24 June 2019

Disneyland Paris Christmas 2018 | Day Two: Christmas Parade, Characters & Disney After Dark

After a much-needed early night, Chloe and I woke up at the crack of dawn, covered our faces in glitter and made it into Disneyland Park just in time for Extra Magic Time. I'm not one for early mornings but being in Disney makes the sound of that alarm so exciting. 

We designated the second day of our trip as 'Christmas Jumper Day' and believe me when I say, we went all out. Chloe and I both opted for Disney themed jumpers; mine was bright red and Chloe's lit up. Combined with our flashing ears, you really couldn't miss us. 

I don't think I'll ever be able to walk onto Main Street without getting butterflies. The Christmas music, the snowflakes slowly falling and the smell of fresh popcorn; I can't find a word worthy of describing it. Clear blue skies made an appearance as we stood on the bandstand admiring the view of the Castle, both of us in disbelief at just how magical it was. 

Extra Magic Time is a perk for guests staying onsite at Disneyland Hotels. The park opens an hour early so that guests are able to ride some of the more popular attractions, meet some of their favourite characters and grab photos in front of the castle before the park gets busy. 

Top Tip: Take Advantage of Extra Magic Time

Before we left the hotel, I packed my Marie ears into my backpack just in case she made a special appearance for Christmas. I didn't expect her to be meeting guests but when I saw her cute little blue bow sashaying around in front of Mickey's house I was straight in the queue. 

As soon as Marie saw my ears she came running over, gave me the biggest cuddle, admired the glitter on my face and tried to put some on her fur. It was at this point that she noticed my scarf. She picked it up and stroked it, then unwrapped it from around my neck and gave the crowd a fashion show, much to their delight. I was in fits of laughter as she walked towards the house, my grey scarf draped around her neck. However, a cough from the photographer brought her right back down to earth and she reluctantly gave it back to me. 

We did the cutest poses possible and I even gave her a little Christmas kiss on the nose. It was the funniest way to start the day and an experience I'll remember for the rest of my life. 

The next character on our meet and greet list was Mr Horrible himself, Jack Skellington or Sandy Claws, as he's known. We knew he had a designated meeting area in front of Phantom Manor so we made sure to be at the entrance of Frontierland for rope drop (this is when all areas of the park are officially open to all guests). 

I swapped back to my Christmas ears and the minute Frontierland opened, we walked very quickly towards Phantom Manor. We also let out a little squeal when we heard Magic Everywhere being played as the park opened and gave all guests a wonderful rendition of the song, with an improvised dance routine to go with it - we're talented, we know. 

Most of the crowd made their way to Thunder Mountain, so the queue to meet Jack wasn't very long. Stood directly in front of us was a family of four (mother, father, daughter and son) all dressed as characters from The Nightmare Before Christmas - it was the most adorable thing I have EVER seen. Family goals or what!? 

When it was our turn to meet Jack, he was fascinated by Chloe's flashing jumper but was a little bit annoyed when he realised that we were matching. He told us all about his plans for Christmas and we promised to bring him some light up ears next time we visit. We had some photos taken, wished him a very Merry Christmas and then went on our way. 

As we walked back onto Main Street, the park was filling up nicely. The music surrounding the castle sounded like pixie dust being sprinkled. Children gazed at the castle in disbelief, families posed for photos whilst others sat on benches just taking in the atmosphere. 

Chloe and I took this opportunity to have some photos taken in front of the castle. It was fairly quiet so we found one of our favourite photo spots at the side of the castle and started snapping away. One thing I love about being in Disneyland Paris is that everyone is so friendly, whether that be Cast Members or fellow guests. If you want someone to take a photo for you, they're more than willing to help and it's always nice to return the favour. 

As I said in my Day One Report, we got a free half-board meal plan when we booked our trip. This meal plan included breakfast each morning at CafĂ© Hyperion in Discoveryland. However, due to our busy morning meeting characters, we missed out on breakfast but it didn't bother us too much. 

Instead, we called into Main Street Bakery for some delicious freshly made pastries - let's be honest now, if you're going to get a snack, it's better to get it Mickey shaped! We also stopped off at the Cast Member door, but sadly no one answered. 

The next land on our visit was Adventureland. 

As we strolled towards Pirates of the Caribbean, we noticed Baloo dancing at his regular meeting spot outside Hakuna Matata. The queue was incredibly short so we jumped straight in. 

Meeting Baloo has become somewhat of a tradition on my trips to Disneyland Paris. Not only is he one of my favourite characters but my Dad is basically his biggest fan, so I always try to get a little hello from Baloo if I can. 

We had lots of hugs, a chat about all things Christmas and a little boogie to the jungle rhythm - if there's one thing I love about Baloo, it's that he never stops dancing. He spent so much time with Chloe and I and these photos are some of my favourite from the trip. The happiness on my face is undeniable.  

Finally it was time for our first fast pass of the day and in true style, we chose Big Thunder Mountain.  We were lucky enough to be sat near the back of the train meaning it went super fast and we screamed the entire way round. Plus we were finally able to see the new effects installed during the refurbishment and let me tell you, they didn't disappoint. 

Top Tip: I would always recommend getting a fast pass for Big Thunder. It's one of the most, if not the most, popular attraction in the park so as you can imagine, the wait times can be very long. 

After all our screaming and singing, we decided to grab a classic hotdog from Casey's Corner and get a spot on Main Street for our first Christmas Parade of the season. Normally I watch most of the shows online so that I know the songs before I go, however this time I made a conscious effort to avoid spoilers. 

And boy am I glad I did. 

The Christmas Parade is by far my favourite Parade I have ever seen at Disneyland Paris. It was pure festive magic. The costumes were beautiful, the interaction was amazing and the song was so catchy. It was everything you'd expect from a Disney parade and more. 

Bravo, Disneyland Paris! 

As 'Christmas Is Here' continued to play on loop, we danced over to the stunning photo location for Thumper and Miss Bunny. It was an array of twinkling lights, candy canes and fluffy snow; what could be more fitting? 

One thing I must credit Disneyland Paris for is their attention to detail, especially in terms of theming. Every restaurant, attraction, hotel and photo location was so beautifully decorated, not only providing some beautiful backdrops but once again adding another little sprinkle of magic.

Thumper and Miss Bunny were going to be meeting guests in an hour so to pass the time, we decided to do some rides with relatively short wait times. 

Top Tip: Download the Disneyland Paris App. It tells you live wait times for different attractions, ride closures, character locations, show times and so much more! 

 During this hour, I finally convinced Chloe to go on Star Tours. She hadn't been sure about it on previous trips but, knowing that she'd love it, I basically frog marched her inside. It very quickly became one of her favourite rides, even from just standing in the queue. Each ride is different so you're never guaranteed to get the same one twice, making us both want to go on it again, and again, and again. 
During the Christmas season, rare characters love to make an appearance. I've wanted to meet Thumper for as long as I can remember as not only does he look very cuddly, but his photo location is  always beautiful. Sadly, Miss Bunny couldn't be there to join him but we had lots of fun chatting. 

He came jumping over in his little tartan ribbon, which I was very quick to compliment, and gave me the biggest cuddle. He loved the glitter on our faces (I told him that he should ask Santa for some) and we had a long chat about Christmas, snow and waggling our tails. He posed for some very cute photos and we gave him a peck on the cheek to say goodbye (it's a good job Miss Bunny wasn't there after all).

And that concluded our character meeting for the day. 

Each day, Chloe and I listed a few things that we definitely wanted to do, whether that be shows, characters, rides or shops, which we then prioritised. Our entire trip was very chilled and we didn't stick to a set schedule. It's always good to have plan but it's good to go with the flow too. 

So what did we do? Went and got another fast pass for Big Thunder Mountain, of course. 

The park was busy mid-afternoon with some guests going on rides and others starting to get their places for the parade. Chloe and I browsed through some of the boutiques in Fronteirland, which are beautifully themed, and I may or may not have made a few cheeky purchases.

Top Tip: If you have Twitter, follow ED92 and keep checking their page for rare character appearances and live park updates

We sat down opposite Thunder Mesa to rest our feet when Chloe got a notification from the lovely team at ED92 informing guests that Minnie was meeting near Casey Junior in Fantasyland. With no time to waste, Chloe and I literally sprinted through the creepy interiors of Skull Rock, over the wooden bridge, said a quick hello to Peter Pan and then straight over to Casey Junior. However when we got there, Minnie was nowhere to be seen. Gutted.

Once Chloe and I caught our breath we wandered back into Fantasyland and what better way to pass the time than getting lost in Alice's Curious Labyrinth. 

In my opinion, the Labyrinth is one of the most underrated attractions in Disneyland Paris. It's so cleverly themed with bright colours and sprinkles of magic around every corner, as well as another castle offering stunning views of the park. It's the perfect attraction to escape the hustle and bustle and take in the magic of Disneyland Paris for what it is. 

It's also incredibly picturesque so if you're looking for some photos for the 'gram, I highly recommend having a walk around. But be warned, no matter how many times you do the maze you will get lost. I suppose there's worse places to be stuck though, right?

After skipping around, ducking under water fountains, squeezing through tiny doors and having photos taken in crazy hats, Chloe and I eventually found our way out of the Maze. 

As the sun was starting to set over Skull Rock, we walked back over to Adventureland where we bumped into our friend Jenna. We chatted for a while and found out that we were staying in the same hotel so arranged to meet up later in the evening for drinks in the Sequoia Bar. 

As guests started to take their places for Stars on Parade, the wait times for rides dropped. We used our Fast Pass on Thunder Mountain, had two rides on Pirates of the Caribbean and made it to the end of Main Street just in time for the parade. 

We got a spot in front of the Christmas tree which was the perfect back drop for our last parade of the trip. The floats twinkled as they passed and the Princesses made a fuss of our light up ears, especially Rapunzel who thought they looked like lanterns. I will never ever get bored of that parade, it is pure Disney magic. 

We filled in the rest of our evening by doing some more attractions including another ride on Pirates of the Caribbean, It's a Small World, Thunder Mountain, the Teacups and Chloe's new favourite, Star Tours. 

We also had food at Hakuna Matata which came as part of our half board meal plan. I opted for chicken with classic Hakuna fries, a box of nuggets and an ice cream, all of which were absolutely delicious - my mouth is watering just writing about them. I should also note that most restaurants closed early so check opening times if there's somewhere you definitely want to eat. 

We strolled back onto Main Street, box of chicken nuggets in hand, and joined the crowd waiting for Disney Illuminations. I was so desperate to see this show again as the version of A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes is one of my favourites - I play it all the time around the house. 

As expected, I cried. 

It was indescribable. There's something about being stood on Main Street, watching fireworks light up the night sky that creates such a sense of inner peace. I felt so content being in that moment. It's true what they say, there's fireworks and then there's Disney fireworks. 

When Illuminations had finished and the crowds began to disperse, Chloe and I sat on the edge of the fountain outside Plaza Gardens and took a minute to appreciate where we were. We also wanted to be the last people on Main Street so that we could get some photos in front of the castle with no one else around - something that seems to be common trend as it took ages for everyone to leave. 

I've had so many questions about how we managed to get these photos and the truth is, it's a lot of waiting about in the cold. But trust me when I say, it's worth it. Whilst we were waiting, we met two of the loveliest girls who offered to take our photos for us. Remember when I said that everyone in Disney is so friendly? I wasn't lying. 

I should also mention that we were very lucky to have some incredibly kind Cast Members who let us wait behind to get our photos. Every Cast Member we encountered on the trip was an absolute credit to Walt Disney Company, not only incredibly happy in their job but more than willing to go out of their way to create memories for guests of all ages.  

Disney after dark is something I always dreamed of witnessing as a little girl. I imagined all of the characters coming out to play, the Princesses having tea in the castle and the villains dancing around in Phantom Manor. However, what I saw as an adult was a different type of magic. 

It was the magic of twinkling lights, Christmas carols on Main Street and Cast Members in Mickey gloves high giving us as we left. It was being on an empty Main Street with one of my best friends after a day of laughter, characters and rides. It was the magic of meeting new friends, of having the entire park to ourselves, of my cheeks hurting from the smile that never left my face. I'm getting emotional just thinking about it. 

As you can tell, we took full advantage of having the park to ourselves and got some lovely photos on the way back to our hotel. Disney is beautiful during the day but Disney after dark is something else completely. 

We walked through Disney Village, called into a few shops and eventually arrived back at Sequoia where Jenna was waiting for us in the bar. We  spent the rest of the night sat in front of the log fire talking, laughing and drinking hot chocolate - the perfect end to a day that was practically perfect in every way. 

Lots of Love,
Meg x


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