The happiest place in the world? Yes! We had an absolutely wonderful 4 days trip to the park so I thought I’d blog about our experience including tips and tricks to help anyone thinking of going (and to remind me for when we go again!)
So, we booked direct through Disneyland Paris Travel Company back in September knowing we wanted to go during the Easter hols. We traveled on the Eurostar from St Pancras and stayed for 4 days in the Santa Fe hotel with no meal plan. When we booked, the deal was a free day and night which saved us over £300 as a family of 3. Evelyn was over 4 so we had to pay for her but actually she needed a seat on the train and definitely needed a proper bed at night (she had a double to herself!) Included in our deal was the Disney Express which meant that on the Eurostar we were met by a member of the Disney Team who gave us all our passes and tags for our luggage. You basically leave your bags in the station and they get taken to your hotel (and in reverse for the way home). This meant we could go straight into the park when we arrived rather than faff around checking in and wasting the day. Our total for the trip (not including spending money was £1600. I’m so glad to say it was worth every penny. There are cheaper ways to do it and we obviously have to go in school holidays with both of us working in schools.
I’d heard a lot about meal plans but in all honesty the choice of restaurants/upgrades etc confused me and I actually preferred not being tied to certain restaurants (and it saved us a lot of money). 60 days prior to travelling you can book restaurants – I booked Cape Cod (a buffet style) and Chez Remy (table service). We also had a character breakfast booked at the Plaza Gardens and the Princess Lunch at the Auberge de Cendrillon. Aside from that we packed snack bags for each day and grabbed coffee, croissants around the park.
I can’t fault the food in any of the places we ate. Cape Cod had a huge variety to suit all. Chez Remy did the most delicious steak and chips in the most incredible setting – WORTH A VISIT. I’d heard lots of negatives about the character breakfast being stressful and busy – it was busy with people eager to get in and get to a table. There were 7 of us and we didn’t have an issue. The characters have a route and made sure they had visited every table before leaving. Breakfast buffet was nice, I ate too much! If your child is Princess mad (like Evelyn) the Princess Lunch is worth it. Yes it was pricey (£165 for the 3 of us). We were there for 2 hours and met 6 princesses. They each spent about 5-10 minutes with Evelyn. The food was outstanding and the service was exceptional. I doubt we’d do it again but as a once in a lifetime thing it was fab.
Word of warning! The food carts and take out restaurants around the park have the worst and slowest service you’ve ever experienced! Even grabbing an ice cream will take 30 mins! They need more staff to man these services!
TIP: Use the water fountains and take bottles and squash for easy drinks. If you have breakfast booked, sneak out snacks or pre-pack snack packs. Also, try the park take outs around 6pm after the parade.
Our hotel was the cheapest Disney hotel which meant it was a 15 minute walk from the parks. This wasn’t too much of a hassle but if you are taking children I would 100% recommend taking a buggy. Evelyn is 4 and hasn’t been in a buggy since she was 2 but it was a godsend. They do hire them out at the park at a price but it was easy to get it there. I would say it is worth staying in a Disney hotel. We were 5 minutes on a free shuttle bus and had the Extra Magic Hour which meant we could jump the queues for the busiest rides. It also meant that you could jump the general entrance queues as they begin queuing around 8:15! Next time I think we’ll save a little more and stay at The Newport Bay – this was more of a hotel and has a pool! Santa Fe was clean and comfortable. There are characters in the reception each morning which made a lovely start to the day. There is a bar, restaurant and a Starbucks which was much needed!
I’d also heard a lot about photo passes. I wasn’t sure what this meant or how it worked so we opted out of it. Having been now, especially with a group of 7 of us, I would have invested. The quality of images is brilliant and you can ask for as many different versions as you like. It’s great to ensure you have a photo of your whole family together. I took a lot of pictures, I mean A LOT but it would still have been nice to have some professional ones to look back on. When they take them they still do give you the card so you can log on and view them up to 15 days after you leave giving you the option of downloading them – at a cost.
Isn’t she too young though?
In terms of Evelyn’s age. Lots of people worry that children can be too young for Disney. I will say it’s exhausting (hence the buggy) but she was able to go on most of the rides, was in awe of the castle and totally star struck by all the characters. There was definitely enough for her to do and eat and I know next time we go she will be super excited.
In the Disney Studios there are LOADS of Marvel attractions. Evelyn isn’t really into superheros right now (although she loves Captain Jack Sparrow) so we didn’t really do any of the Marvel stuff. If you have a little one who enjoys that then there is plenty to keep them occupied!
Day 1: We left St Pancras at 10:15 and had a really enjoyable journey. We arrived at 2pm local time and headed straight for the Disneyland Park (because of the Disney Express we were in the park by 2:15). We spent the whole day there, eating dinner in the park and got on around 4 rides – the queues were’t too bad but we mainly stayed in Fantasyland. We got a place for the parade near the start by It’s a Small World (although in retrospect I’d get an early spot just off mainstreet) and an early spot for the illuminations – worth getting a good view as others can get slightly pushy. Illuminations – breathtaking.
Day 2: The second day we went back into the Disneyland Park early for the character breakfast and dedicated the rest of the day to getting as much done as possible. We headed back to Newport Bay around 6:30 for dinner and headed back around 8:30 for the illuminations – we didn’t get a good spot on the second night but Evelyn still found it amazing.
Day 3: The third day we headed to the Disney Studios. Lots of amazing rides over there. Crush Coaster was fab, the Ratatouille ride was wonderful and the Aerosmith coaster was one for the thrill seekers. Another highlight was the Micky and the Magician show. Utterly spectacular but again – queue early. To be honest no seat was bad but it was full at each show. We ate at Chez Remy and headed back to the Sports Bar in the Disney Village for beer and watched the football.
Day 4: Our final day was beautiful – we had managed to do everything so this day was about doing our favourite things again and taking time to enjoy the sights and sounds of the park. We visited the dragon under the castle and had our Princess Lunch. We headed back to the station at 5pm for our 6pm train and was back at St Pancras by 8pm local time.
Illuminations, Mickey and the Magician, Crush Coaster, Hyperspace Mountain, Tower of Terror, Princess Lunch, Chez Remy, Cape Cod,
Side note: There was a negative to our time in Disney which I will share with you now. On our first night, after watching the illuminations we walked back to our hotel. This was the first time we had walked back as we had the Disney Express to check us in. The path to Santa Fe is a country “off the beaten track” kinda path and this night the lights along the path were not switched on. Meaning it was TOTALLY pitch black. People were using their phone torches to see the way. The path itself was concrete with unfinished edge so it had a drop at each edge. As we were walking along my Mother In Law went over this edge twisting her ankle. She couldn’t walk. Luckily some extremely kind passers by stopped to help, an ambulance was called and she ended up being taking to hospital. 6 hours later she returned in a wheelchair with a cast on as her ankle was broken. The hotel admitted that the lights are usually on and they were unsure as to why they had been turned off. We were not impressed. The staff were brilliant and very attentive. They gave us all VIP fast passes and an Orange disability card which allowed us to fast track most rides. Most rides which she actually never got to go on. We will be writing to Disney to see what they have to say about it but it did mean we were able to do everything without the hassle of queuing. Not compensation at all mind you.
All in all we had the most amazing time. I thoroughly recommend booking through Disneyland Travel Company and I would save on the meal plan and spend money on extra fast passes or a closer hotel. 4 days was perfect, although busy, busy, busy.
I really hope this has helped in any way, please comment below if you have any other questions I will try and answer.
Thanks for reading!