France // Paris //

Disneyland Paris

Children will love Disneyland Paris – and most adults too, for all the rampant commercialism. If you’re not staying in one of the resort hotels, in Disney Village, it’s easy to visit in a day-trip from the capital, 25km away. There are two main areas: Disneyland Park, which has most of the really big rides, and Walt Disney Studios Park, which offers more technological rides based on animation – though there are plenty of thrill rides too.

Disneyland Park

Disneyland Park has a variety of good thrill rides, though the majority of attractions remain relatively sedate. The Magic Kingdom is divided into four “lands” radiating out from Main Street USA. Fantasyland appeals to the tinies, with “It’s a Small World”, Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, Peter Pan’s Flight and Dumbo the Flying Elephant among its attractions. Adventureland has the most outlandish sets and two of the best rides – Pirates of the Caribbean and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril. Frontierland, loosely set in the Wild West, features the hair-raising roller coaster Big Thunder Mountain, modelled on a runaway mine train, and the gothic Phantom Manor. In Discoveryland there’s a 3-D experience called “Honey, I Shrunk The Audience”, an interactive Buzz Lightyear laser battle, and the terrifyingly fast Space Mountain roller coasters. The grand parade of floats representing all your favourite characters sallies down Main Street USA at about 7pm every day, with smaller events, special shows and fireworks displays occurring regularly.

Walt Disney Studios Park

Though it has its share of big rides – among them the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith, a corkscrew-looping, metal-playing white-knuckler, and the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, with its gut-churning elevator drop – the Walt Disney Studios Park largely focuses on what Disney was and is still renowned for – animation. You can try your hand at drawing, be part of the audience in a mocked-up film or TV set, and enjoy special effects and stunt shows. The virtual reality Armageddon ride is genuinely thrilling – your space station is bombarded by meteors – the tram tour through the collapsing Catastrophe Canyon is good fun, and smaller children will be bowled over by their live interactions with that alarmingly crazed blue alien, Stitch.