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Why we really, really hated it – Disneyland Paris review

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This is my review of our painful day at Disneyland Paris aka EuroDisney.

Are you allowed to dislike Disneyland?  I don’t hear many people giving it a hard time.  Although, in retrospect, I realised that not many of the people we know have actually been to the Paris one.  Perhaps that should have been a warning.

It was a truly painful experience that I doubt we will repeat.

For background, the weather last Saturday was perfect and we were there with a 6-year old and a 3-year old. It started OK.  We got an RER train outside InterContinental Le Grand and in 40 minutes were deposited literally outside the gates of the park.  It could not be easier. Then the trouble started.

Disneyland Paris

We had got our tickets from Avios as a redemption.  They did not send us actual tickets – we got a voucher which needed to be exchanged at the Guest Relations desk (shockingly long queue) or the ticket office (shockingly long queue).  As Disney could not be bothered to open all their ticket windows, it took 45 MINUTES to get to the front of the ticket queue. I mean, 45 MINUTES?  What sort of place that charges over £200 for a family of four would make you wait for 45 minutes to buy a ticket?!

It is also hugely self defeating.  Saving €15 per hour on an extra ticket office staffer costs them hundreds of Euros in lost income from spending inside the park.  You can’t spend much money in a queue.

Buying food was even worse.  We noticed fairly quickly that most people had brought sandwiches.  Smart move.  We managed to keep the kids going until 2.30pm with some popcorn but they had to eat in the end.  We picked a quiet corner with a McDonalds-style takeaway.  It took ONE HOUR to get served.  Of course, one third of all of the counters were closed.

They were also astonishingly inefficient.  A similar sized queue in a real McDonald’s would have been dealt with in a fraction of the time.  It was also disturbingly expensive, but I was expecting that.

The length of the ride queues is also farcical.  If you want to go on the Space Mountain etc roller coasters for adults, you can use Fast Pass and walk straight on at the appropriate time.  You can’t do that with the little kids rides.  We had to queue for 50 MINUTES to go on a flying elephant ride which lasts about 5 minutes.

There was even a lengthy queue for a simple carousel ride – not helped by the fact that they force everyone to wear a seatbelt (ever worn a seatbelt on a carousel?) which the staff enforce – see photo below.  They also play a safety warning before the ride.  For a carousel.

Max Burgess

For little kids (ie 6 and 3 years old, like ours) it is a complete waste of time.  The quality of rides is genuinely no better than you get at Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park every Christmas – where there are no queues for the kids rides – or even at the funfair that occasionally pops up in Battersea Park.

We arrived (ie got off the train) at 11.30 and left at 6pm after the parade.  Of the 6.5 hours inbetween, we spent at least 4 hours in queues.  The combined time on rides was, in all seriousness, under 15 minutes.  I felt sorry for my 6-year old daughter who was so happy to be going and who got so little out of it.  (We made up for it on Sunday with a fun day in Paris.)

They even managed to screw up something as simple as a ‘Frozen Sing-A-Long’ in one of the auditoriums.  There were a couple of hundred kids there, but all Disney bothered to serve up to lead it were two drama students (English girl, French boy) aged about 18 who were wearing their standard clothes.  How hard would it have been to have someone dress up as Anna and Elsa?

There is even graffiti inside the fairy castle.  And the pavements and footpaths have more potholes and cracks than your average London street. Honestly, give it a miss.  It really isn’t worth it – even if you don’t pay for your tickets.

(PS. For the record, this is how we structured the trip:

Eurostar – booked via Eurostar Frequent Traveller, with 100% of the points required coming from Amex Membership Rewards

Hotel – 2 rooms for 2 nights at InterContinental Le Grand funded with two 2 IHG Premium Visa free night vouchers and 2 x 50,000 point redemptions, with the points coming from the last ‘Big Win’ promotion and credit card spend

Disney – redeemed 34,000 Avios via avios.com for four tickets

Transfer to/from St Pancras – Uber using referral credit

The mini Eiffel Tower my daughter wanted as a souvenir was bought for cash!)

Comments (150)

  • Dan says:

    Wow.. a real eye opener… I feel really sorry for your family…glad sunday was better!

  • Ravindra says:

    I guess they were understaffed as everybody was on leave before the Air France strike this week? So this should week would probably be much better – just difficult to get to Paris now from abroad…

  • Jenni says:

    The only reason why i did enjoy Disneyland Paris was for the fact that we went on a cold (but dry thankfully) New Year’s Day some years ago. Hardly a soul there, we didn’t have to queue for anything!

    • Oh! Matron! says:

      I was lucky enough to win a competition for a day there and 1 or two nights in one of their hotels.

      It was November time, and the weather was shocking….

      However, we had a good day, and then waited for the fireworks at the end. Wee wait, then wait, in the rain, then wait. An announcement comes on: “Due to the rather expected rubbish weather for this time of year in this latitude, we’ve cancelled the fireworks…”

      Boos from the crowd, as expected. So, we all start walking out, like miners after their pit has been closed

      What happens? They set the fireworks off.

      Use your points, and go to Florida. Stay on a disney property, so you get access to the park early. Get a fast pass for everything. Ensure your package has meals included. Sell a kidney if you have to. If you’ve got kids, it’s worth doing properly, especially the character breakfasts!

  • andy stock says:

    What about the food on Eurostar?

    • Rob says:

      Marginally improved 🙂

      However, we did not travel at breakfast this time. If anything, what we were given for an afternoon snack (train was 2.30pm from London) was too much.

  • Matt says:

    Try alton towers on a warm summer saturday and you will find something similar.

  • Jag says:

    We’ve been to Disney in Orlando, Paris, Tokyo & Hong Kong with our 5 year old, and without sounding patronising, I think there were two things that made your visit particularly stressful. The first is going on a weekend; I know you can’t always choose, but weekends will always be busier. The second is turning up at 11.30am – again, I know it’s tough with kids, but, if you can get there for opening time, you may have literally walked onto the Dumbo ride. We were in Hong Kong a few weeks ago and had 6 rides in the first hour, most of which then had 30-50 minute waits from midday onwards.

    • JQ says:

      Not to generalise, but HK disney is filled with people who can’t get approved for US or Schengen visas….(or don’t have the confidence in their language skills to make the trip)

      I managed to get some pre-opening tickets (for HK) through my dad’s employer (gives a clue to my age :p) and a lot of fun was had, went on each ride multiple times, waited max 10 minutes – I don’t think I would ever go to the others unless I get married and have kids and I want to teach them a lesson about patience!

      • Ben says:

        What a nice sweeping statement to make. Its like saying Disneyworld Florida and Disneyland California is full of americans who cannot be bothered to go abroad to get their disney experience.

  • Joe Kizlauskas says:

    Having been to California Disney once, Florida Disney four times and Paris twice I can say the Paris Disney is hideous. We went once and thought it was bad. We said to ourselves “it must be a one off”, so we booked again and it was worse the second time.

    The American parks have a spot on attitude to try and make the day truly wonderful, including innovative ways to reduce queue times. In Paris they couldn’t care less. The American parks are overpriced whereas Paris is stupid prices.

    I will never step foot in Disney Paris again but will return many more times to either of the original US versions for more amazing memories.

    I agree with your post Disney Paris is a horrid experience.

    • Oliver says:

      We have been to Florida three times and have stayed at Walt Disney World twice – the difference between it and Paris is incredible. 100% agree how much better the service, staff and attitudes are. In fact, we used our Avios to get there last year for only £600 for 4 people (unfortunately flying Airberlin economy!) and spent what we saved on a top Disney hotel. The queues were manageable with planning or FastPass+ (free) and food at the signature restaurants is incredible.

    • Erico1875 says:

      I found the Florida Parks just as bad. One year , having been there about 6 hours and the kids had been on 3 rides. Q times getting longer and longer, I stormed off to guest relations demanding a refund.
      I did not get one, however we did get complementary tickets for another visit.
      Raffles, it is worth writing a letter, if you want to give it anotheR go

  • Zoe says:

    We have only done Florida and to make the most of it during the summer break you need to run your whole holiday like a military operation. Bought a Brit’s Guide and carefully followed the instructions choosing to visit parks on their quieter days. Always arriving at the parks just before opening, carrying part frozen drinks. Food was rubbish but most days we were done by about 2pm. Easy to get everyone up early as it’s a by product of the jet lag.

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