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Nestled in the heart of Marne-la-Vallée, just 20 miles east of Paris, lies Disneyland Paris – a magical kingdom that has been enchanting visitors of all ages for over three decades. Since its grand opening on April 12, 1992, this iconic theme park has grown to become Europe’s premier tourist destination, welcoming over 375 million guests. With its blend of classic Disney storytelling, innovative attractions, immersive themed lands, and unparalleled hospitality, Disneyland Paris continues to push the boundaries of imagination and create unforgettable memories for families from around the world.

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History and Development

The story of Disneyland Paris began in the mid-1980s, when the Walt Disney Company set its sights on expanding its theme park empire to Europe. After considering various locations, including Frankfurt, London, and Milan, the company ultimately chose a site in Marne-la-Vallée, France, just a short train ride from the heart of Paris. Construction on the ambitious project, initially named Euro Disneyland, commenced in August 1988. To give locals a preview of the magic to come, a preview center called Espace Euro Disney opened in December 1990.

The resort’s master plan included a Magic Kingdom-style theme park, a shopping and dining district called Festival Disney (now Disney Village), and six on-property hotels. Plans for a second park, modeled after Disney-MGM Studios in Florida, were also in the works. On April 12, 1992, Euro Disneyland officially opened its gates to the public. Despite extensive research and planning, the park faced challenges in its early years, including lower-than-expected attendance and financial difficulties exacerbated by a lingering recession in France. In an effort to turn the tide, the park was renamed Disneyland Paris in 1994.

Under the leadership of Jay Rasulo, who became executive vice president of Euro Disney S.C.A. in 1998, the resort implemented a series of changes to improve the guest experience and adapt to the diverse European market. These efforts, combined with new attractions and marketing campaigns, helped Disneyland Paris find its footing and embark on a path of growth and development.

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Attractions and Themed Lands

Disneyland Paris comprises two world-class theme parks: Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park. Disneyland Park, the resort’s original theme park, is divided into five immersive themed lands: Main Street, U.S.A., Frontierland, Adventureland, Fantasyland, and Discoveryland. Each land is filled with iconic attractions, such as Big Thunder Mountain in Frontierland, a thrilling roller coaster set in the heart of the Old West; Pirates of the Caribbean in Adventureland, a swashbuckling boat ride through a pirate-infested Caribbean town; and “it’s a small world” in Fantasyland, a whimsical journey celebrating global unity and diversity.

One of the park’s most unique features is its covered walkways, or “arcades,” which connect the themed lands. These arcades serve as intellectual pre-shows, setting the stage for the adventures that await in each land. Walt Disney Studios Park, which opened in 2002, invites guests to step behind the scenes and experience the magic of moviemaking.

The park features attractions based on beloved Disney and Pixar films, such as Ratatouille: The Adventure, which shrinks guests down to the size of Remy the rat as they scurry through the kitchen of Gusteau’s restaurant, and Toy Story Playland, where visitors find themselves toy-sized in Andy’s backyard. In recent years, Disneyland Paris has continued to expand and evolve, with the addition of new Marvel-themed attractions and experiences, such as Avengers Campus and the upcoming Arendelle: World of Frozen area.

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Shows and Entertainment

In addition to its thrilling rides and immersive attractions, Disneyland Paris is renowned for its world-class entertainment offerings. From dazzling stage shows and parades to spectacular nighttime fireworks displays, there’s always something magical happening at the resort. One of the park’s most beloved shows is “Disney Illuminations,” a breathtaking nighttime spectacular that combines stunning projections, lasers, and pyrotechnics to bring classic Disney stories to life on the façade of Sleeping Beauty Castle.

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Other popular entertainment offerings include the daily parade “Disney Stars on Parade,” which features an array of colorful floats and beloved Disney characters, and “Mickey and the Magician,” a Broadway-style show at Walt Disney Studios Park that showcases the magic of Disney’s most iconic films. Throughout the year, Disneyland Paris also hosts special seasonal events, such as the enchanting “Disney’s Enchanted Christmas” celebration, complete with festive decorations, holiday-themed shows, and appearances by Santa Claus himself.

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Dining and Merchandise

No visit to Disneyland Paris is complete without indulging in the resort’s wide array of dining options and unique shopping experiences. From quick-service eateries to gourmet table-service restaurants, there’s something to satisfy every taste and budget. Some of the park’s most popular dining spots include Bistrot Chez Rémy, a charming Parisian restaurant inspired by the film Ratatouille; Auberge de Cendrillon, a regal dining hall where guests can enjoy a royal feast with Disney Princesses; and Walt’s – An American Restaurant, an elegant tribute to Walt Disney himself, serving classic American cuisine.

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For those looking to take home a piece of the magic, Disneyland Paris offers a vast selection of exclusive merchandise, ranging from classic souvenirs like Mickey Mouse ears and character plushes to high-end collectibles and designer collaborations. Guests can shop till they drop at the many boutiques throughout the parks and Disney Village, such as Chez Marianne (Souvenirs de Paris), which offers a delightful array of Parisian-themed gifts and keepsakes.

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Hotels and Accommodations

To fully immerse themselves in the magic, many guests choose to stay at one of Disneyland Paris’ seven themed on-site hotels. Each hotel offers a unique ambiance and a range of amenities, from the Victorian elegance of the Disneyland Hotel to the rustic charm of Disney’s Davy Crockett Ranch. For those seeking a truly luxurious experience, the recently renovated Disney’s Hotel New York – The Art of Marvel showcases a stunning collection of Marvel artwork and offers exclusive experiences for fans of the iconic superhero franchise. In addition to the Disney-owned hotels, the resort also features Villages Nature Paris, a joint venture with Pierre & Vacances – Center Parcs that offers a tranquil escape amidst lush gardens and serene waterways.

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Disneyland Hotel

The flagship Disneyland Hotel is a 5-star Victorian-inspired property located right at the entrance of Disneyland Park. It reopened in 2024 after an extensive renovation.

  • Accommodations: 319 rooms and 18 suites, all lavishly decorated. Room types include Superior Rooms, Deluxe Rooms, Castle Club Rooms, and Signature Suites.
  • Amenities: Indoor pool, spa, fitness center, concierge service, valet parking. Guests have Extra Magic Time access to the parks.
  • Dining: Fine dining restaurants, character dining, lounge and bar.
  • Location: At the entrance to Disneyland Park, a 2-minute walk.
  • Pricing: Starts around $600-800 per night. The most expensive option.

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Disney’s Hotel New York – The Art of Marvel

This 4-star hotel immerses guests in the Marvel universe with over 350 pieces of Marvel artwork on display. Reopened in 2021 after a major transformation.

  • Accommodations: 561 Art Deco-style rooms and 65 suites. Room types include Superior Rooms, Empire State Club Rooms, and various Suites. Some have Manhattan and Marvel themes.
  • Amenities: Indoor and outdoor pools, fitness center, kids’ playgrounds, Marvel Design Studio for kids. Guests can meet Marvel characters like Spider-Man.
  • Dining: Manhattan Restaurant, Downtown Restaurant, Skyline Bar, lounge.
  • Location: An 8-minute walk to the parks or 5 minutes by free shuttle.
  • Pricing: Starts around $400-500 per night.

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Disney’s Newport Bay Club

A 4-star hotel with a nautical New England theme, evoking a 1920s coastal mansion.

  • Accommodations: 1,098 rooms. Options include Standard Rooms, Compass Club Rooms, and Suites.
  • Amenities: Indoor and outdoor pools, fitness center, sauna, kids’ corner, boutique.
  • Dining: Cape Cod Restaurant, Yacht Club Restaurant, Captain’s Quarters Bar.
  • Location: A 15-minute walk to the parks or 8 minutes by free shuttle.
  • Pricing: Starts around $350-450 per night.

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Disney’s Sequoia Lodge

Themed like a rustic mountain retreat, this 3-star hotel is surrounded by trees and woodland.

  • Accommodations: 1,011 rooms, with Standard and Golden Forest Club options.
  • Amenities: Indoor and outdoor pools, sauna, fitness center, kids’ playgrounds, boutique.
  • Dining: Hunter’s Grill and Beaver Creek Tavern restaurants, Redwood Bar and Lounge.
  • Location: A 15-minute walk to the parks or 8 minutes by free shuttle.
  • Pricing: Starts around $250-350 per night.

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Disney’s Hotel Cheyenne

A 2-star hotel styled like a Wild West frontier town from the Toy Story movies.

  • Accommodations: 1,000 rooms in 14 frontier town buildings.
  • Amenities: Kids’ play areas, pony rides, seasonal outdoor pool, boutique, video games room.
  • Dining: Chuck Wagon Cafe buffet restaurant, Red Garter Saloon.
  • Location: A 20-minute walk to the parks or 8 minutes by free shuttle.
  • Pricing: Starts around $150-250 per night. One of the most affordable options.

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Disney’s Hotel Santa Fe

This 2-star hotel has a Cars movie theme with a Southwest desert vibe.

  • Accommodations: 1,000 rooms in pueblo-style buildings.
  • Amenities: Kids’ play areas, seasonal outdoor pool, video games room, boutique.
  • Dining: La Cantina buffet restaurant, Rio Grande Bar.
  • Location: A 20-minute walk to the parks or 8 minutes by free shuttle.
  • Pricing: Starts around $150-250 per night, similar to Hotel Cheyenne.

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Villages Nature Paris

A large eco-resort with various accommodations 6km from the parks, co-developed by Disney and Pierre & Vacances-Center Parcs. Focuses on sustainability and nature.

  • Accommodations: Apartments and cottages that sleep up to 8 people.
  • Amenities: Aqualagon water park, farm, lake, outdoor activities, kids’ clubs.
  • Dining: Multiple restaurants, bars, and a market.
  • Location: A 10-15 minute drive to the parks, paid parking available.
  • Pricing: Starts around $200-300 per night for a 1-bedroom.

The Disneyland Paris hotels offer a range of immersive themes, amenities, and price points to suit different tastes and budgets. Staying on-site allows guests to maximize time in the parks and enjoy special perks. The closer hotels provide the greatest convenience, while the farther options are more affordable. With so many magical options, there’s something for every family.

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Upgrades and Expansions

As Disneyland Paris continues to grow and evolve, the resort has embarked on several ambitious expansion and upgrade projects in recent years. In 2015, the park launched an unprecedented renovation and enhancement plan, which saw the refurbishment of iconic attractions like Big Thunder Mountain and “it’s a small world”. In 2018, the resort opened its first Marvel-themed attraction, “Avengers: Assemble – Flight Force,” paving the way for the highly anticipated Avengers Campus, set to open in the near future. 

This new land will invite guests to team up with their favorite Marvel superheroes and embark on thrilling missions to save the world. Looking ahead, Disneyland Paris has announced plans for a transformative multi-year expansion that will bring new themed areas, attractions, and experiences to the resort. One of the most eagerly awaited additions is Arendelle: World of Frozen, which will transport guests to the enchanting kingdom of Arendelle, complete with a stunning replica of Elsa’s ice palace.

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Park Secrets and Sustainability

For those in the know, Disneyland Paris is filled with hidden gems and insider secrets waiting to be discovered. From subtle nods to Disney history and hidden Mickeys scattered throughout the park to exclusive experiences like the “Castle Club,” a private lounge inside Sleeping Beauty Castle, there’s always something new to uncover for even the most seasoned visitors.

Behind the scenes, Disneyland Paris is also committed to sustainability and environmental stewardship. The resort has implemented numerous eco-friendly initiatives, such as installing France’s largest solar canopy over its guest parking lot, which generates enough clean energy to power a small city. The park also operates its own wastewater treatment plant, which has saved over 1.5 million cubic meters of water since its inception.

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Conclusion

For over 30 years, Disneyland Paris has been a beacon of magic, wonder, and joy for visitors from around the world. Through its enchanting attractions, world-class entertainment, and unparalleled commitment to storytelling and innovation, the resort has cemented its status as Europe’s premier tourist destination and a beloved part of the global Disney legacy. As Disneyland Paris continues to evolve and expand, with new lands, attractions, and experiences on the horizon, one thing remains constant: the timeless power of Disney magic to bring families together and create unforgettable memories that will last a lifetime.

Whether you’re a wide-eyed child meeting Mickey Mouse for the first time or a lifelong Disney fan discovering new secrets and surprises, Disneyland Paris will always hold a special place in the hearts of those who have stepped through its gates and into a world where dreams really do come true.