Yesterland Paris at Yesterland.com

Disneyland Paris
February 2001
Disneypland Paris entrance

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2001


My first visit to Disneyland Paris was in February 2001. That was 21 years ago.

I didn’t pick the month of February for the “refreshing” winter weather. It wasn’t to avoid crowds either, although it worked out that way. I was in Paris on a business trip for my real job. The dates were beyond my control. At the end of the week, I squeezed in a morning of sightseeing in Paris and a whirlwind visit to Disneyland Paris for the rest of the day.

Travel back to 2001 with me. I hope you enjoy the photos.

Werner Weiss, Curator of Yesterland, February 4, 2022

Walt Disney Studios Park under construction

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2001

Walt Disney Studios Park under construction

I arrived by RER commuter train wearing a warm jacket on the cold, drizzly, dreary day.

I didn’t have to decide how to divide my time between the two parks. The opening of Walt Disney Studios Park—March 16, 2002—was still more than a year away.

Walt Disney Studios Park under construction

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2001

Disneyland Hotel at the park entrance

I had to be careful as I walked. Although the air was above freezing, the mist sometimes turned to ice on the walkways, still chilled from a night that had been below freezing.

DIsneyland Paris arcades parallel to Main Street

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2001

Pleasant, dry arcades parallel to Main Street, U.S.A.

As I explored Disneyland Paris, I saw how this park benefitted from everything the Disney Imagineers had learned from the three “Disney castle parks” that preceded it.

For example, you know how difficult it can be to get from one end of Main Street to the other at the original Disneyland Park or at Magic Kingdom Park when there’s a parade? At Disneyland Paris, Main Street, U.S.A. has covered arcades behind the stores on each side of the open-air street. That’s also an advantage in poor weather. The arcades are lovely spaces, with all sorts of design details.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril at Disneyland Paris

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2001

Cast member all bundled up; another squeegeeing water

At Disneyland Paris, Adventureland is a large land. Compared to two Magic Kingdoms in the United States, the location of Frontierland and Adventureland are swapped. There’s no Jungle Cruise, but this Adventureland is home to the most impressive version of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, the not-so-wonderful Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril roller coaster (especially painful backwards), and Adventure Isle, an area to be explored in the tradition of Tom Sawyer Island stateside.

What amazed me was how green Adventureland was. The landscapers did a terrific job picking trees and plants that looked downright tropical, yet were able to survive in Northern France in February!

Les Mystères du Nautilus at Disneyland Paris

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2001

Les Mystères du Nautilus in Discoveryland

Most Disney fans know that Disneyland Paris has Discoveryland, inspired by the visions of French author Jules Verne, in place of Tomorrowland. There’s a lagoon with a submarine based on Walt Disney’s 1954 movie 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Although the sub is reminiscent of the Magic Kingdom ride, Les Mystères du Nautilus in France has more in common with Disneyland’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea walkthrough exhibit (1955–1966).

Space Mountain at Disneyland Paris

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2001

Space Mountain - De la Terre à la Lune

Space Mountain - De la Terre à la Lune was justly famous for its unique design, the “cannon” launch on its exterior, track inversions, and Jules Verne imagery. The ride was credited with giving the financially troubled park a major boost in attendance when it debuted three years after the park’s opening. Knowing how popular it was, I picked up a FASTPASS for it. I should not have bothered on this lightly attended February day.

In 2005, Space Mountain - De la Terre à la Lune lost the Jules Verne story and became Space Mountain: Mission 2. In 2017, it became Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain.

Star Tours presented by IBM at Disneyland Paris

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2001

Star Tours “presente par IBM”

With my limited time at Disneyland Paris, I did not go on Star Tours. It might have been interesting to see how the attraction dealt with the language issue, but the ride film would have been the same as at American Disney parks.

Until I saw the sign, I did not know that IBM—my employer at the time—sponsored Star Tours. That sponsorship ended in 2002.

It’s now Star Tours: The Adventures Continue or Star Tours: L‘Aventure Continue.

Euro Disneyland Railroad

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2001

Clouds of steam in the cold air at the Discoveryland station

One of the highlights of my day at Disneyland Paris was the Disneyland Railroad—or the Euro Disneyland Railroad, as the train was still painted. The view from the train was great. The same mist that made the walkways slippery somehow made the scenery from the train into dream-like vistas.

Big Thunder Mountain at Disneyland Paris

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2001

Big Thunder Mountain on an island, instead of another Tom Sawyer Island

Unlike the trees of Adventureland, those of Frontierland made no attempt to pretend it wasn’t winter. Deciduous trees were leafless, leaving it to the evergreens to provide signs of life. It made for beautiful, wintery riverbanks.

Sidewheeler Molly Brown and sternwheeler Mark Twain

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2001

The sidewheeler Molly Brown passing the sternwheeler Mark Twain

At one point, my train passed the riverboat Molly Brown as it emerged from behind an island. The riverboat Mark Twain was docked for the winter. It felt as if I were a million miles from the sterile office towers of the Le Defense section of Paris, where I had worked that week.

Critter Coral at Disneyland Paris

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2001

No people at Critter Coral—just wet animals

The Disneyland Railroad passed Frontierland’s Critter Coral. The trees in the background faded into the mist, making them look more distant. Disneyland Paris is a big park. The train track encircles far more acreage than at the original Disneyland Park.

Critter Coral at Disneyland Paris

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2001

Cottonwood Creek Cowboy Cookout Barbecue

Discoveryland at Disneyland Paris

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2001

Phantom Manor, looking particularly dreary

Discoveryland at Disneyland Paris

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2001

Wet pavement, reflecting the lights of Discoveryland

The mist continued into the night. The wet pavement acted as a mirror reflecting the park’s lights. The familiar music of the Main Street Electrical Parade emanated from the parade route that followed a similar path to the route at the original Disneyland Park.

Discoveryland at Disneyland Paris

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2001

Outdoor launch cannon at Space Mountain: De la Terre à la Lune (from the Earth to the Moon)

Balloon sellers at Disneyland Paris

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2001

Balloon sellers bundled up on Main Street, U.S.A.

As the park’s closing time approached, the mist turned into a light rain. Fortunately, the pavement had warmed enough that the water was no longer freezing on the ground.

Disney Village at Disneyland Paris Resort

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2001

Disney Village, for more cold and rain

I was cold, wet, and tired. I was facing an hour-long RER commuter train ride back to Le Defense. But that didn’t keep me from exploring Disney Village and four of the resort hotels. My souvenir purchase at Disney’s Newport Bay Club hotel consisted of several pairs of warm socks, with Mickey Mouse embroidered on them.

Disney Village at Disneyland Paris Resort

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2001

RER commuter train platform at “Parc Disneyland”

Disneyland Paris is a beautifully designed park—even on a cold, drizzly, dreary winter day.


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Updated February 4, 2022