A whole new world: Experiencing Disneyland Paris with friends

Group castle photo

Disneyland Paris is a magical place. I’m sure I am not surprising anybody reading this article with this information. But it is at its most special when you have new and exciting experiences. This Halloween I visited Disneyland Paris not on my own, nor with family, but with friends instead. The difference was remarkable and going alone will never quite be the same again.

Going solo

I am fortunate that I am able to visit Disneyland Paris a lot. I go by myself and so I am not tied down by dates that friends can make or staying where they want to stay and my focus can be purely on keeping the cost down. Going solo is something that many people feel scared about or approach with some scepticism, but trust me when I say that you shouldn’t. You can still have the most amazing time on your own and I wouldn’t hesitate booking again solo. Perhaps my feeling of it being OK to go solo comes from living around 10km from the resort in the past and so I’d pop over to the parks for an afternoon or evening.

Geoff with Belle and Beast
I met characters on my solo trips too! Promise!

I have no dependencies, no attachments and this means I can do as I want and when I want to do it. Disneyland Paris trips fit my schedule and that was that.

Visiting with friends

I had always wanted to try a Halloween Soirée. It has been on the bucket list for a few years now and I had decided that the first opportunity to go, I would take it. Here we are in 2016 and the opportunity arrived. I booked it. Luckily, many of my friends had the same idea and the plan was born. The excitement counting down was immense. Arriving in St Pancras, I headed through passport control and met up with my friends Steve (Dedicated to DLP) and Jane and from that point on I was barely alone the entire trip.

Group castle photo
Just some of the amazing people I got to hang out with on this trip. From left to right: Steve, Jane, me, Ellie, Martin

Obviously I have been in the park with friends before now, but not with Disney friends who are as crazy about the place as I am. The list of things we wanted to get done was actually quite short, there was no pressure we could just enjoy the trip and have a lovely time. The people make Disneyland Paris what it was, and the people I was with this time made it the best trip ever!

The plan is… to have no plan

I didn’t go to Disneyland Paris with any master plan. I did not have a list of things I needed to do, I simply wanted to go and have a bit of fun. Before this trip I was focused on rides and shows. In July I tried to sneak in more characters (I always did enjoy meeting characters, but never really made it a big part of my trip). This time was different, throughout the whole trip I managed to do 7 rides.

Group photo on Main Street
Even more of the amazing people I spent time with at Disneyland Paris – and this still isn’t everybody. In this photo: Dave, Jane, Stephie, Ellie, me, Martin, Steve, Gaëtane, Mark, Alyssa and Sébastien

And you know, I felt better for it. The time I spent was a mix of relaxing and doing fun things in groups with friends. I came away much happier with my trip. We managed to cram a lot into the 5 days of fun, but also managed to be chilled about it and have plenty of laughs and giggles along the way. I came away with more memories than I possibly hoped for.

Would I go solo again?

Heck yeah I would. And in fact I am very shortly going to be having a solo weekend in the magic. However, I’m already chatting to people about coordinating our next trip and having another magical time.

I doubt anything will top this trip for quite some time. But I’m so pleased that it happened and I will never forget it.

Summer Loving! – July 2016 Trip Report

Too many green fences, attractions I really love closed for a year and the prospect of a lacklustre year at Disneyland Paris. I’ll admit, I was put off a little bit. It is not that I didn’t want to visit Disneyland Paris this year, I did. It is simply that I thought I’d hold off and go all out in 2017. How wrong was I? I had what was probably my favourite Disneyland Paris trip yet.

Come fly with me!

First new feature of this trip. Flying. I usually take the Eurostar to Disneyland Paris, but the last minute nature of this trip made this difficult. I hopped onto the easyJet website and found a very cheap return flight. I am not a fan of flying and so this to me was a more stressful route and not one I really wanted to take.

The check in process online was very simple and I downloaded the boarding passes onto my iPhone meaning I didn’t need to worry about losing pieces of paper. The whole thing was simple really. The waiting area after security at Luton airport was a mess and there was quite simply nowhere without a very long queue to get a little pastry and hot chocolate to set me up for the morning ahead.

Heading to the gate, the flying nerves set in. I cannot fault the easyJet staff, they were fantastic and very friendly. We had to wait a long while on getting clearance to take off. We entered the runway and my heart started pounding. Turns out, flying is a doddle.

Easyjet-Sky

Arriving at Paris Charles de Gaulle, getting to Disneyland Paris is quite easy. I took the time after my flight to calm down and had a drink in a cafe. I then made my way to the Magic Shuttle bus stop which is situated in between Terminal 2E and F.

Magic Shuttle 

We’ve all seen the airport busses doing the rounds of the hotels at Disneyland Paris, this was my first time to actually try them. I pre-booked the bus and claimed a very slight discount. Boarding was simple and I was helped by a friendly driver to put my luggage in the hold. And we were on our way. The total journey time is around 30 minutes from the airport to the resort, but depending on your hotel you can add another 30 minutes on to this time doing the rounds of the various Disney hotels.

The shuttle is easy, comfortable and features free wifi. I very much enjoyed looking at the French scenery as we travelled and found the whole thing relaxing and agreeable. The major plus on the bus versus the TGV was, for me, the security of the bus being on time and having a bit more time to settle down and relax after a busy morning of travelling. A 10 minute train journey is fantastic, but the bus gives you that little extra time to catch your breath and be ready for Disney when you arrive.

If I fly to Disneyland Paris again, you can be sure that I’ll be taking the bus.

Friday 1st July

Having taken a 6am flight from London and a relaxing morning once landed in Paris, I arrived at Disneyland Paris at around 11am. I placed by bags in the concierge and got ready for an exciting day ahead. After having sorted out various formalities, I headed straight for lunch in Hakuna Matata. After this, I was all chilled out and ready to begin my day.

I have always been a guy who sees the Disney experience as being a bit of everything: rides, food, shows and characters. Although, traveling alone I tend to judge my character meetings by if somebody was close by to take the photo. This time, however, I opted to place a higher focus on character meeting and not worry about my camera – the worst that would happen is that I’d have to take a selfie. I checked Twitter and saw that Belle and Human Beast were having a meet and greet. This naturally excited me so I ran over, and joined the queue.

Belle and Human Beast in Disneyland Paris

In the days prior to my trip, one of my followers (and now friends) sent me a message on Twitter and asked to meet. I always enjoy meeting people in Disneyland Paris, especially fans. It’s a great opportunity to see people in person and geek out and have a fun time – something that is usually difficult to do. We met and had a quick drink in the Walt Disney Studios park before he went to enjoy his annual passholder Mickey and the Magician showing. I went and did Ratatouille and took a general walk through both parks before heading to the new Disney-Pixar Short Film Festival.

This new festival is an enjoyable little experience where you will be able to see some old favourites in a brand new way. The highlight was the first film Get a Horse but the entire show was an enjoyable way to pass half an hour.

After this, I was exhausted so went and bought a McDonald’s and went back to my hotel in order to get some sleep. Tomorrow was to be a big day.

Saturday 2nd July 

I woke up bright and early, had a breakfast in my hotel and left for Disneyland Paris. This was not to be any ordinary day, I would be attending the Mickey and the Magician press event. Arriving at the resort, I quickly went to the Hotel Newport Bay Club and checked in to my room at 10am. My room was fantastic, and I have already written a review of it here on the website. Having quickly settled in and had a look round, I ran to Disneyland Park to begin my day. I did a very quick meet with Jafar and Genie and then went to ride Pirates of the Caribbean.

Jafar and Genie at Disneyland Paris

 

With 10 minutes until lunch at the hotel, I started to run the entire length of the resort and made it (even though I was 2-3 minutes late). Having lunch with plenty of Disneyland Paris fan bloggers at the Yacht Club was a delightful experience. The food was of a very good quality and the conversation was alive on a wide range of subjects – and not just Disneyland Paris!

Having finished dinner, it was time for our first viewing of the day of the show Mickey and the Magician. The show was exceptional, and you can read my thoughts elsewhere on the website. After the show, and standing around in a daze of amazement for a good 10 minutes, it was time to enjoy some rides with some of my fellow Disneyland Paris fans. We managed to do Tower of Terror and Ratatouille and still have time to have a coffee stop before the next big stop on the agenda

The Mickey and the Magician roundtable discussion. This was a genuine honour to be a part of. Whilst you can read my write-up of this wonderful presentation in its own article, I will describe my thoughts and feelings here. So, walking into the Art of Animation building, the first thing that struck me is how quiet it was. Gone were the usual sound effects and music. It was silent. But the overall impression I had whilst waiting for the presentation to start was how lucky I was to be in that position. What I was doing would be a dream for many people, and that I’d hope to do it justice when I returned home and created an article.

Hearing imagineers and show designers speak about a passion project is a joy and a pleasure. Hearing the thought process behind creating this large-scale show was a fantastic experience. As this event finished, we would head back to the Animagique Theatre to watch the show again.

After this showing, we were due to head to Moteurs… Action in order to enjoy a midsummer party. But the heavens had decided to open meaning we were waiting. Eventually, however the rain ended and we were good to go.

Midsummer Party

This event was fantastic. We headed to our table on the stage area, which was unique in itself. This entire event was to be held on the show stage. We arrived to find a very wet table. Waiting for a way to dry out our chairs we started to tip rain water out of our wine glasses and draining our napkins. Once this was done, we started to help ourselves from the buffet dinner. The choice was good, and the quality very high.

Berlioz in Disneyland Paris

The music was from a very skillful acapella group as well as the standard DJ hits. Disney characters were in plentiful supply as was the ice cream.

The evening ended at around 12:00 and we headed back to the hotel to rest up for another day.

Sunday 3rd July

My final day in the parks for this short and unexpected trip. I had a late breakfast at 9am in the Yacht Club. The Disney breakfast was of a good quality and set me up beautifully for the day ahead – and helped me recover from the previous day.

I entered the park to see a fantastic band playing live music from the hit film Frozen. This was to be a theme of the day as I would be enjoying elements from the Frozen Summer Fun celebration.

The first thing on the agenda was seeing the Frozen Sing-along. I met up again with a fellow Disneyland Paris fan, Krisoff from Photos Magiques, to see the show. I really enjoyed it, it did exactly what it needed to do and was enjoyable. I hope to be able to see it again someday.

Anna, Elsa and Olaf in Frozen Sing along in DIsneyland Paris

After lunch, it was my time to try the now infamous Pineapple Whip, which I very much enjoyed before heading to see Mickey and the Magician again with a new friend.

Approaching my final few hours in the park, I rushed around trying to do some of my favourite rides, see some parades and to go and see Mickey Mouse.

Magical Shuttle to the Airport

It was time to go home. I walked back to my hotel to collect my bag and wait for my Magical Shuttle bus. It turned up, the driver asked me which terminal I needed at the airport and we drove off. Some 40 minutes later we arrived at my terminal and all I needed to do was check in and get back on the plane.

 

I left Disneyland Paris happy and very satisfied with my experiences. For such a short and unexpected trip, I can honestly say that this was one of my favourite trips I’ve ever had. I cannot wait to go back to Disneyland Paris and return to going more frequently as I used to do.

Disneyland Paris Spring Trip Report

Spring Promenade icon

Spring scene with DLP Town Square Logo

I am a novice at Disneyland Paris trip reports, in fact this is the first one that I have ever written. This trip report (detailing more of the generalities of my trip) will be followed by detailed Swing into Spring articles discussing the new decorations and shows.

Saturday 12th April 2014

I’m on holiday – that was the first feeling when I woke up. I needed to pack as I was hideously under prepared. So, my 7am alarm allowed for a good 5 hours of packing before I needed to be on the train to London St. Pancras where I would be catching the Eurostar train to Paris Gare du Nord. Everything was going well, I arrived in London at 13:20 giving me a good hour before I needed to check-in (My Eurostar left London at 15:31). I had a bite to eat, printed out my train tickets and checked in. The beauty of Eurostar is the smooth, easy check-in procedure which takes no more than five minutes (including security and passport control). I had an hour to kill in the Eurostar lounge, as usual I bought a magazine and drinks. The journey flew by and at 18:50 local time I had arrived in Paris Gare du Nord. It only took a further 20 minutes to get to my hotel in Noisy-Champs. The Hotel F1 was to be my hotel of choice – for me, it is a simple one: Stay cheap, go more often – the hotel was fine, beds comfortable; the down side is shared facilities, but even these were clean. For €36 a night, I was happy. After quickly charging my electronic devices (a theme for this trip) I hopped back on the RER and within 10 minutes I had arrived at Disneyland Paris. And the view that greeted me?

Disneyland Paris castle at sunsetNot too shabby right? I quickly bought a Casey’s Hotdog with cheese on top which proceeded to fall apart in my hands as I rushed down Main Street to meet fellow Disneyland Paris fan, and twitter user @de_gnther – we had a chat and proceeded up to Central Plaza just in time for Disney Dreams! Now, I hadn’t seen the regular Dreams! since August 2013 as it was replaced by Disney Dreams! of Christmas when I was last in Disneyland Paris. But it was just as amazing as I had remembered it being. We wandered back down Main Street, out of the park and again, had a chat outside World of Disney. We then went our separate ways, I went to see what new merchandise Disneyland Paris offered. This turned into a crazy hunt for water – for which I’m still grateful to everyone on Twitter who sent me ideas of places to go! I arrived back at the hotel at around midnight and headed straight for bed.

Sunday 13th April 2014

Alarm set for 7am. I’d be on a train at 7:30am. My objective for the day was to enjoy all two hours of the extra magic hours. I love Peter Pan’s Flight; however, I refuse to queue for 45 minutes for an attraction that lasts maximum three minutes. So, get there for 8am, and get on it without a wait. The bonus part of this plan was being the first person in Disneyland Park.

An empty Main Street USA in Disneyland Paris

The feeling of Main Street empty and opening up to you is just amazing – you try and take in these moments as they last just a few minutes; but what a few minutes! I must have taken about 50 photos (most of which I still need to go through), I felt privileged and will try and repeat this on a future trip. I then profited from the sparse crowds in riding Peter Pan twice in a row without any queue. Later on in the day I met @fusemp and @courtneysummer to watch the Spring promenade. For me, this was my first taster of the Spring season and so I was eager to see where the praise was coming from. The music begun, I got it. I understood the theme they were going for and I liked it. It was a toe tapping, good mood feast – even despite Pluto hitting me with his wooden kite! I met up again with @de_gnther – we walked towards Town Square to watch Welcome to Spring, again I got it and enjoyed it. A quick visit to Ratatouille was next on the menu, I published a detailed article detailing the progress on Ratatouille this week.

The Gusteau sign at Disneyland Paris Walt Disney Studios Park

I then had lunch and a fairly normal day at Disneyland Paris followed, I enjoyed the rides and themed areas including: Big Thunder Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Tours amongst others. Queues were very short for the Easter holiday period, typically around 30-40 minutes. I then watched Disney Dreams! and left the park rather quickly as I had been in the park around 14 and a half hours. Today was the day that I got everything I wanted to do, done so that the rest of the trip would be very relaxed and laid back – like a holiday!

Monday 14th April 2014

I was happy with yesterday and so decided to enjoyed a little bit more sleep. I arrived at a sunny Walt Disney  Studios park at 11am.

Walt Disney Studios Front Lot

Another look at Ratatouille was on the menu followed by a ride on Studio Tram Tour, mostly to look at the sheer scale of the attraction; the scale only really comes to light on Studio Tram Tour as you see the show building and it really is huge. Off the tram tour just in time to be the first customer in the Café des Cascadeurs. Now, burgers don’t usually tempt me and I hesitated about going in. But I sure am glad I did. You walk into a restaurant that just looks like a classic American diner.

Café des Cascadeurs Disneyland ParisMenu choices were slim, it was beef burger, chicken burger, veggie burger or salad.  The burgers were priced at around €14,99 each and came with fries. For a quality/price balance compared with other Disneyland Paris fast food outlets this is a very high quality outlet – in fact it’s a high quality outlet regardless of where you place it. You order your food, and watch the chef cook it at the counter. My beef burger came with two beef patties, bacon, cheese and sauce. The beef patties were cooked to medium (without asking, if you prefer well-done – it may be advisable to ask).

Café des Cascadeurs burger

Note: This burger does come with a salad, but since I don’t like salad in my burgers I opted for it to be removed.

Now, this burger was delicious and something that all Disneyland Paris ‘food critics’ should try, it may well just surprise you. I will certainly be returning on my next trip.

Across to Disneyland Park to ride a few of my favourite short attractions: “it’s a small world” which turned 50 the week prior to my trip and Le Pays des contes de fées; I really like this little ride, it is both relaxing and enjoyable. Going quickly through many of the classic stories that Disney has brought to life is always an enjoyable experience.

Le pays des Contes de Fées

I then grabbed a drink and headed towards Town Square where I would meet up with @1929Mickey – we sat and watched Welcome to Spring, which 1929Mickey was seeing for the very first time – it’s safe to say that he enjoyed it. We then met up with @DisneylandBerry  and went on Big Thunder Mountain  together. Splitting our own separate ways, my direction was Fantasyland and the parade route to finally catch Disney Magic on Parade (something I missed on Sunday).

Baloo in Disney Magic on Parade

My evening involved having a nice meal and strolling through Adventure Isle – for me, an evening stroll around Adventure Isle is a Disneyland Paris staple. I find it so relaxing and inviting. There is a real sense of losing yourself and being immersed in this jungle setting. I wouldn’t trade it for any attraction.

Adventure Isle sunset

I then sat down in front of the castle and enjoyed another wonderful performance of Disney Dreams! The show that just keeps getting better!

Tuesday 15th April 2014

My last full day in the parks today and so my last time to watch Disney Dreams! this visit. So, everything had to be ‘perfect’ for that. I wanted the best position I could get.

So, a new day, a new adventure which began with, yet another, photo shoot of the giant daisy on the Main Street Station.

Swing into Spring logo Disneyland Paris

I was aiming for the 10:45 edition of Animagique over in the Walt Disney Studios Park – so here I was lined up at 10:00 at the exit of Fantasyland (near Peter Pan’s Flight) in order to be first onto Pirates. I ended up being later than I expected. I got out of Pirates at 10:32 – it was time to run. I made it. I still love the show, yes it’s old but to me it is what I want from a Disney show – fun songs and characters. What might be nice is if perhaps some of the songs are changed (But don’t touch Pink Elephants or Sous l’océan). I grabbed a fastpass for later in the day at the Tower of Terror and then headed back to Disneyland Park where a Grand Circle Tour of the Magic Kingdom was in order. Afterwards I noticed that Phantom Manor had a 5 minute queue, so I headed in that direction.

Boot HillIt was then fastpass time, so I dropped into the Walt Disney Studios Park and checked into the hotel. I still enjoy the mix of thrill, themeing and storytelling in the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, the mix is struck just right. Plus, the view at the top – wow.

Wait – I was late for the parade! And by late I mean that it was due to start in 30 minutes! I ran to Disneyland Park, and went straight up Discovery Arcade to Fantasyland. Full. No spaces left. Back down Discovery Arcade and I got front row at the very end of the parade route. This meant waiting 45-50 minutes. But it was worth it. A Disneyland Parade is one of the two pillars of a Disney Parks day: A Parade, a night show. I try to do both each day I am in the park.

Anna in Disney Magic on Parade

And then came dinner time. I decided to sit and enjoy one of my favourites: Au Chalet de la Marionette and their delicious Bavarian hotdog. The news broke, Ratatouille would open on July 10th 2014. I reacted on Twitter as many of you saw. But, I was in the heart of the magic; I wanted to discuss the news more, but I wanted to enjoy my holiday even more than that. A late evening stroll around Alice’s Curious Labyrinth would do. A few attractions squeezed in before heading towards Main Street USA to execute my plan of being towards the front for Disney Dreams! – Successful. Another fantastic day was spent at Disneyland Paris, with just one left!

Wednesday 16th April

My Eurostar left Paris Gare du Nord at 21:10 – this meant I needed to be checked in at 20:40, which meant that I wanted to be checked in by 20:10. Plan of action: Leave the hotel at about 07:45, get to Disneyland Paris at about 08:15, check in my bags at the guest storage (next to Guest Relations), enjoy Extra Magic Hours, enjoy a day in the parks, see the parade, have dinner, go shopping and take the RER to Paris, then take the Eurostar and the train home. Sound exhausting? Well, it was.

The plan worked well, I got to the parks and enjoyed a full extra magic hours feast. I got on Mad Hatters Tea Cups, Peter Pan’s Flight, Buzz Lightyear, walked around the Nautilus and queued at 09:45 to be first on Star Tours.

Mad Tea Party Disneyland Paris

The rest of my day was filled with viewing the Spring Promenade (no less than 4 times today!) and Welcome to Spring interspersed by attractions, meals and entertainment. Spring Promenade

In a post in the near future, I will dive much deeper into my thoughts on the Spring entertainment – but I genuinely loved it. It’s everything I’ve wanted from Disneyland Paris for a long time, I left very happy.

The next part of my day was deciding my final attraction – I always try to make it my favourite attraction, but time was short before the parade. Luckily for me, the queue for my favourite attraction, Pirates of the Caribbean, was also reasonably short. And so I dived into the world of the pirates for the last time for a few months. Time to execute my plan of leaving Disneyland Paris. Over to Fantasyland I went to catch the parade near the start. Yes, it worked for once.

I went over to Casey’s Corner and bought a hotdog – I sat outside watching the castle knowing that my time was almost up. But what a trip, the best ever? Quite possibly, and I’m not just talking about Spring, I’m talking about meeting friends; the weather; the general upkeep. I left delighted. I bought a few choice souvenirs and caught the RER back to Paris. Summing up this trip is difficult, I just enjoyed it that much and I know that others who are visiting/have visited Disneyland Paris have experienced something very similar.

So, I close this report with the last photo I took during the trip and a promise that I’ll return to Disneyland Paris very soon.

Chateau de la Belle au Bois Dormant