Disneyland Paris have launched the Festival of Pirates and Princesses. This new season includes an amazing show, exciting decorations, brilliant colours and fantastic music.Continue reading
In 2017, Season of the Force made its debut in Disneyland Paris. The season was centred in the Walt Disney Studios Park and was widely regarded as a success by both fans and regular guests. In 2018, the season made its welcome return and featured activities in the Walt Disney Studios park and a number of (year-round) Star Wars attractions in Disneyland Park that were closed for refurbishment during the 2017 season.
Boosted returning features
The main features of Season of the Force were in fact the same as last year with shows including Star Wars: A Galaxy far, far, away; Star Wars: A Galactic Celebration and First Order March. These events are slightly modified this year either to take into account Star Wars: The Last Jedi, to increase the presence of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story or to take best advantage of increased technology installed in the park since last year. These additions blended seamlessly into the shows and indeed sometimes allowed for parts of the shows to be reworked, the result was a more enjoyable show which takes better advantage of new additions to the saga that have proven to be so popular.
In the two main stage shows, Rey finally makes an appearance as a character on-stage which really does allow for Disneyland Paris to take advantage of this incredibly popular (and important) character in the saga. Also added were the Death Troopers from Rogue One which look incredible.
The First Order March has seen a significant boost in Stormtroopers parading which is also very welcome as last year was in some ways lacking in that department (although the show was still fantastic to watch). This has the added bonus of allowing more guests a better view of more Stormtroopers. The main element of the show has not been significantly changed and is still short although enjoyable (particularly when paired with Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far, Away which can take place just 2-3 minutes later).
Perhaps the biggest addition this year (both literally and metaphorically) is the addition of Star Wars vehicles in the Walt Disney Studios park. Words cannot emphasise how big some of these vehicles are; the Tie Fighter which hangs over the exit of Studio 1 is especially impressive and has a distinct wow factor, especially when paired up with the X-Wing which faces it. These vehicles are all fan creations, but the level of detail and quality is exceptionally strong.
A special mention must go to the fact that Disneyland Paris has not forgotten Rogue One: A Star Wars Story in the exhibition of vehicles, these little touches and explanatory plaques were a lovely surprise for the season and we can only hope that they return next year.
Star Wars: Also in Disneyland Park
Whilst not ‘special’ for Season of the Force it must be mentioned that this year Star Wars has a presence in Disneyland Park. Unfortunately this was lacking last year due to the refurbishment of Star Tours and Hyperspace Mountain, we have also seen the addition of Darth Vader at Starport and Star Wars being included in Disney Illuminations. Whilst these additions are not special for Season of the Force, they do enhance the Star Wars presence in the resort and so can only be a positive for any Star Wars fans planning a trip.
Looking forward to 2019
With Disneyland Paris focusing on these exciting seasonal events, it is quite likely that Season of the Force will return for a new round in 2019, it can also be assumed that Disneyland Paris will be tweaking what things during the preparation time as we run up to January 2019. The big missing thing from Season of the Force is the distinct lack of Star Wars character meet and greets; it is true that Darth Vader and Stormtroopers can be met, but we are missing characters from the new trilogy and any characters from the Light Side. We can only hope that this is something that Disneyland Paris can work on to win some easy points next year.
Season of the Force is a very fun season that grows year on year, this year the modifications and additions are very strong. The season has a firm base on the Disneyland Paris calendar and it can only be hoped that it continues to grow and boost the appetite for Star Wars in Disneyland Paris in the years to come.
Disney’s Sequoia Lodge is a mid-budget hotel which is heavily inspired by the American woodlands and national parks. The theme is carried into the hotel set up which is a mix of a main building hotel complex and a number of lodges which are slightly removed from the main building but are interconnected by covered walkways. The hotel also featured many of the amenities that are expected from higher end hotels such as a swimming pool and gym as well as two restaurants.
The check-in process
Upon entering the hotel lobby (from the car park or bus stop side), the check-in is immediately on the left hand side. This is clearly sign posted and indicated with Disney Cast Members on hand to show you the way. The actual check-in procedure follows the usual Disneyland Paris process involving receiving your registration form whilst in the queue line which you will need to complete for each guest (although more basic information is requested for supplementary guests). Doing this whilst in the queue line will make the rest of the check-in process much smoother and quicker.
Once you are called up the process is quick, easy and painless. A Disney Cast Member will present you with your documents including park tickets, room key and provide you with information on the park, breakfast options and extra magic time.
If you arrive too early, a luggage service is available and is situated just outside the entrance, upon handing in your luggage you are given a ticket which you simply bring back later in the day to collect your luggage.
The hotel itself is beautiful, the guest areas in the Main Building give off a distinctly woodland feel and creates a cozy atmosphere that is so perfect throughout the winter months. Inside the bar area is a large open fireplace (which is often turned on) with seating located on either side. Outside here there is a large area of decking which both allows for a space to breath and also a place to sit and enjoy the views over Lake Disney. The shop is also of a good size and offers a wide range of Disneyland Paris merchandise.
Outside of the main building, lodges can sometimes be difficult to find, but covered walkways are available with sign posting available. The remote feeling of the lodges can offer a welcome break from the busy main building which is welcome after visiting the busy Disney parks.
The rooms in the Sequoia Lodge hotel have been given a Bambi-inspired makeover in recent years. The rooms are quite large for the price paid. Inside are two double beds with a good number of pillows on each bed, a table and chairs and a cabinet with television. The windows are extremely large which allows for a good view from any room (especially the lakeside view rooms). The bathroom is split in two sections; one section containing the bath and toilet, the other the sink and luggage racks and are separated by a door.
The bed was comfortable and allowed for a comfortable night sleep, however plug sockets were a real issue in the room with only a couple being provided and them being the opposite side to the room as the bed. A plug near the bedside table (as is provided in the Cheyenne) would be extremely welcomed here.
The little touches of Bambi extended to the section on the top of the wall being given some Bambi characters which are illuminated when the main room light is switched on; a Bambi mural on the wall and a Bambi figure on the lamps above the bed. All of which are very tastefully done and add to the delight of the room.
When it is time to leave the hotel, simply return your key to the hotel lobby. A little post box is placed next the check-in, simply post your keys in here and leave the hotel and enjoy your last day in the parks. Once again, the luggage room is available to guests on their departure day.
Disney’s Sequoia Lodge is a wonderful hotel for those staying as a family and want all the benefits of a top hotel without the high price tag. The hotel is both comfortable and convenient and can offer a welcome retreat after a day in the park. Whilst there are some small issues with the room (plug sockets being the major one), the stay is extremely comfortable and the hotel staff attentive to your every need. I cannot wait to return later in the year.
Sitting comfortably within Disney Village is The Steakhouse restaurant and is often a place that gets overlooked as a dining option by giants such as Planet Hollywood and Rainforest Cafe. However, The Steakhouse deserves more recognition as one of the finest dining locations in Disney Village and one of those places that has become unmissable on my Disneyland Paris trips.
Set in the Chicago jazz era, The Steakhouse is a hark back to a bygone time. Stepping through those doors truly does feel like a time machine to the 1940s and 50s, and to a time where dining out was a real event which sets the scene for a wonderful evening meal. For this review, I took the Menu Jazz which consisted of a Starter and Main and was priced at €31.99.
On the menu, a starter is included of either Aberdeen Angus Beef Carpacchio or Cesar Salad. I took the Beef Carpacchio, which was beautifully presented on the plate and looked both appealing and appetising; additionally the portion was plentiful which wetted the appetite for what came next.
The Beef Carpaccho itself was absolutely delicious, the beef was wonderfully prepared and was a quality piece of beef. The dressing and parmesan cheese just added to the flavour perfectly.
The choices of Main Course on the Menu Jazz were: Angus Beef Skirt Steak, Double Breast of Roast Chicken or a Penne with Salmon. I took the Beef Skirt cooked to rare and was accompanied by fries and a peppercorn sauce. The steak itself was of a good size, and was again a good quality piece of meat. The steak was juicy and the sauce was very tasty and a very enjoyable accompaniment.
The fries were tasty and crispy and were generally nicer than your average Disneyland Paris fries (always a positive!). The steak dishes also came with a bowl of salad which can be shared amongst the table.
If adding a desert to the menu the price rises to €37.99, but this was not tried for this review.
The Steakhouse in Disney Village is an enjoyable restaurant which has a distinct upmarket feeling but without the heavy mark-up that you may expect from a Disney restaurant. The food was extremely enjoyable and left a feeling of being pleasantly surprised. The service by the restaurant staff was also extremely attentive and it never felt as if we were waiting too long for anything.
The Steakhouse was a fantastic alternative to a Disney Hotel restaurant and with the park closing earlier in the winter months this is a real must-visit location, especially for those doing Disneyland Paris as a group of adults. I would not hesitate to recommend The Steakhouse to anyone.
Meal plans and Annual Pass reductions
The Chicago Menu (Menu Jazz + Desert as tested in this review) and Children’s menu is included on the Plus meal plans. A la Carte options are included in the Premium meal plans as well as a premium children’s menu.
Annual Pass discounts are accepted at 10% or 15% depending on level of pass.
On the 31st December 2017, Disneyland Paris held its first ever New Year’s Eve special ticket event. The evening promised entertainment in the form of a mega parade made up of floats from seasonal and previous parades; a firework display at midnight; a dance party and a range of meet and greets to delight all Disney fans. The Halloween soirée has become something of a sought-after ticket in the fan community and after 2017’s New Year’s Eve party it is clear that this will become a regular fixture in a fan’s diary.
An incredible parade
The main fixture of the evening was the parade that kick-started the evening at 20:30. This parade lasted over one hour and included over 40 parade units and more than 100 dancers. The soundtrack brought back many delightful memories for Disneyland Paris fans as the music featured: Everyday’s a Celebration; Magic Everywhere; Just like we dreamed it; All around the world and Dancin’ A Catchy Rhythm. Hearing those sounds once again in the park made for an emotional experience full of nostalgia – a truly perfect way to end the year in which Disneyland Paris hit the milestone of 25 years old.
The parade being made up of floats from previous parades (although most notably from Disney Magic On Parade) allowed a new dimension to the festivities, it may only have been 9 months but it was wonderful to see these colourful and fun floats once again. It was also rather special, in this 25th anniversary year, to see the Halloween floats (which have only been used on the 31st October this year). The number of characters (both rare and normal) was wonderful to see and brought delight to the faces of both young and old.
A parade of this magnitude added to the occasion and really did feel like something truly special; we can only hope that future New Year’s parades keep up this level of amazement.
Character Meet and Greets
Central to any hard ticket event is having a wide range of meet and greets. The New Year’s Eve party made sure that there was some to be had featuring both rare characters and meet and greets in unusual spaces. The highlight was, of course, being able to meet Louis the alligator (for one night only). Queues for this meet and greet very quickly increased into some of the longest of the night, but Louis himself was excellent fun and worth the wait.
Other meets included Chewbacca; Jake the pirate; Genie; Tiana and Naveen; Donald and Daisy (in special New Year’s gold outfits) as well as some of the regular meets such as Darth Vader. All of these looked busy, but fun. One thing that was striking in it being missing was no meet and greet with Mickey Mouse anywhere in the park. Of course, we can meet Mickey daily, but a Disney party without Mickey doesn’t quite feel right.
New Year’s Fireworks
As midnight struck and Disneyland Paris entered 2018, a spectacular fireworks display was held over Sleeping Beauty Castle set to the music that we have come to know and love from The Grand Celebration (April 12th 2017). The fireworks were reminiscent of night-time spectaculars of old at Disneyland Paris and provided a joyous and festive start to the new year. This was a firework show never to forget!
Goofy’s Dance Party
Throughout the entire evening a dance party was held in Discoveryland hosted by DJ Goofy. On the menu were top songs from across the decades providing something for absolutely everybody. The party area itself was quite small and could have been a little bit bigger especially after midnight as it became increasingly popular. A champagne station was provided to help guests celebrate. The song choices were overall very good and were singable and danceable classics. This party was really rocking after midnight and so an extra hour would have been perfect!
Disneyland Paris laid on a number of Champagne stations throughout the evening that offered a glass of champagne for €10, a non-alcoholic children’s cocktail was also on sale in a souvenir glass for €10. The bars were cash-only and glasses were being prepared constantly meaning the queue was fluid and fast. The champagne itself was of a good quality and in plentiful supply throughout the evening.
Around special events such as New Year’s (and Halloween), the atmosphere in the park can be electric. For New Year’s Eve 2017/18, the atmosphere was one of excitement. The parade really set the tone for the special night and from then on in it just built and built leading up to the midnight hour. Whilst after midnight the park emptied (dramatically quickly), the atmosphere remained at places such as Central Plaza where Cast Members lead a Disney dance, or in Discoveryland for the dance party. The music loop being a mix of upbeat Disney songs really did help, however in places it was quite quiet, at a party a louder soundtrack is more welcome!
Room for improvement
Whilst the party was a strong success for Disneyland Paris, it is always useful to evaluate and see what could be done better. Nothing is perfect and there are ways to improve just about everything. The comments here are small, but would be helpful for future years:
- Champagne Stations: These should be included on the park map given with the wristbands. It was often a case of guessing where to find Champagne in the busy crowds towards midnight on Central Plaza. The good news is that these stations were dotted around everywhere, we just need to know where they are.
- Walkways: If you were walking around Central Plaza prior to midnight, you’ll know that walking around was extremely difficult. A small walkway on the side of Main Street would have been ideal.
- Closing time: 1am seemed very close to midnight. The atmosphere around the park only grew after midnight. It would have been perfect if we were given an extra hour to celebrate to music, close the rides if you must, but an extra hour of celebration would have been very welcome.
A wonderful evening that has become a yearly ‘must-do’
New Year’s Eve was a truly wonderful night that has entered the Disneyland Paris yearly calendar very strongly. In fact I’m already planning to be there later in the year for this special party and friends who I spent the night with all said the same. The atmosphere was electric and the entertainment was top class. Let’s hope for the same next year.
Of the two budget hotels at Disneyland Paris, the Hotel Cheyenne holds the most intrigue. The idea of staying within a western town is something that those fans of western films will have imagined in their heads and Disney’s Hotel Cheyenne does indeed look like something that has come straight out of a film, and is truly a delight to stay in. The new Texas rooms in the hotel even rival those refurbished rooms at Disney’s Newport Bay Club for theme and comfort.
A warm reception
Upon arriving at the Cheyenne, you are instantly struck by the large reception building which holds the reception, restaurant and bar, shop and the new Starbucks location. The reception process itself was quick, easy and friendly as Cast Members guide you through the paperwork and location of your room. Additionally, the new Disneyland Paris Magic Cards are in operation at the Cheyenne; this new card both acts as your room key and a way to pay within the shops and restaurants across Disneyland Paris (with the exception of those outlets in Disney Village that are operated by outside companies).
Pure Texan charm
The rooms themselves are stunning. Upon entering the room one is completely immersed in the western theme with many subtle (and some not so subtle) Toy Story finishings. The room itself has a certain warmth and feels instantly inviting. These new look rooms are now available in two configurations: a double bed or a double and sofa-bed and these are soft and comfortable to sleep on. The room also features an air conditioning unit and a large HD television featuring a range of European channels. All elements of the room have been thought out in order to better immerse guests inside of this western theme.
As usual in Disney hotels, a phone is provided so that guests can contact reception, as well as a safety deposit box. The bathroom within the rooms feature a bath, shower and a large sink area. The bathroom seems pretty normal for Disneyland Paris, but is still a nice upgrade on the majority of the off-site offerings. The ability to have a bath at the end of a busy park day is always a tempting prospect and a major plus.
Fantastic resort amenities
With the removal of the included breakfast from Disneyland Paris packages, new breakfast offerings have appeared in both the parks and the village. But in the Cheyenne, a Starbucks location has opened within the hotel offering barista-style coffee and breakfast options from the chain’s extensive range. Whilst not to everybody’s taste, the Starbucks location has been very well blended into the decor of the hotel and creates yet another way to get breakfast.
The Cheyenne features one of the cheaper bars on Disney property, but also rather nicely themed as a saloon-style bar and features prices that are very reasonable. The hotel restaurant is an all-you-can-eat-buffet offering a range of dishes and is suitable for all tastes.
Finally, the shop in the hotel is one of the larger hotel stores and sells the usual hotel lines of flagship merchandise and food and drink.
A budget hotel, but only in price
With the renovation of Disney’s Hotel Cheyenne, the hotel becomes just one more of the desirable properties on site. In the fight against on-site or off-site, the more Disney hotels at this level of comfort, theme and quality, the more guests will stay on site and will be recommended to do so by their fellow guests and fans. I can thoroughly recommend Hotel Cheyenne to all, it is possibly the best themed hotel on property and has the comfort to match.
Hidden away in plain sight is a diamond in the rough, except it’s not in the rough at all, it’s in the middle of the absolutely beautiful Adventureland Bazaar, is the Agrabah Cafe restaurant. This buffet style restaurant is open most days and focuses on the more oriental style of cuisine. Put quite simply, Agrabah Cafe is a dining experience at Disneyland Paris that is unique and sensational.
A little history
Agrabah Cafe has not always been a restaurant. The Adventureland Bazaar once was home to a real market place with small shops and boutiques lining the street and offered an intensely themed shopping experience. Knowing this little piece of history allows guests to appreciate the decor much more knowing the story behind it all and trying to figure out where the shops were in this unique area. That task is actually not overly difficult as the dining area is spread across multiple rooms, most of which would once have been a shop of some description. And, of course, the main room was once the main street of the Bazaar.
The decoration in this restaurant is sublime and easily one of the best in Disneyland Paris. Every effort has been made to preserve the originality of the bazaar and its stalls whilst also providing guests with an intimate dining experience that feels like it is straight out of the Aladdin film.
But if you are not a fan of Aladdin, do not let this put you off as whilst the aesthetic and name are very much inspired by the film, inside there is nothing at all to remind you of the film. Upon entering the restaurant, the vista of this market street immediately opens up before you. The waiting area is a former courtyard complete with a fountain and seating. There are several dining areas including one small outdoor eating area, each feels unique in its own right. Upon visiting, make sure you take a walk through the restaurant, you never quite know what you will see amongst all the random artefacts on the walls and always remember to look up at the lighting. Everything in this restaurant feels authentic and that is perhaps its greatest asset. It feels real.
As already mentioned earlier in this review, the food at Agrabah Cafe tends to focus predominately on food from a more oriental and middle-eastern cuisine, but that is not to say that guests with more western tastes will not find plenty to eat here. Let’s begin by saying that the food is delicious and the flavours offered are extensive. Eating at Agrabah Cafe can be an exciting experience.
Each part of each course can take you to different places and different taste palettes. It is an exciting place to eat. The range of starters is not overly large, there are a good mix of salads on offer as well as bread and dips. This type of starter is perhaps typical for oriental cuisine, less typical for your average western buffet in Disneyland Paris. However the mains are plentiful and offer a potential wide range of meals that guests are able to create. The highlight of which will be the opportunity to create a kebab sandwich using the various (and plentiful) ingredients provided.
Other options include the creation of a couscous style dish as well as the possibility to enjoy more western style offerings such as chicken as well as pasta with sauce. Overall the main course of the Agrabah Café buffer offers something for everyone. Whilst there is a strong leaning towards eastern cuisine, even the most fussy of eaters will find something to eat. The desserts were a more typical Disneyland Paris affair with some nice twists of some classics. A personal favourite here was the Green tea and Chocolate cake. The flavours in this were extremely rich and allowed for a delicious and filling desert.
The mint tea is an additional cost drink that can be added when ordering. This is one to absolutely try, the teapot holds enough tea for 3-4 people and the flavourings are fresh and delicious. It makes the perfect end of dinner treat to relax and unwind with.
Agrabah Café is a fantastic place to eat with decor that instantly transports guests to a middle eastern bazaar with food that is both delicious and unique in Disneyland Paris. Agrabah Café is certainly worth trying and is one I already cannot wait to return to.
I was converted to off-site hotels many many years ago. My last stay in a Disney hotel was in 1999, and whilst I had looked for an opportunity for that to change for many years, I simply couldn’t justify the cost. Having said that, the plan was always to try it again in 2016 at Halloween. Being invited to the Mickey and the Magician press event meant I got to try a Disney hotel before I even had anticipated, and that hotel was the Newport Bay Club. A hotel whose refurbishment I had keenly followed and thought looked absolutely beautiful. I was filled with glee at the prospect at having a night stay in there. But did it match my expectations? In short, yes and then some.
The check-in process
I must preface this and state that the check-in process may well be slightly different for press events than for ordinary stays. I made my way directly to the Compass Club desk and gave my name. It was checked off and my luggage was placed with the baggage boys and on the way to my room. The exceptionally friendly Cast Member (whose name I have forgotten, but she was brilliant!) guided me through the procedure, I filled in a tiny form and was shown how to use the Easy Pass system. I won’t discuss Easy Pass and if it works or not as I didn’t use it other than to claim my breakfast the following morning. I was given my keycard and that was that. All done. A painless, and actually rather enjoyable experience. I was very eager to see my room.
The Newport Bay Club is a big hotel. And even by calling it big, somehow I am understating it. The scale of it is seriously impressive. I got lost finding my room, but luckily a Cast Member is always on hand to help show you the way. The exterior of the hotel is a New England port themed hotel. Its warm yellow glow is inviting, but inside this changes to a beautiful aqua-marine blue. Beautiful is the right word, having been in the hotel both before and after its refurbishment, the place feels so much more inviting now. The corridors are of a nautical theme but have a very warm carpet. It is a hotel with a very classy feel but feels distinctly Disney. Just from walking through, you understand that this hotel is not ‘just a bed’ as I have always claimed a hotel to be.
I’ve never been overly bothered by hotel rooms when I visit Disneyland Paris. The hotel is a means to an end; I must sleep at the end of the day and then I will wake up and return to the park. That ended as soon as I opened the door to my room. I was blown away. The room was very large and spacious and featured a double bed as well as a single. My luggage was securely placed in a luggage rack within the bathroom area.
The Disney Difference was evident everywhere. This hotel was way more than a simple bed. The nautical theme that was evident in the hallway is continued into the room. The carpet is an anchor rope with hidden Mickeys formed within it. The room is decorated as if to be a cabin, with Disney characters peering through port holes.
The bed itself is ridiculously comfortable. I struggle to sleep in a new bed – and that includes hotel beds – but here I simply drifted off without fuss. There are Mickey silhouettes on the bed mast, and the bedding kit itself is beautifully nautical themed.
The bathroom was lovely. Spacious, and fully stocked with washing soaps and powders. I used the bath on the morning of my departure and it was warm and ran very well. The washing kit provided is ample for a couple, although a family should probably consider requesting another bottle of shampoo and shower gel.
Another thing to note, some rooms have a balcony attached to them. I was fortunate enough to have been given one of these. The room outside to stand out was plenty and the views over Lake Disney towards Disney Village was exceptional. Imagine my glee when I discovered that I could see the Castle from the balcony!
The breakfast at the Newport Bay Club takes place in two rooms. The Yacht Club or Cape Cod. I took mine in the Yacht Club but I imagine the two are identical. The all-you-can-eat style breakfast buffet was a delight. I took great amount of pleasure in being able to have a hot breakfast featuring sausage, egg and bacon. There was a huge amount of choice including cereals, yoghurts, fruit and pastries. There were also a selection of teas as well as the usual Disneyland Paris coffee.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my Disneyland Paris breakfast, and wish to extent my thanks to all the Cast Members that work breakfast for being a delight at such an early hour!
The check-out procedure was, as was everything else in this hotel, extremely simple. I walked down to the lobby with my case. Visited the desk, handed in my key card and that was that. I then went to the left luggage room (outside the front entrance of the hotel) to deposit my bag ready for the bus to the airport a little later on in the day. A process that could not be simpler.
The Newport Bay Club is an outstanding hotel, everything is extremely close to each other and has real touches of Disney magic. The Cast Members in the hotel have made everything exceptionally easy. The hotel has gained a star, and boy does it show. Before this stay, it was hard to see myself ever staying in a Disney hotel again; it is now difficult to envisage me staying anywhere else.