In the Summer of 2006, Kyle was living and working in London and I was studying at Oxford University. We escaped to Paris one weekend (Disneyland Paris, specifically) and our trip was absolutely nothing like what I thought it would be. Should you be bound for Europe any time soon, I thought I’d leave you some photos and these 8 vacation tips:
1 /// It is easy to take a train from London to Paris and another from Paris to Marne-la-Vallée where Disneyland Paris is. You will, however, make it harder on yourself if you make absolutely no attempt to (A) learn a few French phrases or (B) educate yourself on making connections to reach your destination. The least effective method: standing in the middle of a train station in Paris, yelling in English and waiting for some French person to jump up to help you. Buy a guidebook.
2/// Stay at one of the Disney resorts. We were broke on our trip, so we split a room at a hostel in Marne-la-Vallée with one of my girlfriends for the first night. HUGE mistake. The room was tiny, infested with bugs, and we weren’t anywhere near Disneyland Paris so we had to do a strange bus/taxi combination that made no sense and cost us about $70 total. Yes, the resorts are more expensive and the theming falls a little flat, but the breakfast is good, the customer service is passable, and you’ll be right by the parks.
3 /// One of the best backgrounds for taking photos to prove that you went to Disneyland Paris is in the Queen of Hearts maze on the tower (see the photo above). Trying to get a clear Main Street U.S.A. shot is pretty tough because people walking in front of your camera seems to be more of a thing at these parks.
4 /// Make a late dinner reservation at Walt’s. The food is amazing and if you time it right, you can wander out in the dark after the park is closed and empty. They’re much more firm about getting people out of the parks at closing time, so this is one of the best ways to get that shot of an empty lit-up Main Street.
5 /// Skip the Blue Bayou. It’s just as expensive as the one in Disneyland (more with the conversion) but the space is smaller with more tables so you really feel like you’re on top of the other people eating there. Disneyland Paris has a surprising number of tasty options, including lots of quick service with relaxed seating. Explore.
6 /// Know that people may pee in front of you. We were there for two days and saw three counts of public urination. Nobody seemed to crack down on the behavior, so you might have to roll with it. Just don’t sit on the grass. Or the ground. Anywhere.
7 /// Don’t miss the dragon under the castle. We almost didn’t see it, but it’s a park highlight. Our other favorites included The Phantom Manor (our favorite version of The Haunted Mansion), Big Thunder Mountain (so cool), Pirates of the Caribbean (by far the best Pirates we’ve seen), and walking around Adventure Isle.
8 /// If you have must-have park things, like Disney shirts, extra camera batteries, guidebooks, etc. be sure to pack them in your carry-on. I flew British Airways to get to London and they lost my luggage for FOUR WEEKS so everything you see me wearing in these photos had to be purchased in London for far more than I would have paid at home. My Buzz Lightyear shirt is actually a deconstructed clearance pajama top from The Disney Store in Covent Garden that I cut up (you can see that the sleeves are tied). Just a little flight tip from me to you!