Going to Disneyland is the dream of almost every kid while growing up. But it took me 22 years before I was finally able to make it to one of the Disneyland Parks.
Visiting Disneyland Paris was an absolute essential for my trip to Paris. I wanted to visit so badly last time I was in France, but I never got the opportunity. So for Christmas my Dad bought me a day ticket for Disneyland Paris.
A day trip to Disneyland was perfect for me; I didn’t have time in Paris to spend more than one day out there, and it was easier and cheaper to just make the day trip from the centre of Paris.
When to Go?
Disneyland is a bit of a victim of its own success. The popularity of the park means that its often plagued by long waiting lines for every attraction. Hence timing your visit can be important in optimising your time in the Park. Who wants to spend half your day waiting in lines?
The number one rule is to never go to Disneyland on the weekend (if you can help it). Weekends mean children are out of school, so parents bring their kids from all over France and Europe. It is the same for school holidays, particularly the summer holidays.
When I visited it was still school holidays for one of the regions of France, including Paris. But given it was February and thus freezing, it did mean that lines weren’t as bad as they could have been.
Fast Passes are able for a selection of rides throughout the park. You scan your ticket at the fast pass machine and you are rewarded with an entrance time. You can then come back at that time for fast entry to the attraction or ride. The catch is that you can’t have more than one fast pass at a time, so you have to wait for one to expire before you can get another.
The way I got around this was that the fast pass entrance time is usually for a period of thirty minutes, but you are able to get a fast pass for a new ride at the very beginning of those thirty minutes. Thus I would go get another fast pass before using my current fast pass for the ride. This meant that after I got off one attraction, I didn’t have very long to wait before my next fast pass was ready.
Obviously the waiting periods on fast passes can change as well. I had to wait two hours to use my fastpass for the Tower of Terror.
Is Disneyworld for Adults?
The first thing I have to say about Disneyland is that is designed for kids. This of course includes big kids (like me!). But the majority of the park and the attractions are designed for young persons. Hence if you are looking for a thrill ride experience, Disneyland probably isn’t for you. Instead I’d recommend the Aztec Park. But if you want to be a kid for a day, indulge in all of your favourite Disney memories and just have a great time then put Disneyland on your list.
I got the two park pass that includes entrance to Disneyland Park and to Walt Disney Studios Park. My ticket didn’t include jumping (the ability to fleet between parks), thus I absolutely had to start my day at Walt Disney Studios. Given I wanted to catch the night show that closes the park every night, I wanted to finish my day with the Disneyland Park.
Walt Disney Studios
In hindsight, I wish I spent more time at the Studios. There were a lot of interesting shows I could have seen, but I started to get panicky about not having enough time for Disneyland and thus left early. This is where a ‘jumper’ ticket (a ticket that lets you pass between the two parks as often as you like) would have been really useful.
That said I did get to catch the highlights of Walt Disney Studios. The first thing I did was go and get a fast pass for the Tower of Terror. This was the ride I was most excited about trying while in Disneyland. It is one of the oldest rides at the Park and I loved how vintage it was.
After getting my fast pass I decided to go the stunt show. Whenever I visit theme parks I always love to go to the different shows. It breaks the day up from just going on rides and waiting in lines for rides. The stunt show was incredible. I don’t even like cars or motorbikes that much but I could still admire the skill.
What I loved most of all was the French influence in the set. It almost felt like downtime Paris. I don’t have any other Disneyland park to compare it to, but it was great to see the French roots coming through at the park.
After the show I still had time for one more attraction before my fast pass was ready to go. I headed to do the Studio Tram Tour. It’s a very popular ride but only had to wait about half an hour before I was on the tram.
The Studio Tram Tour takes you around the backlot/production courtyard of Walt Disney Studios Paris. Here you’ll find large props and sets from some of Disney’s most recognisable films, such as the U.S. Airforce jet from Armageddon.
Along the way you’ll learn how some of the special effects are played out on set, and even get a surprise preview of the way some of them work. Except to get a little wet, especially if you are sitting on the lefthand side of the tram.
After the Studio Tram Tour, I headed to the Tower of Terror to use my fastpass for the last attraction I would visit in the Walt Disney Studios Park.
The Tower of Terror was super fun. You basically get thrown up and down the tower like you are entering the Twilight Zone. It was a little scary but lots of fun!
But I was edging to check out the real deal. It was actual Disneyland that I had come to see so I was so excited to head on over there.
The best thing about Disneyland isn’t even the attractions or rides. It’s exploring the different ‘worlds’ of Disneyland and checking out all of the awesome ways they have designed them.
Of course the absolute star of the Disneyland design is the famous Walt Disney Castle located in the centre of the Park. As you might have noticed by now, I’m not one to take too many photos of myself but the castle ignited the big kid inside me so much that I had to ask someone to take a photo for me. As you can tell from my goofy grin, I was in love!
Disneyland is broken into five lands; Discovery Land, Frontierland, Fantasyland, Adventureland and Main Street USA.
Discoveryland is scifi themed. The highlight of this land is the Space Mountain roller coaster, one of the only thrill rides in the park. What I loved about this ride is they had a ‘single riders’ line. If you take the single riders line they’ll pop you in to fill a single space where needed. In this line I rarely waited longer than five minutes (yes I went on it a couple of times). One of the moments where solo travel pays off!
I also went on the Buzz Lightyear Ride which is super popular with the little kids because they get to shot aliens. I royally sucked at same game and the kids around me put me to shame. The oldest ride in the Park is also located in Discoveryland; the Star Tours Ride. It’s a simulator and to be honest not very exciting. But if you are a Star Wars Fan you might want to check it out.
I’m a huge Disney princess fan so I went crazy over Fantasyland.
Be aware that if you go on the ‘It’s a Small World’ ride you’ll have it stuck in your head all afternoon. And just when you think you have shaken it someone around you will start humming it because they have also been on the ride. It’s a Small World is a boat ride through sets of little dancing children from countries all around the world singing ‘It’s a Small World’ in different languages. It’s cute and a favourite of many.
Of course what I really wanted to do was go on the Mad Hatter’s Teacups. This attraction has been an icon of Disneyland for a while now, and again my excitement required a selfie!
Adventureland is dedicated to the most adventurous Disney films. Here you’ll find rides devoted to Pirates of the Caribbean, Indiana Jones and Swiss Family Robinson. It’s definitely smaller and less exciting than other parts of the park.
Overall, Frontierland was my favourite land in terms of design. I just loved the Wild West themed stores, the big mine that is located in the centre of the land and the constant noise coming from this area of the park. You really do feel like you are in the Wild West.
I just wish Thunder Mountain and the Log Ride were operating while I was there. Unfortunately the downside to visiting in low season is that lots of attractions are closed for maintenance.
Main Street USA
As expected Main Street USA is where you’ll find all of the merchandise stores. Lucky I didn’t have much space in my bag otherwise I might have been tempted to indulge in all of the awesome (and overpriced) stuff.
The mains square of Main Street USA is also where you are most likely to meet certain Disney characters. If you want photo opportunities with your favourite Disney characters you can pick up the schedule when you enter the park which details when and where they will be out.
But the time that Main Street USA really comes alive is for the Disney parade, this is held at … everyday. I was so excited for this, that I grabbed a cartoon of popcorn and staked out my spot along the street an hour before the parade was meant to start. Even an hour before and I struggled to find free spots. People take the parade seriously!
I’m not ashamed to admit that the Disneyland Parade was one of the clear highlights of my day. Every float that passed was dedicated to one of my favourite Disney stories. Yes I waved to the characters, I even high fived them along with the five year old that was standing next to me. The big kid inside me was on cloud nine!
The Night Show
But if you asked me what my absolute favourite part of my day was I’d 100% answer with the very end of the day. I was exhausted, I was so cold I could feel it in my bones, and my feet ached but there was no way I was leaving before the night show. And if you decide to, you’ll be doing yourself a massive disservice.
The night show is incredibly well put together. The whole thing starts with Tinkerbell and Peter Pan and follows through all of your favourite Disney films. Belle and Beauty and the Beast made an appearance, as did Brave, Cinderella and the Lion King just to name a few. Every film was of course occupied by some of the best songs.
Considering I regularly listen to a Disney playlist, I absolutely knew every word. It made me want to go home and spend my next day in Paris binge watching Disney films. All of the scenes are projected onto the castle and accompanied by fireworks, lights and water effects. It’s the best show I’ve ever seen! Although I think myself and a lot of the little kids around me were a little disappointed that Frozen didn’t make an appearance.
I’ve heard that Disneyland LA and Disneyworld have updated their shows to include Frozen, so hopefully Disneyland Paris will follow soon.
Disneyland Paris is the perfect adventure for kids of all sizes, including 22 year old kids like myself. You are never too old to indulge in Disney!