Visiting Disneyland Paris, The Finaleby Gregg Jacobs, contributing writer
To do a quick catchup, we visited Disneyland Paris for a three-day trip. Day 1 was a travel day followed by a visit to Disney Village, the French version of Disney Springs or Downtown Disney. Day 2 was our commando day, where we took advantage of the Disneyland Paris Premier Pass, riding as many rides as we could, catching a few parades along the way.
Today, I'm going to take you through our third and final day. The plan for that Saturday was to fill in the blanks and take advantage of any attractions that we'd missed, mostly the shows we didn't get to while furiously riding the rides the day before. The big goal was to end our day with the 30th anniversary nighttime show over the castle.
We started our day with the breakfast buffet at Hunter's Lodge, the main restaurant at Disney's Sequoia Lodge where we were staying. I'd made a reservation for 9:00 am. We went to the check in and were led to our table with no problems. Our waitress greeted us in French. We apologized that we didn't speak French, and she responded in English with a British accent, that she was happy she didn't have to speak with us in French. She gave us the tour of the buffet, which had different international sections for French pastries, typical American eggs, bacon and pancakes, and then the more European cold cuts and cheeses. It was a pricey $25 per person, but was very good.
After eating way too much, we made our way over to Disneyland Park. We used our key cards to get in through the gates and were on our way down Main Street USA in no time. The walk to the park goes right past the main train station, where you can catch a train to Paris. What we saw today was a massive crowd making their way out of the station. There was also a huge check-in line at the hotel. There were many Parisians making their way to the resort for a Mickey-filled weekend.
There were 30th anniversary logos everywhere, including this kinetic one at the Main Street USA train station. Photo by Gregg Jacobs.
We headed toward Tomorrowland and went to Mickey's Philharmagic, which is oddly in Tomorrowland. It's the same great show we know from Florida, though this version didn't (yet) have the added scene from Coco.
It was then time for a stroll around the back of the park through Fantasyland. Sadly, "it's a small world" was closed for refurbishment, so didn't get to ride, but the facade is a smaller version of the big building at Disneyland.
We then hit a few Fantasyland classics. I got to ride Pinnocchio again, giving Mike a chance to ride, and was happy to since we don't have this one in Florida. We followed that up with Peter Pan, taking off on a pirate ship to Never Never Land. Again, this was essentially the same ride we know and love in the U.S. theme parks, but this version somehow glowed. Everything just seemed newer.
We finished up Fantasyland with a ride on Snow White, another ride that's gone to yesterland at WDW. It was still a scary adventure with the wicked queen popping up at every turn.
Snow White is still wishing at Disneyland Paris. Photo by Gregg Jacobs.
We then meandered back to Adventureland and got some lucky timing. We saw a few stragglers heading for Lion King: Rythms of the Pride Lands, the Lion King-themed stage show. We got to the theater entrance, and the cast member looked at a ticker, nodded and let us in. The same was true about a couple behind us. The people behind them, however, were turned away, so we literally just made it.
I'm very glad we got in, because the show was great. It was more a retelling of the original story than than the series of skits we see in Florida at Disney's Animal Kingdom. We got to see baby Simba held aloft by Rafiki to the Circle of Life, we Hakuna Matata'd with Simba, Timon and Pumbaa and felt the love tonight with Simba and Nala. The effects were top notch and the cast was great. I've seen The Lion King on Broadway a couple of times, and not sure I'd put this one quite at that level, but it was amazing.
At that point, we decided to head out of this park and go back to Walt Disney Studios for one last romp. Again, this was an easy task since the parks sit right next to one another. The crowds today were a lot larger than the day before, so the lines were, of course, longer. This was no biggie since the goal today was to just see what we missed, with one exception: I love Remy's Ratatouille Adventure. It was the first of the generation of trackless rides that I love so much, so always really enjoy it.
We headed back to that part of the park. The ride had a 40-minute wait, which wasn't so bad—so we decided to go for it. Thirty minutes later we were on the ride, and enjoyed following Remy through the kitchens of Paris.
Outside of the ride, there were a number of themed food carts set up (think food and wine festival), so we grabbed a table and had a quick late lunch of bread, cheese… and maybe a little wine.
Next up, we wanted to catch one of the shows. It came down to a choice between Stitch Live and Frozen: A Musical Invitation. As a little prelude to the Kingdom of Arendelle, a whole new land that just began construction at the park, we chose Frozen. The line was kind of long, but we got into the next show. The pre-show area had an exhibit on the history of animation, which was very interesting.
We were then led inside, and it was a standing-room only venue, with no seating. What the room did have, however, was a large, and quite cute, Sven animatronic. Once everyone was in the room, Kristoff and Anna came out and started the show. Did I understand anything they were saying? The answer is actually yes. No, I didn't suddenly speak French, but at the show here and throughout the park, they tended to go back and forth between French and English. My guess is to cater to English-speaking tourists who visit the park.
There was a great Sven audio animatronic at Frozen, A Musical Invitation. Photo by Gregg Jacobs.
After some fun patter between Anna, Kristoff, and a surprisingly active Sven, we were ushered into another theater, which was decked out like the ice palace. Anna and Kristoff came in and were soon joined by Elsa, who launched into a full-throated rendition of "Let it Go," in French, which was pretty cool.
It was starting to get late at this point, so we decided to head back to Disneyland Park to close out the day. This brings us to an important part of the trip for me—the shopping part!
I'd decided that I wanted something to commemorate the resort's 30th anniversary. I was thinking a watch, but they didn't have any, so I settled on wanting a shirt. I spent the last two days looking at all the options. There was a shirt that changes colors in the light, a few different T-shirts with large "30" anniversay logos, and a hoodie with a large French Mickey.
In the end, though, I decided to break my no-spirit-jersey pledge, and popped the ridiculous amount of 65 euros (about $70 U.S.) for a retro jersey that said "Euro Disney" down the sleeve, in a nod to the original name of the park. It came in primary colors of blue, yellow, and white, and had Mickey Mouse with the original park logo. Readers of my articles know how seriously I take my shopping, so know how big a decision this was!
I stopped in the Disney Studios Store, where I knew they had them, on the way out of the park to make my purchase. I excitedly went to the rack where I had seem them earlier and, there were no mediums. They had small, large and extra large, but no mediums. I didn't panic. There were other shops after all, so we went to Disneyland. I went into Disney Clothiers. The shirts were there, but again, no mediums. OK, little panic now, but there was still the Emporium across the street.
It was a struggle, but got my retro 30th anniversary jersey. Photo by Gregg Jacobs.
I went to the Emporium and found a rack of the shirts. I saw a hanger with an M on it. Yes!, except, the hanger was empty. Surrounding the empty hanger were smalls and extra larges. I sighed and grabbed a small, hoping it would fit. It was tight (you've read how much we'd been eating). I was deciding if it was worth it when a woman walked in my direction carrying one of the shirts. Coud it be? She reached for the empty medium hanger and put the shirt on it, then hanging it back on the rack. I tried and failed to look nonchalant as I lunged for it. I asked her if she was sure she didn't want it, as it was the only medium at the whole resort. She laughed, said she changed her mind and told me to enjoy it. Yes, mission accomplished!
With my heart rate back to normal, we headed to Adventureland and the Agrabah Cafe, where we had a dinner reservation. It was themed like a Middle Eastern market, and was a buffet of food from that region. They had different meats, breads ,and desserts that we really enjoyed.
Again stuffed (a theme of this trip), we walked to Adventureland and decided on one more visit to Phantom Manor. Unlike the day before, when the wait was never longer than 5 minutes, today it was 25. We didn't mind, though. The view from the queue over Big Thunder Mountain Railroad as the sun was setting was incredible.
There was a beautiful view of the sunset over Big Thunder Mountain Railroad from the Phantom Manor porch. Photo by Gregg Jacobs.
After one last visit to the Phantom, we headed to the hub in front of the castle to get spots to watch the big show. It was about an hour to showtime and we got a pretty good spot about a third of the way back in the hub from the castle, a bit to the right. It was crowded but not oppresively so, and it was nice hearing all the different languages around us being spoken. We were around a lot of different cultures and people, some of whom had traveled pretty far, who were happy to be there. Happily, it was also warmer and dryer than the night before, but was going to stick it out no matter what.
I didn't read too much about the show ahead of time because I wanted to be surprised, but I knew the highlight was a bunch of drones spelling out the "30" logo alongside the castle in the sky.
Right on time, the lights went down and the music started. The first five minutes was a 30th anniversary tag. It began with castle projections of some of our favorite characters, and then in came the drones. They flashed the "30" logo alongside the castle and then did a few more tricks with the anniversary theme music blaring around them. It was a very cool effect. The rest of the show was also incredible. There were castle projections, fireworks and sparks that sprayed out in front of the castle from the ground. It was all extremely well-produced and had that emotional punch that I love in Disney night presentations.
The 30th anniversary logo done in drones over the castle was incredible. Photo by Gregg Jacobs.
It reminded me of Happily Ever After at WDW, which I love, and frankly blew Enchantment away with a lot of extra effects that the Florida show lacks. Again, your mileage may vary—but if you do get to visit this park, make sure you stay until the end.
Sad to say, that's all folks. After the big show, we made our way out of the park and headed back to our hotel for the night. We got up early the next morning, packed up, and grabbed the RER train to Paris where we spent three wonderful days. If anyone has any interest in that part of the trip, feel free to look me up on Instagram at "gregginprague".
Now, dear readers, a sneak preview of my next article: I head back to where it all started, at least for me. Shortly, after I write this, we'll be heading to the U.S. for our first trip back to see friends and family—and of course, the Mouse! Tune in to see how it went.
Everyone be safe and well and see you real soon!