To cut to the chase, I recently returned from an epic few days in Disneyland Paris. I’m still glowing and buzzing and speaking with a rather croaky voice. (I scream ALOT on rides). My feet ache, my bank balance is scarily low, but I’ve come away with spectacular memories! Thank you, thank you, thank you to Harley who incredibly booked the trip as my Christmas present. And what a gift it was.
I’d been counting down to the big day (AKA flying from good ole Bristol Airport) since December 25th – when Harley presented some gift-wrapped Minnie Mouse ears to me, followed by the extraordinary Disney reveal. As the days drew closer, we saw the weather was forecast to snow slightly on one of the days we’d be in Paris… little did we know we’d soon experience a magical, winter wonderlandy time!
Every holiday for me and Harley begins in the Brunel Bar at Bristol Airport. Yes, it’s overpriced, but there’s nothing quite like the feeling of taking your first sip of a pint – or glass of wine if I’m feeling cheeky! – while glancing over to the departures screen. For this journey, I of course was wearing my Minnie Mouse ears.
We landed in Charles de Gaulle Airport and ubered straight to our Disney hotel – the amazing Cars themed Santa Fey resort. It was so cute! And have you experienced an Uber ride in Paris? They give you sweets! And a bottle of water! And the choice to play your own music through the car’s speakers. I’m so easily amused. We pulled in to the Santa Fey Hotel and I just knew I was up for a few days of pure heaven, and most likely, a pain au chocolat or 5.
I had the BEST time on my Disneyland Paris holiday with Harley, and I’d love to share some of the best bits with you…!
As we were staying in a Disney hotel, we had access to the park before the general public were allowed in. We took one of the free shuttles from the hotel straight to the entrance of both parks (Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park). We waltzed in to the former (it was mega quiet) and before I knew it, I was ticking off one of my bucket list items for the trip. THE CASTLE. I cried a fair bit. It’s just emotional to be in the vicinity of something so symbolic of your childhood… and of something you just adore. The castle was beautiful. We gazed upon it what felt like minutes after sunrise – it was still quite dark, and very peaceful. We would later see this transform into a snow-covered castle! Inside the castle you can see Sleeping Beauty’s story. My gorgeous cat at home is called Princess Aurora, so you can imagine how thrilled I was to be in her castle!
I should add too – the castle also brought to us ‘The Spectacularly Sparkly Disney Illuminations Show’ in the evening, at 6.30pm. After exploring the castle during the day (resisting to buy everything in sight in the various Disney shops inside) I again got a tad emotional at the illuminations show and fireworks that come along with it. It’s just EPIC. A little bit of Frozen, a touch of Star Wars, a hint of Pirates of the Caribbean, a good portion of The Little Mermaid. It was GLORIOUS.
The non-existent queues
Visiting Disneyland Paris in January is just genius. We’d excitedly downloaded the Disney app to check waiting times on rides, but actually didn’t need to check at all! The queues were non-existent, even for the bigger rides we’d be warned about being very popular, like Hyperspace Mountain. And as the snow started to fall an hour or so into our first day, we were extremely thankful that we didn’t need to wait in line for long, for the…
We spent our first day in the Disneyland Park, and pretty much conquered all the rides that were open. What an exhausting and unforgettable day! Luckily, the snow didn’t seem to effect any rides – just a couple of outdoor experiences, which we then enjoyed on our last day, when most of the snow had melted.
Disneyland Park rides
After breakfast in La Cantina (a very French brekkie of pain au chocolat, hot chocolate, OJ and a bread roll and jam start to the day) we chose our first adventure. The nearby Orbitron ride. There was no queue on the sweet, very child-friendly looking rocket-spinner ride, and so we hopped inside a rocket together. Turns out, you can’t really get two full grown adults in (wearing many winter layers) without it being a bit (a lot) of a squeeze. With help from a ride assistant, we managed to get the seatbelt to fit around us, and off we went. Turns out, we were so distracted by the hilarity of our discomfort and the rapidly falling snow, we didn’t even realise there was a lever to make our rocket glide up and down. Our first ride was a bit of a fail, but hilarious nonetheless.
My favourite attraction by far was the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. We rode it twice and were lucky enough to get the front seat on the front carriage the second time round! Hyperspace Mountain probably comes at second place; which was perfectly scary but enjoyable, and also a fab Star Wars experience. Thunder Mountain and Indiana Jones et le Temple du Périlas were both slightly horrific, with the fast-falling snow making the rides feel authentically life-threatening. The only ride which was terrifying enough to stop me EVER going on it again was The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. It was – let’s just say – tear-jerking for me. It was traumatic. Never again.
Me and Harley were passionate about taking on every single ride, and so also enjoyed the less heart-pounding teacups, carousal and legendary Dumbo the Flying Elephant. Indoors, Harley somehow cheated and beat me with his shooting skills on the Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast.
Walt Disney Studios Park rides
On our second day of our Disneyland Paris holiday, we cheerfully bounded in to the second park! Again, our first ride of the day had a slight issue. We boarded the Magic Carpet Ride together and were soon flying in to the sky, waving to the genie and have a good giggle. As the ride ended, there must have been a technical issue of some sort, as were left in the air for quite a few minutes, and then after finally landing the carpet, unable to push the safety bar up and get off the ride, alike all the other passengers. All the while, the ride assistants had closed off the entrance and avoided eye contact with us as they spoke manically into their walkie talkies. Still, we were able to leave eventually as the bar thankfully released!
The Walt Disney Studios Park had some excellent rides on offer, including the awesome Ratatouille ride, which featured a 3d experience on wheels, and the endearing Slinky ride inspired by Toy Story. A couple more thrilling rides which had my heart racing again were the RC Racer (a proper screamer) and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith (a full on horror-film screamer). In fact, for the latter, we strolled in to the ride so quickly we hadn’t really digested what ride we were about to enjoy. Seconds before we boarded the rollercoaster, Harley brazily said: “I think this is some sort of nice, musical experience.” Turns out it’s a full-on hardcore, rollercoaster ride with, yes – blasting rock music – but also insane drops and spins at gut-wrenching speeds. Still, I love it. And as mentioned before, this park is home to the formidable Twilight Zone Tower of Terror which basically scared me speechless for 15 minutes or so. My mascara was proven to be entirely non-waterproof.
Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show
One of the very best bits of my Disneyland Paris holiday was the Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show for sure. Donning our complimentary cowboy hats, we were taken into a huge indoor arena; sat in rows on benches, and given a ridiculous amount of beer and food while watching an astounding show of shootouts and stunts on the most beautiful horses. I was mesmerised for hours! And I got to keep my cowboy hat – yee ha!
The parades and shows
At 4.30pm on our first day in Disneyland Paris, I found myself waiting excitedly on Main Street (geekily at the front of the crowds forming); waiting for the Disney Stars on Parade. Moments later, we heard music and cheering from the distance. And then within a few minutes, the parade brought music, colour, dancing and most importantly, our favourite Disney characters to the promenade! I could watch the parade every day. Rapunzel and Eugene were awesome. She waved at us and I’m convinced his wink was aimed at me. Or at least, that’s how I like to remember it.
On our second day, we joined the crowds near the castle ready for the Pirates vs Princesses show. This was arguably even better – all the Princesses sang and danced before a mini parade with a pirates theme circle in the inner square. It was just so lovely!
As Harley had treated us to full board through our Disney Hotel stay, we were able to fill up with breakfast at Cafe Hyperion each day, and then choose from a variety of places for lunch and dinner. My favourite by far was in Captain Jack’s restaurant; where you dine atmospherically close to the Pirates ride itself, and have Captain Jack Sparrow pop by during your meal! The food and cocktails were lush.
We also dined at the Agrabah restaurant, which felt like we’d been transported into the world of Aladdin. The buffet was delicious! After long, exhausting days, dinner offered a much-needed break and during one evening, we chose to stay close to home and eat in our hotel’s restaurant. Santa Fey’s restaurant had a heavily Mexican themed buffet on offer and boy were those nachos good!
Chillin’ with Stormtroopers
While I’m not a humungous Star Wars fanatic, I really did enjoy the park’s Star Wars attractions, including a really clever and fun Star Tours 3D experience. I absolutely LOVED following the Stormtroopers marching through down the streets of Walt Disney Studios Park. It was such a surreal experience! I actually legged it out of Restaurant des Stars when I saw them marching and lost Harley for a few minutes.
Disneyland Paris is currently hosting their ‘Legends of the Force: A Celebration of Star Wars’ season until mid March, and so we were lucky enough to see a special galactic celebration show too. R2-D2 is such a ledge! Oh – and we did meet someone very special too; the powerfully intimidating Darth Vader, who genuinely towered over me and Harley and was very menacing as he accused me of being a traitor…
Meeting Princess Aurora
On our last day, Harley was adament my Disney wish would come true and I would meet a Princess. I know it sounds a bit sad, but it was something I’d been really excited about. The parades had been so amazing, but being able to meet a Princess first-hand was a proper bucket list item. We ventured over to the Princess Pavilion in Disneyland Park super early – before brekkie – and queued up. Yes, we were queuing before and after crowds of families; many of which with very young children donning Disney Princess attire. But I didn’t feel out of place! I was determined to meet a Princess and then overwhelmed when we finally turned a corner at the front of the queue, and were introduced to Princess Aurora, Sleeping Beauty herself. She was insanely beautiful and was so in character! I swear, Harley went a bit red and didn’t speak at all. I, on the other hand, quickly told her like a crazy fan that my cat’s named after her…. a tad awkward. But she was very sweet and I was so thrilled to have a quick chat and then leave before she saw my eyes well up.
I was really sad to leave Disney and all the magical things it’s home to after 3 jam-packed days. I had such a wonderful time and am so grateful to Harley for the unforgettable holiday. I definitely will be going back in a few years… so until then, merci et au revoir!