Friday, 24 April 2020

Disneyland Paris - Tips and Tricks - Hotels, Food, Rides and Attractions

My first visit to Disneyland Paris was back in March 2018, I loved releasing my inner child and I fully enjoyed the magic of Disney! My sister and I decided to visit again and spend my birthday at Disneyland Paris this year before the COVID-19 lockdown stopped us from travelling.

We did a Monday to Thursday trip in early February (this was about £500 cheaper than a long weekend visit), we managed to get early flights on the way to Disney and then later flights on the return journey, so we had as much time in the Parks as possible. We booked through DisneylandParis.com, we selected the Newport Bay Hotel for our accommodation and got park tickets for all four days. We decided not to go for the dining packages as we didn't think we would need 3 giant meals a day, we wanted to grab light snacks on the go.
We did, however, want to eat at some of the themed restaurants, so we made reservations before our trip. We booked Character Breakfast at Plaza Gardens, Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, Bistrot Chez Remy and Cafe Mickey.





HOTEL

Newport Bay Hotel
For our February 2020 trip, we decided to stay at Newport Bay, which has a cute sailing theme. It was a toss-up between Newport and Cheyenne but NB's closeness to the parks helped with our decision.

The hotel and rooms have a blue, white and gold nautical theme. Our room had two double beds and a bathroom with a shower and bath, a great size for my sister and I. The rooms were pleasant enough and were cleaned daily. We didn't use the hotel dining areas as we didn't opt for a dining plan, we also didn't get to use the swimming pool or gym, so I can't speak for those. It's also worth noting that each floor has a hot drinks machine, you use your room card to get free drinks, it's coffee or hot chocolate.

For our first trip back in March 2018, we stayed in the New York Hotel, which located is on the grounds of Disneyland Paris. It is currently under renovation/re-theming and will re-open as a Marvel-themed hotel.
New York Hotel is a closer walking distance to the Parks compared to Newport Bay, so I think we would opt for New York if we were to visit again, plus it would be nice to see it newly renovated. Free shuttle buses run from all of the hotels, which is ideal for families if you don't fancy walking.



FOOD

As I mentioned earlier, we didn't opt for a dining plan, we wanted to have light snacks for breakfast and lunch. When we were booking our flights and hotel with DisneylandParis.com, we had the option to pay for experiences such as Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show and a Character Breakfast at Plaza Gardens. I believe if you have a meal plan, you can use some of your credits towards these experiences but we didn't mind paying for them separately.
We also used the online booking system to make reservations at Bistrot Chez Remy and Cafe Mickey.

Chez Remy
My favourite restaurant was Bistrot Chez Remy. Themed on the film Ratatouille, the restaurant has giant props that make you feel like you are as small as a mouse/rat, which is great theming! I ordered the seasonal soup to start and then opted for the beef fillet with ratatouille and brie gratin potatoes. The food was incredible, a much higher standard than the other restaurants in the park.



Cafe Mickey
Cafe Mickey is located in Disney Village and is open later than the Parks, so it's a great place to have a late evening meal. I'd describe the food as American Italian. Cafe Mickey is another location where you can meet characters at the tables and have a photo. Go for the Mickey dessert it's amazing!



Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show
We decided to book the Wild West Show as something fun to do at night. We booked it at the same time as our hotels but I believe you can buy tickets while at Disney.
As you enter you are given a straw cowboy hat and are directed to the bar area where Goofy and some musicians keep you entertained with country music and dancing. You are then directed into an arena, with the performance area in the centre, covered in sand, ready for the actors and horses.
The show combines Mickey, Minnie and Goofy with cowboy actors and horses to perform a Wild West-style show, I really enjoyed it. As you watch the show, servers come round with your choice of soft drink or beer, then the food comes out in courses, served in old fashion skillet pans and dishes. We had cornbread, chilli for starter and followed by a meat skillet which has various meats like chicken, ribs and sausages, served with wedges. Dessert was a warm apple crumble with ice cream. The portions were generous and all the drinks were refillable. If you like watching live performances or would like to have evening entertainment, I highly recommend the Wild West Show.



Character Breakfast at Plaza Gardens
If you are interested in meeting as many characters as possible and getting photos with them, I highly recommend breakfast or lunch Character Breakfast at Plaza Gardens. It's buffet-style dining sitting where characters come to the table for photos. The buffet is a continental style breakfast with hot food such as a cooked breakfast, as well as cereals, fruits and yoghurts.
The meet and greet with the characters is very well organised, each character takes the time to come to each table for a few minutes. I think this is a great option if you have children so you don't have to wait outside in queues to see characters, the children can meet their favourites while sitting and enjoying breakfast.

Victoria's Homestyle Restaurant
If you are after the large Mickey waffles you might have seen on Instagram, head to Victoria's Homestyle Restaurant. It's at the end of the Liberty Arcade so it's a bit of a hidden gem. Seating is minimal, so be prepared to wait 10 minutes for a table to become available. Victoria's doesn't open until 3pm, so it's perfect for an afternoon snack. I opted for the Mickey Waffle with Nutella and the Olaf Hot Chocolate, both delicious and Instagrammable!



Boardwalk Candy Palace
You'll find another Instagrammer favourite at the Boardwalk Candy Palace on Main Street, the giant Mickey chocolate chip cookies. It's a confectionary store with a bakery counter inside. The Mickey cookies are delicious, they also have cute cupcakes in here too. Take your cookie to the castle for a cute photo.


Hiver Gourmand Stalls
Next to the Ratatouille ride in the Walt Disney Studios Park, there was a mini food festival on called Hiver Gourmand, which runs from November to March. The food stalls are in Germany Christmas Market-style huts. You could get a small variety of cheeses, wines, hot food and drinks at these cute stalls. We enjoyed a lemon crepe in between rides.


RIDES

February was much quieter than when we had visited in March previously, so queues were small and manageable. The only rides which had long waits were Big Thunder Mountain, Ratatouille, and Crush's Coaster, which is to be expected as these are the most popular. Buzz Lightyear Lazer Blast was closed for renovations while we were there which is a shame. I've covered some of my favourite ride experience below but we also managed went on smaller rides such as Phantom Manor, Mad Hatters Tea Cups and It's a Small World etc.
I recommend downloading the MagiPark app which shows you wait times of the rides. You can also download the Disneyland app for maps.

Big Thunder Mountain
We managed to ride Big Thunder Mountain twice during our trip, the longest wait was around 45 mins to an hour after lunch, but I did see waits of 20-30 mins in the morning and last thing in the afternoon. The well-themed ride takes you on a haunted runaway train ride that runs through gold mines and caverns. I absolutely love this ride, well worth the wait!

Crush's Coaster
We used our extra magic hours to queue for Crush's Coaster early. It's not a tame, child-friendly ride like most people think. You sit in twos inside a spinning turtle shell, the ride takes you momentarily outside before moving you back inside into the dark. The first drop is the scariest but after this, it's so much fun.

Ratatouille
The Ratatouille is a fun child-friendly ride with 3D glasses for the effects. The ride makes you feel like you have been shrunk down to the size of a mouse or rat. You take a trip through the kitchen and restaurant featured in the Ratatouille film, with twists and turns. 

Pirates of the Caribbean
We managed to walk straight into the Pirates of the Caribbean ride during this trip. You board a small boat and take a journey through different pirate animatronic scenes. There are a few splashes as you go down small ramps but you don't get wet.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril
Again, another walk-on ride with only a couple of minutes wait. This has a pull-down, overhead harness as the ride does an upside loop at the end. Another fun ride to try.

Star Wars Hyperspace Moutain
The biggest rollercoaster at Disneyland Paris and the one I have to close my eyes on! You are catapulted through hyperspace and then into a dark space where you do loop the loops. The momentary paused throughout the ride really add suspense.

Star Tours
Star Tours is a ride not to be missed by any Star Wars fans, young or old. Like Ratatouille, 3D glasses are worn to give the effect of travelling through space in a spaceship. Some of the character dialogue is in French, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it, even though I didn't know what they were saying!


OTHER ACTIVITIES

Mickey and the Magician Show
I highly recommend seeing the Mickey and the Magician Show, it was actually recommended to us by a cast member and I'm so glad I got to see it. Mickey trains to be a magician with some funny consequences, he meets other Disney characters along the way.

Frozen: A Musical Invitation Show
We visited during the Frozen Celebration, as part of this there was a special stage show available to watch. It has character actors singing the famous Frozen songs, so it's well worth a watch if you yourself enjoy the films or have a child who does.

Parades
As mentioned above, the Frozen Celebration was on during our visit, this meant there was a Frozen themed mini parade a few times a day, as well as the normal parade. You can see the parade times on the Disneyland app.


Disney Illuminations
The Disney app also shows the times of the Disney Illuminations. They are a must watch while at Disneyland Paris! A combination of light protections, water fountains, music and fireworks to create an awe-inspiring show. Be prepared, grab a good spot early and prepare to be stood behind tall people if you are short! Also, people ahead over to Disney village straight after the fireworks for food so eat before or after the fireworks to avoid long waits.




La Taniere du Dragon
There is a dragon under Cinderella's Castle! There is a walkway to the left of the castle, make sure you visit and get a video of the dragon snorting steam.

Shopping
Disney has the best souvenirs! I recommend World of Disney in Disney Village, this is one of the largest stores and has the best selection. Harrington's has jewellery including Pandora, so head there if you want Park Exclusive charms. For spirit jerseys, I recommend Main Street Motors, they also have a cool Cruella de Vill statue inside. Try and shop in the afternoon or at night as the shops are crowded during the day.

Wow, this was a long blog post but I hope it helps you plan your trip! 
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