This year my husband and I were fortunate enough to take a dream vacation to France for 10 days. Since we are big Disney fans we knew without a doubt we would have to spend a couple days at Disneyland Paris. Getting to the parks is super easy, it’s about a 40 minute train ride from Paris. I’m sharing some of the highlights of our trip as well as some money-saving tips and tricks.
Seven of our hotels stays on our France trip were free with Hyatt points and rewards so we decided to splurge a little on the hotel at Disneyland Paris. We chose to stay in a suite at the Newport Bay Club. This room was part of the Compass Club, which is similar to a room with concierge service at Disneyland or Disney World (something we’ve never done before).
Our room was big, airy and gorgeous! It was by far the nicest Disney hotel room we have ever stayed in.
Because we were staying in a suite, it came with a couple perks, one of which was a VIP FASTPASS, which got us into any FASTPASS line at any time. There was no waiting an hour or two after the previous FASTPASS. If we got off a ride and wanted to go on it again right away, we could. We loved this perk so, so much!
The purchase of this room also provided us with free breakfast in the morning and snacks in the late afternoon. My biggest tip when it comes to booking a room at a Disneyland Paris hotel is to check the version of the Disneyland Paris website for other countries besides the US. For instance, you may find the UK version of the site has better deals. We found this to be true.
The US version of the Disneyland Paris website was not offering any discounts, but the UK website was offering 25% off the room rates + a FREE half board meal plan. By booking our trip through the UK website we saved quite a bit of money.
It is OK to order from a different version of the Disneyland Paris website, it is even mentioned on their page. If you do order from a different country make sure to let your credit card company know you will be making an international purchase before you checkout.
It just happened to be the 25th anniversary of Disneyland Paris and my husband and I have been married for 25 years. Who knew we’ve been married as long as Disneyland Paris has been around. I’m fairly certain this means we need to visit each and every year.
The castle Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant (Sleeping Beauty castle) was stunning! I dare say it is probably my favorite Disney castle of all the Disney parks I have visited. It is gorgeous!
You can actually go inside this castle and view stained glass images of the story of Sleeping Beauty. I loved this feature, it made the castle even more realistic.
You can also go under the castle and visit the dragon that lives under the castle. This was such a cool feature and it’s something you must see.
I assumed all of the rides and attractions would be identical to the ones at Disneyland or Disney World, but I was pleasantly surprised. There were a few differences between some the rides, and some of those differences made them even better in my opinion. Yes, I said better!
The Adventure Isle and Pirates’ Beach at Disneyland Paris are amazing! We didn’t have our kids with us, but my husband and I enjoyed walking through the island, discovering the caves and more. This is similar to Pirate’s Lair at Disneyland, but is done much better in my opinion. Kids would love this area! The adults were particularly fond of hiding in the caves once it started raining like crazy.
Thunder Mountain Railroad has always been a family favorite and Big Thunder Mountain at Disneyland Paris is the best!! Thunder Mountain is actually located on an island. The queue takes you in a tunnel under the water to get to the island. Some updates were made to this ride just before the 25th anniversary and it is awesome! This is my favorite version of the ride at all 3 Disney Parks I have visited.
Pirates of the Caribbean has a different layout as well and I loved it. This ride has already done away with the “Auction – Take a Wench for a Bride” sign and has been replaced with “Auction, Surrender Yer Loot”. I know many are saddened by this change, but it fits well with the theme and I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing.
I expected the Phantom Manor to be the same storyline and have the exact same artwork that “stretches” at the beginning of the ride, but it is a totally different ride! It was a pleasant surprise. I’m not sure you can associate the word pleasant with Phantom Manor, but it was cool to see something totally new. If you are a fan on the Haunted Mansion I think you will enjoy this version too.
Space Mountain (currently Hyperspace Mountain) is also a totally different ride at Disneyland Paris. You still ride in darkness, however, there is an inversion and you start the ride outside where it blasts you upwards to begin (almost as fast as the start of California Screamin’) and then on into the inside of the ride. Your head can get thrown around a little on this ride. My husband actually liked this version of Space Mountain better than the others. I skipped this one, I wasn’t up for the fast start and the upside down portion. Call me a wimp, but I wasn’t feeling it.
Peter Pan’s Flight is a popular ride at Disneyland and Disney World. They have it at Disneyland Paris too, only at Disneyland Paris it has a FASTPASS! I don’t care how old you are, this ride is amazing! My husband and I used our VIP FASTPASS and went on it twice. It’s simply stunning!
The Indiana Jones ride is all together different, the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril is a roller coaster ride, which was a little crazy for my taste.
One of the highlights of any Disney trip is always the food. I look forward to a Dole Whip each and every time we go. Um….Disneyland Paris does not sell Dole Whip. Say what? They do sell their own version which is called the Floating Pineapple Whip. It’s Pineapple Juice and Syrup with Vanilla Soft Serve Ice Cream. It was actually quite fabulous! Sometimes a Dole Whip Float can be a little too much sweetness. I love the Pineapple juice with the cool, creamy vanilla ice cream. It’s no Dole Whip, but it was pretty dang good. Sadly, this was the only food item we ate that was worth raving about at Disneyland Paris.
The food in the parks was mediocre at best. You’d think with the park being in France the food would be amazing, but it wasn’t the case. They didn’t have many of the Disney treats that we consider classics. No Mickey Caramel Apples (they had Candy Apples). No Hand Dipped Ice cream bars or Mickey Ice Cream bars (they sold Dreyer’s Ice cream bars). The food at the restaurants weren’t all that great and the service was even worse. It was sad eatings my friends!
Here are a few differences you will find at Disneyland Paris compared to the Disneyland Parks in the US:
- They do not have PhotoPass photographers throughout the parks. You can purchase a PhotoPass, but it mainly gives you ride and character photos.
- Selfie sticks are banned here, but they aren’t strict on the policy at all. We saw them all over Disneyland Paris. At Disneyland you won’t get past the checkpoint with a Selfie Stick. It was a little weird to see rules posted, but not adhered to.
- Outside food is not permitted at Disneyland Paris (this was also not monitored, we saw tons of people bring in their own food).
- The weather in France is different than California and Florida so you will want to plan accordingly. You could possibly get snow in the winter. (We had crazy rain in August, but it didn’t dampen our spirits).
- There are designated smoking areas, which are largely ignored and again security isn’t enforced.
- Their meal plan is different from that at Disney World, it took me some serious research time before I finally figured out what everything meant and what the perks would be with my free meal plan. I found that DLPGuide.com was a huge help for me and explained everything really well. Save yourself some time and head to their website first.
There are actually two parks at Disneyland Paris, the other is called Walt Disney Studios and it is very small and not very magical. It does not have the same attention to detail as Disneyland does. I heard from so many people that you could easily just skip this park, but in my mind I thought “there is no way I can just skip a Disney park I’ve never been to before”. We spent maybe 3 hours at this park. We could have just skipped it…seriously!! It was totally underwhelming. If you don’t take my word for it and actually go to the park like I did, make sure you do it first, you want to make sure to end with the awesome park.
We went on two rides here and we didn’t like either one of them. We tried Rock N Roller Coaster and we did some serious “head banging”, my head was so shaken up on this ride I did not feel well when it ended. This ride is not at all smooth like it is at Hollywood Studios in Florida. To make matters worse, we tried the Ratatouille ride everyone raves about here. Oh my goodness, this made me SICK and I closed my eyes for most of it. It is a 3D ride that has way too much movement for my liking (and my husbands). I did think the theming at the Ratatouille Bistrot Chez Rémy restaurant was amazing.
If you make it to Paris and you are a big Disney fan (or even if you aren’t) I highly recommend spending a day or two at Disneyland Paris. The park is gorgeous, the rides are amazing and there is the Floating Pineapple Whip to try.