After very little deliberation, my husband and I recently took a magical trip to Disneyland Paris for our 5 year anniversary and it was nothing short of perfect (which I don’t say a lot). It did get me thinking though, why was it a better experience as a twenty-something – what made it so much more memorable than my last visit as a teenager?
So, I jotted down a few ideas…
You know when you’re a kid and all you want to do is go on all the big, exciting rides? Well, I couldn’t do that first time around. I remember running to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril and Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster starring Aerosmith only to be saddened by the fact I was about a centimetre too short. Those were truly sad times. But since going back, I can go on anything – no height issues, no health issues – just riding all day long. Recent highlights would have to be one of the latest additions, Crush’s Coaster and old favourite, Space Mountain: Mission 2 – both made easier with VIP Fast-track passes. But it’s not just the rides, I could have got up at midday if I wanted, ate as many ice creams as my tummy could have held, ridden on the same ride as many times as possible and enjoyed both the parade and fireworks shows all in one day, if I’d wanted – it was like living the adult dream – strategised and satisfying.
I don’t know if it’s different for you but when I’ve watched Disney films of late, I get the full experience. When you’re a kid, you may miss a whole multitude of jokes that just aren’t that apparent with a small amount of life experience. As soon as you watch them again as an adult, they take on a whole new meaning – it’s almost like watching them again for the first time. Well, it’s exactly the same in the parks. For us, Toy Story encapsulated this brilliantly, especially when we were queueing for Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop and Buzz Lightyear’s Laser Blast, the instructional videos that were playing made us howl with laughter – and we weren’t the only ones!
I lost count of how many different types of food there were in both Disneyland Paris parks. From all-American hot dogs at Casey’s Corner to Chicken Caesar Salads and character-themed cupcakes at Cafe Mickey, there was so much choice at every time of day. You may have also heard the rumour that theme parks are some of the most unhealthiest places on earth – in Disney’s case this is wholly unfair. You can grab a salad, sandwich or fruit bowl, just as much as you can indulge in colourful cookies, fresh burger stacks and Moroccan tagines. You’ll never be at a loss for something or somewhere to dine – in fact, you may have more of an issue trying to decide! It’d be criminal of me not to mention Chez Remy’s restaurant too – you must go. I won’t ruin the surprise but it is one of the best eateries I’ve ever been to.
I know that when I was a kid Ursula, Jafar and Hades used to scare me silly. Nowadays, I find them more amusing than anything else – their songs are always catchier, their wit is always spot on and really, deep down, they’re just sensitive souls looking for a guiding light. I even used to flinch at the idea of going anywhere near a haunted house but the Phantom Manor was more amusing that I could have ever hoped for, especially its illusions. The only tears I shed during my trip were when I saw Mickey Mouse for the first time in person and the sight of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle – pure happiness.
During our time at Disneyland Paris, yes – we waited in the odd long queue, we saw multiple children crying (mainly from the intense heat) and we were good grown-ups and let children ride before us on occasion but this wasn’t the drag it once was. We weren’t frustrated or bitter about it, we took it all in our stride – perhaps we’d grown up or maybe we were just enamoured with the whole experience but at no point were we ever uncomfortable or frustrated. We simply smiled, laughed and joked our way through each day enjoying the playful atmosphere.
So, we (I say ‘we’ loosely) had plans on our anniversary getaway to wear Mickey and Minnie ears the whole time – sadly, we got there and all of the Mickey ears had gone. We were a little sad but not for long. We bought Mickey lollipops, Tsum Tsums, plushies and an Ed the Hyena cap for our cat-sitting friend – all went down well on Instagram, as expected. If you’re not a fan of our haul, there’s PLENTY more to buy – we must have gone to each store about 6-7 times, just trying to pick our favourites. Now, I wish I’d gotten the Woody doll I’ve been wanting since I was a little girl as a Birthday treat to myself but there’s always next time! But if I’m being 100% honest, the whole experience was a dream to post on Instagram – it just shows you how much people love a good Disney ‘gram!
Disneyland Paris makes your life easy, which, when you’re an adult, doesn’t come around too often. Literally from when we phoned up to book to when we got to the park and left again, we never had a single worry. Park tickets were provided, all the resort information we needed was on hand, our Disney dining tables were booked for each evening and our transfers/luggage were all taken care of. This took all of the stress out of our anniversary break, which is exactly what we both needed. We couldn’t have wanted anything more… and the best bit? It all came with a pleasant smile and ‘how ya doing?’.
When I last visited Disneyland Paris, I was a young kid and far too excitable to remember every little detail of my day. There are parts I can remember, like seeing Tigger in Disney’s Hotel New York hotel and my Dad being bear-hugged by Baloo on Main Street U.S.A post-parade but bar that, it’s a haze – albeit a sugary, hyper one. With my latest holiday, I can remember everything – don’t get me wrong, not all of it may be super special but they’re all memories that’ll last me a lifetime. Special ones to share between my husband and I, even down to sharing a daily Teatime Treat together. Seriously, they should be made compulsory worldwide.
Walking around both parks, you begin to realise just how impeccably they’re run – just like a fine-tuned, dream-like machine. Each cast member knows where they need to be and when, each Disney character is on form 24/7 – not just when performing in parades or at photo opportunities – you really see just how much everyone ‘believes’ and is keen to make others feel the same way. It takes dedicated people like this to make Disney what it is, to make it an institution that people have incredible amounts of faith in and having experienced it for a full week, it was beyond impressive.