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5 Must Do's When Traveling to Ireland
I've had a lot of interest in the Ireland trip I just experienced.
Here is a list of 5 must do's when traveling to Ireland.
1. Plan to hop around the country and stay in different cities. There's so much more to explore outside of the big cities like Dublin or Shannon. We stayed in 5 different places during our 7 night trip. It was go go go, but I felt like we were able to really maximize our vacation, without having to back track like if we had just done day tours. It also gave us more time to experience the local towns.
2. Hire a driver, or join a tour for traveling outside of Dublin. On this vacation, we hired a driver. It was one set cost for the driver, vehicle, and gas. We created an outline of where our hotels were each night so this also included accommodations for our driver, which he arranged on his own. If you really want to dive in deep, you can also hire a professional guide. We were content with a driver, which he still had a lot of knowledge, but a professional guide would be another level. One of the big perks of hiring a driver is you get to pick your schedule. Are you having fun at a pub and want to stay longer? No problem. Are you not big museum people but just want to see the highlights and hit the road? No problem. The driver program gives you 9 hours per day of drive time to set your own schedule.
3. Stay in castles! What a bucket list and unique experience it was for us to stay in some castles during our trip. There are many historic castles that operate as full service hotels with all the modern luxury amenities. Let me tell you about our 2 experiences.
This castle dated back to early 11th century. It is a 5-star experience with onsite 18 hole golf course and leisure center. This is where they have an indoor pool, gym, sauna, steam room, bicycles to borrow and more.
On property there is a spa, tennis courts, some shops and 3 restaurants. There's a host of activities onsite that you can pre-book. This includes activities like archery, horseback riding, or clay shooting. You can also rent a golf cart to explore the grounds.
The castle was refurbished in 2017. I was in an East Wing Executive. This wing of the castle was built in 2001. The rooms are spacious with a bay window. The standard East Wing rooms do not have a bay window. The room is well appointed with bathrobes, slippers, mini bar and coffee station. The bathroom has a soaking tub, shower and double sinks. We loved the towel warmer. It's something I don't see at home or at hotels too often.Daily breakfast is included with all room categories and some also include a round of golf.
Dromoland Castle is very convenient to Shannon airport and Cliffs of Moher.
This castle was built in the 13th century. It sits on the largest lake in Ireland, so the views are jaw dropping. The property and castle were purchased by the Guinness family in the 19th century, and they poured a lot of money into the estate. This is also the property that a lot of the movie, The Quiet Man, was filmed. There is onsite golf and a spa. There are 3 restaurants, plus they set up High Tea in the afternoon you can book. One of the restaurants is called, The Dungeon. It is themed in red with knights and flags. It's known for their steaks but also has a large variety of menu options. I had some really good salmon. This one does not have a dress code, but the formal dining room upstairs, men will need to bring a sport coat and everyone is asked to not wear denim.
Activities are plentiful onsite as well. You do not have to be a guest of the hotel to book activities. There is horseback riding, archery, clay shooting and the School of Falconry. Our first afternoon we did a 'Hawk Walk' with the School of Falconry. Our guide was a French girl with such a passion for the birds. Her genuine love for the birds was contagious and we loved our experience. We walked around with her in the forest with two Harris Hawks. They are trained to come when someone wears a black leather glove and when you hold out your arm. She brought food, chicken skin and chopped up mouse, to incentivize the hawks. They flew with little bells on so we could hear where they were. It was so interesting.
I was nervous at first, but the birds weighed under 2 pounds, so it was easy for them to land on our arm and they were not aggressive at all. She said they love being fed and haven't ever just flown off. She said one time a hawk killed a duck, so she took the duck home and cooked it. I was totally captivated by this. She said people can live in the wild without a weapon and they hunt with their bird.
The next morning, we went horseback riding. This was different as it is English riding. Not that I know really much of anything about horseback riding, I had no idea it was different.
The saddles don't have the knob to hold onto, the stirrups are smaller and you hold the reigns “like a cup of tea”. They led us around the grounds and by the castle. It was a neat experience.
There are a lot of accommodation options at Ashford. There are newer rooms in 'The Lodge', standard rooms and staterooms. The staterooms are all different and historic. We had a corner stateroom complete with about 30' tall ceilings, a canopy bed that looked straight out of a movie and a sitting area. I was in castle room heaven. The bathroom has heated floors, heated towel rack, and double vanities. There are robes and slippers. They include water and a bottle of Sherry in your room. There is also a mini bar with a price list. We totally fell in love with Ashford and see why it's a favorite to visit over and over.
4. Skip Ring of Kerry and opt for Dingle instead.
Nothing against Ring of Kerry. It's a beautiful drive with a lot of scenic spots to stop, but it's a ton of driving. Some of the most beautiful spots can be seen on the drive from Dingle, including spots made famous from Star Wars and movies like Far and Away.
In the spring is when you will see the lambs everywhere. The farm, where they filmed Far and Away, has a lamb program where you can hold the baby lambs for 4 euros. When we stopped they had a lamb only 2 days old that was a runt. When the ewes have triplets the runt will be ignored and the farms have to bottle feed the runts so they will survive. The owner of the farm, who was a kid living at the farm during filming of Far & Away, told us some stories about Tom Cruise and about where they set up the filming. It was fun to hear about. Dingle can be a half day trip from Killarney. It's a great coastal town with shops and restaurants. If you're going during the summer, you can also plan to make a stop at Inch beach along the way. It's an expansive beach you can drive on, and has vendors renting boogie boards. Something I was surprised to find in Ireland.
5. Cliffs of Moher is a must, but so is Doolin
I don't know if you can do a first trip to Ireland without stopping at the Cliffs of Moher.
It's that awe inducing picture spot with the gorgeous - but dangerous, if you don't follow the signs - drop off cliffs. It cost 10 euros per person for entrance. They have a visitor center with bathrooms, gift shop and coffee. Something I didn't know about is the cute little town of Doolin only 4.3 miles from the Cliffs. If you're a hiker, this is a popular hike option. What a memorable way to see the cliffs!
In the town of Doolin, you have to eat at McGanns. We had some of the best food in all of Ireland and probably the best service. Everything is fresh. The chef makes the soups from what's on hand from the garden, and local caught fish and chips. They said the fish are basically jumping out of the water there, so might as well be fresh. My husband had a short rib dish we fawned all over. When we left, we said we can't wait to come back. It was picture perfect. They also have live music in the evenings.
There is so much to do in Ireland! The people we met, the songs sung at the pubs, the wonderful food...it's all so worth the trip. I can't wait for the next trip to the Emerald Isle!
Get in touch with Lia Vincent
Lia Vincent is the founder and owner of Vincent Vacations, All Inclusive Weddings, Magical Vacations, TravelAgentPro, Vincent Cruises and Vincent Events.
Vincent Vacations is an award-winning travel agency established in 2013 that is based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. All Inclusive Weddings is an affiliate of Vincent Vacations and was established in 2019.
Lia has been recognized for her own work as a travel advisor since 2002 but has transitioned her focus to managing the brick and mortar location as well as a team of over 250 independent advisors across the country. She is passionate about marketing and enjoys planning incentive travel and events for her team. She hosts an annual awards gala for the top in sales as well as recognition travel for agents with over 1 million in annual sales on her independent team. While being a sales powerhouse is of course a motivation, the culture of her agency is one of the things she is most proud of. The team loves to travel together, attend events and be in each other’s corner.
Lia was recognized as a Trendsetter with TravelAge West in 2021 for her agency growth during the pandemic offering training classes to dive into the travel industry. She took it as a positive and let’s get ready for when travel is back. Lia is a regular guest travel speaker on Oklahoma NBC news, member of American Airlines Vacations Advisory Council, Delta Vacations Emerging Leaders, Hilton Advisory, Marival Advisory and La Coleccion’s Think Tank.
5 Must Do's When Traveling to Ireland
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Lia Vincent is the founder and owner of Vincent Vacations, All Inclusive Weddings, Magical Vacations, TravelAgentPro, Vincent Cruises and Vincent Events. Vincent Vacations is an award-winning travel agency established in 2013 that is based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. All Inclusive Weddings is an affiliate of Vincent Vacations and was established in 2019. Lia has been recognized for her own work as a travel advisor since 2002 but has transitioned her focus to managing the brick and mortar location as well as a team of over 250 independent advisors across the country. She is passionate about... Read More >>>
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Lia planned my destination wedding in May to El Dorado Royale and it was the most amazing experience! -Haley McCarthy
3 week custom trip to New Zealand, Australia and Fiji
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Vincent Vacations is the best travel agency you can find. Lia Vincent has been planning our vacations for over ten years. I can't tell you how many times she has gone the extra mile to help my husband and me. One time we were headed to Europe. All flights were cancelled. Lia got on the phone and when a flight on a different airline opened up she got us booked. Lia even checked in us to make sure we made it. In Europe she researched and researched to find us perfect accommodations and restaurants. She and her staff learn about your likes and plans the perfect vacation. I don't know when she sleeps. She plans the best vacation for each client. Her clients are like family. If you want a top notch travel agent and vacation call Vincent Vacations. I can't tell you how many times I have referred her to other people. Thank you Vincent Vacations! You truly are the best! -Debbie Straughn
Destination Wedding Puerto Vallarta
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I get this question a lot. There are a lot of great all inclusive resorts for families but what about the ones for older kids. You know the ones that are not just going to be entertained with a daycare room or a bucket and shovel in the sand. Almost all resorts tote the “we have kid’s club” but will your kids even be interested in going? My boys are well seasoned vacation testers. Here’s what I have seen be a HIT with them.
Beaches Turks & Caicos
This resort does have a great young kid program. It was also a favorite when they were little….even babies. BUT as older kids (and when I say older 2nd, 3rd and 5th grade) what they love has changed. The kid’s club is more like a day camp. They have “cool” camp counselors that have all sorts of activities with them all over the hotel. They don’t even feel like they are in “kid’s camp” which I have found to be almost a dirty word in my house. They don’t want to feel like they are just being ditched at a daycare for littles. They also schedule downtime at the club which is an open air spot with game tables and bean bag chairs and movies.
In addition to the kid’s club experience, the kids love the included watersports. From hobie cats (mini sailboats), paddleboards, aqua trikes and daily snorkel trips, it is truly like an ocean playground for this age. The water has a “like a swimming pool” feel and is generally very calm to be able to do these activities year round. If your family is into scuba there is also a young certification program for as young as 10 that your child can try scuba diving in one of the most beautiful reefs in the world.
Of course this hotel also has a waterpark. The waterpark I would say is not a thrill seekers waterpark like you will see at some of the mega resorts. There are a few tall slides and a great lazy river. There’s a Flowrider which as always was a hit with the boys. There’s a swim up mocktails bar for the kids. There is also a 50s style diner with the typical hamburgers, onion rings and milkshakes. There’s outside seating for those in dripping bathing suits. They do not serve alcohol at the waterpark.
Adjacent to the waterpark is a game lounge. I think I had a bad attitude before my boys got a little older. I was, “Why does there need to be video games? They have this amazing resort to explore.” BUT it was a welcome change to break up the day. It was also a great option when we had a rainy day and the day after a sunburn. I stand corrected. The kids loved getting to run in there for some game time and I loved the break.
My family loves the Italian Village Family Suites at this resort. They are surrounding the Italian Village pool which is centrally located and one of the more lively pools during the day. The suites are a king bed and day bed in the main bedroom with a kid’s bedroom with a triple bunk. If you have a large family you can even get these rooms to adjoin so you could have sleeping for up to 12 all together. There are also some amazing villas at this resort. They book up early for prime family time so we try to book villas at least 2 year in advance (yup! You read that right!)
The Grand at Moon Palace Cancun
I was skeptical of this one. It’s a MEGA resort. When I say mega – think of the largest resort you have ever stayed in and it’s bigger. It is part of the whole Moon Palace complex which guest at The Grand can use the entire complex but it’s not reciprocal. It is set up like it’s own hotel. You check in at The Grand. The Grand has it’s own restaurants, pools, beach club, kid’s club and more.
The Grand has the most impressive waterpark I’ve ever seen at an all inclusive resort. There is truly something for all ages from toddler area, kid splash, lazy river and slide and some big kid slides that start at age 12. There is pop up entertainment (there was a really funny interactive marionette guy that involved the kids), included food (grilling burgers and hot dogs) and open bar. They also have 2 Flowriders (surfing simulators) which my boys just wanted to ride over and over at no extra charge. The quality is just elevated from the food to the towels (no towel cards here!) and staff.
The Playroom was a huge highlight at The Grand. This is their 2 story “kid’s club” but it’s a whole different level than any other hotel. The top level is for kids 7 and under with toddler play houses, maze and more. The lower level has an arcade, ropes course (bring tennis shoes!), bumper cars and so much more. I felt like we were at a free mini Main Event. My kids were obsessed with this laser game that was something out of Mission Impossible that they had to army crawl and jump over laser to make it to the other side of the room. The Playroom is next to the waterpark so kid’s can go back and forth. They just have to dry off but they have this dryer that blows warm air. It was so funny but it worked!
Off the lobby there is also a game lounge called Wired which was a hit. I think a huge thing for this was that there’s no extra charge for all the games. As a parent I really appreciate the games just being all included. There was a variety of game tables, a snack bar and even PC gaming. The kids were in heaven popping around from one spot to the next.
You can guarantee adjoining rooms by booking a family suite. This is a room with a king connecting to a room with 2 full size beds. I wish they were queens but alas I guess I can’t have everything I want at this hotel. I hope hotel designers read this and never plan a room with full size beds.
We were impressed with the food, the service was great and I would say the only bummer is the beach.. This hotel is prone to bad sargassum or seaweed in the water. If you’re hard core beach people then this might not be your spot but the rest of the hotel made up for it in my opinion.
Hard Rock Hotel Punta Cana
I sing this hotel’s praises a lot in different scenarios but it really is a great family resort. There’s something for all ages. It is kind of like a big cruise ship on land. There’s a huge casino, amazing golf course, fun disco, shops and lots of restaurants.
The waterpark here is huge and so fun. The kid’s loved all the slides and the water park play area. It has 3 different areas with the big kid slides, waterpark, and then a more toddler area. It sits in the back of the hotel but you can easily ride the golf cart service right to the front door. There’s snack bar type food. There’s not bar service here when we came. I know it was in discussion. I guess we need to go back and check it out. There is no extra charge for the waterpark.
The kid’s club isn’t anything to write home about. It’s there but more like a daycare room thus why this blog is about best for kid’s over 8. This club is basically a “drop off for an hour or 2 for a trip to the spa. I wouldn’t plan for it to entertain kid’s much longer.
This resort was my boogie board loving boys dream. The resort sits on a huge stretch of beach with turquoise beautiful water and waves. They sold boogie boards in the gift shop and it was hours of fun. They have measured beaches by the ability to enjoy a boogie board so this one wins. Sometimes the waves were a little crazy for mom though.
There are a lot of pools all spread down the beach so the pool hopping ability is impressive. There is live entertainment and DJs by the main pool. The snack bar by the main pool is quick and everything they like. Another super fun option is you can rent a golf cart here. There is almost nothing my kids love more than riding in a golf cart. You do need to pay a cash deposit so make sure to bring extra cash if you plan to rent a golf cart for some or all of your stay.
Favorite room? There are a lot of suites at this resort that work for families. Rooms have undergone renovations since Covid which has been a welcome update. One room category that I am obsessed with has 2 King size beds and a sleeper sofa! What?! It works so great for families of 5 like mine and you aren’t paying the higher prices for a big suite.
I think there are a lot of all inclusives families would enjoy. I think I said, “Well their childhood sure is epic!” multiple times while staying at these resorts. We would love to help you plan your next family vacation!
This is a common question we get from clients. Keep in mind Spring Break is wide spread. We were in Punta Cana March 7 – 10 which was Spring Break for University of Georgia, amongst other Universities across the country. I mention University of Georgia because word on the street was, there was a group of over 600 at the hotel for the week.
Here’s the good, the bad and the ugly.
The resort is huge. There’s so much to do from the expected beach and variety of pool selection to also the largest casino in the Dominican Republic, activities like VR, laser tag, bowling, arcade, and more. There’s also a ton of onsite shopping from tourist trinkets to trendy beachwear. I loved that there’s so much to do. The Spring Breakers were not bored. Even at night there was a huge outdoor disco set up with either a DJ mixing music at night or a live band and more. One night in the Moon Lounge they even held a Silent Disco where each guest wore headphones and chose their one genre of music. So fun. It’s really impressive how Hard Rock spends the money to keep everyone entertained. The casino has a ton of slot machines and table games. There were a lot of Blackjack tables were are my favorite and the tables start at $15 minimum. Something I want to note is the casino is available for outside guests to come in and gamble. Drinks are not included unless you are playing and there’s a champagne bar and restaurant that is not part of the all inclusive plan.
[video width='300' mp4='https://blog.vincentvacations.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/119561597_301295048594802_4496958459543366550_n.mp4'][/video]There are 12 pools. You could pick what style you want from extreme Spring Break party pool or a quiet adults only pool in the gardens called Eden or if you are traveling with kids you can venture down to the kid’s pool with some smaller slides and even a lazy river complete with tubes.
One tip I have - Spend the money on a cabana. I rented one for our pool day. It was $100 and came with a dedicated waitstaff to makes sure we were taken care of with drinks. She brought us a cooler of ice filled with Pepsis and bottled water. She took drink orders and we didn’t have to wait in the long line at the bar. You can reserve this upon arrival in the lobby. We loved seeing Ramon who is the star pool waiter at the main pool. He’s so talented bringing you drinks he can balance on his head while riding a bicycle. I told him I saw him on TikTok and he smiled and gave me a big hug. The main pool is where you are going to find the DJ mixing music, live dancers in the afternoon and a great snack bar. If you prefer quiet – I would recommend Eden pool. If you prefer something more in the middle then just do one of the pools next to the main. This is a great thing about Hard Rock Hotel Punta Cana. You can pick your mood each day.
Since I also take pride in being a “tell it like it is” travel advisor I also want to tell you the not so great parts. It’s crowded. At night if you enjoy a laid back bar for cocktails, don’t go during Spring Break. I know clients that this would be the end of the world to not be able to do. The young adult crowd really took over every bar. It was 4 and 5 people deep at every single one especially when it got to be later than 10PM. I kept saying it reminded me of Vegas. If you were out late, some of the bars even ran out of alcohol. I’ve never experienced this at a resort before. I was surprised. I kind of wonder if it was a true run out or a que to go to bed. Ha!
Another issue when you travel during peak times, like Spring Break, is it was also harder to get dinner reservations. You had to make a reservation even at the buffet for dinner time if you didn’t want to have to wait. There’s a place in the lobby that does all the reservations for the restaurants. Other feedback I had was it did also get kind of loud in the hallways at night. I can sleep through a marching band so it didn’t bother me one bit. I know some are light sleepers. I love to use the box fan YouTube to play if I need some white noise which would work just fine there with included free wifi. We also did see quite the scene with some drunk young adults but it wasn’t more than I would expect with the age occupancy like that. I have always seen how Hard Rock takes young people’s safety seriously. They will not hesitate to cut someone off. When you check in they also only issue the adult bracelets to over 18 years of age with a valid Passport.
To turn this around, let’s talk more about the food. We at the Mexican restaurant “Los Gallos” for dinner the first night. I had the cactus salad and it was so good. I ordered it to try something new which is the glory of staying at an all inclusive. It was pickled cactus and a huge slice of fresh avocado. I really enjoyed it. We also had some great flautas and fresh churros for dessert. The second night we ate at the steakhouse Torro. This is one of the most popular restaurants. I do live in Oklahoma so I don’t go into this like I’m expecting a prime steak. I’m all about setting expectations correctly. The steaks are thinner but they had good flavor. The atmosphere was great and the service was really good.
I will say the last night we ended up at “The Market” which is the buffet. I would say calling it “the buffet” doesn’t do it justice. It’s more like cooking stations around the world. I said “I feel like I’m at the Wynn in Las Vegas” because the décor is so cool. I ate a teriyaki chicken rice bowl and it was so yummy. I wish I had it earlier in the trip so I could have had it twice. I have been to this hotel multiple times and the food was just so/so. They have stepped up their game. Every meal I had I really enjoyed. I even had room service for breakfast on the last morning. It arrived within 30 minutes and the eggs were cooked correctly (I like over easy eggs) and everything was hot and fresh.
I think a highlight for me as a travel agent was seeing the room renovations they are completed at the hotel. I was in a Caribbean suite which is the back half of the hotel. I prefer the Caribbean Suite side as opposed to being in a Caribbean Sand in the front part of the hotel by the beach. A lot of people are always confused when I say this because typical hotel mode would be trying to get as close to the ocean as possible BUT there’s so much off the main lobby. I would rather walk to the pool/beach in my flip flops during the day and have a easy walk to the casino/restaurants when I’m dressed up at night. If you really don’t like to walk did you know they also rent golf carts? It’s a fun option and you can do it day by day that you know you’re going to use it. Anyway! The hotel renovations are perfect. They removed the big square tub from the middle of the room and put a jacuzzi tub on the balcony. They toned down the colors and added where you would normally step down and be at the jacuzzi is now a sitting area with a sleeper sofa. This is going to open up so many more sleeping options. Another amazing option is in some of the renovated islander junior suites are 2 King size beds and a sleeper sofa. It’s perfect for families traveling with 3 kids that need the extra room. The 2 King Islander sleeps up to 5 if 1 is a child. These also have the option to connect to a Rock Star 1 Bedroom Suite if you’re traveling with a group. The bedding combinations make this hotel such a great choice for groups with different needs.
[video width='300' style='float:right;' mp4='https://blog.vincentvacations.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/dominican-republic-travel-agents.mp4'][/video]Did I answer your questions about Spring Break? Keep in mind Spring Break runs from the 2nd week of March through April in most cases. It’s a busy hotel but with a lot to do to keep everyone entertained. If the increased young adult groups would be a turn off but you still want to go when kid’s are out of school, I would say this would be a great one for Christmas Break when it’s heavier on the family travel or summer if you are looking for a lower price point.
Traveling to celebrate a milestone? Ask us about their great group program called, “Rock Your Milestone” where you can get a private event complimentary. We have had this work out for graduation groups or big birthdays. It’s a great option.
We look forward to helping you plan Hard Rock Hotel Punta Cana.
What I liked and didn’t like about Disneyland Paris, including staying on-property.
We are a Disney family. We aren’t annual pass holders level, but I would say we are almost there. We go often and sometimes I personally go more than once a year with work events. My kids have stayed on property at Disney in all levels from Deluxe to Value, and at Grand Californian in Anaheim.
We headed on a European adventure and made Paris one of our stops. At the time of the trip my three boys were 9, 7 and 6. We flew from London to Paris and then took a cab to the hotel. The cab line was easy to find and cost about 90 euros (in a larger van since there was 5 of us).
Upon arrival, it doesn’t have the warm fuzzy feeling like at Disney World. There wasn’t a welcome greeting but a direct to take our bags to a X-ray machine. We then went through a metal detector. We had Compass Club so we were able to check in right to the left. This was a great time saver as opposed to the main check in desk so I highly recommend this.
We chose to stay at Newport Bay. It sits walking distance from the parks (about 10 minutes) and has a shuttle. We walked each time, but they said the shuttle came every 1 minute. Our room had 2 double beds and 2 sleeper chairs, which worked great for our family to spread out. The bathroom had a shower and a separate tub all in the same little bathroom so that was odd, but convenient. The room was stocked with a couple of bottles of water and bathroom toiletries including robes and slippers.
The hotel is kind of dated. The wall paper in the halls needs to be redone and a lot of the hotel is a little tired. I can only imagine how a kid oriented hotel is treated on a regular basis. The beds were comfortable, though so no complaints on that. I can just see some being surprised especially given the price point.
The hotel had surprise meet and greets, so our first hour of being there my kids met Pluto, which they were excited about. The staff was good about transitioning between French and English. I noticed there were a lot of UK families staying, but not many from the USA, which was expected.
The hotel has both an indoor and outdoor pool. It’s a whole check in where they ask your room number, which is different than in the USA. The most startling thing to me - the unisex locker rooms for the pool. This, I’m sure is the norm in France, but I can see this being awkward for American travelers. The European guests are also not as modest as most Americans. My kids were like “why aren’t they wearing a swim suit top?” and things like that.
For having a club level room, we had access to the lounge. In club level rooms at Disney hotels I’ve stayed in previously, the club lounge is in the area of the rooms. This was on ground floor close to the lobby. They served daily breakfast and then snacks from 4-530PM. Snacks included different kinds of cakes, cake pops, pastries, fruit, cherry tomatoes with mozzarella and a lot of yogurt. My kids ate so my croissants. I was glad they would try new things like this banana Mickey cake they had. My biggest shock is they didn’t serve wine or beer. I would have thought in all places like France that wine or champagne would flow like water. It did not. Ha! You had your option of Coca-Cola products, Fuze Tea, coffee or hot tea. The drinks were always available.
In case you’re not totally familiar, Disney in Paris is 2 parks connected to Disney Village which is their version of Disney Springs. We chuckled at all the American brands in Disney Village from McDonalds which was always hopping to a 50’s style dinner, a BBQ place called Billy Bobs, Planet Hollywood and more. Disney Studios kind of reminds me of Hollywood Studios. Disneyland is laid out very similarly to Disneyland in California but with some fun differences.
One of the things we loved, you are able to climb up in and around the castle. The castle is Sleeping Beauty’s castle. There are stairs going up and it tells her story in stained glass. You can also go out and wave on the balcony like you see characters doing at other parks. There’s a neat glass blowing shop also in the castle with a door in the back of the shop that takes you downstairs under the castle with an animatronic dragon. My kids probably talked about this the most since they thought they discovered something on their own.
The kids loved Skull Island which is their version of Tom Sawyer’s Island with playground and caves to explore. There is also a cute Pinocchio ride.
Just this last year they completely refurbished and changed Space Mountain into HyperSpace Mountain. This is all Star Wars themed with the song blasting you off at the beginning. A big change for HyperSpace? This ride takes you upside down on one loop. My oldest said it was pitch dark and he only knew he was upside down by how his cheeks felt. I was too chicken to ride it.
Another unique part of Disneyland is the Alice’s Curious Labyrinth. This is the Queen of Hearts garden maze complete with card characters popping up, cute photo stops and a fun castle to climb up at the end. If you’re a big Disney person just coming for the unique experiences I think is worth it.
One thing about the park is from my perspective it’s very understaffed. I’m going to assume this is a worldwide issue caused my the pandemic. I'm used to being greeted at rides. I’m use to a lot of staff everywhere. It was sometimes hard to find someone. It was surprising when we had that amazing Disney service from an employee. This was probably the most disappointing. It wasn’t the same. I don’t know if it’s a cultural thing but it wasn’t the interactive chatty happy workers like what we experience all the time in the United States.
Park hopping is common and you don’t pay extra for it here. You easily can walk between the parks. Over at Disney Studios they have a great Cars and Toy Story area. There are some unique rides including a race car ride from Toy Story that does this half circle fall. It reminds me of the boat rides at the fair that swing.
Disney Studios, of course, has a lot of shows. From Frozen, to a magician Mickey show. Their new attraction for the park is Avengers Campus. They have modified Rockin' Roller Coaster into Avengers Assemble: Flight Force an Iron man and Captain Marvel ride and also added WEB to the campus just a couple weeks before we arrived. This is the same Spider-Man ride at Disneyland in California. It was a resounding favorite of everyone. It can sense your movements so it looks like you’re really throwing webs to help Spider-Man fight off some evil spiders. It’s so cool. We said we need a quick trip to California just to ride this one again.
Here’s some important info. We were there over a weekend in the summer. The parks were at capacity. They do reservations just like we do in the United States. We wanted to be able to maximize so we upgraded to Premier Access Ultimate. This is something not in the USA parks so let me explain with a list to make it easier:
- Cost was 140 Euros per person on top of park admission - There was a list of 9 rides at Disneyland and 4 at Disney Studios that are included. - With Ultimate you can walk up to any of these rides on the list at anytime during your day and go to the Premier line (what we like to call Fast Pass or Lightning Lane). - You only could use your Premier once per ride per person.
There was an option that was less expensive that you could schedule each ride and come back during your time slot. With us not loving making a plan, this wasn’t ideal for our family, but it would be a way to save money. You can also purchase premier access one by one with specific time slots. They ranged from $9-$18 per person per ride. This is all done on their APP.
We really loved the Premier Access. The PA lines were minimal, if anything while the regular lines were over an hour or more. I was calling it a mini-VIP guide day.
Overall, we are glad we went to Disneyland Paris. We had a great time! It was a great highlight for the kids on a European itinerary.
I tried to be as transparent and honest with our experience so you know what you’re getting. If this sounds like a vacation you would love, then please reach out. My office would love to help you plan a European vacation with Disneyland Paris as part of your adventure.