Disneyland Paris is one of those places everyone should visit at least once. I got my chance to go with some like-minded friends and we all had a fantastic time. I admit I was a little hesitant at the time because of the news reports of rioting in the streets over new employment laws. I’m glad to say that this did not affect our trip at all.
Liverpool John Lennon Airport
We made the most of the few days we all had off work and stayed overnight in a hotel near to Liverpool John Lennon Airport as we were catching an early morning flight to Paris Charles de Gaulle ( Paris CDG ). If you’re staying in a hotel near the airport, here’s a little tip for you :- Don’t eat in the hotel. Their prices for food and drink are extortionate and geared-up for the business traveller. There are quite a few really nice restaurants within a taxi-ride which would still cost you less in total than eating in the hotel. We found a pizzeria within a couple of hundred yards of the hotel that was very good.
Flight to Paris
After depositing the cars in secure parking within walking distance of the airport and an uneventful check-in, we headed for the departure lounge and gate. We were all a little bit worse-for-wear from the previous night so it was a quiet start to the morning.
The trip had it’s first hiccup in France. After landing in Paris and a minuscule bus transfer to the terminal ( about 200 metres – literally ), we had to wait over an hour for our bags because of “technical difficulties”. The joke was they lost the key to the hold. We were only going for 3 days but most of us checked our bags in at Liverpool because… well, it seemed easier, more sensible, etc. The 1 person who hadn’t checked her bag was quietly smug about it. Eventually, after some confusion over which carousel was working, we retrieved our luggage and made our way outside to the bus stop.
Coach Transfer – VEA Shuttle
A coach transfer is available with regular services between the airports and Disneyland hotels. It’s called the VEA Shuttle and there are signs for it as you leave the terminal. The bus itself is a big red thing with Disneyland Paris written all over it; you can’t miss it. About 40 minutes later we arrived at the hotel.
Sequoia Lodge Hotel
We stayed at the Sequoia Lodge which is massive, fairly comfortable and pretty much like any other 3-star hotel with very obvious influences from U.S. National Parks. The hotel itself is only a 10-minute walk from the Disneyland parks with it’s own health club and swimming pool, souvenir shop and restaurants. There is a schedule of activities for children, including meet-n-greet for Disney characters and an outdoor play area. Check-in took ages. The lobby was busy but it wasn’t a big queue of people waiting to be checked in. They do need to make that a little bit slicker. After getting our rooms sorted out and 10 minutes to freshen up, we headed for the theme parks.
The Disney Village is basically a street just outside the entrance to both parks and provides alternative entertainment. There are all kinds of shops, restaurants, bars, etc. including Planet Hollywood, a cinema and a disco. It is also home to Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. With 2 performances a day, you should easily find time to see it and it is highly recommended. Sitting in a mini-stadium, the show tells Disney’s version of how the wild west was won. This is not why I recommend it. It’s for the magnificent animals in the show; there’s some nifty horsemanship as well as some amazing looking buffalo. The food is quite tasty too although basic and there are times when you can’t see what you’re eating. If you get into the spirit of the show – and it’s really difficult not to – you will enjoy it.
We grabbed some lunch in the village and decided on Disneyland first. Little known to us, one of our group was very nervous of roller coasters. It was fairly late in the day at the start of the week and fairly quiet so we opted for the biggest ride first – Space Mountain – Mission 2. Needless to say she screamed throughout the whole 90 seconds or so. As a result, we just had to go on it again and again and again and again. Every time we came out, there was a picture of her with her eyes shut and her mouth open. In all fairness, she was a really good sport about it. The other rides she didn’t really like included Big Thunder Mountain and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril with it’s concise 360 loop-the-loop.
It wasn’t too busy that afternoon/evening but it was a whole different story the next day. It was easy to get lost going from 1 place to another and we did. As a bunch of adults, you would think that we couldn’t get separated from each other but we managed that too. Luckily, we all had mobile phones with us to arrange somewhere to meet up again. For kids, it must be terrifying. The queues for the rides might be long at times – we saw waiting times of up to 75 minutes – but the way they’re designed, you always feel like you’re moving forward.
Walt Disney Studios
Walt Disney Studios is the 2nd theme park at Disneyland. We alternated between the two with the entrances so close to one another. You can buy a range of passes that will get you into either or both parks for any number of days.
Here we spent quite a lot of time going round and round on the Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster Staring Aerosmith. The queue for the ride takes you past some rock memorabilia that’s worth taking a look at even without the ride. The ride itself is full-on adrenalin. 0 to 60mph in 3 seconds. WOW!
The other show that’s well worth seeing is the Stunt Show Spectacular. On the way in, you can see into the workshop where all the cars are being repaired. As the show progresses, it strings together some action sequences involving motorbikes, cars, ramps, fire, etc. to demonstrate how a film sequence can be brought together. Blink and you’ll miss something. If you’re looking to your left, you’re missing something happening on your right and vice verse. It’s action all the way.
After spending the last day being thrown from side to side under a harness and going upside down on Space Mountain and Indiana Jones again, it was time to come home. If you’re using the VEA Shuttle, check your return journey times. The Sequoia Lodge didn’t seem to know the times. It turned out not to be a problem as our return flight was also delayed due to more “technical difficulties”. Don’t you just love EasyJet. They remembered the keys to the hold this time and it was a doddle picking up our bags in Liverpool and collecting the car from secure parking.
All-in-all a trip well worth doing!