Looking for a magical Disney vacation but canâ€™t stump the transatlantic flights to Florida or California? From the 1st April 2012 Disneyland Paris begins its 20th anniversary celebrations and thereâ€™s never been a better time to visit.
The Disneyland Paris Resort opened in 1992 under the name Euro Disney to a mixed reception and within its first two years even faced bankruptcy. Fast forward another ten years, a quick name change, new thrill rides and a new studio park and the Disneyland Paris Resort now tops the most popular European attraction poll year after year.
The Disneyland Park consists of five themed lands. Enter the park onto Mainstreet USA, the ideal spot for watching the fabulous daily parades and firework shows. Mainstreet USA is also a great place to pick up Disney souvenirs and if youâ€™re anything like me, go a bit merchandise crazy. At 25 I am currently the proud owner of a Disney iphone case and charm bracelet!
Head left at the top of Mainstreet (obviously not without a quick photo stop in front of Sleeping Beautyâ€™s castle) and youâ€™ll be taken back in time to the Wild West in Frontierland. There are some great rides for thrill seekers here including the fast paced Big Thunder Mountain and the terrifying Phantom Manor!Â
If Thunder Mountain has got the adrenalin pumping why not head over to Discovery Land and ride Space Mountain: Mission Two. From my experience this is typically one of the busiest rides in the park so itâ€™s worth heading there early and picking up a fast pass. The Disney fast pass system is a free service which will allocate guests a time during the same day to head back to the attraction and skip the regular line. If you play the fast pass system well it can save you hours of queuing each day but remember you can only have one fast pass at a time.
Adventureland is home to another one of the parks busiest rides Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril and if you have chance I would once again recommend trying to fastpass this one! Pirates are also at play throughout Adventureland and if youâ€™re unlucky you may even get a glimpse of the cruel Captain Hook and his ship!
Finally a trip to Disneyland isnâ€™t complete without a trip to Fantasyland which is the ideal spot to have your photos taken with your favourite Disney characters and enjoy several steady rides which are ideal for any younger guests. My personal favourite area itâ€™s easy to get swept up in the Disney magic here.
After a day of fun in the Disneyland Park youâ€™d think the fun was over but itâ€™s really just beginning as another day can easily be spent enjoying the fabulous Walt Disney studios which opened in 2002.
The Disney Studios are slightly smaller than the main park but some of the most exciting rides and shows take place here. The tower of terror is one of the scariest rides I have ever been on and is certain to send a shiver up the spine of bravest of guests! It is also home to the Aerosmith Rock â€śnâ€ť Rollercoaster which shoots guests from 0km to 100km in just 3 seconds into the dark blasting out your favourite Aerosmith hits on the 120 on board speakers so hop on and rock out!
For those who prefer a slightly more chilled day out the Disney Studios still has plenty to offer. Kids and big kids will love the Animagique show; a fantastic show taking you through some of your favourite movie memories and a great chance to see some of your favourite Disney characters live on stage. Fancy entering into a â€śwhole new worldâ€ť then look no further than the Flying Carpets of Agrabah where you can experience a magic carpet ride.
Whatâ€™s great about Disneyland Paris is whether you fly or Eurostar your way there it only takes a maximum of a couple of hours making it perfectly suitable for a short break.
All thatâ€™s left now is to decide where to stay!
If you are travelling with children I cannot recommend highly enough the Thomas Cook Explorers Hotel. The hotel is just an 8 minute shuttle ride from the parks and offers a great range of onsite facilities for kids including a great swimming pool equipped with a huge Spanish galleon! Itâ€™s also fantastic value and guests can book a family room for as little as ÂŁ35 per person per night. The hotel is also great for parents with bigger families as it can accommodate up to 2 adults and 4 children in a room.
If your budget stretches a bit further (remember you have saved all that money on flights!) why not check out the fabulous Dream Castle. The hotel is a little bit more expensive than the Thomas Cook Explorers but does offer some great extras for adult guests including a wellness centre, sauna and spa.
One of the most appealing factors of visiting the Disneyland Resort is that itâ€™s only a 35 minute ride on the Metro to the centre of Paris making it easy for guests to travel in from the city centre for a day or two. Ideal for guests who fear a full vacation in the park would leave them â€śdisneyâ€™dâ€ť out why not stay at one of my favourite Parisian hotels the Iliade Paris 18 in the vibrant 18th arrondissement and experience the best of both worlds.