Editor’s Note: Today’s blog is from our friend Anita Newling who recently visited Disneyland Paris. Thanks Anita!
It was by chance that we found ourselves at Disneyland Paris. A strange mixture of fate and Mummy Math (the thing I do to justify spending on Disney related things!)
We had to fly to the UK for a family wedding and flying via Paris was much cheaper. So we decided to blow what we’d saved on a few days in the French Capital! And being the Disneyphiles that we are, even surrounded by the art and culture of Paris, we couldn’t stay that close to a Disney park and not have a day trip!
And then a day trip turned into an overnight stay!
We hadn’t intended to stay overnight at Disney when we arrived in the city, but after a few hot, tiring days seeing the sights we made the last minute decision to spend our last day and night in search of air conditioning!
Disneyland Paris has seven on-site choices. We chose Hotel Cheyenne definitely for price and not theme! We are not fans of all things western, but the price was right. Not even the Mummy math could swing a more expensive choice!
We arrived at the hotel around 8.30am. Check in was swift and our room was ready, so we had a quick look around and were able to leave our bags there before heading to the park.
We were actually very pleased with the theming. It was nowhere near as overwhelmingly ‘Yee Haw” as we were worried about! The resort was spacious and clean and really quite pretty.
I had read some reviews that the rooms seemed musty but ours didn’t. It was showing it’s age in a few places, like the bathroom, but it was clean which is all we care about. The theming was evident throughout, as you’d expect!
There were two shocks though. First, there was no air conditioning! What?! We all laughed a lot about this, having escaped the city just for this luxury! There was a ceiling fan, which was broken to stay on constantly, but it wasn’t much relief! I was really surprised a Disney hotel would not have air conditioning, even on the budget end. The second thing that surprised us was that there was no pool. The mid-priced and luxury hotels do have one but not the budget choices. Even local budget chains, off site, have pools. I thought this was odd. It didn’t matter to us because with only one day we wouldn’t have used a pool anyway, but if we were staying a few days this would have turned me towards another hotel choice.
A huge bonus for staying on site was you could walk to the park from the resort and it was a lovely walk. You did have to walk past the other resorts though, where you could hear people playing in their pools!
The entrance by foot takes you through the shopping area, the Disney Village. Everything was still closed but it looked really great – like a mini downtown Disney. The girls looked forward to returning later for some retail therapy!
And then you see this. The Disneyland Hotel. It’s right there at the main gate! I was a little jealous we hadn’t been able to stay here but I think it was about $1000 for one night!
After the Disney Village you choose to go through the hotel to the Disneyland Park or left towards Walt Disney Studios. We went this way.
You are struck immediately that this park is much smaller than it’s North American counterparts. But it had the familiar layout, so we felt at home straight away!
I had read up on the park before leaving, like all us keen park planners do. To be honest I was a little worried. Disney for us is a magical place, but the reviews I was reading about Disneyland Paris didn’t paint it in a very magical light! People were talking about how the Cast Members were rude and unhelpful. And lots of people were smoking, even in the queues for rides! So we arrived with low expectations! But we saw none of the above!
Straight away we loved it! Walking down Main Street was as exciting as ever!
We had arrived just before rope-drop, which happens at the end of Main Street. We gathered with many other people heading towards Adventureland.
There was the usual surge but it wasn’t as crazy as some rope-drops we’ve been to. We headed to Big Thunder Mountain first, along with what appeared to be everyone else there! So we grabbed a fastpass for return an hour later, and went for an explore.
The theming was great! We loved the walk up to Pirates of the Caribbean!
One positive thing we noticed was that because everything is closer together you really get to see all the details while walking from ride to ride.
There is a great view of Big Thunder Mountain from the queue to Haunted Mansion (which is called Phantom Manor).
Big Thunder Mountain is actually on an island. The coaster has a drop at the beginning that takes it under the water and up onto the island. The kids loved that.
Everything being so close to each other was the aspect of the park we loved the most. Even though it was July, and busy, it still didn’t seem over crowded. We never waited more than 20 or 30 minutes for any ride. We could split up to ride different rides and be back together within 1/2 hour. At Disneyworld we’ve often had 2 hours or more apart when we do the gentle/scary ride split.
After sampling more rides we found a bench for a hydration break. And then a mini parade started.
In which other park does it look like this while you watch a parade?!
We were excited to explore the castle next. It is Sleeping Beauty’s castle and there is much more to explore inside including a balcony gallery that depicts the Sleeping Beauty story in stained glass and illustrated books. The highlight for us though was finding a passage outside that led under the castle. Down there lives a scary character
By Mid-afternoon we’d grabbed a bite to eat and had done everything we wanted to, so we decided to pop next door (literally!) and visit Walt Disney Studios Park.
We didn’t have any plans here so just started to wander around and soak it in. It was really hot so we were pleased to see the entrance to a show, Animagique. With a little wait until it started the daredevils decided to skip it and ride a couple of the biggies while us easy-riders waited for the show. They certainly missed out! Animagique is a 20-minute, live-action show with black-light puppetry! It was amazing! And apparently the only place you’ll see the pink elephants in a Disney park!
After riding a few smaller rides we’d just about had enough of the heat. We waited in the Disney Studio 1 for the others. This is the area you walk in through from the Front Lot. It has a number of eating options and shops with the expected movie sets theme. To be honest what we remembered the most was that it was cool!
We were tuckered out so decided to return to the hotel for a rest before the evening’s light show.
And it was certainly worth going back for!
I always love Main Street at night.
And the castle is so pretty.
Little did we know the amazing spectacle we were about to see.
I had read it was a good show but WOW! It was the best show we have ever seen! Photos cannot capture it, (which is lucky, because I was too enthralled to get any!)
It was a special show, created for the 20th anniversary, called Disney Dreams. It is now a permanent show I believe, and I am not surprised! It is a combination of laser light show, projections, fountains, fire, and fireworks. It was breathtaking! There’s a promo video here to give you a glimpse.
This show alone was worth coming out and staying the night.
A fantastic end to fantastic day.
Would we go again? Absolutely!