One thing that's a little different about the Disneyland Paris' Hub is the lands that radiate from it are set further back than at other Magic Kingdoms. In other words, Frontierland, Adventureland, and Discoveryland really aren't all that visible from The Hub. This allows the area to maintain its Victorian theming without contrasting architectures intruding into the space.
This shot of The Hub was taken from the castle, looking back toward Main Street.
The Hub is the northern terminus for all Main Street traffic. The one-way trips start and end here.
Mickey has it easy at Disneyland Paris. Here we see him being chauffeured to a Meet-&-Greet. (Maybe he's tired after the long flight from Orlando.)
Just like its American counterparts, Disneyland Paris has an Information Board. Here you can find the wait times for attractions, see which rides are closed for rehab, and determine show and parade times.
For a bite to eat, try the Plaza Gardens restaurant. This elaborately decorated Victorian eatery serves meals buffeteria-style.
Those of you familiar with the Plaza Inn at Disneyland, Californian will get a creepy sense of déjà vu as the two locales are very similar.
The Hub is also a good place to buy balloons.
“Le Chateau de la Belle au Bois Dormant” or “Sleeping Beauty Castle”
When the Imagineers began their plans for Sleeping Beauty Castle, they were keenly aware that the surrounding countryside was full of “genuine” castles. They realized that Europeans could easily be blasé with their design unless they came up with something truly magical. And that they did. Paris' Sleeping Beauty Castle is arguably the most beautiful of any of the Disney structures. It's absolutely stunning and can transform even the most cynical adult back to childhood.
But Sleeping Beauty Castle is more than just a stand-alone structure. Elaborate walkways, gardens, waterfalls, and a wishing well flank its sides.
Deep beneath the castle in the dungeon guests can find an unusual sight -- “La Taniere du Dragon” or “The Den of the Dragon.” This is the home of Maleficent, now permanently transformed into a dragon and chained in captivity for all eternity. She sleeps much of the time, but occasionally wakes, belches smoke and growls at the curious onlookers.
Shorty after Disneyland in California opened in 1955, guests started to ask, “What's inside the castle.” The answer, nothing.
In order to appease his audience, Walt ordered his Imagineers to come up with something. Since this space was very cramped, this was no small assignment. In the end, they designed the “Sleeping Beauty Walkthrough.” This was a simple “walk-thru” attraction where the story of the young princess unfolds before you in a series of simple tableaus. (BTW, this attraction just recently reopened after an extensive rehab.)
At Disneyland Paris, the story of Sleeping Beauty is also told within the castle. But since this castle is substantially larger than California's, the tableaus are far more elaborate and the experience far more intoxicating. Here are just a few of the scenes.
The stained-glass window (pictured below) gradually changes from a rose to doves and back again. Because of space constraints, I had to recreate it as an “instant” change.
You exit the Gallery of Sleeping Beauty on the second floor where you're free to discover more of the castle's beauty. Here's a picture of me videotaping and a concerned owl watching me.
When the Imagineers were designing the Magic Kingdom in Florida, they had a great idea. Why not put a stage in front of the castle. This would make the perfect backdrop for any performance. They liked the idea so much that they enhanced this design at Tokyo Disneyland. Here they made the stage bigger and added removable benches in an enlarged Hub. There was only one problem with this idea, whenever a show is in progress, the pathways to and through the castle must be closed down. Bummer.
At Disneyland Paris they corrected this little problem. By placing the stage off to the side, the castle is still perfectly situated as a backdrop, but it doesn't interfere with the pathways leading to Sleeping Beauty Castle. If you compared this location to the Magic Kingdom in Florida, the stage would be located in the Rose Garden.
In my next blog I'll be discussing Frontierland.
The previous post in this blog was Disneyland Paris - Main Street Part 3.
The next post in this blog is Disneyland Paris - Frontierland – Part 1 – Thunder Mesa.