Tag Archives: Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris Part 2: Not Quite Right

I’m going to continue this series with the things that I didn’t quite like about Disneyland Paris. I thought about finishing here, but decided that it’s much better to end on a high note. Unsurprisingly, There were many things that were different in Paris than in the American Parks. Also unsurprisingly, some of those things I enjoyed. Some I most definitely did not. I will start with the minor things and move up to the ones I found really odd. I will also give you my wisdom if you are thinking about planning your own trip.

Disney Dining Differences

Our package came with a dining plan included. Which I usually love. In fact when we head to Walt Disney World we always get a meal plan because we love to eat at all the places we can without worrying about the cost. When we go to Walt Disney World I will pay to upgrade the free meal plan to the middle level so we can have full service meals as well as counter service. Bearing this in mind I went to the appropriate web page to see if there was a similar advantage in Paris. I was shocked to find a veritable punnet square of options based on particular restaurants, number of meals, and where we were staying. It was somewhat intimidating, especially considering I had no reference for what restaurants we might want to enjoy. (Remember? No guide books)

Unlike WDW, there was no much flexibility. The free plan was for two meals a day to be eaten at buffets. In addition, breakfast was required with every meal plan. This didn’t bother me so much, but The Princess is not much of a breakfast eater. She’s good with a granola bar and coffee. Plus, breakfast had to be eaten in our hotel. Again this wouldn’t have bothered me much except that breakfast wasn’t very good. Both the bacon and eggs were under-cooked and the potatoes were overdone. This would have been tolerable, however, if we didn’t have food sensitivities that kept us from eating anything on the pastry station. (Imagine a buffet station literally the size of a small pickup truck covered in various croissant,) Our daily breakfast was the worst food we had the entire time we were in Paris, Disneyland or other. After the first morning, we would have tried the buffet at a different resort, but it wasn’t allowed. We ended up with a breakfast credit unused at the end of the trip, as the Princess couldn’t be bothered to get up early for runny eggs. Even if it was required to be eaten at our hotel, some meal flexibility would have been nice.

Pin Trading

I’m not much of a pin trader, but I do try to get at least one set completed on every trip. So, I packed a sandwich bag of pins and a couple of lanyards. I thought, “Yay! Paris pins!” I was sure that there would be a pin set or two that would only be available at Disneyland Paris. I’m still sure that’s true. I’m also sure that there was pin trading happening, but in four days I neer saw it. I only saw two cast members in green lanyards. There were also no pin kiosks or shops. I did see pins in a couple of larger stores as well as people wearing them, but I didn’t see lanyards. Randomly walking up to someone and asking to see their pins is probably a uniquely American thing to do. Europeans don’t talk to each other like we do so the practice probably never took off. Leave your pins a home. It’s not worth packing them. We got a couple of fancy pins for our collections and left it at that.

Photo Pass

The Photo Pass has become another one of my automatic purchases. I love getting the professional photos of our trip. The ride photos have never been a big deal for me, though they occasionally are amazing. I love getting the photos of us meeting characters but my favorite are the photos in front of the classic symbols of the Parks. I have photos of us in front of castles, trees, water towers, and Starship Earth. Our policy is to just stop whenever we see a photographer and get a photo. With Photo Pass we get a digital copy of them all. If they’re good, I print them. If they’re not, we aren’t out anything. A couple of years ago, I filled an almost an entire photo book for The Princess with our Photo Pass photos. It seemed like a no brainer to add a Photo Pass. Of course we would want to take as many photos as possible in Disneyland Paris. It’s Paris! In four days we saw one free range photographer and he wasn’t even in front of the castle! We got all of our ride photos, which seemed to be a big deal for people. We would get off a ride and have to wait in line to load our photo onto our card, which never seems to be the case here. The cast members would take time to adjust the image to center us, enlarge the image, and add cute graphics, but it was still just ride photos. So unless you really like ride photos, this is also something I’d recommend that you skip.

Walk Through Attractions

So this one is a little weird. One of the things that we always skip in whatever park we go to is the walk through of the Treehouse. Whether is belongs to the Swiss Family Robinson or Tarzan, we give it a miss. Honestly, because a walk through display is just not that interesting to us. We did it once when The Princess was little and never felt compelled to do it again. Imagine our surprise when we got to DP and there were seven of these things! We got in a queue that we thought was for a submarine ride, only to discover we were walking through a replica of The Nautilus from ‘10,000 Leagues Under the Sea’. While, these are vaguely interesting (the dragon under the castle is particularly well done), this isn’t how we want to spend our time. I would rather ride something than walk around looking at displays. The fact that there are so many of them reflects a different type of attraction ethos than what I am used to. Honestly, I didn’t care for it.

Characters and Autographs

Finally, this was really weird. The character vibe was strange. We weren’t planning on seeing many characters because we don’t speak French. This turned out to be a good thing. First, there weren’t very many characters to see. There appeared to be two character spost at Disneyland one of which was dedicated entirely to Mickey Mouse. The lines were never shorter than 45 minutes that we saw. There were more at Walt Disney Studios. One at the gate, that (again) had very longs lines. There were two dedicated Marvel character lines. One of these was Spiderman. At one point his line was an hour and a half. The other was Captain Marvel. This was the only line we were willing to stand in. The other two lines were monitored. To get in either of these lines I first had to download an app, and then log into the app in the booking window to make an appointment to see the characters. The appointments literally filled up for the day in the three minutes I was exiting a ride. This was a pilot program with the goal of shifting all of the character greeting to this format. I’m hoping it doesn’t succeed. I did not enjoy maniacally checking my app just to find I missed out on the booking window by minutes.

As I said, the one line we did stand in was Captain Marvel. It was somewhat fortuitous as we exited a ride across from her line just as it was opening. The interaction with her was a little stiff. Usually meeting characters is fun and they seem to be a bit more flexible with us as adults. Captain Marvel seemed to need to stay on script and was unsure what to do with my autograph book. She literally asked me if I wanted her to sign it. If character greetings are a big deal for you, be prepared to wait for the privilege and know that there will be characters you will not be able to meet. I would also suggest leaving your autograph book at home or, alternatively, be prepared to explain what you would like.

So that’s the list of the things that bugged me about Disneyland Paris. Next time you get to read about all the cool stuff that we loved about experiencing Disney in a new and difference place.

Disneyland Paris Part 1: Prepping for Paris

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.