Disneyland Paris While Studying Abroad

Victorian style manor; entrance to Phantom Manor ride in Disneyland Paris

When traveling abroad it’s important to find something that resonates with you across all cultures. It can be nerve wracking traveling across the world alone, but if you can incorporate your passions into it becomes a lot less scary! My passion has and always will be Disney. I reside in Southern California and visit Disneyland every Sunday, it’s practically my religion. When I found out IBS was providing students the opportunity to learn abroad in Paris, I immediately jumped at the idea. It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to visit every single Disney Park, and it just so happens there is a Disneyland in Paris. With utter excitement I had no doubt that if I was going to Paris, I was going to make sure I took the time to visit Disneyland. So how did I do this? I believe it’s easy to combine work and pleasure! Once I completed the trip with IBS, I took the opportunity to stay in Paris an extra day.

Imagine how you might feel waking up on Christmas morning as a kid. This is how I felt when I woke up ready to visit Disney Paris. I sprung out of bed bright and early and took an Uber to Disney’s Hotel New York – The Art of Marvel. This hotel was unbelievable, it’s like being transferred to the Marvel universe. The lobby of the hotel is pictured below. Once you enter the lobby you can see the sparkling Iron Man suits. I made my way to the concierge, who were incredibly friendly and spoke English. I was able to leave my luggage with the hotel until my room was ready.

Three futuristic suits of armor in a display inside a large hotel lobby.

Since I stayed at a Disney Resort, I was able to get into the Parks an hour earlier than everyone else. I started my day in Walt Disney Studios Parks. I entered the parks and immediately went a on a rollercoaster, since there is no better time than at 8am. My first ride was Flight Force, which is an action-packed ride. In this ride Iron Man is tracking a series of warheads being sent at the Earth from the alien empire of the Kree. In a state of emergency Ironman is unable to find any superhero allies to assist him, causing him to call on the help of park attendees. We would later board the “Hypersonique” to assist Stark and Captain Marvel in warding off the warheads. If you are familiar with Disney Parks, there is a ride called Rock ‘n’ Roller coaster inside of Hollywood Studios located in Florida. Before this ride was Flight Force it was previously the Rock ‘n’ Roller coaster. Meaning that these rides have the same tracks, they go very fast and upside down.

After a few more rides I made my way to Disneyland Paris. Inside of this park I found one of my favorite rides, the Phantom Manor. This ride is similar to the Haunted Mansion located in both Disneyland and Disney World. The ride features a ghostly bride, who is called Sally Little. She is a woman who died of a broken heart when her lover John O’Hannon never made it to their wedding. To think she was left behind at the altar, a women’s worst nightmare! The two were finally able to be together when John was an elderly man and Sally a skeletal corpse. I would consider this to be a classic story of true love!

Another ride I went on was Tower of Terror. The story of this ride is based on the Twilight Zone. A family walks into a ‘normal elevator’ to get to their hotel room. While in the elevator lightening unexpectedly struck the elevator tower causing their souls to be trapped in the hotel forever. Upon entering this ride, it’s now the guests’ turn to ride the elevator. As a guest you board the elevator haunted by a lovely ghost girl. You ride to the top of the tower, and you suddenly drop. This is one of my favorite rides of all time. In another lifetime, we had this ride in California before it was changed to the Guardians of the Galaxy. As odd as it sounds, this ride brings so me so much joy and comfort since I have so many pleasant memories associated with it. It’s one of those passion moments. Find what you love, and it becomes easy to travel abroad.

Multi-story building housing the Tower of Terror ride towering over a high-rise

It’s funny to see how many things are translated across cultures and enjoyed by others, even on the other side of the world. I realized that when you are doing something you find so enjoyable it’s easy to forget you are alone. When I was at Disney Paris, not once did I feel alone or afraid of my surroundings. I felt at peace because I was fulfilling a lifelong dream.

Each Disney Park is unique in its own right, but each is modeled after the first Disneyland in California. Although the park is different each time, I step into one I am immediately reminded of home. In this case, this was a way for me to ease my homesickness. Beyond finding your passion, I would suggest finding a piece of your home abroad. It may not be Disneyland for you, but a comforting meal. Little things like this can make traveling so much easier.

Color photo portrait of a young person wearing sunglasses looking at a sunset.
Jessica Mckee

School: California Lutheran University

"I love to live life to the fullest with food, travel, and education!"

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