Oh Disney. I first discovered Disneyland Paris (DLP) when hubby took me to Paris for my birthday. I won’t claim to be immediately hooked but it was a very special place which filled a Mickey-shaped hole in my heart. Obviously as we got older, more Disney movies became part of our lives and with the addition of Star Wars and Marvel, we’ve become fully invested in the Mouse House.
I think it was when we were living abroad that Disney took on a whole new light for us. In countries where we didn’t speak the local language, Disney was a safe, accessible option for us. In Spain, the Disney channel was the only tv channel we could watch in English (with Spanish subtitles, which might explain some of our Spanish catchphrases). We’ve been lucky to visit Disney parks in Hong Kong and Tokyo and Hubby visited Disneyland and Disney World in the US when he was a child, all of which offer a unique and fun experience.
However, DLP was still ‘our’ park. Then in 2018 it became even more special when we took the Lamb and we got to experience Disney as a family. We had an amazing time, and it was truly a very memorable first holiday for us all. We got back to the UK and immediately started planning our next trip to DLP.
We were looking to save up and visit DLP again when my dad asked why we didn’t try and visit a different park. Obviously finances dictate where we go on holiday but there are plenty of other reasons to visit DLP so I thought I’d share why we love DLP and why you should go too.
DLP is obviously in Paris. Well, its actually about an hour outside of Paris. For most Europeans it means you have relatively easy, cheap and accessible travel options. It doesn’t mean long flights and jet lag, there are trains from most major cities and you can even drive there with relative ease from the UK. The first time hubby and I visited DLP we flew to Paris from our local airport then took the train straight to Disney. The next two times we’ve been with the Lamb we have driven and used the Chunnel. Whilst it’s taken longer (especially when we got stuck in traffic on the M25!) it has meant that we can leave when we want and also, we had enough room for all the over-sized teddies the Lamb brought back.
No visas. Ok, this will change thanks to Brexit but up until now, British people have been able to come and go into Europe easily, with passport checks done quickly. There’s no queueing for visas, or the additional fees they incur. Just a flash of your passport and you’re on your way. This has its benefits if your travelling with young children because we all know the joy of being stuck in queues with them!
It’s relatively affordable. Ok, Disney holidays are always going to be more expensive than a week on the beach but depending on where you stay and how you choose to travel, they offer pretty good value for money. For example, going to a theme park in the UK might set you back £50 per person per day if you buy on the day, whereas you can visit both DLP parks for around £70 and this price includes all the shows as well. Obviously if you stay on site you get extra ‘Magic Hours’ and the ticket prices is included with your hotel and food so it’s even better value. The ticket price for DLP is also cheaper than those for the US parks, plus no expensive flights or travel costs.
There are no major language barriers. Yes, the park is in France and depending how you travel there you may need some French but compared to parks in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Shanghai, the majority of staff speak English as their second (if not third!) language so you can easily make yourself understood. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try and learn a little french, or try and practice what you learned at school but you can be safe in the knowledge that you’ll make yourself understood.
Most staff in the park speak English but you’ll hear languages from all over Europe (and the world!) which is fantastic. OK, this brings some negatives in that customs and manners differ from country to country (honestly Spain, what’s your issue with queuing?) but you’ll get to broaden your views. In our time in DLP we’ve chatted to people from Germany, Spain, France and even Paraguay! It’s been fun to attempt to learn a little new lingo and share our love of all things Disney. It’s a great experience for the Lamb as well and as parents it’s been amazing to see that even if children can’t speak the same language, they can still get on and play – something I think we could all learn from!
DLP is one of the smaller Disney parks. This is both a pro and a con in that it doesn’t have the rides some of the larger parks have, but also, it’s a manageable size so little people can walk around and unlike the parks in the US, you don’t need to use their transport to get from hotels or around the park.
There’s the other benefit that due to its proximity to the UK and also the small size of the park, you can visit it in a weekend. You might not see everything but you can guarantee you’ll get to go on a number of rides, see parades and perhaps even meet your favourite character.
Speaking of rides, DLP has a good mix of rides for children and adults. There’s the big draw rides such as Big Thunder Mountain, Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain (the fastest and only Space Mountain which goes upside down!) as well as Indiana Jones and the Twilight Tower of Terror. However, there are also plenty of rides to keep the kids (and the big kids) occupied with Dumbo, Lancelot’s Carrousel and Autopia being some of our favourites.
The Disney parks are renowned for their castles and it has been said that Sleeping Beauty’s castle in DLP is the prettiest out of all of the parks. I’ll ignore the dodgy paint job it had when we visited it during it’s 5th anniversary celebrations and say that personally, I agree. With its rising turrets, delicate pink paint and intricate stained glass, it’s truly stunning. And what’s more, there are so many details to explore inside! From snoring guards, murals and lush views over the park it’s a great place to have a few minutes away from the noise and busyness of the park. If you’re feeling brave, there’s also a dragon underneath the castle.
There are many features unique to DLP that you won’t find in other parks. The main features are there, from Main Street to fantasyland etc, but many have been given a French twist. So, for example, there are small snails climbing the roof of the castle and I’ve mentioned the dragon under the castle. You can also visit Toad Hall if you’re feeling hungry and get rained on under the umbrella under ‘Parapluis de Cherbourg’ in Walt Disney Studios.
Two Parks in One
Speaking of Walt Disney Studios, the often ignored or maligned park is worth a visit as there’s lots to see such as the Stitch show, Toy Story land and the ride we’ve still do, Crush’s Coaster. I don’t think anyone would say you need to spend long there, but you can do most of fun stuff in an afternoon.
Always something new
The ‘seasons’ change frequently so there’s always something new. We saw it at the tail-end of the Christmas festival the first time we visited then when we’ve been back with the Lamb we saw the Halloween celebrations and the Frozen/Legends of the Force so each time the park has had different decorations and shows. The summer sees the Lion King take over and there’s also Princesses and Pirates, Marvel Superheroes and of course celebrating Chris-Mouse by meeting Father Christmas at one of the most magical places on earth during the rest of the year.
And as if that wasn’t enough, should you get bored with all things Mouse House, you can hop on a train and visit one of my favourite cities – Paris! From the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and just soaking up the atmosphere with a coffee, Paris is fantastic.