Discover Disneyland Paris Hidden Gems – from the dragon sleeping under the castle to the hidden Mickeys dotted all over the parks!
If you want a break from the long ride queues and the ups and downs of roller coasters, why not go hunting for Disneyland Paris’ hidden secrets? The two parks are overflowing with these hidden gems – small areas often overlooked by the main crowds who enter the parks and head straight for the big rides.
Although I’m a regular visitor to Disney I still discovered some new things this year, so I’m sharing with you my list of the quirky little spots I uncovered on my recent jaunt to the Magic Kingdom…
The dragon under the castle
Did you know that a dragon sleeps restlessly in the bowels of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle? Now one of the more well-known Disney ‘hidden gems’, the dragon under the castle can be heard when you walk through the castle into Fantasyland and if you stand on tiptoe and peer through the barred door by the shop you might get a glimpse of his head.
However, this summer I discovered you can actually get much closer to the big guy if you follow a small path to the lower left of the castle. You can enter the cavern below and see the beast up close and personal. Many people think because it’s Sleeping Beauty’s castle that the dragon is actually Maleficent, but it’s actually meant to be Merlin’s dragon and is the biggest animatronic in the Paris parks!
Sleeping Beauty’s balcony
Although most people just use Sleeping Beauty’s Castle as a thoroughfare between Main Street and Fantasyland, it’s well worth stopping and heading upstairs to wander the balcony. Up here this Disney princess’ story is told through the castle’s stained glass windows, which are jaw-droppingly beautiful.
I later discovered that the creation of these was overseen by a gentleman called Peter Chapman, who was well-known for the work he did in the past restoring Notre Dame’s stained glass using original techniques dating back from the Middle Ages.
Check out the beautiful glass dome at Harrington’s
Another glass masterpiece can be seen inside the Harrington’s Fine China and Porcelain store. Above the main cash desk is the most gorgeous art deco style glass dome, you’ll definitely want to grab a photo.
But there’s more to it than that. The dome has some special acoustics – get someone to stand the opposite side of the dome from you and whisper. It’ll sound like they’re right by your side!
Explore the caverns of Davy Jones’ locker
Scared of heights? We’ve got you covered. If you’re not up for scrambling across the rope bridges of the Swiss Family Robinson’s treehouse then why not head underground instead?
We discovered a warren of caves with entrances under the banyan tree and beside the pirate ship that both the kids and big kids in our group enjoyed exploring.
The Haunted Mansion’s graveyard
As you head up to the Haunted Mansion go around past the house and follow the path to its graveyard. There are some hilarious epitaphs on the gravestones, but the highlight is the large concrete mausoleum. Head close enough and you’ll start to hear a … heartbeat!
Aladdin’s ‘cave of wonder’
Just opposite the Agrabah Café in Adventureland (well worth visiting for the amazing décor!) there’s a rather plain entrance to the beautiful Le Passenge Enhanté d’Aladdin. Here’s there’s paintings and window displays telling the story of Disney’s Aladdin (the animated one, not the latest remake). It’s well worth visiting and the displays are just beautiful. When we explored the entire area we didn’t see another soul – a pity so few people discover this lovely little Disneyland Paris secret spot.
Get a haircut!
Did you know there’s actually a barbershop in Disneyland Paris? You’ll find Dapper Dan’s about half way up Main Street, at the back of one the Emporium. It’s not open all the time but if you’re lucky you can pop in and get a Disney trim!
Make sure you pop into L’Auberge de Cendrillon (Cinderella’s Inn) in Fantasyland because you’ll get to see Cinderella’s fairytale carriage in its courtyard!
Discover the inspiration for Frontierland
When you enter Frontierland take a moment to go up the stairs of Fort Comstock next to the ‘Legends of the Wild West’ sign. Here you can wander through the fort and learn all about some of the biggest stories that came from the era including Buffalo Bill and the gold rush.
Secrets of the Disney Storybook store
If you visit the Disney Storybook store, right near the entrance of the park, don’t forget to look up! You’ll see loads of your fave Disney characters up there enjoying the books including Goofy, and if you look very, very carefully, little Jaq from Cinderella.
You’ll also be welcomed to this store by one of the oldest audio animatronics in the park, Tigger.
Have fun with the fairground mirrors in the Disney & Co store
Disney shops are for more than just shopping – the fun carries on! Weave your way through the Disney & Co shop and you’ll discover an old fairground mirror, we had a great time messing around there!
Search for hidden Mickeys
I’ll admit it felt like there are more to be found in the US parks, but there are still some ‘hidden Mickeys’ to be found all over Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney Studios Park. These are Mickey Mouse shapes made up of three circles (his head and two smaller circles for ears) that have been put into the design of features in the restaurants and the different Disney lands.
I spotted one inside the Plaza Gardens Restaurant, another by the iron fence outside of the Animagique Theatre, inside the fountain at Places des Freses Lumiere at the Disney Studios Park entrance – and even in some barrels in Frontierland!
One of the most famous ‘hidden Mickeys’ can be spotted outside the It’s a Small World ride. Look up for the clock and you’ll see some cogs making up the Mickey Mouse shape!
Visiting Disneyland Paris with a disability? Then you may want to check out my guide to disability access in the parks?
And why not take a day trip to Paris while you’re in the area..?