RELIVE YOUR CHILDHOOD AND PAY A VISIT TO THE MOST MAGICAL PLACE IN EUROPE
You may have fond memories visiting Disneyland as a child. Getting ludicrously hyper on candy floss, meeting Mickey Mouse for the first time and finding yourself uncontrollably dizzy on the Mad Hatter's tea cups. But now, you think to yourself, “I couldn’t possibly enjoy it now”.
We’ll tell you one thing. If you’re already going to Paris and have a day to spare (and some extra euros to spend), then we highly recommend paying a visit - especially for the Disney lovers amongst you. You will not be disappointed.
We recently took a trip to Disneyland Paris and we can confirm, IT IS THE BEST PLACE EVER! So if you think you’re too old or too cool, think again! Turns out, you can enjoy it whether you’re 3 or 23! Here’s our evermore grown-up way to enjoy the park, as well as the Walt Disney Studios (the accompanying park next door)...
But first, logistics!
HOW TO GET THERE
After you’ve tucked into the free breakfast at St Christopher’s Inns, begin your journey to Disneyland Paris. Whether you’re staying in our Gare Du Nord hostel or Canal hostel, it’s super easy to get to Disneyland and there are several ways to do it. First, get yourself to Gare Du Nord station (this is just a 3 minute walk from our Gare Du Nord hostel and a 10 minute drive from Canal - or a 25 minute walk!) If you’re travelling from London, just hop on the Eurostar OR catch a flight to Paris as it’s much cheaper than the Eurostar, and make your way from there.
OPTION 1: TRAIN
We’d recommend training in as it’s easy, fast and cheap.
Use the RER train from Gare Du Nord to travel out to the Disneyland Resort. This journey takes around 54 minutes. The one way adult fare from Gare du Nord to Marne-la-Vallée is about €7.50.
After purchasing your tickets at the station, you will need to take the RER B train in the direction of Robinson / Saint-Rémy-lés-Chevreuse.
Get off at the next stop, Châtelet Les Halles where you’ll have to change trains. This transfer is pretty simple - once at the right platform, get the train to Marne-la-Vallée which is the last stop on line - and where you will be getting off. The station is just a 7 minute walk from the Disneyland Park.
Repeat the same journey on the way back. Simple, quick and easy!
OPTION 2: EXPRESS BUS
Or you catch the Disneyland Paris Express bus that departs daily from Gare du Nord station at 8.30am and arrives at the park at 10am. When you book your Disneyland Paris tickets online, there’s an option to add in the Express Bus costs, the best way to book this mode of transport.
Express bus tickets are also available in Paris from:
* Vedettes de Paris: Port de Suffren (near the Eiffel Tower)
OPTION 3: CAB
Get a cab or an uber from the hostel. The drive is approx 1 hour to Disneyland Paris. Quite pricey but if there are a few of you, then split the cost. This is what I did simply because we had euros to spare and I was in a group of six so it worked out pretty cheap individually. Uber will usually provide you with a fare estimate so be sure to check it before booking (it tends to be cheaper than a normal cab).
Remember, if you’re a guest at our Paris hostels you can book Disneyland tickets from the hostel reception who will also print them out for you.
Before you book tickets online, be sure to check out for deals and discounts. For example, I was lucky enough to get the Ticket Special Offer: 2 Parks for the price of 1! This deal is still running but be quick, it ends March 24th. It was great because I was able to experience Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney Studios for so much cheaper!
For entry to the parks:
1 adult day pass to both parks: $102.00
1 adult day pass to one park: $67.00 for the weekend, $53.00 for mid-week visits
Pretty expensive I know, but it’s well worth it. You can also purchase tickets at the park.
PREPARE YOURSELF FOR THE MAGIC
Now we’re done with the boring stuff, let’s get down to the exciting part.
You’ll feel the magic of Disneyland as soon as you step through the grand entrance. Instantly, you’ll be injected with happiness and good vibes that will come at you from all angles (and hit all of your senses). It’s not just a buzz that seems a lot more spectacular and amplified when you’re a child!
Music from your iconic films fill the park, the sweet smell of delicious donuts lingers the air and EVERYTHING is perfect, from the charming characterful buildings to the beautifully-arranged flower gardens. There is absolutely nothing that looks worn out, old or dirty which is the most impressive thing. Disneyland is essentially a giant garden. There’s rumoured to be about 15,000 staff (130 of them are gardeners) who maintain the park so it’s not surprising it’s in pristine condition.
As you get on the main stretch, named ‘Main Street’ that leads up to the Sleeping Beauty Castle, you’ll find it's lined by the cutest little shops in the world. On the morning I visited, “Let It Go” from Frozen was blasted on Main Street and everyone was just walking down singing. I have no idea where the speakers are either but the music just infiltrates the entire place. It’s one of those moments where you have to be there to really feel it. Such an awesome way to start your day: wish my commute to work was like that!
I strongly believe that once you’re grown up you appreciate Disneyland in a whole new way and really appreciate how much effort has actually gone into creating the happiest environment you can think of. Which is why it’s so worth going at least once in your adult life. Look how happy we look in the Aladdin area!
There are plenty of scary rides. If you’re looking for a real thrill, these adult rides are not for the faint hearted!
The most notable thrilling rollercoasters/rides that I thoroughly enjoyed were:
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril
Pirates of the Caribbean
Big Thunder Mountain
Of course, the more kiddy rides are fun too and cannot be missed. Nothing beats the classics like “It’s a Small World” and “Les Voyages de Pinocchio.” My friends and I had a personal favourite though:
RATATOUILLE: THE ADVENTURE
Ratatouille is one of my favourite films of all time. And since the film is set in Paris, Disneyland has gone all out to make the experience amazing to really represent the capital. Even as you’re queuing for the ride, you’ll feel like you’re in Paris surrounded by Parisian rooftops. It’s so impressive.
The actual ride is a 4d simulation like no other I’ve seen before. The ride is from Remy’s point of view, where you shrink to his mouse size and follow him on an adventure through the kitchen as he tries to stay hidden from the chefs and customers. It’s like living an actual scene from the film. The ride ends overlooking the Ratatouille restaurant which was inspired by the one in the film (Gusteau's).
AND OTHER FUN STUFF
Like Alice in Wonderland...
WALT DISNEY STUDIOS
It’s definitely possible to do both parks in a day if you’re focusing mainly on scarier rides. You can’t forget to take the Walt Disney Studio Tour while you’re here - it is epic. Taking you through sets, discover the secrets of Disney cinema, magical animation and special effects. Then, test out some rides. The rides in the Walt Disney Studios have a lot higher thrill factor in comparison to the rides in the Disneyland Park:
THE TWILIGHT ZONE: TOWER OF TERROR
In all honestly, I don’t think I could go on this again and I don’t even have a fear of heights. BUT I am so glad I did it for the scare factor. I don’t want to tell you what to expect because it will ruin the surprise element but I will tell you that it’s a sky high elevator, that drops.
I’m the one at the back with my face buried in my friend's shoulder. Horrifying.
My favourite rollercoaster of the whole Disney resort is Rock 'n' Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith. This high speed roller coaster reaches crazy fast speeds at 100km/h in less than 3 seconds - all whilst you rock out to Aerosmith and other rock classics.
The rides in Toy Story land are also pretty scary - even just to look at. Expect high drops and that weird stomach feeling from these rides.
GET DRUNK AND DO KARAOKE
Sure, it was embarrassing when we looked back at videos of us screeching down the mic. But it was the funnest thing ever at the time. This was after several glasses of Prosecco that we bought from a Disney bar…
See, Disney is not just for kids!
WHERE TO EAT
You’ll need something to soak up the alcohol (bet you’d never thought you’d hear that in a Disney review). Disneyland Paris has an abundance of restaurants whether you’re on a budget or willing to treat yourself a little at a more expensive joint like the Rainforest Cafe or Planet Hollywood. I’ll recommend a couple of eateries from cheapest to most expensive. Eat in the Disneyland Park rather than the Walt Disney Studios as there is much much more choice:
DISNEY BLOCKBUSTER CAFE
You can watch the very best of Disney in a cinema type room while you eat! Pretty cool.
CABLE CAR BAKE SHOP
Freshly baked pastries, coffee and cake. This is the sweetest little cafe on Main Street, perfect for a quick caffeine stop and a sweet treat. It’s on Main Street and the inside is just superb (and entirely pink).
PIZZERIA BELLA NOTTE
Fancy Italian? I would recommend Pizzeria Bella Notte for delicious (and cheap) pizza and pasta.
BISTROT CHEZ REMY
Offering an upmarket menu of traditional French cuisine, Bistrot Chez Remy is a great choice for a sophisticated dinner. But you have to book-first, they don’t accept walk ins (which was a shame because my friends and I really wanted to go). The interior is just so awesome and it will really make you feel like you’re in an upmarket restaurant in Paris.
OR PLANET HOLLYWOOD IF YOU WANT TO DRINK FUN BLUE COCKTAILS
Blue cocktails that make your tongue go blue. Attractive. And yes - we hit the rides after
Loving life with blue tongues
If you only have tickets for the Walt Disney Studios, then there’s one certain place you HAVE to eat...
CAFÉ DES CASCADEURS
This caravan-turned-authentic 50s diner is inspired by the American dining experience. Walk into the caravan if you’ll pleasantly surprised to find little stools at the bar, booths and even a music machine. Menu: Milkshakes, burgers and hot dogs.
Find the list of restaurants in both parks here: http://www.disneylandparis.com/en-us/dining/
After dinner, head back to Main Street. It’s the only place to be at after 7.30pm. Be prepared for the best thing you’ll ever see in your life. For me, the firework and light show was the highlight of the whole experience. And it must cost Disneyland a FORTUNE to pull this off every single night. It’s really quite extraordinary.
The perfect spot to view the show
Find a good spot in the park where you can see the castle. We stood pretty far back and still had an incredible view as the castle is so big. Then, wait for the magic to start.
This video is just a snapshot of what it is like. A story is told on the castle through projections - using your favourite Disney characters and music from the films to illustrate it. The whole castle transforms into different forms: from Arabia in Aladdin, Africa in Lion King to the dining table in Beauty & the Beast - and at one point it turns into the Notre Dame as a tribute to the Hunchback & Notre Dame.
TIME TO GO HOME, NOOOOOO. You won’t want to leave after that finale. Make sure you catch the right train after all that adrenaline. You can make it back to the hostel by 10-11pm we reckon!
We queued up for an hour, something we won’t be doing again...