4 Days in Disneyland Resort, Paris

We took a short break at the Disneyland resort in Paris—our son's first Disney experience.

4 Days in Disneyland Resort, Paris

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by Joy S on October 1, 2006

Disney always had plans to build a European version of its park. Britain and Italy were considered but dropped because they lacked a large expanse of cheap, flat land. The location in France was finally chosen, due to its proximity to Paris and its location in Western Europe - around 4 hour drive for 68 million people and a 2 hour or less flight for 300 million.

The park opened in August 1992, numbers were way below expected figures. It struggled for some time until it started to pick up in August 1994 when all the hotels were fully booked during the peak holiday season. In October 1994, the park's name changed officially from Eurodisney to Disneyland Paris and since then it has gone from strength to strength. It is now one of Europe's top tourist destinations.

Disneyland Paris comprises Disneyland Park, Walt Disney Studios and Disney Village and is located in Marne La Vallee, 19 miles east of Paris. The parks are similar to their USA cousins, if a little smaller and the studios in particular seems to be a bit of a work in progress with construction work going on.

We have been to Disney in Orlando several times before and were unsure what to expect from the Paris experience - particularly since we had heard conflicting reports from various people who had visited. We were impressed though and had a great time - no complaints whatsoever.

The highlight for us was undoubtedly Disneyland Park - Paris's version of the Magic Kingdom. This was our three year old son's first Disney experience and he was awe struck. He adored the park and the experience and didn't want to leave.${QuickSuggestions} The official Disney website provides extensive information on park events, hours, passes, accommodation, and attractions - www.disneylandparis.com. We booked our accommodation and passes directly through this website and found it quick, efficient and simple. You will walk an average of 5-7 miles per day so make sure to bring comfortable shoes. The younger your children are though, the less you will be able to pack into 1 day. Try not to do it all at once. Plan for rest-times, bring a pushchair and drinks and snacks. Go at your child's pace.

Avoid if you can, visiting the parks in July and August and school holidays when they are at their busiest. We went mid-September and it was perfect. There were no queues at any of the rides, but still it was busy enough to create a lively atmosphere. We did notice though at the end of our 4 days a lot of areas were being closed off for renovation work - this included Big Thunder Mountain. I think there is a window of time late September - late October when they carry out this work, in time for the next busy period during the October half-term holidays.

Nearly all of the young, international staff speak English and cafes, bars and restaurants have menus and signs in English. It is traditional Disney entertainment. There is a risk of inclement weather so make sure you bring an umbrella.

Avoid main mealtimes if you want to eat in the restaurants and do not want to queue. We had our evening meal mostly around 6.30 - 7.00pm in the Disney Village restaurants and got a table straight away. We noticed as we were leaving around 8:00ish, queues were forming outside most restaurants.${BestWay} We had been in Paris for a few days prior to our Disney visit and took the RER A train from the centre of Paris to Marne-La-Vallee. This was a really quick and easy way to get to the resort. It cost about £5 per person and the journey took about 40 minutes. Marne-La-Vallee station is situated right at the gates of the Disneyland resort.

We were staying at the Davy Crockett Ranch so needed a hire car. We hired one from Hertz which has a desk at Marne La Vallee station - so picked it up and dropped it off there - very simple. If you do hire a car and are staying in a Disney property, be sure to tell Hertz as child seats for Disney guests are free of charge.

If you stay at a Disney hotel a car is not necessary. Disney buses run between all the hotels and the parks on a regular basis.

Travelling back to Charles de Gaulle airport we used the Disney airport bus. These run regularly - timetables can be obtained from any of the information places or hotel receptions. We did not make an advance reservation (I don't know whether you can do this).

The airport bus costs 18 Euros for adults and 13 Euros for children. It is a lot more expensive than the train, but a lot more convenient with lots of luggage. They advise you to leave 2 hours for this journey. It is not that far, but the bus stops at the Disney parks and then at every Disney hotel. Once it really gets going the actual journey takes only about 40 minutes. The coach was comfortable and dropped us off right outside our terminal.

Davy Crockett Ranch

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Joy S on October 12, 2006

The Davy Crockett ranch is themed around the great outdoors and offers self-catering accommodation. It is an easy 10 minute drive to the parks - you do need to have a car if you stay here. We hired ours from the Hertz office at the train station.

We booked directly on the Disney website and were impressed at check-in by their efficiency - everything was sorted and ready for us. We had a 2 bedroom log-cabin with a living/cooking/dining area. Decorated with a rustic theme, it was fairly basic but clean, spacious and comfortable. One bedroom had bunk beds, the other had a (very high) double bed. Both had lovely fresh white bedlinen. The living area had an uncomfortable sofa and chairs and old-fashioned television. The kitchen had a small microwave, 2 ring cooker, fridge, a small freezer, and a dishwasher. We never cooked here. The bathroom had a bath and powerful overbath shower.

Toiletries and plenty of towels were provided - you can call housekeeping and get fresh towels as often as you need them. They also provided dishwasher tablets and a small bottle of washing-up liquid. Housekeeping will come and tidy/clean your cabin free of charge - but you do have to phone and request this. Outside was a bench and table and barbecue. Our barbecue was quite dirty though, so we didn't use it. Breakfast is provided each morning. You go to a little cabin at the end of your road and pick up your breakfast boxes - fresh croissants, a baguette and a supply of jams, spreads, butter, orange-juice, tea, coffee, etc.

In the middle of the ranch is the village area. There is a small farm with horses, sheep, chickens, etc. - nice for younger children. There is also a shop selling Disney merchandise and some food - expensive though, a bar and Crockett's Tavern - a self-service restaurant where we had a delicious meal. Next to all this is a children's play area, teepees and trails, and walks. Disney characters visited the village for half an hour each day. Our son preferred meeting them here - no crowds, you could approach and take nice photos without being hurried or pushed by the crowds as happens during the character appearances in the parks.

The Bluesprings Pool is next to the restaurant and is themed - a rustic watering-hole. It is a great place to swim and they have a good waterslide there. Close to the ranch is the Val d'Europe shopping centre. It's huge - lots of great shops and a big supermarket - Auchan - with everything you could need. Buy provisions here - much cheaper and better value than the Disney shop.

We loved it here and would recommend it. Probably not as luxurious as some of the Disney hotels, but it is nicely themed, full of character, clean and comfortable and you have plenty of space to call your own. This, plus the other things to do here make it a good family choice.
Davy Crockett Ranch
Disneyland Resort Paris
Paris, France

Disney Village

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Joy S on October 11, 2006

Disney Village, more of an evening place is very nice and lively. There is a big lake and a marina with a number of things going on - you have to pay extra for these. There are a few shops, a couple of bars and several restaurants. We went here each evening for dinner, got there about 6.30pm and never had to wait to get a table. Each evening though when we were leaving at 8:00ish, queues were forming at most places.

The restaurants we ate at were as follows:

Annette's Diner - we ate here the first evening. It is a 1950's themed Happy Days diner type atmosphere with a Pink Cadillac outside. We had read that waitresses all wore roller-skates - the main reason we went. A bit disappointing because there were no roller-skating staff either when we ate there or any time after when we passed. The atmosphere was good but the food was average. We all had fajitas - not sizzling and very bland and dried up. Portions were far too big - including the children's menu. They did give the children a little toy when leaving as well as a pink frisbee with the restaurant's name on it. I would not recommend eating here - there are better places.

King Ludwig's Castle was where we had dinner on our second evening. It serves Bavarian type food in a medieval castle setting. If you get there before 7 the children's menu is 3 Euros. Inside it is quite good - suits of armour and the restaurant looks like a banqueting hall. Food was reasonable and they serve German beers in big glasses. Not much atmosphere though and I probably would not go back.

On our final evening we ate in the Rainforest Cafe. We had been before and this time it did not disappoint. The decor is fantastic - vines, leaves, waterfalls, animals and the occasional "storm". We sat next to some elephants which made the occasional roar - our son loved it. It is great for children (and adults) as there is so much to look at while you eat. The food was delicious too - I had a pasta dish which was beautifully presented and tasted yummy.

As well as these restaurants there is a Planet Hollywood - very nice - we had a drink here one afternoon and wished we had eaten here instead of the first 2 restaurants. There is also a Chicago Steakhouse - looked really good and Billy Bob's Country and Western Saloon - a 3 level bar with a stage and live music.

Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show takes place each evening - entertainment and BBQ style food. We would have liked to have gone there but did not have enough time.
Disney Village
Disneyland Resort Paris
Paris, France

Disneyland Park

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Joy S on October 11, 2006

Disneyland Park is like the Magic Kingdom in Orlando, only a lot smaller. You enter along Main Street USA - 1930's America - really pretty, with Cinderella's Castle in the background. You can ride a vintage car or a horse-drawn tram along the street and this is where the daily parade takes place. We saw the Princess Parade at 4pm on our first day in the park - magical - the usual Disney characters, dancers, floats etc. Our son was entranced and we loved it too. Unfortunately, despite having 3 further days here we didn't see another parade. They were cancelled due to staff strike action - cue some very disappointed children.

The park is divided into 4 lands - Discoveryland, Fantasyland, Adventureland and Frontierland. You could probably see everything in one day if you don't have small children. We spent 2.5 days in this park with a 3 year old and comfortably got to see and do everything (we did favourite rides twice).

Fantasyland was our favourite area - themed around Disney fairy tales and fables. We most enjoyed Peter Pan's flight - fly over London in a pirate ship and join Peter Pan in Neverland. It's wonderful and one of the few rides we had to queue for - only for 30 minutes though.

We also loved the rides through the story of Snow White and Pinochio and It's A Small World. Tip - if there is a queue for Casey Jr train don't bother. We stood in line for over an hour, all for a 2 minute disappointing train ride around a little track.

Adventureland is wonderfully themed. Adventureisle is great with lots of caves, bridges, tunnels and waterfalls to explore. Pirates of the Caribbean is the main ride - an indoor boat trip through pirate scenes, OK but a bit too long. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril is a small rollercoaster - fun, but not big on thrills.

Frontierland takes you back to the Wild West - the most disappointing land as there was not a lot to do. Big Thunder Mountain was closed and there isn't much else. The Tarzan Show, performed at the Chaparal Theatre though is great - music, aerial trapeze and gymnastics - unmissable.

Discoveryland is Disney's futuristic area. We enjoyed Buzz Lightyear - shooting targets with a laser gun but thought the Star Tours simulator and Space Mountain were average. Our son adored Autopia - cars driving along the motorway of the future 1950's style.

We really enjoyed Disneyland Park. It is not full of thrill rides and rollercoasters, but is magical, enchanting and has so much for the young and the young at heart. Granted, it is not as good as the Magic Kingdom in Orlando, but is a convenient alternative for those of us who live in Europe. We loved it and would not hesitate to go back.
Disneyland Paris
Disney Village, 77700 Magny-le-Hongre

Walt Disney Studios

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by Joy S on October 12, 2006

The Studios are the French equivalent of MGM Studios in Orlando. The park is much, much smaller though and really does seem to be a bit of a work in progress. There are lots of cranes, boarded off areas and construction work going on. They are building the Tower of Terror right now and a new cars ride is also under construction.

We arrived here at 2pm and managed to get everything done by the time the park closed at 6pm. We had expected to see their daily parade at 1:30pm, but again, like in the other park all parades were canceled during our stay due to staff strike action.

The main attractions are as follows:

Art of Disney Animation - they have an animation theatre and you can see how Disney artists bring animated characters to life. It is done in French, but there are headphones which translate what is being said into different languages. Outside you can try out a number of interactive animation displays which is quite good.

Animagique - a theatre with a performance by Disney characters and amazing puppets. It is really dark, they use mirrors, lights and special effects. It is wonderful - do not miss it. I think this is the best thing in this park.

Studio Tram Tour - this is a behind the scenes tour looking at special effects, costumes, props and vehicles. They have some interesting stuff, but it is nowhere nearly as good as the same ride in Orlando. You do also go into Catastrophe Canyon - great fire and water special effects.

Moteurs Stunt Show Spectacular - a stunt show with a car chase through the streets of a Mediterranean village. We stayed for the first 5 minutes - it was good - but very noisy with exhausts blasting, bangs, cars revving etc.. Our son hated it so we had to leave.

Rock n Roller Coaster with Aerosmith - 120 on board speakers, more G forces than an astronaut experiences and you go from 0-100km/hour in less than 3 seconds. Fantastic and the music blaring out as you ride the roller coaster is tremendous.

Overall the studios are very good, but allow half a day here at the moment and it will be more than enough. We had a slow moving 3 years old and still found we had plenty of time.
Disneyland Paris
Disney Village, 77700 Magny-le-Hongre


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