Queen’s Maze & Castle’s Dragon- Disneyland Paris {France}

Traveling is different with kids, there are different considerations and abilities than there would be otherwise. Luckily our daughter has always been a great traveler and never fusses or complains about road trips, long layovers, or days spent walking around. While in Paris she patiently went around with us to see all the things and places that we wanted to see and even managed to feign interest in things that she had no idea about. We felt than that it was only right to have a day in Paris geared towards her and so changed our plans, foregoing a visit to Versailles and instead going to see the other royal palace at Disneyland Paris.

Theme parks are not everyone’s cup of tea, especially when traveling. We got some eye rolls from family members when they found out where we were going. Having been to Disneyland in California a number of times and spending most weekends at Disneyworld in Florida when we lived there, I was interested to see the differences at this park in Paris. A day at Disneyland Paris is a third of the cost of Disneyworld and half the cost of Disneyland California. That was the first difference was how inexpensive it was to spend a day at the park here. Not to mention the beautiful entrance with its pale pink chateau and water fountains.

entrance to Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris is celebrating its 30th anniversary. It was not really welcomed by the people of France when it was proposed, there were great protests about it and the Disney CEO was actually booed off the stage. But construction continued and the park opened its doors of September 1992. Since then it has become a favorite of theme parks in Europe. The 30th anniversary celebrations will continue to September 2023 where guests can enjoy the colorful attire of the characters and the special treats around the park.

the entrance with colorful accents for the 30th anniversary
Mickey and Minnie in their 30th anniversary attire

Our first area was the whimsical Fantasyland where bean stocks grow out of buildings and carousel horses are bedecked in fancy attire. You have to hand it to Disney and the complete dedication to creating lands that take you away from reality and have you stepping into a story. It is easy to feel immersed in the imagination and the magic.

This Disney park features The Curious Labyrinth of Alice where visitors go through walled green passageways, meeting characters like the hookah smoking caterpillar, the Cheshire cat, and the servant playing cards along the way. The path ends at the castle of the Queen of Hearts where you can walk up through the castle and look out over the park from the top tower.

view from the Queen of Hearts castle

Also in Fantasyland is the It’s a Small World ride. This ride more than anything else in Disney is always the hotly contested ride of love it or hate it. Some people think it’s the worst while others think a day at Disney is incomplete without it. I’m not usually a fan of this ride, but I will say that this one seemed much better than at other parks. It was more inclusive of cultures and people and seemed brighter and visually pleasing.

Adventureland was fantastic. With a giant pirate ship to run around on, swinging bridges that lead to caves and paths through the rocks, a walk up through the treehouse of Swiss Family Robinson, and ending with a ride through Pirates of the Caribbean. My favorite part was listening to the swarthy sea song of ‘yo ho ho and bottle of rum’ sung in French.

Adventureland with pirate ship and rock coves to explore

We moved into Frontierland for a ride on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. This ride is always a favorite for me since it was modeled after southern Utah and northern Arizona with the red rock formations and the old mining towns. We haven’t been to Disneyland since a girl was tall enough to ride, so it was fun to go with her on this thrill ride and hear her screams of excitement.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

A trip around the park aboard the steamship Molly Brown will bring back all the Americana images. The steamship and the Main Street area are reminiscent of Walt Disney’s childhood in Missouri. And a spooky visit by some hitchhiking ghosts at the Phantom Manor is always fun. Sadly, the Phantom Manor was closed for maintenance while we were there.

Discoveryland takes visitors to the futuristic idea of time and space and it is here that they can become a Jedi and touch the stars. The outside of Hyperspace Mountain greets guests with the giant telescope shooting visitors into the fast spins of the dark ride. Walt Disney wanted a space themed ride from the beginning. With the expansion of Stars Wars into the Disney company, Space Mountain was rethemed to fit with the franchise.

Hyperspace Mountain

And at the center of it all stands Sleeping Beauty Castle. Of all the differences between Disney parks, this is the greatest of them all because the castle welcomes visitors to come inside and really see the castle. Not only is the castle beautifully designed on the outside but the inside is just as lovely and interesting.

Visitors can go up the stairs past the tree like pillars to the second floor where there are huge stained glass panels telling the story of Sleeping Beauty. Across from the stained glass are wall size tapestries with other parts of the story and a spinning wheel standing ominously in the corner. Then you can walk out on the balcony and look out over the rest of the park.

stained glass of Sleeping Beauty

After walking around upstairs in the castle, then it is time to head to the dungeon where you are met with the large angry dragon with glowing eyes and hot breath. This animatronic dragon in the cave below the castle is unique to any other park and it really brings the fairy tale to life.

the dragon below the castle

The day was winding down so we rode the last few rides and got one last treat for the road. Our last views of the castle were from Fantasyland and then one more with the setting sun as we walked down Main Street. It had been a day of fun and magic and memories. There was a lot about this park that I enjoyed more than other Disney parks and the ways that they had made it their own.

one last view from Fantasyland
Main Street at sunset

Though Disneyland Paris was not originally part of our plan, I was glad that we came and made some new Disney memories. Because we went so often when we lived in Florida it became part of our family and getting back into that spirit after so many years was really special. But more than anything, it was a lesson in traveling with kids that sometimes you have to put the big important places on the list for next time and instead allow kids a piece of childhood before you blink and the moment is gone.

For some other of our favorite Disney experiences, check out these:

Festival of the Holidays at Epcot- Florida

Star Wars Land at Hollywood Studios- Florida

Nightmare Before Christmas at the Haunted Mansion- California

Thanks for joining me on this visit to Disneyland Paris. May you remember those moments of pirates, fairy tales, and dragons as you grow up.

18 responses to “Queen’s Maze & Castle’s Dragon- Disneyland Paris {France}”

  1. Disneyland is always a fun place to visit, particularly with kids in tow. We also visited Disney Paris when our daughter was young, and have special memories. It’s so fun to experience it through their eyes. Well done for treating your daughter and yourselves to a memorable day.

    • It was such a great day. Shes at that perfect age for Disneyland because she still believes in the magic but shes old enough to ride things. Her excitement all day made it all so special.

  2. Yes, Meg, make the absolute most of your daughter’s childhood, it really is over so quickly. By next year all three of my kids will be over 40 and yet their childhood is still such a crystal clear memory…it passes in a heartbeat. Theme parks are not for us and I can’t see us ever visiting anywhere like a Disney park but I bet your daughter had a fabulous day, and therefore so did you…

    • Her childhood really seems to be passing in an instant. The days are long but the years are short. She had a blast at Disneyland, and I loved watching her excitement and sharing her joy. She is at the perfect age of still believing in the magic but also able to ride things which made it really fun. 🙂

  3. Interesting to read about your day spent at Disneyland Paris. I have to admit that I’ve not visited any of the Disney Parks but I might perhaps take a look one day as I’ve been close by in LA, Paris and Hong Kong. I’m sure that your daughter loved every minute of her day and like you, if my children had been small when we were in close proximity of one of these parks, we would have taken them along just like you! Can I enquire if you found the Paris site much quieter than the US ones as I heard that it was less busy. Great post as always Meg.

    • It was a fun day getting to watch her excitement and joy. I think this park was less busy for sure then the other parks Ive been to. I think because Disneyland California is so centrally located and was the first, it can get pretty busy. And Disneyworld in Florida is so massive so a lot of people want to go there, it is always busy. If you go though the best months to go are January, February, April, September, or November.

  4. How fun for you and your family to check out Disneyland in Paris! It’s wild to hear just how cheaper it is in comparison to the US. The Sleeping Beauty Castle is gorgeous and those stained glass windows are so pretty.

    • I couldn’t believe it when I saw how inexpensive the tickets were there! I think the US parks would do well to consider making it more cost effective. The stained glass panels were really amazing and so pretty with the sun setting behind it. 🙂

  5. Aw lovely, it’s so important to plan things for everyone on the trip. I often forget about my poor husband, all he wants is rest and I’m dragging him to every corner of the globe 🙂 Disneyland looks amazing, I have the fondest memories of visiting when I was your daughter’s age and riding in the teacups with my Dad. I still have the photo on my dresser – so I’ve no doubt she will hold it as just as special.

    • Thank you, I hope she holds that moment with her as she grows up. What a lovely and special memory with your dad. I just think those memories at such a tender age stay with us forever. It sounds like our poor husbands are in the same boat-wanting to rest and relax but cant because their wives have places to see and things to do 😄

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