Monday 27 February 2017

How To Find A Bargain Trip To Disneyland Paris

We have had two holidays to Disneyland Paris in the last 6 months and I'm often asked how we find the best deals, so today I am sharing that information with you.

It is by no means a secret, in fact it's pretty straight forward...but these are things that have worked really well for us.

For our first trip we paid s around £870 for 4 days including travel, Disney's Santa Fe hotel and park tickets.

For our second trip, we paid under £750 for four days including travel, Disney's Sequoia Lodge hotel in an upgraded Golden Forest Club room with a FULL BOARD PLUS meal plan (meaning all meals were included) and park tickets.

Where To Look

I always shop around for our holidays on various websites and with travel agents, but for both Disneyland Paris holidays I found the best deals when booking directly through the Disneyland Paris website itself.

People say that the best deals are to be found by using the Irish and German versions of the Disneyland Paris website (using the online translator to book via the German one) but I didn't find much of a difference in price between these and the UK site when I booked.


Friday 10 February 2017

My Top Tips For Disneyland Paris

We've just returned from our second visit to Disneyland Paris in 6 months - upon our return last time I published a list of the tips we'd found most useful before and during our trip which you can read here, but this time I discovered a few more key tips that really helped to make our holiday run more smoothly so I'm back with a second installment!

(if you'd prefer to see this in video format, please take a look at the video linked below)


Never in my life have I looked as poorly put together as I do when I'm in Disneyland Paris, but if I've learnt one thing whilst visiting it's that COMFORT COMES FIRST!

You are literally on your feet for around 10-12 hours per day (well, you are if you're in the park from opening until closing like we are!) and you spend most of that time walking around or standing in queues - by the end of the week our feet were THROBBING all day long, so comfortable shoes are an absolute must.

It's also worth noting that it can get very slippy in places when its been raining, so shoes with grip are best - I spent most of this trip in my ugg boots but found that even those became uncomfortable and I was so glad to have my horrible-but-comfortable cheap trainers in my suitcase! They were a lifesaver!

It's also important to make sure that you wear layers as you can quickly go from freezing cold to really hot due to all of the walking and all of the standing around, I found leggings and t shirts with hoodies over to be the best outfit choice - something I would NEVER wear at home but trust me, in Disneyland nobody is looking at you!!


Especially if you're staying in a Disney hotel as you HAVE to make use of Extra Magic Hours (the park opens 2 hours early for Hotel guests giving you access before the general public - this is a brilliant time to get on rides without queuing and meet characters with minimal queues too) - as tempting as it is to spend the evening drinking Glowtinis in the bar all night, you won't like yourself for it when you're getting up at 6 am to head to the park!

We also found it very difficult to get the children to settle down to sleep because they were so over excited, so we found it best to start TRYING to get them to bed about an hour before we actually NEEDED them to sleep.

Tip Number 3 - Soldes Means "Sales" in French

If you learn no other French....learn this!! You'll see the big red "Soldes" signs around the shops, those are the areas you want to be heading to! Bargains galore, especially in January!

Tip Number 4 - Make A Plan, But Be Prepared To Change It

Every evening before bed, I got out my park guide and programme (both available on entry to the parks, be sure to pick some up!)  and looked through to see what we still wanted to do - I made a note of any meet & greets the kids wanted to do, I noted down which rides we wanted to do and I noted down where and when we planned to eat.

I then drew up a rough plan of our day, mapping out the best route to take around the parks to get it all done.

In theory, the plans work brilliantly and I DO think you need to make one or else you'll never get everything done (the meet & greets all run at different times, and queues can be long so a plan helps you to make sure you hit them all and get there early!) - but the problem is that in Disneyland, things quite often run behind schedule.

On one particular day my tight schedule meant that we should have been able to see the Stormtroopers march and have 20 minutes left to do a ride before heading for reality, the march was around half an hour later than advertised which meant no rides and a quick sprint to the restaurant to make our dinner reservations.

So be sure to plan....but be ready to change the plans too!

Tip Number 5 - Queuing

 Speaking of character queues, for the scheduled meets listed in the programmes try to arrive around 15 to 20 minutes before they start - we did this for Jack Sparrow and were second in the queue. Whereas when we arrived to the Donald Duck meet and greet after the start time, we were around 30th in queue - it makes a big difference.

The one time this rule does not seem to apply is for Princess Pavillions - we joined the queue at 9.30 which was half an hour before it opened, there were already 40 people in front of us in the queue and we waited an hour and a half before getting in to see the Princess.

We then noticed that later on in the day, from around 1.30 pm - the queue had dropped down to 40 minutes - I definitely wish we'd waited!

Tip Number 5 - After Hours Entertainment

The Lego Shop in the Disney village is a GREAT place to visit with kids after the park closes!

They have lots of little play stations for the kids to build lego, and it is basically free entertainment if you can stop them from wanting to buy everything - my 3 year old asked every single day if he could go and play in the Lego shop, it was one of his favourite parts of Disneyland - it's especially good as a place to wait indoors if you have dinner reservations in the Village.

Tip Number 6 - Be Prepared For The Smokers!

There's not much you can do about this one, but it's best to be aware - people in France smoke a lot, and they don't seem to care where they're doing it.
Smoking is banned in Disneyland apart from in the designated smoking areas but, despite the best efforts of park staff, people continue to smoke everywhere - on numerous occasions we had to ask people to please move their cigarettes away from our babies face and they looked very confused about why we were so concerned! I thought one woman was going to burn Noah's nose with her cigarette, she was holding it that close to his pushchair!

Tip Number 7 - Be Sure To Book Your Restaurants

You should make sure that you make reservations for any restaurants you want to eat in BEFORE your trip. You can make reservations from around a month before you travel I believe, and the reservation phone line is open 24 hours a day. We found it best to call late at night as there was no holding, we got straight through.

 You can make all of your reservations for the week on one phone call and you can call the same number to change reservations too.

We had no problem in January getting tables with a weeks notice, but I believe in peak times that you need to make the reservations weeks in advance.

The most popular restaurants such as Cafe Mickey, Inventions, Auberge De Cendrillon, Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show and Chez Remy in particular will book up early.

But don't panic, there are many fast food outlets across the park and the restaurants in the Disney Village (Annette's Diner, Planet Hollywood, Rainforest Cafe, McDonalds, etc)  don't accept reservations anyway so you will always be able to get a table somewhere - you just may have to wait.

Tip Number 8 - The Best Shops Are In The Village

There are lots of lovely boutiques dotted around Main Street and Walt Disney Studios, and they all sell some beautiful things but they can all get very busy. I personally find the shops in the Disney Village to be best - World Of Disney in particular sells some beautiful items, and the Disney Store in the village is fantastic for kids as they have Build Your Own Lightsaber station, a Pick N Mix Mr Potato Head Toy Station and many more quirky and unusual interactive gift ideas.

Tip Number 9 - Arrive Early For The Shows

You want to be sure to be near to the front for the best interaction and people do start arriving around 20 minutes early. If you arrive early for the Disney Junior show you get to play with characters like Sofia the First, and if you want to get a good spot for the Frozen show aim around the blue seats in the centre (the blue seats are reserved for children in Frozen fancy dress, FYI!) - this is where you'll get snowed on and get to interact most with the props etc.


I hope these tips are useful to you, if you're interested in more be sure to check out my video below or take a look at my original Disneyland Tips post for more ideas and don't forget to take a look at my other Disneyland posts below!

Wednesday 8 February 2017

Dining In Disneyland Paris - Our Experiences

My post about our dining experiences in Disneyland Paris during our 2016 trip has been one of my most popular to date, and so I decided that - as we visited lots of new restaurants during this visit - I would do a follow up post.

During our last visit we ate mostly in the Disney Village as we weren't on a meal plan, but this time the offer we booked through Disneyland Paris' own website included a FREE full board meal plan.

Disney Meal Plans

This was excellent for us as the offer was already a bargain and a full board meal plan basically means that your lunch and dinner each day are taken care of.

The meal plans can be a bit complicated but I'll try to break it down for you - at the moment, you can have 3 kinds of meal plan;

Hotel only - this is the cheapest option and allows you to eat at your hotels restaurant.

Half board - Gives you one meal voucher per day, which can be used for either lunch or dinner.

Full board - Gives you two meal vouchers per day.

At the moment breakfast is included in your hotel price, but this is changing very soon and there will then be an additional breakfast meal plan available - however if you choose a Golden Forest or Compass Club room as we did, your breakfast will still be included.

When you choose a meal plan you are also given Pause Gourmande vouchers which entitle you to a Teatime Treat in the park between 3-6pm every day - these can be used for hot drinks or soft drinks, plus a donut or a mini ice cream bar.

The half and full board meal plans have three options available - standard, plus or premium.

You can dine in any restaurant with any meal plan voucher, but will need to pay the difference if you have a standard voucher and are dining in a plus or premium restaurant, etc.

As we were staying in the Sequoia Lodge which is a "plus" hotel, we were automatically given a Plus meal plan - the value for money was excellent as it meant we could dine in Plus restaurants every day if we wanted to, twice a day! We chose to eat at Cafe Mickey twice, which would usually cost around 80 Euro per visit so it was really fantastic value.

However if I returned in the future and a meal plan wasn't included as part of our deal, I don't think I would pay for a full board one as we didn't really enjoy being so tied to meal times twice a day (you need to book the better restaurants in advance) and would have preferred to eat in the Disney Village after closing - this was only possible to do at Cafe Mickey as the other Disney Village restaurants don't accept meal plan vouchers.

In future, I think I would choose a half board meal plan so that our park lunches were taken care of but would simply dine in the Disney Village for evening meals.

So...onto the restaurants we dined in and what we thought of them!

Cafe Mickey

This was not a new one to us as we dined there once last time we visited, and it was a highlight of the trip for us -  it is currently a character dining restaurant although this will soon be changing.
 Tyne was so excited to go back there and so we ended up booking to eat there three times during our trip to make the most of the free full board plus vouchers.

On our first visit, we arrived at around 7.15 pm and were seated promptly in the conservatory. The seats we were given were very cramped though and I asked the waitress if we could move to one of the more spacious seats, she said this wasn't possible as they were booked for large parties so I asked to speak to the manager - he came along quickly and moved us to one of the other tables without hesitation, and no large parties materialised during the evening so I'm not too sure why the waitress was so keen to be unhelpful but nevermind.

The menu in Cafe Mickey is quite limited but this is the case at most Disneyland restaurants.

For starters that evening, Jon chose the cured meat platter and I chose the chicken caesar salad - for children the starters are very limited, a choice between soup or salad and my children will not eat either of those so the starter is very much wasted on them.

Unfortunately I found the chicken caesar salad a huge let down, as although the salad was fresh and crisp and the dressing was tasty - the chicken was like rubber and extremely watery - I couldn't eat any of it.

Our main courses arrived a little while later (Cafe Mickey is certainly not known for its fast service, but the characters do visit the table a lot so the wait time doesn't seem so bad!)

I chose the burger and potato waffles but I stupidly forgot to ask for my burger to be well cooked, and so it arrived very pink in the middle - I didn't complain as I know that they are supposed to be served this way, I just personally don't like it so I didn't eat much of it but the waffles were lovely at least!

Jon chose the pizza which arrived 3 times with the wrong toppings - he had asked for peppers, ham and pepperoni but instead it originally arrived as chicken & mushrooms, then pepperoni and peppers with no ham, and finally as ham and mushrooms! - in the end he gave up trying to get the one he'd actually ordered and just ate it!

The children had a kids pizza with cheese and ham topping which they really enjoyed.

For dessert, the kids had chocolate mousse, I had the Mickey Cupcake which was really nice and Jon had the Cherry Ice Cream which he says was the highlight of the meal.

The food that evening was not really anything to write home about, but the character interaction more than made up for it and it didn't deter us from visiting again.

Cafe Mickey - Take Two!

On our second visit to Cafe Mickey, we had the same characters except for Tigger and Minnie having been replaced with Eeyore and Gepetto so some variation which was nice for the kids.

Again, the interaction was fantastic and they really did take a lot of time with the kids.

That evening, I chose the mushrooms for starter which were DELICIOUS - a million miles better than the caesar salad I'd previously had. Jon went for the cured meat again as he really enjoyed it.

For our main courses, we both got the burger this time but I remembered to ask for it to be well done and it was much more enjoyable this way.

The kids also had cheeseburgers that evening and ate every bit...the waffles that the burgers come with are really tasty!

For dessert, I had the giant profiterole and the boys had chocolate mousse again.

The service that evening was extremely slow, we ended up being in the restaurant for over 2 hours and so we decided to cancel our lunch visit the next day as we didn't want to waste so long on our last day in a restaurant.

Overall Score - 5/5 for ambience, 3/5 for food

Chez Remy

This is one we had really been looking forward to, as I had heard such good things about it and when we had looked in the windows after getting off the Ratatouille ride last time it had looked amazing.

The restaurant is, of course, Ratatouille themed and is designed so that you feel as though you have shrunk down to mouse size - this was a really fun touch and very well done, the staff were very attentive here and explained everything about the decor and the menu to us.

The menu was, again, quite limited and main courses were limited to only fish or steak but as a huge lover of steak this was just fine with me.

For our starters, our only option was the artichoke heart salad so obviously this is what we had - it was very tasty and nice to have something fresh and healthy. The children's only starter option was vegetable sticks and cheesy dip, which again...they wouldn't entertain so Jon & I ate them!

For our main courses, the kids had the chicken kebabs and fries - this sounded like it would be something they would enjoy as they both like chicken, but it didn't look all that appealing when it arrived and Tyne wouldn't touch it at all - Noah ate a little of the chicken but didn't seem that keen on it.

I was looking forward to our steak and chips, with a choice of side sauce - but when it arrived, it was instant disappointment. I'm sorry to say it, but it looked like road kill....and unfortunately, it tasted like I imagine road kill would taste too!

The texture was awful, it was chewy, fatty, gristly and just basically tasted like the cheapest and nastiest cut of meat they could find. The sauce didn't taste much better, and so I ended up nibbling on a few chips and that was about it...although the side of Ratatouille was quite nice!

For dessert, the boys had chocolate eclair - I was worried that they wouldn't like it as they don't like cream but the eclair's are chocolate filled so it was a big hit! I chose the Tiramisu for dessert which was really yummy, and Jon had the chocolate mousse which was very rich and tasty.

It was a real shame that our main courses let the meal down so much as I had heard such good things about Chez Remy, perhaps we visited on an off day?!

Overall Rating - 5/5 for ambience and starters & desserts,  1/5 for main courses!

Cowboy Cookout Barbecue

This was a last minute stop off that we hadn't planned as it replaced what would have been our final Cafe Mickey meal. We ate here because it was close to where we were when we felt hungry around lunch time, and there wasn't much of a queue.

We got a table easily and I thought the wild west theming was really fun. The menu contained options such as ribs, chicken wings, sausages or burgers. I chose the premium burger which was served with potato wedges, a drink and a dessert for 14.99 Euro - the burger contained cheese and onion rings, and I can honestly say it was the best burger I've had in the park!

It beat the more expensive Cafe Mickey burger hands down, I would gladly eat at Cowboy Cookout Barbecue again over Chez Remy on our next visit as although the food wasn't was tasty and well made, which is far more important in my book!

The kids both had chicken burgers and potato wedges (although they were supposed to have sausages but my other half got the order wrong!) and they both ate it all without complaints.

Overall Rating - 5/5 - it's not haute cuisine but it is good fast food in pleasant surroundings.

Restaurant En Coulisse

This restaurant in studios was one we ate in during our last visit, and that we really enjoyed so we decided to eat here again.

The menu is by no means fancy - it's simple fast food, but it is well done and tasty. We had the chicken burgers & fries which we really enjoyed last time, and it didn't let us down.

Overall Rating - 5/5 - Simple fast food, tasty and great for a quick bite

Plaza Gardens

This was our first experience of a buffet restaurant at Disneyland and I have to admit, I was nervous about it. I have some OCD-related issues with dining in public and eating at Buffet restaurants is a big trigger for me so I was very apprehensive about it.

The restaurant is quite large but the buffet section itself seemed tiny in comparison, and I didn't think there were many options available - particularly for children.

There was a chinese chicken dish, some salmon fillets, chicken breast portions, mussels, prawn dishes, a salad bar, one kind of pizza, some roast vegetables, soup and bread, and a selection of cakes and cheeses for dessert...but that was it.

There were no fries or potatoes except for some saute ones which were one of the most disgusting things I have ever tasted (I usually love saute potatoes but these just tasted like pure lard), there were no child friendly things such as chicken nuggets, fish fingers, pasta etc, and there seemed to be a LOT of seafood and not much else.

The children had a piece of Pizza and some chicken breast each, and I made do with some of the chinese chicken and rice...we filled up on cakes which were very nice, but I still found the overall choice of dishes very disappointing and I wouldn't choose to return here again.

However, the cleanliness of the restaurant was good and service was quite fast.

Overall Rating - 2/5, clean but lacking in choices

I think that for our next visit we'd be keen to stick with a Standard Half Board meal plan, using it for lunches at fast food restaurants and sticking to Disney Village restaurants such as Planet Hollywood and Rainforest Cafe in the evening, with perhaps a visit to ADC and Inventions too!

What are your favourite Disneyland restaurants? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

To read about our previous experience of dining in Disneyland please click here, or view more of our Disneyland Paris posts below.

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