Orange you glad…

…it’s a photo challenge.

“Wow us with punchy pops of orange!”

For more tang-tastic images check out the Weekly Photo Challenge here.

New Years Day at Disneyland Paris

Continuing on from New Years Eve at Disneyland, of course we spent most of New Years Day there as well. Quite a memorable start to the new year – no hangovers and a day of fun and magic ahead!

minnie-mickey-donald-float

We could have taken advantage of Extra Magic Hours, and we fully intended to, but when the time came we were just so exhausted that we didn’t bother. We had a 9.45am breakfast reservation at Au Chalet de la Marionette, a cute Pinocchio themed eatery within the Disneyland Park so made that our first port of call for the day.

After filling up on croissants, pain au chocolat and other French goodies, we decided to make the most of the relative calm of the park and get a few rides under our belts. Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast and Space Mountain – both are must-dos in my opinion although I recommend doing the Buzz Lightyear ride first if you have a full stomach!

On the Buzz Lightyear ride you get to sit in a car and shoot lasers at targets, all in the name of defeating the evil emperor Zurg! This is a great ride, perfect for the whole family. Space Mountain is slightly more hardcore and is a supercharged, superfast rollercoaster ride in the dark.

buzz-lightyear-ride-disneyland

After that, we made a beeline across the park for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril – one of the few outdoor rollercoasters at Disneyland Paris. This is a great fun rickety rail style coaster but I must admit, going on it on such a cold day did make my face hurt!

As we were rushing to our next ride we saw a great photo opportunity with one of the characters – Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas, so of course I wanted to tick ‘meet a character’ off of my list. Despite that scary appearance he was very sweet!

jack-skellington

Next stop – Pirates of the Caribbean! I did keep my eyes peeled for Johnny Depp but sadly I didn’t see him.

After all the swashbuckling and adventure, we had worked up an appetite and massive craving for pizza. We stopped at Colonel Hathi’s Pizza Outpost not too far from the Indiana Jones/Pirates of the Caribbean rides. That four cheese pizza was delicious!

By the time we had left the pizza place, we were right on schedule for the next parades – the Frozen parade followed shortly by the Christmas parade. To be honest, the Frozen parade was a little bit disappointing, I was expecting something a little more spectacular than just Anna and Elsa briefly riding past in a horse-drawn carriage, but that’s just me, all the little kids seemed to love it.

frozen-parade-at-disneyland-paris

The Christmas Parade was a big hit with me though and probably the highlight of my New Years Day! It was the usual Disney affair but with a festive theme and a cute medley of Christmas songs. This one was definitely worth the wait.

disneyland-paris-christmas-parade

disneyland-paris-festive-parade

disney-gingerbread-house

christmas-minnie-mouse

santa-claus-at-disneyland

After the parade, we headed straight for the World of Disney shop situated in Disney Village. All four of us bought something there, it was difficult to resist as there were so many cool and cute things for sale. You can see what I bought in my Disney Haul post.

After our mini shopping spree, we headed over to the studios park for another last-ditch attempt at getting on Crush’s Coaster (it’s a good job the parks are so close with the amount of to-ing and fro-ing we did!). Sadly, the queue was yet again too long and there is no fast pass option for this ride, so it just wasn’t meant to be. On the bright side, I did get to go on Crush’s Coaster when I went to DLP in October so I don’t feel completely cheated, its just a shame we didn’t get to ride that wave again.

Still, we had a little time to spare before departing for the train station, so our final entertainment for the day was Animagique and Cinemagique, both of which are indoor shows, so it was really enjoyable for us to sit down in the warm after a tiring two days walking around in the cold!

Animagique is definitely the one for the younger crowd and features some of the best loved animal characters singing and dancing on stage to classics from films such as The Jungle Book and The Little Mermaid.

Cinemagique is more suitable for an older audience and is a clever tribute to cinema history. I won’t give too much away but it’s well worth watching.

And after all that magic and excitement, it was time to head home. Our minds were well and truly Disneyfied. On the train home my husband said to his sister “your car’s gonna be frozen when we get back”. She admitted that it took her a minute to understand what he was saying as all she could think about was Cars and Frozen!

New Years Eve at Disneyland Paris

So this post is long overdue but nevermind, it could provide some inspiration for future New Year celebrations… Enjoy!

disneyland-paris-at-new-year

We arrived at Disneyland around lunchtime on New Years Eve, having left home at around 6am that morning and travelled on the Eurostar via Lille to get to Marne-La-Vallee. Our hotel for the night was the Santa Fe which was a cheap and cheerful Cars themed hotel.

sante-fe-disney-hotel-paris

Fairly basic but it had 2 double beds and included a free shuttle bus to and from the parks, as well as extra magic hours (a perk of staying at a Disney hotel is being able to enter the parks an hour or two before they open to the general public). After checking in and taking the 5 minute bus ride, we made a beeline for the Walt Disney Studios Park.

walt-disney-studios-paris

walt-disney-studios-disneyland-paris

The queue for the park’s newest attraction – Ratatouille – was long but we decided to grin and bear it as we really wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I won’t give too much away, but you get to sport some rather sexy 3D glasses while sitting aboard a rat-shaped car. The ride itself is basically a 4D experience from the point of view of Remy the rat. It’s very cleverly done and definitely not one to be missed!

The plan was to follow this up with Crush’s Coaster but we couldn’t face another 1hr+ queue  so opted for the Studio Tram Tour which had a queue time of just 15 minutes. This is a little tour taking you through some of the studio sets, with some great special effects at the end. I’d say if the queues are short its worth a go but if you’re pressed for time then give it a miss.

After the gentle pace of the tram tour we chose Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith as our next ride. Much to our disappointment, the ride broke down while we were queuing for this one, the silver lining here being that at least we were in the indoor portion of the queue for our wait and not out in the cold. All I can remember from this ride was neon lights, super speeds, twist and turns… oh and the Aerosmith soundtrack!

By this point we decided to go get ourselves an early dinner, so keeping in with the rock n roll theme we walked over to Disney Village to get our fill of burgers and fries at Annette’s Diner, a 1950s American themed diner where the waiters and waitresses glide about on rollerskates.

annettes-diner-disneyland

annettes-diner-at-disneyland-paris

Turns out there were only about 2 waiters actually wearing rollerskates but oh well, the food was pretty good and there was plenty of it!

To let our food settle down, we took a slow amble over to the main park (Disneyland Park) and took some pretty pictures of all the festive décor that was lacking at the studios park. Gotta hand it to them, the folks at Disney sure know how to create an atmosphere!

merry-christmas-disneyland

christmas-tree-at-disneyland

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minnie-mickey-snow-sculptures

We had a little look around the shops and then decided to go on the It’s a small world ride, which I swear had a slightly more festive and less annoying tune to it than usual (well from my experience of the one in Orlando anyway!). The queue was pretty fast moving for this one so we still had time to kill before the firework display. After a bit of running around checking out ride times, we decided that all we really fancied was a sit-down in the warm with a nice cup of tea so we made our way to Café Hyperion over by Space Mountain.

I think we queued longer for that cup of tea than we would have done had we chosen to go on a ride instead! Ridiculous!

We weren’t really sure which park to be in when the clock struck 12 and after much asking around we decided to stay in the Disneyland Park to watch the night time spectacular show against the backdrop of Sleeping Beauty castle – this was the highlight of the day! The theme was Frozen but there was a good mix of other characters in there too.

new-years-eve-light-display-disneyland-paris

new-year-firework-display-disneyland-paris

Once the fireworks were over, there was a mass crawl to the exit. The park was closing at 1am that day but we were beat and slowly retreated back to the warmth and comfort of our hotel room before another day of theme park fun!

My Disney Haul!

So as you know, I was lucky enough to visit Disneyland Paris twice this year so I thought I would share with you my Disney haul. I also bought some of these goodies when I visited Orlando a couple of years ago but I’m pretty sure most of this stuff is available at any Disney park.

Collectables

alice-in-wonderland-snowglobe

Disney have so many adorable snow globes! In all honesty I liked them all, but I owed it to my younger self to purchase the Alice in Wonderland one simply because this was one of my all-time favourite films as a child (still is!). I’m not really someone who tends to collect a lot of ornaments but I can imagine there are a few people out there with an impressive collection of Disney snow globes, they’re all so beautiful.

grape-soda-pin-from-disney-up

Disney Pins are also quite collectable, the parks even have Cast Members who offer pin trading although I don’t know a lot about it since this is the first pin I’ve bought. I really wanted something Up related because I adore that movie. Unfortunately there is a severe lack of Up merchandise available. I really wanted something with the house and balloons on but all I could find was this grape soda pin, like the one Ellie gave to Carl in the film.

Pocket money purchases

disney-keyrings

Not everything at Disney has to cost an arm and a leg, there are plenty of smaller purchases to be had, for example these keyrings. The one on the left was bought at World of Disney in Downtown Disney, Orlando and celebrates the 40th anniversary of Walt Disney World. The one on the right was bought at Disneyland Paris because I really wanted something with the castle on it. Which leads me to…

disney-magnets

I think I have an obsession with the Disney castle because as well as the keyring, I also bought a castle fridge magnet. And although I’m not someone who collects “collectable stuff” as such, I do tend to buy a fridge magnet of some sort whenever I go on holiday, so the one on the right was bought at Walt Disney World Florida (founded 1971).

The Mickey merch

steamboat-willie-mickey-mouse-souvenirs

No one can leave “The Happiest Place On Earth” without some kind of Mickey merchandise, so here are a couple of beauties we picked up at the World of Disney store in Orlando – black and white vintage style Mickeys! The bobble-head sculpture is based on the cartoon that Mickey made his debut, Steamboat Willie. And the other is just a rather cute cuddly toy. Which leads me to…

Another cuddly toy!

lotso-bear-from-toy-story-3

This is Lotso from Toy Story 3, he was bought in the Buzz Lightyear gift shop at Disneyland Paris. He wasn’t a favourite character or anything (I totally love Ken in TS3!) but he’s ever so cuddly and he smells of strawberries!!

The meaningful souvenir

minnie-mickey-proposal

Ok so it might sound cheesy or it might sound incredibly cute but we bought this ornament in Downtown Disney Orlando (I think it was The Art of Disney Store) because my (now) husband proposed to me in Florida. He didn’t do it at the theme parks or anything but it seemed an appropriate memento to have.

The must-have

minnie-mouse-ears

Last but not least, no Disney park shopping trip is complete without Minnie Mouse ears! They’ve had several wears already and I look forward to the next!

Top 5 tips for any Disney theme park!

So it’s been almost 2 weeks since my last post here but fear not, I haven’t gone off the radar. It appears that my brain can only be obsessed with one thing at a time and because this time last week I was gallivanting around Disneyland, my latest obsession is all things Disney!

I took a day trip on the Eurostar over to Paris with 14 of my work mates and we spent the day running around in our Minnie Mouse ears like excited school children. Well I say day, by the time we got there and had to factor in getting the last train home we only had a mere 5 hours park time*. Not long enough. Hence why, just a few days later, I’m all booked up to go again! I justified this to my husband by telling him that I’d had the trailer and now I want the movie.

As someone who ‘grew up’ on Disney films**, I never actually visited any Disney theme parks as a child. Perhaps I wasn’t that bothered? I can’t remember. Or perhaps my parents couldn’t really afford it? I don’t know. Not that it matters, because at Walt Disney World everyone becomes a child in their own special way. So it wasn’t until the grand old age of 28 that I actually went on holiday with friends to Orlando and experienced some of that Disney magic first hand. As well as never going there as a child, I have never been there with a child, so this post is dedicated to all those Peter Pan adults who never grew up…

1. Dress appropriately

To me this means wearing something Disney, be it a t-shirt with Mickey’s face on it, or Minnie Mouse ears. It also means comfortable shoes. I’m here to have fun! I see too many people wear odd things to theme parks (yeah I’m talking to you – lady with the bridesmaid hair and Nina Ricci dress!).

white-rabbit-magic-kingdom

2. Meet some of the characters

Go on, you know you want to! It’s practically the law to meet Mickey and Minnie at these parks, regardless of how old you are, but who else do you fancy hugging? You haven’t got to get an autograph like all the little kiddies do but it’s fun to have your photo taken with the characters (until Goofy bloody stands on your foot! True story).

3. Watch a parade

Every day, several times a day, there will be a parade. The parades are definitely something that should be ticked off of every Disney wishlist. Just check your park schedule to find out the times and try to bagsy yourself a spot with the castle as your backdrop!

Celebrate parade in Orlando
Celebrate parade in Orlando
Halloween parade in Paris
Halloween parade in Paris
Electrical parade in Orlando
Electrical parade in Orlando

4. Take advantage of Disney’s Fast Pass system

Just look for the Fast Pass Distribution sign near the entrance of a ride, insert your park admission ticket and then receive a fast pass ticket telling you when to come back to the ride. You are limited to how many fast pass tickets you can hold during any one time and the number of tickets on offer are limited, but it’s free and well worth doing to mimimise time spent queueing.

5. Stay to watch the fireworks

Disney do fireworks like no one else, so if you’re able to stay in the park until it closes then do so. My photos don’t do it justice really, but I promise you will not be disappointed!

Epcot, Orlando
Epcot, Orlando
Magic Kingdom, Orlando
Magic Kingdom, Orlando

*Fortunately one of the girls had sorted us a good deal so it’s not like we wasted any money.
** I say grew up, but does someone who considers candyfloss to be an appropriate meal at Disney World ever really grow up?