Over the years my touring style has evolved from fast-pass-crazed-cram-everything-in-don’t-miss-a-thing-close-out-the-parks to a more relaxed, take it all in and appreciate the details kind of day. I’ve ridden the rides, seen the parades and sampled the cuisine, so now I concentrate on what I love- soaking up the atmosphere, taking my time to wander and enjoying it all at my own pace. That being said, if I only had one day at DLP, this is what I’d do:
Frozen. It’s tough to pick a side on this one. The first few times I saw the movie, I loved it- the musical score was fantastic, the messaging was different and empowering, and I love the energy it infused back into Disney Animation. I often wonder why this particular film took over the world when we had so many incredible Disney movies growing up in the 80′s and 90′s that were arguably just as good but have since withered into oblivion. Exhibit A: The Lion King. (I’m sorry but no amount of warm hugs can ever compete with that opening-NAAAAAAAAAANTS ZVEGNAAAAAAAAAA!) But, I suppose that is neither here nor there.
While I may be in the just let it go (Bazinga!) camp, I’m clearly in the minority. There are Frozen Summers at Hollywood Studios. There are Frozen Summers at Disneyland. There are Frozen Holidays at Disneyland Paris. The list goes on. The final straw for me was the takeover of Maelstrom- the beloved, and yes dated but still wonderful Norway attraction at Epcot in Walt Disney World. But regardless of how anyone feels, it appears the Disneyverse has been frozen (double Bazinga!).
So, it was with mixed feelings that I arrived for the first day of the Disneyland Paris Frozen Summer Fun celebration. The majority of the summer offerings take place at Cottonwood Creek Ranch in Frontierland, the oft forgotten area that guests visit for one of three reasons: 1) they’re lost 2) to catch the Disneyland Railroad or 3) they wander over after enjoying some delicious Cowboy Cookout Barbeque.
Recently the only other times that Cottonwood Creek Ranch has been utilized have been during the Christmas season as Santa’s workshop or during spring holidays such as St. Patrick’s Day, when the area has a small thematic overlay.
The Chaparral Theater, located in the very back of Cottonwood Creek Ranch, used to hold musical stage shows, but it’s been quite a while now. When Frozen Summer Fun was announced with a brand new sing along, high fives could be heard all around. Finally, DLP was bringing back live entertainment to The Chaparral.
Disneyland Paris has a slew of E-ticket attractions- Space Mountain: Misson 2, Big Thunder Mountain, Ratatouille: L’Adventure Totalement Toquée de Remy (fact: it will take you just as long to say it as it does to wait in the stand by queue), but it also boasts a large number of hidden gems, or attractions that most guests overlook based on preconceived ideas, age group or touring style. With DLP’s attention to detail, there’s surely more than enough to entertain after you’ve grabbed your fastpasses for the day. Here are 10 great reasons to slow down and think twice about the 60 minute line for Peter Pan.
One of the all time greatest Disney characters (in addition to being the most fabulous character in English literature) isn’t a mouse, or a duck, or a blonde haired princess who easily lets things go – it’s a toad. One J. Thaddeus Toad, Esq. to be precise. You may know him from his wild ride in Disneyland or from fond memories of his time in Disney World pre-Pooh, but if you really want to get to know Mr. Toad on intimate terms (as well as eat some so very british cuisine) a visit to his house in Disneyland Paris is in order.
Pizzeria Bella Notte is a quick service restaurant themed to the Disney classic, Lady and the Tramp, and is located in Fantasyland in Disneyland Park. Bella Notte is open for lunch and dinner and features a primarily Italian menu of pizzas and pastas, salads and some unique dessert options like tiramisu and fruit cake. With kid friendly menu choices, options for vegetarians and a location close to such headliner attractions as it’s a small world, it’s no wonder this restaurant is consistently busy, regardless of the hour.
Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant is arguably Disney’s most beautiful castle. It’s romantic structure and sweeping landscape make it the perfect representation for which Disneyland Paris stands: beauty in the details. But how did this testament to French fairy tales come to life? Here are some fun facts you might not know about our beloved Sleeping Beauty castle.
With the weather in Paris being what it is (most notably, rainy), the Imagineers at DLP had to come up with some pretty spectacular alternatives for safe cover near Main Street USA. This area of France doesn’t get the regular blue skies and sunshine that dominate the East and West of the U.S., with Walt Disney World and Disneyland, so a completely cover free Main Street wouldn’t do. Similar in terms of weather dispostion, Tokyo Disneyland opened with a glass covered Happiest Street on Earth, known as World Bazaar. But at the time of DLP construction, some were relating it more to a shopping mall (though unlike any shopping mall I’ve ever seen) than turn of the century America. Couple that with Parisians general love of fresh air and outdoor living, and the Discovery Arcade was born.
Phantom Manor is the only Disney Haunted Mansion specifically designed to look old and unkempt. A mansion, once the crown jewel of Thunder Mesa, is now in ruins, and everything from the unruly grounds to the eerie Boot Hill Cemetery and of course the outdoor queue, is designed to showcase this theme.
Walk through the gate and up the stairs, and you’ll notice a dilapidated gazebo to your left, complete with antique glassware. When this attraction first opened, the objects (a tea set for two) moved so as to give the impression that spirits were enjoying a tea time break from haunting Ravenswood Manor. This along with the original music box score of Grim Grinning Ghosts that played from the gazebo have since been discontinued- an area that even the phantoms of Phantom Manor have long since forgotten.
If there is one thing Disney could use a little bit more of, it’s jazz.
That’s why The Princess and the Frog is so perfect. It takes all the modernity of 1920s America and combines it with the idiomatic harmonies of New Orleans. It mixes all the timelessness of princesses with the propulsive rhythm of frogs. It combines the contemporariness of working hard with the melodic freedom of being a prince from Maldonia. And it combines the popular poppiness of a Randy Newman song with the unconventional virtuoso of a Randy Newman song.
In short, The Princess and the Frog is a syncopated masterpiece.
Swing into Spring is a delightful celebration of the season taking place for the second time at Disneyland Paris, this year from March 1st through May 31st. Colorful flowers, character topiary and new shows help bring in the cheerful Spring season with even more entertainment than before. Festival highlights include La Garden Party de Dingo (Goofy’s Garden Party), Bienvenue à la Belle Saison (Welcome to Spring) and Le Petit Train du Printemps de Minnie (Minnie’s Little Spring Train)- all of which elicit the help of over 100 performers. See the weekly schedule from DLPGuide here.