The last time we were at Disneyland Paris was in January. For the months after we had a couple of trips planned to Disneyland Paris, and also Tokyo Disney. When the pandemic hit many of our trips got cancelled, including two Run Disney events. So when the news broke that Disneyland Paris would be opening again, we were overjoyed.
Initially we weren’t planning on going, but we thought that going to one of the preview days might even give us lesser crowds, and soon plans were made. We visited Disneyland Paris on the first AP preview day, Monday July 13th. You do have to make reservations to visit the park.
Let’s describe how magical our day at Disneyland Paris was, despite masks and hand sanitizer.
Arriving at the resort and parking
During the year, we tend to stay off property. It just helps us cut down on the hotel cost. In the morning we drove from the Hyatt Regency hotel near the airport to Disneyland Paris. And while it was just after rush hour, traffic wasn’t that bad. When we arrived at the parking gates, well, it got busier. Unfortunately most drivers have never heard of how merging traffic works. And because of that, the one thing I hope the parking staff will address is the fact that they go from a two lane road, to all parking gates, back to three lanes. This causes loads of merging traffic.
It took us close to an hour to actually get from the overpass just before the parking gates, until we finally parked. Even at the parking lot they were doing physical distancing of cars. Later on, these empty spots would be filled again by other cars. But at least, this made sure that you could get out of your vehicles without bumping into other people. While we left our car, we put our masks on, knowing that it would be a long day. But with us, 99% of the other guests also directly put their masks on. That felt really good. Now for the long trek to security.
Security and Ticket Turnstiles
The Security and getting through the Ticket Turnstiles is often where we see the biggest pile up of people. But this time around, with all the lines and markers, it was so easy to get through all the lines. It didn’t feel rushed, not was it full with people. Security will no longer touch your bag, so you have to slide it in the scanner yourself, but I would do that myself already anyways. And at security we noticed something new. Something strange. The security staff was saying “Good Morning”, “Bon Jour”, and welcoming us to the resort. In the last few years, this has never happened and did caught me off-guard. But that was really nice.
When we walked towards the Disneyland Hotel, people were talking photos of the Fantasy Gardens, and just enjoying being there again. We walked over to the middle of the entrance. While the Infinity special entrance was open, we opted to experience ‘the normal’ lines. And with all the markers, it couldn’t have gone any smoother. Just before the turnstile a CM checked our reservation and we could go to scan our AP.
One thing I noticed later on was that the CM can also just scan your AP and see whether you have a reservation, so there was no need for me to show the email (again). And based on my AP, my wife was good to walk in as well. So somehow they did have a bit of an upgrade in the IT department, and we noticed!
It’s Time for Magic
And finally we were back at the park which we lasted visited in January. While it wasn’t something we yearn for daily, it was sure on our mind that we had several trips planned in the months during the closure. So when it opened again, we were happy to just pay it a visit and experience some of the Magic again.
Days at the park now start with a welcome from your favorite Disney Friends and a new theme: Coming Home To Disneyland, reworked version of Sunny Bunny Land. And we must say this is a nice touch to start of the day, and sets the scene for the fact that you will be able to see your favorite characters, but that it will always be from a distance.
During our visit we also had the opportunity to meet Natacha Rafalski, Présidente of Disneyland Paris, and Disney Ambassador Giona. While most people had no idea who they were, the fact that there was a small line to meet them, should have given it away to some people. With both we had a nice chat about the re-opening and that it was good to be back. It was good to see Giona again (we met him before a couple of times), and it was nice to see that Natacha is stepping a lot more into the spotlight as well.
Throughout the park you will notice that at sections where lines could be formed, there are now markers on the floor to let people know where and how to queue. I already gave Natacha the feedback they should just keep that also after everything settles down. At least it makes sure that people aren’t queueing across the street (which happens often in Paris).
Meeting Characters at their Selfie Spots
Meeting characters is now completely different and they are now called Selfie Spots. Where you could first walk up to a character and really interact with them, you now have to maintain distance which makes for a different experience. We do love engaging with the characters, and from a distance that is a bit harder. Still we did enjoy meeting some of our favorite characters, especially now that these meet and greets are so unique.
Make sure you visit Meet Mickey Pavilion in the back of Fantasyland as that is one of the best Selfie Spots we experienced. The setting just gives you some unique photos.
All the character Selfie Spots are without Photopass photographers. So either bring your A-level Selfie Game, or ask a friend to take a photo. CMs are not allowed to use your phone at the moment to take photos, for reasons well-known. And if you want to know which Selfie Spots there are, we got you covered!
Note: in the last few weeks they have added some impromptu character cavalcades which we didn’t experience yet. And from the looks of it, they are really fun!
Shows and Parades
Unfortunately at the moment there are no parades and shows you can experience. As mentioned before though, you can see your favorite Disney friends on Main Street Station. They are normally out in the morning (first few hours after Park opening) and at the end of the day. A similar experience can be had at Walt Disney Studios Park where you can see your favorite Disney friends inside Studio 1 on several of the balconies. A couple times during the day you can see a Fountain Show at the Castle. Few of the stages are actually used as a Selfie Spot, and the Frozen Experience is also a walk through to meet Anna, Elsa, Olfa, Sven and Kristoff. Later in August two shows will be brought back to the park. Read more about that later on in this article.
Often we only go to the parks to experience the entertainment. Yes, we sometimes skip rides all together. This time around we did go on three different rides, and looked at the queues for some others, just to get an idea of how all this was arranged. The rides we went on were Star Tours, Hyperspace Mountain, and It’s a Small World. And from the moment you walk up to an attraction you do know things will be different. Inside the queues you will find distance markers, making sure there is enough space between the party in front of you, and the people behind you. Depending on the ride, there might be some dividers to ensure that all loops of a queue can be used without ending up standing next to one another.
And while the team at Disneyland Paris has done a great job to match some of the theming, you are bound to notice some of the
One of the biggest changes with the reopening was the increased presence of Photopass photographers, and the addition of new Magic Shots. As we are frequent US Disney Parks visitors we are used to see Photopass Photographers all over the place, and seeing them now at Disneyland Paris is great. Especially with the lower of amount of entertainment, it is nice to have the ability to take some great photos, especially with some added Pixie dust.
When you do line up for a photo, also here physical distancing is enforced. And this feels really good. Also when they scan your Photopass, they scan it from a stand, so there is no physical contact between the photographer and you.
Since they introduced the new Photopass system from Kodak, the photographers give you one extra card even when you already have a Photopass. This to make sure you won’t loose any photos.
One hot topic at Disneyland Paris has always been dining. For people that have been to the park a few times know that it can get really crowded near counters to order your food, and often long lines are seen stretching outside of the restaurants.
What you will see now is that more inside seating is more limited than before, and that more seats are available outside. We even saw seats near the water alongside the dock for the riverboat.
For the day we made lunch reservations for The Lucky Nugget. And making reservations is something we highly recommend. It just makes it easier for you to grab something to eat when it fits within your planning. For many restaurants, you can now make reservations through the official Disneyland Paris app.
When you enter a sit-down restaurant you will notice that there will be less seating available, and the seats that are there, will be more spread out. We always liked the ambiance of the The Lucky Nugget and the good thing is, that ambiance is still there. It just feels less crowded which is maybe a good thing as well.
We did get a drink at Casey’s and the team has done a great job with ensuring that there is enough queue outside, and inside guests are instructed to follow certain paths to get to a register. Not too many guests are allowed in at a time. This gives a really good feel. At The Lucky Nugget we were not asked to disinfect our hands, but at Casey’s the CM at the door did ask us to use the purell station that is located near the door.
The table waiter at The Lucky Nugget was wearing a mask, and had even glasses on. Of course when we sat down, we were allowed to take our masks off. I guess that is also the reason why the waiter was a bit more covered up, and I respect them for that. The CM at the register was a bit hard to hear as the Plexiglas divider was quite big for the area she was standing in. I can imagine that it will get annoying at times, and they will just go next to the screen.
What is a Disney day without some shopping, right? When you enter a shop there are most likely some arrows that direct the traffic. And while we were there on a day that it wasn’t busy, I assume that those arrows come in quite handy when it gets busier, but then I do wonder whether people will really follow them. The purell at the entrance does give you the ability to disinfect your hands, and as written earlier sometimes a CM will ask you to actually use it.
At the registers you will find disinfectant that you can buy, and most registers also have a Plexiglass divider to give some additional protection to CMs ringing up your products.
When you do feel uncomfortable grabbing an item which has been on the shelf for hours, or days, they offer you the ability to ask a CM to grab you “a fresh item”. While I think that with the massive amounts of purell they would prevent most contaminations from hands to items, back to hands, it is a nice gesture the park is offering.
Some other health and safety measures
Of course everything that we discussed and highlighted here apply to both Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios, but of course also to Disney Village.
There is no pin trading at the moment. This ensure the health and safety of guests and CMs. At Pueblo Trading Post, you can still buy pins. The tables outside have markers on them where people can sit, and of course not sit. Not sure whether guests can still do some pin trading between themselves.
And you can’t go a whole day without going for a toilet break, and yes also there you will find some markers to tell you want to. From walking direction, to which urinal you can use to how to wash your hands.
Is it safe to visit Disneyland Paris during the pandemic?
I’ve been really strict since The Netherlands went into their intelligent lock down, and ever since I’ve been really strict on maintain my distance to people, washing my heads regularly, and avoiding crowded areas. Having this said, it was quite a decision to go to Disneyland Paris. Because while we had the feeling the park had everything arranged nicely, you still need to get fuel, and we stayed at a hotel.
At Disneyland Paris we felt more than safe. The resort had everything nicely arranged, and Cast Members were doing more than their best to ensure that tables and seats were cleaned. That guests were lining up properly and that distance was kept. There were hand sanitizers throughout the park and you could find one at each entrance and exit to a ride and shop. Sometimes CMs would even ask you to clean your hands when you entered a store. And we happily obliged.
Having that said, many of the measures the resort is taking, also depend on the willingness of guests to follow them.
What about masks at Disneyland Paris?
Wearing the mask was something we even forgot about after we entered the parks. It was just so normal to wear a mask, you don’t feel out of place. The few times we took it off was during lunch, and when we sat down to have a drink. Even when we were outside and wanted a sip of water, we would go sit somewhere where there were no other people. It was 27 degrees and sunny the entire day, and at no time during the day did we feel uncomfortable, or did we have issues breathing.
We felt more uncomfortable at Disneyland Paris before when people would just lite up a cigarette next to you while you wait for a parade. Ow, and that is a positive byproduct of wearing a mask: people can’t just smoke everywhere they would like to.
Should I visit Disneyland Paris during the pandemic?
Now the question is of course; Should I visit Disneyland Paris during the pandemic? My quick and short answer will be: If you have an AP, and are okay with complying to wearing masks and physical distancing, I would say yes! If this is your first trip to Disneyland Paris, I would say no.
As an AP Holder, you have a clear idea of what the magic would be and have already prepaid to visit the parks. You can easily still enjoy whatever offering there is. You know things from the past, and also know that things will be better in the future. And don’t you just think that some selfies with characters and you were wearing a mask are unique? We think they are! In a (couple of) year(s) from now we will look back at our photos and wonder how we thought we were fashionable.
As someone visiting the parks for the first time, and/or even paying full price, I would recommend sitting this one out. Unless you have friends with an AP who can get you in cheaper. While it is great walking around the park with little to no crowds, and being able to ride your favorite attractions with close to no waiting time. You will find yourself missing some of the magic that Disney is known for, while you still pay full price. Especially for young ones who maybe want to hug Mickey, it might be heartbreaking that they have to keep their distance.
This review is about the experience we had during the Annual Pass Preview. In the weeks after, some things and experiences have changed, and crowds have grown. When we were at the parks, the maximum number of visitors was still low. They have increased that number in the last few weeks. Also they added some cavalcades and it was announced that two shows from last year will return; The Lion King: Rhythms of the Pride Lands & The Jungle Book Jive.