The Princess and I crossed an item off our bucket list when we visited Disneyland Paris earlier this month. We have a life goal of visiting all of the Disney Parks before we die. We are now 1/2 of the way to that goal. It’s exciting! It was fun to see Disney interpreted for a different audience and I will talk about that in the next several blog posts. But before all that, I had to plan our trip. This, sadly, was very stressful.
if you have followed this blog for any length of time, you will know that when I plan a Disney Parks trip it is only slightly less involved than the moon landing. (That is a bit of an exaggeration. There is very little math.) I plan travel, food, lodging, rides, and shows. If we are at a Park at a peak visitation time, I avail myself of touring plans to minimize our wait times. I plan our FastPasses, which stores we will be shopping in on which days, and prioritize characters that we want to see. Planning ahead starts no less than six months out, sometimes longer if we are headed to a Park for a known event like graduation or a special birthday. In fact, a couple of times The Princess and I have settled in at our favorite Chinese restaurant go to through guidebooks, make lists of hotels and restaurants to research, and plan the perfect trip.
As crazy as that sounds (and I know it sounds crazy), we are never bound by those plans. We will change based on prices, bad reviews, or just because we feel like it. For us, the planning is part of the fun of the trip. We do have in our brains the perfect trip to both Disneyland and Walt Disney World, but barring an extreme change in our financial circumstances, they are unlikely to happen. But still, we plan.
You can, of course, imagine my surprise when I went to my local bookstore and discovered that there were absolutely no guide books for Disneyland Paris. Nothing. When I went to the help desk to ask, the only available book was a self published guide from 2006. I passed on ordering it. I thought that perhaps, there was just not enough demand for tour book so far away from the destination. So, I assigned The Princess the task of finding us a guidebook closer to Paris. (She was studying in London during the first part of the year. This is what inspired our trip.) She found guidebooks. For FLORIDA! Since printed media had failed me, I headed to the internet. I made an inquiry to an Disney Travel site about resources. They directed me to the 8-page download available at the Disneyland Paris website and wished me luck and good travels. I had already seen this document. It was basically a travel brochure with maps and lists of available hotels and restaurants with no subjective information. Undeterred I found a Disneyland Paris fan site. While it did have a thread with a link to menus and a list of the busiest attractions, no one appears to have posted in three years and people didn’t respond to thread posts.
So there I was. No resources, no plans, no idea of the best hotel, or touring plans. I had a three page entry in my Paris guidebook, an 8-page brochure, and information that The Princess had gotten from watching travel videos on YouTube. We got a meal plan as part of our package and I picked our restaurants based on Yelp reviews. Yelp! I had to get Disney info from Yelp. We showed up on our first day, with no plan, no guide, and really no idea what to expect.
It was fine. We had a good time. The food was amazing almost everywhere which was no surprise as it was France. The rides were unexpectedly different and we only waited in one extreme line. I have few complaints about our experience. I would definitely go back. However, I can’t get over the feeling that I missed something. Guidebooks are great in that they always tell you the #1 Must See experience. Usually it’s a ride. Sometimes it’s a show. Occasionally it’s a hidden treasure of a restaurant, Character meet, or other gem. I have no idea if we saw these little treasurers. Did we have the ideal experience? We may have. We may have found the gems all on our own. We may have had the Must See experience of Disneyland Paris, but I will never know. No one has taken the time to write a guidebook for discerning Disney tourists. So as much as I enjoyed our time at the Parks, I am left with serious FOMO.
What did I miss? I may never know.