Any Disney fan can agree. If you only live 4 hours from a Disney park, you MUST go. For the last 2 years I have been waiting for the perfect timing for such a trip and it finally came true. Brock is at that sweet age where travel is a lot easier than it was even 6 months ago, and he is still young enough that he doesn’t require a ticket for admission. PLUS this time of year is the low season for Disneyland Paris which means shorter lines and a more enjoyable experience for a solo mom and toddler. So when Fil came home on Thursday saying he would be away Monday-Thursday of the following week, I jumped to book our hotel.
I was not trying to break the bank, so we booked a Disney partner hotel… no extra magic hours at the park, but still magical. The Explorers Hotel has a pirate theme. The carpets were like gangplanks, the headboards were ships, decals on bathroom doors looked like portholes, and best of all there were 3 pirate ship play areas- one outside, one inside, and one in the pool complete with multiple slides and water guns. There was also an indoor jungle gym (like we often play on here at home), an arcade, 4D movie theater, plus restaurants and a bar that were open late. Brock was in heaven. I cannot even tell you how many times we went down the water slide together and each morning after breakfast we spent at least 30 minutes on the jungle gym. Oh, and this may sound silly but it was a little treat that the tv in the room had channels from the UK. In the evening we were able to watch Rescue Bots in English to wind down from the day. I highly recommend this hotel to anyone considering a trip to Disneyland Paris.
We had two full days to visit Disneyland and Walt Disney Studios, and because of the short lines we were literally able to go on everything that Brock was tall enough for. At the Studios we rode through the kitchen of Gusteau’s taking on the perspective of Remy the rat from Ratatouille. Brock loved it, I almost vomited from the 3d animation, and also had flashbacks to seeing A Christmas Carol in 3d with Danielle in college a wee bit hungover. After that Brock was hooked on rides! The toy soldier parachute drop and the cars rallye were fun but Brock was smitten with Aladdin’s magic carpet. We went on twice in a row (the only ride we did that for) and even climbed to the observation tower to just watch the carpets fly by.
The studio park is fairly small. We obviously couldn’t go on the thrill rides like the Tower of Terror, and didn’t stick around for any of the shows, but since lines were so short we actually went on 5 rides and walked around the whole park in an hour and a half. It was mind blowing. In the high season it could easily take that long just to get onto the Ratatouille ride. Fine by me! We so lucked out. Not only was the park empty, but although it was cloudy both days it didn’t actually rain as predicted. We were prepared for it, but I’m glad we didn’t have to deal with the wet.
Isn’t the castle magical? I know I will catch some slack here, but the castle at the California park never did it for me, always Florida was the supreme until now. The castle in Paris sets up on a sculpted lawn and the thin pink towers captured my fantasy imagination immediately. Even the slate tiles were set in stunning designs. If the Florida castle is classic, the Paris castle is true fantasy.
As soon as we walked onto Main Street USA I was in heaven… and not two minutes later was hunting for a hot dog! The smells of cooking hot dogs was being pumped down Main Street and when we got to the end and finally spotted Casey’s Hot Dogs I had to have one! Even if it did cost a whopping €8.50. After a quick bite we were back on the rides! Disneyland Paris is a replica of the USA Disneylands. The main difference is that Tomorrowland is called Discoveryland and has a 20,000 leagues under the sea/ steampunk theme. We rode Dumbo, It’s a Small World, Buzz Lightyear laser blast, tea cups, and all the other classic rides you know. Brock was so excited to be able to drive a real car in Autopia but when he realized that he wasn’t 100% steering the car, and that it would correct his steering to stay on track he threw his hands up off the wheel looking totally defeated. It was adorable and sad at the same time.
The daily parade is fairly late in the day so we missed that each day. Character sightings were also few and far between. In the two days we were there we only saw Donald Duck, Goofy, Chip & Dale, Tigger, and Woody. The characters do not walk the park, they have locations and times you can que in line to meet them. Brock was really excited to meet Donald so we waited but after all our time in line having to pull Brock back from cutting under the rope it was finally our turn and it all fell apart. The people ahead of us stepped up, and I told Brock our turn was next. No sooner did I say that and the worker told me a preferred guest would be taking a turn before us. Ok no biggie. But it was a biggie to Brock. He didn’t like that and didn’t want to participate anymore. Poor kid. The one character he wanted to meet, and it was ruined.
So what is the final piece to the Disney park puzzle… SHOPPING. Unlike in the states, there are no Mickey ear hats that you can have a name embroidered on, they only have headbands :(. While Brock napped in the stroller one day I walked through every single shop on Main Street USA and in the Disney Village. Only one store had the classic Goofy/Donald hats where the bill is their snouts. Most of the shopping was just ordinary Disney toys that I could easily order on Amazon a lot cheaper. Also, most of the products were geared towards girls… lots of princess, pink, and glitter. I was disappointed. I wanted to spend $$$ but there just wasn’t the things Brock likes. We did get some fun souvenir cups and a hoodie, but overall I wish there was more. A lot of the classic characters were missing from the shops, replaced with Frozen and Moana. But am I really complaining about saving some money? Silly me.
Brock and I had a great trip. I got the desire out of my system, so now I can wait until he will really remember the trip for the next time we take him to a Disney park.