My son and I were invited to review the New Generation Festival at Disneyland Paris.
It’s a job he has taken very seriously.
So here it is, Daniel’s view on Disneyland Paris (I’ve added my twopence worth in too – they’re usually the sarcastic bits).
The Disney parks
(There are 2 parks: Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios which are within walking distance of each other)
Take warm clothes and waterproofs.
It can get cold and it can get wet, and you’re out all day. Hours upon hours. You will be expected to sit on rides with very wet seats and then not complain when you have a wet bum and you squelch as you walk.
Get there as the doors open.
You’re paying a lot of money for this holiday so forgo the lie ins and be at the gates at 8am (if you’re staying at one of the Disney hotels you get to go in earlier than other visitors. Take advantage of it).
I wasn’t allowed to shower or put make up on. I was allowed to brush my teeth and have a quick breakfast though. I know!
Plan what you’re going to do.
Don’t waste time faffing around deciding which rides to go on or which ‘land’ to start in. Get a map and plan where you’re going.
Do all the ‘big’ rides first before the crowds arrive. You will be surprised how much ground you can cover in those first 2 hours.
You can then take your time while everyone else is queuing to enjoy the surrounds and really take a good look at the spectacle around you.
The Disney rides
Thunder Mountain is brilliant. You will want to go on it many many times (we managed 4 in a row).
But the queues are mahoosive so make it one of your first ports of call. Then get yourself a Fast Pass ticket as soon as you get off. Seriously; we were on the ride at 2pm and if you acquired a Fast Pass ticket then your return time was 7.30pm. It’s really really busy.
The same goes for Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast and Star Tours (a simulated ride).
(We didn’t do Space Mountain, Indiana Jones & the Temple of Peril or Tower of Terror because Dan was too scared, but, yep you guessed it, the queues are looooong here too).
New ride Crush’s Coaster at Studios is also brilliant. However there is no Fast Pass available for this ride so you will need to a. Be there literally as the gate opens b. Queue for 2 hours c. Forget it.
Don’t just concentrate on the rides. There are some great features to enjoy such as Honey I Shrunk the Audience (a 3D cinema show) and CineMagique (an interactive cinema show).
It’s also worth climbing up into the castle and taking a look over the rooftops of the park.
Dan’s own words: “It’s like a massive playground with lots of parks in and the coolest rides ever. It’s fantabulous. I liked the feeling I was going to fall off the rides and going through the dark. It was wicked.”
We were there to celebrate the new stuff but didn’t actually get to experience all of it!
Characters from the likes of The Incredibles, Toy Story, Monsters Inc and Ratatouille will be enjoying a year-long celebration and a new land is due to open in the summer: Toy Story Playland where there will be 3 new rides – the Toy soldiers Parachute Drop, Slinky Dog Zig Zag Spin and the RC Racer (an eye-watering 25-metre high half-pipe rollercoaster.
There are also new parades which are very good and Princess Tiana (from The Frog Princess) is a newcomer.
Meet the characters. My son is at the age where this is still a cool thing to do. He LOVED it, so it’s well worth making the effort.
There are plenty of opportunities to do this as the characters are regularly dotted around the parks (with minders!) but there are huge queues to meet them. So book a meal at Mickey’s Cafe in Disney Village (just outside the park). All the characters wander around and are happy to sign autographs, cuddle and pose for photographs.
Just buy them a Mickey hat/Minnie ears already.
May as well buy it on the first day so they will get their wear out of them during your stay. EVERYONE is wearing them, so just go with the flow!
Take a bag but make sure it’s small enough to wear on your back.
Getting and off rides with a giant rucksack to haul around is a nightmare. It will also slow you down and incur the wrath of all youngsters.
Have fun: As a grown up you will whine about queues and prices and merchandise and oh the queues.
Your young charge will not see any of that but wonder around with an inane grin on their face.
Give in to it.
I asked Dan if he thought there were too many people there when we visited (it was PACKED. To give you an idea, the queue for Crush’s Coaster was a 2 hour wait) his response was “I suppose so; I didn’t really notice”.
I say: “Did the rain put us off anything?” (it rained quite a bit).
“Did it rain?”
See where I’m going with this?
Give in to it. It’s one weekend; get your money’s worth.
I confess I have visited Disney parks on a number of occasions now and usually go in feeling quite cynical and ‘let’s get this over with and try and spend as little as possible’.
But Disney know how to do things well. Very well. Their execution of everything is pretty exceptional. And I always always come away totally Disneyfied.
* If you want more tips on dos and don’ts when visiting Disney parks, head over to Little Mummy’s 26 tips for parent’s at Disneyworld (it’s written for visitors to Florida but some tips are still relevant).