Toy Story 4 Review – The toys still have it

When rewatching Toy Story 3 in the lead up to seeing Toy Story 4, you have this sense that it was the perfect ending to a wonderful franchise, how could you top that? We had, with those final scenes, a bow being put on top of the franchise when the torch was passed from Andy to Bonnie.

Toy Story 4 doesn’t quite top Toy Story 3, but it does a very good job at telling an emotional story that also feels like a logical next step in this series – and yes, you will need tissues because the ending will break you.

The Toy Story franchise is an odd one in where it sits itself, having been around since 1995 it has found itself grappling with the audience and its adolescence and now young adulthood; and, much like the previous outing, it manages to balance this wonderfully. The plot isn’t overly revolutionary – toys start off happy, something happens, toys go off on an adventure, then the film serves up an emotional kick at the very end. It’s simple and it works.

This new installment introduces interesting new characters with Gaby Gaby as well as Ducky and Bunny (who provide the comedic relief) and Duke Caboom. Of course the star new character of the film is Forky and, whilst I did enjoy watching the character, I do wonder what larger role Forky could have played, it does feel that there is some lost potential. Bo Peep returns, and with it the explanation as to why she was not in Toy Story 3; it is very clear that she is not the same character as she was, and with it she has become a much more developed character with a good deal of depth and the Toy Story franchise is all the better for it.

For all the Pixar fans out there (myself included) keep an eye out for a number of really quite brilliant references and throwbacks to previous films and shorts including Up and Tin Toy. These hit a brilliant sweet spot and fans will really get a kick out of these moments.

The thing that really works for the Toy Story films is the emotional connection we have to the characters, and that is the genius of the original creators of Toy Story: taking inanimate objects that we can all connect to, and giving us an emotional connection to them. Here we are, 24 years on and it still works.

Toy Story 4 is not the best of the Toy Story films (for me, that’s still the original Toy Story) but it does do an excellent job of being a funny, emotional and enjoyable film. These Toy Story films are very likely the closest we have to a perfect film franchise, they don’t skip a beat.

Review: Breakfast with the Disney Princesses

Pastries next to a menu during the Disneyland Paris Princess breakfast at the Auberge de Cendrillon

Who doesn’t want to wake up with breakfast in the heart of Fantasyland with the Disney Princesses? From July 1st 2019 this popular breakfast offering is returning to Disneyland Paris, I had the chance to try it during its Spring 2019 run and it was such a wonderful experience that I’m so glad is making a permanent return to the park.

The food

Upon arriving at the Auberge de Cendrillion in Fantasyland, a friendly Cast Member will take you to your table in the restaurant; already set up on the table are a range of pastries including Croissants, Pain au Chocolat, Breads. These pastries tasted fresh and were a great way to open up the meal.

Pastries next to a menu during the Disneyland Paris Princess breakfast at the Auberge de Cendrillon

At this point you will also be brought your choice of hot drink and fruit juice. These are pretty basic, but fine, they are never going to be the highlight of the meal.

After a few minutes, you will be brought a selection of sweet items including yoghurt, salmon and a few other bits. These felt mostly forgettable in the great scheme of the breakfast, an afterthought and not the most tasty one at that.

A breakfast dish at the Auberge de Cendrillion including an egg, 3 sausages, potatoes and assorted vegetables. The plate is finished with a Mickey Mouse waffle

The main dish is a good mix of eggs, sausages, potatoes and a Mickey waffle. These were all delicious and tasted like the premium offering that this meal is. The potatoes are cooked in butter and taste richer for this, whereas the sausages are the usual veal sausages that you’ll find in the hotel breakfasts. Whilst I enjoyed the Mickey Waffle, and it does make for a good photo, it would have been nice for some form of accompaniment to it, perhaps some maple syrup? Without it, the waffle lacks something.

The Disney Princesses

Whilst a delicious breakfast is one part of the breakfast, you’re really here to meet some of the Disney princesses! At the breakfast 3 princesses will be present – no princes or other characters. Whilst this is not a large number of characters, you never feel rushes in your interactions, it always feels relaxed and that the princess has time for a good conversation.

Aurora posing in a medieval castle looking doorway at the Auberge de Cendrillon at Disneyland Paris

Cast Members will always be walking around to ensure that you get to see each of the 3 as well, you’ll never be caught short. On my visit I had the chance to meet Aurora, Cinderella and Snow White. Getting 3 princesses in quick succession with no wait time can be worth its weight in gold during the peak seasons!

I felt that 3 was the optimum number, I came away feeling both satisfied with my meets but also that I had the chance and opportunity to have a relaxed breakfast meal.

Practical Information

The Princess breakfast at the Auberge de Cendrillion returns on 1st July 2019. Bookings can be taken via your travel agent or via the Disneyland Paris dining line.

The meal is priced at €49 (with annual pass discounts applicable as usual) and is broken into two sittings – 8:30am and 9:45am.

Should you do this meal?

If you are wanting to have a more upper-end breakfast or meet the Disney Princesses without the wait, then almost certainly yes, you should make time for this. The Princess Breakfast is a truly special experience and will make many faces light up with joy.

It would be nice for the breakfast to have photographers with the characters to add to the Disney PhotoPass+ service, but unfortunately this does not happen – make sure you bring your camera to immortalise those memories!

An empty dining room in a castle-like setting at the Auberge de Cendrillon in Disneyland Paris

Disney’s Hotel Cheyenne: A warm Texan welcome

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).

The Texas room at Disneyland Paris Hotel Cheyenne

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.

Disneyland Paris Hotel Cheyenne - StarbucksThe 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.

Lamp at Disneyland Paris Hotel Cheyenne