Last month I was extremely lucky to finally visit Disneyland Resort in California. Not only was this a lifelong dream of mine to experience the original Disneyland – the very one Walt himself visited – but also my first ever Disney park outside that of Disneyland Paris.
It’s fair to say I had the most amazing time both at the two parks and the D23 Expo in which I covered the Disney Parks, Experiences & Products panel. During the 14 days in Anaheim I also got to experience a very different culture to that of my DLP home and alternative ways things are done. The two resorts have a lot of similarities in ways. Both are found near to very popular holiday destinations and are populated by two parks within spitting distance of eachother. That said there is almost a Matterhorn sized number of differences from how each park is operated, the target demographic and, most importantly in this case, the guest experience.
As a Disneyland Paris lover and regular so to speak, I couldn’t help but think back to my ‘local’ park when experiencing some of these differences and think how they could be adapted into the DLP environment. While not every operation and system would suit the Parisian park (the same way many European ideas wouldn’t translate well in the US) I have compiled a list of 5 things Disneyland Paris really should consider that would improve the park experience exponentially.
Just like any of these type of articles, these suggestions are purely my own and by no way gospel to any insider information or plans. These are merely things I experienced during my time at Disneyland Resort I feel, were they to be added to Disneyland Paris, would help transform the park into the best it possibly can be.
1. Disney MaxPass
Introduced back in 2017 almost as a ‘Magicband lite’, Disney MaxPass is a premium digital experience that allows guests to make, handle and activate Fast Passes all from within the official Disneyland app. As long as you have entered one of the two parks guests can book Fast Pass reservations for a single attraction at a time with a cool down period before the next can be made. The system works exactly as the traditional ticketed one does, with the exception of it being 100% paperless.
Not only is this obviously better for the environment it also makes the process of making and handling Fast Passes that much easier. Thanks to MaxPass guests can make reservations for their favourite E-Tickets anywhere within the parks, not just at the foot of said attraction. Fast Passes can also be cancelled if required, freeing up space to make a new reservation for something else. Even better, linking guests accounts together means Fast Passes can be grouped together and even activated at the Fast Pass entrance all from the single phone. An excellent piece of accessibility especially for guests with children.
It should be pretty self explanatory why bringing MaxPass (or a system similar to that of Maxpass) would be such a beneficial venture to the DLP guest. Being able to make Fast Pass reservations anywhere in the park, be that in a queue, having lunch or even just gleefully wandering through Main Street. Such a system would also allow Disneyland Paris to finally break free of the third-party, majorly disliked Lineberty app once and for all, making all reservations in-house. PhotoPass and all of its services are also included in Disneyland Resort’s MaxPass package, helping streamline the number of apps required even further!
2. Mobile ordering
Along with the in-genius of MaxPass, the official Disneyland Resort app has a few other neat tricks that really enhances your day in both parks. Through mobile ordering guests have the ability to not only view the entire menu of any restaurant right from within the app but make their selections, customise it how they wish and pay for it all from the palm of their hand. Got an annual pass? The qualifying discount is deducted automatically should you pass be linked within the app.
Best of all, every restaurant or food stall which offers mobile order in both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure has their own dedicated Mobile Order Collection point. During my time in the US I very rarely had to queue for anything to eat as the majority of my meals and snacks were ordered by just a few taps and with me within seconds.
Disneyland Paris will always have the problem of language barriers in their parks with guests. Europe is a massively diverse continent with dozens of different languages, things can be complicated if your French and/or English isn’t up to snuff. Something like mobile ordering would not only be a welcomed benefit to those not looking to queue but also a life saver for those that struggle with said barrier.
3. Live band entertainment
Right next to attractions, shows and characters, live music, performances and general happenings are very important to Disneyland Resort and a core element of the experience when visiting. Whether it the classic and timeless Dapper Dans and Main Street Band, the very professional and patriotic flag ceremony or the totally bonkers and hilarious Tomorrowland dance party, everywhere you look you’re bound to find something going on to check out, enjoy and sometimes join in on.
Live entertainment is not a complete stranger to Disneyland Paris, of course. Many will be quick to point out the live band performances regularly seen on both Main Street U.S.A. and within Studio 1, as well as the occasional musical appearance in Frontierland. This summer also saw the welcomed return of Studios streetmosphere and Cinéfolies during Disney Loves Jazz. That said, the comparison between both resorts in daily, reoccurring live entertainment is day and night.
A regular timetable of live band and musical performances like that in Disneyland would help breathe a lot more life into both parks as well as potentially alleviate at least some stress of off attractions, characters and shows. I could have easily spent an entire day on Main Street or Buena Vista Street watching all of the live entertainment and soaking in the atmosphere they bring. The more things to do and watch within the park will always increase the satisfaction of guests.
4. Improved cuisine
It may seem bizarre to those unfamiliar, but one part of my Disneyland Resort holiday I absolutely couldn’t wait for was the food. The two parks in Anaheim have a massive selection of interesting, unique and delicious food, meals and treats that you could easily dedicate an entire visit – and budget – towards trying out.
During my stay I really was in a culinary cabaret with the likes of pastas, steaks, wraps and even stews! It was the same story when it came to dessert and treat time with a near endless selection of classic Disneyland snacks and signature specials unique to particular lands or celebrations. My love for churros continues to grow and I couldn’t get enough of the refreshing Dole Whip.
Now, credit is due to Disneyland Paris. The quality of food in the resort has started to climb upwards, particularly in their snacks with the latest offerings during The Lion King & Jungle Festival. There is certainly room to kick things up a gear however and ensure the best quality products are not only available all year round, but within every eatery and snack cart guests can find.
After all, Paris and France is famous for its cuisine and excellent tastes. Disneyland Paris should be able to join in that celebration of food with unique, memorable and tasty dishes of its own.
5. Better merchandise
Another point from my trip that could have (or better yet, did) hurt my wallet a lot. The merchandise available to buy in Disneyland and Disney California Adventure really was excellent. An adult male, I have often struggled to find tasteful and stylish clothing to help show off my love for all things Disney, the parks and their attractions. This is where the US has my back as not only was I able to nearly transform my wardrobe with new t-shirts, polo shirts and Spirit Jerseys, I could have easily went on and included jackets, hoodies, sweaters, hats, socks and more!
That’s not forgetting all of the other merchandise available with the parks. Collectibles relating to just about anything, artwork from all parts of Disneyland history and stores dedicated purely to phone cases! The D23 Expo may be an event known for its high quality and quantity of Disney merch, but for me it was the regular release items of the resort that captured my imagination the most.
Every so often Disneyland Paris will release an excellent item of clothing or collectible that becomes a big hit with the fan community. While these are always welcomed and eagerly anticipated, high quality and interesting items for sale should be a daily occurrence for guests. Instead it is a rare treat for those lucky enough with a chance to buy before all stock is pinched over by equally excited fans and re-sellers. Like many items in this list this is something we have seen DLP head in the right direction towards, but steps and inspiration is needed to truly see it going places.
Have you ever been to Disneyland Resort? Are there any elements or ideas I have missed you think would be excellent for Disneyland Paris? I’d love to hear your thoughts so please let me know over on Twitter!