"Don't anger the dolls"-A France and DLP Trip, June 2018-Update 7/18-Day 0-1 Travel + Paris Arrival

Discussion in 'Disneyland Paris Trip Reports Board' started by Lesley Wake, Jul 13, 2018 at 6:10 PM.

  1. Lesley Wake

    Lesley Wake May the force be with you!

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    "Don't Anger the Dolls" - A France and Disneyland Paris Trip Report, June 2018

    Hello! And welcome!

    ME PHOTO.jpg

    I'm Lesley, and this is my third trip report on the forums, but my first visit to Disneyland Paris! You can read about my Pre-Trip-Report here: "Remy, Marie, and Me"

    First, some basics about the trip, then we'll get into Introductions!

    Trip background: The whole idea of a European vacation came from a combination of factors – my mom not wanting to take another solo vacation with my dad (ha!), my sister starting law school in the fall meaning that this would be one of the last times for a family vacation, my parent’s 40th wedding anniversary in the fall. It took longer to decide exactly where in Europe (this involved some Google surveys and voting...), but eventually we settled on 2 weeks in France (other options included Italy, Germany, Scotland/Ireland). While you could probably do a whirlwind tour of France in 2 weeks we didn’t want to totally exhaust ourselves, so we ended up focusing on three areas: Paris, Loire Valley, and Normandy.

    And of course, because I'm a crazy Disney nut, I could not go to France without heading to Disneyland Paris! No one else was interested, so I ended up doing this solo!

    Trip Itinerary:

    There are several different parts to this trip:

    Part 1: Paris, May 26 – June 1

    The whole family spent 6 nights in an Airbnb in the center of Paris. This includes visits to museums, monuments, Versailles, and lots of walking and food!

    PARIS PHOTO.jpg

    Part 2: Loire Valley, June 2-5

    Next we travelled to Amboise, in the Loire Valley, where we stayed at another wonderful Airbnb. We visited plenty of chateaus, as well as tried to take things a bit slower!

    AMBOISE PHOTO.jpg

    Part 3: Normandy, June 6-8

    Then we travelled up to Normandy, staying at a third Airbnb in Courseulles-sur-Mer, the town where Juno Beach (Canadian landing site on D-Day) is located. We visited D-Day monuments and places of remembrance, plus a day trip to Giverny.

    NORMANDY PHOTO.jpg

    Part 4: Disneyland Paris, June 9-15

    On June 9th, we all split up and I headed to Disneyland Paris solo (the actual DLP days are June 10-14), staying at the Sequoia Lodge in a Golden Forest Room. That was bookended by a 1-night stay in Val D’Europe and at the Sheraton Charles-de-Gaulle Airport.

    DLP PHOTO.jpg

    Some notes on this Trip Report:

    -Most photos in here are my own, taken via an iPhone. But when the whole family was together, we realized we had 9 cameras between us: 5 iPhones (mom didn’t use hers), 2 point and shoot (mom and dad), and 2 fancy DSLRs (Joey and Anthony). So rather than making sure everyone got photos of all the group shots, we just let one or two people take them. Then after we got home, I created an Amazon Prime Photos Family Vault – it allows me to invite up to 5 others to share photos and gives them all access to Amazon Prime Photos (unlimited photo storage). So some places I may be using photos taken by someone else.

    -For some of the historical sites, I decided to include some more information on their history. I am putting that all in italics.



    Read along to get the answers to find out the following:



      • Would I eat more croissants or crepes?
      • Which museum was my favorite?​
      • Did I visit everything I wanted to in Paris?​
      • What was my favorite ride at Disneyland Paris?​
      • What did I think of the food at Disneyland Paris?​
      • Overall where would I rank the Paris parks?​
      • What are my future plans for visiting international parks, and how did that change after this visit?​
      • How on earth did I come up with the title for this TR?​
    And please, feel free to comment or ask questions!



     

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    Last edited: Jul 18, 2018 at 1:56 PM
  2. Lesley Wake

    Lesley Wake May the force be with you!

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    Introductions:

    Here's the whole gang who came along:
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    (The family at Disneyland on Thanksgiving - we decided to do a day here rather than a big Thanksgiving meal!)


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    My name is Lesley and I'm a 33 yr old engineer, living in Los Angeles. I've been a huge Disney fan all my life and have been a Disneyland AP for the past three years (with a few month break; I also upgraded that AP to a Premier AP for the WDW benefits last year and again this year). Thanks to that AP and my close proximity to DLR I get to go all of the time. Ever since visiting WDW for the first time in September 2017-during a hurricane (TR: "We've gone too far"-A sister trip with surprise guest Irma! Sept 2017) I became hooked and went back in March (TR: “Hippos and Tigers and Flower, Oh My! – A Solo March ’18 TR”), and (as of now) have 2 more trips planned in December 2018 and February 2019 (including a Disney cruise in February) (Pre-trip-report: "Footloose and Fancy Free").

    I was the primary planner for this trip, which annoyed some members of my family, but helped other members.


    MOM DAD.jpg

    Next, Mom. She went to Paris once when she was 16 and wasn’t a huge fan. But that was a family trip and I think there was a lot of drama involved in that. She wasn’t totally sold on Paris to start, but eventually as we tried to make a decision, she agreed it would be the best option.

    Then, Dad. He has never been to “the continent” – he has had several trips to England over the years because my (maternal) grandma’s family lives there. But his number one destination has always been Paris. He really, really wanted to go there and had this internal list of things he wanted to do (mostly the basic tourist stuff).


    LAUREN JOEY.jpg

    Lauren is my sister. She was my partner on my first WDW trip. She wasn’t as excited about the idea of Paris and was really hoping for Italy, as she minored in that in college. This was her first visit to France, though not her first visit to Europe, as she had done a 6-week study-abroad in Italy. She gave me so much trouble planning this trip, as she DID NOT WANT TO PLAN and refused to listen whenever I asked her questions, like if she wanted to visit a particular museum at all… but I digress…

    Joey is Lauren’s boyfriend. He’s basically a member of the family and, while his official residence is with his family in Utah, because he also works in film (all freelance), he de facto lives with us in LA. It was his first visit to continental Europe, as he had traveled with us to England in 2015. So he was actually looking forward to this trip too!

    Lauren and Joey are actually both Disneyland Annual Passholders this year, but have decided not to renew next year due to schedules and finances. They like Disney, but aren't as obsessed as me! I was surprised though that they didn't end up coming to Disneyland Paris at least for a day or two, but to each their own!


    ANT PHOTO.jpg

    Anthony is my brother. He is the definition of a modern hippie. He likes to take things at his own pace, and if given the choice, would relax in a hammock drinking beer all day, surrounded by “chill” people (you'd think his ideal vacation would be Hawaii, but he thinks it's too uppity). Since he is fun-employed (he does film work but doesn’t have a full time job yet), after everyone else left Europe, he stuck around for another month, hopping around Eastern Europe alone. He had visited Paris for about a day a couple years ago (we had a family visit to England as part of a memorial service for my Grandma), and wasn’t a fan, so wasn’t the most excited about the trip, though that changed once he got there!

     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2018 at 1:56 PM
    tammy, DLo and paradesintherain like this.
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  4. amalone1013

    amalone1013 DIS Veteran

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    I'm so excited!
     
  5. Lifelong_Dreamer

    Lifelong_Dreamer DIS Veteran

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    Excited to read about your trip!
     
  6. petals

    petals Irish Princess because Cinderella said so!

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  7. amazingact21

    amazingact21 Upendi

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    I'm here!

    Is this related to the story you told me about your Airbnb?? If so, I can't wait to read about it again. It was hilarious. :rotfl2:
     
  8. BadPinkTink

    BadPinkTink DIS Veteran

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    this sounds fun, Im always interested in reading a USA viewpoint of visiting Europe and Disneyland Paris, as I am from Ireland and visit Disneyland California every year :)
     
  9. SweetSerenity

    SweetSerenity Thank you evenin' star!

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    I'm here!!! Can't wait!
     
  10. NancyLuvsMickey

    NancyLuvsMickey DIS Veteran

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    I'm here...popcorn:: I read your other 2 TR's and enjoyed them but never commented... I'm more of a lurker... But know I'm here enjoying it even if you don't hear from me again... :wave2:
     
  11. paradesintherain

    paradesintherain DIS Veteran

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    Smart thinking! I think people fall victim to planning too much in Europe all the time

    3 now, with the May Dismeet :teeth:

    No love for Paris from your family!

    Oh this is so frustrating! I love planning but I want people to input what's important to them so everyone is happy!
     
  12. krysenchips

    krysenchips Mouseketeer

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    Following along! I can't wait to see all that you all got up to France.
     
  13. Jules76126

    Jules76126 Practically Perfect in Every Way

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    Joining in. I love Paris especially in the summer time so excited to hear about your trip and what you thought of DLP.
     
  14. DLo

    DLo DIS Veteran

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    Hopping over from your solo TR. can’t wait to read about your adventures and I am guessing maybe a little drama?
     
  15. Woth2982

    Woth2982 DIS Veteran

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    Im here and excited to follow along! I am most interested in your Normandy posts! Andrew wants to go to Paris, I went about 10 years ago and didnt love it, but he also wants to visit Normandy (we are both WW2 geeks) so I could get on board with that.
     
  16. Pre

    Pre Mouseketeer

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    YAY!! I've been following along on your pre trip report and have been (im)patiently waiting for your trip report!!
     
    Lesley Wake likes this.
  17. Lesley Wake

    Lesley Wake May the force be with you!

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    Welcome guys! I hope you like it!


    Haha, yup! I think some of my facebook friends may also have gotten a preview when I posted some photos from that place!

    It was great to see a new park!

    Welcome! I've lurked on many TRs, so don't worry!

    Yeah, I think I still overplanned though! Half of the family wasn't too excited, but I think once we got there, everyone had fun!

    Lots of eating...:rotfl:

    It was cool to see everyone in Paris trying to enjoy the summer! And DLP is gorgeous!

    Oh, there's always drama when my sister is there! :confused3 But nothing too bad!

    Looove Normandy! So much history!

    Haha, well I had to finish up my previous one too!
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2018 at 1:56 PM
  18. Lesley Wake

    Lesley Wake May the force be with you!

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    Update 7/16 - Some quick tips

    I thought before I got into the whole trip diary it would be helpful to give some quick tips for both France and Disneyland Paris. Some of these will be copied over from my Pre-trip report...

    France in general:
    Accommodations: As a family we did Airbnbs and loved it! Gave us all bedrooms plus a place to gather. We picked only recognized users with plenty of good reviews and limited cancellations, so didn't have any issues that way. Mom and Dad, and then I, stayed at the Sheraton CDG before our departure flights. I would highly highly recommend that. It is a lovely hotel and so convenient (within Terminal 2). It is a bit pricey, but really, for that convenience, so worth it!

    Restaurants: We did most of our meals out and had some great experiences. The only bad meals were really at a couple tourist traps by Notre Dame, so we should have known better. Definitely check out reviews, they seem to use TripAdvisor the most (more than Yelp or Google). We didn't have any reservations but also never really had to wait for a table (sometimes just for them to get together a 6-person one). Many places in Paris are pretty small, but there are lots of them, so it's just a matter of finding a place that is open and had good reviews. In Amboise, we did have issues one night with limited availability (but they had a special concert that night we hadn't accounted for), but besides that we were fine.

    Tools:

    • Mobile Wifi: GET ONE! OMG, so helpful! I rented one from Travel Wifi, which is especially good if you are just within France (Tip: Follow them on twitter; they often have 15% off sales and that will alert you to the sale). My dad had gotten an international phone plan, which extended to my brother's phone, but service was pretty abysmal, so we couldn't rely on it. Everyone would connect to my unit whenever we were nearby. And I used it for Google Maps all of the time (figuring out which metro to take and even in the metro, which exit door to go thru). I picked up my unit from a tourist desk in CDG. My original unit had issues which I didn't discover until after we left Paris; I contacted them and they were very responsive so we set up for me to get a replacement when I was stopping at CDG before heading to Disney.
    • Museum Pass: Another highly recommended thing. So much easier than having to get individual museum tickets and let us skip the line in most places. I bought them at the same tourist booth at CDG where I picked up the mobile unit. Check what you want to do and when you want to do it; mom, dad and I got 6-days but we realized later we could have done with 4-days.
    • Mobile power charger: Another thing to make sure you have! I had a 6,000 mAH, which is supposed to charge the iphone 3x completely. When I had issues with the mobile wifi battery, I ended up connecting the charger to the battery, so carried both around with me all the time.
    • USB adapters: Rather than bringing lots of plug adapters, I realized most things I needed to charge/plug in were all via USB, so I got European USB adapters instead. The ones I used had 2 USB connectors, which was helpful when plugs were in short supply. I also should have brought an extension cord (not surge protector, just extension) to connect closer to where I wanted it.
    Transportation
    • Metro: Paris metro is actually not too bad and trains come very often. Metro stations are all over, but thats where Google Maps comes in handy, since they have so many lines, so you know where to go. Make sure you know which direction you are going (there are signs which show the direction and which metro stops you will go thru) before you scan your ticket, because sometimes the two directions don't connect together and you'd be wasting a ticket. Also, most stations have very limited escalators/elevators, so be prepared for stairs...lots and lots of stairs!
    • Bus: This actually was also very helpful, since you didn't have the metro stairs issues. And on the bus there are plenty of maps and signage which lets you know where the upcoming stops are.
    • Uber: Near the end of the Paris portion of our trip we used this more often due to exhaustion! If you are a big group that needs a van, you may have to wait longer, but they do have them. Smaller groups won't have any issues!
    • Navigo Decouverte: I purchased a Navigo Decouverte transport card; it came to 26.25 euro and includes unlimited metro, RER, and trains in Paris for 1 week (Monday morning - Sunday evening). Definitely worth it for me, considering roundtrip RER to Versailles 14.20 euro, round trip to Disneyland was 15.20 euro, plus 1.90 euro each metro/bus ride. So it's something to consider for your trips if you think you will use lots of transportation. Everyone else in the family just got individual tickets.
    Miscellaneous
    • Air conditioning is almost nonexistent. We had a lot of very hot and humid days, and even going into a museum or restaurant didn't help.
    • Public restrooms are gross! And even the restrooms in museums/restaurants weren't much better.
    • Pickpocketers: we only had one experience and that was due to my dad's gullibility. Mom, Lauren, and I also all had clips to our bags, so we'd keep it closed and then clip the zipper to the handle, so someone couldn't easily unzip it.
    • They have bag checks or X-ray machines at most places, but it really was a joke. Often I'd see the security guards just chilling on their phone not even checking the machine, just waiving everyone through. And if they checked manually they just glanced, no checking pockets or even bottom of the bag. Honestly, Disney security was the best one I saw!
    • Arrive at museums early or late. If we arrived within the first hour of museum opening, it was easy to get in. And the Louvre, which usually has a 1.5 hr security line - we arrived 2 hrs before it closed and there was NO ONE in line! Like literally it was walk right in! Amazing!
    • Other tourists are annoying. Like really annoying. Watch out for the big groups from China - honestly they were some of the worst. And large student groups in the cathedrals - they showed very little respect, even when getting told off by security guards. But, just keep going on, being polite, and the people working will appreciate it!
    • There is A LOT of walking. Like a lot! I was able to keep going day after day and the others were astounded (I'm probably in the worst shape of all of them). When asked how, I responded: Disney World Training! Seriously, if you can handle multiple days in a row at the parks, then you can handle Europe!
    • Accessibility - We didn't have to deal with this, but I cannot imagine how you'd get around with a wheelchair. Places are just not accessible. My hat's off to those of you who are able to make it work! I also didn't notice too many strollers around (or places to securely park strollers if you were visiting a museum), so if you have young kids, that is something you will need to consider!
    • Merchandise people are all over outside every tourist attraction. And they all sell the same stuff. It is pretty cheap, and you can tell most of the people selling it are groups of immigrants. So, if you are looking for a cheap keychain or figure of Eiffel Tower, I'm sure you can get a better deal there than in the junky tourist shops on the street.
    Driving/Rental Car
    • We had a rental car for our non-Paris part. Getting a rental car at CDG takes FOREVER! Like seriously, insane wait times! We were lucky that it only took us 90 minutes; I had friends who it took them 3 hrs in line! Ridiculous!
    • The major highways are very easy to use and well-maintained. But they are also mostly toll roads and the tolls are significant - it probably cost us 30 euros to drive from Paris to Amboise.
    • Paris drivers are CRAZY! Don't even think about a rental car there!
    • Outside of Paris there are a lot of very very narrow streets. In Normandy, so many little roads which would only be wide enough for 1 car in USA, but were for 2 cars in France (so lots of driving slowly partially on the shoulder).

    Disneyland Paris:

    • Accommodations: I stayed in Sequoia Lodge, which was nice. It was about a 15 minute walk from the parks, which isn't too bad. Though I really wished I had splurged and stayed at the Disneyland Hotel, which is literally above the entrance to Disneyland! That would have been so much more convenient. If you are going, check the deals and cost difference; I don't think you'd regret it! Oh, and one thing - there are not enough outlets, so make sure to bring splitters/plugs with multiple outlets.
    • "Club Level" - I stayed in the Golden Forest Level, which is sort of like their "club level". It's not nearly as nice as the US Parks Club Level, but also isn't priced as high (I think it was only $150 more for me to do GF vs a regular room). I think the perks were well worth it: breakfast in morning - included and calmer atmosphere than the main hotel buffet; dedicated check-in - they have a separate desk area (with partial height walls) that is much better than the chaotic main lobby area for check-in; bell services - they will take your luggage and deliver to your room (like WDW's DME), if you don't have GF you can store your luggage at bell services, but you have to pick it up yourself and deal with possible long lines; afternoon snack - they had a spread of snacks/pastries/sodas in the afternoon which is nice, but don't plan your day around getting back for it; Hotel Fastpass - one anytime FP per person per day which can be used on any ride except from 1-4pm.
    • Meals: I didn't really have any horrible meals at Disney, but I also didn't have any that knocked my socks off. They were fine, but not memorable, especially not for the prices. BUT, the theming in the restaurants - A+++. Both the counter service and table service places were just so gorgeous and detailed. I didn't have any bad service (well except for one circumstance, which was just weird and awkward), but I had some great waiters.
    • Restaurant hours: they definitely are more limited than the US parks. Many restaurants close down early or aren't even open some days. I used this website to figure out when places were open: https://disneykindofday.blogspot.com/2015/04/restaurant-opening-hours-disneyland.html
    • Cast members: Going into the trip I was wondering what I would think. I was actually impressed. The CMs I interacted with were outstanding. Like on Big Thunder, there ended up being a competition between the two loading sides to see who could get their trains to cheer the loudest; one CM even got her train to do a whole wave as they entered the station! Another time I was waiting at Casey Jr for the next train and there was a little girl (maybe 2-3 yrs old) who was just DONE and laid down on the ground. The CM was waiting for the train too, so he decided to just lay down next to her and they had a little chat, which cheered her up! And then... oh boy... this one CM on Tower of Terror - I think the best attractions CM I have ever had! He upgraded the entire ride for me! I will get into more about that experience, but he was stupendous!
    • Attractions: These were also pretty great. Some rides were identical to DLR, but others were so much better!
    • Other Guests: Ok, this is where I'm going negative. They are pretty horrible! Like not listening to the CMs, smoking everywhere, not disciplining children, trying to cut in line, climbing on things they aren't supposed to, just not good. I mean, I legit had a kid stomp on my foot and another punch my chest in front of their parents and no one did anything! Another parent literally stepped over me when I was sitting watching a show, so her kid could sit in front of me (in an area that was actually off-limits). So, yeah...be prepared for bad behavior!
    • Disneyland App: It's helpful, but not very accurate for wait times. Often it's not updated based on what is posted at the ride (i.e. listed a 5 minute Pirates wait time, but was actually 45 minutes). I also tried to use some of the apps (Magipark), but unfortunately they mostly pull their ride times from the main app. It was good though when you could set up a notification for if a ride came back online after being closed.
    • Extra Magic Time: Sooo helpful! Basically every morning you have 1 hr in each park, which is limited to hotel guests and Annual Passholders. Not every ride is open, but it does give you a good start.
    • Park Hours: In the summer, the park is open from 10am - 11pm, which is necessary so they can show the nighttime show after dark. When you add in the EMT from 8:30, that gives you a lot of time in the parks! Mid-day breaks are especially helpful, which is one of the reasons why I really wish I had stayed at Disneyland Hotel! Even though it's only a 15 minute walk, that walk can be torturous multiple times per day after walking all around the parks!
    • Ambiance: This is where DLP shines. Just so many details and places to explore. There was one day when I spent 11 hours in the park and went on 3 rides (none of which had long line; I just spent my time exploring and wandering)! I legitimately got lost in Adventureland a few times, which probably was the whole goal of the Imagineers!
    • Entertainment: There are some great stage shows at Walt Disney Studios Parc. They are in theatres with fixed seats, so these shows fill up and you need to get there with plenty of time to ensure you get in. They will close off the line once they hit a certain number (you go thru a turnstile to enter the main queue area), and then you are left out (no backup standby lines are available). They started a new Mastercard promotion to get reserved seats (some of best in the house), so if you are there in near future, head to Guest Services right when park opens for EMT (hint - the City Hall in Disneyland opens 30 minutes before GS in the Studios parc), and you can get a ticket (there are only 20 per showing). It's totally worth it!

    That's what I can think of right now. I'm sure I'll have other tips as I'm writing the TR!
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2018 at 1:56 PM
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  19. missjackiemcg

    missjackiemcg DIS Veteran

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    I'm so excited to hear all about the details and everything!!! I've been trying to catch up on all the TRs and PTRs I fell behind on during our vacation and then catching back up at work, etc. So don't start updating too fast!! :) LOL
     
  20. missangelalexis

    missangelalexis DIS Veteran

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    Joining in! Excited to read along :)
     
  21. disneyAndi14

    disneyAndi14 DIS Veteran

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    Joining in, sounds like a fun trip!
     

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