If you read Part 1 of our trip to Disneyland Paris on Monday, you’ll know that the start of our holiday had gone smoothly and we’d had a fantastic time so far. In order not to carry one waffling too much and boring the hell out of everyone with an hour-by-hour account, I thought in Part 2 i’d share the highlights of our holiday, and give you an overview of our favourite bits, including what happens when you have a character experience and what we thought of certain things.
I apologise in advance for it being very photo-heavy, but i’m hoping it will prove useful if you’re ever thinking of booking a trip to Disneyland!
Character Breakfast at Cafe Mickey
An absolute must! We booked an 8am slot here at Cafe Mickey in the Disney Village (it’s only a 10 minute walk from our hotel, and right next to the train station and park entrances). This character breakfast buffet cost about 14 Euros as a supplement, as we already had breakfast included with our Disney hotel. I think it would be a little more if you stay elsewhere. The food was decent (a mix of ‘English’ cooked, continental, fruit, cereals etc, and you could go back for as much as you liked).
Sasha was quite wary of the characters as first (which is why there aren’t as many snaps of her at the breakfast) but she had warmed up by the end of the day- Freddie, on the other hand, absolutely loved them! I was really impressed with how much time the characters spent with each table too. On our first night we bought a chunky pen and autograph books for each of the children, and the characters were more than happy to sign them, which delighted F and S no end.
You know I said Freddie had become rather taken with Chip and Dale (despite thinking they were bears at first!)? Well, he actually cried tears of happiness when he met them, and then cried when they left, so they came back to see him especially one more time! It actually made Ad and I well up a bit, and without sounding mega cheesy, it’s moments like these that make a trip like this worth it, and so, so special. The breakfast is one experience I would happily do every time.
Character Dinner at Inventions
In the same vein as a character breakfast, the ‘Inventions’ Restaurant upstairs in the main Disneyland Hotel holds daily character buffet lunches and dinners. The food was, again, much better than anticipated, with a variety of familiar and also slightly fancy options (I was LOVING the look of the fish buffet bar, some tres nice dishes here), and a lovely mix of family friendly and posh vibes. Adam and I shared a bottle of wine, and thoroughly enjoyed our food and seeing Freddie and Sasha being visited by several different characters. Much the same as the breakfast buffet at Cafe Mickey, but with a few more of them. We saw Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Tigger, Donald Duck, Eeyore, Pluto, Goofy, to name but a few. It was expensive (and as a sidenote you pay for this on the day, not in advance like we did with a few other experiences), and the children were too excited to eat much, but it was totally worth it for the attention they give you, the photo ops, the not having to queue for ages in the park to see a character, and also the chance to sit as an adult and have a nice meal and a drink or two!
Princess/Princely Lunch at The Auberge de Cendrillon
This was one character experience that Sasha in particular was looking forward to- our Princess/Princely lunch at the Auberge de Cendrillon, which is right next to the main Castle. One of tips we had read before we went was to bring your own princess dress if you have one already, as it cuts costs and saves you having to buy a rather expensive one there!
Sasha was so excited to wear her’s!
We were greeted and shown to our tables, and instead of a buffet this time, we had a fab table service experience, and the menu selection choice was outstanding for both children and adults (more on this shortly). Whilst we were waiting to be served, a couple of the mice from Cinderella came to see the children, which was a nice touch and kept them occupied.
There were bread rolls and butter, and light cheesy puff balls as a starter for the children. They then had a choice of chicken in tomato sauce, or salmon with pasta or mashed potato, served with green veg for their main, and a delicious chocolate Cinderella shoe filled with chocolate mousse for pudding. All of this went down a treat!
The adult menu had great choice too. Yet again (and I know I keep going on about this!), but the food was out of this world, much, much nicer than I ever expected! I chose grilled vegetables with pesto for starter, and then beautifully presented scallops with asparagus risotto for main, washed down with a rather decent glass of dry white- a bit of a nice surprise, and it made the cost of the lunch suddenly even more worthwhile!
This was an experience we paid for in advance, and one we would definitely do again, along with either the character lunch or dinner, although probably not both. Both children, including Freddie, absolutely loved it, and we even got to see Cinderella and Prince Charming dancing together during our meal. My only criticism of our princess lunch experience was that after an hour, and despite asking the waiter’s once or twice when a princess was going to come and visit our table, no one came. The children were starting to ask us where there were, and getting a little anxious. I then went and asked the man in charge of the characters (politely) when they would be coming, and he quickly sent 4 of them over at once which was great- Cinderella, Prince Charming, Sleeping Beauty and Ariel. I think we had accidentally been overlooked due to the staggering of the lunch times, and if I hadn’t have said anything then I don’t think we would have been seen. They were very apologetic and professional, and the children were none the wiser, but do make sure you’re assertive when it comes to your character experiences and don’t be afraid to ask if you think you’ve been bypassed- you’re paying for it after all!
The Wild West Show
This was a show that I was really excited about, but I wasn’t sure if Freddie and Sasha would be a bit too young for it or not. As it turned out, they really enjoyed it, although I still think an older child would understand it a little more- but what fun it was!
The show is a mixture of Disney Characters and live action ‘real’ cowboys and Indians, on real horses and performing real stunts and tricks. The audience set up is fantastic, with different sections of the stadium in different coloured ‘teams’ and supporting different riders.
You’re sat on benches that are very family friendly i.e. you can get in and out for the toilet/drinks very easily, and all food and drink is brought to your table, with soft drinks already waiting for you on arrival. We munched on sausages, chilli, chicken, ribs, potatoes and cornbread, and then had hot apple crumble and custard/ice cream for pudding- SO good! Another experience I would book to do when the children are a little older. As our children are still quite young, we booked the earliest showing available (6.30pm), but bless S, she fell asleep next to me about 10 minutes before the show ended at 8.15pm- the previous two days had really taken it out of her!
Character Meet and Greets
At several points around the park, and at several times of day, you get the opportunity to ‘meet and greet’ and have a photo with some of the Disney characters (which ones there are, and where, are featured in your Disneyland Paris events programme). We didn’t really do these as we’d had the character meal experiences, but were lucky enough a few times just to bump into a few of them in Frontierland!
Sasha was over the moon that we bumped into Jessie from Toy Story, one of her favourites! We were fortunate that we just happened to walk into her as she was coming out of a building, and a lengthy queue quickly formed behind us- it’s very much luck on the day whether you have to queue a long time or not.
We also bumped into Tigger- one of my favourite characters as a child!
The longest we queued for a character was nearly an hour on our final morning to see Chip and Dale, who Freddie was desperate to see again. Sometimes you just have to suck it up for their sake, but to be fair both characters spent a decent amount of time with each child/family, so it was worth the wait for a really special goodbye- Freddie was nearly in tears again, bless him!
Walt Disney Studios
Located next door to the main park, Walt Disney studios is Disneyland Paris’ latest theme park addition, very much emulating the other parks in Florida. We tackled here twice for a few hours at a time, and we all enjoyed the Slinky Dog Zig Zag Spin coaster, Cars Quatre Roues Rallye, Flying Carpets Over Agrabah and the Studio Tram Tour (although our two weren’t so keen on this, we didn’t realise how scary this was with the special effects!). Queues for these rides were quite reasonable, and the most we queued was for 25 minutes.
I was really keen to go on the Ratatouille: The Adventure ride and Crush’s Coaster, but sadly on both occasions, and despite getting to the park for opening at 10am, the queues were crazy, and even the queue for the fast-pass option was ridiculous- there was no way a 3 and 5 year old were going to queue 110 minutes, so we sadly gave these a miss. Next time maybe!
The Walt Disney Studios were great, but I suspect it’s a better park for older children and teenagers as there are more rides suitable for these age groups.
So these were the highlights of our stay at Disneyland Paris- in my next post I’ll be frantically scribbling down all the hints and tips, and dos and don’ts for a brilliant stay with under 7’s.
I love looking back at our photos so much, I still feel sad that we’re not there now!
In the meantime, Part 1 of our trip is HERE.