A Family View

In the first ever guest post on DLP Town Square, Tim Redgrave takes us on a journey to Disneyland Paris thanks to his recent trip. He also details his history with Disneyland Paris and how somebody went from not being the biggest fan of the resort, to a Disneyland Paris lover; a love kindled through the eyes of his two children. 

So, you’ve said “Yes!” like the advert says. What now?

Well… if you are one of those types who is unprepared to de-starch that upper lip and not respect the European flavor of this magical place – then move along there is nothing for you to read here.

If, however, you are ready to have one of the best times then there maybe something in this to help you on the way.

I can happily say that we, My wife and 2 children, have just come back buzzing from our second trip. We went last year, again this year and we are struggling to not go again next year!! We have fallen in love with this place. You can too.

I approached the 1st trip with trepidation – I had been in its first year of opening and I remembered feeling distinctly unimpressed with it. On reflection, I now know that this was purely down to my British approach to theme parks. This was not the Pleasure Beach. This was not Alton Towers, but the 18-year-old me was expecting that.  This feeling disappeared almost immediately as I saw my children’s faces light up when the music for the anniversary parade kicked in! I saw their joy and it filled my heart and it is here that my love affair with Disneyland Paris began!

I had no expectations from Main Street. To me, it was just the place you walked through to get to the other areas of the Park. How wrong was I? I would say that you would be doing yourself a favour by spending time here. Soak in the atmosphere, look at the theming, acclimatise yourself to what this wonderful world is all about. I know you’ll probably be champing at the bit to get to the rides – and maybe you don’t have the time. We took advantage of the 2 days and nights free – so 5 days in the park gave us the time.

It will be here that you learn the best lesson about Disneyland Paris if you go during regular season – it is busy. Proper busy. You have a culmination of all manner of cultures and all will have their own traits and intricacies. There will be queues. It is expensive. Accepting this is the key to enjoying it. I earwigged a “conversation” one British family were having. The jist was she was never coming again as the people were rude and it was too expensive. Funny that. She seemed to be the only one shouting!

I found everyone treated me as I treated them. The cast members were fabulous with us all – especially the children.

This year we found new ways of getting to each land within the park. These are really worth finding when it is busy as often they are deserted. Covered too for when it’s a bit hot or a bit wet! I was amazed that one minute I was in Frontierland and the next I was in Fantasyland and I couldn’t quite work out how I had done it! This, for me, only adds to the excitement of the Paris version of Disneyland. There is so much to find.

I always try to make Frontierland my next port of call. I love spending time here. I love the view of Thunder Mesa as you walk under the big arch. Again, here is some wonderful theming people just pass by. Go through the little door on the left and take a walk up the ramparts. There’ll be no crowds! I like to wander right down to the fence by the lake and watch the Molly Brown glide by to the sound of the screams from Big Thunder Mountain!

In the corner of my eye though is “my” ride. My boy and I love Phantom Manor – and as much as I want to ride it, I want to experience it. So without rushing we take an amble up towards the house. Taking in the theming. I have a slow walk past the Gazebo, just in case those tea cups move once again and then onwards as the music takes hold. More often than not the queue ride is so short you don’t get to experience the full line, but the theming is so good it would be worth the wait! Round to the front, where a cast member will begin the journey. Obviously, these differ each time and some are better than others. Into the holding room, look up and around (but stand to the far left!). In the next room walk to the right, again look up and around and take it all in. This is the stretching room – it will all make sense! In 2 years, though, I have ridden this 8 times and I still can’t make out the ceiling!!! And selfishly I miss Vincent!!!!

If you have time, take it all in, in the hallway. Look out for Walt! The doombuggy is just round the corner! You are now in the most unique and beautifully constructed stories in all the Disneylands in all the world. 8 times and there was something new each time. Honestly.

Once I have seen the 999 ghosts I am happy to go anywhere. This is just down to your choice really, though to be honest it’s usually Adventure land for my next favourite. Some people may like to do the entire land while they were there. We didn’t. We just went where we fancied! This is how we have found so many different ways to each land. Do take it all in though – I mean how stupid is it to only realise on the last day on the 1st visit that there was Excaliber right by the castle! Dear me! Hanging on to that last terrible habit of British theme park visiting – nothing to see… move along! There is loads to see. Disneyland Paris is not just rides. It has attractions. It has its identity. Those shops may seem the same, but they have very subtle differences – so don’t pass them by thinking they are! Boy, are they beautiful too. Expensive, maybe. This is Disneyland – not Poundland!

We’re not seasoned Disneyland Paris visitors yet – and maybe our habits will change. I have learnt so much from this very website to help enhance the experience. The highlight for this latest trip was the Parade. We had already seen it once this trip but we fancied seeing it again from somewhere different. Thanks to DLPTownsquare we found the perfect spot down by the Castle Stage – but disaster! We had arrived a bit too late. All the spots by the rope had gone. We had the kids dressed up as Peter Pan and Tinkerbell and I had let them down! I stood by the crossing, where cast members were keeping the pedestrian crossing clear and I was politely asked to move – and I hit upon on an idea! It seemed logical that they would block off this route when the parade started. They wouldn’t leave it open for people to rush the floats – I could see the extra rope and putting 2 and 2 together I held my nerve. We stayed right on the edge of the crossing. 15 minutes to go. No movement. Hold your nerve. 10 minutes to go. No movement. Still crossing. 5 minutes to go. No Movement. Fortune favours the brave. People had gathered by the railings. They had the same idea!! But we were by the rope. Magic on parade! No movement…..wait! Here came the cast member, who gave a serious look (and a cheeky wink) as he moved the rope in the way I hoped and we were right at the front. No camera this time. Just memories and thank goodness. So many of the characters spotted the kids and came over and interacted with them. Wow! I would say nearly all the characters came over, but notably Jessie, The Queen of Hearts, Mary Poppins and Burt, and Peter Pan. Those on the floats took the time to point over and wave, especially Tink! The absolute cherry on the icing on the cake. The grit in my eye was significant that evening I can tell you!

The Parade, and indeed Dreams, is a good example of where tolerance is a skill you must hone! There will be those who just rock up and think it is ok to stand in front of you at the last-minute. Far, far worse for me though is the phone, tablet brigade. Dear me! I am all for taking photos, but gosh these people will stick these right in your face! I did have to say though when, when having the ipad above my son’s head, the cover dangled down in front of his eyes. I don’t understand the point of ipadding Dreams either! I get wanting to see it again – I guess, but really Dreams is to be lived and loved. I haven’t seen a video that reproduces the live experience. So put your phone down – enjoy the show. It really is Magic.

In the next part of the report, Tim gives us his thoughts on Disney Hotels, Disney Village and Ratatouille in the Walt Disney Studios Park. Check back in a few days for Part Two! 

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