We’ve recently returned from our second family trip to Disneyland Paris. We first went in March 2017, then randomly decided to book a last minute trip again in May 2018 – I’m pretty sure this had something to do with the missus realising she was nearly half way through maternity leave and the need to do something (expensive and) memorable!
Both holidays were great and we’re pleased we went. It’s not cheap, but you can get some decent deals which make it better value. People always talk about it being “magical” – I’d maybe not use that word myself, but there really isn’t another place like it (well, apart from Florida, California, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Shanghai).
The best part is definitely getting enjoyment out of watching your kids get enjoyment from their favourite characters. As L was older this time (2.5 compared to 3.5 years old), she was more excited about all things Disney and was able to do more – even though the trips were only a year apart, they felt very different for us because of this. Oh, and this time, we had a baby with us!
It’s not all magic, sparkles and fairy dust though. As a now, even grumpier 33-year old, I found a few things particularly irritating about Disneyland Paris. The majority of this is to be expected, but it was still annoying regardless! So, without further ado, here are five things that particularly wound me up about visiting Disneyland Paris:
1) All The Walking
If you’re going to Disneyland Paris, then remember to pack your walking shoes – you’ll bloody well need them! Walking around a theme park might not be as epic as, say, climbing Kilimanjaro, but it’s certainly a feat in it’s own right as your legs will be aching something chronic by the end of your trip.
I can’t recall ever visiting a place where I’ve racked up so many steps over consecutive days. Over our three days at the park, we averaged 21,000 steps per day – a pretty big increase on my usual step count and something I’m still feeling in my aching muscles two weeks later. Hardly surprising when the area is nearly 5,000 acres in size.
Although it knackers you out, I don’t mind the exercise. It’s the other things that annoy me – for instance, having to walk all of that way whilst pushing a pushchair loaded with stuff or carrying a preschooler whose “legs are going to fall off as they’re so tired”. Or how about all of the unnecessary steps you have to take when walking through winding queues for a ride or when you have to walk 20 minutes to the hotel despite it being advertised as being onsite.
Next time, I’m definitely investing in a Segway…or a giant baby carrier so that I can go on the missus’ back.
2) Queues, Queues and More Queues
I’m British. I love a queue. However, sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. This definitely happens when it comes to Disneyland Paris as queuing takes up probably 75% of your day. Instead of enjoying the thrills and spills on the rides, you’re instead huddled up with complete strangers as the guy behind you makes his own thrills and spills by ‘accidentally’ thrusting his crotch into your arm repeatedly.
I’m not stupid. I know that a lot of people visit Disneyland Paris so there’s going to be queues. Waiting 45 minutes for a ride is just one of those things. However, it’s made more difficult when you have a child with you. Instead of just zoning out, you’re expected to provide the entertainment before the entertainment – that means walking with them on your feet, answering every question ever asked and lifting them up every two minutes.
Then there’s the unexpected queues. Two hours to see someone dressed up as Moana. Or waiting 10 minutes each day to get through security then another 10 minutes at the entrance – they’re missing a trick by not integrating music, images and flashing lights to turn it from a normal, boring queue into part of Disneyland Paris. They could even incorporate it onto the map and call it a ride or experience.
The toilets had queues too – as a bloke, something I’m not that used to. It wasn’t too bad for the men, but the women’s queues were insane. So much so that the blokes’ bogs just became unisex. At one point, I was having a piss and noticed that there were more females than males in the male toilets!
3) Other People
I don’t like people at the best of times, but there’s something about Disneyland Paris that brings out the worst in them. Yes, I know, “why go somewhere visited by 15 million people per year then, Dave?” – because I try to be a good dad and have a secret crush on Moana, that’s why.
I don’t wish to judge other people as I don’t know what they’re going through, but that’s made kind of difficult when the majority of people act like rude, irritating pricks. You’d think that excited kids would be the worst culprits, but it often seemed to be adults who should know better.
Particularly that Disney-obsessed woman who actively pushed my daughter out of the way to get a better view of Mickey, that man who decided that our pushchair was the ideal leaning post during the fireworks or the group of adults who blocked everyone else’s view by standing up for the duration of a show. Grrr. Imagine how much better it’d be if no-one else was there!
Don’t even get me started on that family who decided that it was cute to wear personalised, matching t-shirts…
4) Food, (In)glorious Food
Eating out when at Disneyland Paris is a necessary – but annoying – part of being there. Like last time, this year we received a free half-board meal plan with our package, which meant we had breakfast and a meal included.
However, changes to the plan proved annoying – breakfast was in the park and not the hotel, the breakfast had been downgraded from a buffet to a croissant and a drink, and the Pause Gourmande voucher for a ‘tea time treat’ had been discontinued.
Then there’s the dining options – there’s supposedly around 70 places to eat, but once you rule out those not included in your meal plan, those that are closed, those that are at the opposite end to where you are and those that don’t have a table until two hours time, it can all feel a bit frustrating.
Sure, you can plan and make reservations, but even with one you need to be prepared to queue. At somewhere like Plaza Gardens, you can be waiting around 20 minutes to be seated even when you turn up on time – not that great with hangry kids. Plus, let’s be honest, the food and service isn’t great and €34.99 is extortionate for a buffet.
For me, I’d love to see more quick food options. Where are the places where you can grab a sandwich, salad or hot dog, then get back to the fun? They may exist, but we couldn’t find them – even at somewhere like the Disney Blockbuster Cafe, the missus queued up for half an hour just to get a croque monsieur – this was at 3.30pm, which can hardly be considered prime eating time.
What I’d give for a Boots or Tesco to appear with their meal deals!
5) It’s Not The Mid-2000’s
As an adult, when you walk around Disneyland Paris, you recognise and know most things. After all, chances are you’ve grown up with Disney and then been reintroduced to the newer stuff when you’ve had kids. However, putting myself into my nearly 4-year old daughter’s shoes, it struck me at just how outdated some of the things are – particularly in the Walt Disney Studios Park. Let me give you a few examples.
The Stitch Live show features the blue ‘dog’ of Lilo and Stitch fame. Although big in the early / mid 2000’s, it’s hardly a Disney classic and the franchise has been milked dry. So, a revamp to something more relevant – like Moana, Big Hero 6 or Inside Out – would surely be better and more relevant for young kids.
Similarly, Disney Junior Live On Stage show – which is a bit like an episode of Micky Mouse Clubhouse – features characters no longer around. Little Einsteins (2005-2009), Handy Manny (2006-2013), and Tigger and Pooh as Super Sleuths (2010), all show up, but, looking around the room, it was obvious the young children didn’t recognise them. Surely it wouldn’t take much to revamp with current Disney Junior shows like Doc McStuffins, PJ Masks and The Lion Guard.
Then there’s the Armageddon Special Effects (a 1998 film), the Aerosmith Roller Coaster (a band who last released an album in 2012) and the Studio Tram Tour (featuring Dinotopia , Reign Of Fire  and Pearl Harbour ). It felt painfully outdated.
Luckily, change is afoot with plans for Marvel, Star Wars and Frozen attractions and entertainment which should add new rides and revamp some of these old ones by around 2021. It’s much needed – mainly because I ran out of patience telling L who all of the old characters were!
So those are five of the main things that annoyed me about Disneyland Paris? Would you agree? What pisses you off about places like this? Let me know below!