I think it’s safe to say, every hotel in Disneyland Paris is pretty special in its own way, and of course everyone is going to have a favourite, this post is about my favourite DLP hotel, Santa Fe and the reason for this is that I’ve been hearing a lot of people say bad things about it recently, so it’s time for me to stand up for something I love.
The Santa Fe is one of Disneyland Paris’ 2 key or 2 star rated hotels and is just across the river from the Hotel Cheyenne, if you don’t want to drive to and from the parks each day, these 2 key hotels are the budget hotels you’ve been looking for, its about a 15 min walk from the hotel to the park or if you prefer a free shuttle is provided. The hotel has approximately 1000 rooms and these are split into a range of 1, 2 and 3 story blocks, to help navigation of these blocks there are 4 main sections. The hotel also has a large restaurant with a bar, a shop, an arcade, luggage storage and laundry facilities.
My first trip to the Santa Fe was May 2010, it was my first visit to Disneyland Paris and I traveled with 2 of my close friends, when we booked our trip none of us had ever been before, but my 2 friends were both on a budget, we didn’t want to drive which ruled out Dave Crockett Ranch for us, so Santa Fe was the next cheapest hotel, we figured we wouldn’t be spending much time in our room and it was saving us money we could spend elsewhere on food and merchandise so this was a compromise we were happy to make.
The hotel at the time had a Mexican theme, with hints of route 66 painted across the front walls, pictures of mickey in a sombrero were on the hotel logo and the documents we received at check in, the restaurant was name la Cantina, the shop was the trading post and the games room was the pow-wow, the theme was fantastic, and the cast members were all dressed accordingly, at this time characters still met guests daily in the lobby/reception area and they had outfits in-keeping with the theme too, we were really impressed.
Overall our first trip to Santa Fe left us very impressed, the rooms were clean, tidy and had all the basic things you would expect, the theme from the hotel and the main building was carried through to the hotel rooms with themed furniture and bedding, the TV’s were basic and had a few English channels but were more than sufficient for the amount of time we actually spent in the hotel, the bathroom was clean, complimentary toiletries were provided and replaced each day (because face it, soap with mickey mouse on it, who’s not going put that in their bag to bring home!) and there was a hair dryer in the room, plenty of towels were provided in a number of sizes and the room was cleaned daily.
Yes breakfast was busy, but in a hotel with up to 1000 guests where breakfast is provided included in the price, I can’t think why you would expect anything else, on check in we were asked to select a time slot for breakfast and given a card for each day with our time slot on in an effort to ease breakfast related congestion and over all this wasn’t the horrific experience some people make it. Again same for the shuttle buses, they do get busy, there are a lot of people going to and from the parks each day, and its a quick, convenient free option, so it’s well used, but we never experience issues with people getting pushed out the way or stood on or any of the other horror stories I’ve seen, of course I can only speak from my personal experience but over 4 stays at various different times of year, its not been something I’ve ever encountered.
When it came to my next DLP trip in October 2012, budget was again a factor for me and my partner at the time, again not feeling confident to drive in France DCR was out, and as I had no complaints from my previous stay, and felt more confident with something i already knew, Santa Fe was again our perfect option. Because I had stayed before and knew what I wanted, I don’t remember doing any research into this trip, I didn’t spend time looking at the hotel online or in the holiday brochure, so when we arrived to find the hotel being refurbished with a cars theme, I was pleasantly surprised!
Now it is no secret that I am a huge Pixar fan, and even less secret is cars is my favourite film, yes not my favourite Pixar film, or even my favourite Disney film, it’s my favourite film, I have no shame in saying I’ve watched it in excess of 200 times, spend more money than I care to count over the years on merchandise and I live and breath for the world of cars.
So of course a re theme to cars was always going to go down well with me, what I can’t praise enough though was just how well this was done, as a huge cars fan, the worry with something like this for me is that they won’t do it justice, but i didn’t have to worry, my 2012 stay fell mid refurb so there was plenty left to finish but i was still left impressed, when i returned in December 2014 the refurbishment was complete and I am so happy with the result.
From the moment you arrive at the top of the driveway to Santa Fe you are now greeted with a giant billboard of Lightning and sally looking out over carburetor county and this is above the walkway between the reception and the luggage hold, it sets the theme perfectly and it’s the sight that makes me feel like I’m home, the route 66 painting still runs along the outside wall of the reception right the way round to the bus stop, and is one of the original features that fits perfectly with the new theme. The reception area is bright and welcoming and has framed cars pictures on the walls. Once checked in you’ll be given a pack which includes a basic map of the hotel which is split into 4 groups of rooms you’ll stay in either a Lightning, Sally, Mater or Luigi room and the signposts outside will feature these graphics as well as the number plaques on the doors of each hotel room.
In each hotel block there are road marking graphics on each entrance door and the carpets are fantastically themed with little caution cones and lighting bolts. However its once you step inside your room that the real magic happens, the best have cars themed covers again with caution cones, lightning bolts and road markings on, on the wall a frame cars print, and above each bed a cars themed light made up of 2 cones and a license plate. around the walls is a cars border with characters from the films, and on the chest of drawers there’s a lamp made to look like a cone, and a shaped mirror with metal backing plate. The TVs have been upgraded to a flat screen and feature more English channels than previously, and all rooms now feature free Wi-Fi! The bathroom is also fantastic, a cars themed shower curtain complete with checkered flags is teamed with a giant mirror surrounded by lights and checkered wall tiles to complete the look.
What I like most about the changes? Of course any cars fan like myself is going to be massively impressed with the theme but it’s not so in your face that you average Disney fan, or even your average holiday maker, is going to feel like it is too intrusive. The rooms are light and bright with just the right amount of themed items to give the cars feel. even though it is a budget hotel the rooms don’t feel cheap or tacky and it provides just enough Disney magic touches to make you still feel part of the magic when you go back to your hotel to rest.
So what would I like to see next for the Hotel Santa Fe?
Evening entertainment in La Cantina would be a nice touch for the out of season trips when the park some times closes early into the evening, this would also bring across people from other hotels to visit the Santa Fe, and as someone who has never eaten there other than the included breakfast, may bring extra revenue in from the restaurant.
A cars character meet or photo op, like all the Disney hotels characters used to meet guests in the lobby each morning, however this was removed when the characters moved to the parks for extra magic hours. Currently there’s nowhere in either park to get a photo op with the cars cast without standing in front of a fence which doesn’t make the best photo, a photo location with lightning and mater would be great for cars enthusiasts, failing that, i’d love to see mickey and pals in the cars pit crew outfits, I can dream right?
A Disney pay per view service, now this one actually goes for all hotels not just Santa Fe, but seriously why when I go back to my hotel in the evening can I not pay a few euros to be able to watch my favourite Disney films in my hotel, would be easy money.
So that’s my view of Hotel Santa Fe, i hope that inspires any of you who haven’t been, or perhaps haven’t visited since the refurbishment to check it out and maybe give it a try on your next trip? If you have any questions please leave them below and I’ll be happy to try and answer as honestly as possible.