A week ago my best friend and I went to the Disneyland Paris and it was truly magical.
We booked it on a whim back in the autumn and counted down the days until we would visit the place where childhood and thoroughly grown up dreams come true. Four and a half days of joy ensued filled with laughter, thrills, dancing up Main Street with no one looking at you bizarrely like they do in real life, waving to princesses, fireworks, all the food and desserts, going upside down seventeen times and generally living our best lives, all while running around wearing glittery Minnie Mouse ears.
Disney is a special place. I have never been to Florida or any of the larger parks elsewhere around the globe but from the moment we hopped off the Eurostar in Marne-la-Vallée it’s safe to say my expectations were surpassed.
I thought I’d use today’s post as an opportunity to reminisce on our gorgeous holiday and reflect as I wallow in my post Disneyland blues. Without further ado, let’s crack on…
1. Wear comfy shoes
For anyone who has never been to Disneyland Paris, there are two separate parks; Disneyland Park and Disneyland Studios. In case you hadn’t guessed already, you walk a lot. We walked. And walked. Danced a lot and walked again. Comfortable shoes, plenty of water and snacks for queues are absolute essentials, as well as a strategic plan to ensure you have maximum time flying upside down on a roller coaster rather than standing behind a crying four year old dressed as Princess Elsa in a two hour queue.
Both parks have great rides and should be explored thoroughly although if you’re tight for time, you could easily do the studios in half a day and spend more time in Disneyland Park which was generally busier just because there’s more to do there. Plan your route, decide what you want to do, get in the park early (we were in most mornings before 9am as the Parks open for Disney guests at 8.30am, and general public are in from 10!), get your fast passes into use and always, always be back in time for the 5pm parade in Disneyland Park- more on this later.
2. When You Wish Upon A Plan
For all my talk above of plans, sometimes even the best laid plans go astray. Sometimes you just can’t take into account the hordes of people already queuing for Peter Pan’s Flight before the park opens, the three hour queue for Crush’s Rollercoaster (turtle themed Finding Nemo ride-great fun, but not sure it’s worth that wait) or a bag falling into the water of It’s A Small World which has the power to really throw a spanner in the works when least expecting it!
Of course, sometimes your plans will work- we squeezed in five roller coasters before 9.30am on our third day and felt like queens for the rest of the day- but sometimes, they just won’t and you have to go with it.
It’s those unexpected, spontaneous opportunities that really make the trip. Taking a moment to just sit and look at the pink castle and reflect on the day’s adventures can make all the difference in the world.
3. Hidden gems
Beautiful cloisters of very expensive shops, wagons to clamber on outside your Western themed hotel, creepy concierges wishing you a pleasant trip before you ride a haunted lift, a sassy robot checking in your bags before Star Tours, secret passages to run around pretending you’re a pirate, realising the Toy Story section is made to look like you’re in Andy’s garden, muddy Converse shoot print and all- it is safe to say Disney prides itself on those little details.
Sometimes, even the rides surprise you. An unexpected treat was the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs ride (Blanche Neige et les Sept Nains, of course) which we partook in three times. Now I really didn’t like Snow White as a child, forever terrified by that witch leering in through the back door. However there is something ridiculously joyous about the same witch in animatronic form peering out of a dark corner and offering you ‘une pomme?!’.
It is safe to say I laughed through my terror and was rewarded with the sassiest robot Snow White I ever did see whose movements were uncannily similar to ‘salt bae’. You can always count on your gal Snow to bring that salty sass.
4. Moana waved at me
The title of this one says it all really.
I like to harp on about how much I bloody love Moana and during the Pirates and Princesses parade which took place a few times a day with the catchiest musical number you can imagine, my gal waved at me. My life is officially made.
Getting to see Disney Princesses up close and personal is a bit of a thrill, even when you’re nearly twenty-six years old. I could have done with a bit more Mulan and Pocahontas too and less of Anna and Elsa but you can’t win them all.
There ain’t no shame in walking with a spring in your step after experiencing the joy of a princess waving at you, losing your mind when Peter Pan walks past you (thank goodness that lad wears green shorts because those leggings are tight) or indeed sobbing tears of joy at the fireworks extravaganza at the end of the day. The Circle of Life always gets me going and I swear it is just something in my eye… again.
5. Being Brave
I used to think I didn’t like roller coasters. Pah ha!
I decided I was going to embrace everything Disney threw at me and on our very first afternoon, I nervously joined the queue for Big Thunder Mountain, a runaway train that’s the main attraction in Frontierland.
As soon as we were in the cart, my anticipation turned into excitement and two and a bit minutes later, I declared ‘I bloody loved that!’ and I was set. Turns out, I really like roller coasters, a lot.
Cue lots and lots of turns on Big Thunder Mountain, Rock n Roller coaster (Aerosmith themed and 0-60mph in two seconds), Tower of Terror and my personal favourite, the artist formally known as Space Mountain but now with a new Star Wars twist, HYPERSpace Mountain.
She was a beaut and I miss her terribly.
Be brave, get on all the rides and enjoy every single second.
In case there was any doubt, I had the BEST time. You should definitely go there sometime in your life and embrace the magic.
I’m not sure I would ever take a child there though, not only because it is inevitable they would want everything expensive in the shop but worst of all I would have to go along with them thinking Timon the Meerkat was waving at them during the parade when in fact I knew, in my heart of hearts, that wave was meant for me.
My final piece of advice is to go with your best friend.
A best friend who carries your toilet bag in their case because someone packed too much, who waits outside the loo when you need endless excited wees and who is prepared to traipse around all the gift shops to try and find a plush Hei Hei the Chicken from Moana.
You know they are your real Ride or Die when, upon your return home, it turns out they have secretly ordered you a Hei Hei online and that silly chicken is waiting for you on your doorstep when you get in. That’s when you know, as if you didn’t already, how lucky you are to have them in your life and that you are so very privileged to be able to call them your best friend.
Disney, it was a pleasure! xx