If anyone has took the time to read about me they’ll know I have a birthday rather close to Christmas – in fact, there’s only two days difference! It’s always a conversation starter however, it’s a bit of a downer that I have to wait all year to have any celebration (seen as I’m British and we don’t really celebrate anything apart from Christmas). My wonderful boyfriend Paul however had a plan in mind for my 19th birthday, and this idea was to top all birthdays…
He was going to take me to Disneyland, all expenses paid!
It was a dream come true for me because after having to lessen my hours in work to only 11.5 hours and a disastrous first trip with college to Disneyland the year before, there was no way I would be able to afford it and actually get to experience Disneyland at Christmas anytime soon! It’s safe to say that there isn’t much to say to prove how grateful I was for it, all you’d need to do is look at the pictures!
I don’t think the whole time we were there I stopped smiling. Paul even has to admit that he had the time of his life also, and he really wasn’t that big on Disney before we went! He booked us in the Sequoia Lodge (which is the Bambi themed hotel overlooking the lake) for 5 days from Monday to Friday. Automatically we got early magic hours, which meant we could get into the park 2 hours before opening and on the Wednesday we were there, we booked in for a breakfast at Cafe Mickey (which I HIGHLY recommend). I learnt so much that helped me while we were there to meet the most characters, what to expect every day, times for different events and overall how to cram as much in as possible (which is DEFINITELY what you need to aim to do).
- Take into consideration queues – No that doesn’t mean get up at the crack of dawn to get the first seat in the restaurant for breakfast, but be aware of queues. Some morning breakfast was straight in, straight out whereas other morning we found ourselves stood waiting to get seated for around 20 minutes. Also keep in mind that some mornings you’re even queuing just to get into Disney Villiage because of the security checks (have your coat open ready for quickness). If you’re wanting to get to the park for the early hours to meet the exclusive early hour characters, you’re probably best going to breakfast a good hour before you want to get to the park (Although, this is depending on how much you plan to eat and how many of you there are. Me and Paul didn’t eat much but we’d have some ham butties and a croissant or two).
- Early magic hours – There was only 2 days out of the 5 that me and Paul took advantage of the early magic hours, which was probably down to our teenage laziness. However them 2 days we did, we were quickly aware on what we had been missing out on. The opportunities to meet main characters such as Mickey, Minnie, Donald Duck, Scrooge, Goofy etc. was much greater during these hours. It seemed there were characters everywhere in their cute Christmas outfits! Sadly, we never queued in these times so I can’t comment on how fast or slow the queues were. The only reason we really used the early magic hours was to queue for the Princess Pavilion. Overall though, I would say the early magic hours is more than worth it for families and without it, it would be very unlikely to get a pass for the Princess Pavilion.
- Princess Pavilion – Now if you’re anything like me and Paul were, we had no clue what this Princess Pavilion was that everyone spoke of, just that it had something to do with meeting the Princesses. Very little is said in brochures or around the resort and the only way we actually found out was through just asking the staff who were outside. Basically, the Princess Pavilion is the only place to meet Disney Princesses in Disneyland Paris other than the ‘Auberge De Cendrillon’. The Princesses are random. There are multiple working at the same time inside the Pavilion although you will only get to meet 1 a day! It’s a long and lengthy process to get tickets to meet the princesses (and there was plenty of tears from younger individuals!). Firstly, you have to queue for the ticket that will tell you what time to come back to meet the princesses. This starts officially at 10:30 but you will see people queuing from 8am – yes, when the early magic hours starts! That’s why I believe without early magic hours, it’d be very unlikely to meet a princess (which is probably what is more tempting for families to stay in an on-site hotel rather than outside). Me and Paul got there at around 9am-9:30am on the Wednesday after our Cafe Mickey breakfast and a bit early the next day we went (Friday) due to how close we were to getting turned away the Wednesday. When given your ticket, guard it with your life! They will not give you another if you lose it, no matter how loud a screaming child is! Before going into the room to meet a Princess, someone will talk to you first about if you’re enjoying your day etc. all the usual questions and will all importantly as if you’ve already seen a princess! This is your time to tell them who you have seen in order to minimise the risk of seeing the princess more than once. They’ll send you to your room after talking to you an viola! You’re princess will be stood in their waiting to take your hand and talk to you! A question I’ve seen asked multiple times but no answers is “But what happens if you have seen quite a few princesses and you’ve seen the princesses that are there?” Well, although this didn’t happen to me, it happened to a small family in front of me. I don’t know for sure but they told the family that sadly the princesses who were there they’d already seen and directed them to talk to someone else. From what I saw, I’d guess that they just sorted out the family to come back at a different time when there would be different Princesses, because I highly doubt a family would have left so calmly after queuing for so long to be told it was for nothing. The experience is relatively short but not to be missed, hence why I did it again!
- Cafe Mickey – Part of my birthday surprise, was a birthday breakfast with the characters which is something I have always wanted to do. For the £20 each Paul paid for us, it was beyond worth it. There was different food than what my hotel had supplied, with there being scrambled egg and sausage, food quite similar to what you’d get on a full English. We were booked in for 8:00am and got there about 15 minutes early. We got seated and before I even went to get my food, I caught the sight of Chip and Dale and started jumping like a child. All together there are 4 characters that come out while you’re eating, all will sign and get a picture with you and although they try their best to cover the whole room, it’s best to try and get their attention as sometimes, it’s possible for them not to see you! During the first half of my breakfast I met Chip, Dale, Pluto and Tigger. We were finishing up when someone who we had met that morning told us of shifts the characters follow and that they should be bringing out another set of characters at 9:00am. So we waited a few minutes and, true to what she said, they swapped over! We got another set of four characters to fill my autograph book and give me lots of hugs!
- Meeting rare characters – Something that I’m quite proud of is the amount of ‘rare’ characters we had the privilege of meeting while we were there. While most was just being there at the right time, we did get given one handy tip. The City Hall, located to the left when you get Main Street USA provides information on character whereabouts if you request it! This was something that was very advantageous on finding my most beloved Disney character – Stitch! Upon asking them, they rang around then came back to tell me to head over to Discoveryland… And I found him! I have to admit, I had a bit of a cry when I found him… But I just thought this handy system was great for finding family favourite characters. Other than this, I think me and Paul were just really good at being in the right place at the right time. The best place we found for finding a wide variety of different characters was just by the Indiana Jones ride, near Colonel Hathi’s Pizza Outpost. There we met a multitude of characters from King Louis to Jafar! I have to say, that was one of my favourite things about Disney, how no matter where you’re walking, there’s magic everywhere, you never knew who you were going to meet round the corner!
- Non-organised meet and greets – The thing that made the experience so magical for me, also made me the most angry and stressed. Most of the random meet and greets are unorganised… Very unorganised! The amount of rude people (Sadly, the majority tended to be the French themselves, not to say that they’re all the same however) that would push their kids, whether they wanted to or not, to the character, forcing them to take a picture with that child next was beyond INFURIATING. So many times I had to stop Paul from blowing his lid. It was just so unbelievably rude! They’d be walking past the character then push past me and other to get their child in next, and quite often, the crew members stood by would do nothing about it! It was great justice however when the characters who knew what were going on would refuse to take a picture with the child because of the rude parents pushing in and instead, take someone who had been patiently waiting (Suzie did it to me and then proceeded to dance around with me, much to the rejected mothers dismay). It was just something that grated on me as these characters only have a limited time and often, there were more than 5 parents who would do it, causing the people who were patiently waiting, to wait a LOT longer than they needed to. The only advice I could give for you with this is try to regain your place by either trying to tell the parent or standing in front of the person who was pushing in. There’s also the option for you to also push in, although it was something I didn’t want to do.
- Know what is going on – Make sure you get a programme as soon as you arrive or ask the concierge in your hotel what is happening during the course of your stay. It’s good to know in as much detail as you can due to the sheer amount of events and parades that go on during the day. Quite often me and Paul didn’t know what was going on and would have to remember to come back the next day due to missing a parade. We were very lucky that our last night we just so happened to walk into the beginning of the Christmas sing-a-long with Mickey and Minnie and the lights switch-on, which would have been something I would have been upset to have missed.
Additional tips for a magical adventure!
- Definitely invest in an autograph book! The memories I have and the enjoyment I got out of meeting characters and counting how many autographs I had of a night made me so much more excited for the next day!
- If you’re looking at a characters queue and wondering if it’s worth queuing, it is! The characters change up so often, it’d be a shame to miss them just because you weren’t sure if you wanted to wait.
- If you’re not wanting to spend much, stick to easy food! I think everyday me and Paul walked back out to the Disney Village and just got a McDonalds. It was food I liked and at a reasonable price, most food places in the park are expensive. Another place I recommend is the Sports Bar. The pizzas and hot dogs there were to die for, not to forget the special mention for the strawberry and vanilla milkshakes in the small keepsake cup!
- Use the Disney park app to find out what is open. While we had already looked what was closed for refurbishment while we were there, it was good to know the queue times and if some rides were unexpectedly closed. For 3 days the Tower of Terror experienced some major problems (we even met an english group who told us they had been stuck on it!) and thanks to the app, we knew about it, so we never bothered with it till we knew it was definitely working. Same happened with the Aerosmith ride on the last day.
- Make sure you know when the last bus times are to the hotel if you’re wanting to rely on them as there was a few times me and Paul almost missed the last one!
I hope this post has helped you as much as other peoples helped me! I’ll be updating it regularly as I remember useful things to add. Feel free to ask any questions if need be.