Disneyland Paris | Paris 2017

Previously on Paris 2017, we wrapped our last day in Paris with a highly-anticipated engagement photoshoot, stocking up on French skincare items, and exploring Montmartre, mainly the Sacré-Cœur and Moulin Rouge.


TL;DR Disneyland Paris is a fun park to visit for fans, especially European ones, but not particularly impressive for folks who have visited American parks in the past. (I can’t speak to the Asian parks.)

Disney park tip: If possible, book your stay at a Disney property so you can take advantage of Extra Magic Hours and get into the park before it opens to the general public. This is definitely worthwhile if you want to maximize hours spent at the park and want to visit something that has a long line.

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Disney day was upon us! Disneyland Paris is the only Disney park in Europe and consists of two parks: Walt Disney Studios Park and Disneyland Park. Disneyland Paris is currently celebrating it’s 25th anniversary, so the decorations have been updated for the occasion and some shows have been changed as well!

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By the way, remember how it’s been rainy most days of our Paris trip? We experienced the heaviest rain on our Disney day and were greeted with this view of the castle when we walked into the park.

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First stop, Sleeping Beauty’s castle itself in Disneyland Park!

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I heard that one of the highlights of DLP (Disneyland Paris) is there is a dragon sleeping under the castle! We were on such a rush mission to see the dragon before a crowd grew around it and woke it up.

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We walked around a bit and saw on the DLP app that Pirates of the Caribbean actually had nearly no line, so we hopped on to see if the ride was any different in France. It wasn’t, and I was slightly let down because some people cited this ride as a highlight of the park. Because of the glowing reviews of this ride (by people who’ve been to at least one American park), I started getting worried that this park didn’t really have a lot of novelty to offer.

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This doughnut was so disappointing 😀

Afterwards, we grabbed some quick bites via a crepe (Ben loves his crepes) and a star-shaped doughnuts (you know me and doughnuts) (and star-shaped things…) and then actually ran back to the hotel because it looked like it was going to rain and we needed to get more rain protection. We took a fairly leisurely walk back to explore the park but a lot of areas seemed closed (it was off-peak season) and we learned that in a French theme park, even a Disney one, there will be a smoking area. (The French are still pretty strong smokers, judging from the large crowds engulfed in smoke I saw outside of bars and cafes back in Paris.)

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The sun was out half the time we were in this park! It also poured while we were here so…

We decided to go into Walt Disney Studios Park from the hotel because it was open to the public (no magic hours there) and we learned that there was a French food festival happening!

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Each region of France was represented with its signature foods. Basically, it was the perfect little tour of French cuisine for us, and it may have been the highlight of our entire park visit.

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We tried a little bit from most regions, aside from Bretagne (thanks Breizh Café) and Savoie (with long lines for raclette, which we had zero interest in because we’re not cheese fans), and had a pretty positive experience with this, despite the fact that they did have to microwave a lot of the food for us. It was still some of the better food we ate in the parks. (The rumors are true: DLP does not have good food despite being in France, a country known for its great cuisine… as evidenced by this food festival.)

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We weren’t able to try food from everywhere, but I’m really grateful that this food festival happened during our visit because we really did learn a lot about the different regional cuisines of France!

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[Hyper]Space Mountain is Star Wars-branded here
In addition to Hyperspace Mountain, we rode the really fun Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, featuring Aerosmith and a lot of really cool rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia and history. There is also a very random (and not very good) ride based on the 1998 Armageddon movie, which I think Disney thought would be a longer-lasting hit than it was. From there, we hustled back to catch a Star Wars stage show that ended up being kind of disappointing… it wasn’t interactive, there was no story…? It was just a parade of characters and then it was over.

DSC05318DSC05322DSC05325It was around this time that I learned that maybe European Disney guests are pretty different from American ones. For example, I didn’t see many Disneybounders at all. (The few I saw… I’m pretty sure were American.) Also, I would see great photo opportunities with no wait for them at all and then watch as a line formed behind Ben while he took photos of me. Apparently, the behavior I learned from American Disney fans on Instagram (specifically, posing in front of Disney’s plentiful photo-ready walls) made me something of a trendsetter that day in Disneyland Paris?

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I don’t know why Toy Stor[e]y is misspelled here

We were really excited for our dinner reservation at Chez Rémy, the Ratatouille-themed restaurant that is modeled like Remy’s little rat-sized restaurant in the movie. The concept is very cute, decor-wise, but this was one of the most disappointing experiences we had at DLP.

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The food was extremely meh-to-bad tasting, and a lot of it didn’t even photograph well? I expect Disney to at least value style over substance, but never did I imagine they would execute neither well. The MOST disappointing thing was when our waitress recommended the chocolate cake to us and it came out looking like a literal mug cake that got dumped on a plate, with a cloying yet not sweet enough sauce. It was mushy and also cloying but not sweet enough and just terrible and ugly. I don’t know why the waitress recommended it to us. Maybe she hated us, she didn’t seem very happy.

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Just no real way to make this look appetizing because it just wasn’t?
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This looked and tasted microwaved…

Walt Disney Studios Park actually closes at 6pm, and with our dinner going over, we had to wait for every party to finish dining so that we could be escorted out the empty park by a park employee. It was a super surreal experience, walking through an empty park!

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Since we had to wait, more posing it was! The old ladies finishing their meal thought I was “adorable” and I appreciated that
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This view would’ve been crammed full of people an hour before dinner. Remember the broom?

We went back to Disneyland Park as the sun was setting, aka my favorite time of day anyway but especially in a Disney park.

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We rode Haunted Mansion, as I had heard that it’s a bit different here and very special and unique but… it… was not? After that really disappointing meal, I was starting to feel really jaded about all the tips we got for things to do at DLP…

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Nothing could really ruin golden hour, though, so we headed over to what has become my favorite Disney place during golden hour: the Tomorrowland/Discovery Land/whatever has the Astro Orbiter.

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I like that Paris has a Jules Verne-theme instead of a what-the-future-looked-like-in-the-50s theme, it did add a unique spin and didn’t seem as dated since it is not a prediction of the future but a projection of a specific vision of the future.

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We revisited the classic Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast (I finally beat Ben!!!!!!!!) and also toured the Nautilus from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. (I fear this is the kind of attraction that will get replaced by something from a more recent movie someday soon.) From there, it was time to get ready for the evening fireworks show in front of the castle! I told myself I would just enjoy it and not take photos but… it was just so gorgeous. I would put the camera away and then find myself frantically getting it out to capture a shot.

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Despite feeling a bit let down by the overall experience (and how salty I was that the castle show featured all these classic Disney animation clips and then a clip of live action Beauty and the Beast………….), it was really hard to not walk away from DLP feeling a bit of magic. I cry during the castle show every dang time.

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View of Main Street. See ya real soon!

That’s it! That was our last day in France! We were kept awake by a crack in the window, which led to a screeching howl every time the wind gusted by (aka every 5 minutes since it was storming out) and then waited until 3AM for a maintenance person to come by and basically… tape it shut.

Needless to say, we left France a little tired and cranky but really grateful for all the adventures that we had.


I can’t believe I’ve somehow managed to visit a different Disney park every year for the past few years! I feel extraordinarily fortunate to have had the opportunities to visit and compare these theme parks in a fairly short span of time.

What are your favorite things about Disneyland Paris? What’s your favorite Disney park? I’ve heard some good things about the Asia parks, although I believe they are also not run directly by the Walt Disney Company, right? That might be why their merchandise game is so different… and adorable!

What did we miss out on while we were in France? I think it’s really likely that we’ll return, so I’ll try not to ignore my Duolingo and practice that French so I can do even better with it the next time I go!

I’ll also try to get vlogs up because I have been diligently recording videos but… well, I have a lot of vlogs to get up and I take a long time with them… But I’ll do my best!

Can you believe it’s December already? Do you have any posts you’d like to see in particular? I am aiming to get my New Orleans recap up soon and maybe a gift guide or two so that you have someplace to start brainstorming as we get into gift exchange season!

 

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Disneyland: Before Bed | Spring Break 2016

Last time on Spring Break 2016, we had an emotional character lunch (well, at least I did) with some princesses before enjoying Disneyland for the bulk of the afternoon. The weather was finally cooperating and our golden afternoon melted into evening as we headed off to dinner to meet back up with Megan and Don.


Don and Megan, splashing out for their mini-honeymoon, not only made reservations for lunch but for dinner as well, at the swanky Napa Rose restaurant at the Grand Californian. Napa Rose is known for their farm-to-table menu brought by Chef Andrew Sutton. If you want the opposite of nomming on a giant turkey leg in the parks (and you’re not a Club 33 member), this is the fine dining spot for you. We were all feeling pretty full from our big, late lunch, so the four of us ordered a bunch of starters to nibble on. It was nice to have a little taste of the high life before throwing ourselves back into the parks. (And although it was a little sad, it was nice to set down my Minnie Mouse ears for a little bit.)

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Grilled diver scallops
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… can’t remember what this is, maybe a seasonal special…
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Truffled mac & cheese
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Green beans
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Wild boar meatloaf
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Roasted duck meatballs

Tip: If I had a second day at Disney, I think I would have skipped meal reservations because there is a lot of great food available in the parks and I was constantly worried about ruining my appetite. (Like we did at Disney World last year.) Napa Rose is a fine dining experience, so it’s not easy on kids or wallets but the food is very yummy.

After thoroughly stuffing ourselves, we split up: MegaDon to see the fireworks at Disneyland and Ben and I rushing to access the viewing area that we grabbed FastPasses for to see World of Color.DSC00888.JPG

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Disneyland: Before Dinner | Spring Break 2016

A lot of crazy and terrible things have been happening, and while I want these posts to mark good memories for me, I am not blind to the injustices and cruelties that are happening to other people this week and in weeks past. Do not take all of this sitting down. I want to let you know that you can do more than just hashtag and repost things on social media. It requires a bit more work to find out what legislators are doing to help you change the world, but I think it’s worth it. Black lives matter.


Last time on Spring Break 2016, Ben and I arrived in Anaheim for one magical day at Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure (DCA). After running around trying to see as much of DCA with minimal line-waiting time as possible, we finally had to answer the call of our rumbling tumblies. So, off to Disneyland’s New Orleans Square it was!


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DISNEYLAND! Celebrating their Diamond Anniversary with 60 years of magic.
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The “dinky castle”, as Annie dubbed it

I reviewed a handful of roundups of best food to eat at Disneyland, as it seems that a lot of my vacationing revolves around eating, even at the happiest place on earth. (One that I looked to for reference often was this one at Local Adventurer, which is a compilation based on their own personal experiences and other people’s lists.) We still had a fair amount of time before our lunch reservation, so I thought we’d be able to split one of the much-touted Monte Cristos, as it’d be a nice between breakfast and lunch type of sandwiches. Unfortunately for us, the line into Cafe Orleans was just too long and we hadn’t planned on visiting Blue Bayou at all. Off to Mint Julep Bar for Mickey beignets it was!

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With a mint julep, of course!

I had actually been craving beignets for weeks leading up to this trip, and I can’t remember when the last time I had one before our trip to Anaheim was. (Had I ever had a beignet before this???) These were pretty freaking great, though. And the mint julep (non-alcoholic!) was super refreshing as the sun started to get really hot. (It was our first sunny California day!)

Tip: Mickey-shaped beignets are sold at Mint Julep Bar and Cafe Orleans, but if you aren’t able to stop by New Orleans Square, the lines are too long, or some other obstacle keeps you from this goodness, you can get traditional-shaped (aka square) (aka not Mickey Mouse) beignets from Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen in Downtown Disney. Some folks say those taste better, despite not being Mickey-shaped!

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The man behind me is just not having it with my selfie nonsense and, frankly, I can’t blame him

While we were letting the beignets settle into our tummies, we checked the Disneyland app to see if there were any rides in Disneyland that had shorter wait times before our lunch. On our way to Mint Julep Bar, we saw that Pirates of the Caribbean was unexpectedly closed for repairs, but they had reopened and the wait was 5 minutes! We got up REAL fast and power-walked over to PotC, which I honestly did not think I would get to experience on this trip. I didn’t feel too strongly about experiencing rides that had replicas over at Disney World, in light of having ridden them in Florida and wanting to experience completely new things in California, but this is THE original Pirates ride and it was a lot of fun to experience. It’s slightly different from the Orlando one, and it’s fun knowing that there are still real human bones in the attraction! Also, to wave at the Blue Bayou diners at the beginning of the ride. I love this ride a lot, and I’m so so glad that I was able to ride it.

Tip: This isn’t exactly a tip, but I was a little startled by the small drop that happens after you finish harassing greeting Blue Bayou diners. I remembered hearing some yelps as I was waiting in line, but be advised that your little boat will drop and splash a teensy bit! Don’t say I didn’t warn ya! Also, despite what Youtube may tell you, I’d recommend not shouting “Throw me a roll!” at the diners.

After Pirates, we grabbed FastPasses for Indiana Jones, since that wait was very long otherwise and we had a FastPass opening! And then, before we knew it, it was time to head back to DCA for lunch at Ariel’s Grotto with Megan and Don. (Muahahaha they thought they could escape us!)Read More »

Disneyland: Before Food | Spring Break 2016

Last time on Spring Break 2016, we finally made it to Don and Megan’s wedding! It was a beautiful ceremony, a fun reception, and I was so happy to be able to partake in this wonderful day with my friends. Now, off to the second-best reason to be in LA – DISNEYLAND!

Note: This series of Disney posts will be a recap with a lot of tips, if you were planning your first trip and would like to learn the bit of a scoop I got! Scroll to the end of the post for some overall tips. Let me know if you’d like just an overall tips post for Disneyland?
Also I wasn’t sure how to divide these up, so it’s going to be broken up roughly around the meals we had? … Here we go!


After spending several days in Vegas and a wedding together, there was a small chance that maybe Don and Megan had enough of us. After all, there was a really good chance that Megan had spent more time with me over the past week than we had over the course of our whole friendship? (This is almost definitely true for Don and Ben.) If they were tired of our faces… they were in for a tough break at the beginning of their mini-moon (Minnie-moon!) in Disneyland as I just had to have at least one day at the original happiest place on Earth.

Ben and I spent one magical day at Disneyland, and it started bright and early! We dragged ourselves out of bed to say goodbye to our AirBnB and see ya later to LA before hitting the road and crossing our fingers that traffic to Anaheim wouldn’t be too bad. Luckily, we managed to get there without sitting in too much LA traffic at all! That Disney magic was helping us right along! We checked into our hotel and got our room keys, although our room wasn’t quite ready yet, so we skipped off to have adventures without being tempted by beds.

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Hidden Mickey fun started when we parked our car!

The key was having the room key because Disney resort guests are able to enter one of the two parks during ~*~Extra Magic Hour~*~ aka an hour earlier than everyone else! This perk, in addition to the convenience of being right off park property, was one of the main reasons I wanted to spring a little extra to stay in a Disney hotel. On the day that we arrived, Extra Magic Hour applied to Disney’s California Adventure (aka DCA), so we head through the gorgeous Grand Californian (where Megan and Don were checking in later after sleeping in after, uh, getting married), which opens up directly into DCA.

Tip: While there is an entrance to DCA from the Grand Californian, that line gets very gnarly because Disney hotel guests want to use this exclusive entrance. However, there aren’t as many line attendants as there are at the main entrance, so, unless you got to that entrance very early, you’ll get into the park faster if you go through the main entrance, where you can also see all the folks waiting for both DCA and Disneyland to open up the gates. We stood in the hotel guest line, having kids gawk at me in my Disneybound for a bit, before deciding to do that and it was the right decision in the end, for sure.

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There’s always time for a photo with Walt! Thank you Christine for these Snow White ears from Modern Mouse Boutique!

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Spring Break 2015: DISNEY WORLD (Day 4 part 2)

Last time on Spring Break, I was traipsing around Disney World with my friends, having the time of my life dressed as Ariel, belly full from lunch at Be Our Guest, and ready for a jam-packed evening.

WARNING: This post can only be longer than the last post. If you skipped the last post to come straight here… that’s understandable. This post is both text-heavy and photo-heavy, you have been severely warned. If you think it’s painful to read then consider how much I delayed it because of how painful it was to write. You’re welcome. And also, I am terribly sorry. Looooooong post ahead!


Fresh off the high of finally being able to see the Festival of Fantasy parade, we skipped off to ride through a classic, Pirates of the Caribbean. I love the movies that drew inspiration from this ride and love thinking about how creatively the writers took a simple story ride and gave us the PotC movie franchise. (Sad that “We want the redhead!” doesn’t make it to the movies, though.)

Dead men tell no tales…
CAPTAIN JACK!

After hearing about how Annie had 7 the last time she went to Disney World, we went to Aloha Isle for the famous Dole Whip! It was pretty hot that day, so the pineapple soft serve really hit the spot. Dole Whip used to only be sold at Disney properties (Disneyland, Disney World, Disney’s Polynesian) and at Dole’s Hawaii pineapple plant, but there are a handful of other spots you can snag this pineapple-y treat. Even if you don’t love pineapple, it’s definitely worth trying because it doesn’t have the super sharp acidity makes folks like me uncomfortable after more than a few small pieces.

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DOLE WHIP

There was no line and it’s kind of nostalgic, so we also took a quick tour of the Swiss Family Treehouse, which is based on the old movie Swiss Family Robinson. I never saw this movie but my parents did, so I remember them taking me through it and explaining the rooms and the cool engineering. It’s a swanky treehouse, folks. If I was stranded on an island and had to live in this treehouse, I’d be pretty ecstatic. I worry that one day, this treehouse will be gone or rebranded for a newer Disney franchise (like it was at Disneyland), so I try to enjoy it while I can. Of course, we also checked out Haunted Mansion, which is a fun and spoopy ride and an okay movie-based-on-a-ride. The creepy factor is definitely turned up for this classic Disney ride, so keep that in mind if you are bringing along smaller children.

We really wanted to take it easy in the afternoon, because we had dinner reservations at 11PM. Yeah, we had a long day ahead of us. A lot of people don’t like what I call the story rides, where you sit in a moving vehicle (arms and legs inside at all times!) and experience the story of the movie by passing through. The old Snow White ride was a story ride before it was decommissioned and replaced with the Mine Train. (Replaced as in Mine Train is the park’s Snow White ride now.) We did Under the Sea in the morning (because LITTLE MERMAID DUH) and did The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh before heading to the classic (ultimate classic) It’s a Small World and all its Mary Blair-style splendor. Confession: I used to get quite scared on this ride because there are so many animatronic dolls staring at you…

One of the highlights of the evening wound up being Enchanted Tales with Belle. The wait was one of the shorter ones by this point in the afternoon and there was an opportunity to meet a character so I mean. Maurice’s cottage is adorable and filled with a lot of cute details. There is even a portrait of Belle with her mother, which is a real treat because her mother is not shown or really mentioned in any of the movies. But what made our excursion to Belle’s library afterwards (“Take me to the moment Belle and Beast fell in love!”) was the interactive part of telling that story. Belle came out to greet all of us and chose audience members to help reenact her love story.

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Guess what happened when she laid eyes on the Gaston in our group?

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