Advantages Family fun
Disadvantages Not within everyone's budget
|Is it worth visiting?|
Introduction.This review is purely about Disneyland Resort in Paris. Now, I first went here in 1997 and since then I have returned on no less than five occasions. Each time has been brilliant and so this review is designed to give you as comprehensive an overview as possible, exploring accommodation in the Disney hotels, ease of access, of course the parks themselves and a whole lot more. Now I am fortunate enough to have visited the parks at different times of year and used different modes of transport to get to it. So here goes…
Well allow me if you will, to give you a brief introduction into the Disneyland Resort Paris. It was in fact opened in 1992. Now although it has Paris in its title, do not be fooled! It is not situated in the centre and is approximately 30 minutes journey from centre of Paris and 40 minutes on a train from the centre. Nevertheless, it is the most popular tourist destination in Europe, attracting around 11 million visitors each year, which isn't wholly surprising considering France is the most popular tourist destination each year also! (About 70-75 million visitors per annum). Originally, the park opened with a selection of hotels and of course the theme park, which is called Disneyland park. In addition there is also the Disney Village that has expanded greatly since its opening. Roughly, 3 years ago, Disney opened a new theme park on the site so it is a little more like Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. The second theme park was called Walt Disney Studios. These are a little like MGM studios in Florida for those familiar with them. Furthermore the site now has more hotels and as I mentioned the Village has greatly expanded. The site itself is large but of course not close to the vastness of the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida (which is the same size as Greater Manchester!)How to get there.
Ok, so you want to go to Disneyland Resort Paris. But how? By car? By plane? By train? Well I personally have experienced transport by road and air. Now they are two different propositions and I'm not sure which one I would recommend. I'll explain why in a second. Let me consider the road option first. Now I live in Widnes, which in case you don't know and probably won't, is situated about 10 minutes outside of Liverpool. Therefore, just to take the car down to Folkestone to get the train or ferry takes about 6 hours on its own. It is then a further 3 hours drive into Disneyland Resort then from Calais. So, as you can appreciate it is a long and arduous journey and those with little children would probably best advised to stay away. Also, you have to deal with driving on foreign roads. The good thing about this, however, is that it works out relatively cheaply and you can get direct access to the park, which is a problem with other methods. But wait I hear you say, I thought you were talking about car rental instead. Well this too is quite an easy option. You fly to Charles de Gaulle airport and then arrange car rental there in terminal one. We have done this once ourselves and it was reasonably convenient. In part I have already started to consider flying as an option but I would say that a car isn't the best option when you arrive in Paris. Personally, I would recommend using the train in order to get to Disney from the airport. All you do is take RER line A, the station of which is situated in Terminal 2 and stay on it right to the last station called Marne-la-Vallée. That station is in fact situated right in the middle of the Disney site, 5 minutes walk from the theme park entrances. This is the cheapest option also. It will cost about £45 return on plane via Easyjet and I reckon the train will cost about £16 return, which is far cheaper, especially if you want to only stay on the Disney site. Only problem is that you'll have to cart your luggage with you.Accommodation.
Right, so now you are at Disneyland. However, before hand you'll have to consider where it is you want to stay. Now the first choice you must make is whether you want to stay on the Disney site or not. I recommend that if you intend to merely go to Disneyland for a couple of days, you should stay on site. This is because then everything is within a maximum of 15 minutes walk. If you intend to see a bit of Paris too, then perhaps off site is better, provided of course you have hired a car! Disney offer a wide array of different, themed hotels. I personally have stayed at one called the Hotel Santa Fe, which has a Mexican theme. The others are the Disneyland Hotel, Hotel New York, Newport Bay Club, Sequoia Lodge, Davy Crockett Ranch and the Hotel Cheyenne. There are now a host of other, non-Disney themed hotels on the site. They are the Dream Castle Hotel, Holiday Inn, Residence Val d'Europe, MyTravel Hotel and Kyriad hotel.The most exclusive hotel of them all is somewhat unsurprisingly the Disneyland Hotel itself. This place is gorgeous and very exclusive looking. The hotel is actually situated in the park entrance so you can be first in the queue everyday. The interior is exquisitely decorated and this hotel is a 5-star hotel. So if you have cash to spare then definitely make it your priority to stay here as it will make your stay better! For the more budget conscious, then look no further than the one I stayed at, the Hotel Santa Fe. Now, this is not rubbish. Do not think that just because you are staying here its not as good as that isn't the case. This is still a 3-star hotel! The rooms are spacious and outstandingly clean. All the bathrooms in Disney hotels are equipped with Disney soaps (in Mickey mouse shape), shower gels and towels. None of them include breakfast but you can pay extra to have it. The hotels also all have their own restaurants and gift shops and regular visits from characters. I am fully aware there is a lot to consider before you even get to Disney, however, I would advise you order a brochure from the website and plan from there.
Duration of stay.One final word I should say on preparations for Disney is the duration of your stay. Now you will not need to stay for very long. Whereas in Florida, you have to do 2 weeks to make the most, in Disneyland Resort Paris, this is not the case. Now the hotels you book through Disney start from 1 night, two days then they follow a pattern up to 4 nights, five days. Let me say now that you would get everything done over two nights, 3 days. That is of course provided that you arrive early on your first day. However, if you would prefer a slightly more relaxed holiday then perhaps 3 nights, four days would be the best option. It does cost more money, that goes without saying but it is more relaxing and you will do everything. Included in the hotel prices are your tickets so when you see the high prices, keep that in mind.
Disneyland Park.Ok, so you have planned everything meticulously but for what? What is you'll be paying so much to see? Well, the first thing I am going to look at is the Disneyland Park itself (the main one). Those of you fortunate to have been to Florida, would be advised to think of the Magic Kingdom. Essentially, this park is a replica of its Floridian counterpart. I must underline of course that they are not identical but there are some constants. So when you walk into the park, you are greeted with the main entrance, the photo of which should be at the bottom of this review! You put your ticket through the machines, much like at for example Alton Towers and then you walk out onto what is called 'Main Street USA'. anyone who has been to Florida, will recognise this instantaneously as it is very similar, almost the same as in the Magic Kingdom. Furthermore, you will also be greeted by 'le chateau de la belle au bois dormant', which in English is Sleeping Beauty's Castle. This is almost a landmark in its own right, much like Cinderella's Castle in the US. Now in order to get to the attractions, you must walk up Main Street towards the Castle. Whilst you are doing so, look out for Disney photographers. I would advise you get a photo taken, especially if you are a couple, as it will be taken in front of the castle and it looks really nice. Good thing is that there is no obligation to buy it, so if you spot another souvenir you'd rather have then that's fine!
The park is split into different 'lands' and in fact Main Street USA is one of those itself. I shall, for the sake of easiness and order, go through each one in turn. The first I'll describe is Discoveryland. I shall cover them from right to left if you were to look at a map of the park! Speaking of which, you can pick them up free at the front of the park and if you have never been before, then they are highly recommended. In Discoveryland, there are lots of things to do and see. One thing I found in Paris is that there is a lot on offer for different age ranges. There is Autopia, for everyone, which is a big car track, which is cool. There is also Orbitron, which is like a new age merry go round, where you can move your ship up and down as the thing rotates. There is Star Tours, which is great. This is a flight simulator based on Star Wars, you are with a loony pilot who ends up taking you into the fight in the final scene of Star Wars, very cool. There is also Space Mountain, which is one of two rides that would suit roller coaster fans! This is a journey in the dark reaching speeds of 60 MPH and doing loops and corkscrews. However, the highlight of Discoveryland and indeed the whole park is the Legend of the Lion King. This show is awesome. It is very much like the West End musical, just shorter really. This is not to be missed. I must point out now that this is the only ride in the park you will have an exceptionally long queue time for. There are six day compromising of 3 French shows and 3 English shows. Definitely see the English one because the effect wouldn't be as good in French, unless you can speak it of course. Make sure you get there though an hour and a half before show time or you simply will not get in. It is a pain waiting but worthwhile.Next, we come to Fantasyland. This is the section designed most for younger children. Here you will find the Peter Pan ride that takes you through the story of Peter Pan. The Snow White and Pinocchio rides also follow a similar theme. There is also a classic merry-go-round here and the Mad Hatter's Teacups. Another attraction of note is Casey Junior, which is a circus train and will make the little ones feel they have been on a roller coaster! You should also check out Alice's Labyrinth. This too is great fun for the kids!
We now move onto Adventureland. Now this is also great fun in here. Firstly, check out Pirates of the Caribbean. As some of you may or may not know, the film actually originated from this ride so it is worth checking out for nostalgia if nothing else. It is also a water ride and I really like it. Another thing to check out here is Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril, Backwards! This ride is very cool, especially when you go round the loop! You cant see behind you at all so you never know what is coming next!The final land that you can go to is Frontierland. This is home to some great things. Firstly, there is Big Thunder Mountain, which is a runaway mine train and I like it a lot. This is more suitable for younger children and those slightly fazed by roller coasters. I really enjoy this ride! Also Phantom Manor is here, which again was the setting for a Disney film, starring Eddie Murphy. Last thing of note here and it is well recommended at the end of the day when you are shattered, is the riverboat. This is a bid old-fashioned paddle steamer that Disney have and it takes you on about a 20 minute journey, very relaxing and peaceful, I cannot recommend this enough!
Although, there may not appear loads to do here, I haven't actually covered everything, I wouldn't want to bore you completely to death now! You must also check out the parades Disney have on offer at this park. There is the Princess Parade, A light parade and a Firework display. I have to say that unfortunately, these are only on during the summer months, April to August. However, Disney have special events on at Halloween, which I unfortunately have never been to. They also have special stuff on at Christmas, which I have been lucky enough to see. This includes the tree lighting ceremony, which is ace. Also, they have a show on ice and another Christmas parade earlier in the day with Santa Claus, real reindeer and of course all the Disney characters. Christmas is the best time of year at Disney but more about that later. Also at any time of year you should make use of the fast pass system, which allows you to queue quickly and thus increasing the number of rides you go on. The park opens at 9am and closes at 11pm in the summer, winter is different, with an 8pm closing time.Walt Disney Studios.
Now the Walt Disney Studios as I have already mentioned is the newest addition at the resort. It is a little like Disney MGM studios in Florida for those of you who have been there before. There is plenty to do in this park and of course is brand new so it has a fresh feel to it. Some attractions are in fact the same as the US. For example, the Aerosmith's Rock and Roller Coaster, which is one cool ride! Very fast and one of the best starts on a roller coaster I've ever experienced. There is also Cinémagique that in fact is just like the Great Movie ride in the US. This is a journey through the movies, replicating different scenes. This is one cool ride so do not miss out on it, especially if you enjoy films! There is also a stunt show at the Walt Disney Studios that is excellent. It involves cars and in fact they are in the process of building the arena for this in America at MGM studios. There is also a behind the scenes tour, which once again came from America. This is an excellent ride also and a lengthy one too. Even so, do not miss it! All this and more means this is a great place to go. However, you can easily do this in one day so when you are planning your trip to Disney, I would allocate only one full day for this place. Its opening and closing times are 9am and 6pm respectively all year round.Similarly here, there is a parade during the day, though there is only one here. I have not been here at Christmas so I couldn't possibly say what differences there are between summer and winter schedules. I realise it doesn't seem as though I have done the studios as much justice as the other park. However, that is due to the size the parks.
Disney VillageThe Disney village is the place you go to after hours. When the park closes then the Village is there for you to have something to eat or enjoy a quiet drink. Families can make use of the babysitting facilities in hotels and not miss out on the great stuff in the Disney Village. There is a Planet Hollywood, McDonalds, a massive Disney gift store, Buffalo Bill's Wild West show and much more. The restaurants do vary in price. For example, the Rainforest Café is particularly expensive. Nevertheless there are restaurants to fit everyone's tastes and budget.
Other Stuff.Of course I couldn't possibly cover everything on a place as big as Disneyland. I should also mention that prams are for rent in both parks. The prices in the parks are higher than in Paris itself. Unsurprisingly, everything is marked up. For example a bottle of water costs about 2 euros, which is about £1.50. However, compared with Florida I think Paris is possibly slightly cheaper. This is the same in terms of merchandise. I thought especially the last time I went that Paris had a better selection of merchandise available and at better prices. Remember also that there are places to eat in the parks and the food is of decent quality and once again a reasonable price. During the summer Disney also run football schools that are ran in partnership with Manchester United. However, you would need to see the website for more details about that. You should also try and use the Walt Disney Railroad that runs around the outside of the main Disneyland park.
Time of Year.If it is possible, I would recommend that you experience Disneyland both in the summer and the winter. This way you get two different experiences and should have some decent weather in the summer as Paris' climate is very similar to London. In the summer, you get the chance to experience all the parades and long days, with the park opening until 23.00. However, you must also go in the winter because it is beautiful. You must make sure you go as close to Christmas as you can so the tree is up and Main Street is littered with fairy lights and artificial snow. Also there is a special Christmas parade complete with Father Christmas, real life reindeer and all the Disney characters. It is a fantastic time to be there. And so what if it rains, do what I did and put up with it and enjoy the day anyway! If you cannot do it twice or would prefer only one trip then the summer would be best in my view as you are more likely to get everything done.
Ticket information.If you choose to visit Disney for only a day as part of a more general trip to Paris, then you will need to buy a day ticket. This ticket gives you access to one of the parks but NOT both. So make sure you decide before hand where you want to go. If you go to the studios, you are in fact allowed entry into the other park for the remaining hours but only after 18.00. The tickets for one day cost £27, which compared with Alton Towers isn't really that expensive considering the day is far longer and it is Disney. I would highly recommend that you buy your ticket before you go on the internet so you avoid the queues. It is delivered to your door, free of charge! So that is a good tip I think and I did that myself and it is far more convenient and the service is very quick.
Who is Disney for?In truth, Disney is for pretty much everyone of all ages. My nan and grandad love the place as do my mum and dad, my brother, Claire and of course me! I would say that to get the most out of it kids need to be about 6 or 7. I'm not saying kids younger than that wont enjoy themselves, I just think they would enjoy it more if they were just a little bit older. It is a perfect place also for couples, that I can confirm without doubt! However, it is of course a perfect family destination as well!
Overall.In conclusion, I must say that I love Disneyland Resort Paris. I love Paris anyway but this place makes it just that bit better! And don't worry about any language barriers as all the staff have to be able to speak English. I personally believe that Disney has a certain aura surrounding it that cannot be compared to anywhere else, oh wait it can, the one in Florida! Joking aside, these places are little vacuums where everything that's not real actually is. At the end of the day, there are very few places you can go to that offer so much to children and adults alike. Even the most cynical person will enjoy it and I know that is true, as even my dad did! If there is anything else you want to know about Disneyland Resort Paris then do ask me as I should be able to help you out. For more information check out the website on www.disneylandparis.co.uk. This will give you all the information you'll need but none of it will show my little anecdotes-shame!
Thanks for reading!PS I will put some pictures on here from when I went in August.
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