Disneyland Paris is back. After a 4 month closure as result of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Europe’s No.1 tourist destination began welcoming guests once again earlier this week.
The health & safety of guests and Cast Members is of course at the forefront of attention right now in the resort, and so should it be. Read more about the measures DLP has put in, along with my first hand thoughts, here in my Disneyland Paris reopening – Health & Safety review.
With so many changes made throughout the parks and major elements either altered, removed or temporarily on pause questions have been asked over the quality of the resort amidst this very unique situation. Can Disneyland Paris still be magical with so many restrictions and measures in place?
Ask nearly any Disneyland Paris fan about the resort’s long await reopening and chances are they’re going to tell you this is a major moment in the its history. Being able to return to operation during such a difficult time in the world (especially where other Disney Parks have failed) is a big call for celebration and the resort agrees.
Every morning from park opening right up until 11:00am Mickey, Minnie and friends can be found atop Main Street Station welcoming guests to the start of their day back in the magic. A good morning welcome like this is something we so very rarely see in any Disney resort so to see it here and on a daily basis, by the main mouse and five of his closest pals really is a treat to behold.
That isn’t all, either! As you travel up Main Street U.S.A. towards to journey to Central Plaza, the hard working and celebratory Cast Members of Emporium, Flora’s Boutique, Casey’s Corner and more will be there waving along to the return of fans and guests alike. The temporary closure of the resort has been a trying and hard time for those who love the parks no doubt, but that feeling was amplified for those who call DLP their place of work. The fun and enthusiasm from those who line Main Street, excited and cheerful to see guests return once again is nothing short of special.
The soundtrack to this joyous daily spectacle is a newly reworked song almost as magical as the event itself. Taking the same melody of a fan classic with updated lyrics, ‘Make Some Magic’ is the official theme of the Disneyland Paris reopening and something you will no doubt hear several times a day during your return to the parks.
Fans may recognise the song as being none other than Springtime’s favourite Sunny Bunnyland, with changed lyrics reflecting that of the reopening. It may seem bizarre at first hearing such a beloved song re-done like this (particularly as Swing Into Spring is just a few years old), but in a strange and very 2020 way of things, it works. The fast, upbeat and hyperactive lyrics perfectly capture the celebration tone the reopening conveys and is very hard not to sing along to well into the mid-evening, just in time to hear it all again.
While Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park saw their extended downtime the maintenance teams have been really hard at work making the parks look sublime for the grand reopening. It feels like everything has received a fresh coat of paint with vibrant colours popping just as they should while the dried and weathered theming looks authentically accurate. I never thought I could be so excited about roof tiles before until I saw the outstanding job done to the bathrooms beside Au Chalet de la Marionette. With the Summer sun reflecting off them the whole area really shines in colour.
The biggest change to a format within the parks (that doesn’t include an outright cancellation) is beyond doubt the character meet & greet. Under the new and vitally important social distancing regulations the standard way we would find and interact with our favourite Disney friends simply isn’t possible. In true Disneyland Paris fashion creative and unique solutions have been found that in some examples even exceed that of what came before.
Next time you pass through the Castle Courtyard be sure to take a moment to look back onto the marvellous balcony of La Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant and you might just see its famous residents Princess Aurora and Prince Philip waving down to guests. Little touches like this is the type of entertainment and streetmosphere Disneyland Paris has sorely been lacking for years now and brings so much life into the area.
Disney character Meet & Greets as we once knew them have been completely reinvented and with a new name; Selfie Spots. Typically found in the same locations and acting very similar to standard meets, these give guests the opportunity to interact and chat with their favourite characters before posing for a quick selfie, all from a suitable physical distance.
This newly formed alternative experience works impressively well and offers just as much interaction as previous meet & greets, save for that physical hug and autographs. For example, my first encounter of these selfie spots concluded by joining in on Irish dancing with Minnie Mouse – in a really funny tribute to my homeland.
The true highlight to these new selfie spots can be found in the Studios. Compensating for the lack of stage shows Animagique and Studio Theaters have become brand new meeting zones for characters from their respective shows. For the first time ever guests have the opportunity to meet Mickey Mouse in the same attire from Mickey & the Magician as well as make acquaintances with the other Sorcerer Supreme, Doctor Strange.
Best of all however these twin selfie spots give guests the very unique opportunity of actually standing on the very stages normally reserved for performers. As a hardcore fan it was such a great moment getting that bit closer to the magic and as a guest I had a blast meeting the likes of Thor, Loki, Belle and Black Widow with interesting and unique backdrops.
Disney PhotoPass, the digital photography service which switched operators during the resort’s closure, is noticeably but understandably absent from all selfie spots. In their place however is the return of Magic Shots to Disneyland Paris. Sprinkled all around the parks by iconic locations guests would typically get your photo by, the service allows guests to capture their holiday through the lens of a professional photographer, reuniting that one person always missing from the holiday snaps with the rest of the family.
For a bit more of a literal use of the name, several Magic Shot locations also allow you get to get your photo taken with different Disney characters or props. These are superb little additions to the parks which definitely need to become permanent features like in the US resorts. My personal favourites include the Magic Lamp by Agrabah in Adventureland and Place des Remy’s encounter with the little chef.
If meeting Disney characters isn’t your thing and you’d much rather fill the day on attractions, the Disneyland Paris reopening really is a treat. With both parks running to a very limited capacity (with a gradual but very slow increase planned) wait times have never been lower. You may have to walk an extended queueline in order to get to your favourite roller coaster or dark ride but by the time you clear those switchbacks and hit that turnstile more times than not you’ll be straight on to the ride show.
As someone who has always put the attractions above the likes of parades, shows and even characters in a Disneyland Paris day this has made the reopening phase an essential time to visit. Never before have I been able to ride Big Thunder Mountain so many times back to back that I lost count, same too the fact I fulfilled a lifelong dream and got an entire Phantom Manor stretch room all to myself! I’m pretty sure the foyer Cast Member saw the excitement upon my face when I made the realisation.
This level of positivity and happiness I found atop the haunted hill of Thunder Mesa is something that has been shared all throughout the resort. Disneyland Paris returning from its 4 month absence isn’t just being celebrated by the hardcore fans but by the guests and Cast who also populate it. All throughout my stay each and every CM I encountered was a joy to chat with, even the serious procedure of park security was a friendly and welcoming one going that extra mile only Disney truly achieves.
By the time your day in the parks come to an end at the earlier time of 8:00pm, you’ll absolutely still get a feeling of fulfilment thanks to so much that is still on offer within the resort. Many have called concerns over the lack of daytime shows, daily parades and nighttime spectaculars during this reopening period but at no point did I ever feel like I was missing out on my trip with them not being there. I was too busy having the best time at the selfie spots, visiting just about every attraction I wanted to or kicking back and soaking up that truly unique atmosphere of Main Street U.S.A.
And to wrap up such a fun day, what better way than to mirror how it started. Cast Members once again take to the sidewalk of Main Street and wave goodbye to those who came to this happy place for the day. This really is such a special moment not only for us as guests but for the resort as a whole, matching that of the morning routine and feeling like a celebration of all the effort that has gone in returning the magic. Add to this Mickey and the gang back on Main Street Station for a goodbye kiss and the brand new closing loop of instrumental Disney classics it almost feels like the park has become an immersive closing credits on your day, complete with some of the faces who made it all a reality.
There were many important questions that needed to be asked when planning to bring day to day operation back to Disneyland Paris. The health & safety of all involved was and still is the priority but if the resort wasn’t fun to return to then all efforts ensuring people could come back wouldn’t matter. Not only has each and every safety question been answered impeccably they have also passed with flying colours the test of magic as the resort stays strong as the most beautiful, immersive and happiest place on Earth right now.
Rather than accepting a bare minimum and running the parks in a skeleton like format, true effort has gone in to find fun and creative solutions to problems just mere months ago we never thought we would be facing. That in itself is worth massive recognition to everyone who has made the Disneyland Paris reopening a possibility. Not only to overcome issues the likes of which never seen before but to actually surpass and enhance guest experience in the process.
If you have a holiday booked and you’re wondering if that magic is still there in these uncertain and trying times, I an assure you it certainly is. While some things you love may not be there and things may be a little different there is more than enough to have a fun-filled several days and even more to make you want to come right back as soon as you can.
I honestly have never felt prouder than I do right now about Disneyland Paris. Europe’s No.1 tourist destination isn’t just the safest place you can visit right about now, it is still the absolute most magical.