These handy travel tips could sprinkle a little magic over your next trip to Disneyland Paris.
Here we present 30 lesser-known features that can be discovered in the French attraction, from the workshop where you can build your own lightsaber to the hidden symbols that are dotted around the park.
The list has been curated by the British ticket site AttractionTickets.com to mark the park’s 30th-anniversary celebrations, which will draw to an end in September of this year. Scroll down for the lowdown on the hidden features that you might otherwise miss…
1. Find the hidden Mickey Mouse symbols
Visitors should keep an eye out for Mickey Mouse symbols – three connected circles – which are hidden amongst rides, buildings, architecture and gates around the park. It’s worth noting, however, that no one knows exactly how many Mickey Mouse symbols there are to be discovered – Disney has never revealed the exact number.
Here we present 30 surprise features that can be discovered in Disneyland Paris. Visitors should keep an eye out for the Mickey Mouse symbols which are hidden throughout the park
2. Get a new hairdo at Dapper Dan’s Hair Cuts
Tucked away in a corner of the Emporium shop in the Main Street U.S.A area, you’ll find the entrance to Dapper Dan’s Hair Cuts, a fully operational American-style barber shop. It’s decorated with authentic pieces from an actual Chicago barber and offers traditional cut throat razor, hot towel shave and neatly trimmed haircuts.
3. Listen to a piano lesson
In Main Street U.S.A, there lies a window with a sign that reads ‘Piano Lessons’ – if you stand by it, you will hear the sound of a student practising their scales during a piano lesson.
4. Steaming coffee cup sign
Take a close look at the billboard advertising The Coffee Grinder cafe – you might see real steam rising from the coffee cup in the sign.
5. Pick up the old phone
In some of the stores on Main Street U.S.A, such as Market House Deli and New Century Notions Flora’s Unique Boutique, you can pick up an old telephone and listen to a conversation. The nifty phones are supposed to transport visitors back to a time when numerous households or businesses would share the same telephone line – making eavesdropping easy.
6. The colours of the castle
The blue and pink colours of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle were purposely selected to contrast with the grey skies that are common to this part of France. That said, many also argue that the colours were chosen to reflect the hues of Sleeping Beauty’s dresses.
The blue and pink colours of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle were purposely chosen to contrast with the often grey skies of the Paris region
7. Getting perfect lighting
All of the castles at Disney’s parks are designed to face south so that the sun can never ruin your photo, regardless of whether you’re snapping pictures during the golden hour or in the early hours of the morning.
8. Spot the golden snails
Keep your eyes peeled for tiny golden snails embedded on to the golden towers of the Sleeping Beauty Castle – they’re a subtle nod to French culture, with ‘escargots’ (snails) being a much beloved French delicacy.
9. Listen out for the musical trees
The square-shaped trees next to Sleeping Beauty’s Castle are said to represent the notes within Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty Waltz – the tune that inspired the film’s signature song, Once Upon a Dream.
10. Colourful armour in the castle
Go to the gallery on the top floor of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle and you’ll find two sets of armour alongside a statue of a crow. Take a photo of the armour with the flash on and they will reflect back the colours that are associated with the fairies from Sleeping Beauty – pink, blue and green.
11. See the twinkling tapestry
Elsewhere in the Sleeping Beauty gallery, there’s a colourful hanging tapestry that shows Princess Aurora sleeping. It’s actually animated – if you wait a few seconds in front of it, you’ll notice the tapestry twinkling with light.
12. Find the dragon’s lair
Underneath Sleepy Beauty’s Castle, you’ll find ‘La Taniere du Dragon’, a huge audio-animatronic dragon that measures 27m (89 ft) from head to tail. The dragon mostly sleeps silently, but occasionally it wakes up and you’ll see smoke and hear growling sounds.
13. See the changing faces of Mr Toad
Look carefully at the digital portraits of Mr Toad on the walls of the Toad Hall Restaurant – these pictures are ever-changing, depicting the Disney character as everyone from Vincent Van Gogh to the subject of the Mona Lisa painting.
14. The Legends of the Old West
Go on a walk-through tour of the ‘Legends of the Wild West’ and you’ll be rewarded with a great view of Big Thunder Mountain
Head up the stairs as soon as you pass through the Frontierland gates for a walk-through tour of the ‘Legends of the Wild West’. This walk-through attraction features wax figures of characters such as Buffalo Bill and also offers a great view of Big Thunder Mountain.
15. Vintage original features
Check out the ‘movie posters’ in Frontierland and you’ll spy original posters from the early years of the theme park. You can identify these because they say ‘Euro Disneyland’ – the theme park’s name up until the mid-1990s.
16. Take a ride on the Molly Brown boat
Enjoy interesting views of Big Thunder Mountain while cruising on one of the two 19th-century-style paddleboats. Image courtesy of Creative Commons
While it’s not a Disneyland secret per se, if you take a ride on one of the theme park’s two 19th-century-style paddleboats, Molly Brown or Mark Twain, you’ll be rewarded with interesting views of Big Thunder Mountain. What’s more, you can experience a leisurely tour through the Old West.
17. Find the Baby Doe Mine rail track
Near Big Thunder Mountain, you might spot a fixture which appears to be a rail track and carriage heading nowhere, titled ‘Baby Doe Mine’ – this feature is said to be a homage to a planned ride that was never built.
18. Whisper across the store
The dome ceiling in Harrington’s Fine China & Porcelains on Main Street U.S.A was built with acoustics in mind. As a result, if it’s not busy, you and a friend can stand at either end of the dome and whisper to one another, and the sound should carry through to the other side.
19. Spot the Eiffel Tower
Head to the very top of the Swiss Family Robinson tree house and you may be able to spot the Eiffel Tower. It will need to be a very clear day, so it’s much more likely that you’ll spot the tower in summer, but it’s always worth a look.
20. Where to watch the parade
To see the Disney parade, head to Central Plaza, where you can see all the characters and floats arrive from Main Street U.S.A and then fan out across the park
To enjoy the parade to its fullest, it’s best to watch it from Central Plaza. From here you can see the full show from all four stages as all the characters and floats arrive from Main Street U.S.A and then fan out across the park.
21. Retro attractions
Take a close look at The Old Mill in Fantasyland – it’s a disused Ferris wheel attraction.
22. Go window shopping
Have a look at the window displays behind the Constellations souvenir shop – one of the displays was installed on the theme park’s opening day, April 12 1992, and has been untouched ever since.
23. Take a shortcut
Take a shortcut through the covered walkway from near Adventureland Bazaar, all the way through to Peter Pan’s Flight. The route is great when it’s raining and a quick walk if you want to get somewhere fast when the park is very busy.
24. Become part of the Toy Story
The Toy Story Playland is arranged in such a way as to look as though the characters from Toy Story are roaming around
The layout of Toy Story Playland at the Walt Disney Studios Park is designed in such a way as to look as though the huge talking models of Buzz and Woody and toy-shaped rides have come to life, just as they do in the film. Visitors are meant to feel like toy soldiers who are part of the narrative.
25. Build your own lightsaber
Drop by Star Traders in Discoveryland to build your own lightsaber or souvenir droid. Even if you don’t want to purchase one yourself, you can take a look at the lightsabers that other visitors are building.
26. Birthday freebies
If it’s your birthday, you can pick up a customised birthday celebration badge from City Hall in Disneyland Park so all of the staff will know that you’re celebrating – you’ll get lots of birthday wishes as you walk through the park, and might even get an extra turn on a ride.
27. Learn about the Statue of Liberty
There’s an exhibit inside the Liberty Arcade (above) that will teach you about the opening of the Statue of Liberty. Image courtesy of Creative Commons
In Liberty Arcade there is a small room hidden behind big red curtains which shows a recreation of the opening of the Statue of Liberty. The attraction includes wax figures and the recording of U.S. President Grover Cleveland’s original speech in which he accepted the gift of the statue from France.
28. Dine with the characters
A perk of booking to stay onsite at one of Disneyland Paris Hotels is the dining experiences on offer. With the ‘Extra Plus Meal Plan’, guests can enjoy one lunch or dinner with Disney characters at restaurants Auberge de Cendrillon and Plaza Gardens.
29. The best spot for the light show
Where’s the best place to witness the light show – complete with drone light choreography and fireworks – that takes place at the end of each day? It’s right at the end of Main Street U.S.A, apparently. If you’re to the right of the castle, you’ll be able to see the Mickey Mouse drone shape appear in full, rather than it being obstructed by the castle itself.
30. Take an official tour
If you love hearing all the ins and outs of Disneyland life and want to hear more from the people who know it best, you can take a guided tour that will uncover more features that you might not have spotted before. It’s worth noting however that the tour, which can be booked by visiting City Hall in Disneyland Park, comes at an extra cost.
For more information visit AttractionTickets.com.