I meant to blog our wonderful Disneyland trip last year but unfortunately never got round to it, however there is no time like the present so I thought it would be fun to finally put a post together about it. It was so nice looking through all the photos again.
As a child I never went to big theme parks with my parents, I guess it was something they weren’t really into, so I was super excited to take our daughter to Disneyland Paris. With the addition of Joshua to the family the year before we wanted to treat her to something really special to celebrate finishing her first year at school and also to give her some quality Mummy and Daddy time. As any parent knows newborns / babies are very demanding and take away a lot of the attention, sometimes leaving an older sibling feeling a bit left out.
Isabella had absolutely no idea where we were going and only found out when we got in the lift heading up to the Eurostar at Ashford. She was soooo excited and it was great to see her little face light up when the penny dropped, although to be honest I don’t think she realised exactly how good it was going to be.
We booked a 3 night / 4 day stay at the Newport Bay Hotel right on the park, this meant that we were within easy walking distance of the park and had access to the ‘Magic Hour’ pass which means that we could access the park 2 hours before it was open to the general public. This is true for all the Disneyland hotels and definitely worth doing if you’re staying on site.
I thought it might be a nice idea to give my tips on here in case anyone was planning on visiting. Obviously this is just my viewpoint and there are loads of websites and YouTube videos out there to help you plan a trip, but I hope you find these useful so here goes:
- Travel – We travelled via the Eurostar but you can also self drive via ferry, Eurotunnel or fly. I would really recommend the Eurostar at Ashford if you’re close as check in is easy and quick, no long security checks like at an airport or having to drive yourself. If we went again, I’d try and book a direct train there, for some reason it wouldn’t let me choose this when I was booking, perhaps the direct trains were booked up. So we had roughly an hour wait in Lille until we got the next train to Disneyland, although we were on a double decker train which was pretty awesome & Isabella loved being on the top deck.
- Hotel – We loved the Newport Bay Hotel, it had recently been refurbished and it was stunning inside. Check in was easy, fast and the hotel staff were wonderful. When checking into the hotel, they ask you to book your breakfast slot, the earlier the better if you are planning on using the Magic Hour passes which come with every Disney Hotel.
- Magic Passes – As I mentioned before it’s really worth using the Magic Hour passes which gives you access to the park for an extra 2 hours before the park opens to the public. We would get up at 7am, grab a quick breakfast and walk down. Using the Magic Hour passes meant we could get on some rides early on which would later have a 45-60 minute wait and it’s worth making a rough plan of what rides you want to go on and which ones are close to one another so that you’re not walking backwards and forwards from ride to ride.
- Buggy’s – I would highly recommend taking a buggy for younger children, despite Isabella being 5 at the time, I don’t think she would have lasted the long hours walking around the park and I don’t think Matt would have enjoyed having her on his shoulders for too long either! Walking from Newport Bay to the park probably took around 20 minutes but there is a regular bus from every Disneyland hotel that will take you direct to the entrance if you don’t fancy walking. We quite enjoyed the walk past the lake so it didn’t bother us. Even as adults we were worn out by the end of the day so can only imagine how little ones would feel. I believe you can also hire buggy’s at the park for around 15 euros, definitely worth the investment I think!
- The Disney App – Before you go download the Disneyland Paris app, it gives you a load of information, most importantly what the wait times are for each ride at any given time during the day. Again this can really help you plan what rides you want to go on. It also has all the information for restaurants, where the nearest toilets are etc.
- Autograph Book – This is a MUST for your little one (or yourself of course!), Isabella just loved getting the autographs from the characters and we have filled the rest of the pages with ticket stubs and photos so it is a wonderful keepsake of your trip. I bought a personalised one from eBay which had all our names on it, the date and where we were going on it, all in the shape of Minnie’s head. I think it was about £10. I also bought her some ears as well which I gave to her when we got on the train.
- Dressing Up – If your children already have dressing up outfits I would take these with you rather than buying more at the park, when I looked at buying a Princess one for Isabella it was around 60 euros!! There are so many shops that you will enviably end up buying something from them so better to use your money on new toys rather than outfits you can get cheaper at home.
- Booking Restaurants – Definitely book your restaurants well in advance before you go as the sit down restaurants get booked up months in advance (especially Character dining), there is a dedicated restaurant booking number so call them as soon as you can to book in your restaurants and times. If you have time I would really recommend going to Bistrot Chez Remy to really experience the Ratatouille film, the attention to detail is amazing and the although there wasn’t a huge amount of choice on the menu, the food was very good. There are a mix of sit down waiter service restaurants and more informal fast food restaurants (these you do not need to book obviously).
- Dining Plans & Snacks – As you can imagine eating out every day in Disneyland can get expensive so if you can afford it, I would book some kind of dining plan. We went for half board dining to help cover the cost, it definitely worked out cheaper for us in the long run. This meant we had breakfast and dinner, and one snack & drink during the day. When you check in to your hotel, you will receive vouchers for each meal for each day which you use to pay for your meal (make sure you don’t lose them!). You are also able to swap dinner for lunch if you want, which is what we did so we could eat at Bistrot Chez Remy. To be honest you don’t need to eat 3 full meals a day so breakfast and dinner worked well for us with a light snack in between, especially as it also cuts into your time at the park if you’re sitting down 3 times a day. I don’t really remember seeing many places to buy snacks (and if there are, I’m sure they are pricey) so it’s definitely worth packing your favourite snacks in your suitcase to bring in with you as well as refillable bottles of water.
- Character Dining – I would whole heartedly recommend going to dinner at Inventions for Character Dining which is the main buffet restaurant at the Disneyland Hotel. You can offset your meal plan against it and pay any outstanding balance. If you’re only going to do one Character Dining I would definitely go here rather than Cafe Mickey only because the setting & food choice is a lot nicer, the characters seem to spend more time with you and they are much more varied, we saw Mickey Mouse (Isabella got to dance with him), Minnie Mouse, Pluto, Captain Hook, Pinocchio and Geppetto whereas at Cafe Mickey, although it was good, it was the same few characters. If you do decide on Cafe Mickey, go for lunch rather than breakfast, it’s so busy in the morning and you hardly see any characters for any length of time, luckily when we went at lunch too it was really quiet so we saw quite a few on that day. If your little one is desperate to meet the Princesses, I would recommend booking lunch or dinner at Auberge de Cendrillon, again you pay extra for this but can offset your dining plan which makes it more affordable. Unfortunately I made a mistake, thinking I had booked this when in fact I had booked breakfast at Cafe Mickey so Isabella was disappointed but hopefully we’ll be back one day soon so she can meet them.
- Meeting Characters in the Park – You can also meet many of the Disney characters within the park without having to book a meal, you can find the time and place of where they will be on the daily schedules on Disneyland Paris website, but be prepared to queue for 30+ minutes (average of 60 minutes or more for the Princesses, we never saw them in the end as the queues were always too long) to shake hands and make sure you have your camera ready. As you walk round you will also see signs for the characters and what time they will be there.
- Shows & Parades – I would really recommend going to one of the shows. We hadn’t actually planned to go see one but on our last day, it was raining and we happened to be near the theatre and just joined the queue at the last minute and managed to see Mickey’s Magic Show which was amazing, Isabella’s face watching it was something I will never forget. Again, all the shows and times can be found on the website. The Parade is around 5pm every day, you do need to start waiting early to get a good spot to see the parade go by as it gets so busy. We actually only saw it properly once which is a shame but we were too busy with the rides on the other days! Definitely worth waiting for though!
- End of Night Fireworks – Unfortunately we never got to see the fireworks as it was so late and Isabella was too tired to hold out, when we were there they started around 11pm so after a full day in the park it just wasn’t feasible to keep her out that late without some kind of meltdown. Hopefully now she is older, if we go again we’ll be able to see them. I was going to walk back one night but realised my camera battery had died so I didn’t bother in the end. Something to look forward to for next time!
Here is a list of the rides we loved in the Disneyland Park:
- Peter Pan’s Flight
- Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast
- The Mad Hatter Tea Cups
- Casey Jr. Circus Train
- Snow White & The Seven Dwarves
- It’s a Small World
- Autopia (car driving)
- Disneyland Railroad (goes all the way around the park)
And in Walt Disney Studios:
- Ratatouille (word of warning, if you suffer from motion sickness, I would not recommend this!!)
- Slinky Dog Zig Zag Spin
- Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop
I hope you find these useful and if you have any further questions or have any tips to share, do leave them in the comments below.
Here are some of my favourite photos from our trip 🙂 Sorry there are a lot!! Seeing Disneyland through the eyes of your child is so magical and I really hope we get to go back again sometime soon, this time with both kids xx