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Disneyland Paris and Champagne Tour – An introduction
After the thrilling experience at the French Open, I visited Disneyland Paris, the world-renowned amusement park best known for its ability to transport visitors to a fantasy world. Nestled in the heart of Marne-la-Vallée, France, this captivating destination has delighted visitors since its grand opening on April 12, 1992. The park encompasses two distinct sections: Disneyland Park, with its iconic Sleeping Beauty Castle as the centrepiece, and Walt Disney Studios Park, celebrating the magic of filmmaking and animation.
In addition, I also enjoyed a Champagne tour just outside of Paris, which rounded out a perfect two weeks in France.
Where to Stay – Moxy Val D’Europe
For my visit to Disneyland Paris, I stayed for four nights at the Moxy Paris Val D’Europe. The hotel was a half-hour’s walk or a 5-minute train stop to Disney.
This was my first Moxy experience where the bar doubled as a welcome desk and the bartender the check-in staff. The hotel has a youthful and energetic feel with colourful and vibrant spaces. Moxy hotels are known for being functional stay options for the young and hip who do not need the added luxuries of a fridge, microwave or even a phone for a wake-up call in the room – 185 sq ft of a “small but smart” space.
I received a Titanium upgrade to a suite at check-in, but even this upgraded room was small. I had two double beds, one of which was a converted sofa bed.
The fitness room had treadmills, an elliptical, a stationary bike, free weights and a punching bag.
Breakfast was €15 per person per day, but Bonvoy Platinum members and higher get a €10 a day welcome amenity to offset that. The breakfast had a great selection. Bacon, sausage and eggs, pancakes, cereals, assorted meats and cheeses, deluxe coffee machine, bread, jams, spreads, yogurt, fruit, milk, juices and baked items.
Overall my experience at the hotel was positive, with great staff, good breakfast and an ideal location given its proximity to Disney.
The park was celebrating its 30th Anniversary through September 30, 2023. Unlike the Disney Theme parks in the USA, you can’t use Disney Gift cards bought at the grocery store to pay for park tickets and souvenirs. But I booked using my Scotiabank Gold Amex Card to save on the FX fee and was pleasantly surprised that it coded as travel, and I was able to use my Scene + points to offset the cost of my Disney Admission tickets 🙂
Disney tickets are cheaper the farther ahead they are purchased and if you buy multiple days. Of note, a dated two or 3-day key is for consecutive days, and an additional fee is a premier access pass that gives you a fast pass on most rides. And just like in the US, solo visitors have access to “single rider” fast lines on a few rides if they are okay with being separated from their group. Most park ride announcements are bi-lingual, in French and English, though a few are only in French. I did learn how to say “To Infinity and Beyond” en Français 😄
Rides are similar to Orlando and California Big Thunder Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, Buzz Lightyear; It’s a Small World, and Star Wars Star Tours. Unlike the US parks, the Indiana Jones ride at DP was more of a roller coaster with a 360-degree loop. There was a Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain Rollercoaster ride and an Alice in Wonderland’s Curious Labyrinth “ride” unique to Disney Paris, which I don’t recall seeing in the US parks last year.
The evening fireworks show starts at 22:50, 10 minutes before the park closes, with a drone light show that lasts about 7 minutes, followed by a fireworks show for 20 minutes that is not to be missed.
My favourite ride was the Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain. I found on my visit the ride lineups are significantly fewer compared to the US. I can’t speak for attendance all year round, but I visited the US parks in April and August last year, and their “Genie Pass” was crucial to get on all the rides. Paris has a similar Premier Access Pass. It was an excellent decision not to buy it as I could get on every ride, and on average, my wait time was under 15 minutes.
Check the weather forecast to see if you need a light jacket, as it gets cooler at night. Every staff member I spoke with was bilingual, knowledgeable about the park, and valuable. It is easy to navigate but download the park app which has a great map feature on how to get everywhere in the park.
The restaurants in Paris also sell out like the ones in the US, so book early. On the day of my visit, of the 12 restaurants available for a last-minute reservation, only two were inside the park, while the others were in Disney Hotels.
Walt Disney Studios
Walt Disney Studios was much smaller than Disney Paris and doesn’t take a whole day to complete, in my opinion. The rides I tried included;
- Spiderman Ride: Worldwide Engineering Brigade (W.E.B.) Adventure Ride, Ratatouille: The Adventure and Tower of Terror are all in the US parks though the dialogue for the rides is in French.
- Avengers Ensemble: Flight Force, Crush’s Coaster ( this was the longest line at WDS for a ride not available last year at the US Parks ), Les Tapis Volants: Flying carpets over Agrabah and Toy Soldier’s Parachute drop, Cars Road Trip and Slinky Dog Zig Zag Spin ride were a some of the different rides that were unique to Paris.
My favourite ride, not found in the US, was the Avengers Ride. Again not getting the Disney Premier Access Pass was a good idea, as the only lineup of over an hour was Crush’s Coaster.
The park closes an hour earlier than Disney Paris. And since no trip to Disney is complete without dining in at least one restaurant, I went with Chez Remy and their French Themed 3-course Fixed price menu for €55.
And when in France, the Disney trip was followed by a Champagne tour. With so many options for Champagne tours from Paris, the deciding factor was the hotel pick up and drop off, brands I had heard of and, of course, price.
I opted for the Paris Champagne Tour for €195 – the tour included a light breakfast of pastries, coffee and juice, then a stop at a smaller winery ( Champagne Cuperly ) for a tasting, lunch ( 3 courses including wine and coffee) and then a stop at the Reims Cathedral ( UNESCO Protected ) and then to Champagne Pommery that included another tasting. 6 – 8 tastings in all, and they weren’t stingy on the pour either!
Among the interesting facts, I learned on this tour :
- The longer the Champagne is aged, the smaller the bubbles.
- The three main types of grapes used to make Champagne are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.
- Champagne is in a valley and is generally excellent throughout the year, which is ideal for producing Champagne.
- Champagne is aged in cold cellars at about 10 degrees.
- After about 30 years, Champagne turns into vinegar, so don’t bother storing bottles for a lifetime for a special occasion.
- Champagne made in the Champagne Province can be called Champagne on the label. Otherwise, it’s sparkling wine or prosecco. One exception I found is that in California, there are a few wineries that sell ” California Champagne.” These wineries have been around long enough that they have been grandfathered, allowing them to be an exception to the rule.
Overall great tour and insight into the process of how Champagne is made. It would have been nice to have visited a 3rd Champagne house; however, the drive there from Paris is 1.5hrs, one way, so the best way to see three would be to overnight in Reims and save the 3 hours of travel time and do a tour that picks up and drops off in Reims.
Disneyland Paris and Champagne Tour – TakeAway
The Champagne tour was a wonderful way to cap off the two weeks in France, where I witnessed the best of The French Open followed by a trip to Disneyland Paris to check off a few more bucket list items. As with any tour, the biggest takeaway was to book tickets and restaurant reservations in advance. It was great to explore yet another facet of France, beyond the city of Paris.