I LOVE DISNEY!
This might seem like a slightly excessive way to start a post, but this one little statement really does sum up my sentiments exactly. For as long as I can remember I’ve been an obsessive Disney fan. Whilst all the other kids in school would flick back and forth between the Disney channel and Cartoon Network, I was exclusively Disney. I’d sit and watch the same shows multiple times, re-watching the classic Disney movies and the Mickey Mouse animations over and over again on repeat. I’m twenty-three now and I’d say I’m even more obsessed than I ever was before. I’m a firm believer that the magic of Disney is for everyone, regardless of age!
As you might imagine, my dream in life has been to visit the crowning glory that is Disney World in Orlando. Unfortunately, and much to my utter agony, I haven’t yet been able to afford the trip. On the other hand, Disneyland Paris is much much closer to home, and is therefore far cheaper than going stateside. When myself and my boyfriend decided we wanted to plan a little trip somewhere to celebrate out five year anniversary, Disneyland was an immediate location idea which we were desperate to turn into a reality. Today I want to share with you some general information and tips about our trip, and hopefully get you inspired to visit the most magical place on earth!
We were unsure at first whether it would be cheaper to book everything separately ourselves or to look into package holidays with a travel agent. After a bit of research and several travel guides we quickly realised the travel package option was much cheaper for us personally. After talking to the friendly staff members in the Cardiff TUI store (formerly Thompson) and comparing different travel options we quickly established a plan of action!
TIP: I want to stress here how much the time of year you want to visit Disney really affects the price. As you might imagine, the summer months are peak Disney times and the prices really reflect this. Luckily for us our anniversary is at the start of February which is classed as their off peak season. Not only was this a massive bonus, but the particular week we wanted to travel on was also a super saver week, meaning we had even cheaper prices again! Paris was pretty chilly and we did have a bit of rain and snow, but if you think you can handle this then I would definitely recommend going in the colder months to save on both money and queuing times. Besides, if you live in Britain I’m pretty sure your use to the colder weather!
All in all I would say our trip came to around £350-370 per person for a four nights/five days stay. That’s a pretty good price anyway but the amount of extras which were included in our package saved us a small fortune when we priced them up individually. Not only did this price include our flight and our stay in an actual Disneyland hotel, but also direct transfers on the Disney Coach to and from the airport and hotel, travel insurance, our park tickets for both Disneyland parks for the entire time of our stay, as well as PhotoPass to capture all of our official Disney photos free of charge. Most importantly, we also had 23kg luggage allowance meaning I was able to buy as much Disney merchandise as I wanted without fear of going over on our allowance. Obviously the pricing for all of this was great, but the sheer knowledge that everything was being taken care of and that we didn’t have to stress about arranging anything was bliss.
TIP: I would really recommend adding the Disney PhotoPass option into your package. Many of the character meet and greets have an official photographer and you are able to scan you pass and get free access to your photos either online or on the PhotoPass app on your mobile. Likewise, any rides you go on which take your photos can also be scanned with your pass and then put onto your account or app free of charge. You save so much money when you compare the individual price of buying just one photo, and you can always print them off yourself free of charge or purchase them on the app at a later date. Below are two such photos we we had taken on the rides!
TIP: I cannot stress enough how much money and hassle we saved by booking a package Disney holiday through TUI. One of the options we looked into was getting the Eurostar train to Paris, which would have meant not only travelling down to London first, but also then travelling all day across the channel to Paris whilst lugging our cases around with us. Instead we were able to take a tiny journey up the road to Cardiff airport, where we relaxed with coffees and hot chocolate before taking an hours flight to our destination. If you’re travelling with young children I would definitely recommend this option purely for sake of your sanity!
The hotel we decided to stay in was Disney’s Hotel Santa Fe, which is actually the budget option which Disney offer. It’s certainly quite a typical ‘cheap and cheerful’ hotel, with pretty basic rooms and a very Mexican vibe. To be honest if you’re going somewhere like Disney I doubt very much that you’d be spending much time in the room anyway, so the basics are all that you would really need . . . although I do have a hankering to stay in the beautiful pink Disneyland Hotel!
We were pleasantly surprised however to find that our room had not one but two double beds! Admittedly the beds weren’t the biggest in size, but they were definitely big enough to classify as doubles! We found this really hand to keep our bags and extra luggage whilst we were getting ready to hit the parks each day, and its a great option if you’re travelling with friends and want to share a room. There was also plenty of storage space to both fold and hang your clothes, as well as a free safe to stow away any valuables.
TIP: Staying in a Disney Hotel is great for two reasons. Firstly, it’s Disney, so your sure to get a magical experience which ties in somehow with some aspect of Disney. Secondly, anyone staying in the Disney Hotels is able to enter the park earlier than the rest of the general public. These ‘Extra Magic Hours’ from 8.30 – 9.30 are a great way to get on the rides earlier, as well as taking amazing photos whilst the park is much much quieter.
The Sante Fe hotel is actually themed around the Disney Pixar Cars movies, so great if you’re a fan of the films yourselves or have children who are. Cars is by no means my favourite Disney movie, but even I could enjoy the quirky, borderline tacky, decorations. From traffic cone shaped lamps to racing flag shower curtains and themed canvases; the hotel definitely looked at the small details to bring the design together. One thing which did bug me slightly was the lack of kettle within the room itself as my boyfriend is an avid coffee drinker, but the handy Starbucks located mere feet from out room was definitely a bonus. I also thought it was amazing that the rooms has multiple Disney channels, meaning that you could keep entertained even whilst having a much needed rest away from the parks.
TIP: Each morning in the main reception area of the hotel surprise characters make an appearance for you to get photos and have your autograph books signed. Make sure you take a walk there to snap your photos as the queues are much quieter than they would be in the park. On our stay we saw Goofy, Pluto and the main man himself, Mickey, there, so each day gives you the chance to meet someone new.
The one thing which we didn’t include in our travel package was breakfast each morning. Myself and my boyfriend were eager to try out food every day in the park, and quite honestly I just wanted to eat something giant and Mickey shaped! We did eat breakfast one morning at the hotel and it was quite expensive considering it was just a continental breakfast without the typical fry up foods. On the other hand the breakfast was eat as much as you like, so you could definitely make up your money’s worth if you wanted too! Thompson do offer many dining options for when you visit Disney including sit down service and evening meals, so its probably something to consider if you have small children.
TIP: The hotel onsite gift shop, although not as large as some of the main park stores, was actually really good and full of great gift ideas. We bought a lot of our presents here so that we could stow them away in our rooms quickly rather than carrying them around the park all day. Of course there is far more choice in the abundance of shops located in the actual parks, so if you do see something you like there fear not! If you’re staying in a Disney Hotel you can actually arrange for anything you buy to be delivered to your hotel where you can pick it up later on to save you carrying around any items you may purchase.
I think something a lot of people worry about when they think of Disney is how they are going to actually travel to the parks each day. You really don’t need to worry at Disneyland, as each hotel has designates shuttled which run every ten minutes or so in a continuous loop to and from the hotel and parks. Even when we left the parks amongst a teaming crowd, straight after the end of night firework show, we still managed to squeeze on no problem!
I know so many people, myself included, who were somewhat anxious about going to Disney because of the hassle of booking the transport, the hotels, the park tickets and all of the added extras which are available. I really cannot stress enough to you how helpful it was to go in and talk to a friendly travel agent who was able to explain all of our options and give us a breakdown of everything we needed to consider. It took away any potential stress and left me feeling even more excited than I originally was to finally make it to Disneyland. TUI were a pleasure to book with and having used them for multiple holidays with similar experiences I would definitely travel with them again.
There are so many options to consider when you are going to Disneyland and I honestly believe that there is something to suit everyone who wants to go! I had an absolutely amazing time and would go back in a heartbeat. I hoped you enjoyed this general overview of my travel to Disney and the Sante Fe hotel. If you want to hear more about the parks themselves and what I got up to on my stay then keep your eyes peeled for much more Disneyland content coming your way soon!