Disneyland Paris theme parks ‘a magical experience transporting you to fairytale worlds’
PUBLISHED: 08:00 17 August 2016 | UPDATED: 15:12 18 August 2016
Disney’s theme park in Paris is in a league of its own, taking less than three hours to reach from London.
“I’m too scared,” my daughter whispered to me in anticipation, as we snaked through the dimly-lit creepy dungeon’s corridors, leading to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland Paris.
It’s no exaggeration to say Disney’s theme parks are in a league of their own, where the attention to detail absolutely everywhere creates a magical experience transporting you to fairytale worlds – even if they are a bit spooky.
For despite her mock fear, this was the aforementioned eight-year-old’s favourite ride, along with the haunted mansion – and as we left she warned me, “we’re doing this again later, ok” – and we did, too many times to count.
The theme park is truly a feast for your eyes in all directions.
Here at the Pirates ride, for example, tropical trees line a harbour lit with flickering lanterns, before you board boat carriages that sail you around.
The pitch-black flanks tableaux scenes – from skeletons lying in coffins of coins to pillaging pirates setting fire to houses – all amid the noise of cannon and screaming damsels in distress, capturing the menace of the sea marauders.
Disney’s landscaping and design is fantastic, like the Aladdin’s Cave area that conjures up a north African vibe with music, Moorish mosaics, and a Moroccan style restaurant – one of the best on site.
This is what makes the place so endearing to me – an adult now disillusioned with British theme parks’ seemingly endless queues snaking around iron bars for ultimately uninspiring rides.
Despite it being the May half-term break in the UK, we waited for rides at most 20 minutes during the day, and walked straight on after 7pm.
And uninspiring the rides are not.
I was utterly unprepared for the effect Twilight Tower of Terror, set in an old Hollywood hotel, would have on me, as we were shown into our seats by the bellboy who alluded to how scary his lift would be.
When it plunged 199 feet, after apparently being struck by lightning, I couldn’t control my screams – especially when the doors in front of us opened to reveal a shockingly high precipice view of the park.
Despite my relief when the ride ended, I struggled to get off because the fright had really turned my knees to jelly.
The Ratatouille ride – set in a quaint mock-Parisian courtyard – was a firm favourite not to be missed, as you are taken on a 3D journey as a mouse through Gusteau’s restaurant.
This one has huge queues, but a top tip is to make sure you enter the park super-early to avoid the crowds, and get fast passes, which are issued on some rides as a way to beat the queues – giving you a time to return for instant entry.
My daughter and I shared the Royal Suite at the elegant four-star Vienna House Dream Castle just a five-minute ride away from the park on a regular free bus shuttle – and returning to the hotel, the dream continued.
Built on the model of the classic 17th-century chateau, decoration is themed on the Musketeers and the Potsdam Chateau with knights in armour and banners in the hotel lobby and the famous sword of King Arthur, set in its stone.
Family rooms here are really spacious with a double bed and bunk bed, but the two of us bedded down in the unique Royal suite – a kingdom of its own.
The immense 200 sq m pad, which sleeps up to seven, has an Aladdin-style parents’ suite with a low bed, sloped ceilings and Moorish cushions, a dining room, as well as two children’s bedrooms – one themed on the Wild West with a wagon as a bed, and the other boasting a pink veiled bunk to enclose the sleeping princesses.
Two luxurious marble-tiled bathrooms have a much-needed bath to soothe your aching muscles once you return from walking around the park all day, and Occitane products to boot.
Buffet-style dinner served in the Musketeer restaurant is really good value with children eating free for each paying adult, and plenty of fresh salads and tasty French-style meat dishes. It has views onto the U-shaped hotel’s extensive Versaille-style garden, which opens out onto a small lake.
With Eurostar taking less than three hours from St Pancras to Marne-la-Vallée, a trip here couldn’t be simpler or more fun.
Vienna House Dream Castle has 397 rooms and suites, and prices include an extensive breakfast buffet. Single/Double: EUR 280. Triple/Quadruple: EUR 300. Buffet dinner at Musketeers costs EUR 29 for adults and EUR 11 for children, with children eating free with each paying adult.
For more information see www.viennahouse.com/en/dream-castle-paris/the-hotel/overview