Sunday, 1 March 2015

Winter in Paris : Disneyland Days

I'm really excited to share today's post with you, as I'd love to tell you all about my first trip to Disneyland! Growing up, no-one in my immediate family had passports. In fact, my mum and I were terrified of flying so we really didn't see the point in having one. I didn't get a passport until I was 16 to go to Italy on a school trip, and even then we all went by coach.

I can't even remember what got us talking about it, but enough was enough, I was going to face my fear of flying and we took the plunge and booked a trip to Disneyland! We decided to make a bit of a trip about it and went out and about exploring Paris [One || Two] for the first part of our trip, before heading to Disney! On the Disney days, it was the easiest to drag myself out of the super soft hotel bed, then I proceeded to bounce about like an over excited five year old.

We bought two 'mini' tickets each. A mini ticket currently costs £37, and is valid for one day at one park, and can be used on any off-peak day up to a year from purchase. Mini tickets can typically be used any weekday throughout the year, aside from the summer months. Using the public transport system, it's really easy to get to Disneyland. All you have to do is get the RER A train and it'll take you straight to Disneyland's gates. For us staying at the airport, we caught the RER B train to a major station, and switched to the RER A line.

Our first stop, was Walt Disney Studios park, as it closed one hour earlier than the Disneyland park, so we used that time to pop back into Paris for some more exploring. This is the smaller of the two parks, and when we arrived the morning rain had stopped, but it was still looking like we were in for quite a dreary day. We got really lucky with the weather and the one time it rained we were tucked away inside having lunch. We also got really lucky with the crowds and it seemed the things with the longest lines were the character meets and more child friendly rides. We did get stuck in a hour + line for Crush's Coaster, yet only a short queue for Rock n Roller Coaster, and we more or less walked on to the second time!

Once through the ticket turnstyles, we grabbed a map and decided to head through Studio 1, an undercover area containing shops, places to eat and some great theme-ing. I loved the behind the scenes film set vibe! Exiting the other side of the studio, we were greeted by the Partners Statue, and the whole park spreading out behind it. The park was pretty quiet so I we managed to take our pictures of it with out having to either queue to do it, or avoid trying to snap a picture through crowds of people. After that, the first thing we did was grab Tower of Terror fast passes, which was a good idea as the queues for that bad boy built up pretty quickly. We had a good few hours until our slot to go back, so we took to wandering the park.

My favourite part about Walt Disney Studios is the theme-ing and photo-ops hidden around the park. There are a bunch of cool places to stop and take some photos, from a Singing in the Rain inspired floating umbrella, to a Vespa and Motorbike, to Boo's Door! Again I was glad it was so quiet in the parks as we may have missed, or not bothered to get some of these snapshots if they were surrounded by crowds of people.

Boo's Door was my favourite scene, as you could actually step into it yourself, where as some of the others were behind railings. The Cars scene in particular was difficult to get a nice angle without the railing, but we had to snap pics of the Fiat logo on the yellow 500. Claire drives one herself and neither of us actually realised the car in Cars was a Fiat 500!

My uni flatmates and I, were Pixar enthusiasts, so snapping a picture with the giant Pixar ball in Toy Story Playland was something I just had to stop and do. I wish I could have gotten closer but it was fenced off. Although the fence was really cool K'nex themed fence. I loved playing with that as a kid so seeing that all around Playland was really fun for me.

My brothers favourite Disney/Pixar film is Toy Story, so before I went I teased him saying I was going to meet Buzz Lightyear and get a selfie. Well of course, once I said that, I had to come through! There were a lot of little kids around so we just had a few quick pics and said hello, and didn't take up too much of his time as meeting characters wasn't our top priority. Buzz was great though! While we were queuing we saw him go wandering off, and while we wondered where he was going we saw him walk up to a small toddler dressed up as Buzz and take him to the front of the queue! It was really sweet. While we were wandering around we also spotted Woody! But he was heading off for his break so we didn't stick around. Kind of wish we did as Woody looked like great fun too!

My favourite ride by far, was the Tower of Terror. We had fast passes so our queue was nothing compared to the regular one. It was probably 20-30 minutes compared to 1 & 1/2 to 2 hours. I loved the tie-in with the Twilight Zone and the entire design of the queue and boarding area was absolutely amazing. I kind of have a thing for creepy abandoned buildings. I love them! I'm also a big fan of tower drop style rides so it makes sense that I loved this the most. It was also the only ride that I actually saw themed merchandise for. I may have just missed the rest, though...

Visiting the parks at Christmas, meant everything was all dolled up for the festive season. My favourite decoration of all were the Disney gingerbread mice. I can't quite describe the glee I felt when I saw the life size versions the next day in the parade! I really wanted to bring something home with the gingerbread design on, but there wasn't anything that I really wanted and had to bring home.

The only real downside was the fact we missed Stitch! Live. They were having some techy troubles, and by the time we thought to wander back again we arrived five minutes after the last show ended.  I love Stitch, so it was something I wanted to do, but oh well! C'est la vie!

The next day was dedicated to the Disneyland park itself. Which I was really excited about as it'd be the first time I got to see a Disney castle! Rounding the huge Disney Christmas tree on Main Street and getting a first glimpse of the castle was a great moment, even if it was a dreary misty morning! The castle interior is really sweet and I loved the Sleeping Beauty stained glass windows. All the windows were gorgeous, but the window of the Prince waking Aurora was probably my favourite as you could see glimpses of Fantasyland through it.

In my opinion, Fantasyland is geared more to the people with small children. There are teacups, carousels, and places dedicated to meeting Princesses and Mickey Mouse. We considered going on Dumbo the Flying Elephants, but it's pretty much the same ride as the Flying Carpets in Walt Disney Studios, and we went on that twice so we gave Dumbo a miss. We were quite disappointed in the teacups as the center wheel to make it spin was REALLY stiff! Either that or we're both really weak...

The Carousel was strange. We popped into the queue as it seemed short enough and looked like we would get on the next ride. But the ride was stopped for some reason, and we weren't sure why. I think some people were kicked off and then the ride continued. We were on the next go, but it took ages to start up and seemed to only last a little while. The horses and the ride itself are gorgeous but it's probably best left for little kids... Especially as some of those horses are huge and you have to be either 6feet tall or have someone to lift you on to it!

We thought we were in a good place for the parade... Turns out we weren't really. We were on a corner so really we did have a good view, but taking photographs was a bit of a pain because the angle became quite awkward after a while. There are three a day though, so if this happens to you, then you do have a few chances to get a better view at a later parade. I definitely plan to take my good camera next time, as the zoom on my phone sadly distorted some of the few really good pictures I managed to snap.

When it came to food, Pizza Planet topped our list of places we want to go. It was a buffet restaurant with drink refills so you have plenty of chance to get your moneys worth, and have a chill out and a rest and keep your drinks topped up. The food wasn't amazing, but there was plenty of it and there were plenty of options. It was nice to see that there was salad and fruit available too for healthy options... But we opted for pizza and cake. The pizza that had just been put out was really good, so if you see a new pizza being put out, definitely grab some of it as the base is much softer.

We started the day with the castle in mist, which was actually quite eerie. Luckily later on the weather picked up and the sun peaked out from behind the clouds. The castle was definitely at it's best, when the sun went down. When darkness hit, the castle was all lit up and twinkled away ready for the dreams show. This is one of my favourite pictures from the trip.

During the winter the parks close earlier, but Disney Village stays open. So we used this as a chance to do a bit more shopping. It was the only place I saw the Disney Princess canvases that I was hoping to pick up, but they had every princess in stock and I couldn't chose one! The Lego Store was my highlight in DV as it had lego Disney art works and models that were really cool and the light fixtures in there were amazing! I want one for my room, and while we're at it, how about a lego Lion King picture? On my next visit, I definitely want to try either the Rainforest Cafe, Planet Hollywood or Annette's Diner.

Every night at park closing time (weather permitting), there is a fireworks display at Sleeping Beauty's castle. It was announced through the park about an hour before it began so we rushed out to find a good spot to watch from thinking the show would be starting soon. It wasn't. Despite the voice saying soon. The voice betrayed me. So we stood in the cold for an hour, but we did have a pretty good spot. Well, that was until someone came and stood in front of us with a bloody selfie stick to record the show and ruining all my photos. Grrr.

Disney Dreams of Christmas 2014, heavily featured Frozen. We really should have seen that coming considering how huge that darn film is. I do like Frozen, don't get me wrong, but by far the best part for me was a little segment with old animations from the Disney Christmas Sing-A-Long videos I had as a child. There was also Toy Story, and glimpses of ice skating Bambi and Thumper. It was a really nice show.

The best rides to me were definitely Tower of Terror and Space Mountain. I was really surprised how quiet the parks seemed, so the second week in December is a great time to visit! The wait line both times we got on Space Mountain was 15 minutes or under, and it felt like most of that was walking through the huge queue space. If you want to meet the characters though, be prepared to wait in lots of lines!

Look out for tomorrows post, i'll show you all the goodies I brought back with me! If you missed my other posts about Paris, you can check them out here!


Catch up with me;

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