Acommodation at Disneyland

Let’s face it – we all need to have a roof over our head when we’re visiting Disneyland and someplace to dump all of our souvenirs and merchandise after a long day at the parks. Which hotel you should pick depends on the size of your budget, how many that are travelling and on how much you’d like to immense yourself in the Disney experience. On Disneyland Paris own website you’re going to be given two different options for hotel experiences – either official hotels or partnering ones. There are no real difference in price between them if you book well in advance, the only difference is the quality in the hotel and whether or not it’s a Disney hotel.

Official hotels

The official Disneyland Paris hotels are directly connected to the theme parks and are all Disney themed. All the staff at these hotels are cast members and you’re going to find characters here! Disney hotels offer VIP treatments to the parks, like VIP fastpasses and exclusive meet and greets with the Disney characters. The prices are not more expensive than the partner hotels, unless you go full out with the most expensive hotel at the 5 star Disneyland Hotel. It’s only these hotels that’ll give you Extra Magic Hours and that’ll be part of Disney Holiday Packages. In my opinion you should be staying at one of the official hotels, since you’re in for an experience and in order to enjoy it fully, it’s my recommendation that you book an official hotel. The perks of getting all the ups of Disney will outweigh all your attempts of saving. You’re going to save more money on getting a package deal at an official hotel than you will at a partnering hotel, trust me. All the official hotels, except for Davy Crocket Range, is within 5-20 minute walk from the parks and they offer free shuttles all day long. At the moment the official are, in order of how many stars they’ve got:

  1. Disneyland Hotel (5*)
  2. Hotel New York (4*)
  3. Newport Bay Hotel (4*)
  4. Sequoia Lodge (3*)
  5. Hotel Cheyenne (2*)
  6. Santa Fé (2*)
  7. Davy Crockett range (no stars available)

Partnering hotels

They’re just like the official hotels, except for the fact that they’re not associated with Disney and are owned by different chains or private persons. Partnering hotels don’t offer any of the perks you get from the official hotels, but most of them do provide free shuttle bus to and from the parks. The hotels aren’t Disney themed whatsoever and there are not Disney character meet and greets or character dining. A good thing to remember is that these hotels are often in the middle of nowhere and, unlike with the official hotels which are onsite, you’re not able to walk to the parks from the hotels – you’re bound by bus or car. Like I’ve said, the prices aren’t necessarily lower at the partnering hotels and might not have the amenities that the official hotels will provide. Should you decide to book a room at one of the hotels that Disneyland Paris recommends, it’s worth to compare prices that are on the Disneyland website to the ones that are on the hotel’s own, official website, since you might be able to get a better deal through them. One thing to remember is the Package Holiday deals on the Disneyland website often requires you to book a room at an official hotel, and not at a partnering hotel, in order to get the deal. So, in fact, staying at a partnering hotel could actually end up costing you more money than it saves.

Tips

  • When you book the official hotels, always book them through the Disneyland official website in order to get the best prices.
  • Evaluate what the needs of you and your family or group of friends have and what size your group is, before you book. One hotel might be wrong for you if you’ve got a large group travel and the hotel don’t offer the room type you need, or connecting rooms. Booking two rooms might be necessary, but could be avoided with some research.
  • Phone up the hotel in question when you run into a problem and see how they can solve, for example with connecting rooms, or if your family is big. Disneyland is famous for being very accommodating on their official hotels and will work hard to try to find a suitable solution for you.
  • Breakfast is generally not included in price of a standard room, so getting a meal plan might be to your advantage – it’s possible to get a breakfast meal plan.
  • Don’t book Davy Crockett Range unless you’ve got a car, since they don’t offer shuttle bus to and from the park.
  • The earlier you book the hotel, the better the price is going to be.
  • Book your hotel as part of a package holiday, it’s going to save you a bit more than if you just book the hotel by itself.

There is more to come on the accommodation front, I’m working on a couple of posts about the hotels themselves too, just to give a presentation and what sort of amenities they offer at the moment.

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Eating at Disneyland Paris pt. 3

This will, probably, be the last blog post about eating at Disneyland Paris and will contain miscellaneous information and general tips and tricks for your journey, such as advice about food allergies, how food works at Davy Crockett Range and character dining.

General tips and tricks

  • Disneyland Paris does allow their guests to bring their own food and non-alcoholic beverages with them to the park, but what they don’t allow is those large cooler bags where you store food in. You may bring food in your backpack and have a picnic for lunch inside the park, as long as it’s not in a large group, so my advice would be to have a picnic just outside the main entrance or by the lake in the Disney Village. Find yourself a spot on a bench and eat away, and remember to throw away the rubbish in the bins once you’re done.
  • If money is tight on food, there’s a McDonald’s in the Disney Village, along with a Vapiano and a Five Guys, where you’ll able to spend less money for more food than you would inside the park. Generally, the restaurants, even the Disney ones, outside of the park, are a bit better priced than the ones inside. The portions are also a bit larger and filling too.
  • There are no supermarkets within walking distance of Disneyland Paris, it’s a train station away, and the ones that are close are accessible by car. This is rather unfortunate, since a supermarket could really help you keep your food costs down. But then again, it would be a shame not to try some of the food at the parks, since it’s pretty tasty – but really pricy.
  • France has a law against refillable drinks, so you can’t get unlimited cups at restaurants, the only exception, for some reason, being Five Guys at Disneyland Paris. The price is slightly higher for sodas at their restaurants to compensate for that and their menu board clearly states that refills are included in the price.
  • Breakfast isn’t included in the price as a standard on regular rooms, but they are include when you book superior rooms or suites.

Saving at the restaurants

  • When you’re at a table service restaurant – ask for a set menu to save money. The general rule is that a set menu will be a bit cheaper than buying each dish separately. Restaurants will usually have a set children’s menu too, as well as adult menus.
  • At fast food restaurants it’s best to get a menu too, for the same reason as above – it’s on the whole cheaper to get a menu consisting of a main, side and a drink, like a hamburger, side salad or French fries, and a soft drink.
  • Go out from the park and eat lunch or dinner at McDonald’s – which is your cheapest option and they do have a couple of vegetarian alternatives too.
  • At counter service restaurants, or even at table service places, sharing a plate or two of French fries amongst yourselves is a great way to save money, especially if you’re a family with young children who might not eat a full portion of French fries by themselves. Sharing two sides instead of purchasing 5, one for each member of your group/family, will save you about 10€. Even if you get three sides, you’ll still save a bit of money.

Davy Crockett Range

Davy Crockett Range is a bit special as a hotel, it’s not even a hotel – it’s a series of cabins. The way they offer food is also a bit different. Davy Crockett don’t have a breakfast restaurant, instead you’ll receive your breakfast in a basket and you’re expected to cook it yourself at the cabin you’ve booked. Naturally the cabins are equipped with a kitchens and cooking it depends on your skills. Dinner can’t be eaten at their tavern either at the moment, since they’re renovating it. From 8.1 2018 to 31.7 2018 their tavern will be refurbished and not available to the guests, but they do offer alternatives for dinner.

Character dining

Character dining at all the Disneylands and Disney Worlds is one of the most popular forms of dining and the restaurants that offer it books up faster than lightning. Character dining is a meal, either breakfast, lunch or dinner, where you’ll eat your meal and is visited by various Disney characters during the meal, who cruises from table to table to interact with the diners and allow them to have their picture taken with them, or get an autograph.

A few of the hotels serves breakfast where Disney characters and princesses will attend, all of them are official hotels: Disneyland Hotel (5*) and Hotel New York (4*) are two examples. Drop your hotel a phone call, or check the Disneyland Paris website, to see what hotels offers character breakfasts. The breakfasts can be booked up to three (3) days before your arrival, so put in a reminder in your calendar or on your phone to get in on this meal, if you’re interested. For lunch meet and greets with princesses, Auberge de Cendrillon is the place you want to book a table at. They serve fine French cuisine and is well worth a visit! For a random mix of Disney characters at lunch time it’s the Disneyland Hotel, which overlays the main entrance, that’s the place for you. When you want to meet Disney characters for dinner, instead of lunch, you’re going to find them at Mickey’s Café. Mickey’s Café has a nice Italian menu and is a table service restaurant, unlike the lunch at the Disneyland Hotel which is a buffet with dishes from all over the world.

Character dining is primarily aimed at children, but adults attending without children are most welcome too. I’ve been to the character dining at Mickey’s Café and I thought it was nice, plus the cast members appeared to be used to adult Disney fans. They’ve seen it, so don’t feel ashamed or too old to choose this as an option for one off your meals, it’s perfectly okay! See it as a fun meal that’s part of your overall Disney experience and go with the flow. Remember that this option costs a bit more than a regular meal, unless you’re on the Premium meal plan – then it’s included in the price. You do need to be early to book this, again to avoid disappointment at the park. Call the Restaurant Reservations on +33 1 60 30 40 50 to make your booking. Should you forget it and not remember it until you’re actually already at the park, head over to your concierge or receptionist as soon as possible to assure a chance of snagging a table for yourself and your family and/or friends.

Now you, hopefully, know a bit more about how dining at Disneyland Paris works and what your alternatives are. Sometime in the future I’m going to write a post where I introduce all the restaurants and fast food places and tell a bit more about what they serve and what their prices are.

How to score free soap at hotels

Free tastes good and in this case – smells lovely! I travel a lot in my work, I’m a musician, and ergo: I stay in hotels ALL THE TIME that is either payed for by whoever is employing me, my business (for auditions and is deductible when you do your taxes as travel expenses), or by me (if I’m on holiday). I always take these stays as a way to save money on hygiene essentials that I need at home like: shampoo, body wash and hand soap. Sometimes the hotel put out complimentary teabags, coffee pods, sugar, a cookie and hot chocolate. These things are money makers for me and they are paid for by the price I’ve (or employer) paid to stay at the hotel. So it’s NOT like you’re stealing anything from them.

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In a lot of hotels they put complimentary soaps, little shampoo & body wash bottles and amenity kits in the bathroom and I always take them and put them in my vanity bag on the first day of my stay. I always make sure to bring a large bag and take out stuff like my normal shampoo, body wash, toothbrush and toothpaste and put them in their places. This creates more room in the vanity bag for the free stuff you’re going to get during your stay – this is especially important if you’re staying at the same place for a week or more. If you don’t make room then the things you’ve taken and put there will overflow the vanity bag which the housekeeper will see and stop giving you those daily amenities. One more reason to bring a large enough bag to not run into that problem, plus all your other things must fit in it at the end of your stay.

I usually put the free little things in one of those IKEA bags with Ziploc, and I always separate soap bars and the small bottles of shampoo just in case one of them brakes when I’m travelling home. If I hadn’t done that then all the hard soaps would be ruined, but if I separate them then I just have to clean the other bottles under the tap and throw away the one that broke. No big deal, it’s just a cheap insurance against any mishaps.

The same thing goes for teabags, free cookies, coffee and hot chocolate that some hotel gives you. I put them in a Ziploc bag of its own just so it won’t be contaminated by the soaps. For this one you must try and restrain yourself a bit. The housekeeper won’t believe that you’ve drank four teas, five coffees and two hot chocolates every single day – it’s just not credible – and they’ll stop giving you those things after two days. I’d recommend that you take two or three drinks per day and on the last day you take everything. Otherwise you’re just a cheapskate and not a savvy saver.

 

 

What do I use the soaps, shampoos and body washes for then?

The hand soaps I use in my everyday life in my bathroom, they might not last me long but I’ve got a few months’ worth of soaps – I usually use them when I’ve run out of other soaps and can’t find a good deal and coupons on the soap I usually buy at the shop. The same thing goes with the little bottles. Those I take with me when I travel and have them in my Emergency Bag. There will be a separate post about what an Emergency Bag is at a later date. Sometimes I have guests and I always tell them that they don’t need to bring shampoo and body wash if they don’t want to, I’ll provide it, or they forget to bring those things. That’s when it comes in handy to have all those extra bottles from the hotels. You can just give the guest a couple of bottles and then show where they can get more as they need them.

 

I thought that this would be a short post, but it turned out to be quite long anyway. These tips are just the basics of how I get some of my stash of free stuff, feel free to use them and to expand them with your own insights.

 

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