It’s been a little over a month since I left Europe behind, but I’ve still got a wealth of international Disney fun left that want to share. I’ve already raved about the walk-through attractions at Disneyland Paris, but today we’re taking a hard look at some of the park’s rides and shows. Every hardcore Disney fan has probably already heard about the Paris park’s unique takes on Disneyland originals like Space Mountain and Haunted Mansion (a.k.a. Phantom Manor). However, you may not know about some other Anaheim originals that have also migrated across the Atlantic, and mutated along the way. Just in case you can’t afford to fly off to France to see them for yourself, here’s a video head-to-head comparing four Disneyland Paris attractions against their Disneyland equivalents.
Disneyland Storybook Land Canal Boats vs. Disneyland Paris Le Payes des Contes de Fees
One of the oldest operating attractions at Disneyland, Fantasyland’s Storybook Land Canal Boats benefit greatly from exquisite horticultural design and live narration.
Disneyland Paris has the superficially similar Le Payes des Contes de Fees, but it replaces the human guide with recorded music, and the agricultural detail isn’t nearly as meticulous.
And while Disneyland’s version has been updated with Frozen’s Arendelle, the Paris sets are stuck in the past (Return to Oz, anyone?) and plastered with cobwebs.
Disneyland Autopia vs. Disneyland Paris Autopia
Another survivor from Disneyland’s early days, Tomorrowland’s Autopia in Anaheim actually takes many of its current design queues from the Discoveryland version in Paris, which pioneered the “retro agri-future” aesthetic later applied (and largely later removed) from the California park.
Both attractions have similar stylings, from the futuristic billboards to the colorful car bodies, and both boast a far better track design than the comparatively boring Tomorrowland Speedway in Walt Disney World.
Disneyland’s version has a slight edge in its animated queue displays, and brief off-road track section. But Paris doesn’t have FastPass for this ride, making the line move much faster. Too close to call!
Disneyland Jedi Training Academy vs. Disneyland Paris Jedi Training Academy
The Jedi Training Academy shows in Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios are charming but modest productions that take place on an outdoor space using limited props and special effects.
The new Jedi Training Academy show that recently opened inside the former Videopolis theater in Disneyland Paris takes most of the script and structure of the stateside show, and amps it up with an elaborate indoor set, spectacular lighting and sound, and some superb effects — like a floating animatronic R2-D2! The young padawans in Paris even get light-up lightsabers to train with, instead of the cheap plastic toys used in the U.S.
The American Jedi Training Academy shows are currently undergoing refurbishments, and will feature characters from Star Wars Rebels in time for the upcoming Season of the Force promotion. In the future, they may see a wholesale overhaul when the new Star Wars lands debut; if so, we hope they resemble the remarkable Paris production.
Winner: Disneyland Paris
Disneyland Mark Twain Riverboat vs. Disneyland Paris Molly Brown
The Rivers of America in Disneyland’s Frontierland will soon shut down for over a year during Star Wars Land construction, and the Mark Twain riverboat will be temporarily grounded. So get in your last voyages on this vintage craft while you can.
When Disneyland’s riverboat returns, it will be on an abbreviated waterway, but I’m betting there will still be better sights along the way than in Disneyland Paris. The Molly Brown is the only boat plying the rivers of Frontierland there, since their Mark Twain has rotted into retirement and their keelboats are closed.
Paris has an exceptionally spectacular Big Thunder Mountain for the Molly Brown to make her way around, but the riverbanks are practically barren of animated animals, and the once-stunning geysers don’t even spritz anymore.
Bonus Video: Rope Drop at Disneyland Paris Fantasyland
A park is much more than the sum of its rides, an there’s no better time to get a feel for a theme park than at rope drop. Watch the following video, and follow along as I am among the morning’s first guests to pass through Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Paris and explore Fantasyland.
Super Bonus Video: Buzz Lightyear In French
The Buzz Lightyear shooting dark ride in Disneyland Paris is practically identical to the version found in Anaheim, except for one important difference. Have you ever wanted to hear a Buzz Lightyear audio-animatronic deliver his preshow spiel in French? Prepare for your life to be complete!