I know it was a bit of a cop-out, going to Paris for three days and then spending one of those days in Marne-la-Vallée – but at the end of the day, there is nowhere nearly as magical as Disneyland. Having experienced the amazement (and cold!) of Disneyland Paris for a day during the winter season, I thought that I’d put together my top tips and advice for any other couples planning on visiting – for us, Disneyland was the perfect lesbian anniversary date.
1. Take note of the 6 P’s: Proper Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance
The first piece of advice I can give is to plan your trip well. There are so many great resources for planning a day trip to Disneyland from Paris, with information on everything from which train lines to get through to which rides will have the longest queues! Our day wouldn’t have gone nearly as well had we not spent a substantial amount of time on Paris by Train, DLRP Magic and the Tripadvisor Disneyland Paris forums. If you have the time, definitely take a look around these sites.
2. Have a plan of attack
Having researched the two Disneyland parks well, we knew that we wanted tickets to both parks (Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park) – but we also knew we were likely to spend far less time in the latter. Because of this, we decided to go to the Studios park first, ride the things we wanted to early, and then head to Disneyland park for the rest of the day. I am SO glad we did this, as it meant that we got to ride Crush’s Coaster before the lines got ridiculous (we queued for 45 minutes and that was a short time!) – even though this was actually my least favourite ride of the day!
3. Arrive early
The parks both open at 9.30am, although most of the rides don’t start running until 10am. However, I’d still advice arriving before 9.30, as when the park gates open, most people head straight in to begin queuing for the most popular rides. We’d been advised to queue for Crush’s Coaster, as it’s a popular ride which doesn’t have FastPass Access. I’m so glad we did; we queued for around 45 minutes (25 minutes before the ride opened, 20 minutes after) and after we left the ride, the queue time was already up to two hours. If we hadn’t arrived early, I don’t think we would have made it onto that one ride at all.
Admittedly, it was probably warmer in Marne-le-Vallée than it was in central Paris, but it was still really cold during our day at Disney. We both had hat, gloves and scarves, and I’d been particularly careful to wear extra layers under my coat, and stick two pairs of socks on. I’ve got to admit, it was still cold queuing for some rides even with all these layers – and I did get very numb feet at one point! We were lucky in that it didn’t rain / snow whilst we were there – in fact, we had bright sunlight for much of the day – but we still had waterproof jackets as we were outside most of the day. I highly recommend both layers and waterproofs – had it rained, we would have been able to stay in the queues for things we wanted to ride.
5. Eat at odd times
As we’d left our hotel early enough to get to the parks for opening time, we didn’t have the chance to grab any breakfast. This ended up being a real advantage to us, as it meant that we ended up on a completely different food schedule from everyone else – and thus avoided a lot of hanging about in restaurants. After riding Crush’s Coaster and getting a FastPass for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, we were both starving, and we had a bit of time to spare whilst we waited for our FastPass time to roll around. We ended up sharing a brunch of a chicken burger and chips in the Studios park, which kept us going through til about 2pm, when we watched a parade, accompanied by a wonderful coffee and a nutella brioche. Due to this snack, and a bag of french sweets we’d brought with us, we didn’t need to eat again until about 5pm, when we went and shared a pizza and salad at Colonel Hathi’s Pizza Outpost – where a shared dinner and drink cost us about 14 euros. We finished the night, waiting for Dinsey Dreams, with another coffee and a nutella crepe; this was to keep warm just as much for anything else!
6. Watch a Parade
Before arriving, I didn’t think that I’d be too bothered about watching any of the shows or parades – but it just so happened that the Disney Christmas Parade was going to start whilst we were enjoying a lunchtime coffee and brioche – and I’m so glad we got to see it! Seeing all the characters, singing and dancing – the floats, decorated with Christmas decorations – and even some fake snow, floating down from an entirely cloudless sky – was magical. I’m so glad we got to experience it, and especially just to see the faces of the little kids around us – it made me so excited to take my own kids one day!
7. Use your FastPass wisely
This is the one thing which I wish someone had told me before we arrived; plan your FastPass usage wisely through the day. We used our FastPass to get a time for the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, but then didn’t even think about it again until we wanted to go on Space Mountain, hours later. Unfortunately Space Mountain was closed – and by the time we’d headed round to the Indiana Jones ride, the earliest FastPass time we could get was after 6pm! As you can only hold get one FastPass ticket every few hours, we then couldn’t get a FastPass ticket for Thunder Mountain – which was a ride I really wanted to go on! However, things did work out…
8. Accept that things don’t always go to plan
As I mentioned above, I was sad that it looked like we’d struggle to get onto Thunder Mountain as we hadn’t used our FastPass wisely – and the queue time was something like 180 minutes. As we’d already experienced long queues for the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, and Phantom Manor, we really were not convinced about waiting for three hours for a four minute ride – and then we found out that the ride had actually been closed due to a small technical problem! We were sitting outside the entrance to the ride, surrounded by a crowd of other folk who were also waiting for news on whether it would reopen, discussing the options. We decided to grab something to eat nearby and see if the ride would open again – and whilst Stacey went to find somewhere to eat, the ride opened it’s doors again! Being nearby, we managed to find our way to the front of the queue in about 20 minutes – pretty much the shortest queue we had all day. And the ride was brilliant. Long story short – accept that things don’t always work out the way you expect them too, but keep an open mind – and stay nearby to rides that have closed if you really want to ride them!
9. Shop early, collect late.
I really wanted a memento from our time at Disneyland, and as soon as I arrived, I spotted what I wanted – some adorable Disneyland Paris Christmas decorations. I bought two princess decorations (Ariel and Belle) and Stacey bought a cute little Bambi decoration too. However, we also knew that carrying these charming but fragile gifts around all day was not likely to be a good idea – so we made use of the shop now, collect later service which Disney runs. This was perfect, as it meant we could enjoy our day without bags, knowing our mementos could be picked up just before we left the park.
10. Stay for Disney Dreams
Disney Dreams is the nightly spectacular, centred around Cinderella’s Castle, which closes the park for the night. During our visit, it was cold and we were both getting tired by 10pm, which is when it starts – but I’m so glad we stayed. Telling the story of how Peter Pan must find his Shadow and collect the magic which has escaped, this is a wonderful spectacle of Disney songs, characters, lasers, light projections and fireworks. It’s done partially in French and partially in English, and the 25 odd minutes flew by. It is the perfect way to end a day at Disneyland Paris.
So, how did it feel to be a lesbian couple at Disneyland Paris? Generally, it was a really positive experience for both of us. Neither Stacey nor I felt awkward at any point during the day, despite being surrounded by lots of families. We both acted exactly as we would have at home – holding hands and cuddling during the wait for Disney Dreams – and I never once noticed anyone being rude, or staring, or any negative reaction at all. We didn’t stay within the Disneyland Paris Resort, so we couldn’t comment on what it’s like for a lesbian couple sharing a room – but generally, we didn’t get any hassle from anyone in Paris due to our sexuality – it was pretty much the same as being in Edinburgh or London.
If anyone has any more questions about Disneyland, just leave a comment below and we’ll try answer them!Carley