Though I really enjoyed my late 70s childhood visits to Disneyland and Disneyworld, I am no friend of disnification, and I've always seen the Paris Disneyland as a bit of a joke. But my mom wanted to treat my kids to a visit last week, and so I came along too.
The Paris Disneyland has five sections. The US small-town nostalgia section full of Disney memorabilia shops, the faux-16th century fairytale section, the adventure movie section and the wild west section didn't do very much for me – though the Pirates of the Caribbean ride is admittedly hugely atmospheric, and the Small World ride provided a strongly hallucinogenic (though not altogether pleasurable) experience.
The best part of Paris Disneyland is instead the retro-futuristic section, because it's the least disnified one, and because its design largely builds upon the characteristic settings and illustrations of sometime Parisian Jules Verne's novels. We went on board the Nautilus and we got shot out of the moon cannon onto the Space Mountain 2 roller coaster – where the security seat couldn't quite accommodate me, so I hurt my shoulders pretty badly in addition to being scared witless.
The kids though, 15 and 10, were very happy with it all.
See also Jules Verne's awesome grave monument.
Theme park... wait for final scene (from "Solaris") http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jorf-2o5YfU
Theme park in Hong Kong dedicated to pretty much the opposite of Jules Verne (run by Christian evangelicals) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noah%27s_Ark_(Hong_Kong)
Pesonally I am not going anywhere until I get an Alien/H.R. Giger theme park.
My ambition is to equip myself as a Roman legionary and invade Ma Wan, with a cage full of Panthera tigris amoyensis.
While on topic, HK also boasts the world's smallest Disney theme park, and Ocean Park, where they used to keep a captive Orca - they no longer do, due to public opposition to keeping them in captivity. HK people are not the heartless beasts they are sometimes portrayed as.
A mild embarrassment arose a while back when someone pointed out that the Disney hotel was still serving sharks fin in their restaurant. This was an issue, because the hotel was a favoured venue for wedding dinners, and sharks fin soup is a standard menu item at wedding feasts. They no longer do. Many other restaurants are now progressively dispensing with serving it voluntarily.
That sounds totally amazing. I'm a big Verne fan from way back. When Euro-Disney opened they said they were going to do some local adaptations, so I'm glad they chose a Jules Verne land. It has double resonance nowadays what with the steam punk esthetic.
P.S. I can't believe they cloned It's a Small World. I saw it at the World's Fair in 1964 and was traumatized.
@Kaleberg: It wouldn't be a Disney property if it didn't have some version of "It's a Small World". Which, as you correctly note, is one of several reasons to dislike Team Rodent.
I've only been to the one in Florida, which at the time consisted of the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT Center (the latter being a scaled-up version of "it's a Small Wold", mercifully without the song). They had a Nautilus-themed ride there. But no moon cannon, even though the park is within 100 km of where the fictional version was built. (Verne got the launch location of Florida correct, but he put it on the wrong side of the state: near Tampa on the west coast, rather than Cape Canaveral on the east coast.) Getting launched from that into Space Mountain sounds like an interesting idea. Not enough for me to pack my bags for Paris, though.