Yeah, I know, Christmas has been and gone but if you read my previous blog then you’ll understand why but I still wanted to get this blog out there.
We knew that so long as our employers authorised our annual leave request we were going to France for Christmas to see family, but adding DLP was a last-minute decision. Once we decided to add it to the trip we spent hours with a spreadsheet working out the cheapest combination of travel. We settled on Bristol to London for a night, the Eurostar from London to Disney and then a plane from Paris to Toulouse after a few days at Disney. It took a lot of planning but it was all worth it.
We booked a cheap hotel in London before the Eurostar to take some of the pre-travel stress away and settled on hub by Premier Inn which is located right beside St Pancras. The room was cheap, we paid about £62 for the night which I thought was great value. I certainly would stay there again.
The Eurostar is such a nice way to travel, we bought a one-way economy ticket and it’s the most direct way to travel to the parks. We paid extra for the Disney Express Luggage Service which I cannot recommend enough. The castmembers find you on the train and give you park tickets and labels for your bag so that when you arrive at Marne-la-Vallée you literally just pop to the top floor and drop your bags. It takes minutes and then you are free to wander into the parks. It’s the best use of time and in the evening your bags are taken to the hotel so once you are done in the park you just head back to your resort. This only works with Disney resorts though.
We have previously stayed in a few different hotels at Disneyland Paris, including onsite and in the nearby village. This time we knew it was a quick visit and planned on spending all our time in the parks so booked the cheapest hotel they had on offer, Santa Fe. We stayed for 2 nights and our package included a 3-day park ticket. The hotel is basic but for what we needed it was perfect. The hotel is Cars themed which is really cute. Our room was on the second floor of a building in Mater. The thing to be aware of here is that there are no lifts, so if you need assistance then try and contact the hotel to request a ground floor room. The hotel looks well worn and the reception area was one of the most unwelcoming I have visited in a while, but it had a bed, hot water and most importantly a Starbucks. The walk to our room from the park was about 20 minutes and it’s a nice walk beside the canal but at night the lights along the pathway don’t work and there is minimal signage. Might be worth checking it out in the daylight first.
The weather for our visit was typical of Paris in Winter, rainy and cold. There were a few dry spells and we made the most of these but when you are in Disney you just have to get on and enjoy the park regardless of the weather. Don’t fear though, there are loads of shows to enjoy inside when the weather is bad.
Our service experience from castmembers was hit and miss but every time I visit DLP I notice an improvement in this and don’t believe that they deserve the bad rep the rest of the world seems to give them still. You can’t compare it to American parks, but why would you want to? Just enjoy the experience of a different country.
The offerings for Christmas were extensive and it took a lot of planning to cram it all in but we saw everything we wanted and managed to get on loads of the rides as well. The park looked stunning with all the lights and colourful decorations. There were also some new non-Christmas shows we got to enjoy including the new Frozen walk-through. Some of the standouts for me were the Christmas Parade, Mickey’s Big Band and the Surprise Mickey show where they projected a Christmas tree onto the Hollywood Tower Hotel. It was pretty spectacular and the best bit of this show? They sang my favourite song, It’s a Good Time and honestly singing and dancing to this surrounded by Disney magic is just the best feeling ever.
Disneyland Paris is a beautiful park, the castle is hands-down the prettiest of them all. Sadly this year they didn’t put any Christmas lights on it but made up for it with projections on the castle and an amazing firework show. They also made it snow every 30 minutes or so on Main Street which was pretty magical. Things I would maybe give a miss next time after seeing them would be the Christmas tree lighting ceremony. It was lovely to see all the characters up close but waiting for an hour in the freezing cold with people pushing me was not enjoyable.
Some of the rides that we got to enjoy were the newly refurbished Phantom Manor which was yeah, alright. Not my favourite but always worth a visit. DLP exceeds with their mountain rides, Hyperspace Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain are two of the best versions you’ll find in any of the parks around the world. The rides here are built more for a European crowd and as such aren’t quite as tame as the American parks. The place this is most evident is with the newly refurbished Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. We got the sequence with the small girl and honestly, it was terrifying. She kept appearing and telling us to stop screaming or they’ll hear us. It’s especially creepy when she says it in French as you haven’t got a clue what she’s saying. My other must-do rides include Crush’s Coaster (get there early for that one), RC Racer and It’s A Small World. I’m almost ashamed to say we queued an hour for Small World on this trip but it’s a rule that we don’t visit a park without riding it and unfortunately, the weekend before Christmas meant long queues. Worth it though.
We always make time to stop by the Disneyland Hotel for a cheeky cocktail and this trip was no exception. I’m a sucker for drinks with a glow cube in and the hotel never disappoints with this. Only the one though, check out the prices and you’ll understand why. It’s also worth checking out the gingerbread house in the reception here, it’s pretty spectacular.
I love Disney and this mini-break was just perfect. It nicely filled the gap until my next trip to the OG Disneyland Park in January. Hopefully, I can squeeze in another trip to Disneyland Paris this year, maybe when its a bit warmer though and hopefully dryer.