Disneyland Paris: Is it for couples like it says on the telly?
Disney simply is wonderful all year round; there isn’t a day where you’d step into their world of magic and not have a beautiful time. I’ve stood as an eight year old in a Florida thunderstorm wet legged and wearing a poncho, and still had a smile on my face. It’d be tough for a child to not adore the surroundings created by their exemplary design. The Disney spirit is alive every day, but actually what they’re most masterful at is perfecting their parks to sit with the theme of the season. Disney go all-out with their seasonal decor and promotional goods, and it’s tough to not be sold into it.
Me and the mister are just back from the Halloween theme at Disneyland Paris, where we ditched the responsibilities and had a complete blast. We were attracted by the glossy advertising campaign that reassures us a visit to Disneyland and Universal Studios is not only for children, and wanted to go and see for ourselves if this was true.
We paid around £187 for two park tickets for two days which means you have unlimited access in and out of the two parks for that time. It’s really convenient to be able to pass freely between the two parks – and leave the site altogether if you wish – at your convenience. Timings worked out pretty neatly for us as Universal Studios takes adults probably only half a day to get round, and Disneyland just over one day. Despite the advertising campaign, the parks are predominantly set up for families with the focus on children, so if you have little ones it’d take you longer to get round as there’s more rides and other attractions which are relevant for you (plus little legs take longer to get anywhere).
As a grown up (in body, not mind) the attractions relevant to us included Thunder Mountain, Space Mountain, Rock ‘n’ Roll Coaster, Pirates of the Caribbean, Tower of Terror, and the Indiana Jones ride; but these are the only ones which will satisfy the thrill-seeker in you. However, for those with little ones there’s far more to be involved with including the Peter Pan ride that feels like you’re flying across London, the Mad Hatter’s tea cups and a traditional carousel among many other things. And then there’s the parades, shows and characters too. So there’s numerous things for you and your children to throw yourselves into. Even for those of us without children it was super cute to see just how many kids were committing to the cause by wearing full fancy dress costumes.
Wise people visiting the parks use the ‘Fastpass Ticket’ system which is featured on the major rides. In case you’re not already familiar with this, it means you go to the ride and scan your park ticket and you receive a queue jump pass with a time on it. So, rather than wait in a long queue you can go and enjoy another part of the park before returning at your allotted time and go straight to the front of the queue. Just look out for the ‘Fastpass’ section at the ride like in the below picture. It’ll really help you manage your time in the parks.
We ate on site on both days and weren’t short of food outlets to visit. You might want to have a look at what’s on offer before you go, and make a plan in advance as its too easy to stumble upon a burger bar when actually you can find a nicer buffet restaurant or pizza place if you know where to look. Princesses who want to dine with Cinderella at ‘Auberge de Cendrillon’ will need to book well in advance via the Disneyland website. The signs upon entrance state that there is strictly no pic nics allowed in the park, but we saw lots of people scoffing their own homemade sandwiches from their foil wrappings so I guess that rule isn’t enforced too strictly (they do scan all bags upon arrival).
If you have bags you’ll discover – despite featuring on the map – the 1 euro lockers are not in use; instead you have to exit through the barrier and go to the cloakroom. Here they charge 3 euro for a coat, or 9 euro for a bag. It might be worth taking a warm coat if you’re staying late for the light and firework display, especially if you’re attending in the chilly Halloween or Christmas periods.
How to get there: We flew from Luton, and there are 13 other UK aiports which fly to airports near Paris. Or you have the option of the Eurostar or P&O ferry. Once at Charles de Gaulle airport we caught the TGV which is the high speed train that drops you at the Disneyland door, costing just less than 20 euro each for a single ticket.
Where to stay: We stayed at the Radisson Blu hotel which is very grown up, and gave the couples-feel the park promised but was lacking. There were even flocks of geese flying periodically across our window for an extra touch of romance. There is a very nice and quiet bar on site, and the food at the hotel is great – we ordered room service which featured a selection of delicious local cheeses which comes highly recommended. They have fitness facilities and a sauna which is open until 11pm so be sure to pack your bikini. There’s a free shuttle to and from the park, but you need to book a timeslot in advance, and also watch out for the long break in service at lunch time, especially if you have a train or flight to catch.
We had a really lovely weekend at Disney but – despite the advertising campaign telling you otherwise – Disneyland really is designed for families, not couples. If they are seriously targeting couples then they need more thought on what attractions exist for that group of customers, and spell them out for us. What about an adults-only cocktail bar or similar on the main site – there’s little romance to be had in eating at a burger bar surrounded by noisy children. I think there’s a Manhattan style bar in one of the Disney hotels, but who knows if we can use it? Or how do we find it? We managed to discover there was a cocktail to be had at Planet Hollywood which is a short walk out of the front gates of Disneyland, and provided us with some welcome respite from the main park.
We really loved the seasonal Halloween treats and decor, and if you can get there quickly it runs until 1 November. There will be plenty of on-point Christmas festivities for you to enjoy from 7 November. Get an up-to-date programme (they change very frequently) and to check what times the shows and parades run – the finale light show against the castle with fireworks is beyond incredible and well worth staying until the close for.
Whether you’re a couple, a group of friends, or have a family, there’s something incredibly magical about Disney that illuminates your soul, so maybe leave big hopes of cocktails behind and find a way to go.