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!
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!