Choosing between the Happiest Places on Earth – Disneylands!

The great thing about visiting global chains of anything – be it food establishments, clothing chains or theme parks – is the sense of familiar, the security and knowledge of what to expect.  So what are the subtle differences between the Disneyland’s that can help you decide: “That One!”

We will take a look at the original Disneyland in California, USA and explore the differences between their counterparts in Hong Kong and Paris.

Disneyland California is the original park, created by, and built under the direct supervision of, Walt Disney himself which many claim holds the “magic” of Disney, more so than subsequent lands.

There are more than 60 attractions, with endless fun for your family. This land is considered to be completely family-friendly, with rides and attractions that have a broader audience (small children to adults).

The development of subsequent Disneyland’s involves cultural reflections, rather than significant or noticeable differences in attractions.  The design differences actually gives a fascinating lesson behind visiting the theme parks!

Hong Kong Disneyland was designed having considered feng shui and traditional Chinese elements to attract tourists from mainland China.

The feng shui elements of wood, fire, earth, metal and water create positive energy and are noticeable throughout the theme park. For example, there are two huge rocks at the park’s entrance to promote stability and prevent good luck from flowing away from the site.  The element water is present in the numerous lakes, ponds, streams and large fountains throughout the park, which stimulates fortune and wealth.

The positioning of the entrance gate of Hong Kong Disneyland is in a north-south direction to promote good fortune, with a sharp bend in the walkway to the park to stop ‘qi’/ good energy flowing out of the park and into the South China Sea.

Hong Kong Disneyland is situated on exactly 888sqm, 8 being a lucky number in Chinese culture. Continuing with the numbers differences, you will notice there is no number 4 in any of Hong Kong Disneyland’s elevators as this number is unlucky to Chinese, because it sounds like the word “death” in Mandarin & Cantonese.  Some other quirks patrons may notice is there are no clocks, green hats are not available to buy, and the prolific use of the lucky colour red.

The food offerings are quite different in Disneyland Hong Kong: replace traditional American fare with dim sum, dumplings and steamed buns formed in the shapes of famous Disney characters!

Disneyland Paris, the entryway is an undercover arcade that features a replica Statue of Liberty (which France gifted to America). Being undercover is a major point of difference to its Californian older sister, and I expect this is in response to Paris’ sometimes inclement weather.

The attractions in Disneyland Paris are noticeably different, paying homage to European visionaries such as Da Vinci and Jules Verne, and popular characters to the region.  There is also live theatre as a feature, unique to Disneyland Paris. Other attractions are reflected, however – popular characters do not change significantly between regions!

Something to consider for family visits, is that the European culture of smoking and drinking is acceptable in the parkland. There are dedicated smoking areas, however it is commonplace for smokers to partake in all the open areas, including queues. While the feature of being able to buy an alcoholic drink with any meal might be enjoyable for some, it is not appealing to all with young children.

Ultimately, if you are planning a holiday around visiting the Happiest Places on Earth you will have an amazing time at any of the Disneyland’s.  This is the magic of Disney; there really is something for everyone!