As a child I wasn’t a fan of theme parks, and it didn’t get better with age. But if you have children, you have to make sacrifices sometimes. A number of years ago a trip to Paris, including one day of Disney, was one of mine. Coincidentally (or not), this was the day that I got my first and only (so far) attack of the flu. Luckily, I was with two other mums with children who were kind enough to take mine and left me behind on a terrace. Ever since then, part of me dies when I think of Disney.
And unfortunately, my youngest son was infected with the Disney-virus.
Recently, he earned a large reward and he only had one wish: Disneyland Paris. And what does a good mother do? Indeed, book tickets.
Initially I wanted to go during the Christmas break, but Disney is hellishly expensive at that time. Fortunately, there was an in-service training day at the school in January meaning the kids were off. I picked up my dear son and his best friend from school and drove straight to Paris.
Travel to Disneyland Paris
I chose to drive to Paris as you’re just a bit more flexible. However, if you want to arrive quickly and more relaxed, take the TGV. The train stops at the entrance of the park. There’s even a Disney Express Luggage Service, where you drop your luggage and receive your tickets immediately. Checking-in is done at a later time.
Staying at Disneyland Paris
During our visit a few years ago, we stayed at a hotel just outside the park. Vienna House Magic Circus is all about the circus and is situated a few minutes from the park. Your kids will no doubt think it is fantastic! The rooms are tidy and prices acceptable.
As I’d read you get to enter the park an hour early if you stay at a Disney hotel, we opted for that this time. We were there only for one day, so we needed to take advantage of it. And as there are always long queues everywhere, I made sure that the kids knew what ride they really wanted to do so we could join the queue there immediately. But more about that later.
Disneyland has a lot of hotels, from the 5-star Disney hotel which forms the entrance to the park, to the 2-star Santa Fe. We chose Disney’s Hotel New York. 4-stars, and 10 minutes from the entrance. I have to say that we were really welcomed here. The staff obviously knows the kids are the kings! They were the centre of attention. The receptionist knew a few words of Dutch and had some fun with the kids. Madness ensured! The room was large, the bathroom clean and of course Mickey Mouse everywhere.
The self-service restaurant was set up like an American diner, and the food was aimed mainly at the kids. Fries, pizza, hamburgers, loud colours… Breakfast was also served here, and it too was aimed mainly at the kids. It was all good, but it didn’t really make me very happy.
In case you like to combine a city trip to Paris with a visit to Disneyland Paris, you can check my blogpost on Luxe hotels in Parijs.
After a short night we got up early for breakfast because, as I mentioned before, Disney hotel guests could enter the park an hour early. The kids decided that they wanted to go straight to Space Mountain, the most spectacular rollercoaster in Disneyland Paris. It was therefore a big disappointment to realise only the Carrousel and a few small rides were open. All fun things stayed closed until the park opens officially for the day.
So, the children had a quick turn on the Carrousel and made it their mission to be first in line for Space Mountain. A rope closed over the entrance to the ride, and it was guarded by a few “park rangers”. At 10 o’clock, on the dot, the rope was removed and the kids ran like a bullet to the Space Mountain, where they indeed were the first in line. 10 minutes later they came back to me, disappointed. Guess what?? The Space Mountain ride was out of order! This happened a few times that day, but in the end they managed to go on the ride twice.
Phantom Manor, the haunted house, also featured high on the list, but it was closed for renovation. Well, I guess that needs to be done sometime too.
But luckily the Indiana Jones rollercoaster, the Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast and the enormous Robinson Tree House lived up to expectations.
We were in the park on a weekday, when no other schools were off. This is the optimal time to go, as there were no waiting times anywhere (max 15 minutes for Space Mountain, the most popular attraction). But you do notice that the park is quite small this way. We had plenty of time to also visit the Walt Disney Studios Park.
Walt Disney Studios Park
There are a few smaller rides here. Disney-figures do the rounds so you can get your picture taken with them. And as the park is into “Star Wars” at the moment, you run into a small army of Stormtroopers every so often.
The top attraction of both parks is the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror in my opinion. My son had done it a few years ago (when I was feeling ill on the terrace), and he was still talking about it. Mama had to do one ride, and this was it. And so it was done – Jeez, I still break out in a cold sweat thinking about it.
First you go into a building, an abandoned hotel, and they show you a film about a family who disappeared after being struck by lightning while they were in the elevator. Ever since, they are lost in the Twilight Zone. Then we also had to go in this elevator. You clip yourself into a chair and you’re not allowed to leave your bags loose on the floor. A few seconds later I found out why. The lift slowly goes up a few floors, and then it stops. Regularly you get glimpses of hotel hallways with spooky scenes. And then suddenly, completely unexpected, the lift falls down at an enormous speed. Even with the belt around you, it is hard to stay in your seat. And it is pitch black. This scenario repeats itself a few times after which the elevator goes all the way to the top. Suddenly the front opens and you can look down over the park from 13 floors up, after which the cables seem to break again and the lift falls down again.
As I said, I’m not a big fan of theme parks, but the boys had a super day. And as it wasn’t busy, we didn’t have to queue anywhere and they could enjoy the park to their heart’s content.
Food in the park
I’m not one to count the pennies, but the prices of the food and the quality they serve are abominable. Normally, I am not a fan of bringing a picnic, but next time I’ll bring my own food.
So if you’re planning a trip to Disneyland Paris, try to do it during one of those in-service training days at school. This way you can visit both parks in one day, and you can treat yourself to a day in Paris the next day, as a reward.
If you have to go to Disneyland during a weekend or school holidays, there is a fast pass. You can assign an hour in which you are allowed to go to a certain ride. You can then join a separate, shorter queue so you don’t have to wait as long. Needless to say you’ll make a lot of extra miles that way
From Disneyland it's not that far to the Loire Region. Maybe your kids want to see the castle that inspired Disney to build the castel of Sleeping Beauty. Here's my Guide to castles of the Loire.
Do you like theme parks?
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