A summer full of Super Heroes.

Arthritis / Disney

This summer I decided to tick off another item on my bucket list. I decided along with a friend to do a one night trip to Disneyland Paris. Obviously I have been to Disneyland Paris 12 times before. The bucket list part of this trip would be to see how much we could fit in, in just under 48hours. We also travelled by Eurostar via Paris which was also a new experience for me.

8 years ago today I booked the first trip for my children to visit Disneyland Paris. Ben and I had been twice before and we have been 11 times since. Its safe to say its definitely our happy place. Our first four trips where with Eurostar direct to Disney. We then travelled by plane directly from Belfast and once from Dublin. Our go to favourite way to book now is to book our hotel directly with Disneyland Paris, either online or using Annual pass discount over the phone. We always book our first one or two nights offsite as Belfast flights are always in the evening and we don’t like to miss a whole day of our holiday. We have also done one trip completely off site (in the b&b hotel) and this was great too.

For this trip, as I was visiting England anyway. We booked the Eurostar to Paris and then would get the RER into Disney. This worked out a fraction of the price of the direct Eurostar and you also get to Disney around 3hours earlier than going directly. I stayed with my friend in Croydon the night before we travelled. We got up at 3am to get the 4am night bus into London St Pancras station. The night bus was an experience but easy enough to use, reliable and cheap. Once we got to St Pancras, the staff could not have been more helpful. There was a small queue but also a disabled access queue. Here the staff member checked us in, amended our tickets as the type of train had been changed, and then asked how could she assist me. She helped me carry my bag through security.

We travelled premier class on the way out which meant that we got breakfast while on the train. This only cost £10 more and was well worth that cost. The chairs are slightly bigger with more leg room and you get, tea or coffee, a croissant and bread roll, a yogurt and an apple as well as orange juice. The staff again where very friendly and helpful. We where on the train for around 3hours. When we arrived in Paris, we headed for the ticket machines to get out tickets that would take us on the RER to Disneyland Paris. The ticket machines have an option to do everything in English so its fairly straight forward. The tickets cost around £7. It took us around 15minuets to get our tickets and get onto our first train, we where on this for just one stop and then we swapped to another train which we where on for around 40mins which took us directly to Disney.

We arrived in Disneyland Paris around 11am, the queues for the main park where long and it was also already over 30degrees. My friend queued up to drop our bags off (we get free bag storage with our annual passes) and I headed over to studios where we hoped the queues would be shorter. Thankfully there was no queue to enter the park and I headed straight to guest services as i needed a new access pass as I have recently renewed my annual pass. It took around 20 minuets in the queue and I had no problems at all obtaining my access pass by simply showing my blue badge. I was given a two day pass as if I wanted a year long pass I would need to go to the annual pass office.

Walt Disney Studios have recently introduced an new app called lineberty, this app allows you to book a slot to meet a character of your choice and updates you with how long it is until your turn. This means that you can carry on with your day rather than standing in a queue for several hours. This app has had some negative press and my friend and I were very nervous about being able to meet any of the new characters as they are so popular. We were watching the app while we where on the Eurostar, and while we could see it go live (at 9.45 for mickey, buzz and woody) it told us we where too far away to be able to book a slot. We where really hoping to meet Captain America and the Incredibles. Theses don’t open until 10.45 so we where hoping there would still be slots available when we arrived. My friend managed to get an incredibles slot while we where still on the RER as we where under the park. I managed to get a captain America slot while waiting to get into the main park around 11am. Overall our initial impressions of the app were good. The following day we did have more trouble booking a captain America slot but the cast member was able to help us and give us a time slot on a piece of paper, we also managed to get a meet with buzz later in the day as more spaces became available. I do think the app is a good idea, its a fair way to queue (there are no access slots as there is no queuing required for anyone). We met each character within ten minuets of our time slot and we where not rushed for any and had excellent interaction. Its definitely fine if your there for a few days and if you’ve been there before or not on a tight schedule. I can see the frustrations if you only have one day and a child desperate to meet their favourite character and I can also see it being slightly more problematic in peak season. However i think once people adapt to it, it will work well. One downside was that lots of people didn’t know about it, they would go and join a queue only for cast member’s to have to explain the new system. It is explained on the park programme but its not massively clear. I’m not sure that had i not been part of the Disney community and on pages such as Disneyland Paris for Brits, I might not have been as aware and might have missed out. I also think its giving cast members a bit more grief until the kinks are worked out so pleased be mindful that is not the cast members you see who make these decisions or who have the ability to decide on if you get to meet a character or not so please be kind and respectful to them.

When we first booked this trip I have to admit I was hoping to catch the end of pirate and princess season. My main priority was a Disney trip so when I realised it was summer of super heroes I didn’t mind at all. Now as a kid and teenager I loved super heroes, although I must confess I was more of a DC fan! When I realised I would be here for this season and also with all the hype around the latest avengers film I realised I really need to jump onboard the marvel band wagon. This pleased my son massively as he has been desperate to watch all of the Marvel films. I have to confess despite my best intentions I only managed, the two guardians of the galaxy’s and the first captain America, oh and Spider-Man homecoming before we headed off to Disney. Thankfully I do have a limited amount of superhero knowledge and what I didn’t know was easy enough to pick up and follow enough to enjoy the season.

I have to say Disneyland Paris have done really well with this season. There are three marvel shows and a meet with captain America along with marvel themed meals and snacks. You also have the option of booking a marvel package as part of your holiday where you can also meet Spider-Man and go along to a marvel meal where you meet two of three characters, Thor, Captain America or Black widow. Disney have also now opened up this meal to people not on the package and if there is availability it can be booked three days in advance of your trip via the normal reservations number. We didn’t do the meal as we had already booked inventions but it has been getting great reviews. I was originally disappointed in reports that you could only meet two of the three characters and it was just a simple photo op instead of the characters roaming around but actually it seems to have worked well. I would have booked this meal if I had the kids with me.

We only managed two out of the three marvel shows as two of them are outside and the temperatures in Disneyland Paris that weekend where unbearably hot. The indoor Marvel show, which had queues of up to 4hrs long the first weekend, is incredible. There is disabled queueing and seating for this show (i had heard their wasn’t). While we where there the queues where around 40mins long and it did fill for every viewing but only around 10mins before it was due to start. Ill not include any spoilers for this but its a high action show which has something for everyone. Its certainly proving that DLP are upping their game when it comes to new shows and theming. We also managed to catch the Guardian’s of the Galaxy dance off. It was extremely hot while we watched this but everyone still entered into the spirit of things. Its fantastic because it includes music that everyone knows so the whole crowd sings along and you cant help but dance along. It lasts around 15mins and includes people from the crowd being chosen to join in. They characters even come into the crowd and dance with people too. I really enjoyed this and it was probably one of my favourite experiences over the whole weekend.

I do feel Disney could have included a few more meet and greets for Marvel season, even if Spider-Man had kept his meet for everyone and they had added on captain America that would have been a better compromise. I am all about the characters, I’ve met Spider-Man lots of times and I’m not a marvel fanatic but I feel like if id brought my child for the first time and they where a huge marvel fan (marvel packages weren’t available from the start) you might be a little disappointed with who you could actually meet. Its still a very well themed season and a huge improvement on season of the force.

As well as enjoying all the newness of summer of super heroes, we wanted to enjoy all our usual favourites. With arriving on a weekend in June, in sunny weather, we expected it to be very busy and went with minimal expectations of what we would be able to get done. The crowds however where not too bad at all but the heat definitely slowed us down. We had to stop and drink a lot but we enjoyed people watching and of course Disney snacks!!

We did managed way more than expected, we did some sale shopping, rode big thunder mountain, hyper space mountain, crushes coaster, star tours, the flying carpets and my friend went on TOT. We met captain America twice, the incredibles, Buzz, Minnie mouse and Darth Vader. We watched two of the three marvel shows and went to stitch live and watched the starlight waltz on the castle stage. We also went to Brunch in Inventions in the Disneyland Hotel which had an Hawaii theme which meant we got to meet Lilo and Stitch, along with Donald, Daisy, Mickey, Minnie and Chip and Dale in their Hawaii shirts. We spent two hours enjoying our meal and meeting characters. We had excellent interaction with the characters and outstanding service from the staff. I know inventions is expensive but it is worth it every time for the interaction alone.

Of course the very best bit of our trip was getting to watch the parade twice. I’m a little bit obsessed with the Parade. I know when people go they like to watch it once or twice. I’ve been known to have a hissy fit if i cant watch it every single day. I love to sing and dance along and I never care if i look silly because I’m never as happy as i am when I’m watching a Disney parade.

This was the first time I’ve ever watched the parade from the disabled area and both days we had the pleasure of meeting some really lovely people while waiting. Unfortunately this was also the first time since visiting Disneyland Paris that i have had someone question my Disability. While waiting for the parade on Saturday a lady felt the need to come and shout at me and two others who where sitting on a seat that how could we possibly be ‘invalids’ as we didn’t look like we where and her friend was far more deserving of a seat. To access the disabled area you need to show a cast member your green access card. To get that green card you need to show evidence that you have a disability. No one will be in that area that shouldn’t be there. I try very hard to hide my disability, I hate that i am disabled and quite often I am embarrassed by it. My condition isn’t obvious and requires explaining, this is not something I’m willing to go into with a stranger. The fact I have never sat in that area before and I was on that day (with my walking stick resting on my knee), was because I was struggling, the heat, the travel and the early start had taken its tole on my dodgy joints. I was also on this trip to tick an item off my bucket list. I have a bucket list because this condition and my medication cut short my life expectancy. This woman knew none of this, she made a snap judgement that was entirely based on my age. I wish I hadn’t needed that seat and I wish I wasn’t entitled to be in that area but life isn’t a fairy tale and it made me sad that someone could remind me of that in the place i go to forget reality. It did not however ruin our trip.

We made some lovely new friends while on this trip, this is what I love in Disney 99% of the folk who go there are amazing. Disney breaks every language barrier and forms bonds and friendships through the smallest of things.

We decided not to Disney bound this trip but we matched Disney style outfits, we did Coco for the first day in honour of the bucket list and on the second day we did retro Minnie/captain America as we wanted to mark season of super heroes but i also wanted to wear my California ears again and also my awesome new retro Minnie skirt which my friend made for me, (note to self do not twirl on main street in this, you will show your bright pink underwear to the whole world).

All in all it was a fantastic trip. I highly recommend summer of super heroes especially if you have a little (or big) marvel fan. Captain America is an awesome meet as are The Incredibles. Inventions is always worth every penny. The parade is the highlight of any Disney trip (well the parade AND the food) and although traveling on the Eurostar via Paris is very straight forward, I’m gonna stick to flying in future.

Thanks To Nicky for sharing this trip with me and helping me tick off an item on the bucket list xx

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