I had more fun than the kids…
It has always been a goal of mine to visit every Disneyland Park that exists and so after having done the US parks, I was extremely excited to be visiting Disneyland Paris. On an early grey morning in Paris I got on the train to the end of the line (the Park) with all the other excited tourists.
The best part about going to Disneyland Paris in January is that the crowds are much less intense than they would be in summer. As kids are heading back to school and the weather is always a couple degrees away from snowing, we had quite manageable wait times for each ride.
There is something about walking down the Main Street that really builds the anticipation of the day. Walking past all the stores I had quite forgotten how magical it feels to spend a day at Disneyland as people from all over the world eagerly venture into the park. I was also super excited for the Main Street stores as I couldn’t wait to spend all my money on take home souvenirs…who needs the life savings?
We first ran off to the Indiana Jones and Pirates of the Caribbean rides as there was no wait for these being that most people go to the rides closest to the entrance first. The Pirates of the Caribbean ride has been re-done since 2012, no longer selling wenches off to the highest bidder and with a few more cameos of Captain Jack Sparrow. The ride was also much longer which is hard to believe being that the last time we went on it it broke down on us!
It had been 18 years since I last went on the Dumbo ride so of course that was one of the first things on my list…The lines were still largely non-existent by this time so the wait time was only about 5 minutes. I think I enjoyed the ride a lot more this time then when I was two…wasn’t so keen on it back then. After this we went to do the Peter Pan Flight…an over-hyped ‘flight’ ride that lasted about 30 seconds but hey, it was one of the most popular rides in the park so we went to see what all the fuss was about.
Next up was the carousel…another ride I hadn’t been on in 18 years. I think at this point I had publicly solidified the fact that I was more excited than any 5 year old around me.
Following this we convinced ourselves to go on the ‘It’s a Small World’ ride. All I can say is…wow. Not only did we get the ‘It’s a small world’ song we also got a series of Christmas tunes playing at us on repeat. I don’t quite know how I feel about singing puppets and instead of paying attention to the music playing I kept singing the ‘Duff Beer’ song from the Simpsons instead…Don’t drink the water kids!
After the ‘It’s a Small World’ ride we sought out some of the more popular bigger-kids rides. The Toy Story ride and Hyperspace Mountain are two rides we got fast passes for as each is incredibly popular with wait times of over 45 minutes-1 hour the day we were there. I am not super keen on scary rides but as Hyperspace Mountain is an indoor roller coaster moving incredibly fast in a dark space you have no idea when you are right side up! I ended up really enjoying myself as I couldn’t see what was going to happen so every twist and turn was an unexpected surprise…the littlest one didn’t enjoy it so much.
By lunch time I was extremely hungry but Disneyland will always provide. Waffles were the snack of choice though you could pretty much have any sugary snack you can think of! After snacks we hit up the castle. You can wander inside the castle and from the balcony see greater views of the park. It also houses a series of character windows and a store that sells everything Beauty and the Beast related.
By the afternoon people were getting ready for the parade. The only downside of going to Disneyland Paris in January is that the park closes at 6, a few hours earlier than its summer hours. We decided to hit up the Alice in Wonderland maze before the parade and check out the characters before finding a spot to stand at.
The parade is a big deal in Disneyland as every character comes out on a float to dance and wave to the people. It is also of particular interest as, for those who didn’t want to wait a few hours to meet a princess, all the Disney Princesses are out in force. For the absolute best views of the parade you need to pick your spot early and then wait. It is during the parade that all sleepy children are suddenly placed on the shoulders of their 6 foot 4 tall father, blocking the view of everyone behind them. This is why I suggest getting as close to the front as you can, as while the floats are positioned quite high, you can’t see much else of the dancers unless you’re at the front.
At the end of the parade most of the parents and kids head to the exit. This was the perfect time for shopping I found as the stores are all located close to the exit and then you don’t have to worry about carrying bags all day!
Paris Disneyland was a great experience and I would highly recommend a visit if you have the time. Whilst it is a bit disappointing the park closes earlier in winter, the ride line-up stations and food establishments are very accommodating, with the waiting spaces and eateries predominantly under cover. It is a fun-filled park for all the ages and an easily doable day trip option from the heart of Paris.