Travel notes by BRYONY THOMPSON of John Allan Travel:
After much begging by my beloved 10 year old daughter, I decided to treat the family and booked Disneyland Paris for a 3 day break. We chose to stay at the Newport Bay Club, which has a nautical theme, on a half board plus option giving greater restaurant choices. Eurostar was fully booked, so we decided take the ferry and drive through France – a jolly long drive but drama free. Ensure you take your satnav as the park is poorly signposted.
On arrival the hotel is stunning. We reached the Newport Bay Club at about 11am to a bright and airy foyer. The lobby was busy so my family waited to one side with the luggage whilst I checked in. The staff there are keen to make the process as painless as possible and they were pretty organised, we were given a pack with our Disney tickets, meal vouchers, maps and things, and advised that we could not get the room key until after 3pm but we should check in the luggage, which would be delivered to the room after 3pm and to go to the parks straight away. The Concierge also reserved us a table at The Steak House in Disney Village for dinner at 5.30pm.
We took the free shuttle bus from the hotel to the park and our first stop was Disney Studios. My daughter had been told about the Tower of Terrors (vertical drop ride – daughter very impressed) and made a bee line for it, the queue was 60 minutes but as a hotel guest you can get a FASTPASS. The FASTPASS essentially reserves your place in the queue without you having to physically stand in line. You scan your park ticket and you are given a time slot when you can return and jump straight on the ride – excellent! While we were waiting, we got a bite to eat and a drink and planned the rest of our day.
At around 4pm we left Disney Studios and got the bus back to the hotel to find our room! Whilst looking for our room we realised just how vast the hotel is, although with lots of lifts it was not an issue. The room itself was large with 2 double beds, the bathroom was fine and the sink was in a separate area with a small wardrobe and free safety deposit box. The room was light and bright, the beds were comfortable and it was clean, but needed a little TLC around the edges to make it perfect, the room had no obvious Disney theming, which we liked. After freshening up, we decided to try walking to the restaurant in Disney Village. Now, to give an idea of the layout of the complex, the hotels are located around a lake with paths that lead you to Disney Village where you find shops and restaurants. Walking through Disney Village brings you to the entrances for The Studios and The Magic Kingdom. The walk was very pleasant and took only about 10 minutes.
The Steak House restaurant was table service and looked very classy with proper linen table cloths and napkins. We chose to sit outside as the evening was beautiful. The half board plus option entitled adults to a set 3 course meal with a drink and the children a 2 course meal with drink. The adult choices were good and I chose a fish chowder starter, steak and chips main course and crème brulee dessert, my husband had the same but a Caesar salad starter. The children’s choices were limited to a chicken breast, hamburger or pasta served with vegetables or chips and 3 dessert choices. My daughter chose a hamburger, but was rather disappointed that she could not have steak and promptly ate half of mine! The adult meals were faultless; the children’s were clearly aimed at younger children.
After dinner, we visited the Magic Kingdom. A few rides later the park staff starts to encourage people into the path of the Fantillusion Parade which starts at 10.15pm during the Summer months. This involves a procession of brightly lit floats and Disney characters. I enjoyed it, although rather surprised that Disney has not set up a better way to organise spectators as it is a bit of a free for all. As the park begins to close at 11pm, the Disney Dreams spectacular commences, with fireworks, flames, lasers and projections around the iconic Disney Castle. Having seen this at Disney World, Florida, I wondered how it would compare. I found it just as incredible, but quite a different experience as Florida is more firework themed.
On check in we had been offered a ‘Club’ breakfast option for 30 Euros extra. This would have include a cooked option and we were advised that it would be calmer and quieter, with allotted seating times. We declined and went for the continental choice included with the booking. We slept in and arrived at breakfast at 10.30am and found it to be quiet with plenty of food – cold meats, cheeses, yoghurts, fruit, bread, croissants, pain au chocolat and also self-service drinks – perfect.
We spent a good few hours in The Magic Kingdom followed by a relaxing session in the hotel’s fantastic inside and outside pool. After consulting the Concierge at the hotel, we booked Agrabah Café Mediterranean restaurant for dinner. My family loved it here, I can understand that it might not be to everyone’s taste, but couscous, lamb tagines, humus and baklava suits us. As it is all you can eat buffet, you can tailor make your dinner! A pre-bed cocktail in the hotel bar was much appreciated by me and a lovely way to end the day.
After an early night, we started our last day by taking advantage of the Magical Hours. As a Disney Hotel guest you can enter the Magic Kingdom at 8am, this is 2 hours earlier than regular visitors. Breakfast at 8am was again quiet and our table overlooked the lake which was beautiful. The whole park is not open at 8am but many of the most popular rides are, so we managed to walk straight onto the Buzz Lightyear ride, which is a firm family favourite, where you use your personal laser gun to shoot at enemy aliens to collect points. At the start of the Parade, my daughter was not too fussed about seeing all of the Disney characters in the main parade, but she couldn’t help but wave at Tinkerbell who waved right back at her which resulted in a very happy girl, unable to stay cynical for long!
All in all we had a fantastic break. The hotel is in a great location and the large swimming pool is the perfect place to cool down and relax. The half board plus option takes away the stress of meal times and offers a wide variety, although, for older children wanting more than just a burger, maybe avoid the seated restaurants and head for the self-service buffets. The bedrooms do not have fridges in them, so do not go with the intention of keeping anything cold. Each floor does have an ice machine and a tiny ice bucket so a couple of cans/cartons of drinks can be chilled.
Understandably, French is the primary language, but most of the staff are bilingual.
What a great weekend, however, as we went in the summer holidays, the parks and hotels were very busy.