Disneyland Paris Review

Our recent experience of a family trip to Disneyland Paris




We visited Disneyland Paris as part of a two centre holiday in France over the school Easter holidays. The first part of the break was a relaxing week in Normandy then followed by four nights of Disney fun. Or at least that was the plan.

We found an excellent package deal for a Disneyland Paris hotel including park tickets on the Disneyland Paris Website and filled with Disney excitement with booked it up quickly.

However, after booking in haste we then started to read some of the online reviews and quite frankly they weren't very good.

We became nervous about the hotel quality and whether the park would live up to our expectations. Read on to find out if it did.

Arriving at the Disneyland Paris Hotel New York



We had a long drive from our Toddler Holiday Gite in Normandy to Disneyland Paris including having to navigating the ring roads of Paris so it was fair to say we were a bit tired and fed up when we arrived at the hotel. Often when travelling you can find your first impressions impacted by the tiredness and this was defintely a risk for this hotel.

The hotel itself was easy to find being well sign posted from the main road and it also had plenty of parking right by the hotel. All plus points so far.

However, as we approached the hotel laiden with children and bags the porters standing outside all ignored us and we struggled through the revolving door entrance. This was annoying but also a safety failure as they were meant to be scanning luggage on a big x-ray machine before it entered the hotel. Interestingly on subsequent days we were always scanned with a security wand on entering the hotel.

Still, we struggled on with our luggage and the kids and joined the very large checkin queue. But, while the queue was large it moved quickly and the checkin procedure was a nice and simple and carried out with a smile. Much more of what you expect (and pay for) with Disney.

The hotel interior was very spacious, clean and decked out in cartoon art deco New York theme like something from Who Framed Roger Rabbit and we all found this interesting and fun and was the first signs that the reviews we had read were wrong.

We made our way to our room and were pleased to find it was a nice large, clean, room with two double beds and penty of room to spread out. This was great and all we were after after as we didn’t plan on spending a lot of time in the hotel other than resting from adventures in the park.

Once we had unpacked and freshend up we headed into the park.

We took it easy and just strolled about the park to get our bearings, watched the parade and then grabbed some food at the Rainforest Café in the Disney Village. The Disney Village is large collection of shops and restaurants just outside of the two parks.

Magic hours at Disneyland Paris and how to get the most out of them



We had two magic hours each day as part of our package and were keen to put them to good use.

Magic Hours is a time when only Disney hotel guests get to use the Disneyland Park two hours before it opens to the public, Magic Hours does not include Walt Disney Studios Park.

Sadly, on our first full day in the park we wasted all of our hours and more queuing to meet Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. The frustrating part being that the queue looked very small (30 people max) but took two and half hours to get through! Not a good first impression and a waste of our extra time for no good reason other than poor management of a queue.

On the following days we ignored the character lines and headed straight for the rides. Within an hour we had covered the Flying elephants, teacups, Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast, Carrousel, Hyperspace mountain and a coffee. Suffice it to say for your trip to Disneyland Paris focus your extra hours on the rides. See more Tips and Tricks for visiting Disneyland Paris.

One more thing to note but when we checked into our hotel we were asked what time we wanted breakfast. This was a bit of a surprise as we thought we could just turn up anytime between 7am and 10am but apparently not.

We had read a few stories on the web about breakfast being a bit of a bun fight to get seats and food so assumed they were introducing times to try to limit this problem.

We bravely opted for the 7am slot with a view to getting up and out to hit the park. While it was a struggle to get Travelbetter Girl and Boy up each day, and in all honesty ourselves, after an exhausting Disney day I am glad we did as we did beat the crowds into breakfast and got to the park in plenty of time to enjoy our Magic Hours.



Meeting the Disney characters at Disneyland Paris



Meeting the characters at Disney is what little kids love the most about Disney trips and the Travelbetter kids are no exception. But, from our experience at Disneyland Paris it is fair to say they don't run the character meets very weel.

Plus, when compared to the parks in America people seemed to have problems politely queuing and not trying to push in or forcing the Disney cast to hear some poor sob story about their kids getting upset in the long queue and therefore they should be allowed to cut in.

We even had to endure one very annoying women fake crying to try to get to the front and although they weren't successful they slowed the queue even more and quite frankly pissed us off! We quickly realised meeting the characters the usual way wasn't going to work and we needed a different approach.

So we changed tactics and decided to book a few character meals where you got to meet some of your favourite Disney characters while enjoying breakfast, lunch or dinner.

This was a smart move by us and one we recommend for your visit. As everyone was busy eating and promised a visit by the characters there was little messing around and you got to meet at least three Disney stars in the time it takes to eat your meal.

We did two character meet and greet meals during our stay at Disneyland Paris. The first was the Character buffet lunch at the Inventions room at the Disney hotel and the second was Breakfast at cafe Mickey in the Disney Village

The food at the character buffet lunch was excellent and during our lunch we got to meet Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Daisy Duck and Eeyore with a good amount of time with each one for the kids to get an autograph, a photo, a cuddle and a bit of mucking about.

The food at the character buffet lunch was excellent and during our lunch we got to meet Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Daisy Duck and Eeyore with a good amount of time with each one for the kids to get an autograph, a photo, a cuddle and a bit of mucking about.

Breakfast at Cafe Mickey was a little disappointing in comparison with the charcter lunch. The characters were great but the food wasn't. It wasn't bad it just exactly the same as the breakfast we had skipped that day in our hotel and we had paid quite a lot for breakfast at Cafe Mickey with the hopes for a bit more choice, or even a few cooked to order items. On balance Cafe Mickey may be a better choice for an evening meal. However, the characters were great and the kids got to meet Mickey and Goofy once more, Pluto Dog and Rabbit from Winnie the Pooh.

The looks of joy on their faces as the characters appear and come over to say hello during the meal is truly priceless and long may the magic continue.

Our experience of the rides and attractions at Disneyland Paris



It's fair to say that overall we were disappointed with the rides and attractions at Disneyland Paris during our visit and for the simple fact that so many were closed.

Especially some of the best like the Rockin Roller-coaster, Thunder Mountain and Star Tours. We understand that they require maintenance and improvement at times but all at the same time and during the school holidays!

This was not very good timing in our opinion and as a result this meant that some of the bigger thrill rides that were open had much larger queues. We did manage to still get on the Tower of Terror but didn't manage to get on Crush's Coaster as the queue never went under an hour.

There were still plenty of rides on offer for the little ones and we would recommend the Slinky Dog roller-coaster (Walt Disney Studio Park), it's a small world (Disney Park) and The Pixar Cars ride (Walt Disney Studios Park) as top picks for five and under. In fact they were all a great choice to build the kids confidence up on rides by being fun without being too scary and the queues moved quickly enough so they could get a few goes in.

One of the best rides in Walt Disney Studios Park was the Ratatouille ride based on the film of the same name. On this ride you are shrunk down to the size of a rat and go on a journey through Chez Gusteux restaurant from the film. This was great fun for all the family and we managed to get on this a few times thanks to careful use of the fastpass system.

As well as the above we also enjoyed the Stunt Spectacular Show featuring Lightning Mcqueen, exploring the secret cave under Sleeping Beauty's Castle, the parade (so much so we watched it twice!) and many fun games dotted about the parks.

It was long days at Disneyland Paris



Even with a lot of the premier rides closed there was still a lot for us to do at Disneyland Paris and with the early starts we were all being hit with the tired stick in the afternoon. But this was especially true for the Travelbetter kids.

We had our faithful McClaren pushchair with us but they had to take it in turns using it and this didn't go down too well with either of them. In hindsight we wish we had either rented a spare or bought another from home as we did have to deal with a few tantrums over who's turn it was and how long their go in the chair had been.

What helped was staying at a Disney Hotel as this meant we could, and did, pop back for a break around lunch time and grab a power nap before heading back out to the park. We would then stay out until after dinner and on the final night we stayed up even longer to watch the Disneyland Paris Fireworks and Light show.

The kids found it tough to keep going long enough to watch them but we were glad we managed it in the end as the show was really great and bought a smile to all our faces.

The food at Disneyland Paris



There are numerous places to get fast food or a more substantial meal at both the Disney parks and Disney village including the Rainforest Cafe and Planet Hollywood which are both Travelbetter favourites.

Top of our list of places to eat when we got to the park was Chez Remy based on the Restaurant at the end of the Disney Pixar film Ratatouille and we managed this on our final night.

Much like the Ratatouille ride you are shrunk down to rat size to sit amongst giant crockery and on chairs made of bottle tops to enjoy your meal.

This was a fun experience but the food wasn't fantastic for the price and the service was lacking a bit which was disappointing.

The Travelbetter kids really enjoyed it as they love the film but if your kids are not familiar with it then we would say to give this restaurant a miss.

The other big night out we had was at Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show with Mickey and Friends in the Disney Village and this was superb.

We all loved the show. It had plenty of tasty food and drink served while we watched and joined in with a really entertaining and action packed show.

By the end of the evening we all had big smiles on our faces and were trying to talk like cowboys. This was one of the highlights of our trip to Disneyland Paris and we would strongly recommend it to anyone going.

Value for money at Disneyland Paris



The hotel and park entry was good value for money as we were able to get a good deal with four nights for the price of two including park entry for five days and breakfast. This came to roughly £900 but when including park entry and magic hours it is a pretty good deal as you will have lots of fun filled days.

As any Travelbetter Subscriber knows we like to calculate value of a per person per day basis so for this trip that equates to £56.25 per person per day or £225 per day for the family. What you know need to ask yourself is a large hotel room on site, with breakfast, park tickets and magic hours worth £225 per day.

Overall



In summary here are the bad and good point of our trip to Disneyland Paris.

Bad Points

  • Too many rides were closed
  • The character meets in the park were badly managed
  • The Cafe Mickey breakfast choice was poor for the price
  • The service in Chez Remez needs improving

Good Points

  • Some great rides for little ones
  • The character meets with meals were well run
  • The hotel was really close to the parks
  • Our hotel room was a good size
  • The Wild West Show was excellent
  • The Disneyland Paris firework show didn't disappoint

While we did find that a bit of the Disney magic or polish that we've experienced at Disney World was lacking we did still have a lot of fun at Disneyland Paris and if more of the rides were running I am sure that fun would have been even greater.

Overall we would recommend Disneyland Paris for a family break and as a great way to get a taste of Disney Parks or a quick hit in Europe if you have already been to Disney World.

If you are plannnig on visiting Disneyland Paris this year then be sure to check out our Disneyland Paris Deals page before you book.

Our trip



We travelled to France with Brittany Ferries and back on the Eurotunnel . While at Disneyland Paris we stayed at the Disney's Hotel New York

If traveling from the UK another option is to take the Eurostar from St Pancras straight through to the Disney Village.

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