I absolutely love visiting Disney World (that's the one in Florida!), and having been proposed to outside of Cinderella's Castle, not to mention honeymooning there, we decided to branch out and visit Disneyland Paris for our second wedding anniversary. We aren't sadists, so we decided to actually go the week before our anniversary so that we didn't conflict with half term. We went for 5 nights and I can honestly say that it would take a lot to get me to go back again.
Here are 13 reasons why you shouldn't go to Disneyland Paris, and none of them are to do with the weather.
Let's start with a disclaimer. I am, extremely grateful to be able to take any holiday, and I am glad that we experienced Disneyland Paris. Whilst this blog post focuses on the negative, and why you should visit Disney World instead, we still had a nice time!
Having just been in Disney World in December, it was time for a change.
Check out our vlog below:
The hotel – Disney's Hotel New York
Being our anniversary trip, we decided to book Disney's Hotel New York for our trip. A 4-star hotel, we were really looking forward to a bit of luxury during our trip. We went to check in around 2.30 (your room usually isn't ready until 3 pm) and were really happy to hear that our room was ready.
However, checking in took ages because you have to be issued with bits of paper for everything. Breakfast vouchers, meal vouchers, a piece of paper that lets the park's cast members know that you are staying on site (for extra magic hours), maps and who knows what else.
As we were checking in, we were asked if the king size bed (instead of two doubles) was okay. We nodded – we had put notes in our booking that it was our anniversary trip; the holiday was for two adults and we share the same surname, so it can be assumed that we'd like to share a bed. It got really awkward when the cast member didn't shut up about it. We really need to let them know at the time of booking whether we wanted a king size bed.
Again, we nodded, because we thought we had requested a king size bed. The cast member kept going on and on about how it would be really difficult to change the room and once again, we really needed to let them know what sleeping arrangements we wanted. Awkward.
That wasn't the worst part though. We were then told that the hotel pool was closed for refurbishment for our entire stay.
Having a swimming pool is a non-negotiable for us on holiday (or business) whether it is one night or 23 nights. I absolutely would not have booked this hotel if we had been made aware at the time of booking. We hadn't booked via Disney, and our travel agent got in touch with this message.
Once again, I will reiterate that if the closure had been announced at the time of our booking, we would not have booked this hotel. However, this was an issue with our travel agent, not Disney.
We walked into our 4-star bedroom to find that the air con was broken – the weather dipped into the 30Cs, so we needed air con. A call down to the reception and we were frostily met with “what, is your room hot?” and a promise that someone would be up immediately. They weren't.
We waited an hour, not wanting to unpack in case we were moving rooms before we gave up and went to a park. The room had a fan, no air con as promised.
The room was also tatty with paint peeling off in the bathroom.
Another thing to mention is that there is no kettle in the room, and although there is a fridge, it is an automatic minibar, so you can't fit much in there. You can ask for a kettle and a fridge…at an extra cost. If you need to store medication in a fridge then it is recommended that you speak to the concierge who can store it for you.
On our final day, we were planning to check out a 11 am – the latest you can check out. At 10 am we were both naked – my towel had fallen whilst I was putting my make up on and Tony was literally stepping into his boxers when the door to our room opened.
Despite the “do not disturb” sign on the door, and despite the fact that we still had an hour before checking out, housekeeping had entered our room without knocking. I don't know what they saw, but we were both within the line of sight from the door opening. It will haunt me forever.
Overall, our 4-star hotel was a complete letdown.
Do you need to speak French in Disneyland Paris?
I never learned French in school, so I was really apprehensive about not knowing the language before we went. I tried to learn some key phrases such as “hello”, “thank you” and “how much?” before we headed off to Disneyland Paris.
This is a hard one to answer, and the best tip I can give you is that if you can't speak French, don't reply in French! I would reply to “Bonjour” in French, which meant that cast members would speak to me in French and at times we were even given a French menu instead of an English menu.
Yep – they do have English menus! It definitely felt rude and unnatural to not reply back in French, but it saved a lot of confusion.
A few of the rides and attractions within Disneyland Paris have videos as part of the attraction, and these were often in French, however, there was no continuity.
Some of them had English subtitles, some of them had headphones you could wear and listen in English and others just had the French.
You can definitely get by in Disneyland Paris without speaking French, although there may be times when you are given instructions in French that you might not understand.
- Disney World Money Saving Hacks
- The Secret to how we afford to go to Disney World every year
- Free Disney Dining 2017
Cast members in Disneyland Paris
I cannot believe the difference in cast members between Disneyland Paris and Disney World. In Disney World, most of the cast members are happy and cheerful, for example, they will wave to you as your rollercoaster pulls away.
We found that the few cast members we encountered at Disneyland Paris (and there were only a few – normally where Disney World would have at least 2-3 cast members, there would only be one) weren't super friendly and cheerful.
I am used to cast members commenting on our Disney clothing or calling me “princess” when I wear a tiara. This didn't happen in Disneyland Paris.
Maybe I'm asking too much with this one, but part of visiting Disney is to have that magical experience.
Food and drink
You would think that the food and drink in Paris would be amazing, but let me tell you – it was not. We chose to have the half board option, which meant we had a buffet breakfast in our hotel every morning, and one meal voucher to be used across a selection of restaurants inside the parks and the Disney Village.
The service you receive in the Disney restaurants is adequate. You will get your food delivered to you, but it was very abrupt, almost to the point of being rude.
Most restaurants weren't busy at all, yet the servers were pretty much dumping the food in front of us and leaving before we could ask for anything else.
We decided to pay for a meal at Planet Hollywood because we had a 15% off voucher, and I really wish we hadn't. I ordered ribs (which I love in the Disney Springs Planet Hollywood) and when I started to cut into them, I thought I was cutting into the bone.
Nope, they were that tough. Overall, the food was mediocre at best. It did what it had to do – give us energy for the parks and all the walking.
It was also hideously expensive. 330ml of a soft drink, which is a can, cost the equivalent of £4.57 in most places around Disneyland Paris.
At meals, you would only get 330ml, and they are not refillable. I don't know if we are just big drinkers, but it wasn't enough. We were often finishing our meals absolutely gasping for another drink – but I was not going to be paying over £4 for a can!
Soft drinks are refillable in Disney World – another reason why you shouldn't go to Disneyland Paris.
With our half board plus meal vouchers, there were also some restrictions and set menus. We would be handed a nice looking menu, but the voucher would only apply to a selection of about 3 starters, 3 mains and 2 or 3 desserts and not the full menu.
The Disney Dining Plan in Disney World applies to all of the menu.
Fast Passes at Disneyland Paris are completely different to the Fast Passes at Disney World.
A Fast Pass is a magical way to skip the ride queues, and they are completely free at Disney. You are given a time slot (30 minutes in Disneyland Paris, 1 hour in Disney World) where you get to skip the queue and get on your ride.
At Disney World, you can book your Fast Passes up to 60 days in advance if you are staying at a Disney hotel, and 30 days in advance if not. This means that you can make the most of your holiday, you know exactly when you can ride certain rides and you aren't backtracking.
You also have flexibility with the ride times, and you can choose from a number of Fast Pass slots to suit your plans. You can easily amend your Fast Passes whilst on the go using the Disney app too.
Disneyland Paris still has the paper Fast Pass system. You have to physically go to the attraction, see what time the Fast Passes are for, then put your tickets into the machine to get your Fast Passes. Then return back during the times stated on your Fast Passes – and that's it. No more flexibility than that. Another reason why you shouldn't go to Disneyland Paris.
Extra Magic Hours
One of the perks of staying in a Disney hotel, in both Paris and Orlando, is that you get extra time in the parks. At Disneyland Paris, you can enter the parks from 8 am, instead of the 10 am opening time.
This meant setting an alarm for 5.30am (yep, whilst on holiday) in order to get ready and have breakfast before hitting the park.
The first thing we noticed is that it didn't apply to both parks, just the Disneyland Park. Having woken up at 5.30am, I admit that I wasn't in the best mood ever – getting to the park to find half of it cordoned off until 10 am really pissed me off.
What is the point in Extra Magic Hours when half the park is still closed?
What's worse is that because only half the park is open, there are still massive crowds during these Extra Magic Hours.
Fireworks at 11 pm
I can't believe that we didn't get to see the fireworks at Disneyland Paris, but this is because they were on at 11 pm every night.
Considering that Extra Magic Hours started at 8 am, we just couldn't manage the 11 pm fireworks.
I have absolutely no idea how families with young children managed this
Being fat in Disneyland Paris
Both my husband and I aren't exactly skinny, and this has never been a problem in Disney World. We have always managed to go on every ride and do whatever we wanted.
Disneyland Paris is a little different.
There are turnstiles everywhere, making it awkward for anyone with a larger body shape. There was one particularly narrow turnstile that I had great difficulty with and had to ask to use the pram/wheelchair entrance.
In Disney World, I've found the cast members to be very sensitive about this, and I would automatically be directed to a suitable alternative if needed. In Disneyland Paris, this wasn't the case, and I had to get a cast member's attention and embarrassingly explain the situation.
The actual rides weren't a problem. But those turnstiles are everywhere.
Photopass Plus/Memory Maker at Disneyland Paris
We love the Disney Photopass photographers – we even managed to get Tony's proposal captured by one. We have so many professional images and ride photos from around Disney World, however, the Photopass system is different in Disneyland Paris.
At Disneyland Paris, your Photopass+ card is only valid for 10 days after first use, and only for character meets and on-ride photos. This is a service you need to pay for on top.
At Disney World, there are Photopass photographers all over the park, also giving you magic shots where a Disney character will magically appear. You also get all your on-ride photos and character meet photos too. Plus you will get videos included, from certain rides. And it is free with a 14 day (or more) Disney ticket, called Memory Maker.
Rude people at Disneyland Paris & why you shouldn't go to Disneyland Paris
Any Disney holiday should be magical, and we have encountered the odd rude person in Disney World, but Disneyland Paris was something else! I don't even know where to begin with this one. Queues don't exist, and if they do, it is okay to just wander into any section of the queue, not just joining the end. During our stay, no one said “excuse me” and instead we were constantly barged or stepped on.
Smoking at Disneyland Paris
Although there are some designated smoking areas within the parks, we encountered people smoking anywhere and everywhere in Disneyland Paris. It was worst around the Disney Village and made me appreciate the laws we have in England regarding smoking.
If you are sensitive to cigarette smoke then it is worth me telling you that it will be a problem at Disneyland Paris.
Disneyland Paris doesn't have the Magic Band system yet, which has been around in Disney World for a few years now. Magic Bands are a bracelet that you wear that contains everything you need for your holiday – your park tickets, your room key, your Fast Passes, your Memory Maker, your Disney dining (if you have any) and you can even hook it up to a credit or debit card to make purchases.
Instead, in Disneyland Paris, you have to rely on having bits of paper for everything. If you arrive at your dinner reservation and you don't have your meal voucher, you will have to pay up or send someone back to pick up the meal voucher. Another reason why you shouldn't go to Disneyland Paris.
The price difference between Disney World and Disneyland Paris
You would think that because Disneyland Paris is so easy to get to, and so much closer than Disney World in Orlando, it would be cheaper.
Nope. It was hideously expensive. There are, of course, ways to save money when visiting Disneyland Paris, but don't assume that it is a cheaper holiday.
Our 5-night stay set us back £1,500, and there was a deal a few weeks ago to visit Orlando for two weeks, with car, hotel, flights and luggage for £400 per person! Of course, that isn't the best comparison, as you can normally get a deal by booking a last minute holiday, and that deal didn't include staying at a Disney hotel.
I decided to compare the prices between Disneyland Paris and Disney World, using similar dates for 2018. I picked a Sunday in May 2018, before half term, staying for two weeks.
The price for Disneyland Paris came in at £4,378.48 once you add local taxes and a £15 handling fee. This includes hotel and park entry for your stay. It does not include meals, drinks or transport.
For the Disney World quote, I chose a comparable hotel to Disney Hotel New York, and I chose Saratoga Springs. We stayed here last year and it was lovely! The studio villa came with a little kitchen area with a fridge, sink and even a microwave. The price came in at £4,375. £3.48 cheaper than Disneyland Paris, but here's what else you get:
- A $200 gift card that can be spent on anything around Disney World! Cocktails with your meals, tips for your meals, ice cream, souvenirs, etc.
- FREE DISNEY DINING. This means you get a counter service meal a day, a snack a day and a sit-down meal per day, per person.
- A resort mug – you can refill this mug as many times as you want, within the Disney resorts. Choose soft drinks and hot drinks.
- 12-month subscription to Disney Life
- FREE Magic Bands
- Free Memory Maker
- 15% off the Disney Store
- Free Magical Express
Hands down, Disney World in Florida is the cheaper choice for a comparable hotel room. There are plenty of cheaper places to stay, both on Disney and elsewhere, and plenty of Disney World money-saving hacks.
Disney World also has 4 parks and two water parks to choose from, instead of Disneyland Paris' two parks.
Here is the kicker though. I would have to pay for the Disneyland Paris option today, right now. With the Disney World option, I could book it now with a £100 deposit, and the rest won't be due until March 2018. Edit: Fiona has commented to let me know that if you ring the Disneyland Paris booking line, you can pay a deposit and not pay the entire amount up front.
With both options, you still need to account for travel and your spending money.
The good things about Disneyland Paris
This post has been mostly doom and gloom, but we did enjoy our time together. There are still plenty of things we enjoyed about Disneyland Paris.
Getting to Disneyland Paris is so, so simple. We hopped on a train from Cambridge to London, crossed the road and hopped on another train to Marne La Vallee which is right there in Disneyland Paris. It was also lovely to be able to walk everywhere – there were free shuttle buses from the hotel, but it was quicker and easier to walk.
The rides that we went on were so much better than the Disney World equivalent. Namely Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Tower of Terror and The Haunted Mansion. I absolutely loved the Disneyland Paris versions.
However, we will definitely be picking Disney World over Disneyland Paris!
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