Many families keen to realise their kids dreams of going to Disneyland face the conundrum of whether to go to Disneyland Paris or Walt Disney World Florida. This is especially true of us Brits because it’s a piece of cake to get over to Paris from the UK (we don’t even need to fly there; merci Eurostar), however, it’s also pretty easy – and relatively cheap – to get over to Florida. In order to help you choose between the two we’ve got the lowdown on both Disney destinations.

Walt Disney World Florida
Walt Disney World Florida opened in 1971 and as the years have passed has gradually grown into a huge entertainment complex that encompasses four theme parks, two water parks, a sports complex, a shopping and entertainment centre, a campsite and 24 Disney hotels.

Disneyland Paris
Opened in 1992, Disneyland Paris has two theme parks, a shopping complex and seven Disney hotels. A somewhat scaled down version of Florida’s Downtown Disney, Disneyland Paris is the Parisian version of The Magic Kingdom/The original Disneyland Park.

Ok, so we know bigger isn’t always better, and as expected, Disneyland Paris is more modest than Walt Disney World Florida both in size and scale. Disneyland Paris therefore offers quieter, less crowded areas than the Florida park and lends itself to visitors easily exploring the park’s every nook and cranny in far less time than you’d need to even feel like you’ve got a grip on Orlando’s supersize complex.

The Florida park, being on a much grander scale, will require more time, effort and footfall, however, in return you may feel as if you’ve had the more authentic and, arguably, more impressive experience – America is the land of Disney after all. Both parks offer strollers for rent, and depending on how fussed you are regarding the aesthetics and/or drivability of your stroller, you may decide you prefer one park’s strollers over the other. Florida’s are colourful affairs – and so appeal to kids more – however, they’re harder to manoeuvre than their heavier, clunkier counterparts in Paris. However, its unlikely strollers are going to be a deal breaker – you have feet, use them.

Likely to be top of the agenda in terms of making your decision between the two Disney destinations will be how long it will take to get there, and how much it’s going to cost you. Taking into account Disneyland Paris’ sheer accessibility for UK-based families thanks to the Eurostar, the Paris park obviously scores highly when it comes to saving on time and money, not to mention effectively eschewing the hassle of having to fly anywhere. Special deals and offers aside, Paris Disneyland is also cheaper when it comes to buying a 5-day park hopper pass. However, a 7-day pass for Disneyland Paris is only slightly cheaper than its American equivalent.

Once inside the parks, the rides and attractions, parades and shows seem to receive equal praise and criticism from previous visitors; of course, when it comes down to it, it all depends on personal taste, requirements and expectations. Both parks have variable opening times, Paris Disneyland is only open late for special events and during the peak of the summer season, while the Florida park is more likely to regularly stay open late at weekends – something to take into account if you don’t want to miss the spectacular firework shows, and if you want to make put in mega long days; getting full bang for your buck.

As well as travel time and costs, another important thing to take into account is the weather. Depending on when you want to go, Florida may well surpass Paris in terms of dependable warm conditions and guaranteed sunshine. Orlando enjoys reliably good weather for most of the year, with annual average temperatures never dipping below 16ᵒC and rising to an average temperature of 28ᵒC in July and August, plus the temperature can soar to 33ᵒC at this time of year. Due to this reliably favourable climate, the Florida based park boasts two water theme parks – unsurprisingly, the Paris park does not. Then again, you may want a magical white winter wonderland Disney experience, in which case Paris trumps Orlando. Also, Florida can get unbearably humid and still receives its fair share of rain showers, especially in the afternoon. Paris enjoys much lower levels of humidity and enjoys some lovely weather during the spring and summer seasons, with average temperatures sitting around the mid to high 20sᵒC from May to October. Of course, Paris also experiences its fair share of wet and cold weather. A good time to visit the Florida park is October, as it’ll still be warm but far less humid. Paris in September will be especially pleasant with less crowds and an average temperature of 17ᵒC.

The Florida park is huge and in addition to four theme parks, two water parks, a sports complex, a shopping and entertainment centre, it has a campsite and 24 Disney hotels. Disneyland Paris meanwhile has two theme parks, a shopping complex and seven on-site Disney hotels. Disneyland Paris’ hotels are all within easy walking distance from the parks and Disney Village (plus there are free shuttle buses), so getting around and back and forth from the park to your hotel is a breeze. Walt Disney World Florida on the other hand is massive and spread over a far larger area, so visitors have to use cars or buses to get from the hotels to the park, which invariably involves hanging around in long queues and travelling around in crowded buses.

Both parks feature a dizzying plethora of impressive, technically advanced rides, and both offer a Fastpass system, which is a great way of cutting down the time you have to spend waiting in line. Both parks also have a Disney Hollywood Studios Park, although they are a world apart in terms of what’s on offer.

It may pay to consider that most of the Paris shows will be in French, although some will include English presentations at specific times. Saying that, due to the nature of the Disney themes and characters, most things will be easy to follow. Mickey Mouse is Mickey Mouse at the end of the day. Announcements and warning notices are made in several different languages, so you don’t need to worry about misplaced children not being reunited with their parents due to a lost in translation moment.

Food-wise, as you may expect, the French fare on offer at Disneyland Paris is reportedly more refined than Florida’s American fodder. Again, as you might expect, the Disney smiles and service is second to none in Orlando, while the Parisian park is a bit more laissezfaire – both in terms of adhering to the ‘Disney code’ and the level of customer service given.

Travel time and costs, attractions, hotels and service aside, most people will take into account what type of holiday or break they’re after and which country and culture they want to enjoy when they’re not living the Disney dream, after all, the whole trip is unlikely to be all about Disney. This is down to personal choice, with, again, the weather no doubt playing a major role.

All in all, both Disney destinations have their individual benefits and the final decision comes down to weighing up various monetary, timely and climatic factors into consideration and deciding which one is best for you and family – one thing is for sure though, Mickey is sure going to be pleased to see you…






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