Disneyland Paris Trip 2013 vs 2016

I’ve always had a strange relationship with Disneyland Paris. I visited for the first time the year it opened and to be honest other than Captain EO and buying a cool Star Tours baseball cap that I lost I don’t really remember a lot. At that point in my life I wasn’t really ‘into’ Disney so I don’t think I was particularly bothered about going which is why I don’t remember. My Dad was a coach driver at the time and it was one of his trips I got to go on. I think I was about 11.

It’s always been the ‘poorer’ sister to WDW, it’s smaller and of course you’re not guaranteed the weather like you are in Orlando. About 5 years ago I went with Paul (our first holiday together) and we took Amelia for her first Disney experience. We went in August and we had a great time, we had 2 days in the park and stayed in nearby Val’D’Europe. It was busy but we had amazing weather and seeing her little face when she met Cinderella is another one of those things that stick with you and make you all emotional when you think about it.

She was so little then and she was just excited the whole time. We drove there it took us about 8 hours in all I think from leaving home and getting on the ferry and then driving to Chessy the other side. She barely slept from the time we got there to the time we came home – and I remember her talking non stop for the whole trip.

All in all that trip cost us about £500 so we really did it on a budget, Eurotunnel, Ibis in Val D’Europe and the 2 day park tickets. This was before I worked in travel and I got my tickets then from 365 tickets as they were the cheapest. What I didn’t realise at the time was we were being sent vouchers so that meant a good hour or so queue when we got there before we could go in being as they had to be exchanged for ‘real’ tickets. If you’re doing this on a budget I recommend checking with the ticket provider that they are either real tickets or gate ready e-tickets. Attraction Tickets Direct are a great place to get them from and they do have offers from time to time on their tickets.

That trip changed my mind a little on DLRP but I was still disappointed at the lack of characters, Disney for me as you know is all about them and there really wasn’t that many about. I didn’t see them wandering about like you do in Orlando and it just didn’t make it as magical as WDW was.

Fast forward just over 3 years and I did another trip. No kids just me and my mate Manda (who had spent half a day at Disneyland park over the summer not really being a Disney fan and had sent me a picture of herself there that day with the caption ‘I get it now!’) and she really wanted to spend a bit more time there and experience it properly. We got a really good deal and we went all-inclusive this time.  We flew from Southampton to Orly and it was a short just over an hour flight, had transfers on the Disney Shuttle which is really easy to find when you get to the airport and a great way to get to the park. It was about an hours journey again to our on resort hotel. We stayed in Newport Bay which has been newly refurbished. Check in was quick the staff were really helpful just the Disney attitude I’d been used to.  Newport Bay is in a great location its right near Disney Village and is walking distance to the park entrance. There is also a shuttle bus which can take you to the parks as well which we used and that was really quick. They ran every 10 minutes.  The pool was big and we spent a little time in there, breakfast was included with our package and was a standard continental all you can eat buffet in the hotel. We had to book our time slot for breakfast which we had really early so we could make use of the extra magic hours.

We had the dining package as well which was brilliant. It meant we could eat in some really nice places in DLRP. Amanda is vegan so she was really happy to find before our trip that there was quite a lot of selection for her. We picked our choices of eatieries based on if she could eat more than just pasta or a veggie burger. DLRP advertises that they have an allergen menu as well which was useful for her. However we had issues trying to get the staff in Cafe Mickey to understand what we were asking for. Cafe Mickey is great for character dining, however not so great for food if you have allergies or are vegan. If you have the dining plan it’s worth going to but if you’re paying I don’t think it’s worth the money. In hindsight we wish we had chosen a different character dining experience. Allegen food comes in plastic pots and it’s a lot to pay for something so basic. Characters here rotate so you may get different ones at different times of day.

Inside the park was quiet. We went in September and went during the week. Most rides were walk on (with the exception of Ratatouille) with the extra magic hours we could actually walk up to the castle with no one in front of us at all. That was a moment!!

Knowing that these parks are a lot smaller than WDW I didn’t even think about hiring any sort of wheelchair or taking an ECV (which you cannot hire here). It would have made the trip easier if I had. Instead we had 2 days when Amanda had to push me about in a chair. Which I hired at 20 euros a day and a 100 euro deposit. The parks are a lot smaller and the studios you can walk from one side to the other in about 10 minutes. Next time however I will take a chair with me.

Disability access is not like Orlando. You can get a guest assistance pass and this allows exit entrance to most rides although with some we were given a return time. You can use the card for character meets too and they give you return times so you don’t queue. It works well and I didn’t have any issues with it at all. The rides are a lot closer together than on Orlando and it’s so much more manageable I think.

I had an amazing time on this trip. Staying on site made a real difference and not having to worry about purchasing food was amazing. I’d never had that before and I don’t think I’ll take a trip there without it again. We ate in some incredible places and with the exception of Mickeys the food was incredible. Your dining plan is given to you in vouchers which you exchange whenever you eat. You have vouchers for every night you are staying in the hotel not the amount of days you have in the park.

CHEF REMYS was the place I most wanted to eat in. Seeing all the pictures online the themeing of it just looked incredible. We booked that one quite far in advance as it does get booked up really quickly. I can’t recommend it enough!!

It’s in the Studios park and you can see the ride from the restaurant. Our waiter was amazing the service was incredible and the food was to die for!! Whatever you have make sure it comes with the ratatouille. In terms of the atmosphere and surroundings this was my favourite place that we ate.

CAFE AGRABAH was the place that Amanda was most looking forward to eating it. There was so much vegan stuff on their menu. I love Morrocan food so I was really looking forward to this. It’s an all you can eat buffet and it was so good. It wasn’t your normal boring nuggets and chips buffet it was proper healthy but tasty food. All sorts of rices and different stews etc. Plus it looks AMAZING!!

I loved the feel that you were in a Moroccan market place and outside when in reality you’re in a theme park in Paris and inside. This is a must do for everyone. It will cater to all tastes they do have the chips and nuggets for the fussier ones among us and it’s a nice change to the normal buffets you will find.

ANNETTES DINER is in the Disney Village and we ended up there by accident as we couldn’t get a table in any of the restaurants in the park (which taught us to book every meal and we did that for the rest of the trip when we got back to the hotel, hotel reception can do this for you). I do love a good american diner and Annettes is really good. The food is what you would expect from a diner mostly burgers and hotdogs.

I’d seen pictures of Annettes online and seen cast members dancing on the bar and I’m sure I’d seen them on roller skates (I’ve always wanted to go to a diner where the server is on skates) that never happened when we were there. I’m not sure if it’s something that only happens seasonally or if it doesn’t happen anymore. I was really disappointed by that. The food was good but it’s not amazing.

PLAZA GARDENS we actually ate here twice we liked it so much. Best puddings in the park!! This is an all you can eat buffet and had all sorts of different cuisines. Lots of vegan choice and some really nice stews and casseroles as well as pizza and chicken. It’s in a great location to eat before the fireworks which is exactly what we did. We booked for 7 and when we got to the castle at half 7 we had a perfect front row view of Disney Dreams.

And now onto the interesting stuff!! Rides and Characters!!

There wasn’t a lot new since my last trip. Ratatouille was the newest ride and that was really good but not if you suffer from motion sickness!! It’s really clever but did make me feel a bit sick. I was a bit upset that Star Tours and Big Thunder Mountain were closed. But I knew that before I went. There’s a lot of work going on in Discoveryland ready for the new updated Star Tours due to open in March. Always check online before you travel as the website will tell you all about any ride closures.

Character wise I had an amazing time there were loads of them!! Random ones as well and ones I’d never seen before which was exciting for me and made me a DLRP convert.

I am one of those grown ups who still takes an autograph book with her when she goes to Disney and this time I ran out of space.

We had the photopass included with our package as well which was really good. They could use some professional photographers all over the parks like in Orlando taking pictures in front of the castle instead of us having to take them. Aside from the characters and some of the rides (mostly the ones I can’t go on like Tower of Terror and Rock N Roller Coaster) there isn’t really anywhere else you can use the photopass.

DLRP has some incredible shows. Obviously you have Disney Dreams (which is soon to be replaced with ‘Disney Illuminations’ as part of the 25th Anniversary Celebrations) and you have the parade in the Disneyland Park – again something that’s being updated for the celebrations. The parade in Paris is no-where near as good as the Orlando one, there isn’t many floats and it doesn’t last very long at all. Hopefully the new one will be a little better.

Stitch LIVE! Is brilliant, it’s an interactive show where Stitch talks to the audience and gets children involved in it as well. It’s funny and great for all the family.

The best show at Disney however is Mickey and the Magician. It was due to run for a limited time but has now been extended until 2018. It’s in the studios park and is a must see. It’s in English and French but it’s easy to follow and it’s a music and magic show with loads of your favourite Disney characters and songs from the films. I most definitely did NOT cry!! I won’t ruin it and tell you what happens or what songs/films are included but what I will say is you’d be a fool to miss it. The special effects in this show are incredible as well, I was blown away by it.

All in all I think DLRP has improved massively. It’s a great place to visit for a bit of a Disney fix and with more character appearances and the new shows and parades it can only get better.

Obviously it’s not as big as Orlando and you won’t get the weather but if you go treating it as a completely different place and don’t compare it to Orlando then you’ll have an amazing time 🙂

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Nearly ready to go!!!

17 days now and the very last bits have been purchased that we needed, cases are all packed 🙂 Just have to weigh them now – they’re FAR too heavy for me to lift them which can’t be good… Best purchase of the day goes to this:

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Currently on while I’m sitting in my office ready to start work and will be all I’m listening for the next 17 days, if you’re booking attraction tickets today and hear Disney music in the background it’s probably me you’re talking to – a good way to get customers even more excited for their jollys no? It even came with a bonus disc of Christmas songs which includes the 12 days of christmas with Mickey, Minnie, Donald etc and the single best version of it I’ve ever heard… There’s no proper video of it on YouTube but have a listen to this, always makes me giggle…

Paul is FINALLY getting into the holiday spirit and modeled his Pinocchio outfit (complete with the fab hat for me today) and now I’m jealous because it’s so much better than mine 😦

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