Finally back to finishing off this trip report. Yikes!
I grouped some of the pictures into mini collages. Curious if you like that or prefer each picture separate (which makes the post longer).
Welcome to my multi-part review of our summer vacation. We spent 12 days abroad, predominately in Athens and Paris (and a half day in Amsterdam before heading home). Happy to answer questions as I finish up the series. We traveled in mid-July, so right in the middle of the Athens financial crisis. Here’s most of what I expect to cover, including links to posts I’ve already completed:
- Planning Our Summer Vacation!
- British Airways First and Business Class Lounges at Philadelphia Airport
- US Airways Business Class from Philadelphia to Athens
- A Speed Bump Upon Arrival At Arion
- Arion Guest Room Review
- Arion & Westin Amenities
- Arion Restaurant Reviews
- A Quick Trip To The Acropolis And Parthenon
- Athens Metro System
- Temple of Poseidon at Sounio
- Swimming With The Fishes
- Restaurant Review: Garbi (Seafood)
- Restaurant Review: Kiku
- Our Two Favorite Restaurants In Greece
- Tips On Getting Around Athens Airport
- Flying From Athens To Paris
- Hyatt Regency Etoile Paris, Part 1
- Hyatt Regency Etoile Paris, Part 2
- Climbing the Eiffel Tower
- Arc de Triomphe
- Disneyland Paris
- A Study of Macaroons
- Various Restaurant Reviews
- Taking The Train From Paris To Amsterdam
- Sheraton Schiphol Airport
- US Airways Business Class from Amsterdam to Philadelphia
We had plans to visit 3 Disney parks in one year and it started with Disneyland Paris. Disneyland Paris is composed of 2 parks, the same number as the original Disneyland in California. I didn’t specifically research comparisons, but the parks themselves in Paris felt smaller than California.
My friend Michael had suggested that both parks could be done in a 1-day sprint or we could proceed at a more leisurely pace and conquer them over 2 days. Based on all the other things we wanted to do in Paris we chose the 1-day sprint. Here’s a breakdown of our day:
We were leaving from the Hyatt Regency Etoile which is essentially attached to a mail with a Metro/RER stop. It took about 45 minutes of train time and was roughly 8 Euro a person one-way/15 Euro round-trip. The train and stations were clean and easy to navigate. I especially liked the lighted boards that let you know which stops the arriving trains stopped at.
Though the parks were a bit on the small side, there were a handful of really good things for Disney fans and casual fans alike that we hadn’t seen in the California or Florida versions.
First, the parade was different. Elsa and Anna had their own float and there were a few other characters that appeared who don’t normally show up in the parades in the US. I don’t think the parade route is necessarily longer, but the crowds didn’t seem quiet as deep.
Alice’s Curious Labyrinth was one of our favorite activities. It’s a pretty simple maze with lots of fun distractions for the kids. And, when you make it to the end of the maze, there’s a great view of the park from the top of the mini castle.
Sleeping Beauty’s Castle is worth a walk-through as well. Different than the other castles we’ve been to, the kids had a lot of fun looking at all the stained-glass windows. It won’t occupy a ton of time but it’s worth a quick stop.
The Toys Land area in Walt Disney World Studios was heavily themed and a great place for the kids to wander. There’s only a handful of rides there but they’re all worth the time.
And, then there’s Ratatouille! This was the most popular ride in the park and for good reason.
I made a cardinal Disney mistake with Ratatouille. We started the morning at the main Disneyland Park whereas Ratatouille is in WDW Studios, all the way at that back. By the time I realized we would absolutely need a FastPass for Ratatouille, I was a solid 15 minute jog to get there. Obviously, they were sold out by the time I got there. This was highest on our list of things to accomplish and the wait was already an hour.
I asked one of the Disney employees nearby if the line was likely to get longer throughout the day. She confirmed that it did, but that it generally thinned out as the park was within an hour of closing. She also said as long as you were in line by the time the park closed they would let you ride. I was doubtful but there really weren’t any other options. Thankfully, the park wasn’t open that late the day we were there. When we arrived about 40 minutes prior to closing the wait was listed at 45 minutes. But, the line looked much shorter than that.
Sure enough, we were on the ride in under 30 minutes. This was, by far, the highlight of the trip. Our favorite ride amongst all the others.
The food in the parks fell into two categories, really bad and non-existent. This likely ties into the fact that Disney (uncharacteristically for them) doesn’t own the entire park. They’ve committed a bunch of money into it over the past couple of years to try to get things up to par, which probably increases their equity percentage. But, there are apparently still a slew of shareholders that are not contributing to the upkeep the park needs.
Even though we were at the park in the peak of summertime, many food stands were closed or out of items they carried on their menu. What was available were oversized cookies and brownies as well as candy. If you’re looking for fruit or other wholesome snacks, you’ll want to bring them with you.
There are also very few foodservice options that are more than just snack stands inside the parks. We chose a fast food option at the front of WDW Studios. It was called “The Brown Derby”. If you’re at all familiar with the original chain or the upscale version inside Hollywood Studios at the Orlando Disney World, don’t confuse that perception with the Brown Derby in Paris. It’s counter service, hamburgers and chicken fingers. That was the best of what we could find, though there was a full-service restaurant beside Ratatouille that got good recommendations. It was fully booked during our day there.
The food wasn’t the only area lacking maintenance. Frequently, we would find bathrooms out of order.
More frequently, we would find rides out of order. Or, more correctly, we would get in line for something and the ride would break. I had read about some of this on some Disney-themed bulletin boards but didn’t actually imagine it would be as bad as people made it out to be. I was wrong. We wasted a decent chunk of time standing in line for rides that ultimately broke.
This is a fountain not far from the castle in the main park. There were a few kids playing in the fountain, somewhat peacefully. While not the sort of thing I expect to see at Disney, it paled in comparison to the three teenagers (right-hand side of the picture) who were wrestling in the fountain. More than one Disney employee walked by while we were sitting and nobody stopped to deal with the teenagers.
The complete lack of focus by the staff to make this a “Disney” experience was evident in many places.
The silver lining of a park that’s not well-run are discounted tickets. We found a number of places that had discounted tickets. We chose to purchase our tickets from 365 Tickets based on some online recommendations. While I was a bit uneasy at first, that fear was quickly allayed with efficient service. Ticket prices via 365 are currently around $50 for a 1-day ticket for both parks, whereas Disney is currently selling that same ticket for about $75.
There’s a bit of a Catch-22 going on at Disneyland Paris. The number of visitors haven’t met expectations. I’m sure that’s contributing to the lack of maintenance and food options open to park-goers. But, it’s a bit disappointing. Disney purists will absolutely want to visit Disneyland Paris, with plenty of activities that are unique to this park. If you’re just looking to kill a day in Paris and you’re not necessarily a huge Disney fan, there are likely better values to be had to go with the long train ride.
The post Our Review Of Disneyland Paris. Athens & Paris For Dollars A Day was published on Pizza in Motion