Disneyland Paris is now entering its seventh month of closure since lockdown three happened over here in Europe. 2020 saw it shut the majority of the year, a first in its history, scuppering a lot of people’s plans my own including *sob*. Whilst the UK is meeting its vaccination targets, it looks like a while before Europeans will be allowed to travel until the traffic light system is adapted. The light at the tunnel is in sight, the guffaw of Goofy in the distance, and for those who dream of the day to walk down Main Street, or for those first-timers, awaiting their time to frolic in front of the castle like a true royal, this article is to get your heart rate pumping and your credit card geared up.
Of course, Disney fans know the history of the theme parks and the multiple parks across the world- we Brits are still waiting patiently for the promised rumored parks. But for me Disneyland Paris is my number one, a quick train ride from London and you are transported into the heart of Disneyland! Is there any better sound than hearing the familiar Main Street music and dare I say – It’s a Small World tune? I’m here to paint you a picture of what Disney imagineers have done for us over the last 60 years of Disney magic. Disneyland Paris has only been open for 20 years, much shorter than its international siblings but has come leaps and bounds for its European neighbors.
So what exactly is there to do in the land of Paris, does it differ from its international siblings, and does it capture the true American dream? Well sit down and say Bonjour to my very own Disneyland Paris must do’s/can’t wait in a post covid (small) world!
- The Pirates of the Caribbean experience
As Haley mentioned in her California feature here if you know, you know. This ride holds a special place in most Disney park fans’ hearts, it’s enchanting, it’s old school and it really does have the best smell… it’s weird but we all know. The best thing about the Paris one is you can literally dine iIN Pirates of the Caribbean. Captain Jack’s – Restaurant des Pirates sits in the heart of Jack Sparrow’s goldfield den, dimly lit and serving an array of cuisine and the finest seafood, the best seat in the house whilst soaking in that gorgeous smell.
- Sleeping Beauty castle
Differing slightly from its American cousin,- and my favorite of the bunch – Paris boasts Princess Aurora’s (Sleeping Beauty) spellbinding 167- foot pink princess castle complete with 16 towers, tapestries, and stained glass windows. The castle is also a reflection of French castles and historic monuments.
The castle itself is laden with what we call mickey treasures, take a trip inside to see the story of the film complete with intricate tapestry details, the wonderful shop which is home to many collectible statuses and glass blown snow globes, etc and for those in the know take a trip to the very bottom where the dungeon dragon lives complete with smoke and sounds!
- Hopping between Magic Kingdom and Walt Disney Studios
Magic Kingdom being the main park stays true to the Disney plan of the American parks, you’ve got four lands as normal. A fresh facelift is making its way to Walt Disney Studio with more room for the Marvel realm. Walt Disney Studios, whilst much smaller, is jam-packed with immersive experiences. I’m furious they’ve recently closed my fave ride in the park- Rock ‘N’ Roller coaster by Aerosmith … I never got to say goodbye! This is to make way for the new Iron Man attraction, Marvel seems to be taking over, but I can be stuck in my ways! My love-hate relationship with Terror of Tower still stands- however covid has made me miss plunging to the depths of despair in the name of fun. Our trusty friend – fast passes are available for a number of attractions throughout both parks.
The downside to the studios is that new renovations have more wait times due to no fast-passes. The Pixar and Toy Story Land will have you waiting hours for Crush’s coaster so head there as soon as the park opens. This ride has a tendency to break down frequently leading to long waits! But it is 100% worth it and has become a firm favorite in our household! I’m a nerd for organising and planning, so the Disney app allows strategic planning to get the most out of your Disney trip!
- Mickey & The Magicien
Both Disney parks are jam-packed with parades and shows galore. With their only being two parks in Paris the great thing is park hopping for shows. In the Disney studios, the must-see show of your trip has to be Mickey and The Magician. This show is perfect for all ages, but it features Mickey being an apprentice conjuring up magic alongside Elsa, Aladdin’s genie and Rafiki taking you across multi Disney scenes with familiar faces, laden with Broadway numbers, modern dance, circus acts and incredible dance numbers, for me it’s heartwarming, only small bits are in french but that doesn’t deter you from understanding what’s happening. If anything it adds to the charm and magique!
- Nighttime spectacular – Disney Illuminations
I’m very lucky and have been to Florida and the California parks. California Adventure nighttime shows made me shed a tear or two. Disneyland Paris has the one night show, where everyone embraces the Disney magic that comes alive and the nostalgia kicks in. Descend onto main street to watch the traditional firework display, Illuminations lights up the Sleeping Beauty castle, with animated scenes from well loved Disney songs dancing in time with water. Whilst crowds do gather early and close in on the front of the castle, however for those who like me love space and not squished together- even more so post-Covid, head towards Adventureland next to Aladdin’s cave and you have all the space with the perfect view, privacy to dance to the music, take selfies and indulge in a magical experience!
- Frolicking down Mainstreet
You’ve done the first step of every trip – got your Mickey’s ears, and now of course is the ultimate fan favourite, the minute you walk through the pearly pink gates, you’re welcomed to my favorite view- the long road of pink vintage shops with the sleeping beauty castle there to welcome you back. Of course, the old trick of having candy floss being streamed into the street helps with that warm feeling of being a kid for the next few days, also my fave tip goes to those who love a castle selfie but can’t stand the crowds in front, wait till the night show is over, browse the shops till main street is near the empty and boom you have your own space to have the photoshoot of your dreams!
- Selfie Spotlight
Now our enemy covid has ruled out a lot of fun for many, we mustn’t let this dampen our Disney spirit. The chance to meet your favorite characters will still be allowed with the new selfie spotlights, if anything this is better than meeting the characters sure you can’t have a squeeze with Mickey and friends. However, you will have a scene setup from said film, meeting Elsa, Anna and Olaf? Well, you’ve got your own backdrop of the castle in the Frozen area. Think of it as a one-of-a-kind photo that in years to come won’t be a thing anymore and boom you have a rare memory!
- Explore Parisian Delights
Indulging in Paris, for me, Disneyland Paris is my favorite city due to the sheer sophistication of the french location, the beauty, and just how everything is so close together. In between park hopping which are literally five minutes apart you feel like you are in completely different parts of the world. Disney Village of course is a Disney fan’s best friend – or enemy- depending on who you shop with and if they too love to get Disney ears the minute you unpack. The World of Disney is the best place to shop for all your Disney needs, alongside this the many fantastic restaurants which boast the best french cuisine, macaroons, pastries alongside chains such as the Rainforest Cafe and McDonald’s for those who like familiarity.
- Bonjour Paris
For me is no such thing as a Disney overload, however, your travel buddies may need a rest. The train station is located slap bang in the middle of Disney Village, allowing you to hop on a train for just a mere forty five minutes to Paris. One of my favorite cities, Paris is chock full of must do’s for tourists, for those who want the French experience for one day, The Big Red tour buses are the bargain way to see the city and cram as much as possible in. The streets are lined with plenty of petite, sophisticated cafes and coffee shops to stop for a break! Either stay to see the Eiffel tower night show or hop back on the train in time for the firework display in the Magic Kingdom, either way not a bad way to spend the day!
- Take a balloon ride at PanoraMagique
And finally, Disney Village is home to a host of shops and dining experiences, but the cherry on this Disney-filled cake is panoramagique. Now if you don’t like heights this might not be for you, but be brave- you are after all on holiday! It’s a short and sweet ride at just six minutes with 360º views over Disneyland Paris-sometimes as far away as 20km! For me this is the perfect thing to do before going back into the parks for the evening show, grab dinner and then head to the balloon ride to see the view of both parks and the surrounding areas. Located in between hotels and shops it’s a great option to slot in your day or evening to break up your trip!