Disneyland Paris 25th Anniversary Trip Report – Part 2
In the second installment of our Disneyland Paris 25th Anniversary trip report (click here for Part 1), I’ll review and share photos of the new entertainment, including Disney Illuminations and Disney Stars on Parade. First, I’ll start with a totally unrelated tangent about a MiFi unit and SIM card I bought…
For years, we’ve rented MiFi units when traveling abroad, including to both Europe and Japan. It’s not a cheap proposition, particularly on longer trips. Still, it’s cheaper than using our data, particularly before AT&T started offering the $10 “International Day Pass” (which is not available in Japan, anyway).
This time, I did a fair amount of research and came to the conclusion that it would be advantageous to just purchase my own MiFi unit and buy SIM cards, which are pretty cheap in both Europe and Japan. I ended up ordering this Huawei 4G LTE MiFi, which was ~$111 on Amazon. When we landed at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport, I found the nearest “Relay” store (they’re all over the airport), where I purchased an Orange Holiday SIM Card with 10 GB of data for ~$40…
This SIM Card was more than enough data (I could’ve purchased a 2 GB card for ~$25, but was afraid it wouldn’t be quite enough) for our 8-day trip, and would’ve also sufficed for a 14-day trip. Setting it up was totally hassle-free, and I was good to go within 2 minutes of opening the package and inserting the SIM card into my MiFi unit.
Based upon my math, the ‘break-even’ point for buying my own MiFi unit versus renting one is 2 trips totaling around 18-20 days. For me, this made complete sense, and is something I should’ve done a long time ago.
Simply inserting the SIM card into my phone (our iPhones are ‘world phones’) would’ve also been an option, but I prefer the MiFi approach so I can easily connect multiple devices simultaneously without phone interfacing. Totally a matter of personal preference on that.
The MiFi unit worked incredibly well everywhere we went, including Disneyland Paris, the city of Paris, and the Loire Valley. There were a couple of remote places where I didn’t have service, but I know others who were using other networks in France had the same issues. Overall, I’m satisfied with the purchase, and would recommend it if you’ll be traveling internationally a moderate amount. (Frequent international travelers might look to T-Mobile’s international plans, instead.)
With that non-sequitur out of the way, let’s look at the new 25th Anniversary Disneyland Paris entertainment…
We’ll start with Disney Stars on Parade, which is the new daytime parade at Disneyland Paris. I remember back when we first saw Disney Magic on Parade for the 20th Anniversary. This was before we had visited any other international park, and when our “home” parade was Walt Disney World’s daytime parade–well before Festival of Fantasy debuted.
I even commented on this in our Disneyland Paris 20th Anniversary Trip Report at the time: “Magic Kingdom, which has been running the same tired parade concept under different names for about the last 15 years, has really ruined daytime parades for us, so we initially didn’t really care about this.” As a result, we loved Disney Magic on Parade, going as far as to hope that Festival of Fantasy would draw inspiration from it, and (heh), “gets rid of that 27 year old (no joke) Castle float.”
It’s funny how perspectives change. The following spring we visited Tokyo Disneyland and saw Happiness is Here Parade for the first time. A year later, Festival of Fantasy debuted in Magic Kingdom. Those two parades set new high-water marks for daytime parades, and in turn made Disney Magic on Parade–a parade we both loved the first time we saw it–look like a second-tier offering.
This isn’t to say the previous parade in Paris was no good. It was good enough to watch once per trip, but it was roughly the same quality as the daytime parades in Hong Kong and Shanghai, not in the same league as the exceptional parades in California, Florida, and Japan.
When judging Disney Stars on Parade, I think the threshold question is whether you’re comparing it to its predecessor, or the worldwide Disney parades that have come since. If using the former criterion, it’s a success. It raises the bar on Disney Magic on Parade with a few fresh floats and impressive visuals.
If you’re comparing it to other parades around the world, it disappoints. The best comparison here is Festival of Fantasy, as it feels like a lot of this parade was inspired by that. In just about every place where a direct or indirect comparison can be drawn, Festival of Fantasy comes out on top.
The floats are more detailed, the costuming is better, and Festival of Fantasy just feels more fully-formed. To Disney Stars on Parade’s credit, it does have some strong floats. The Steampunk Mickey & Friends float is great, the Dragon Maleficent float is obviously awesome, and I also really like the Jungle Safari float (among others).
I recently heard an interview with one of the parade’s designers, describing how the parade was inspired by the various emotions Disneyland Paris guests have when describing the park. From there, the design team worked to craft the parade around those emotions, in distinct chapters.
Yeah, sure. Even without knowing what those supposed emotions were that inspired the parade, I’m guessing “dreams,” “magic,” “happiness,” “wishes,” and the other usual suspects of marketing buzzwords were present. I really hope no one wasted any time brainstorming ways to draw inspiration from those words. When the ‘inspiration’ is as vague as that, it’s just as easy to tie them into whatever the finished product is, ex post facto.
Personally, I would’ve loved to see Disneyland Paris go all-in on the ‘discovery’ theme and do a highly stylized, Steampunk-esque parade. I think that could’ve worked pretty well, and left a lasting impression. Actually, any distinct style would’ve been preferable from my perspective. These parades are all starting to run together, and unifying themes would be nice.
Instead, what we get with parades now are a bunch of disparate floats meant to check off boxes with particular characters represented. This isn’t necessarily bad, and a parade can still be really cool without a coherent theme (see Festival of Fantasy), but I’d love to a return to the days when Disney parades were more focused, and there wouldn’t be fear of leaving Olaf out if he didn’t fit the theme. On Page 2, we’ll cover the good and bad of the other entertainment, including the ‘flagship’ nighttime spectacular, Disney Illuminations…
Thanks for the wonderful reports on Disneyland Paris. We are going to visit for the first time in June (as well as visiting London and Paris). My family would love to dine at Bistro Chez Remy. Do we need to make our dining reservation in advance or can we just reserve at the front desk of our hotel when we arrive?
Thanks for the “non-sequitur” about the MIFI rental. That is useful information to know. I was being cheap and wanted to get a better-priced SIM card from the grocery store instead of the places in the airport, but we didn’t find the right grocery store until day 5 of our trip and so we lived without.
It would have been well worth whatever cost just to have navigation on our phones during the trip.
Have enjoyed reading the report, but more so viewing the pics. I’m headed over shortly. Not a whole lot to add, except I’m sorta glad they did a ‘lift and add’ job of Ignite the Dream, so I don’t have to make a huge deal out of seeing in Shanghai this summer.
I knew they were doing a lot of ‘borrowing’ for the 25th as the vast majority of funds were going into fixing up the park and bringing the hotels into the 21st century. Things like adding Vapiano and Five Guys to Disney Village and Starbucks units to the resorts is another positive. … But, basically, the money they had left was what went into entertainment and decor packages and ‘new’ attractions if you call the six-year-old, and already tired, Star Tours and the Hyperspace Mountain overlay truly new attractions. I don’t.
I still love the resort. Still advise Americans to visit this first (unless they have a month to live and can only visit one resort, then it’s TDR) when trying the international resorts. Because they didn’t have the money, the neglect basically allowed the park to keep most of its amazing detail and charm. The only outight thing that scars DLP’s beauty is throwing Buzz Lightyear into Discoveryland (I was actually there for the opening of that one!)
This is a park with wonderful attractions, but not all about ride count. I know we disagree, but I also think the Studios has a great attraction roster even compared to the Disney-MGM of a decade ago.
BTW, do you have an AP for DLP? Any of the other foreign resorts?
It’s funny, you touch on a few things here about which I’ve already written for a post titled “Is Disneyland Paris Right for You?” It won’t be posted for a couple of weeks, but here’s a relevant passage:
While other parks were also no doubt designed by Disney fans within Imagineering, there are a couple of critical differences with Disneyland Paris. First, most of the original design remains. In a sense, other parks are victims of their own success: as the parks became more popular, new ideas were injected that strayed from their “pure” ambition.
Elsewhere, these additions were made with the goal of appealing to a more mainstream audience. Attractions like Soarin’ and Frozen Ever After are crowd-pleasers that play well with casual guests, but when viewed through the prism of the park’s objective and core thematic principles, they make less sense.
Ironically enough, the same financial struggles that have hampered the growth of Disneyland Paris over the years have also ensured that it has (largely) remained pure in theme. Outside of Discoveryland, there are few additions to Disneyland Paris that have hampered its design and thematic integrity.
Yes, I do have a Disneyland Paris Annual Pass. Going last year in September plus this year in April made that a no-brainer. If I were doing it now and going during a busier time, I’d probably buy the Infinity one if only for the VIP parade and fireworks seating. Both are a real hassle to watch from regular seating areas.
Great minds and all, Tom!
But, yeah, you did nail it. DLP is basically the product of the early to mid 1990s (even most of the original Space Mountain will come back when the Hyperspace Mountain overlay leaves likely next year!) Much how I rant about my love for DAK as the only park at WDW to remain true to its mission statement (even with Pandora), the castle-park at DLP is a masterpiece of Imagineering. As opposed to the MK, which if you had last visited in 1987 and returned today would be so beyond different (and just wait another 3-10 years and see how different things will be).
Those EPCOT examples you give are exactly the kind of things that casual fans and visitors and once in a decade or lifetime people would be clueless about.
I still hope DLP replaces Buzz with something more appropriate. The fact they intend to do so in HKDL shows it isn’t a sacred cow, despite John Lasseter.
Yeah, I have had APs there about 5-6 times before. Just bought one in March before they raised prices and changed the system, so got the cheapest pass that was only about $120. Just an amazing value that I will use twice and my significant other will use three times!
Loving the trip report as usual!
Question… Does this Illuminations show cause you to worry more about exactly what type of show Happily Ever After will be at Magic Kingdom?
I’m in the camp that while I love Wishes, it was definitely due for replacement. However, if its just going to be replaced with a light on pyro clip show, then I will be none too happy.
“Does this Illuminations show cause you to worry more about exactly what type of show Happily Ever After will be at Magic Kingdom?”
I was waiting for this to post for the first time! We are relative Disneyland Paris regulars, and the more I read on the change of parade and nightshow the less I liked it… I’ve avoided watching anything to do with Illuminations, but I’ve seen plenty on the parade and I think I really don’t like it!!! I mean, bear in mind it might be different once I see it in person, but I liked the classic feel of the other parade and the fact that I could clearly follow the story! This parade just looks to me like a bunch of cool floats jumbled all together! Looking forward to our trip in a couple of weeks but dreading confirming the new entertainment isn’t good enough..
We just returned from a 4 day trip to Paris. One ( unfortunately) included an very much anticipated day at Disney Paris.
We knew before hand that its kinda their “off season,”but having been to Disney many times in the states at their ” off seasons”, we thought. Why not, can’t be that bad” ITS THEIR 25th ANERVERSARRY YEAR…
Yikes….. first we hit Walt Disney studio Parc. As soon as we walk in, the first thing we notice is the lack of ” sellers” no balloons, food, souvenirs, nothing. Ok, that’s really not so bad. BUT, what we really found odd, was not Disney picture takers?? Nobody?? No employees to ask.
So we then go to our anticipated wIt times through the Disney appt. YIKES…. almost ever ride is either temporarily closed or under renovation? The splash coaster is the only ride presently running with a 45 min line. So we enter and wait. 1.5 hrs later and several shut downs into it. We board, fun ride. Two hrs into our day and one ride down. ( no it makes sense as to why the park seems empty) so with very few options available. We head to ” Mickey the Magician” live stage show.
Now this is what you’d expect from the Walt Disney Company.
Great show, great theatrics. Released that there may be a glimmer of hope with this day yet. We head to the 3-d Ratattuille ride. Only to be told again, ” Sorry folks, ride is temporarily closed” … frustrated with our time wasted…oops spent. We head over for a bite to eat. Why this surprised us at this point, I’m not sure. But 1/2 the food concetion was closed. So with only 6 people ( that I counted) working. Getting a bite to eat was an whole new adventure.
Finally after our meal, we heard that Ratattuille was finally open. So we headed over. 180 min wait. NOPE, NOT GOING TO HAPPEN!!!!
So we decide to split up and go as single riders. Only a 1/2 HR wait. So off we go, quickly we are in and almost there. Then another quick stoppage ( about 15) then on and out. GREAT RIDE, up to Disney standards. Don’t know if I would have waited the 180 mins. But good.
So 4.5 hours into it . Two rides and one show for an half filled park with 1/4 the employees.
In a last ditch effort to get what we can before going next door. We enter the 45 min Tower of Terror… we’ll as you guessed it.. 1.5 hrs later, the Terri was on us. We realized the Terror of 6+ hrs and we still have another park to hit.
So we head out to Disneyland Paris, hopping that it has to get better……
We go through the gates and arrive at Main Street. Look rather familiar, except the different casel.
Once again, no up sellers, no picture folks??? Nothin. So we check our spot and set a course for what is open and available. We hit Star Tours and meet Lord Vader.
Their “Magic mountain” is closed for renovations. So we move on. Next we head over to meet and greet with MICKEY… YOU KNOW, the mouse. He’s on almost everything Disney sells.
TO OUR COMPLETE AMAZMENT AND BEWILDERMENT ….. He’s closed!!!!!
He leaves at 7 pm, while the park stays open to 10pm????
Completely disgusted, we, at this point decide to just find and ride what is open ( once again, a lot is closed or temporarily closed) We ride what we don’t have in the states. Trying to salvage something of the day that is wasting away. We hit the Indie Jones ride, because Pirates is closed, refurbishment. The Snow White, Pinocchio, Haunted Mansion.
Then some coffee on Main Street and a cookie to reflect on the day. As in the other park. I would guess that 70% of this park was closed. Consessions
So at this point, my Plus-1 decides that we should just go. No fireworks. No end of day ceremony.. NOTHIN!!!
Now only I would know this, but for her to say ” Let’s go”!!!! (Houston, we have a problem!!!!!) She has been to both Disney properties in the states over 25 times. Between us both, over 40 times.
So that is our day at Disneyland Paris in a nut shell.
I don’t want to say a day wasted. But when you go to France, and plan a Disney day. When there is SO MUCH MORE to do in Paris. But you go and then leave without buying EARS…. that’s a big sign..
NO A MAGICAL DAY!!!!!!
I really agree with your assessment. We spent 2 full days at DLP and were really disappointed in how lacking the park was in terms of the basics….rides and food. It turned into a nice down time for us in our 15 day European trip (week in Paris, week in London, last weekend in Dublin) so that was nice at least. But yes, we left sorely disappointed in DLP, not helped by our pretty lack-luster accommodations at Sequoia Lodge.
Sorry you had such a dissapointing day in Disneyland Paris. I just wanted to mention that there are never any photographers from the park on the streets here, not even when you meet a character. The only place you get to have your picture taken is at meet Micky Mouse, the princess pavilion and in attractions.
We made the mistake buying the photo pass for a year (toghether with our yearpasses) to realise only afterwards that we would only get one or two pics with Micky from it (two small children that don’t ride attractions where your pictrure gets taken). it is dissapointing
James, this might give you a rueful laugh: to my recollection, they don’t sell ears at DLP, at least not the kind where you can get your name embroidered on them. I wanted to get some for my girls and was so disappointed!
I definitely agree with the Starlit Princess Waltz. “Every girls dream is to be a princess” part of me was thinking that hey, some might want to be scientists!
Good points on Illuminations. That said, Dreams! really had outlived its sell-by date (speaking as someone who had seen it 20+ times). I think it’s better to have something new (even if it can’t hit the same high bar), than to carry on with the same shows that have been running for several years.
My personal feeling is that the threads (I.e. Peter Pan) never make that much sense – and I feel similarly about Jiminy Cricket in Wishes!. I know that’s verging on sacrelige, but they come across to me as being a bit cheesy. I think it’s better to let the shows get their “heart” in other ways – via clever projection mapping, orchestral rearrangements of songs (Illuminations does this), etc. The material choice is good too (e.g. Pirates will clearly link into the reimagined attraction).
I agree that it’s more flash and less artistry though, and I’ll certainly miss Dreams.
Just a comment about Fireworks at Disney parks in general: They seem to cancel them a lot at Disneyland and I’m wondering if other parks experience these cancellations too?
I’m referring to Disneyland CA
I saw Disney Dreams on a solo trip in September of 2014 and was absolutely blown away. Seeing Disneyland Forever and Once Upon A Time (Tokyo’s version) in the time since only made me appreciate Dreams more. Without having been to Shanghai or seen Ignite the Dream, I knew just from the initial official description of Illuminations that it would be a near clone of ItD. Such a shame to replace one of the greatest nighttime spectaculars (second only to Disneyland’s Fantasmic! in my book) with something less inspired.
As a fan of the Disney Princes, I’m always jealous to see Paris feature them as much as they do. I suppose it’s appropriate given Parc Disneyland is the most fairytale of all the Parks, but I still grumble nonetheless.
Given how often you travel to Disney destinations, have you ever considered the Around the World trip, visiting all six resorts in one go? It’s on my “If I Win the Lottery” list, even though the airfare isn’t as much as you’d think.
Love seeing more trip reports! Will have to consider buying a Mifi on my next trip; the one I rented for Japan (at your Tokyo guide’s recommendation) was indispensable.
Completely agree on Illuminations. I was lucky enough (as someone that does not usually visit all that regularly) to see Disney Dreams! in March and Illuminations a month later in April, so I could really feel the contrast. Whilst Dreams was a montage show it felt like it had a lot more heart, and it tied together better with the ~story of Peter’s shadow. I just didn’t feel that same emotional connection to Illuminations. I liked elements of it individually but as a whole show it sort felt flat to me.
I’ll still watch it again if I return whilst it’s still showing, but it won’t be with the same excitiment I felt returning to watch Dreams.
Great report. Now for my usual ignorant question. What makes your iPhone a “World Phone”?
Nothing special – they just come that way (carrier unlocking is now a US law.)
Thanks, Tom! Loving your trip reports, thanks for taking the time to write them 🙂
Looking forward to more on Disneyland Paris!