Disneyland Paris has, since it opened in 1992 become the most visited tourist attraction in Europe year after year.
The holiday park is just 20 miles from the centre of Paris and although you might not get the ambient weather of the US that’s not a deal breaker and it really is a bit of Disney magic that is easily accessible for us in Europe.
TGLF spoke to a mum with two kids who visited Disneyland Paris in October 2011 and this is her account of the visit…
“I decided to take Lexie 5, Josh 8 and Lilly 14 in October, my parents came with us and we’d never been anywhere like this before.
We went to Paris and the Disneyland Park by Eurostar from London. We stayed with the kids in the Dream Castle Hotel which was a 10 minute ride away on a free bus. It was really great and meant we could get access to the rides and the park really early. We had breakfast at our hotel with the Disney characters which got the day off to a fantastic start and really made the whole thing magical as far as the kids were concerned. We ate at the Earl of Sandwich at lunch times, good food, good service, not at all expensive, fantastic views from the terrace and the kids were happy! For evening meals our favourite place was Planet Hollywood – great atmosphere and really good fun.
Lexie and Josh were really over excited pretty much from the moment we arrived until we got back home! They were racing about like crazy kids but no one seemed to mind and the staff there were fantastic, obviously that’s their job but to my mind it takes some doing to keep it up day after day! Lilly at 14 was trying hard not to be excited but she admitted that she thought it was “amazing” when we got there. Everyone seems to speak English so language wasn’t the problem I thought it might be, I guess it’s the international language and common to people from different parts of Europe but it was a huge relief!
The place was spotlessly clean and unbelievably colourful, you felt as if you were taking part in a film. The music was playing non-stop, kids laughing and smiling at least most of the time, there were tears when they couldn’t have everything they wanted from the gift shop which I found a bit too expensive for my budget. Speaking of which, I did find that soft drinks were out of the question with three kids to buy for so I’d recommend you take plenty of bottles with you and sweets and snacks rather than buy them there.
The Disneyland Paris rides were amazing, I know it was for the kids really but my Mum and me went on too,my Dad wasn’t really that interested, and we really enjoyed them! The rides were packed at the weekends but as we spent Thursday to Sunday there we found it was completely different on the Thursday from the Saturday, almost no waiting time on the rides and if I ever went again I would go for a mid-week visit. We didn’t realise that you could get a Disneyland Paris rides “fast track pass” – another family we talked to in the diner there told us about it. Basically you can get an allocated ride time by swiping your fast track pass rather than queuing, it doesn’t work on all the rides but I would get it next time to see if it improved queuing time. I’ve been to Alton Towers with the kids too so I knew there would be queues and it didn’t bother me but my Dad hated it!
I’d recommend you really look at what’s on offer and what time everything starts from shows, stunt shows, dances, parades and rides, there is an enormous amount to do and the kids will want to do everything so if you’re not organised enough to know what’s going on and when, you could miss things and will find yourself rushing from one part of the park to another.
I loved the parade, the look on the kids’ faces was an absolute joy, even cynical Lilly couldn’t help beaming when Micky Mouse waved his wand in her direction, she says she doesn’t believe in magic but I think for a couple of days she suspended her grown up ways (I hope she doesn’t read this!). The events on offer do change from time to time so look on their website for what’s on.
Next time, and I think there will be a next time (and I hope the younger ones don’t read this!) I would go for a bit longer and take a trip into Paris with Lilly on my own. It’s easy to get into Paris by train from Disneyland Paris and takes about35 minutes.
My top tips: there are lots of packages available, it’s not a cheap holiday so it’s worth doing your homework. Look at the packages available, look at what rides there are, what shows are on as some of them are seasonal, get a fast track ticket (it’s free), take lots of snacks, drinks and fruit, wear sensible shoes (!), take a pram if your kids are really young even if they’re not using one generally and make sure you’ve got batteries for your camera!
The kids loved it, me and my Mum loved it and even my Dad who normally hates anything like this, had a great time because the happiness he got from seeing the kids’ enjoyment is priceless”.
Information on the best of the Disneyland Paris rides and attractions
Bear in mind that the Disneyland Paris rides and attractions might change but the favourites will always be there!
Disneyland Paris rides for smaller children
Peter Pan – a flying boat through Peter Pan’s house, the animatronics keep younger children happy and it looks pretty amazing
Captain Hook’s pirate ship – fun for young children
Mad hatter’s Teacups – a gentle ride especially loved by little girls
Le Pays des Contest de Fees – gentle boat cruise, ideal for smaller children
Autopia – test your driving skills in wonderful sleek 50’s style cars – kids can come too and if tall enough will be able to “drive” them
Casey Jr. – le Petit Train du Cirque – very gentle train ride for the young ones
Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast – really enjoyable ride where you get to “blast” the enemy
Disneyland Paris thrill rides
Big Thunder Mountain – not for those who don’t like fast rides, lots of twists and turns on the roller coaster ride that is one of the most popular at Disneyland Paris.
Space Mountain – “hardcore”! Definitely one for people who love thrill rides, very popular and great effects.
Indiana Jones – adventure in the temple of Peril!
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror – good effects, bit too much for young ones – especially the lift drop!
Star Tours – bumpy ride on a Star Wars themed ship
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith – not one for people who don’t like loud music but strangely thrilling!