Anyone who knows me well will be aware of my love of anything Disney. Of course when I was a child growing up there was never all the Disney hype that there is now. But with improved travel links all over the world we can actually visit the home of Mickey Mouse, instead of just seeing it in magazines and on the television.
I visited Orlando In Florida about twelve years ago and was mesmerised by Disney World, Epcot and all the other theme parks. It was easy to get totally immersed in the whole Disney experience cheering on the characters in the tea time parade. I loved having my photo taken with Minnie Mouse, queuing up to meet her alongside fifty excited children !
There is something so magical about Disney that appeals to all ages and from all walks of life. You may be reading this now thinking that there is no way that you would ever be affected by a trip to Disney World. But spend a few days there and I would like to bet that a sprinkle of Disney magic will rub off on you too.
So when my husband asked me a few months ago what I would like for my birthday I replied, ” A trip to Paris please !” Of course he immediately thought that I wanted to visit the city of Paris and take in the many city attractions. Maybe a romantic boat ride on the Seine ? It didn’t take me long to put him right. When I told him I actually wanted to spend my birthday in Disneyland Paris I swear he rolled his eyes ! Two of my daughters said they also wanted to come with us to celebrate my birthday, so my birthday treat was just perfect.
So at the end of February we set off for Disneyland Paris. I was unbelievably excited and couldn’t wait to get there. We decided to travel to the resort by car via Le Shuttle ( Euro Tunnel ). I had read a few reviews on travelling to the resort this way. Many reviewers had said it was an easy and stress free journey. The Euro Tunnel is a short hop from the UK to Calais in France and takes just thirty minutes. You literally drive on and by the time you have popped to the loo, you are in France ! It’s quick, efficient, inexpensive and stress free.
Once we had left the tunnel terminal in Calais we were straight onto the road heading for Disney. The journey took about three hours and we had one quick stop. The roads were almost traffic free and it was a joy to be driving abroad on that sunny Sunday morning.
OUR HOTEL. SEQUOIA LODGE
So around lunchtime we arrived at the resort of Disneyland Paris and our chosen hotel, Sequoia Lodge. Our hotel was one of the Disney on site hotels. We mainly chose it for its proximity to the main parks. The hotel was clean, beautifully decorated and the staff were so welcoming as you would expect from Disney. The hotel is in the theme of a mountain resort lodge. I was so impressed with the level of detail for the theme throughout the hotel.
Our room was a Lakeside room and we had a fabulous view of the Disney Village which was only a five minute walk away. We had a Bambi themed room and a huge balcony, although it was too cold to be sitting out while we were there.
As nice as the room was, we didn’t intend to spend long there as the main focus for our visit was the Disney Parks of Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios. So abandoning our luggage we were quickly out of the door and heading for the first park of the day which was Disneyland Park.
Disneyland Park is dominated by Sleeping Beauty’s Castle which stands at the end of Main Street. I remember crying when I first set eyes on Cinderella’s Castle in Florida ( each theme park has a different castle dedicated to a different Disney princess ). And when I saw the pastel pink castle at Euro Disney I cried again !
Disneyland Park is divided into five themed areas –
Main Street USA – this is the main entrance to the park. It is themed in the style of an old small town in America complete with Victorian architecture and a railway station. Central to the Main Street is the magnificent Sleeping Beauty Castle which dominates the skyline. Here you will find a fabulous variety of shops and vintage style eating places.
Frontierland – this is themed after an old mining town from the American Old West era. The most popular attractions in this area include Big Thunder Mountain ride which is very popular. I don’t go on the very fast rides so I cannot give an opinion on this. However I am assured that it is an amazing ride and worth the wait. So try and get a Fast Pass for it. Pocahantas Indian Village and the fantastic Thunder Mesa Riverboat are also located in Frontierland.
Adventureland – this is the re-creation of exotic, far away places such as North Africa, the Caribbean and India. My favourite ride Pirates Of The Caribbean is here, along with the amazing Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse. The Treehouse is worth a climb for the fantastic views over the rest of the park.
Fantasyland – the castle of Sleeping Beauty forms the entrance to this land. The area is themed around a story book village with particular emphasis on European villages. Fantasyland is probably my favourite of them all. Prepare to be cast back into your childhood while you ride on Peter Pan’s Flight, Pinocchio’s Fantastic Journey and my all time favourite, It’s A Small World. If you visit my last choice then be prepared for a lifetime of the most addictive song EVER !
Discoveryland – this area is themed after scientists and explorers such as Jules Verne, and HG Wells. This land contains the ever popular Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast which I love but I always struggle to shoot those aliens ! Also here is a fabulous attraction called Autopia which is basically a car ride around a track driving vintage style cars. It sounds quite simple. However I found it difficult to control my car and managed to laugh my way round the track instead. Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain is also in Discoveryworld. This is very popular but I am assured by my family that it is worth the wait.
Disneyland also have frequent day time and night time shows and parades. These change frequently, so before you go check the current timetable for details. An absolute must is the nightly fireworks show located in front of the castle. This is a fireworks show like you have never seen before and is quite breathtaking. Standing room only so try and go early for a great view.
WALT DISNEY STUDIOS
Walt Disney Studios is the second park located at Disneyland Paris and is dedicated to movies, movie production and show business. It is less busy than the other park, so if you want a break from the crowds then head here. The park is divided into four ‘studio lots’ all themed around some aspect of Hollywood film production.
Front Lot – this is the main entrance to the park and is where most of the shops and other public services are located. Here you will find Disney Studio 1. This is a covered walkway with lots of shops and eating places all on the theme of an old Hollywood movie soundstage.
Toon Studio – this is a popular area for children as it is inspired by all the classic Disney and Pixar characters. Here you will see all the fabulous characters from Toy Story like Woody and Buzz. In this area are located some popular rides such as the 3D Ratatouille and Crush’s Coaster which is a spinning roller coaster based on the story of Finding Nemo.
Production Courtyard – this area is themed around the production side of making a Hollywood movie. Here you can see Hollywood inspired street sets with rides such as The Twilight Zone Tower Of Terror and Studio Tram Tour.
Backlot – is the area where you can actually witness reproductions of films through special effects and stunts. Armageddon walk through special effects attraction, the Stunt Show Spectacular and the Aerosmith roller coaster are just a few of the most popular rides here.
Disney Village is located just outside the the entrance to the two main parks and this is the main hub for shopping, entertainment and eating places. There are live shows, concerts and childrens’ events all taking place within the Village. It is worth checking the up to date programme when you are there.
So that completes my snapshot of my five days in Disneyland Paris as a birthday treat. And what a birthday it was !
Of course, I could write much more on my adventures as every day was an action packed day with something new to see and explore. What were my final thoughts on Disneyland Paris for me ?
Well as a massive Disney fan I would be hard pushed not to have enjoyed it. For me Disney is magical and takes you out of your normal every day world. Even as adults we all need this escape at different points in our life.
I am not a big lover of fast rides so I avoid them. Even so, I still thoroughly enjoy myself. Just walking round the parks taking in the atmosphere is so wonderful and a joy. You cannot fail to be entranced by the level of detail that goes into every part of the resort.
As expected, the staff ( or cast members as they are known ) are well trained in customer service and their attitude and enthusiasm contributed to the overall enjoyment of the holiday. The eating places and food were all above standard, with a wide variety of food to suit all tastes and budgets.
So many people presume that Disney parks are solely for young families and children. However, this assumption is so wrong. Disney is for everyone regardless of age and background. I think Walt Disney in his vision actually wanted his parks to be all inclusive to everyone. It looks like his dream is now a reality.
Disney has no age boundaries. I saw many people there my age, with and without children / grandchildren. There were many young couples without children enjoying themselves, just as much as the children stood next to them in the queue for Peter Pan. I know I will be visiting Disney Parks for many years to come.
We visited at the end of February and it was bitterly cold. Some days were minus 6 ! I kid you not ! We did visit at a time when the weather was extremely cold. So it’s worth checking the potential weather forecast before you visit. It actually did not spoil our visit. However, some of the rides were temporarily closed due to the extreme cold. We also had to make a regular pit stops for hot chocolate to warm ourselves but this was not a difficult choice !
I really cannot wait till I can visit Disney again. It seems like one of those places that you can never visit too much and and a place you are drawn to again and again. I have my eyes on a return trip to Orlando now. That Florida sunshine is calling me I think !
Please comment below if you have visited Disneyland Paris. What did you think of it ? Did you visit with or without children ?
Until next time dear friends
PS. We booked directly with Disneyland Paris and got an amazing deal with them which was 25% discount. So it is always worth checking the prices with the resort themselves before looking elsewhere.