We had an amazing time. Below I'm going to list the highlights and some disappointments and will then give some tips for any future first time travellers -
1. Seeing the Disney castle is amazing when you walk through the gates.
2. The 5.30pm parade is fantastic. This was one of my children's favourite bits. My children were mesmerised especially the 3 year old. We watched it twice. We also caught part of the springtime parade which was during the day which was colourful & fun. It seemed to have more of a Mary Poppins theme although some of the main Disney characters were also there. The main parade starts at the castle and comes down Main Street.
3.Stand out rides for my children were "Its a small world" which we went on 3 times!!! Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast which we queued 90 minutes for but managed to do again the next day in a lovely short 15 minute queue. Dumbo the flying elephant, the Carousel, Mad Hatter's Tea Cups and Autopia were also favourites..
4. The light show was amazing but very busy. We were at the back because my son isn't keen on fireworks so couldn't see the fountains but the lights on the castle are brilliant. My son wasn't that bothered but my 7 year old loved it and wanted to see it again.
5. The walk home is lovely around the lake and is a nice respite from the music, crowds and queues. Our hotel was Newport Bay and was enormous. The rooms were nice although quite standard. I'm not sure how it compares to the other hotels but I would happily recommend.
6. We travelled by Euro star and it literally takes you right to the park. A quick shuttle bus to your hotel and you are checked in quickly. We chose to go to the hotel and have a quick look about but you could have gone straight into the park as your suitcase is taken to the hotel for you if you have Disney Express service.
7. The entrance is amazing. It looks soooo Disney and gives a brilliant first impression.
8. The park was very clean.
9. I loved the appearance of the Cars and Toy Story section in Walt Disney Studios. The rides looked amazing and the giant Buzz is great. Unfortunately that was the morning my son refused to go on any rides (more on that later) so we didn't sample much and didn't have time to go back.
10. The food at Annette's was lovely I would definitely recommend. We were stuffed so only ordered one cheesecake but regretted it as it was the best one I've ever eaten and I could have easily managed a whole one myself. The evening meal we had at our hotel was also great with lots of choice. However other meals were more hit & miss. I would recommend the Disney Village for food rather than the main park.
11. The Lego shop. My kids loved it and the Lego Woody & Buzz are amazing as is the Mickey Mouse in the window. I wish we had a Lego store in Northampton. I'm wondering who I can recommend it too ha ha!!!
1. I had expected characters to be walking around the park often but we didn't see any. The characters do appear for scheduled photo opportunities at specific places but the queues are enormous and you need to make sure you are there at the correct times. If you are elsewhere in the park or queuing somewhere you miss it. Luckily my children weren't bothered about having their photos taken.
2. The staff uniforms. Might seem an odd niggle but I had expected the staff to be wearing Disney outfits. They were all wearing rather odd drab uniforms that had no Disney relevance. Most had large navy trousers, beige, blue or green over sized shirts and long cape type things. I thought they would have a basic uniform of navy/black trousers and a Mickey Mouse T-Shirt/Shirt/Jumper and on specific rides they might be wearing a costume e.g. - Jessie & Woody cowboy clothes or Disney Princess dress.
3. I think some of the rides need updating as it seems very focused on the old traditional characters and not the newer ones that young children know and love e.g. - Disney Junior characters such as Doc McStuffins, Sofia and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Also some of the rides didn't seem to have any Disney relevance at all and could have been at any theme park. They seemed to be more to fit in with the themed zone than Disney eg - Orbiton & Autopia. My children did like both of these rides & weren't bothered but I think as an adult I expected Disney to be everywhere. The only thing my daughter was disappointed about was the lack of Tinkerbell & the other Fairies especially Silver Mist. I thought there might be a Pixie Hollow section or ride.
4. Some restaurants were closed with no poster or sign stating when it would reopen. We had a problem at Casey's twice, Buzz's Pizza Planet and Pizzeria Bella Botte. We also found a lot of the snack food in the park was sweet based e.g.-ice cream, pop corn, waffles and not many places served normal sandwiches or savoury snacks. There is a lot of food choices but most are sweet or main meals. We found one place that served sandwiches but they looked horrible and didn't suit our children. It was ham & cheese that looked quite plastic, grilled vegetables or curry chicken. This isn't a massive issue but something to be aware of.
5.We felt it could benefit from a few more signs especially for the toilets. Twice we struggled to find one which is a pain with a 3 year old in tow who is busting for the loo!
1. If you can I would study a map before you arrive so you can plan which rides you really would like to go to and roughly were you are going. This will save you a lot of time. It is available on the website.
2. You can head straight into the park from the train station and your suitcase will be taken to your hotel for you. This is the Disney Express service you will be told if you have this. Likewise on the way home we checked out and left our case at the hotel & enjoyed a few more hours in the park and collected our case at the train station.
3. Meal vouchers. We had free half board as part of our holiday but the vouchers were not explained to us fully and we did not really get full use from them.
Breakfast is hotel only and allocated slots.
Dinner - We were told you had to book but we found out you could use the vouchers almost anywhere in the park without the need for booking. To get the best value it is best to choose places like Walt's, Plaza Gardens, your own hotel, Annette's and Café Mickey. We used ours one day in Colonel Hathi's Pizza Outpost. It was quite confusing to start with as the server did not speak English but a manager explained we could use them but they are worth approx 30 euros an adult and no change is given. Our meals were only 15 euros so we were not getting our monies worth and she was concerned however our son really wanted pizza/pasta 2 other restaurants we'd tried were closed and as it had been a free upgrade when I booked we weren't bothered but you may want to bear this in mind.
Tea Time Treat - Again these vouchers were not explained to us. We thought you could only use them at the hotel between 3-7pm. However on our last day we found out they could be used in the park. We didn't use any of them but as I said earlier it was a free upgrade so I wasn't too worried. However if I'd paid for the upgrade I would of been annoyed.
4. We travelled by Euro star but our route home was via Lille. We thought you still needed to be at the train station an hour before departure. We didn't have time to queue for a final ride so actually arrived at the train station 1hr 30 mins before departure. It was only after collecting our suitcase & speaking to someone at the station we realised as it was a French train to Lille and we only needed to be there about 15 mins before so we could find our platform. At Lille we had to show our passports etc but the process was quite quick and the journey pleasant.
5. Take some very comfy shoes. You will do ALOT of walking. We had serious feet ache but it was worth it.
6. Make sure you know what you are queuing for! On Friday we arrived had a quick whizz round the park & then dinner at the hotel. When we returned to our disappointment Fantasyland was closed (we later found out this is due to the light show & closes early quite often) so we wondered about & then I saw a train so we decided to queue. It was dark by now & we hadn't consulted the park map. I had assumed it was just a gentle train that would go round in a circle. However it turned out to be Thunder Mountain which was fast & dark & both kids hated it. My son refused to go on anything Saturday morning as a result. Luckily "It's a small world" and a present from the Lego shop resolved the situation. To be honest I'm surprised we were allowed on the ride as my son is only 3. The height restrictions in France seem to be lower than our own & I'm sure a similar ride at a theme park here would have different restrictions. It is a funny story though & we joked about taking them on the Space Mountain:Mission 2 for the remainder of the trip.
7. We stayed for a Friday to Monday trip & Saturday was by far the busiest day (90 min queue for the Buzz ride) so if you have a pass for early entry use it on the Saturday. This allows you into Fantasyland before 10am so smaller queue's & less people about. Sunday was quieter & Monday was packed again but I think this was due to the bank holiday. If you are able I would suggest travelling midweek to avoid Saturday.
Hope you have enjoyed this post & some of the information is helpful to any newbie Disneyland Paris travellers.