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My husband and I never stayed at the Disneyland Hotel before, which for those of you who don’t know is the “best” or at least most luxurious Disneyland Paris Hotel. Located right by the entrance gate, it features several rooms that have Castle and Main Street views.
The story really began with the booking process which we did over the Disneyland Paris Website directly, due to a special dining deal they offered at the time (breakfast and dinner were included). Which factoring in that we usually spend (about 80 euro for the both of us on dinner alone) was worth it considering we would be staying from Thursday to Sunday. We also decided to stay in a regular room instead of the castle club because all the rooms with a view of the castle had been booked up and we just didn’t want to spend the extra dough on a slightly bigger room with no view. At the time we didn’t know about the amazing lounge though.
However, we did invest in a Fast Pass ultimate for each of us, for one day, (we choose Saturday) just to make the most out of that day.
We arrived Thursday morning and took an Uber from the airport directly to Disneyland Paris. Uber is, as always, so convenient and easy to do. The driver was able to take us right to the front door of the Disneyland hotel.
Right of the bat you step out of your car and the bags are whisked off by the baggage handlers. Which just feels so luxe, you don’t even need to concern yourself with the luggage. I love it.
You are given a ticket, which you are told to hand to the receptionist so your bags can be brought directly to your room. The Disneyland Hotel lobby (which I had always assumed is located directly above the entrance to the Disneyland hotel) is in fact located in a building to the right hand side (facing the castle) of the entrance.
The Disneyland Hotel was designed by Walt Disney Imagineering and the renowned hospitality architects “Wimberly Allison Tong & Goo”. The hotel is reminiscent of “Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort” in Orlando, Florida and “Hotel Del Coronado” in Coronado, California. However, as is so often the case in Disneyland Paris, a higher degree of color saturation was implemented into the designs to contrast against the often grey french skies. The hotels design is inspired by Queen Anne / Second Empire architecture. It was the first Disney hotel to be built at the entrance of a Disney theme park. And it is the only one in Paris that was designed directly by Walt Disney Imagineering.
Entering the lobby, one first passes through a security check (just like at the airport) and is greeted by the gorgeous Christmas tree. At least if one is there during the Christmas season, like we were towards the end of November.
Two adorable locomotives ran circles around the tree behind which a massive gingerbread house stood. Now the house itself is made up of 150kg of gingerbread, another 150kg of sugar for the windows alone, and the roof consists of 121 kg of icing and egg whites (as well as some other ingredients, I’ll spare you the details).
No it took over 3000 hours of work to complete and I was chatting with a cast member, because we were wondering wether or not they could re-use the house for a few years and he said no… they make it from scratch… ever single year. That is just insane to me. My first thought was, what a waste but considering how much joy that gingerbread house brings to the thousands of park goers who get to spend time with it (and I include myself amongst them). I guess its not a waste after all, but resources well invested.
The gingerbread house is just so adorable. It has some Phantom Manor victorian vibes going on, but it doesn’t look dilapidated. It is in perfect condition and ultra cute. My favourite detail is that if you look through the back window you’ll notice a fire burning in the fireplace, which is just so adorable.
We waited in line for about 15 minutes before reaching the reception which was fully staffed. Right before heading to a receptionist, a cast member with a clipboard was asking folks waiting in line wether or not they would be interested in upgrading to the castle club. The gentlemen in front of us declined and the cast member moves on to us. As she starts explaining all of the benefits a new spot opened up at the reception and we were told that the receptionist would explain the benefits to us and if we liked, we could upgrade.
Our first ever cast member shout out goes to Raja who was working the check in at the reception and was so kind and knowledgable.
We informed her we were interested, however, that because we had already bought the fast pass ultimate (which would be included in castle club) that I didn’t really feel like paying for something we don’t need. The Fast Pass Ultimate is not refundable. So she said she would see what she could do in terms of getting us a good deal and asked us if it was our first time visiting… during which she worked that dilapidated dlp computer check in system like a pro. Also a cast member in training was standing by and watching her work asking a question now and then.
We got to chatting a bit while she looked at our options and we somehow got to the topic of that it was my husbands and my one year wedding anniversary and that this trip was our celebration of it.
Raja congratulated us and told us she wanted to surprise us with a little something. However, our room would not be ready before 3 pm and if we like we could come back to the main reception or (at this time she handed us the vip castle club elevator key cards) we could go to the castle club reception.
The castle club reception is located on the third floor and features two sit down desks and can only be accessed by folks staying in castle club rooms. The advantage being that there is pretty much never a wait or line. On a side note, there is also a “public” restroom located up there which is probably the nicest, restroom I’ve experienced in Disneyland Paris. With neat little rolled up towels and elegant furnishings.
Anyway, we asked about the pool which is only open from Friday–Sunday (which is a bit of a bummer honestly). Raja took us up personally to show us the castle club lounge and the elevator. Which was absolutely lovely.
Now one thing that was still nagging me a bit was that we had paid for the Fast Pass Ultimate and not really gotten a refund on it. We were told that we could try the concierge but there are no guarantees. At the concierge the cast member was very helpful but did not have the authority to do anything about it so she called the manager for us. After waiting for a bit she handed me the telephone and the manager explained to me that while he could not refund it he would give us a 150 EUR discount on the room. Which amounts to a bit more than half of what we paid for the 2 Fast Pass Ultimate cards… I was really happy about it. So if you are willing to sacrifice some time it might be worth just asking again politely.
Afterwards we decided to head into the parks were we caught the Christmas parade. Which is a delight, however much shorter than I expected. Coming in at just under 9 minutes. My favourite thing ever are those adorable dancing gingerbread mickeys that come by after the first float. So cute…
This was my first time at the parks for the Christmas season. Main Street USA was decorated to the brim. The massive tree, with its lights synced up color wise to the garlands was a highlight.
After the parade we headed straight to Big Thunder Mountain and rode it several times using the Castle Club Fastpass. Afterwards we headed over to experience the new version of Phantom Manor. Which also has a Fast Pass option, however, it’s for paid Fast Pass tiers only. So theres no way to get a free paper Fast Pass at the moment. (Please note as of 2021 Disneyland Paris has gotten rid of Fast Passes and introduced Premier Access)
The entrance is located just to the right of the little cast member booth and usually the gate is shut. A spooky cast member will open it for you which feels very exclusive. You just head right up that main stairway, which is never used, directly to the entrance.
It was the first time we got to experience the new Phantom Manor in person, and it was very enjoyable. It is however, less subtle and trades in that subtlety for flashier effects. One example is the foyer changing from a dilapidated state to a fresh new… ugh… neon paint job? Anyway, I adored the old manor and I love the new one. I’m glad they gave Melanies character more depth. Many elements remain unchanged, mostly smaller improvements here and there. My favourite new addition would have to be the disappearing Melanie from the stretching room portraits. It’s a brilliant effect.
One thing I also wanted to mention, that I was not aware of before this trip was that you can use your Magic Pass as a sort of Pre-Paid Credit card. Which in theory is awesome because you don’t have to carry around your wallet. You can also give your teens a certain allowance. We were super curious so we tried to pay with our magic passes and a lot of the time cast members in the boutiques and restaurants didn’t understand or even seem to know about that option. I got a lot of confused looks. So I would honestly not recommend the Magic Pass system because there really isn’t any guarantee that it will work.
After having some fun in the parks we decided to head back to the hotel around 16:00 for Tea Time which is available daily in the Castle Club Lounge. This is one of those fantastic (included) add ons you get when staying in Castle Club. We were able to access the lounge quickly and easily by using the exclusive Castle Club elevators located right by the entrance. When you exit the park they are located on the left hand side, (facing Fantasia Gardens) by the ticket booths.
The Castle Club lounge gives you this absolutely gorgeous view of Disneyland Park and the Castle. Due to it being Christmas the tree does block out a bit of the view so that may be something to consider if you are interested in watching the fireworks from there. They do play the music through the speaker system which is awesome.
I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of food available during tea time. If you want to be luxe and cheap at the same time (me) you could easily turn this into a late lunch replacement. There were Muffins with Eggs and Bacon, vegetarian carrot sandwiches, these delicious chicken wraps, little cakes and mousse au chocolat. Besides that a selection of teas, soft drinks, juices, coffee & hot chocolate was included. The service was super friendly and the atmosphere relaxing. So I can confidently recommend checking out tea time to anyone staying in a castle club room.
Switching over to Disneyland Park here for a second the quick service food options could use some improvement, lines moved very slowly at Fuente del Oro Restaurante… We waited in line for 40 minutes, which is how long you wait for Big Thunder Mountain on some days. We would like to see mobile app ordering like at Disney World. (Update: Mobile food ordering is now available at multiple locations in Disneyland Paris, check the official App for more)
Also more vegetarian and vegan quick service options, it was kinda hard to find some grub for my husband, to be fair though they have been expanding veggie options a bit in the last couple of years.
Really the quality of some of the quick service options could be improved (more fresh fruit, freshly made crepes instead of the pre-packaged ones at the food carts) Phantasialand in Germany does a really good job of high quality quick service food options. So anyone working at Disney I would recommend taking a look at how they do it.
Back to the Castle Club Lounge… One of my favourite details in the Castle Club Lounge was this huge technical sketch of Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant (Sleeping Beauty Castle). Be sure to check it out, it hangs on the right hand side of the lounge when facing the castle. Also all the silverware was exactly that… made from real silver… not any of that peasant-ware stainless steel crap. 😉
By the way guys, when you head from the elevator to the Castle Club lounge, you pass by this large circular open hallway that features really cool and very expensive Disney art pieces. These are all pieces by talented artists, some of them prints others originals. While we were there, they also had Swarovski encrusted sculptures, which where totally adorbs but did come at a price of 9.990 EUR.
After tea time we headed back to the reception to get into our room. To our great surprise, the cast member led us to Docs suite. Now never in my life have I stayed in a room like this. The suite was massive with a spacious living area. Two powder rooms, a massive shower with a separate bathtub and a gorgeous bedroom with a view of the entrance and the beginnings of main street. My favourite thing ever was that you could tilt the windows and hear the relaxing music loop that plays outside. It felt like we were staying in the park, which is what the Imagineers intended and it was a dream come true.
The room also featured several Disney details, like a portrait of Doc on the beds headboard, snow white and the seven dwarfs carved into the mirrors frame, and the red victorian furnishings (very a la mode in that time period) inspired by Walts Apartment in Disneyland.
I was able to snag a restaurant reservation at the California grill, which had some of the best service I’ve ever experienced on property. The California Grill had a very calm atmosphere and accepted the Dining Plan we had included in our booking. Definitely worth a visit if you are looking for a nice quiet dinner. Mostly the place was child free (kids are allowed of course) but most families were over at Inventions where they have character dining.
The food was, overall, I would say good. Not the best I’ve ever had at Disneyland Paris but it was enjoyable. For starters I had a smoked duck tart with a seasonal mushroom vinaigrette (which was fine), the main was tenderloin of free-range pork confit with lemons, satay sauce and lomo crisps, roasted potatoes and grated truffle (the tenderloins were just a bit on the dry side for me, however, the sauce did help to offset it). For desert I had the mini-bow cake, which was honestly the cutest thing ever, tasted great and was the highlight of the meal.
On our way back to our suite we passed by the Disneyland Hotels shop, called Galerie Mickey. It’s small, cute and very crowded. Mostly filled with folks who want to pick up the goodies they purchased in the parks. Besides a selection of art and merch, you can also find a couple essentials here. (like soft drinks and sun screen)
After we returned to our room, we noticed right away that house keeping had come by a second time and drawn all the curtains, re-made the bed and best of all, place little chocolates on the bed. Another first for me, never stayed at a hotel before with room service twice a day.
We got up early next morning to enjoy breakfast in the Castle Club lounge. Not only do you get a nice breakfast buffet with all the fixes (scrambled eggs, bacon, a selection of cheeses and breads). But you also have a chef, who makes fresh omelettes, which is lovely. Best of all is that it is a character breakfast (another first for us). So the characters changed form day to day… except for Mickey who was there every morning. Other than that, Chip and Dale came by (they were both hilarious), Minnie Mouse (so cute), Donald (really funny), and Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh. The characters spent so much time with us. Especially on the days were breakfast was a bit slower and not too many tables were occupied. We got a bunch of one on one time with them. The folks from the neighbouring tables were also super friendly, offering to take pictures of us with the characters. Castle Club is were you will also see the most well behaved children ever. It was this wonderful, surreal, perfect fantasy world. I loved every minute of it.
One of my favourite breakfast details was the hot chocolate, which you order with your server. They sprinkled some coco on the hot chocolates foam in the shape of tinker-bell.
After breakfast we headed over to Walt Disney Studios park, which is located right next door. Having been spoiled rotten by sleeping right above the entrance to Disneyland Park the walk felt like a trek.
After a fun day at the parks, we had dinner reservations at 22:00 for Inventions. The restaurant is a character dining/premium buffet located in the Disneyland Hotel. We sat down right when Disney Illuminations began and while we did get lucky and hat a table right by the window, only one of us had a view of the castle. As a matter of fact most tables are not located by the window. So while Inventions is a fantastic restaurant it is clearly not intended as a spot to watch Illuminations. The music was not played through the speakers or anything. If you were hoping to enjoy the show with a meal, this ain’t the place. My tip would be to book a reservation at Inventions 30 minutes after park closing. That is, if you want to see the show and either enjoy it from inside the park or the castle club lounge.
Other than that Inventions is absolutely fantastic, especially if you are a seafood lover. They were serving up Oyster heaven. A chef was standing behind the buffet breaking open the Oyster shells. Honey, he had a hard time keeping up with how fast I was eating them… ugh, they were divine.
If you are not into raw foods, no worries. They also served up several cooked meaty options, as well as a salad and desert selection and a few vegetarian options.
Just like at breakfast, characters would come by your table. But for a much shorter time since the place was absolutely packed. Which reminds me… you guys you absolutely have to make a reservation here and do so as early as possible. This place is one of the most popular restaurants I’ve experienced at Disneyland Paris and for good reason, its fantastic.
Inventions interior serves up a slightly steampunky, refined industrial vibe. With several interesting objects hanging from the ceiling (like a wooden sailboat or a vintage film reel). The walls are decorated with older Stereo card images. The food was fantastic, the servers were stressed but friendly and the experience was one of a kind. I will say it is not a calm dining experience with characters walking and children running around, as well as just the regular buffet hustle and bustle. It can get quite loud, so if your all about that quiet dining experience I would recommend the California Grill. However, if you are on the premium dining plan anyway, be sure to stop by inventions at least once on your trip.
Before I forget, on the first visit we met: Eyeore, Tigger, Mickey, Pinnochio and Goofy (who was such a delight… and interacted at length with us). He came by our table while I was stocking up on Oysters at the buffet. My husband was just sitting at the table by himself, along comes Goofy sits in my seat and pretends to eat before wiping his mouth with my napkin. 😀 It was absolutely hilarious.
On the second visit we met: Goofy, Tiger and Mickey once again, as well as Minnie, Pluto, Captain Hook, and Guipetto… who i don’t recall ever meeting before so that was neat.
Focusing a bit on the park experience, it is so cool to have an unlimited Fast Pass. You can work your way through the parks so quickly it’s ridiculous. Having said that, I do wish a few more attractions had a Fast Pass option. We were especially missing it on Pirates of the Caribbean, Crush’s Coaster (although the reason that doesn’t have Fast Pass is a capacity issue… still worth mentioning), and more attractions in Fantasyland in general. Peter Pans flight does have it, but It’s a small world, the tea cups, dumbo and all the other classic dark rides don’t. Other than that, all fast pass attractions make for an incredible experience. Having the hotel right by the entrance is also genius. It spoils you rotten in terms of walking. We didn’t even bother heading into Disney village on our trip because dining as well as shopping was all right there in the hotel.
Every evening room service would come by and freshen up the rooms, draw the curtains, and place cute little Disneyland Hotel chocolates (which I still have) on our beds. The suite also provided french bath salts which were a nice touch. After a long day at the park, theres nothing better than taking a nice relaxing bath to unwind. The bath salt itself was also pleasantly mild, no overpowering fragrance here.
The Disneyland Hotel was fantastic with the friendliest cast members in all of Disneyland Paris. The hotel is gorgeous and without visual contradiction. It’s magical, looking out of your bedroom window to see the park in the evenings and to wake up to it in the morning.
Ok… this is super embarrassing but even waking up to use the restroom in the middle of the night, I would head to the curtains and peek out at the park. Interestingly enough the big christmas tree does turn off late into the night. Saving some electricity and being environmentally friendly is excellent.
Staying in the Disneyland Hotel is a completely different experience than staying at the Cheyenne or Santa Fe. At the end of the day, if it is in your budget, you wont regret staying in the Castle Club level of the Disneyland Hotel.