One of my favourite things to do when we return from a trip is chart the highs and lows of our time away. I did it after our last visit to Orlando and I’m doing it again following our return from Disneyland Paris.
Thanks to a few life changes over the past months, we didn’t really blog anything before this holiday. I was all set to talk about our most anticipated things but, alas, life got in the way.
Anyway, now we’re home and I feel like I need to get my thoughts down on a page. Because I have thoughts… many of them. So without further ado, here are the highs and lows of our trip to Disneyland Paris with Chris and Sarah.
This almost feels like too general of a point but I’m going with it anyway because Disneyland Park is literally stunning.
From the interior of the shops and the structure of the castle to the unique aesthetic of Space Mountain and the luscious greenery spilling out of Adventure land, this park is full of intricate detail that made our entire group get all heart eyed.
I was not prepared for how gorgeous this park was going to be, and I’m still kind of in awe at how wonderfully themed the whole place is. It’s massive too, especially in comparison to Magic Kingdom with plenty of little side paths to explore.
A special shout out goes to Adventureland which reminded us very much of Animal Kingdom – our favourite Disney Park. The most exciting thing is that there is still so much to see and do there, and we can’t wait to be back to explore it all.
The one thing I didn’t expect to say coming back from Disneyland Paris was that I actually think in comparison to their Orlando counterparts, the rides offer a better experience.
Sure it’s missing some gems like Soarin’, Expedition Everest and Flight of Passage, but Big Thunder? Better. Space? Better. Small World? Better.
You get the gist.
A special shout out here has to go to Pirates of the Caribbean which truly took our breath away. The beginning scenes are absolutely stunning and when we rode it I truly felt like I was in the heart of Disney.
And don’t even get me started on the queue line. I love a well-themed queue and once you get inside the building, this is one of the best I’ve ever seen.
Also, kudos to Ratatouille and Tower of Terror. I still think the Hollywood Studios version is better themed, but we had the best sequence we’ve ever had on this ride. The air time was unreal and it made a pretty frustrating day at the Studios (more on that later) feel completely worth it. I literally can’t wait to ride it again.
Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show
We booked this to celebrate Sarah’s 30th birthday and I’m so glad we did. It was fairly pricey at £57 per person but since that included a three-course meal, beer and a full-on show, I think it was very reasonable.
I can’t begin to tell you how happy it made me seeing Carl and Chris get all competitive about our team (green) winning – I think they thought they were at a football game at one point, their inner hooligans were coming out.
The show was engaging, with some fantastic characters and there was a real sense of atmosphere.
The food – chilli and corn bread, a skillet of ribs, chicken, sausage and potatoes, and some kind of apple pudding – was decent (especially the ribs) and the beer was plentiful.
I would book this show again in a heartbeat and I’m really glad we did it as it felt like a very ‘Disney’ experience. For two people who say we don’t like dinner shows, we really, really loved this one.
Mickey and the Magician
If you haven’t seen this show – hosted in the Animagique Theatre in Walt Disney Studios Park – I urge you to give it a go.
Before our trip quite a few people had said it was fantastic, but I wasn’t prepared to be blown away. It was so good that Carl even cried during the Lion King portion.
This is everything a Disney show should be. Funny, charming, brilliantly performed and incredibly emotional.
There is a lot of talk online about booking priority seats (you can do it for free with a MasterCard) be we rocked up just a few minutes before the queue closed and had pretty decent seats so I wouldn’t worry too much.
I honestly think this is the best Disney show I’ve seen and yes, that includes The Lion King. Although for Carl, that would pip Mickey and the Magician to first place.
Fun with friends
I’ve saved the best until last. This is the first Disney trip we’ve taken with friends and I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much.
Chris and Sarah were amazing travel companions and we loved getting to spend some quality time with them.
After spending a day and evening with them in Walt Disney World, we knew we’d met a couple we just clicked with. But now I think it’s fair to say we’ve made friends for life and it’s kind of mad to think our respective blogs are what brought us together.
I don’t think this trip would have been half as good without their company and we can’t wait to share more magical memories together.
Walt Disney Studios Park
Before our trip, I’d heard many negative things about Walt Disney Studios. But honestly? I thought people were over exaggerating. After all, Hollywood Studios is low-key one of our favourite parks, and people shit all over that too.
Well, it turns out I was wrong because Walt Disney Studios park is a hot mess right now. Seriously, nothing could have prepared me for the state of the place.
It started promising enough, with the area directly after the turnstiles being particularly beautiful, but I’m afraid it all went downhill from there.
Being able to see the back of the scaffolding on the Moteurs… Action! show from the Rock n’ Roller Coaster queue was a particular low, as was the immediate view when you enter the park – Tower of Terror surrounded by cardboard cut out New York buildings and an abysmal Hollywood sign.
I’m so glad this park is getting some much needed TLC with the new expansion because my word, it needs it.
The only redeeming factor is the Ratatouille area which is absolutely stunning, with an incredible ride to boot. This shows just how amazing the theming could be at Walk Disney Studios park. I mean at this point, it really can’t get any worse.
Lacking in Disney Magic
This is probably a slightly harsh heading but I do think Disneyland Paris lacked a bit of the Disney Magic.
When we were in Orlando we had multiple positive cast member interactions before we even entered the park. From the guests chatting to us in the check-in queue, and the cleaners in the corridors, to the security team and smiling faces greeting us at the gates, the customer service across every level was impeccable.
In Paris, it all felt a little bit flat. In fact, rides aside, I didn’t get that ‘OMG I’m in Disney’ feeling until we watched Mickey and the Magician on our second day.
This didn’t mean we had a bad experience, only one of the cast members was downright rude, but I do think there is a cultural difference that makes it feel a little less magical.
The service is part of what makes being in a Disney park a completely unique experience. It’s why we pay twice as much for tickets then we do at local parks, and for me, Disneyland Paris just missed the mark.
Now theme park food isn’t usually amazing, and I wasn’t expecting brilliant things from the food at Disneyland Paris. But after some positive dining experiences in Walt Disney World, I was expecting it to be decent.
I may be judging too harshly as we were only on property for two days, but apart from Buffalo Bill’s, the food was incredibly mediocre.
In fact the options were so bad at Walt Disney Studios that we decided to delay lunch to eat at Disneyland Park. It was very much standard theme park fare – hot dogs, pizza, chicken nuggets and chips. Nothing entirely inspiring.
I do think we suffered a bit from not doing our research, as there probably are good places to be found. We just didn’t find them on our trip. Next time we go (and there will be a next time) we will make sure we do plenty of scouting around online to find the best options available.
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
This is Carl’s selection and I have to say I probably agree. We’d heard a lot about how good the Paris version of this ride was, and we were so keen to get on that we spent a good 45 minutes in the queue for it.
What we were served with was a lacklustre ride with barely any theming that left us all with a bit of a headache.
The very, very short pre-show was bizzarre, and didn’t set the scene for the story at all. The actually on-ride theming was awful – it was basically pitch black with a few light rings – the coaster was incredibly uncomfortable and the song playing wasn’t particularly up-tempo or exciting.
Carl in particular was really looking forward to it but was left wanting more. This is being re-themed to Marvel in the new expansion and to be honest, it’s probably about time.
There were loads more things we could have added to this list, but these are the ones that stand out as our biggest hits and misses. Despite my moaning, we absolutely LOVED Disneyland Paris and can’t wait to return again with Chris and Sarah!