I'm an amateur traveler and writer that's obsessed with airplanes, Disney, Star Wars and buffet breakfasts. I hope you like what I write.
Listen up, I'm a major Disney fan.
I love it.
I breathe it.
It keeps me alive.
So the thought of comparing Disney parks makes me feel sick to my stomach.
This said I'll still do it and do my best to provide you with useful information that will hopefully help you if you ever find yourself in the situation of having to choose between the both of them.
1. WHICH PARK IS MORE EXPENSIVE?
Disney Parks' prices vary depending on the date you choose, so I went and picked the 15th of August (which, take into account, is one of the priciest seasons) in order to have a more accurate comparison.
For a 1-day ticket that allows you to visit one park:
- Disneyland Paris - 94,01€ (Adult); 86,87€ (Child)
- Disneyland California - 154$ (Adult); 146$ (Child)
The numbers speak for themselves: California is obviously way more expensive than Paris but we should take into account that wages in America are higher than those in France so it makes perfect sense that everything is less affordable there.
2. WHICH PARK IS THE BIGGEST?
If it's your relationship with exercise that will determine your choice, then this bit is the one you will want to read.
Both Disneys have two parks: the main one and the studios type one.
The entire complex of Disneyland Paris comprehends the two parks plus 7 Disney hotels and 6 partner ones, Disney Village, a golf court, a train station, and also a small town called Val d'Europe.
All of this sums up to 1900 ha which is, obviously, not a walkable distance but the actual parks are not that big:
- Disneyland Park: 126 ha
- Walt Disney Studios Park: 62 ha
So, in the end, you will have 188 ha to walk.
California doesn't have a complex that comes even close to Disneyland Paris' one but the parks' size is pretty similar:
- Disneyland: 99,7 ha
- California Adventure: 72 ha
All summed up, you end up with 171,7 ha
Area-wise, Disneyland Paris is slightly bigger but surely not enough to make a decisive choice.
So let's move on to other aspects.
3. WHICH PARK HAS BETTER FOOD?
Disney food is not amazing anywhere in the world, no matter where you are.
It's overpriced and you're paying because you're eating it inside Disney and not for the quality of it.
However, if we are talking about price/quality, Paris wins for sure. Things in America are way too expensive and not better at all.
For instance, for a burger menu that includes a side (salad or fries) a soft drink, and a dessert, you'll pay 15€ in Disneyland Paris.
In California, you'll pay 21$ for a burger with some fries and a coke. No dessert.
As for dessert
California wins big time.
The Mickey sandwich is just 'wow'.
4. WHICH PARK HAS THE BEST ACCOMMODATION?
Disneyland California has 3 on-property hotels whereas Disneyland Paris has 7. Nevertheless, all of them are really good (expensive, but good).
I never stayed at Disney California but I did stay at Disney's New Port Bay Club and Disney's Hotel New York and both of them are absolutely amazing.
If you stay at Disney in Paris, you will benefit from a daily breakfast buffet as it's very common in Europe to have this facility included when you stay at a hotel.
And, admit it, it's a great thing not having to worry about where you are going to eat that early in the morning.
And breakfast buffets are simply amazing.
Especially if they include pain au chocolat and croissants.
5. WHICH PARK HAS THE BEST RIDES?
A thousand times Paris.
I get it, you have Mountain Everest in California and it must be great - it looks great from all the youtube videos - but in my defense, it was close when I went there, so I can't have an opinion on it.
What I can comment on is how amazing every ride in Paris' Disney is: they're not too much but they are a lot more than what they are in California, I can tell you that.
Especially the Space Mountain (that is now Hyperspace Mountain) which is my favorite ride ever.
Riding it in California, having been tons of times already in Paris, was probably the biggest disappointment of my life. It's nice in California.
But in Paris, it's freaking awesome, filled with loops and speed and actual drops.
If I'm going to space, then that's the kind of ride that I want.
And I'm sorry, California, but only Paris has it.
I've visited Disneyland Paris four times already and not a single one of them was a consistent experience when it comes to the weather.
Therefore, I am entitled to decide that California's weather is a lot - really, a lot - better than Paris'.
It's not that Paris is not warm or anything like that, in fact, it can get pretty hot too in there. However, it can also get cold and cloudy and rainy in a matter of minutes.
On the other hand, the weather in California is pretty stable (always warm, barely rains, never snows) and I don't know about you but if I'm in an amusement park, I don't want to have to worry about having to put on and take off my sweater every five minutes.
California wins this one.
7. WHICH DISNEY IS CLOSER TO THE AIRPORT?
They're both about 50 km away from the airport (30-35 miles) but while in LA you are basically limited to LAX Airport, in Paris, you actually have two possible airports you can land on that are this far away from the Disney Parks:
- Orly Airport
- Charles de Gaulle Airport
Both cities, though, have the Disney shuttle that is definitely something you will want to include in your trip as it not only adds magic but also practicability to it.
8. WHICH PARK HAS THE NICEST WORKERS?
Both of them.
Disney employees are probably among the world's most admirable workers of all times: working in such a place, with all the never-ending noise and screaming and confusion, and still being able to maintain both sanity and a smile, it's not for everyone.
The advantage Paris has?
Workers that speak more than one language.
In fact, all of them speak, at least, French and English. But you will find over 15 languages more among the workers as they come from every part of the world. This means, your chances - if your not a native French or English speaker - of finding someone that speaks your native language are actually pretty damn high.
9. WHICH DISNEY IS PRETTIER?
Judging Disney parks' beauty is not as easy of a task as you might think: one thing is to compare castles other is to compare Instagram worthy spots.
They both win in different categories.
The prettiest castle?
Disneyland Paris' Sleeping Beauty's castle without a doubt.
Don't even come @ me on this. It's not arguable.
The most Instagram worthy spot?
Mickey's Fun Wheel in Disneyland California Adventure.
I truly believe its the most adorable thing to exist in this galaxy.
10. WHICH PARK IS THE MOST VISITED?
Disneyland in California is the second visited park in the world - right after the Magic Kingdom in Florida - and Disneyland Paris is the tenth one.
Do you want numbers? I'll give you the numbers.
- Disneyland California received 16.2 million visitors (the highest up to that point)
- Disneyland Paris received 15.65 million visitors
California clearly wins this one but can we talk about how impressive Paris' numbers are?
I'm such a proud mama.
Opened in 1955, Disneyland California was the first Disney park ever.
Opened in 1992, Disneyland Paris was the seventh Disney park to be built.
What does this mean exactly?
It means that, at the end of the day, we can't really compare them.
The technology we had in 1955 was not even close to the one we had in 1992 so of course Disneyland Paris is going to be more modern, of course, its rides are going to be more immersive and thrilling.
Nonetheless, Disneyland California is the first one.
So, even though it might not be as amusing as more recent Disney parks, because Disney was born there, it will always have this little something that the others won't.
Despite this, all Disneys are incredible.
And I beg you that if you ever have the chance to, go and visit at least one of the parks that are spread across the world (yes, there's more Disney in America, Japan, and China).
Each of them is unique in their own way.
And absolutely worth the visit.
© 2020 Patricia Marques