Woops, a bit of a gap between my Disneyland Paris September trip reports here, sorry about that! But moving swiftly onwards to Day 1, Part 1 – it’s only split down into two parts so I can cover day time and evening because I got so many beautiful pictures of the castle and just Disney in general in the day time that I would possibly have overwhelmed you if I kept it as one.
First things first, a proper breakfast was needed for our first day in the parks at Disneyland Paris. We’d chosen the hotel and tickets package that included breakfast with our stay at the Newport Bay Club hotel, so we headed down for breakfast where we were seated in the Cape Cod restaurant. The whole of the Newport Bay is very nautical themed – very Beach & Yacht Club, but on a slightly less grand scale – and this restaurant is no different. We were seated beside a model of a ship and the walls were adorned with ship-like timbers.
The buffet was very good – a great selection of hot and cold options, including everything needed for a full English breakfast, some traditional French pastries, fruit, cereals, toast, yoghurts and more. We filled up on this as we were having an early start and also packed some bread buns, cold meat and cheese (sshh! Secret Disney tip but keep it under wraps!) to have as a snack later on. Food in the parks can be really expensive!
Because we were staying on site at Disneyland Paris, we had access to Extra Magic Hours for Disneyland Park. These change seasonally, but throughout our stay, our Extra Magic Hours gave us access to Disneyland Park 2 hours before opening time, meaning we could be there at 8am. We aimed to get there as early as possible to take advantage of this but didn’t want to rush ourselves since we were on holiday, so on the first day, we entered Disneyland Park at about 8.40am.
I was so surprised that more people weren’t taking advantage of these extra opening hours! As you can see, Main Street USA was almost completely empty at times when we were walking down it, so it made for some fantastic castle shots with few people in the background. It may have helped that it was one of the quietest times of the year (end of September) too. The decor in front of Le Chateau de la Belle au Bois Dormant (Sleeping Beauty Castle) was particularly pretty with succulents in sparkling blue and silver and character statues dressed accordingly in the middle of each for the 25th Anniversary.
During Extra Magic Hours, only certain areas and attractions are open. These can change, but while we were there, we could explore Main Street USA, Discoveryland and Fantasyland to our hearts’ contents, as well as ride It’s A Small World, Peter Pan’s Flight, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, the Carousel, the Mad Hatter’s Teacups, Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast and Space Mountain.
On the first day, after wandering slowly down Main Street and snapping lots of pictures, I suggested we head straight to Peter Pan’s Flight. This is a bit of a cult favourite in the parks which means it often has a huge queue – I like the ride but I don’t think it’s worth queuing a really long time for, so I wanted to get on it while the queue was low. We were on in seconds! It was actually Ben’s first time on Peter Pan’s Flight too since we don’t usually tend to do it in Florida.
We spent quite a bit of time wandering around Fantasyland while there were barely any people around and the sun was shining, the headed over to Discoveryland where we rode Buzz Lightyear (for the first time of the trip…just wait, there are many more rides on this to come!) and the new Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain.
Fun story behind Space Mountain – my mum always avoids Space Mountain in Florida because she’s not a rollercoaster fan. We’ve always told her it’s not that bad, but she still refused. A few years ago, my dad and her went to Disneyland Paris by themselves and he somehow persuaded her to do Space Mountain there, not realising it’s a much more intense experience in Paris! Immediately afterwards, I received a very shaky phone call from her that began with “I nearly passed out!!”. She hated it! So long story short, watch out for Space Mountain in Disneyland Paris – it’s a lot more intense! I loved it, Ben was a little overwhelmed by how fast it was but enjoyed it still. I’m not all that keen on the new Star Wars branding, but that’s mostly because I’m not a Star Wars fan and am not hugely keen on how Disney are trying to fit Star Wars in everywhere right now (a post for another day!) – the ride itself is awesome and I still love the steampunk theming of it.
It was getting close to 10am and park opening time at this point so we decided to head back to the central hub in front of the castle to experience Rope Drop. Somehow, we’ve never made it to rope drop! When I went to DLP with friends a few years ago, we arrived at the back of the crowd just as they dropped the rope, but this time, Ben and I wanted to do it properly.
There was a crowd gathering already at the Frontierland rope so we decided that must be a good one and joined the back of it. Little did we know this was the “race” to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad group! As soon as the rope was down, people were running! We followed calmly, thinking we maybe should get in the queue for the ride too since it couldn’t be too long as it was just opening, but the queue was already right down the path. Instead we jumped in the Fastpass queue and got Fastpasses for later in the day. Remember this story, we’ll come back to it tomorrow!
We decided then to explore for a while before getting into any queues. We wandered around Frontierland checking out the autumn and Halloween decor that was up in the area already – there were literally no other people around this area (because nothing was open down there – the Railroad Station was closed at the time) and the decor was amazing, I loved it!
Adventureland was our next stop – we walked leisurely through to there, exploring Adventure Isle and the Pirate Caves as we went. Since Ben only went to Disneyland Paris when he was younger, he didn’t know about this area, so it was fun to do! We rode Pirates of the Caribbean, looking for Hidden Mickeys and spotting only one here.
We took the route through Fantasyland back over towards Discoveryland, stopping for a quick ride on It’s A Small World. The queues were so short everywhere, usually 5-10 minutes, I think we waited 15 minutes maximum this day, that it was easy to do that! We then did Buzz Lightyear (again – we got a little competitive…) and Star Tours, before going back over to Frontierland – we were all over the place! This time we did Phantom Manor (Paris’ version of the Haunted Mansion), then Big Thunder Mountain with our Fastpasses.
Oh my goodness, Thunder Mountain has been recently updated and it was amazing! The ride feels much longer, quite a bit darker and faster. It now includes a part where water sprays overhead as you go into a dip facing the Haunted Mansion, a fast and loud “underground” portion, and even a mine explosion. I’d definitely recommend getting a Fastpass or getting there early to ride this one…as you’ll see we did the next day!
By this time, it was early afternoon and we were starting to feel the effects of an early morning in a Disney park, so we decided to head back down Main Street and go for a swim at the Newport Bay’s pool. The weather was so lovely that I was now down to my T shirt with jeans, so we took our time heading back, taking in every detail of Main Street, Liberty Arcade behind it, and exploring some of the shops (look at that Marie!), and bought one of the 25th Anniversary doughnuts especially so I could take this picture:
And I promise the doughnut was good too!
Stay tuned for the second part of our first day in Disneyland Paris including Walt Disney Studios Park and our quest to find food!