For birthday way back in 2012, my friends, Moose and I all went to Disneyland Paris! It was my very first time out there - I've since returned several times! We flew out from Bristol Airport on Thursday the 5th of July and the plan was to spend one day in Disneyland Paris, one day in Actual Paris, and then flew home. It was only a quick whirlwind holiday but we crammed so much in our few days out there.
Our flight was due to leave Bristol at 4:10 but we were stuck on the ground for an hour thanks to bad weather in Paris. Fortunately, we'd come armed with Magic: the Gathering cards to play in the airport. No use sitting around bored, after all. Big tip - always take cards of some sort for airports and long journeys! Magic: The Gathering is a great one, Exploding Kittens or Unstable Unicorns are great for it too!
Landing at Paris and finding our hotel was easy as pie since my Dad had actually booked a taxi to take us directly there. I've never had someone hold my name up at an airport before! I felt Very Important. We checked in, explored our rooms (we actually had a little apartment-hotel) and then went for a wander around the local area.
Val d'Europe is an area that thrives off the Disney tourism - it was actually built in conjunction with Disneyland Paris. There's a huge American style mall there, some gorgeous restaurants and everything just looks pretty and clean and new. We had dinner in a lovely Italian restaurant just inside the mall, stuffed ourselves silly, and were pretty satisfied with a perfect end to our journey. Afterwards, we had a bit of a waddle around to walk off all the food, saw the lights of Disney's Space Mountain in the distance, and said 'ahhhh, this is already good!!'
The next day, we were up early and out the door by 8 to catch the first shuttle bus of the day to Disneyland! They officially open at 10 but I'd heard they often open the gates earlier, so we made sure we were there in plenty of time. It meant hanging out for a while outside the gates just pawing at Disneyland Studios from afar, but we didn't mind. Since the Studios close earlier than the main park, we decided to go there first. There's a ride called 'Crush's Coaster' which doesn't have a fast pass system and is unique to this park, so I was advised by Disney experts to rush straight for it as the gates opened. It was wild! The moment the gates opened, people were literally sprinting past us to hit Crush's Coaster first. The queue for the ride was totally worth it, though. In fact, it was probably one of my favourite rides in the whole two parks. It started off really peaceful and fun but the end was a swirling dark Space Mountain-esque rollercoaster that had us giggling like idiots all the way through. Totally awesome.
After Crush's, we went to get a fast pass ticket for the Tower of Terror, a ride I'd not yet been on in the American parks, and then went to ride the R.C Racer ride (which broke down as we got on it, yay!), grab food and drink and book our table at the Blue Lagoon restaurant later that evening. I asked the lady for a birthday pin even though it wasn't technically my birthday, and she obliged. There's an unwritten rule, I think, that you can have a birthday pin six months prior to your birthday, and six months after your birthday, also. Disney Magic.
Next up was the Tower of Terror and I really wasn't sure what to make of it because I didn't think I'd be a huge fan of drop rides, but of course, it's since become one of my absolute favourites, even if this was my reaction:
And after Tower of Terror, we decided to venture into the Disney Village, a restaurant-retail area between the parks, to grab lunch. We headed over to get lunch at Annette's Diner, where DC took them up on their mega burger challenge, offering you the chance to win a free shake if you finish their whole multi multi multi-burgered burger. He won!
Afterwards, we headed over to the main park. Finally! As we got in, we were just in time for an awesome little parade! We watched it from the main gazebo and then it started to rain, typically! So, we decided to hop on the train and do a loop around the entire park. I never actually use the trains and such in the Disney parks, but they're as much an attraction as the actual rides, so we stayed dry while enjoying a Disney railroad journey
We stepped off in Discoveryland, grabbed a fast pass for Space Mountain later and then went straight to the Buzz Lightyear ride since it was indoors (still raining.) I love the Buzz ride. It's so simple but so, so much fun. You're on a track, armed with laser guns and have to hit the targets. You're competing with the person sharing your buggy and of course, Moose won. Why doesn't that surprise me?
After Buzz, we went to Space Mountain, but in the queue I started getting a really strange headache. It felt entirely like the precursor to a migraine which I suffer from rarely, - but when I do get them, they slay me for days. I got completely wound up and upset and worried, so we hopped out of the queue to grab some water. Honestly, I was more upset that I'd messed up our schedule or that I'd ruined our day, but after some water and a slow walk towards the castle, it eased off, thank goodness. We only had this one day in the park and everything was on such a tight schedule, after all.
We milled around a little afterwards, rode some rides and explored La Cabane des Robinson (Robinson's Treehouse to you and me), and Adventure Isle, before finally ...enduring Small World before our dinner reservation.
We had dinner booked at the Blue Lagoon (now called Captain Jacks), which is a restaurant I'd been dying to eat in ever since I'd seen the Blue Bayou as a kid (hey, they're similar.) The menu is expensive (isn't everything in Disney?) but the food was absolutely gorgeous. I've heard that the quality has gone down considerably in recent years, which is a shame, because my three courses (prawn cocktail, Caribbean chicken and something coconutty, I recall) were delicious. I guess what you're really paying for is the atmosphere, though. Set in the middle of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, Blue Lagoon shares all the dimly lit, piratey atmosphere. You even get to wave to the ride boats as they go by. It's very lovely. I had a couple of glow-tinis too (cocktails with added glowing icecubes - Disney Magic!), because this was my official Birthday Dinner after all - a girl's gotta celebrate!
By now, it was starting to get dark, so we rode a few more rides (Big Thunder in the dark is incredible) while we waited for the firework display at the end. We actually saw that Space Mountain had a five minute queue, so we quickly bolted for it, as we'd missed the chance earlier. I was so glad we were able to tick every box of the main rides we wanted to do, even if Space Mountain kind of hurts my neck and head a whole bunch.
It absolutely amazes me that we were able to squeeze so much in to just one day, considering we managed to ride pretty much all the big ones, see the fireworks, eat two sit-down dinners (Anettes and Blue Lagoon), and catch a bit of the parade! If memory serves, we managed to ride:
I've since returned to Disneyland Paris five times and there's always something new I somehow missed last time. It's worth noting that the whole Ratatouille area in the Studios didn't exist when we first went, however! I can't wait to return again, but it won't be for a little while now. I'm waiting for their big Studios renovations to finish first, and in the meantime, I have a big Disney World trip to plan for in 2022 (er, if thing's get a little more normal by then.)
Anyway! Thanks for coming on this little trip down memory lane with me. I've got a few more trips to finally write up, but I thought you'd enjoy seeing these older photos. In the meantime, why not check out my trip reports from my return in 2015 and 2016!
20 Facts about my Disney Life
I was recently tagged in a post called ‘20 Facts about My Disney Life’ by the lovely Hannah from Courage and Kindness and it got me thinking. I’m really quite new to the, uh, Disney life. I mean, I visited the parks as a kid, my parents took me to Disney World a few times and I’ve been to Disneyland in California a few of times, too. And of course, I’ve always been a huge fan of the movies! But I think I only really discovered the Disney ‘life’ a few years ago, on my second visit to Disneyland Paris.
It’s really weird looking back on my previous times at other Disney parks. My friend and I went to California years ago, and we went to Disneyland, but I don’t remember much about it. I hadn’t done obsessive amounts of research. I didn’t bore him with trivia about the park, and I didn’t know the tips and tricks necessary to make the day as queue-free and smooth as possible. I forget where we ate, or what it was and, shockingly, we didn’t even think about going into California Adventure! I read that it was mainly food few rides and that was enough to convince me it wasn’t worth the time or money.
What the heck??
Nowadays, I’d know California Adventure like the back of my hand before I even went in there. I’d know where to queue and where to eat and I’d know what was worth the fastpass. I know exactly how to make a trip to Disneyland the very best it can possibly be, and we’d strike with military precision.
So what’s changed?
Well, honestly, it’s the internet - or specifically, the Disney community. I went to Disneyland Paris with Moose last year for our anniversary and it was the most magical time ever. Before we went, I threw myself into planning and research. We’d done DLP before, but only for one day back in 2012, so planning a week long break was a whole new ball game for us. I found forums and communities and vloggers and before long I was making Disney friends on Twitter and Instagram. I learned that there was so much more than the week or two weeks of a Disney vacation - that it all extends so much further through the community, and it’s so great! I won’t get back to Disney World for a long time yet - we’re trying to be sensible and save for a mortgage instead - but I can still live the Disney magic through vloggers and bloggers! Watching people vlog their experiences, even the mundane parts like checking into the hotel or the journey on the bus, brings me such joy and anticipation! Someday that'll be me! And until then, I get to live vicariously through others, and share their joy and adventures. It's great!
So yes, while I'm quite new to the Disney Life, as it were, I've certainly thrown myself into it big time! I can safely say this blog is going to start focusing just a little too much on a certain Mouse! And so, without further ado, I present to you, 20 Facts About My Disney Life!
Wednesday! We started the day in the Studios, where we rode The Tower of Terror right away! The Tower of Terror is hands down my favourite ride in the whole Disneyland Paris resort. It didn't exist last time we went to Florida (back when the sister park was called MGM Studios, which sort of shows you how long ago that was!), so I've only experienced the French version, but I have been lucky enough to hear the English video and commentary at Disneyland Paris - it's very rare, but they do play it sometimes! We actually didn't get it in English at all this holiday until the very last day, the last time we rode the ride! It was like the park was saying g'bye to us! D'aw.
We then ran along to the Rock n' Roller Coaster which had a pretty short wait time, then scooted over to Animagique. I'm really glad we got to see Animagique one last time. It's not my favourite show in the whole world - don't get me wrong, it's lovely and fun and very well performed, but it's not as exciting to me as some have been. However, Disney had recently announced the show was closing down a few weeks after we were due to visit, so of course we had to go see it!
By now, time was moving and our tummies were rumbling so we went over to the Magic Kingdom for something to eat. Initially, we were going to go to Hakuna Matata, but the restaurant was closed, so we wandered around trying to find somewhere else. We ended up at the Agrabah Café, a buffet I'd never been to before but was super, super yummy. I don't know why we'd never tried it before! I'd love to eat there for an evening meal as there was so much choice and I don't think we did it as much justice as we could have done, haha. Their whole dessert section was baklava and I looooove baklava! Plus I ordered what I thought was a glass of wine for €7 and it turned out to be a lot more than that! Bargain!
We then rode Phantom Manor and Pirates again before enduring Small World, haha! I'm not a huge fan of this ride at all, the puppets are cute but kind of creepy and the song is the worst earworm imaginable! But, I consider it an absolute Disney staple and it's a ride I think you have to do if you can. I recorded the whole thing with the intention of blogging about it afterwards, but I still haven't gotten over my anxiety of vlogging in public so that never really happened.
As we were leaving Small World, we noticed the parade was about to start! We'd actually missed it entirely this trip so far, so we sat down on a wall and watched from afar (we were far too late to try and get a front row, er, seat). We then followed the parade around to Discoveryland and decided to queue up for Autopia - seriously, this ride always has the longest queues! No idea why it the queues were so long, considering everything else around it (Buzz, Space Mountain) had like five minute queues, but it is a cute ride and I love love love the 1950s futurism theme of it. I let Moose drive, since he passed his driving test in October last year but still doesn't have a car so I figured the, uh, practice would do him good. I did control the throttle though (much to his anguish when we accidentally went crashing into Luke and Sarah in front, oops!)
Afterwards, it was nearly time for Dreams, the big closing firework finale! We got a pretty decent spot, a little too far to the right really but I've seen the display so many times now it was nice to have a different view I guess! I was sad they've taken out the Frozen segment and replaced it with Brave again! I know, everyone is sick to death of Frozen, but I enjoy Frozen way more than Brave.
After that, we joined the mass exodus and found ourselves in Annette's Diner. We didn't fancy anything too large after the buffet earlier, but me and Moose still ended up ordering a huge three course meal, haha. Heck, if you can't let your hair down and enjoy a lot of good food when you're at Disney, when can you enjoy it?
On to day two, and our first day in the actual park! We all got up early and grabbed breakfast (the Golden Forest upgrade in Sequoia Lodge offers a cooked breakfast, so we dined on bacon and pancakes!) and headed into the park. This day was actually our anniversary, so Moose and I headed straight to City Hall to book dinner reservations for that evening at Blue Lagoon! It's my favourite restaurant in the park and the gorgeous night time atmosphere makes it a perfect date night venue.
We then headed to the very back to the park, walking up Main Street with me squealing like a maniac the whole way! We grabbed a Photopass, and then even though it wasn't the greatest weather, I was determined to grab some ice cream, so we ended up at a little kiosk in Fantasyland. It was then we noticed that Les Pays des Conte de Fees (Storybook Land Canal Boats) was actually open! It's been closed every visit I've made to Disneyland Paris, so even though it wasn't the highest on my 'do-do' list, it felt like we absolutely had to give it a go! It was cute, and I loved going into the Cave of Wonders from Aladdin, but it's probably not something we'd do again on a cold day! We then went straight to Casey Jr. which, again, isn't very high on my list but also had never been open in previous visits and I just don't feel like a very good Disney fan without finally riding it!
We then went along to Adventureland and jumped straight onto Pirates of the Caribbean, which is one of my personal favourites! I love the Disneyland Paris version so much, and it was super fun sailing past the restaurant knowing we'd be dining there later! We then jumped onto Indiana Jones! Sarah doesn't much like rollercoasters and had set out determined to ride some at Disney. Unfortunately, Thunder Mountain was closed (and remains closed for most of 2016, sadly) and Crush's Coaster was also down for maintenance the week we were there, so that kind of limited her plans to Indiana Jones, Space Mountain and Rock 'n' Rollercoaster. Oh well!
I didn't mention to Sarah than Indiana Jones had a loop, and of course by the time you see it, you're already strapped in and on your way! She forgave me, though! Here's an interesting factoid - Indiana Jones in Disneyland Paris was the first Disney ride to feature an inversion. Woo!
On our wonders, we met Timon! He was actually the only character I got to meet this time at Disney as everyone else had long queues. I'm so glad we bumped into him though since The Lion King is my favourite Disney movie ever! He was great, and did the Baymax, er, fistbump badaladala!
By now, our tummies were rumbling, so we decided to mosey on down to the Lucky Nugget Saloon for lunch. Surprisingly for out of season, they had a live band! We were seated right by the stage and it was a wonderful little break while we worked out the rest of our day. I love the theme and atmosphere of the Lucky Nugget, but then I am a sucker for Westerns and cowboys! Hah. The food isn't bad, and it's a pretty cheap place to grab lunch by Disneyland Paris standards (€18 for burger, twisty fries, unlimited drinks and a little ice cream).
Our plan was then to ride Phantom Manor, but as we approached we were informed that it was temporarily closed. Aw! So, we rounded back across Main Street and ended up in Discoveryland and discovered (see what I did there?) that Space Mountain only had a ten minute queue! Well, rude not to, right? But here's a thing about Space Mountain (Mission 2, the DLP version) that I don't remember from my first visit back in 2012 - it hurts. It's a fun experience and I wish it didn't hurt because I enjoy riding it, but my head gets knocked around so much no matter what I do! Lean back, knockknockknockouchouchouch. Push my head out past the restraints? My ears smashed against the harness. Aaah! It must be a fun ride because we returned like five times during the week, but I suffered for it each time. Ouch!
To recover, we rode Buzz Lightyear's Laser Blast! Moose and I started a thing last visit that we'd ride Buzz every day and see who came out the ultimate winner at the end of the week. It's always Moose. :P But I got a few good moments! Hilariously, Moose got an obscene score on our last go on Buzz, but the Photopass overlay wasn't recorded, so we have no reminder of it! Oops! Sorry Moose!
We then went back to Sequoia Lodge, to make use of our Golden Forest teatime treats! We warmed up with a lovely hot chocolate and some sweets before venturing back into the park. We were planning on going straight to the Studios this time, but as we approached the gate Luke realised he'd left his ticket back at the hotel. D'oh! So, fighting for time now (Moose and I had dinner booked for 5:45 as the park closes at 7pm in January), Sarah, Moose and I went ahead and into Ratatouille! We were constantly surprised at the short wait times for Ratatouille this visit - last time the shortest non fast-pass queue was over an hour! This time said it was a fifteen minute wait, so we used our hotel fast pass. Unfortunately, the queue ended up taking a little longer than we anticipated, and we had to peg it back into the main park and all the way up to the Blue Lagoon! We got there late and, thankfully, they'd been holding our reservation for us. Phew!
I love the Blue Lagoon. I love the atmosphere and the food so much. This time, Moose didn't enjoy his food quite as much as before (he always goes for the swordfish), but I loved my chicken as usual. It was nice to have a little 'us' time away from the hustle and bustle of Disney. We stayed as long as we possibly could, and eventually we were the only ones left in the restaurant. What I didn't realise was that the park had actually closed around us! We were informed that we'd need an escort once we were done with our food, and what happened became one of my favourite Disney moments!
When we left, the park was officially closed. The whole castle had been cordoned off for the Dreams fireworks display, so we had a long detour. We actually walked right through Fantasyland, through the doors where the parade starts (which usually isn't open to the public!), all the way around the side of the park and into Discoveryland. We were the only non-castmembers there! It was surreal and awesome. We felt like VIPs (or criminals haha) being personally escorted out of the park. I actually recorded the whole walk, but the quality isn't very good, sadly. By the time we walked to the top of Main Street, there were a couple of non castmembers around (the shops were still open), but the whole place was very quiet and we managed to get some cute castle shots (again, shame about the quality!)
Until next time!
Wow, is it February already? Time really does go fast when you're having fun! A couple of days ago I returned from my fourth trip to Disneyland Paris and I'm trying to get myself back into some sort of routine here at home which is difficult, to say the least (it doesn't help that Moose gave me a stinker of a cold and I'm generally in a post-Disney-blues-feel-sorry-for-myself kind of mope.)
Disneyland Paris is wonderful. The park is going through a bunch of renovations at the moment and I was a little worried it'd be lacking in its usual magic, but the moment I stepped foot inside I was bouncing with my usual excitement! The biggest shame was that Big Thunder Mountain was closed (and it's closed pretty much all year), because that has to be one of my favourite rides in the whole park. Frontier Land really isn't the same without the regular clackity-clack of that ride ascending!
Moose and I celebrated our five year anniversary in Disneyland Paris last January and that's sort of why we went back this year in January too, only this time we dragged along two of our best friends! We'd all been to Disneyland Paris before in 2012 along with our other buddy DC, but back then we'd only had a single day, so it was nice to have the full five days to explore the park as a gang.
Last year, Moose and I stayed in Sequoia Lodge and we loved it so much we decided to return there this year. The whole hotel is just perfect and cozy which is exactly what you want on cold January evenings! We'd booked a mid-week Monday-Friday Disney package, but we didn't actually get into the park until Tuesday. Monday was spent travelling (my first ver trip on the Eurostar! SO effortless compared to flying!) and then heading into Paris with our friend Saran. I met Saran in TF2 around the same time I met Moose, and over the years gaming together he's become one of my favourite people. Unfortunately, he lives in Paris so we don't get to hang out nearly as often as I'd like, so we make the most of it when we can!
After meeting Saran at the station, we went to a gaming bar in Paris called Dernier Bar.It's an amazing three story place filled with boardgames and books and surprisingly great food. It was similar to Loading Bar in London but (sorry, Loading Bar), far, far nicer. It was in very central Paris (as opposed to Loading Bar's location a good hour away from central London, a heck of a trek from even the nearest tube station) and it was properly tailored, perfect for a gaming bar through and through. I'm so jealous of Parisian geeks! The top level was very open and had a wall covered in boardgames and books. They served gaming themed drinks and even the food was named after nerdy things.
However, as awesome as all that was (and we spent hours there enjoying Colt Express and Tiny Epic Galaxies), we had an ulterior motive for finding this bar, Our friend DC runs a weekly game of Shadowrun online via Roll20 and uses Google images to source suitable background images for our games. He recently discovered that three of the images he'd sourced actually all came from the same place - Dernier Bar! So of course, we had to go and check it out! Dernier Bar's middle room is very sci fi themed and the downstairs basement (which was closed off sadly so I had to sneak down for a photo) is very sort of cyberpunk grunge. It was awesome!
We could have stayed there all night, easily, but of course, Disney awaited! We caught the train and decided to take the Disney shuttle bus from the station to our hotel even though it's not a very long walk. We checked into our Golden Forest rooms (a slight price upgrade, but Golden Forest rooms offer hot breakfast and also a separate lounge that provides free drinks and treats from 3pm) and then decided to go for a wander around the village. It was pretty late by now so we weren't sure what would still be open, We had originally planned to have dinner in Sequoia Lodge's own restaurant, but after the lunch at Dernier we didn't fancy a big meal. We ended up in King Ludwig's Castle, which was one of our 'go to' restaurants for the week anyway. I had a schnitzel and a huuuuge jug of beer (Ludwig do these for only €5 on happy hour!) which was all yummy.
Fully fed and exhausted, we had a slow wander through the village back to our hotel. Luke and Sarah had been put into an adjoining room so we could just open the door and hang out between the two, but by now it was pretty late so we pretty much got back to the room and crashed out - ready for day two!
*Thanks to Sarah for some of the photos of King Ludwigs - my camera is not very good with low light images :(
Hi! I'm Selena an artist, blogger and gamer!
Dream Somehow is my little corner of the internet where I talk about life, the universe and everything! Here, you'll find travel, adventures, vintage style, life in the South West of England, a little bit of Disney dreaming and a whole lot of geeky nonsense. If you'd like to learn a little more about me, click here!