Disneyland Paris Diaries: The First Time Visitor

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 “I truly believe Disney is where you can escape reality and spend time in a place full of fantasy, magic and dreams.”

If you’re thinking of booking a trip to Disneyland Paris, you’ll want to hear what it’s like from someone who really knows their stuff when it comes to visiting the Disney parks.

We managed to rope in someone who’s visited the Orlando and California parks before, but is now venturing to Disneyland Paris to experience some European Disney magic a little closer to home.

Ellie Steadman – the very lovely, self-confessed Disney fanatic behind elliesramblings.com – spills the beans on all the research she’s been doing ahead of her trip in March, as well as offering some top tips she’s picked up throughout her trips to other Disney parks…

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How old were you when you first visited Disney, and which park did you go to?

“My first ever Disney trip was to Disneyland California when I was 13 years old. It was a bit of a whirlwind two day stop but I remember falling in love with it and being in awe of the completely magical atmosphere. In 2013 I went to Disney World for 10 days and had the absolute time of my life, as soon as I got back I booked to go again!

“After visiting Disney World I have to say I prefer it because it’s so much bigger with lots more to do. However Disneyland California will always have a special place in my heart for being the original Disney Park and the first place I ever got to experience the ‘Disney Magic’.”

What would you say to people who thought they were ‘too old’ for a trip to Disneyland?

“I honestly do not think you are ever too old for Disney. Walt Disney once said ‘adults are only grown up kids anyway!’

“I truly believe Disney is where you can escape reality and spend time in a place full of fantasy, magic and dreams.

“Of course, some things at Disney are tailored to children but there is also so much that has been created with adults in mind. Whether you love thrill rides, fine dining or luxury resorts there is definitely something for everyone of every age.

“I would have loved to have gone to Disney as a young child but now I’m an adult I think I actually appreciate the experience a lot more.”

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Do you think Disney has a lot to offer adults? What’s your favourite ‘adult’ aspect of the parks?

“I think Disney has so much to offer adults. Adults can of course still meet characters, watch parades, go on the calmer rides and dress up in Disney ears (these are actually some of my favourite things to do!)

“I think as an adult, the aspect of going to Disney that I most enjoy is the fact I’m not running around trying to do everything without appreciating where I am. I like to take the time to really soak in the atmosphere, walk around and check out the landscaping and decorations, see all the detail that has been put into everything such as the hidden Mickeys in ride queues.

“I’m much more patient and relaxed now I’m slightly older; I still want to get everything done but I also love taking a slow walk down Main Street and looking at how magical everything is!

“A second point that I think adults may appreciate more is the dining. I have yet to try the food at Paris but the Orlando dining was incredible. I had some of the best meals I’ve ever had at Disney World. There is so much more to offer than just burgers and chips. I think adults are much more likely to sit down and have a lovely meal for a couple of hours and enjoy the delicious food and drinks.”

You’re visiting Disneyland Paris for the first time in March. Do you think it’s going to live up to Disney World Orlando, or are you expecting a totally different experience?

“I think it’s going to be very different to Disney World, if you look at it purely from a size point of view it is very small in comparison but it also has some brilliant rides that Orlando doesn’t have!
“I think it’s hard to compare them because they are so different but I think for me the weirdest part will be that most of the shows, parades and rides are in French and I’ve only ever experienced ‘American Disney’.

“I think I’ll love spending five days in Paris to get my ‘Disney Fix’ closer to home. I also think it’s great that it’s not exactly the same as Disney World Orlando because it would be boring if they were all the same.”

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When you visit Disneyland Paris, where will you be staying? Why did you choose that hotel/location?

“I am staying at the Hotel Cheyenne which is one of two budget hotels onsite at Disneyland Paris. We knew we wanted to stay on-site to avoid having to hire a car, for general convenience, to make use of Extra Magic Hours and to kind of extend the ‘Disney Magic’ to our hotel choice as well.
“There are some brilliant hotels around the Disneyland Paris area to suit all budgets but we decided to go with the cheaper options to save a bit of money and because we know we will not be spending much time in the room. One day I’d love to stay in the Disneyland Hotel, even for just one night!”

Are you flying to Paris or taking the Eurostar?

“I am flying to Paris. We looked into the Eurostar but for us it was just easier to book flights with our hotel and ticket package. I have taken the Eurostar to Paris before and it is brilliant, however for me getting the plane is more exciting and feels more ‘holiday like’. (Plus my Dad kindly offered to give us a lift to the airport at 4am!)”

What are you most looking forward to about exploring Disneyland Paris?
“I’m really looking forward to seeing the differences between Orlando and Paris, and seeing the differences in rides and themes as well as the parades and shows. I’m also very excited to try out the new Ratatouille ride that has excellent reviews; I’ve avoided all spoilers about it so have no idea what to expect.

“I also can’t wait to meet the characters, it’s been way too long since I saw Mickey Mouse!”

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What would your ideal day at Disneyland Paris look like?

“I’d wake up after a restful night of sleep so I’m full of energy for the day ahead! Then I would make the first breakfast sitting and fill up on croissants, cereal and more croissants.

“I would then walk over to the Disneyland Park in time for the Extra Magic Hours rope drop and head onto Main Street to meet the characters that are waiting to greet us.
“Next would be a slow walk down Main Street taking lots of pictures and probably shedding a tear of happiness at the sight of the castle. Then it would be time to start working our way around the park starting with Discoveryland.
“We would work our way through the park slowly and stopping to watch parades and meet some characters (ideally there would be absolutely no queues for anything!)
“After a tasty lunch we would head to Walt Disney Studios for the rest of the day before making it back in time to grab the perfect spot in front of the castle for the Dreams show!”

Have you planned a full itinerary for your trip? How important have you found it to plan ahead when visiting the Disney parks?

“We haven’t planned a full itinerary, but we know roughly what park we are going to on each day. Because we have five full days at Disneyland Paris, we have more time to spare and can do things at a slower pace.

“The traditional Fast Pass system is still in place at Paris so we have the freedom to plan as we go more than you do at Disney World Orlando.
“We will spend our first and last days in the Disneyland Park and hop over to the Studios when we fancy it. There will also be lots of time for food and snack breaks plus taking lots of pictures and meeting as many characters as possible!”

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Do you use the Disney park mobile apps? What do you think of them?

“At Disney World Orlando the My Disney Experience app was an essential part of the trip, although it’s just geared towards the Orlando parks. It was incredibly handy and saved us so much time.

“You can view your whole reservation in one place, see your hotel, dining plans and pre-booked Fast Passes. You can access up-to-date park hours and waiting times, find out where all the characters are, and view park maps. The My Disney Experience app is completely brilliant, a must-have for anyone heading to Orlando. Wi-Fi is free and available all over Disney World too so you can constantly access it.

“At Disneyland Paris there is an app that is similar but it’s not as modern in the way it looks or what it can tell you. I have downloaded and had a play around, but unfortunately we won’t be making use of it when we are there as there is currently no free Wi-Fi in the Disneyland Paris parks and we all know how much internet costs when you are abroad!”

Are you an adrenaline junkie when it comes to rides, or do you prefer the calmer aspects of the parks?

“I’m actually a bit of a wimp when it comes to rides. At Disney World it took me two days to go on Big Thunder Mountain because I was so scared, but once I did it I loved it! I really am a tad pathetic and won’t go on the really big rides like Tower of Terror or Space Mountain but love going on the Teacups and Dumbo.

“I absolutely love simulator rides like Star Wars though, as long as I know that I’m not really upside down then it’s all ok! I am hoping to be a little bit braver this year though. I mean, if I hadn’t have forced myself on Big Thunder Mountain then I’d never have learnt to love it, even if it does scare me still a little bit.”

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Will you be seeing any of the Disney Shows in Paris? Which one would you love to go to and why?

“I cannot wait to see Dreams. It’s supposed to be absolutely incredible. I’ve stopped myself from watching videos of it so that it’s a completely new experience to me when we are there. I think it may make me cry!
“I am also really looking forward to seeing Disney Magic on Parade as I love the theme music and not much beats a Disney Parade!”

What’s your number one tip for anybody visiting Disney for the first time?

“Whichever park you are going to, make sure you put together a list of things you really want to do, whether it’s rides you want to experience, characters to meet, or places you want to eat.

“Make a rough plan of where you are going each day and plan a route around the park so you aren’t running back and forth.”

What does your Disney bucket list look like?
– Meet the Fab 5 (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy & Pluto)
– Meet as many Princesses as I can, especially Belle as she is my favourite
– Be the first and last person in the park
– Eat as much Disney food as I can
– Have the most magical time of my life!

Ellie is visiting Disneyland Paris in March, and will no doubt be sharing lots of photos and excited tweets throughout her trip. Keep up to date with her upcoming Disney adventures by following her on Twitter and Instagram (@EllieSteadman).

Ready to jump in and think about booking? Check out our Disneyland Paris reviews, hotels and ticket options here.

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