We decided to drive to Paris as it meant we could take whatever we wanted with us. We caught a P&O Ferry from Dover to Calais, which was great (even if the crossing was a little choppy!). Driving in France is so much easier than in the UK… the roads are not congested, there are plenty of service stations and the signage is good. One reason for this is probably the hefty tolls you have to pay to use the roads so factor this in to your travel costs! We had a quick stop at a service station and then arrived at our accommodation within 3 hours of getting off the ferry. I would definitely drive again – it’s just so convenient!
I love all things Disney and the theming at the Park was amazing, as expected. We absolutely loved the rides, as well as the fantastic shows and parades – all the performances were slick and well executed.
In terms of the rides, my favourites were: It’s a Small World for the great animation and catchy tune;
Peter Pan’s Flight as the characters and the feeling you were flying were so well done, and; Big Thunder Mountain which is so much fun and the theming around this ride is amazing.
But there were many, many other great rides that will appeal to people of pretty much every age.
That said, if you are into your thrill rides, Disneyland is probably not the place for you as there are not too many of these. The exceptions being Indian Jones & the Temple of Peril and Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain, both of which are good coasters.
As we visited in August, which is peak season, the Parks were very busy and queues for the rides were long… this was unfortunately not helped by the inefficiency of ride staff who took a ridiculously long time to load the rides. Having visited Disney World in Florida where everything runs smoothly and efficiently, I was disappointed with this aspect of Disneyland Paris. My advice would be not to visit in peak season if you don’t have to and you’ll probably enjoy your visit much more. Unfortunately, due to other commitments, we had no choice but to holiday in August.
The parades and shows we saw were all done fantastically well – they were some of the highlights of my trip. The Disney Illuminations show took place at closing time every night and was truly spectacular – well worth staying late for! There were also some new shows this year for the 25th Anniversary of Disneyland Paris but one of the best is still the Disney Stars on Parade which takes place at 1730 every day.
We also watched the Forest of Enchantment show which features lots of your favourite Disney characters and tunes – again, well worth going to see if you get chance! The Chaparral Theatre is large so there is plenty of space no matter how big the crowds – we were lucky and managed to get a seat at the front meaning we had a fantastic view of the performance.
As our daughter was older this time, we didn’t do any of the Disney character Meet ‘n’ Greets, but there always seemed to be plenty of them around… the Disney Princesses one was particularly popular (and let’s be honest, who doesn’t love the Disney Princesses?).
The biggest draws at this park were Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, the Studio Tram Tour, Moteurs… Action! Stunt Show Spectacular and Ratatouille and they did not disappoint!
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is a great launch coaster with a fab rock soundtrack – don’t miss it! The Studio Tram Tour was interesting as it provides a brief look at what goes on behind the scenes of a film shoot – it’s also suitable for everyone. The Stunt Show was great and the Ratatouille ride was an amazing 4D experience – definitely one of the best I’ve seen! With the exception of the Stunt Show there were sizeable queues for the other big attractions unless you got to the park early and headed straight for the big rides (which we did).
We enjoyed seeing the Star Wars characters walking around the Park and the Star Wars shows were great fun to watch, for both children and adults.
Unfortunately, unlike in Florida, the Disney Magic Hours for guests staying at Disney Hotels were not available at Walt Disney Studios Park and, even in the main Park, there were only a few rides open during the extra hours, which was rather disappointing.
Similarly, FastPass (which allows you to take a ticket and return to a ride later, bypassing the lengthy queue) was not available on all the big rides and they had usually all run out by lunchtime anyway! Although I imagine this is only an issue at peak holiday times…
Last but by no means least, the Disney merchandise available in the stores in both Parks was phenomenal!! I could have happily bought pretty much everything… as it was we bought a fair selection to add to our collection from Disney World, Florida!
Accommodation: Disney’s Davy Crockett Ranch
We chose to stay in a lodge at the Davy Crockett Ranch for several reasons: it meant our 11-year old had her own room; the swimming pool looked great (it was); it had outside space where we could sit out in the evening, and; it was self-catering so had a kitchen we could use if we didn’t want to eat out. (We didn’t’ use the kitchen too much but it was great to have a fridge to keep drinks cold.)
The first issue we had was locating the accommodation! Unless you arrive by the main road, it is not sign-posted and is not close to the other Disney accommodation so we spent some time driving round in circles! This was made worse by the fact that the roads leading to this accommodation are in the process of being altered so our Sat Nav could not find a way to get us there!
The lodges themselves are well-equipped and spread out in the forest, meaning they are very peaceful, which was great. The staff in reception were helpful and the food in the on-site restaurant (The Tavern) was plentiful and very good. The pool was a bonus and was not too crowded either time we went in to cool off after walking round the Parks in the August heat.
We got the Standard Disney Dining Plan with our package – this included breakfast plus one meal (either lunch or dinner) each day. Our accommodation provided a takeaway breakfast which had to be collected from a cottage at the end of each bunch of lodges (a two-minute walk away). The main meals could be taken in several different restaurants and were all ‘as much as you can eat’ buffets! But my next post will cover eating at Disneyland Paris so I won’t say any more for now… other than that the food at Disneyland Paris was far superior to that at Disney World, Florida!
For me, the main downside of our accommodation was that our lodge was as far from the centre of the resort as you could get… to go to the restaurant or the bar in the evening we had to jump in the car, which wasn’t ideal.
As this accommodation is further out, the Disney transport does not run there so you do need a car to stay at the Davy Crockett Ranch. The free parking (for Disney Hotel guests) at the Disney Parks was great (it is usually €20 per day) and the car parks where easy to use and well managed.
Would I stay here again… maybe, but it was a bit too far from the Parks for me and wasn’t quite Disney enough! But if you like peace and quiet and are happy to drive to the Parks each day, this is a really great place to stay.
We had a great (if hectic) week at Disneyland Paris… Did it compare to our trip to Disney World, Florida? Not really, but it is a lot more convenient if you live in Europe, the milder climate makes it more suitable for walking around and you can still feel the enchanting magic of Disney!!
Disneyland Paris is a fun destination for a short break – with or without children! If you get the chance, go and enjoy it!