I’ve thought twice about writing this one, and even now I’m not sure this will ever make it past the drafts section into the public view. So if you’re reading this, you might wonder what’s going on, why would I talk myself into writing something that I’m not 100% confident to publish. If you’re involved in the Disney community, especially on twitter, you may have seen a blog post doing the rounds “13 reasons why you shouldn’t go to Disneyland Paris” and though I’m a firm believer that everyone is entitled to their opinion, and should feel safe and free to express it (so long as it’s done in a respectful way etc etc) I couldn’t help but feel compelled to respond with why I don’t agree with the majority of that post, and hopefully that’s ok for me to have my opinion too.
Now first of all I just want to make it clear that I feel really bad that the author didn’t enjoy their trip to DLP, there’s nothing worse than getting excited for a holiday, building it up in your head, and then it not living up to your expectations. So yeah I do feel bad for them, I’d be so gutted if I visited another Disney Park and it didn’t live up to my expectations. Also, this is in no way meant to be an attack on the poster or on their views, more than anything I’d like to try and help make other peoples first time visits more successful.
Hotel New York
The first point made was about the Hotel New York which didn’t live up to expectations on this occasion. It’s true the hotel is rated 4 stars and is priced to reflect this, however, it is showing it’s age and is scheduled for a major refurbishment after the 25th anniversary, so probably mid to late 2018, this will resolve a lot of the issues that were experienced in terms of decor and the issues with air con and things in the room not working. Perhaps at the moment I believe the best choice for on site hotel in terms of both luxury and quality is in fact the Newport Bay Club, which following it’s refurbishment got upgraded to a 4 star hotel also. Having said that I’ve always found if you visit the reception and explain any issues with your room the staff will try and help you as much as they can, and if you’re not happy with their response I would always advise speaking to the Cast members in city hall to see if they can help come to an arrangement you’re happy with.
Do you need to speak French
The next thing brought up was the language barrier, not that I personally would call it a barrier at all. I do find it to be a common concern amongst first time visitors, people who don’t speak French are often concerned with how well they’ll get on and what they need to know, and it’s a valid concern. From my experience the cast members are so prepared for this, and in fact it’s difficult to come across a situation where no one is able to speak enough English to get by. I have once or twice responded in French convincingly enough that the conversation has continued in French, but I’ve never had any issues explaining I’m out of my depth and need them to repeat it in English, and they’ve always been happy to do so for me! If anything I like to feel a little proud that my French was convincing enough someone thought I could manage a whole conversation!
Park guides and timetables are available In English and French as well as a few other languages at the entrance to each park and are clearly marked, the majority of the shows have a good mix of French and English too and are normally done in such a way that you can work out the majority of whats being said or at least the general idea of it even if you don’t speak the other language.
I do agree there are some rides where English is lacking in the audio/visual segments, for example star tours and haunted mansion, however it’s never really detracted from the experience for me, and again the rides are in my opinion at least well themed enough that you can understand the story without, especially as they are using franchises we’ve grown up with and stories we know.
This point probably surprised me the most, and that’t because during my 10 trips to date I have met some of the most incredible, lovely cast members at Disneyland Paris! These guys work so so hard to make magic for all of their guests and I have had some of the best memorable experiences with them.
I’m often complimented on my custom Minnie ears on multiple occasions throughout a trip, I’ve had cast members go through my autograph books with me while waiting for characters to chat about who I’ve already met and who I’m hoping to see that day.
I tend to carry Duffy bear with me where ever I go and he’s certainly been a great discussion point with Cast members, they love to cuddle him and talk about his outfits to see who he’s dressed up as each day, it’s such little touches but it does really bring the magic home.
Of course there’s always going to be some interactions that are better than others, some cast members who notice little details more than others, but honestly these guys work so hard to keep everyone smiling that you shouldn’t be worried about how they’re going to treat you!
Food and drink
Now I do agree this is probably the weakest string in Disneyland Paris’ bow, the area that would really benefit from some improvement, but lets be clear here, it’s not terrible. Here’s the thing, it’s a theme park, think of a UK equivalent, what do you expect in terms of food and drink? There’s a lot of fast food and offer, and yes it’s not cheap, but I think we can all agree that’s a symptom of the theme park industry and Disneyland Paris is by no means alone in this.
However the parks and village do also have a good range of other options and there is enough of a mix to suit most budgets. If you’re trying to save the pennies there are a range of buffet style restaurants which have a huge range of foods to suit even the fussiest eater (believe me I am that person) and yes the soft drinks aren’t refillable, but this is down to French law and unfortunately isn’t something the park has control over, table water can be provided and of course this is refilled free of charge.
The food offering certainly could improve in Disneyland Paris, however if you’re looking for a good sit down table service meal, I could highly recommend Walts, Bistrot Chez Remy and Auberge de Cendrillon.
Disneyland Paris do offer a dining plan, and depending when you book this can often be offered free of charge, personally I’ve done trips with it and without it, and although I prefer to go without it, as I’m happy to have a few quick service fast food days, I do think the offering is good. Of course having multiple paper vouchers for day can be a pain, and I do appreciate on top of park tickets, hotel pass, room key park maps etc it can be a lot to get your head around, however the system works and with a bit of organisation it’s really not too much of an issue.
If you don’t already know the Fast pass is a system where you can collect a card from a station outside the entrance to some of the more popular rides which gives you an allotted time frame to come back and effectively jump the queue for your ride.
On busy days especially it is a great way to maximise your time and get on as many rides as quickly as possible. The system is of course not without its flaws, the fast pass machines don’t open until the rides open, which often means you end up queuing to get a return time only to end up joining another (much much shorter) queue when you get to your return time. Not only that, unlike it’s american cousin Walt Disney World, you can only collect fast passes on the day, and can only hold one at any time, this of course can be frustrating as the most popular ones do run out quickly and I can understand people wanting to have more control over planning out their day, but I’ve always found it manageable, and if the other option is no fast passes at all, I know which I would pick!
Extra Magic hours
This is the perk for on site hotel guests and annual pass holders where by you can enter the park (Usually just the Disneyland parc, but occasionally the Walt Disney Studios) from 8am rather than the standard entry time of 10 am. Now first of all this is an added bonus, an incentive to get you to stay on site. Yes not all attractions and areas of the park are open, but it’s a great opportunity to get in and get things done before the park fills up.
Depending on when you visit some days magic hours are busier than others, but I often find if I have a vague plan of what I might like to do it’s a great way to check things of my mental list early. Personally I tend to use the time to either meet characters (Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, Chip, Dale and Donald can usually be found out and about) or ride Peter Pans Flight, as once the park opens entirely at 10 am the queue tends to jump in length considerably.
It does mean getting up early even though you’re on holiday, and it is a shame that more isn’t open, but I use this as a reason to only do it a few days of the trip and have a cheeky lie in on the others!
Fireworks at 11pm
Which leads me on perfectly to my next point. Here’s the thing about fireworks, it kinda needs to be dark for it to work you know? Unfortunately in the late spring and the summer months this does mean the fireworks wont start until as late as 11pm, which often means I’m not in bed before midnight, but again this is why I don’t watch them every day of the trip. On days where I am planning to watch them, I’ll either have a late start and skip EMH, or once it gets to the early evening, i’ll take a break and have a late dinner and take some time out to save my legs.
Again I do appreciate for families with younger children the late start time can be difficult but again a late evening meal does help to break up the day, and with the exception of the Davey Crockett Ranch, all on site hotels are within a 15 min walk from the parks, so going back for a rest during the day is certainly a good option!
Being fat in Disneyland Paris
Now I can’t speak from my own personal experience on this one, however I do have friends who I visit the parks with of all shapes and sizes and they have never had an issue getting cast members to help accommodate to their needs, I’m also incredibly thankful to say this extends to my friends with mobility issues too, we’ve always found the cast members to be as polite, understanding and accommodating as possible, and that’s really all I can say on this point.
Photo pass plus
Again, I do think this is one of the areas that could see improvement at Disneyland Paris, but let me assure you, even over the last 12 months I’ve seen huge improvements in this area.
The photo pass plus is a car you can purchase which stores all of your ride photos, and where available character photos from your trip. You can then access these on the photo pass website and also the app and download your photos to share with your friends and family. The website also has a huge range of printing options including mugs and photo books!
Unfortunately Paris has no where near as many opportunities to use this as Walt Disney World seems to and this is it’s down fall, to make it truly worth the money I would like to see a lot more photographers out and about. I have the annual version of the pass and hope to get enough photos over my planned trips to justify the cost, however, for shorter stays I can see why this might not be a good investment for everyone.
This certainly isn’t a problem that resides only at Disneyland Paris, and yes its horrible when you encounter them, but what can I say? It’s part of life and unfortunately we just have to live with it and do our best not to be rude people ourselves, take it in our stride and react in a polite and positive way. If you let it ruin your holiday, you’re spoiling it for yourself, take a deep breath and move on, life is way too short!
Smoking in Disneyland Paris
Maybe it’s a culture thing? I don’t know for sure, I do agree there are too many smokers in Disneyland Paris, not even that, there are too many smokers who don’t stick to the allotted smoking areas, that’s the problem here.
Do I think Disneyland Paris could do more? Yes, the signage is, in places confusing and conflicting, bin lids have ashtrays on top and no smoking signs on the sides, is it that hard to replace the lids and change that aspect of the design?
On more recent trips I can say I have seen more cast members intervening when people are smoking in areas they shouldn’t, it’s not an issue that’s going to be resolved over night, but I am seeing positive steps in the right direction!
It’s something I’d love to see come to Disneyland Paris, your park ticket, fast pass, meal vouchers all in one handy wristband, customisation of colours and designs. I’d love it. But we don’t have them, surveys have been done with visitors to the parks, and at this time it’s been decided that it’s not a popular enough option to suit the majority of visitors. Not to mention the cost that would no doubt come with implementing such a system.
Maybe it’s because I’ve never known any different but I really don’t find the paper alternatives too hard to manage, my recommendation would be a lanyard with a plastic wallet to hold your photo pass, fast passes and hotel easy pass, I’d keep your park tickets in your wallet/purse with your meal vouchers, and only bring out enough for what you need each day in case they go missing.
The price difference
The final point was the cost difference between Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney World in Florida, now to me, I wouldn’t compare the two, though they are both Disney Parks they are different holidays, the author in question compared a 2 week stay at each park, firstly I don’t think Disneyland Paris is a two week holiday, it has 2 parks compared to Walt Disney Worlds 6 and is much smaller in size.
Not Only this but the parks release their price deals at different times, as it’s usually a longer more expensive break Florida deals tend to come out up to 18 months in advance where as I have always found the best Paris deals within the 12 month window. It’s important to also factor in cost of Travel etc.
Disneyland Paris can definitely be done on a budget and it’s really a case of deciding which parts of the holiday are most important to you when you book to decide which areas to splash the cash on and where to be more reserved, for me personally I’d spend less on a hotel in favour of spending the difference on character meals and experiences, however I know this isn’t the approach that best suits everyone.
So there you have it, that’s my response to 13 reasons why you shouldn’t visit Disneyland Paris, I hope I’ve been able to provide my thoughts in a fair way, and can make you think twice before you write off the Disneyland Paris experience.
What do you think, can you compare the two parks? After reading both sides would you visit Disneyland Paris? Drop me a comment!