Sunday, 17 June 2018

Disneyland Paris trip traditions

We've been going to Disneyland Paris ever since I was little and over the years, I have accumulated a few trip traditions. Once you've visited Disney a few times, you learn what you like to see and do most and when you go back again in the future, you tend to focus on those things rather than cover everything in the parks. From which restaurant we visit on the first night to getting photos with specific characters, it always makes me feel nostalgic when we keep up traditions that started when I was young.

Disneyland Paris Castle at night

1. Go to Annette's Diner for dinner on the first night.

Annette's Diner at Disneyland Paris

Annette’s Diner is my favourite Disney Village restaurant and I’ve been going there for dinner on our first night at Disneyland Paris for as long as I can remember. The diner has a fantastic atmosphere and the food is fab - especially the onion rings. It’s a real ‘experience’ restaurant, with pink leather seated booths and mini juke boxes on the tables, which makes you feel like you’ve stepped back in time to the 1950s. I’ll happily go back to Annette’s Diner every time we go to Disneyland Paris as the novelty never wares off.

2. Get a photo in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle.

Photo in front of Sleeping Beauty's Castle at Disneyland Paris

Castle photos are a must for any Disney trip. We usually get one in the morning when it’s quiet, as it’s a bit more difficult to find a Cast Member to take a photo of you all when the crowds are out later on. I framed our April castle photo and put it up in the flat, which is now a wonderful souvenir from our trip.

3. Meet Mickey Mouse.

Meeting Mickey Mouse at Disneyland Paris

This is a tradition that has only started recently, but I always try and find time to meet Mickey Mouse at his character spot in Fantasyland. You often have to queue for an hour, but it’s well worth it as you get quite a bit of time with Mickey when you see him and you can purchase a professional photo to take home with you afterwards.

4. Walk around the Disneyland Hotel.

Tulips in front of the Disneyland Hotel at Disneyland Paris

The Disneyland Hotel is the flagship hotel at Disneyland Paris and it’s a pastel pink paradise. The lobby is absolutely gorgeous and there are lots of walkways with large windows, that provide you with beautiful views of the Disneyland Park. We always like to go inside the hotel when it’s hot and take a stroll through the elegant hotel.

5. Have dinner at Colonel Hathi's Pizza Outpost.

Colonel Hathi's Pizza Outpost at Disneyland Paris

I love The Jungle Book and it’s great that Disneyland Paris has a jungle-themed pizza restaurant. On our recent trip it was closed for refurbishment, but it will always be my favourite park restaurant at Disneyland Paris. We usually go to Colonel Hathi’s for an early dinner before the park gets quieter and we can go on lots of rides without big queues.

It’s so nice having traditions at Disneyland Paris. It means you always prioritise going back to your favourite places at Disney.

Have you got any Disneyland Paris traditions?

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Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Things to do at Disneyland Paris (not theme parks!)

Theme park tickets at Disneyland Paris are expensive. Unless you’re staying at a Disney hotel or you’re an annual pass holder, day tickets are about £50 minimum per adult and for that price, you want to make the most of your money and get a whole day in the parks. I’m a firm believer in the fact that it’s not worth buying a ticket for the day that you arrive at Disneyland as you get there at about 2pm if you travel by Eurostar, so over the past few trips I’ve spent the afternoon that we arrived wandering around the Disney Village and the nearby town of Serris. There’s so much you can do at Disneyland Paris without buying a park ticket, so today’s post is going to be dedicated to all the other things you can do at Disneyland Paris.

Disney Village at Disneyland Paris

1. Shop at the Disney Village.

Lego Store at the Disney Village, Disneyland Paris

When you're in the parks, you'll probably find yourself queuing for rides, meeting characters and watching parades and the characters, which leaves little time for souvenir shopping. The Disney Village has lots of different stores, which all have unique merchandise. Why not spend a couple of hours wandering around the shops at the Disney Village on the day that you arrive, rather than waste precious park time at the shops? When you're done, you can easily take your bags of shopping back to your hotel with you, which is much easier than having to carry them around the parks all day.

2. Hot air balloon ride (PanoraMagique).

Disney Village hot air balloon ride (PanoraMagique), Disneyland Paris

This is something that I've never done, but after finding out that it's only 12 euros a person on the last day of our April trip, I'm definitely going to make time for the Disney Village hot air balloon ride when I next visit Disneyland Paris. From the hot air balloon, you get to see the parks, Disney Village and hotels from above, which must make an incredible view! The ride doesn't last very long, but it's something different to do at Disney when you're spending time away from the parks.

3. Visit some of the other Disney hotels.

Sequoia Lodge hotel at Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris is full of themed hotels, that are only a short walk from the Disney Village and the parks. Each of the hotels are themed around different parts of the USA, from New Mexico to the great National Parks of the North West. If you walk through the Disney Village and end up at Lake Disney, you will find Hotel New York, the Sequoia Lodge and the Newport Bay Club. If you continue on the footpaths away from Lake Disney and the Disney Village, you'll also find Hotel Cheyenne and the Santa Fe. Back towards the parks, you'll find the flagship Disneyland Hotel which is pink and difficult to miss. Each of the hotels have souvenir shops, recreational facilities, bars and restaurants which you can visit, so why not have a wander around the hotels and see the world-class attention to detail and theming that Disney is known for!

4. Go to a themed restaurant for dinner.

Planet Hollywood at the Disney Village, Disneyland Paris

In the Disney Village, there are lots of exciting restaurants, which are an experience in themselves. From Planet Hollywood to Rainforest Cafe, there are lots of places to choose from where you can have a really special meal. We visited Planet Hollywood and Annette's Diner on our recent trip, which were both really fun to visit. Definitely try and find time for a meal at the Disney Village, as all of the restaurants offer something unique that you wouldn't find at home.

5. Take a trip to Val d'Europe.

Val d'Europe shopping centre, Disneyland Paris

About 20 minutes walk from the Disneyland Park, you will find Val d'Europe: a  huge shopping centre in the town of Serris. There are shops, eateries and a Sea Life Centre as part of the complex, which is always bustling with tourists and locals. If you fancy some downtime whilst you're at Disneyland Paris, I definitely recommend making a trip to Val d'Europe. The air conditioning is a real treat too, if you're visiting in Summer!

Hopefully this post has covered lots of the different things you can do at Disneyland Paris, without going into the parks. Sometimes it's nice to take a step away from the madness of the theme parks and really take in the scenery and the atmosphere, which Disney is so famous for.

Thanks for reading my blog today.


Friday, 8 June 2018

A magical day at Disneyland Paris

On the 21st April 2018, Stuart and I headed to Disneyland Paris for a magical day of rides, parades, fireworks and Mickey-shaped food. We started bright and early at park opening time and queued at the gates to the Disneyland Park for a few minutes, before getting to pass through the gates and walk right down the middle of Main Street USA. We were visiting on a very hot Saturday in April, so the park was busier than normal, but when we arrived the ride queues were as little as 5-10 minutes.

Kat Last and Stuart standing in front of the Castle at Disneyland Paris

The first thing we did was stop for a photo outside the Castle. I was given a Disney frame for Christmas and I'd been saying since then that I wanted to fill the frame with a photo of us both in front of the Castle, so fortunately when we arrived there weren't too many people waiting to get pictures, and we could ask a Cast Member to take a photo of us both. After I'd ticked off my must-do list item number one, we headed to Fantasyland to get a FastPass for Peter Pan's Flight, which is one of my childhood favourites. Despite being a relatively small ride, Peter Pan usually has a massive queue and something I've learnt over the years is that you need to grab a FastPass ticket for this ride. It's absolutely worth going on, but I wouldn't queue hours for it!

Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Paris

From Fantasyland we headed straight to Discoveryland and Hyperspace Mountain, the new Star Wars edition of the famous Space Mountain ride, which can be found at Disney Parks around the world. Since Disney bought LucasFilm in 2012, they have gone nuts for Star Wars and started building themed rides across their global theme parks and resorts. Hyperspace Mountain makes you feel like you're part of a Star Wars movie. As you're thrown around on the ride (quite literally, there are 360 degree turns), you can hear ships blasting each other and the Star Wars music in the background. Stuart and I both thoroughly enjoyed it and thought the new ride was both exhilarating and fun!

Hyperspace Mountain at Disneyland Paris

Throughout the rest of the morning we covered Star Tours, Indiana Jones and then went back to Peter Pan during our allotted time. Given that these are 3 popular rides, I thought we did really well to fit them all in before lunch.

Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland Paris

Peter Pan's Flight ride at Disneyland Paris

We had lunch at the bakery on Main Street, which does Croque Monsieurs, sandwiches and cupcakes. I ordered the veggie sandwich was really yummy and it definitely gave me the energy boost that I needed for the afternoon. In the afternoon we managed to ride Disneyland classics such as Big Thunder Mountain and It's a Small World, before heading to the back of the park to meet Mickey Mouse. We queued for nearly an hour (Stuart was a star haha!), but it was worth every second waiting in line as we were able to take a souvenir photograph home with us afterwards. The photo came to just under €20, which wasn't a bad price for a framed professional photograph. It's definitely something that I'll treasure in years to come, when we look back on our first Disney trip together.

Lunch on Main Street USA at Disneyland Paris

Kat Last and Stuart meeting Mickey Mouse at Disneyland Paris

In the early evening, we watched the parade and had dinner at Pizzeria Bella Notte: a Lady and the Tramp themed quick service restaurant. The pizza was star shaped, which was something special that'd only happen at Disney, and the meal on the whole was incredibly good value. We paid €30 for 2 pizzas, 2 garlic bread sides, 2 drinks and 2 fruit salad desserts, which wasn't very much for the parks at all.

Afternoon parade at Disneyland Paris

Pizzeria Bella Notte at Disneyland Paris

Star-shaped pizza at Disneyland Paris

Before it was time to head to Main Street USA for the evening fireworks, we stopped at the Pirates of the Caribbean ride and some of the classic rides in Fantasyland. As the sun started to set, the park became much quieter and we got to experience all of the attractions that we'd avoided early in the day, when Fantasyland was crowded.

A Winnie the Pooh balloon next to the Carousel at Disneyland Paris

Whilst we waited for the fireworks, I did a spot of souvenir shopping on Main Street USA and I picked up a Mickey cookie, that I'd been meaning to get all day. If you can't eat Mickey-shaped food at Disney, when can you?

Eating a Mickey Mouse cookie on Main Street USA during the evening

The Illuminations fireworks show started at about 9:30pm and it was absolutely beautiful. I last went to Disneyland Paris in 2016, when the fireworks show was Disney Dreams and I have to say, the 2018 show was much more special. Watching the fireworks on Main Street was the perfect end to a magic day at Disney.

Fireworks at Disneyland Paris

We left the park when the fireworks had finished and headed for the shuttle back to our hotel: Hipark Serris Val-D'Europe. Within minutes we were back at the hotel, talking about the amazing day we'd had.

I had such a fabulous time at Disneyland Paris and I can't wait to go back again at some point in the future.

Have you ever been to Disneyland Paris? What was your favourite ride?

Thanks for reading my blog today.


Monday, 4 June 2018

Benefits of taking the Eurostar to Disneyland Paris

In late April we headed to Disneyland Paris for a long weekend, via the international train station at Ashford. Canterbury is only 20 minutes from Ashford by train, so travelling to Disneyland was really easy for us. I've been going to Disneyland Paris ever since I was little and I've travelled to Disney via direct Eurostar, indirect Eurostar, Eurotunnel and airplane over the years. This trip was by far the most convenient though and I have to say, there were many benefits of us booking the Eurostar for our trip. In today's post I'm going to discuss why I enjoyed travelling to Disneyland Paris by Eurostar and hopefully it will convince you to travel to Disney by Eurostar too. The direct train starts at St Pancras International, with stops at Ebbsfleet International and Ashford International, before crossing over into France and ending at Marne-la-Vallée (Disneyland Paris).

Waiting for the Eurostar to Disneyland Paris at Ashford International train station

There are no luggage restrictions.

We bought souvenirs at Disney, some of which were fragile, so we were grateful to have no luggage restrictions. Some of the souvenirs were bought in the Disney Village on our last day and it was so handy being able to carry the items onto the train in the Disneyland Paris carrier bag that they came in and not having to squeeze them into our luggage. If you plan to buy things at Disney, I’d definitely consider travelling by Eurostar as coming home is a far less stressful experience than it would be if you were flying.

It's easy to take snacks on board with you.

There’s no denying the fact that food at Disney is expensive. We took breakfast for our park day and snacks for the weekend with us on the Eurostar, which definitely saved us money across the weekend. I highly recommend anyone else to do the same, especially if you don’t have breakfast booked at your hotel.

Hyperspace Mountain at Disneyland Paris

The train station is minutes from Disneyland.

If you wanted to, you could walk outside of the Marne-la-Vallée train station and walk straight to the gates of Disney. Alternatively, most of the local hotels are only a short walk or bus transfer away, with the bus stop for the transfers being located directly opposite the station entrance. Charles de Gaulle Airport is about 30 mins from Disney by car, so the Eurostar definitely drops you at a better location for the parks.

Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland Paris

The service is very quick.

The overall travel time is usually much shorter with Eurostar as you are not required to get to the station as early as you’d have to arrive at an airport. We arrived at Ashford 1 hour before our train was due to depart and this was more than enough time. You have to leave a bit more time when you travel at peak times, but it’s still less than if you were flying.

The UK-bound Eurostar trains are scheduled for around 5pm.

Trains returning to the UK leave in the late afternoon, so you can visit Disney for almost a full day on the final day that you visit. This is ideal if you want to make the most of the parks for a little while longer or get some more shopping done at the Disney Village.

Eurostar was so convenient for us and I’d definitely travel to Disneyland via the direct service between Ashford and Marne-la-Vallée again.  I hope this post has been helpful, if you’re stuck deciding what mode of transport to take for your next trip.

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