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Recent Visitors to Disneyland Paris - should I believe the recent reviews?

(22 Posts)
AryaUnderfoot Fri 03-Jan-14 09:25:34

I am looking at booking a trip to Disneyland at Easter. It is likely to cost about £1,500 + transport and, at the moment, I'm not sure it's going to be worth it.

Now, I know that many TA reviews have to be taken with a pinch of salt, but there are a number of common themes that are appearing time and time again in reviews. Many have recently been given the title 'disappointed'. The issues highlighted in the reviews apply to all hotels and to the park itself:

1) The hotel rooms are shabby, in need of refurbishment and maintenance is poor
2) Staff are not always particularly friendly or polite, and can be downright rude
3) Food is overpriced and of poor quality
4) There are no Disney characters visible around the park and there are queues to 'see' the few that there are in designated areas
5) All rides have huge queues and a lot of people smoke in the lines
6) General standards of maintenance and cleanliness in the park have deteriorated and rides regularly break down.

Can anyone who has visited recently shed any light as to how accurate these reviews are?

It's a lot of money to spend and I am starting to wonder whether a trip to Center Parcs in Belgium in February half-term - priced at 440 euros - might be better value for money and more enjoyable.

MelanieCheeks Fri 03-Jan-14 09:35:51

I was there in June last year - is that recent enough?

Where are you planning on staying. TA has a very good DLP forum which will answer specific queires and give lots of up to date tips.

Are you going during the Easter holidays? Yes, it'll be busy. But plan your day wisely, use the fast passes etc. Queueing is part of the essential Disney experience grin

Food in all theme parks tends to be over-priced and not great quality, but I can recommend a few places - what ages of children, and any likes or dislikes?

The characters do tend to be surrounded by autograph hunters, but you can usually manage to get a photo if you wait. There's a Princess Pavilion which will allow you personal access to an unspeicifed princess - make sure you get tickets for that one if it appeals.

mousmous Fri 03-Jan-14 09:35:55

1) the hotel we stayedit was 'basic', very clean though. safe not working
2) well it's paris, parisians are renowned for being brusque. theywere helpful though, just not very chatty
3) yes, but quality was ok, there are lots of food places right outside or in the shopping mall.
4) loads of characters, but more in the studio part of the park
5) yes and yes
6) we didn't have broken down rides, park looked spotless, but the toilets are not very nice (again, it's in france after all)

Flumpf Fri 03-Jan-14 10:53:10

I've been there twice, but a few years ago. Once in 2005 and again in 2009. I did feel disappointed tbh and I wouldn't go back. But I do know families that seem to love it for some reason. The one in Florida is loads better. We've had nicer holidays in Butlins, Hastings and the Isle of Wight.

EasterHoliday Fri 03-Jan-14 10:57:34

seems pretty accurate to me - from easter 2013, New York hotel. Still had a good time, but the main frustration was the repeated breaking down of rides - when you've queued for an hour to get to the front and then it shuts down... happened daily, and other rides were broken frequently.
There were lots of characters around, and particularly in the Studios park there was no real line but if you wanted a photo with Winnie the Pooh, that was a 2 hr wait. We didn't go to the princess castle place as that was a four hour wait any time of day and there were princesses just kicking about at Studios, and of course in the parade.
Despite all that, we all had a good time.

MelanieRavenswood Fri 03-Jan-14 11:05:38

My experience (oct 2013) was more in line with what mousmous says. Although I didn't see any smoking in lines. It's not the experience you would get in Florida, no, but it is pretty good.

PortofinoRevisited Fri 03-Jan-14 11:07:48

Many of my friends in Belgium swear by Europa Park in Germany rather than DLP. Hotels are meant to be very nice. Haven't tried yet.

SwimmingMom Fri 03-Jan-14 11:39:13

We went in Easter 2012. DD was 5. She loved it! And so did we! I've been to the one in California but found DLP adequate for a 5 yo.

The key is to plan smartly. We got the main Disney hotel (the one at the park gates) at 50% discount, this changed everything. Great hotel, lovely food, Disney characters spend time inside the hotel so some of the queuing madness can be avoided. But the best part was - getting to the park early in the day, spending a few good hours before peak rush hours, coming back to the room for a quick nap & rest & then heading back refreshed in the evening for another few good hours until closing time. Also helped to get indoors & change if the weather turned bad (it rained quite a bit in the 4 days we were there!).

Also using the fast pass & focussing on what suits DC best helps to narrow down the options. We did do the meet-the-princess which DD loved & also met quite a few other characters. Totally loved the fireworks & disney parade! None of the rides were broken at the time. Food was a bit difficult but we found options that worked & stuck with those. In Easter ponchos & boots are a must as it will most likely rain.

If you sign up on their website you'll receive an email with the 50% discount when it's announced.

Don't not go - its a really nice memory for DC & quite enjoyable for grown up in parts.

AryaUnderfoot Fri 03-Jan-14 11:40:34

Thanks for all the replies - good food for thought!

We were thinking of staying in the New York in the Easter school holidays. My children are 7 (boy) and 4 (girl). DS eats anything and DD eats nothing and seems to survive on fresh air.

We had a short break at Butlins this year and, despite the slightly shabby accommodation and unremarkable food, had a great time. This was largely due to the fantastic attitude from the staff, who literally cannot do enough for you.

I've got some thinking to do......... I've got until the end of the month to decide...

Waspie Fri 03-Jan-14 11:49:26

We went for Hallowe'en and it was great. We stayed at a 3 star Disney hotel (Sequoia Lodge) and it was clean and comfortable and a short walk to the parks. Breakfast was good, although breakfast in the park was better as the queues were shorter (and you get to make the most of the early entry this way).

We experienced one ride break down but it was handled efficiently and we were given a priority note to come back later and just walk straight on (which we did). People do smoke in the queues despite lots of signs saying that it is prohibited.

The fast pass system is useful although we found that a few of the fast pass rides weren't using fast pass (broken down?) which was a pain.

There were loads of characters out and about - my son had his photo taken with all the main characters plus Jack Sparrow, Baloo and King Louie, Buzz & Woody, Rapunzel and others. The parades were excellent - very slick and professional and the parks were clean and tidy.

I was pleasantly surprised.

TheXmasLogIn Fri 03-Jan-14 12:05:13

I came back from DLP on monday (6th visit) so fairly recent grin The thing to remember with reviews is people are far more likely to write them when they have something negative to say, when you had a wonderful holiday sitting down to do a review is not your top priority.

anyway to try and answer your questions

1) All the disney hotels are currently undergoing their first major refurb in 20 years. I believe the Santa Fe and Sequoia refurbs are complete, Newport Bay is happening right now and Cheyenne is next on the list. Rooms are cleaned daily although i suppose if you look carefully you will always find the odd scuff in a hotel that is busy year round.TBH I have better things to do on holiday.

2) I have met many wonderful friendly staff in DLP over the years. on our most recent trip a shop assistant did magic trips for the children will we queued. Ok sometimes you meet a grumpy one, but that is the same anywhere. Remember this is France so there is a language/cultural barrier which could cause some unintentional rudeness.

3)Yes food is expensive and some of it is better than others (fast food kiosk v table service restaurant) look online in advance at the menus and for prices and make reservations to avoid disappointment.

4) At busy times they are very few Characters wandering the main parks anymore. Instead there are organised meet and greet places where you can queue for a photo/autograph. In the Studios the characters from the parade tend to be about more often and on quiet days you can meet loads of them (we met 9 there in the space of 30 minutes on monday morning) If you stay at a disney hotel they have characters every morning in the lobby plus character meals are good for meeting lots too.

5) All rides have queues and at busy times the popular ones can be very long. this is the same at any theme park. take advantage of Extra magic hours in the mornings or do rides during the evening or parade times as the queues are shorter then. Smoking again is a cultural thing but I wouldn't say its ever been a major problem on any of our visits.

6) I think the cleanliness of the parks considering the amount of visitors is exceptional. My DS once dropped a piece of popcorn and within seconds someone had swept it up. Remember the parks are open 365 days a year and all major maintenance has to be carried out in the night.The website tells you in advance any scheduled ride closures, but like anywhere they do sometimes breakdown. I prefer it that way to it carrying on regardless and someone getting hurt. If you are queuing when this happens, ask for a Fast pass for that ride when it starts up again. this has only happened to me once in 6 trips so unless I'm very lucky, its not that frequent.

£1500 is a lot but that depends on where you stay, for how long and how many are in your party. There are ways to make it cheaper especially by not booking transport through Disney itself as they charge a huge premium for it.

Also you say you plan to go at Easter, I would strongly recommend the first week of school holidays over the second as French zone C (Paris region) schools break up on the 12th April this year so parks will obviously be much busier after that.

If you have any other questions feel free to ask, either here or in PM smile

AryaUnderfoot Fri 03-Jan-14 12:16:38

Thanks everyone for taking the time to offer such comprehensive help.

I understand how misleading TA can be. I'm admin on a FB group for fans of a hotel in Turkey, and spend a lot of time reassuring people that outrageously exaggerated TA reviews are, in fact, outrageously exaggerated.

AryaUnderfoot Fri 03-Jan-14 12:17:44

That's a great help TheXmasLogIn - thanks!

Sixtiesqueen Fri 03-Jan-14 18:07:52

I always review on TA and I'd like to think my reviews are balanced.

We went in August. Queues were shocking (2 hours plus for very basic rides). I thought it was poor value and also hard with our 4 year old who doesn't like to queue.

Food, yeah, expensive and poor.

We stayed at the magic circus hotel and it was actually quite nice though had a cold pool.

Glad we went, but we were driving past en route to southern France. Also we got in cheap because our friend's daughter is one of the princesses there. If I'd paid out for a specific holiday there I'd feel utterly ripped off. We did look at going and it would have been similar prices to those you are quoting. I don think its worth it unless you are driving past.

HermioneWeasley Sat 04-Jan-14 20:46:27

1) some hotels are getting a bit tired. When we went last we stayed at sequoia lodge and it was recently refurbished
2) Polite cast members are a rarity. Indifference is the best you will get
3) Food is overpriced and of poor quality. Yes it is, but with some planning (and half board meal vouchers) it can be ok
4) There are no Disney characters visible around the park and there are queues to 'see' the few that there are in designated areas. This is true, and a real shame
5) Depends on time of year. Again, with planning you can avoid the worst of the queues. We went October half term (and the place was PACKED and we didn't q more than 40 mins)
6) Park was perfectly clean but a few rides did break down - notably phantom manor and thunder mountain seemed to have ongoing issues while we were there.

Overall, it is not as good as Florida, but the kids don't notice and think it's wonderful and magical. We've been lucky enough to go a few times and last October I said it was the last time because I did feel a bit "gouged"'- it's like they known they have a monopoly so don't have to try. But if you haven't been before then I would go.

LCHammer Fri 10-Jan-14 18:40:47

We went late August. Long queues, rides shut down due to the 'technical problems' of rain (even indoor rides!), cold swimming pool, overpriced food and general tat. Nevertheless the DDs loved it and I tried not to show my exasperation. We won't be going again.

RiojaHaze Fri 10-Jan-14 18:46:34

Nice to see the positive comments about the Sequoia as we've just booked to stay there the first weekend of March!

Any ideas what the weather will be like?

jolufc Fri 10-Jan-14 22:39:48

Why don't you but the annual passes? We stayed at a non disney hotel, bought annual passes and used tesco vouchers for the euro tunnel crossing. Never paid more than £700. Family of 4! Take loads of snacks, juice cartons etc in the car. Don't pay for breakfast as you should use the magic hours and breakfast won't be served in the hotel when you set off early to the parks.

AryaUnderfoot Sat 11-Jan-14 08:10:53

Thank you all for the great advice.

We had a discussion with the kids last week and asked them what they would REALLY love to do durng a short break away. They both decided that their idea of a perfect short break would be to spend the day on water slides - but in a pool that was a bit warmer than Butlins!

Disney would really be more about the kids than us and, as this isn't really somehting they're desperate to do, it doesn't seem that it would be 'worth it' for any of us.

We've booked to go to Center Parcs in Belgium for Feb half term. It was 440 euros (less than half the cost of CP in the UK for the same break).

DrNick Sat 11-Jan-14 08:14:44

i wouldnt go for longer than two days tbh

or in the winter

LCHammer Sat 11-Jan-14 15:42:36

Have a good time. Good decision.

AryaUnderfoot Sat 11-Jan-14 15:54:20

Thanks, LCHammer.

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