Surprised, Disappointed and Delighted at Disneyland Paris

It’s been two weeks since we came home from Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney Studios, and life has returned to its normal rhythm and structure. Thank goodness, because nobody can compete with the happy happy joy joy of Disney on a daily basis. Nobody.

And this blog might sound different from my usual blogs, because I’ll mostly be addressing those of you planning to make a visit to Disneyland Paris at some point in the future. I should mention though, that this year was the 25th anniversary of Disneyland Paris. And Noah celebrated it accordingly, with cotton candy.

Disneyland Paris
25th Anniversary Cotton Candy

Check out the vendor staring at Noah. HA!

 

Happy Birthday Disneyland Paris!

Bon Anniversaire!

Which brings me to my first observations…

~

What Surprised Me

Things both good and bad…

 

Everything Was In French.

Duh. Yes, I know, it shouldn’t have been that surprising given we were in FRANCE. And it certainly wasn’t my first time in the country. But yeah, the still US-centric Korean-American-Belgian in me was surprised to find out everything in Disneyland Paris was in French. The narrations, the signage, and the restaurant menus. That’s not to say things weren’t translated into English most everywhere, and anything Noah didn’t catch I was able to translate for him, but the mother tongue of both parks was definitely French. Which is why I haven’t been referring to Disneyland Paris as “Euro Disney,” like many people do, because it was definitely all about France.

No Smoking

Smoking, even smoking of electronic cigarettes, was only permitted in designated areas around either park. I realize this is also the case in other Disney parks, but I didn’t think this would be the case here because Europe has such a smoking culture in general. But I appreciated this given the fact that I just stopped smoking in October. And it settled my soul that children like Noah could take in all the glory that is Disney, without worrying about second-hand smoke entering their little lungs…

What Disappointed Me

Because there come letdowns to accompany all that wishing upon a star and dreams coming true stuff…

The Lines

Which I’m sure is the case in every Disney park, but it’s been SO long since I was last Disney-fied that I simply don’t remember. Or maybe I’ve blocked it out. Even the “Fastpass” for the most popular attractions wasn’t of much help. Not to mention the lines at the ladies’ rooms all over the park. I would have thrown on an adult diaper for the day and just let myself pee my pants if that was an option.

Luckily though, we did the two parks on a Thursday and Friday and on Thursdays there are significantly less visitors, so we actually got to hit up 18 attractions. 18!  I was pretty proud of myself, because I know it was a result of my OCD planning and mapping out each step of our Thursday that made it possible.  #PatsSelfOnBack

But on the Friday we got a whopping 4 rides in, and a few shows and parades.

Fastpass

You can only get one Fastpass at a time, which reduces your wait time to only 15 minutes or so, unless two hours has passed since your previous Fastpass. But two hours in real time is like four hours in Disney time. So if you get to utilize two Fastpasses in one day, then you’re lucky. Because once the “quota” is met for each ride then that’s it. You have to wait in line for upwards of 75 minutes with the rest of the common folk. For example: At 11am on Friday morning we got Fastpasses for Big Thunder Mountain because it had been closed for most of the day before. We were to return at 4:45pm to get on the ride. At 11am!

The Food

And I’m not talking reservation-based restaurants, because who has time to waste on sitting down and eating like proper human beings when you have lines to wait on?! The counter service / fast-food type places were ATROCIOUS, and we tried several. It was airplane food minus the tropical destination you have to look forward to. I’d packed sandwiches to munch on during the day while we stood on lines, but we did try a bunch of the food at different grub hubs and… Not good. You can do better, Disney. Walt would not approve.

What Delighted Me

Besides the cheer and cotton candy…

Noah’s Belief In Disney

Noah’s innocence and purity and belief in all things Disney magic made this trip for me. Like, when we started off our day in the dungeons beneath Sleeping Beauty Castle. It was the perfect start to our day.

I did not tell Noah what awaited him. And so when we happened upon the dragon, Noah was quite unsure as to whether or not it was real. I mean, he’d never seen one before so he had no way to know either way. He kept asking me, throughout that day, whether or not the dragon we’d seen was “really real” or not. And I answered him the same words each time.

“Well, this is Disneyland. It’s up to you to decide if anything is real or not. If you want it to be real, then it was real, Noah. That’s the magic of Disney.”

He didn’t push it any further. He just let those words sink in each time. It was magical to watch him believe in Disney despite his propensity for rationale…

It’s A Small World

I imagine my parents also found joy in their hearts when I was Noah’s age, watching me hold that same wonder in my eyes. I do remember my first visit to Disneyworld in Orlando, but I don’t remember every detail. The one moment that stayed with me forever though, was on the “It’s A Small World” boat ride with all the dolls on display representing children from around the world. I remember so vividly, how I lost my damn mind when I spotted the Korean dolls standing there. It had felt like I was finally validated somehow.

It was before the Seoul Olympics ever happened, because that’s really when people learned that South Korea was actually its own country. Sad, but true.

So that experience really did affect me. I remember thinking, WOW THEY KNOW ABOUT KOREAN KIDS!

Even my momz still remembers. After all, I made her go on it with me FOUR TIMES that day just to see the Korean part again…

So I was particularly interested to see how Noah would react to seeing the Korean representation at Disneyland Paris, or if he’d even notice it at all.

As we made our way to our little boat, I started to got nervous. What if Noah didn’t even recognize the Korean display when we got to it? What if I’d failed in my duties as a Korean mother? Should I have drilled him more about Korean culture all these years? What if he hated the whole ride altogether?!

I started to actually stress. I imagined throwing myself over the side of the boat at the end of the ride in shame, and eventually getting kicked out of Disneyland Paris. Oh the tweets that would have ensued…

And then our turn came to board our cruise around It’s A Small World…

 

Disneyland Paris
It’s A Small World but a big world…

Noah’s Korea

Noah loved it. To me, everything seemed smaller than I remembered. And then I realized, well, it’s truly its grandest and most magical when you’re a kid. And my heart was happy watching Noah take it all in. Then we got to the Korean dolls on display…

“FROM RICE HOUSE! Mama, look! Korea!” Noah shouted it loud enough for all the boats to hear.

I laughed, relieved and happy and grateful. It made me realize that although I had closed up shop at Rice House, Noah identified with so many things Korean because of it. Rice House had served many purposes, not excluding Noah’s Korean palate and recognition of the Korean flag.

Though it also probably helped that I dressed him up in traditional Korean garb once a year, for photos to send to my momz back in New York…

I won’t go into detail about every ride and attraction we experienced. If you’d like to ask specific questions, please do leave them in the comments below. I’ll be glad to answer you in detail.

Or you can also contact me privately with any questions you may have…

I will say though, that Noah was just shy of 1m20cm for a couple of “Not To Be Missed” rides. So we may just have to go back again once he’s a bit taller! Plus, if and when we go back, we will be sure to catch any shows we missed at both parks, because the ones we did catch were amazing!

Always planning our next adventure!

Always dishing,

Jun

22 Comments

  1. Vallery W Dietrich

    Fascinating recap of your Disney Adventure. I found myself giggling and smiling too. Noah looks like he was fascinated! An adventure he’ll never forget. Thanks for posting Jun.
    Val

    Reply
    1. Jun Song Author

      Yes Vallery, he loved it! I wasn’t sure how he’d react because we’ve been to “amusement parks” before and although he had fun he never asked to go back. But with Disneyland he was completely mesmerized and definitely wants to go back. Ha! I’m so glad!

      Reply
  2. One of the reasons I married the man I did so very long ago was because he promised to take me to Disneyland. I’m glad I married him because Disneyland was so worth it! [tongue in cheek but with a lot of truth]

    Reply
  3. Barbara Perlick

    As someone who has lived next door to Disney World since it open we learned early on to go in the off seasons. The best time for DW is the week after Labor Day when everyone is back in school. Always stay away on weekends, holidays and when school is not in session. Some observations I always found disturbing are the people who never get strollers for their children and then yell at them as they can barely move after a long day telling them they have to enjoy the place. In the Florida heat which is hot for most tourist, you need breaks and naps for everyone. Enjoyed reading your blog and learning that Disney issues are world wide!

    Reply
    1. Jun Song Author

      Ohhhhh how cool! Yes. Off seasons are best. TOTALLY. I noticed a huge difference from just Thursday to Friday!

      We actually did get a stroller the second day because the first day was SO full I felt like Noah could use some pampering. HA! It was €20 to rent for the day with ai €50 deposit if you wanted to be able to take it from one park to the other. It was SO worth it! It’s a lot of walking for little legs!

      Reply
  4. Disneyland and Disney World were a part of my childhood! It’s a Small World is still my favorite! It’s still magical! I wonder now who built it and who’s idea was it? It’s such a nice way to go around the world!
    The song sticks in my head just reading about it.

    I’m glad you did the good and bad. The lines only bothered me as I got older and more impatient.

    I remember watching the boys! That’s magical in a whole new way.

    I love you and Noah so much! You amaze me as a mom! So intelligent and fun!

    Chris

    Reply
    1. Jun Song Author

      It’s A Small World will ALWAYS be my favorite. I was surprised even at myself that it still held so much meaning to me after all these years.

      And yes, the lines are definitely annoying hahahah but it’s important to have something to keep you busy. Food works too. We munched on snacks and kept each other entertained pretty well. HA!

      Love you too Chris! I’m so glad you’re always around keeping an eye out!

      Reply
  5. Janine

    Hehe. After all these years you’re American upbringing and mindset leaves you surprised of a country’s signage despite living in a foreign country?

    Perhaps to avoid further disappointment in Europe and to help you keep your sanity in check, immigrating back to the USA might suit you much better?

    Reply
    1. Jun Song Author

      Dear Janine from Canada:

      I believe that life is forever a learning opportunity. And sometimes we can still be surprised by things despite all our learning. It’s a beautiful thing! And without disappointments how could we ever appreciate the delights? Being disappointed by things in Disneyland Paris doesn’t mean I am “disappointed in Europe.” That would be silly. You’re not that silly are you Janine?

      Thanks for visiting my blog and sharing your thoughts. I hope your disappointment in me won’t stop you from coming back!

      Signed,
      Delighted Jun

      Reply
  6. Deano Brown

    “From Rice House”!! haha I love that!!

    Glad you guys had such a great time, there really is no way to describe the pure joy of Disney to someone who hasn’t had the chance to visit before!!

    I love the no smoking rules in Disney, and I love even more the fact that people actually follow those rules!! There are plenty of places like that in the UK but people take it upon themselves to ignore it and there’s never really anyone telling them otherwise, so frustrating!!

    Reply
    1. Jun Song Author

      It CRACKED me up hahah. Rice House was there with us in spirit. I suppose it always will be.

      I am so impressed that so many people DID follow the no smoking rule, though of course I did catch some people who really did not care. Sigh. Oh well. I thought about saying something but just gave them stare-downs instead haha.

      Reply
  7. Frankie

    I am not surprised by the “French language only” aspect. It was the same for us when we went to the Louvre. We arrogantly expected the information to be in French and English but, nope! Our little placard w translations was off to the side with every other country’s. And I learned to appreciate their stance because I saw so many Americans affronted by it lol.

    I’m so glad you two had such a nice time! The food is a bummer but definitely a small glitch. These are the stories Noah will tell his children one day. ❤️

    Reply
  8. Anonymous

    Just got back from Orlando with my two kids (7 and 1). I can totally relate tomyour blog. Specially about the food which is not only terriblw but expensive. But the joy, happiness and fun my kids had was all worth it!

    Reply

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