is a better choice for the under-7 crowd; though even the little ones will still get a kick out of the cartoon attractions at Disney Studios.
Visitors stroll among flower beds, trees, reflecting ponds, fountains, and a large artificial lake flanked with hotels. An army of smiling employees and Disney characters -- many of whom are multilingual, including Buffalo Bill, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, and of course, the French-born Caribbean pirate Jean Laffite -- are on hand to greet the thousands of enfants.
Main Street, U.S.A., abounds with horse-drawn carriages and barbershop quartets. Steam-powered railway cars embark from the Main Street Station for a trip through a Grand Canyon diorama to Frontierland, with its paddlewheel steamers reminiscent of Mark Twain's Mississippi River. Kids will love the Critter Corral petting zoo and parents can take a break in the Lucky Nugget Saloon, its cancan show inspired from the cabarets of turn-of-the-20th-century Paris.
The park's steam trains chug past Adventureland -- with its swashbuckling pirates, Swiss Family Robinson treehouse, and re-enacted Arabian Nights legends -- to Fantasyland. Here you'll find the Sleeping Beauty Castle (Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant), whose pinnacles and turrets are an idealized (and spectacular) interpretation of French châteaux. In its shadow are Europeanized versions of Blanche Neige et Les Sept Nains (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs), Peter Pan, Dumbo, Alice (from Wonderland), the Mad Hatter's Teacups, and Sir Lancelot's Magic Carousel.
Visions of the future can be found in Discoveryland, where tributes to invention and imagination draw from the works of Leonardo da Vinci, Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, the modern masters of science fiction, and the Star Wars series, before sending visitors on their own intergalactic adventure on Space Mountain: Mission 2.
Throughout the park or during the daily parades you'll see characters from Aladdin, The Lion King, Pocahontas, Toy Story, and Monsters Inc. As Disney continues to churn out animated blockbusters, look for the newest stars to appear in the theme park.
Walt Disney Studios
You don't need to go all the way to Hollywood to experience movie magic -- Walt Disney Studios takes guests on a behind-the-scenes interactive discovery of film, animation, and television through four thematic Studio Lots.
The main entrance to the studios, called the Front Lot, consists of "Sunset Boulevard," an elaborate sound stage complete with hundreds of film props. The Toon Studio allows visitors to learn the trade secrets of Disney animators, here families can have gigantic fun in the oversized Toy Story Playland, speed around on the RC Racer, get dizzy on the Slinky Dog Zigzag Spin, or soar through the skies on the Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop. The Production Courtyard lets guests take a look behind the scenes of film and TV production; bigger and braver kids enter the spooky Hollywood Tower Hotel at their own risk. The abandoned hotel's rickety elevator sends you flying 13 floors to the depths of the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Finally, the Back Lot is home to special-effects and stunt workshops. A live stunt show features cars, motorbikes, and jet skis.
Big thrill seekers turn up the volume on the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, a rollercoaster featuring the music of Aerosmith that combines a state-of-the-art rock video with high-speed scary twists and turns.
Admission is 54€ for adults, 49€ for children. Hours are daily from 10am to 7pm.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.