Jane Anderson heads to Disneyland Paris and discovers that the magic is still alive and well, 25 years since the park first opened its legendary gates
A colossal 320 million people have visited the park since it opened on 12 April 1992, and when I visited in March 2017, the stars were out in force to celebrate all the new and spruced up shows, rides, restaurants and hotels. Singer John Legend performed a beautiful rendition of ‘Tale as old as Time’ from Beauty and the Beast as the new Disney Illuminations kicked off. Here’s a rundown of what’s extra sparkly for you and your little Disney princes and princesses!
1/10 Disney Illuminations – NEW!
If there’s one thing you must see at Disneyland Paris, it’s the new 25th anniversary Disney Illuminations, performed every single night of the year. Sleeping Beauty’s Castle comes alive in the show with cutting edge technology including projections, light effects, water jets and fireworks. For the first time, projection of live action film images are included giving the whole wow factor experience a dream like quality.
There’s a great deal of nostalgia too, as viewers are transported in the company of Mickey Mouse on a journey through major Disney and Pixar classics from the last 25 years. Watch an incredible naval battle including cannon shots fired by the Black pearl, the legendary ship of Jack Sparrow, epic Star Wars action along with heroes from The Lion King and Little Mermaid.
2/10 Disney Stars on Parade – NEW!
The sheer energy of this exuberant parade delights all ages. You can’t fail to be wowed by the super sized floats including Crush, the turtle from Finding Nemo with a wingspan (including flippers) of 5.7m. Around 100 performers invite you to celebrate an array of Disney and Pixar classics from Peter Pan to the Buzz Lightyear. Tinker Bell escapes from the pages of an enormous storybook to get the parade started. After all the fun, the great storybook closes with the two heroines of Frozen on the balcony of an ice castle. Magical!
3/10 Mickey present Happy Anniversary Disneyland Paris – NEW!
Mickey is dressed up to the nines in his new blue and silver dinner jacket to host this anniversary show in front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle on the Royal Castle Stage. Kids will love seeing him appear at the top of the steps of a sparkling crystal castle inviting everyone to sing Happy Anniversary to Disneyland Paris. This show feels like a mini musical with a vast host of characters.
4/10 The Starlit Princess Waltz – NEW!
Eight Disney Princesses star onstage in this new show at the Royal Castle Stage including Aurora, Ariel, Belle, Snow White, Cinderella, Jasmine, Rapunzel and Tiana. The tiara onstage is covered in a quarter of a million Swarovski crystals against a backdrop of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle and its fountains. Little girls will be in raptures, as they swish their own mini princess dresses to the show. The only question is, who’s your favourite princess?
5/10 Star Tours: The Adventures Continue – NEW!
Star Wars fans will be in raptures as they join the rebellion and climb aboard a Starspeeder 1000 in the company of CP30 to a galaxy far, far away. Transporting between dimensions, there’s never a dull moment as this new 3D immersive experience with flight simulator technology has more than 70 different mission combinations. You could touch down in the worlds of Jakku, Naboo, Hoth, Tatooine or the Death Star. Watch out for Darth Vader!
6/10 Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain – NEW!
The much-loved Space Mountain will undergo a Star Wars take over from May. Join the rebel alliance for an epic ride with total immersion in the Star Wars universe. Families will be briefed by Admiral Ackbar as you blast off aboard a spaceship that crosses the galaxy.
7/10 Pirates of the Caribbean – Spruced up!
Pirates of the Caribbean fans will be pleased to hear there’s a new film out in cinemas this year and it’s also the 50th anniversary of the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction which was the inspiration behind the film. Which all makes the summer re-opening of Disneyland Paris’ Pirates of the Caribbean ride all the more exciting. Captain Jack Sparrow will join the attraction along with a few surprise characters. The whole pirate crew will be brought back to life with new lighting and re-mastered audio. Watch out for new effects during the hurricane and in the treasure room!
8/10 Big Thunder Mountain – Spruced up!
The much-loved Thunder Mountain ride in the lake at Frontierland is looking more impressive than ever with after an extensive refurbishment. It’s hard to think you’re just outside Paris when you’re ensconced in all this Wild West magic. Hurtling through an abandoned gold mine at breath-taking speed aboard a runway mine train has never been so much fun.
9/10 Vapiano restaurant, Disney Village – NEW!
Take some downtime from park adventures to dine at the new Vapiano restaurant in the Disney Village. Gorgeous Italian/Mediterranean dishes are cooked by the chefs directly in front of the guests. Pasta, pizza or salads can be ordered straight from the chefs and enjoyed at a large oak table next to a green wall of living plants or around a multi-centennial olive tree. And there’s a cool play space for young kids upstairs, giving parents a breather to enjoy a glass of wine.
10/10 Disney’s Newport Bay Club – Spruced up!
It’s easy to forget you’re in France when you enter the New England style Newport Bay Club. Set beside Disney Lake, just a 15-minute walk from the park gates (or take the free shuttle), this vast four-star hotel has been fully refurbished. A nautical theme runs throughout, but no more than in the lofty family indoor pool with its huge liner jutting into the pool! It’s light and airy and an ideal place to unwind from all that theme park excitement. There’s also an outdoor pool for summer visits. Rooms have subtle Disney theming such as Mickey Mouse ears headboards and wallpaper with portholes featuring characters from Steamboat Willie. Family rooms sleep up to five or six people.
Where to stay: Two nights/three days at Disney’s Newport Bay Club including return travel on Eurostar from London St Pancras (indirect via Lille) to Disneyland Paris starts from £1,203.14 for two adults and two children. This price includes three days worth of park hopper tickets and half board meal plan at the hotel.
Price based on 7th May 2017 departure date. Subject to availability. Terms & conditions apply.
- Get to the park early and head to the attraction you most want to experience. Alternatively stay late when queues are shorter.
- Reduce waiting time with a free FASTPASS. This is how it works: Use one Disney Park admission ticket for each rider into the FASTPASS machine at the entrance to the attraction. Receive your FASTPASS ticket with your return time, and experience all the fun of the Disney Parks elsewhere while you wait. Return to the attraction at the time indicated on your FASTPASS ticket and board within a matter of minutes via the special FASTPASS® entrance.
- Plan your itinerary. Park guides and show times are available at City Hall in Disneyland Park and Studio Services at Walt Disney Studios Park.
- Have lunch outside of the busy noon to 2pm slot.
- Guests staying at a Disney Hotel are allowed into parks for extended hours.