Trip Summary Of Disneyland Paris For The First Time In 12+ Years
Review - DLP 11-Nov-2023
Our first trip to Disneyland Paris in over 12+ years. Here's our thoughts.
Disneyland Paris Trip Details
Dates: November 1st - November 4th 2021 Hotel: Disney Hotel New York - The Art Of Marvel Transport: EasyJet flight LGW>CDG, private taxi transfer to DLP
I've not been to Disneyland Paris since around 2009, back before the Walt Disney Company had complete ownership. I don't remember much from that trip except spending a lot of time sitting in Starbucks watching the rain outside.
Fast forward to 2021, and the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in international travel bans all around the world, including the USA. However, during the summer of 2021, France announced they'd allow fully vaccinated tourists again. I took this opportunity to revisit Disneyland Paris. Especially after the 18+ months we've all had. I for sure needed some magic! My partner Lorna hasn't been to Disneyland Paris since she was a child (around 1999), so it's going to be super weird going to a Disney park where neither of us has a clue what we're doing or where we're going.
I have visited Walt Disney World over 15 times and it's my home, so I was curious how I was going to react to Disneyland Paris.
This trip report will mainly consist of feelings about Disneyland Paris from the perspective of someone who has only been to Walt Disney World in their adult life. I've seen people try to compare Walt Disney World to Disneyland Paris - and while there are some comparisons to be (and will be) made - they are both their own thing. I did not spend my time in DLP thinking things like "Well in WDW this... or in WDW that is like that...." too often. I experienced the products and services presented to me.
Disneyland Paris - just like Walt Disney World - can get pricey. However, Disneyland Paris recently launched a pricing calendar which makes it super easy to find the cheapest times to go. We used it when booking this November trip, as it was the cheapest day to go before Christmas peak pricing kicked in.
The French government required the use of their Health Pass to access Disneyland Paris. You simply download it from the app store (it's called AntiCovid) and then scan in your NHS travel QR codes. You'll then be asked to show the barcode in the French app (which they scan) to enter hotels, restaurants, and parks. There were still some COVID health measures in place, but thankfully the social distancing ones are gone, and while character meet and greets were selfie spots at the time, they're still good fun and the characters are as good as ever.
We flew with Easyjet from London Gatwick, and it was super weird being in an airport and back on a plane again. You have to wear one of the surgical disposable masks (this is a French government requirement) not a cloth one. Luckily, we researched and knew this before getting to the airport, but many others didn't and they were told to go to the (conveniently placed) vending machine to buy some.
The flight was pleasant and quick, but cramped (as expected on these short flights). We landed in Charles De Gaulle in just under an hour.
We didn't have an amazing start after landing. The border control process did go smoothly. We now get stamps on our passports again because of Brexit (something border control kept telling us). Sadly, our pre-booked private transfer didn't show up. After a lot of hassle and phone calls, he finally did appear, we were finally on our way to Disneyland Paris.
We stayed at Disney Hotel New York - The Art Of Marvel. We stayed in an Empire club level room so we just checked-in, got our tickets, left our bags, and went straight to the park. Although it was quite busy, we didn't get to do everything and only managed to do a couple of attractions a second time over our 3-night stay.
From the perceptive of someone who has only visited Walt Disney World and this being the first time in Disneyland Paris in 12 years, here are the observations of the trip.
The cast members - while nice and generally polite - do lack the excitement I'm used to at WDW
The French language barrier can be somewhat awkward. I try to be polite and use some French, but it sometimes results in them not realising I'm English and then I have to stop them halfway through a sentence. I tried saying things like "Bonjour...hello", but I found it's just easier to speak English if you need a reply to something, and then and say thank you and bye in French to be as polite as possible
As a lover of eating out and restaurants, there aren't many good places to eat. At WDW there are more phenomenal places to eat than on nights you're there, it seems to be the opposite at DLP
While not as bad as I remember, people walking around smoking is an annoyance, even with designated smoking areas which some people do respect and use
Just like at WDW, the wifi and app can be quite unreliable at times
The merchandise selection wasn't particularly inviting. I didn't end up getting sucked into spending too much (maybe this should go in the good column actually)
At park opening or when it's really busy, it's never totally clear where the end of a queue is if it's extended outside the attraction. At WDW you have cast members with signs standing at the end of the queue, there was no such thing happening here
People who say there's no "magic" are wrong. Although DLP has a slightly different charm, there's plenty of charm there
Casey's hot dogs needs mac and cheese option
I'm so glad the attractions are mostly their own thing. Space Mountain, Phantom Manor, Thunder Mountain, Buzz Lightyear's Ranger Spin, for example. They have these attractions in WDW and DLP, but they're different enough to be able to enjoy both. As much as I love The Haunted Mansion, the attention to detail and differences in Phantom Manor were incredibly well done. Thunder Mountain is incredible as well.
There were lots of characters out and about, with Mickey & friends greeting guests coming in and leaving in the evening
There were characters that we saw that you don't often see in WDW
Being able to walk back to the hotel at the end of the day was a blessing - no waiting for buses!
The wait times on attractions were generally quite a bit less than the stated wait times
The attention to detail in many parts of the park are apparent and fun to pick out
I never realised how much I missed parades, the Halloween one was great!
Lots of Marvel (including meet and greets) which is great, especially as Disney cannot use Marvel in WDW
The general atmosphere and ambience. It's quite difficult to put these specific feelings and thoughts into words, but in essence, it has that Disney Parks feeling for sure
Unlike being trusted at WDW, you have to pay for (most) buffet meals upfront before you eat, as well as order your drinks there and then
On the contrary, the bars are table service, but to pay you have to go to the till on your way out. I don't think I've been anywhere in recent memory where a bar has worked this way. (The Royal pub operates like a normal English pub though where you go up to the bar and order and pay.)
The way English and French are used interchangeably on attractions is funny at times, for example in Philharmagic when Ariel would stop singing in French halfway through the song and start in English (the only song that does this). I think the Cars Roadtrip attraction does this the best because two of the cars (one English and one French) are talking to each other, and even though you might not fully know what the French one is saying, you can easily guess what is being talked about
How people still seem to struggle to scan their cards to get into the parks
We really enjoyed this trip. I had neglected Disneyland Paris over the years. We already planned to go back in January and again in March for the 30th-anniversary celebrations, which will keep at least us going nicely until our EPCOT reunion the following year.
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