Take a selfie with the Disneyland Castle
I blogged last week about the Disneyland Selfie obsession. I really have never seen so many people taking selfies in such a small space of time and I was fascinated by the process. I do have to admit that Disneyland does offer some spectacular sights to have as a backdrop and they are holidays of a lifetime, so why not. The Disneyland Castle is an iconic part of the park and it is something that makes you gasp when you see if for the first time and it doesn’t matter how many times you see it, you can’t help but stare. After Mickey Mouse, that castle really is Disneyland. You have to have the obligatory shot with the castle in the background. So go on, take a selfie. Or alternatively, grab some poor suspecting passer-by and get them to take one.
Have tea with the characters at Cafe Mickey
My kids love the characters and it is lovely to see the way the rush up to them and hug them like old friends.You do have to queue to see the characters around the park unless you are lucky enough to catch one walking around but we booked into Cafe Mickey for tea one evening and even though it was relatively expensive, it was worth every penny. Seated upstairs, the view over the lake was beautiful and we watched in amazement as a balloon ride went up and down over the lake.
The attention to detail at Cafe Mickey is fantastic, with Mickey shaped high chairs for the very young diners and Mickey shaped plates served to all children. The service was excellent and the food even better, we all agreed that this was the best meal we ate during our holiday.
So great food and amazing views but the real reason we were there was to meet a few characters and that was the best bit. The characters work their way around the tables, no queues and it was very chilled and relaxed. They came to the table, made a fuss of everyone, signed autograph books and had photos taken and the children absolutely loved it.
This was one of everyone’s highlights of the week and it was worth every penny.
Meet Mickey Mouse
You cannot go to Disneyland Paris and not meet Micky Mouse. He is such a big part of the Mickey experience that you have to shake his hand, give him a high-five or even a bear hug. Mickey is also good fun and when my 9-year-old son decided to tap him on the shoulder and run away, he thought it was hilarious. There are lots of opportunities to see and meet Mickey in both parks and Mickey and friends have one of the best floats in the daily parade too.
Kiss a Disney Princess
For my five-year old daughter, the trip to Disneyland was all about Frozen and the Disney Princesses. She enjoyed meeting the characters and like a few of the gentler rides, but she wanted to meet a princess. The princesses reside in the majestic Princess Pavillion and at 10:30 each morning, invitations are given out with half hourly time slots on for you to come back and meet a princess. As you can imagine, this is rather popular and if you are staying in one of the Disney hotels, make use of the early access and go and queue up (with your entry tickets). Once you have your invitation, you come back at the allotted time to the Princess Pavillion admire the classic artefacts from the Disney Princess films before the big meeting. You don’t get to choose your princess, but for my daughter, it didn’t matter one bit. This moment for me is what Disneyland is all about.
Have some boredom busting games for the queues
It quickly became apparent that a lot of our time in Disneyland would be spent in a queue. It quickly became even more apparent that my nine-year old son was going to be unbearable in those queues and after ten minutes, he had reached his queue threshold. Thinking quickly, I tried the distraction technique; games. We started with good old i-spy and then graduated to the alphabet game where you decide on a topic and then work your way through the alphabet with words on that topic. Rock, paper, scissors proved popular and a lovely lady we met in a queue told me about ‘jinx’ where you all look for something and say the thing you have chosen at the same time. If two people say the same thing, they are jinxed and out. We like that game a lot. Maths games came next with Fizz Buzz, which I was rubbish at and variations on the game 11s.
I can honestly say that if we hadn’t had these games, we would not have got onto as many rides or met as many characters as we did.
Stay at Davy Crockett Ranch
When we were looking at the Disneyland accommodation, the hotel were extremely expensive and as a family of five, we needed two rooms which certainly didn’t help the cost. Davy Crockett Ranch is part of the Disneyland accommodation but is a ten minute drive away from the park and comprises woodland lodges. A friend of mine who is a travel agent said that she always recommends Davy Crockett as she has been there with her own family and they loved it.
It is like a holiday park, you park next to the lodge and within easy walking distance there is a shop which sell supplies along with a range of Disney themed gifts and treats, a tropical themed swimming pool, tennis courts, play area and more.
Our lodge was a good size, well-equipped and set up for self-catering with a kitchen with kettle, microwave, coffee machine, hob, fridge, dishwasher and crockery and pots and pans. There were two toilets, two showers and towels were provided. The beds were super comfortable and the lodge was very clean (always an important factor for me).
Due to the amount of time that you spend in the parks, we did feel as though we didn’t make full use of the facilities at Davy Crockett, we did make it into the pool one night and the children loved it. The pool is a good size and free of charge.
Breakfast is included at Davy Crockett. On arrival, you receive a pack with the all of your information and tickets inside and there are breakfast vouchers for each person for each morning of your stay. The breakfast hut is a few minutes walk and each morning you go and pick up your breakfast basket in return for the day’s vouchers (make sure you have the right combination of adult and children vouchers). The breakfasts were amazing. We ate croissants and baguettes with butter, jam and Nutella and there were fruit juices, water, coffee and hot chocolate. We certainly ate well and one morning when we wanted to get into the park early, we had our breakfast in the car.
Make the most of the Fast Pass system
The Disneyland Fast Pass system is quite unique as it is included as part of your entry ticket and there are no extra costs involved. That is the good news. The bad news is that this can limit the chances of getting on the most popular rides as the daily fast passes can run out quite early (Ratatouille is a good example in Walt Disney World).
The Fast Pass system is in operation for about ten rides across the two parks and outside each ride, there is a booth which will display the current half hour slot that the ride has Fast Passes for at that time. You go and present your entry tickets in the machine and it will give you your Fast Pass for the allotted half hour slot. You can then go off and enjoy other rides before coming back. You can then use your ticket to book another Fast Pass two hours later.
We used the Fast Pass system quite a few times as a lot of the Fast Pass rides were larger rides that my thrill-seeking son was demanding to go on.
Get your face painted
Inside Fantasyland there is a small area where some very clever artists get to work quickly on your chosen face paint. They are so quick but so precise, it is fascinating to watch. There are lots to choose from for girls and boys, my daughter opted for the Frozen themed face paint and in minutes she looked amazing. It cost around €13.
A word to the wise, take some wet wipes with you as this is quite challenging to get off. Poor A had a blue-tinged face the following day.
Sing “Let it go’ at the top of your voice
I love Frozen almost as much as my daughter. There I admitted it. I do, it is infectious with those strong women and catchy songs, what is there not to like. Frozen fever has certainly hit Disneyland too with hundreds of little Anas and Elsas flouncing around in their super dresses.
Frozen is so popular at the moment, there is no surprise that it has a place in Disneyland. Ana and Elsa have their own parade in the afternoon with lots of people chasing after them as Let it go, booms out in various languages.
There is currently a Frozen show which is a sing along show featuring the much-loved characters and it gives you the chance to sing along to the favourite Frozen songs. We were given extra special seats in the middle which are reserved for all the little princesses who are wearing the Disney dresses. This was a real treat and we had the best view of the show.
Just outside the theatre, they have recreated a bit of Arundel with shops and even a sleigh to make those little Elsas and Anas feel right at home.
With Let it go, featuring in the end of day Disney Dreams, it was quite funny looking around at the adults who were all singing at the tops of their voices, so I know it isn’t just me. So unleash your hidden Elsa and let it go …
Stay until the park closes
In the summer, the park closes at 11pm which is quite late for little ones but it is worth doing at least once during your stay if you can manage it. One advantage is getting on rides with very little queues as most stay open and lots of people settle in by the castle to get a good view of the Disney Dreams spectacular.
Disney Dreams is a light show extraordinaire and the Disneyland Castle is quite literally brought to life with a light and firework show. It is fabulous and we watched in awe as Peter Pan flies through a variety of Disney classics before our eyes. The children watched in complete awe. It lasts for about 20 minutes and it is a wonderful end to the day. Expect very tired children the next day however as it is a very late night.
Take a trip into Walt Disney Studios
Walt Disney Studios is right next to Disneyland Paris and your tickets give you access to both parks. If you are only there for one day however, I wouldn’t recommend trying to do both parks as it would be very difficult. Walt Disney Studios is a different atmosphere to Disneyland, almost more grown up. There are some serious thrill rides in Walt Disney Studios, my son and husband braved the Hollywood Tower of Terror which you can just see in the photo below. Imagine being dropped in a lift after being scared to death beforehand, well that is how my son described the ride and he was the one who nagged and nagged to go on it.
There are lots of things to see and do in Walt Disney Studios, lots of shows suitable for little ones through to adults alongside a range of rides. One part of the park is dedicated to Toy Story and everything is huge to make you feel like you are a toy in Andy’s backyard as you walk around. The kids loved Toy Story Playland and the RC Racer and Slinky Dog were my son and daughter’s favourite rides respectively. There are three rides but no Fast Passes for the rides in here but we found that both times we were there, the queues weren’t too bad.
One of our favourite Disney films ever is Monsters Inc and we all love this scene and couldn’t resist a photo.
There is also a screamometer near by which the children can try to power up the canisters by screaming and trust me when I say that the children really do scream, at the tops of their voices.
The big difference about Walt Disney Studios is that there are lots of opportunities to discover what’s behind the Disney films and show with a glimpse into legendary screen moments or how those moments were created, take a walk through a set or take a trip to Armageddon and experience the stunt action involved in the making of the film.
By far the most popular ride in Walt Disney Studios is Ratatouille and the queues were around 2 hours. Sadly the day we queued, the ride broke down and we didn’t make it on but apparently it is the best ride in the whole of Disneyland.
Take some spending money for the shops
There are lots of shops in both parks and in Disney Village just outside and there are so many gorgeous things, it would be very hard not to buy a few souvenirs of your trip. The Disney Princess dresses are spectacular and not cheap at around €60 but they are amazing. We already had an Elsa dress, so A chose pair of Elsa shoes and a crown to complete her outfit.
Go for the Half Board option
We did a trip to Disneyland Paris five years ago and one thing that we did notice was the high cost of the food. As part of our deal when we booked earlier in the year was to have free half board and boy what a difference that made. For each day, along with our breakfast vouchers, we had a half board voucher for each person for one buffet meal in a section of restaurants and also a snack voucher for everyone each day which was redeemable in a number of places and gave us all a drink and snack.
The meals that we ate were all fabulous. We tried a different restaurant each day and it is really important to book your restaurants on arrival (we did ours at the reception at Davy Crocketts when we arrived) and there was an eat all you want buffet in each one with a huge range of mains, salads and desserts. It was great for the children as they were able to try different food and it meant that our food bill for the week was relatively small.
Take a trip into Paris
As you walk into Disneyland Paris, you walk straight past the Marne la Vallée-Chessy railway station and it is easy to take a train and switch to the metro to take a tour of the capital. I have been to Paris a few times, so I was quite happy to take the train, the children wanted to see the Eiffel Tower, so we took a lovely stroll along the Seine, taking in the sights as we did.
You can also book an organised day trip into Paris with Disneyland and there are leaflets in the reception of the hotels and either way, it is well worth doing if you can spare a day. The children were thrilled to be able to see some of the Parisian landmarks for themselves.
Enjoy the magic of Disney
Disneyland Paris is magical. Even with queues and crowds, we had a magical time. The rides are amazing, the shops and restaurants are wonderful but the real magic of Disney is the combination of all that along with meeting the characters, watching the parades and shows and seeing your children’s faces light up when they see their favourite characters. That is truly magical memory making at its best.