Nearly everything at Disneyland Resort Paris is within walking distance, and connecting the parks with the resorts and the rail station is Disney Village. This shopping, dining and entertainment complex was designed by noted architect Frank Gehry and originally opened as Festival Disney, but the area was renamed in 1996 to give it more appeal as a gathering spot for Guests after a day in the theme parks.
Similar to the Downtown Disney districts at other Disney resorts, Disney Village features a mix of Disney-branded locations with operating participants such as Starbucks, McDonald's and Earl of Sandwich.
There are also several themed dining establishments such as Rainforest Cafe, Planet Hollywood and the Bavarian-inspired King Ludwig's Castle.
You can also catch a movie at Disney Village, at the 15 screen Gaumont Cinema (avec Imax). While we didn't spend valuable time in Paris watching American movies, I did find it very entertaining to see how certain releases had been retitled for ease of translation overseas. Perhaps there's not a word in French for "hangover?"
The bit of construction you see to the right of the cinema in the above photo is the future home of Paris's own World of Disney, set to open in 2012. For now, Guests can get their Disneyland Paris souvenir fix at the Disney Store and several other character shops along the avenue.
Inside the Disney Store are large character vignettes, much like those found in the mall-based Disney Stores of the '90s. Here, you'll see the characters visiting Disneyland Resort Paris landmarks, such as Le Chateau de la Belle au Bois Dormant or Walt Disney Studios Park.
You'll also find a veritable cornucopia of Disney character stars floating and flying above the center of the massive store. There's Launchpad McQuack, Kit Cloudkicker and Baloo the bear from TaleSpin, along with my favorite, Professor Ludwig Von Drake, piloting a hot air balloon.
Many of the establishments at Disney Village have changed over the years, but one of the originals is still among the best. Annette's Diner, named in tribute to everyone's favorite Mouseketeer, is a simple pleasure. It's a throwback to another era, with burgers and shakes, carhops, Googie architecture and fun music.
Annette's isn't the only thing that remains from Day One at Disney Village. Here and there around the resort, you'll also occasionally come across something like this: One of the few vestiges of the original name of Disneyland Resort Paris, Euro Disney.
Way down at the other end of Disney Village is a relative newcomer on the scene, Panoramagique. This tethered balloon attraction (operated by the same company that runs Characters in Flight at Walt Disney World) takes off from a setting that looks like it would be right at home between Main Street and Discoveryland. That's appropriate, I suppose, since you can sometimes see the balloon from those areas of the park.
What's great about Panoramagique, though, is the view you get from the balloon itself. It's a spectacular panorama of Disney Village, Lake Disney and the parks and resort areas of Disneyland Paris. Check it out for yourself in the video below from DLRP Magic.