February was a perfect month. I turned 21, got a 2:1 in my university coursework and I got to spend 4 amazing days in Disneyland Paris. Before leaving I read through hundreds of blog posts about Disney from booking to hotels, food to souvenirs and each one was more helpful than the one before so I thought I would add my own take on the happiest place on earth into the mix. Here is my honest guide to Disneyland Paris…
Dates – Before booking my trip I headed down to Thomson (now known as TUI I believe) and picked up a guide to Disneyland. Inside there was a helpful chart with a week by week guide to how busy the park would be throughout the year. Luckily for me one of the least busy weeks coincided with my reading week at uni so it was like it was meant to be! As you can imagine Disneyland is never going to be empty but I don’t think the crowds were too horrendous, on average we only had to queue for 30 mins and always had a decent view for the fireworks/parades. I would definitely recommend February as a good time to go just make sure you wrap up nice and warm!
Travel – I opted to take the Eurostar simply because it was slightly cheaper than flying and just felt like less of a hassle. We sped through passport control in St Pancras and before we knew it we were through the tunnel and into France. Overall it took about 2.45 hours and as soon as you step out the station you are a 5 minute walk away from the entrance to Disney. There was an option where you could pay to check in on the train so you could head straight to the parks but I didn’t pay for this as I didn’t mind going to the hotel and settling in a bit first before heading off to the castle! On our way home we were told to only leave 40 mins before our train left but THIS IS A LIE! The queue for customs was so long and we only just made our train so I would recommend heading to the station with at least an hour to spare
Hotel – We stayed in one of the new renovated rooms at the Disney Cheyenne hotel and, for the price we payed, I think it was lovely. Our room had an ensuite, with a shower and a bath, and 2 large double beds. It had air conditioning, heating and a large tv that played endless repeats of Thats So Raven so I really couldn’t complain. The hotel had a gift shop, a Starbucks, a bar and a buffet restaurant which we didn’t actually end up trying but it looked perfectly nice. It was a 10/15 minute walk from the parks or a 3 minute bus ride. I can imagine in peak season the buses would get very crowded and you may have to end up waiting around for one but seeing as the park was at its emptiest we never had to wait longer than 5 minutes for one. I really like the Cheyenne hotels wild west/toy story theme and would 100% stay there again!
Food – I was most worried about the food and how much it was going to cost me to simply not starve but I ended up being pleasantly surprised. Our hotel offered a buffet breakfast for a rather large cost so instead we chose to just go to Starbucks in the morning and grab a cup of tea and a croissant which turned out to be much more cost effective (and yummier I can imagine). Seeing as we didn’t have a weight limit on the Eurostar we stocked our bags up with lots of snacky foods like breakfast bars and biscuits to keep us going throughout the day. For lunches and diners we tended to opt for the quick service restaurants in which you could get a main (like a burger or hot dog), a side, a desert and a drink for around €15, if you chose off the set menu, which I thought was pretty reasonable and they were decent sized servings. Although food was the thing we spent the most on it wasn’t as extortionate as I had feared and there was definitely a great variety. I would highly recommend the chicken fajitas at the quick service restaurant opposite Big Thunder Mountain! Disney do offer meal plans but seeing as I didn’t use on I don’t feel like I know enough to comment on them but I will say that I didn’t leave wishing that I had got one.
Rides – As previously mentioned we got quite lucky with wait times and also took good advantage of the fast pass system that Disney offers. The biggest problem we faced however was rides closing down. We got to the front of the queue of Pirates of the Caribbean to have it shut down and I couldn’t ride Space Mountain until the last day as it always seemed to be closed. It was frustrating but in the end we did get to ride everything we wanted! The last time I went to Disney I was around 10 and lots of the rides hadn’t changed at all since then but in a way I think that just adds to the sentimental value of Disney for me. My top ride recommendations would be Buzz Lightyears Laser Blast, Big Thunder Mountain, Ratatouille and It’s a Small World simply for how bizarre it is. The only ride I would question would be Crush’s Coaster, it was fun but over very quickly considering we queued the longest for it out of any of the rides.
Souvenirs – Everywhere you turn you will see a gift shop and if you like Stitch then you are definitely in for a treat because he seemed to be everywhere! Even though there were lots of different shops I felt they all seemed to sell the same thing and Disney had clearly singled out a few films to focus their merch on. The most noticeable difference for me since the last time I went was just how much Star Wars stuff there was, it was everywhere! Just like the food I wasn’t as shocked by the prices of most things as I thought I would be but €5 for a pencil….come on now Disney. I ended up picking some pins and t-shirts to take home and am very impressed with the quality of them so although this sounds like I am ripping into the souvenirs I am not, I do think there are some great things you might just have to push past the racks of overpriced stationary to find them.
Top tips – Here are a few tips that I wish I had known before going on my trip to Disneyland Paris….
- Invest in the Photopass! Even though it was quite pricey (at around £40 I think) we will be forever laughing at some of the photos we got from the rides and are definitely great memories to treasure!
- Don’t feel like you can’t take some time to chill! You have spent a lot of money and want to get the full bang for your buck I know but we found that going back to the hotel for a couple of hours in the afternoon for a rest made our whole experience more enjoyable.
- Get a lanyard with a plastic card wallet on. I ended up buying one from the park for about €10 but it made it so much easier having our park tickets, hotel key, fast passes etc all in one place. Plus it was a great way to show off all those new pins!
- If there is a ride you really want to go on but the queues are too long, wait till when the parade is on then I guarantee the lines will be a lot shorter.
- Use a blank white photo frame to get signatures from characters then when you’re home you can add in one of your favourite photos and have all of the memories of the people you met shown off around it.
- Bring layers for the evening. If you’re planning on staying till the fireworks then keep an extra layer in your bag, especially if you’re going in the winter months, because you won’t enjoy the fireworks if you feel like a human ice cream.
- Secure a good spot for the parade early because there is nothing more annoying than having a 6ft 4 dad with a kid on his shoulders in front of you when you’re just trying to wave to Pluto from his float.
- If you’re meeting characters take videos as well as photos, you can get good stills from them and it’s also a great way to look back on the moment.
- The minnie mouse ears that Disney sells are made for kids heads so, I found them to be at least, very tight and very uncomfortable. Look into some pairs on Etsy before your trip, I got my Winnie the Pooh ones here and I love them. Plus it is a great way to connect with your favourite character if you’re wearing ears that represent them.
- Enjoy every moment of it because it honestly will be one of the most magical trip you go on no matter what age you are!
Go and grab another cuppa on me, Em x
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