Hi everyone! So as promised here is my roundup review about our Disneyland Paris trip. We went Monday 13th – Friday 17th May (4 nights / 5 days) this worked perfectly for us and there was only a couple of things we didn’t do, but there’s always next time!
We stayed at Disney’s Newport Bay Club which has a nautical / sailor / boating theme, very cute & Kimaarah loved the little port holes on the walls in our room which looked like you were on a boat with some of the characters looking in. The hotel was perfectly fine except there was no fridge in the room! Which would have been so handy for keeping our drinks cool. Also no plug points next to the bed so I could not use my phone lying in bed if it needed charging (another bug bear of mine!)
Our room had 2 double beds which were very comfortable and luckily Kimaarah slept in her own bed! She loved jumping up and down on the beds and pretending the bed runner was a bridge. It was very fun and exciting for her! When we checked in I taught Kimaarah to say ‘Merci boucoup’ (that French A Level really came in handy) the man gifted her with loads of chocolate coins! At Disney they call this ‘pixie dust’ when someone gives you something extra complimentary.
The hotel also has a swimming pool which looked great but we didn’t have time to use it, there’s also a gift shop in the lobby (as if you need an excuse to buy more crap) and every morning you can meet a Disney Character in the lobby! But we didn’t do this either because we wanted to get out and about!
Overall I would recommend this hotel but next time I would stay at the Disneyland Hotel as it is just stunning, and you are right at the park gates so no need for the shuttle buses, especially late at night after watching the Illuminations which at this time of year don’t happen until 10.30pm! The service here was also amazing and we felt really special (it also smells amazing in there!) but I will speak about this more in a bit!
We travelled by Eurostar from St Pancras to Marne La Vallee which takes you directly to Disney Village and the security barriers of the Disneyland Parks. I booked a room at the Travelodge Kings Cross Central for the night before because I just wanted to avoid that morning tube rush hour and didn’t want to be rushing and sweating carrying a pram, suitcase, bags with Kimaarah in tow! It was only £70 for the Travelodge which is very reasonable for that area even a Premier Inn would have cost £115! Lots of restaurants in that area as well, we had dinner at Nando’s but we also saw people just buying food from Sainsbury’s / M&S and taking it to their rooms which is great if you wanted to save a bit of money (as you’ve already paid loads to go to Disneyland!)
So Monday morning came, our train was at 10.14am so plenty of time to wake up and sort ourselves out and only about 5 minutes walk to the station. I packed loads of snacks to bring with us and made snack bags in bright pink paper bags which Kimaarah loved as I think she saw it as a party bag. I also took some Belvita breakfast bars as Kimaarah is more of a snacky / picky eater rather than wanting a big plate of food so these were great for us. Definitely make snack bags if you go as you will save a fortune. I brought her snacks while we were there but for example a carton of popcorn was 6 Euros, bag of candyfloss 4 Euros, bag of crisps 4 Euros – it all adds up! Our snack bags had crisps, raisins, mini haribo, biscuits, cake bars. Fun things as I still wanted Kimaarah to have treats, we are on holidays! I also took her water bottle and some of the squeeze juice and brought water from the Relay shop inside the station which was 2.60 for 1L, better than the small bottles in the parks which was about 3.60!
For the Eurostar you have to go through security check a bit like at the airport, putting your belongings through a scanner and showing passports which I personally found was a little bit harder than flying because you have to take all your luggage with you on the train! I personally find flying easier especially as a single mum, anything that involves me lifting heavy stuff don’t really feel like a holiday lol but I managed and then after a short wait in the waiting area we boarded our train! There is no luggage restrictions / allowance just be aware that the luggage area is quite small and everyone’s stuff has to go there! I took one big suitcase and then my pram was in a hold-all that I got from Mothercare, and my handbag. On the way back I actually didn’t bother with the hold-all as I was carrying it on my shoulder and it was super awkward and killed me after a while! I just pushed the pram and hooked the suitcase handle onto one of the pram handles!
Eurostar takes around 2.5 hours and went quite quickly especially when we’re used to flying long haul. Bad mum alert, I just let Kimaarah watch YouTube most of the journey but she also had a magazine and colouring to do. I paid £15pp to get the Luggage Express service from Disney meaning they took our luggage to our hotel and we could go straight into the park, it was great on the way there a Disney ‘cast member’ came to greet us on the train, gave us our booking confirmation, park tickets (these are like credit cards) and luggage label. TOP TIP : if you pay for this service don’t take the luggage label off once you’re checked in, they will not give you another one when checking out! We learnt this the hard way and I would hate for someone to go through the same thing (more about this later)
We arrived at around 2.30pm and went straight into the Disneyland Park after dropping off our suitcase at the Disney Luggage Express desk on the top floor of the train station. Ok so I’m not going to do a day by day account because it’s going to get pretty long otherwise! I’m going to write about our best rides, things to do and more top tips. Another TOP TIP everything is overpriced! You can’t get away from it! Just embrace it! Kimaarah had plenty of treats but I said no to buying her any of the costumes (70 Euros for the princess dresses and no where near as nice as the Disney Store UK!) and also the Animator Dolls or anything we get back home. Some of the things she got treated to:
Giant Minnie Mouse Balloon 10 Euros – these are everywhere! Actually was good to have on our pram as it helped us find where we left it after we came off a ride.
Face Painted 10-15 Euro depending on design – in the Disneyland park by the Auberge De Cendrillon restaurant there’s a face painting stand which does really cute designs Minnie, Princesses, Kitten etc. I asked Kimaarah did she want to be a princess but no, she wanted to be a cat! They make them look really pretty and add glitter on, Kimaarah felt really special having this done so it was well worth it.
Singing Ariel soft toy 32.99 Euro (about £28!) they had all of the princesses and were so cute, they are like the ones in our Disney shop but they make music when you squeeze them. Unfortunately we lost this the day after we brought it which was so annoying but one of those things when you’re wrapped up in the Disney magic, I didn’t even realise until the day after!
Cheshire Cat medium soft toy 25.99 Euro – around the same price as Disney Store UK.
I could have spent easily a few hours just looking in all of the shops down Main Street, they have a beautiful jewellery / crystal / ornament shop called Harrington’s where I purchased a tiara (24.99) for Kimaarah to wear at Princess For A Day, they had a great selection – all different prices and more classy & expensive looking than the Disney character ones in the Disney store! The one I brought was one of the cheaper ones they had some very blingy ones for 60-100 Euros. But Kimaarah was very happy with it & it suited her so much!
I took 600 Euros (£525) with me and brought back 100 Euros (£90) I think I did pretty well! I pre booked and prepaid for our character meals, Inventions at Disneyland Hotel was around £95 for both of us, and Auberge De Cendrillon (princess lunch) inside the main Disneyland park was around £110 for both of us, so not cheap by any means but well worth it for the experience of meeting lots of different characters without having to queue for 1-2 hours to meet each one! At Inventions we had Mickey, Goofy, Daisy, Donald and Rabbit – I was a little disappointed not to have Minnie but there’s always next time! At the princess lunch we had Cinderella (she’s always there), Ariel, Snow White and Aurora plus Cinderella’s mice Suzy and Perla. The Inventions meal is a buffet and you have everything there including healthier options (quite a bit of fruit and veg which is sometimes hard to find in the park!) this was definitely the nicest food I had for our entire stay and the setting of it feels really fancy and special without making you feel you should be dressed up, all the staff were lovely and commented lots on Kimaarah’s beautiful Mickey & Minnie dress that was made by @hannahsboutiquebaby on Instagram. The character interaction was amazing because of course they don’t talk but there’s lots of hugs, blowing kisses, waving, Kimaarah was in awe of all the characters!
TOP TIP – if you plan on going to ADC, the Princess For A Day experience is brilliant for beforehand but please take your own dress as the dresses in DLP with the exception of a couple (I really liked the Jasmine outfit and the Ariel wedding dress) are not all that at all, much better in our Disney store in the UK! The dresses in DLP start from about 60/70 euros, not worth it at all unless you haven’t brought your own!
With PFAD you need to book it at the Gallerie Mickey Boutique on the 2nd floor of the Disneyland Hotel, you can only book it in person not over the phone and a maximum of 3 days in advance. Another TOP TIP make this the first thing you do when you arrive because it gets booked very quickly! We had to move around our reservation for ADC to fit in the Princess makeover as they had quite limited availability. We ended up getting 1pm and then lunch at 3.30 which wasn’t really ideal for us but I wanted Kimaarah to have this experience however I wouldn’t change my arrangements again if we went back, it was only because I’d had her dress made specifically thinking she would have her makeover followed by ADC, I had it all planned out in my head! But next time I’d do the first sitting of ADC (12pm) and I’d let her do the Princess makeover (PFAD) anytime if she wanted. We have her tiara now and I could easily do her hair and put on a dress etc, but for a first visit it’s so special! They also get a mini photoshoot after and if you have a Photo Pass you get all the photos included which is well worth it as I paid 35.99 for 3 photos, I got them printed as well as digitally and then you get one free included in the price of PFAD. The starting price is 60 Euro which includes hair, make up, photoshoot and the one free photo, it’s a lovely treat for any mini princess! If you didn’t feel your budget would stretch to this then an alternative is to take your child’s own dress and next to ADC there is a face painting station where they do beautiful designs for 15 Euro, whatever you decide to do your little one will definitely feel like a VIP as they walk around the park!
Now onto our top rides! I have to admit that Kimaarah isn’t a massive thrill seeker and that honestly doesn’t bother me because I was happy not to go on the fast rides! There are plenty of rides for all ages so people wondering ‘will it be suitable for my 2 year old?’ I would say 100% yes. I can’t pick a favourite ride but here’s our top 5:
1. It’s a Small World – Disneyland Park – probably the most iconic ride there it was the first ride we did when we arrived and our last before we left! Perfect for all ages young and old.
2. Flying Carpets Of Agrabah – Disney Studios – Kimaarah says this was one of her favourites. It’s not too fast and you can make your carpet go higher if you like. This is just one of those great kids rides that you must do.
3. Carousel – Disneyland Park – who don’t love a carousel, we went on this a few times as well!
4. Mad Hatter’s Teacups – Disneyland Park – this is another classic ride and sometimes you’ll find Alice In Wonderland around here or the Mad Hatter and White Rabbit for a meet and greet!
5. Slinky Dog Dash – Disney Studios – okay so the one in DisneyWorld is probably loads better but again this is one of those perfect kids rides that isn’t too fast but still loads of fun!
Oh and another ride I loved was the Parachutes in the Disney Studios, I’m so surprised I got Kimaarah on here and to be honest I’m surprised I went on it myself as it goes so high 😂 it’s not fast but it makes your belly drop! And from the top you can see the whole park! So if you have kids that like a bit more excitement I’d recommend this one too
Are there any rides I don’t recommend? The Orbitron ride in Discoveryland at Disneyland Park, you only have this tiny seatbelt and it goes so fast I thought I was going to fall out, I think I was more scared than Kimaarah! I also didn’t see the fuss about the Peter Pan ride, the queue for this one was always about 30-45 minutes and I did wonder why I queued for so long!
There were some rides closed for maintenance during our stay, the Dumbo ride and Autopia both in the Disneyland park which both would have been great for Kimaarah so again we have a reason to go back! We didn’t go on Big Thunder Mountain in Disneyland, or Ratatouille and Crush’s Coaster in the Studios (also Tower of Terror for obvious reasons, maybe in a few years lol) so again I feel like that’s another reason to go back!
At the end of this year work will start to the new Frozen / Star Wars land in the Studios park and this is going to be absolutely amazing with a real lake being put in and Arandelle castle! This is probably when I will plan my next visit for. As it’s not a cheap holiday and I think if you go somewhere too many times it takes the sparkle off! Although you cannot deny the magic of Disney, even as a 30 year old woman I loved wearing my Mickey ears and princess t shirts!
On our last night we decided to watch the Illuminations light show, this happens every night at park closing, in the spring / summer months it’s on later because you have to wait for it to be dark so when we visited in May this was at 10.30pm. On this day Kimaarah luckily fell asleep around 4pm from all the excitement so I took her back to the hotel and we ate some Mickey shaped pizza from Bella Notte – I brought 2 for 4.99 each and took them away in a box for us. We chilled at the hotel for a few hours and then went back on the shuttle bus around 8.30, TOP TIP make sure you start waiting for the Illuminations at least an hour early because it does get very busy around the front of the castle, luckily everyone stayed sitting down so we had a great view. This is a must-do when visiting Disneyland no matter how long you’re there you need to see it at least once! Kimaarah was a little scared about the fireworks but they weren’t the loud type and there was only a few bangs. It’s really spectacular with the music, lights, water fountains and of course the images on the castle, this was one of my favourite things about our trip as it just makes you feel so excited and gives you that WOW factor! Disney really just do it so well, there’s no where else this could happen!
The Parade is also a must do, it happens everyday around 5.30pm and you must get your spot around an hour before it starts, we watched it twice from the starting point next to Small World ride, as you see them all coming out from the gates it’s amazing! The parade is also a chance to see characters who you wouldn’t usually see around the parks or at meet & greets like Anna & Elsa, I was told they had to stop Elsa being at the Princess Pavilion due to health and safety concerns, she only does paid meet and greets now at special events!
You MUST also see the Mickey and Magician show at the Disney Studios Park, it’s on about 5 times a day and again get there about 1 hour before the show you want to see because it does get full up quickly! If you have a MasterCard you can go to guest relations and get a priority ticket for this show, they only hold a small amount of these so do this first thing and then you will be able to sit at the front. I personally forgot about this and sat down in the middle but we still really enjoyed it! It’s a show all about Mickey wanting to be a magician and trying to find his magic, with the help of some of our favourite characters, and without spoiling it too much you can also see Elsa here as well as some of the other princesses! Some of it is in French as well as English but it’s a definite must see, you will get the message of it no matter what.
The last point I need to make is the most important: if you are paying for the luggage express service DO NOT take the luggage label off your suitcase! And don’t lose the small blue ticket that you tear off at the beginning of your trip! We had an absolute nightmare when we turned up at the station to catch our train home and found that our case hadn’t been brought from the hotel! Cue shouting and crying from myself and Kimaarah! Now, I honestly don’t remember taking the blue tag off of my suitcase. I might have done but the way I was spoken to at the station was disgusting and did put a little downer on our trip because there was no need for them to be so rude! There was no ‘sorry this has happened, let us help you’ it was all about putting the blame on me, now when you’ve spent just over £1300 on a trip to Disneyland you expect the Disney magic to be with you wherever you go but it wasn’t the case here! Luckily a manager came over to sort things out and my suitcase appeared at the station in time, but I had no apology. They will not check at the hotel or ask you whether you have paid for the luggage express. They will only look to see whether you still have the blue tag attached to your suitcase so be aware of this. As I would hate for someone to go through what we did.
The Eurostar was fine for us, 2.5 hours is nothing really when you have done long haul before but the tube home was an absolute nightmare when you have a child that decides they can’t keep their eyes open and you’ve got a pram, suitcase and 2 bags to try and get down 100 stairs because there’s no lifts! Totally not ideal and I really don’t know why I didn’t get a cab home, I had to rely on the kindness of strangers and luckily there were a few! But this is what happens when you go away as a single parent, there will be challenges but there’s always a way around things! I would encourage any single parent to do this trip, it was just far away enough to test the waters, and after this I wouldn’t hesitate to take Kimaarah somewhere further on my own!
I must admit that my anxiety was high at some points, being on my own I didn’t have anyone to take over if I felt too tired and for example one night I was half asleep on the bed while Kimaarah was watching YouTube for just a bit too long. Staying in a Disney hotel meant we got to enter the parks an hour early each day but we only did this once. One of my biggest tips if you’re travelling as a single parent is take your time, don’t over do it, just have 2-3 main things planned per day and then anything else is a bonus! We had 4 nights / 5 days so I allocated one day for the Disney Studios Park as there really isn’t much there, the rest of the time we were in Disneyland Park. If we went back I’d probably do either 3 or 4 nights, I don’t think I’d do less than that because otherwise it would feel like a rush rather than an enjoyable holiday!
Overall our time at Disneyland Paris was so much fun and we made memories to last us forever, I already have one of Kimaarah’s PFAD photos up in the living room! If you’re wanting to experience the Disney magic but you’re not sure about travelling to Florida, DLP is the perfect short break, if you’re thinking about going I say stop thinking and start booking!
I know this turned out to be so long but I hope I’ve helped in one way or another and if you had any more questions then my inbox is always open!
Until next time!