A magical trip to Disneyland Paris as it marks its 30th birthday

Inside Disneyland Paris as it marks its 30th birthday in style – there’s a stunning display by twinkling drones and Sleeping Beauty Castle has had a refurb with 41,200 sheets of gold leaf

  • Siobhan Grogan finds that the Sleeping Beauty Castle has been spruced up in honour of the anniversary 
  • There are more than 60 new dishes to order in the resort, she reveals, including rainbow-coloured macarons 
  • She describes the new ‘Dream… and Shine Brighter’ show, performed daily, as ‘impossibly uplifting’

Every day already feels like a party at Disneyland Paris but this year, there is more to celebrate than usual.

Following intermittent closures during the pandemic, the French theme park has now fully reopened in time to usher in its 30th year. And this being Disney, you can expect something a little more extravagant than a birthday cake to mark the occasion.

I visited with my son for the launch of the festivities and found celebrations already in full swing at Europe’s number one tourist attraction. The number 30 is emblazoned everywhere from the main entrance to the Mickey-shaped balloons sold on Main Street. All paths still lead to the iconic pink Sleeping Beauty Castle but even this has been spruced up for the occasion, with a mammoth renovation requiring 370 gallons of paint and 41,200 sheets of gold leaf applied by hand. Soaring 141 feet tall against a blissfully blue Parisian sky, the sight is enough to impress even a resolutely princess-averse eight-year-old boy.

The iconic pink Sleeping Beauty Castle, pictured, has been spruced up for Disneyland Paris’s 30th year, with a mammoth renovation requiring 370 gallons of paint and 41,200 sheets of gold leaf applied by hand

Other additions are more unexpected. In front of the castle, there’s a themed kinetic art installation where 30 Disney and Pixar sculptures including ones from Big Hero 6 and Mulan suddenly appear to come to life as we walk by. 

Fashion designer Stella McCartney has designed Minnie Mouse’s first-ever trouser suit plus a new range of merchandise, and there’s even a specially-created celebration cocktail of tangy gin, elderflower liqueur, blackberry, green apple, grape and lemon – probably best enjoyed after you’ve finished riding the roller coasters.

Menus in the 59 restaurants across Disneyland Paris have also had a 30th-anniversary makeover. 

After sampling Disneyland Paris’s new range of desserts, Siobhan and her son tackle Big Thunder Mountain (pictured) 


Fashion designer Stella McCartney (pictured on the left) has designed Minnie Mouse’s first-ever trouser suit in honour of the 30th anniversary. On the right is Disneyland Paris’s specially-created celebration cocktail of tangy gin, elderflower liqueur, blackberry, green apple, grape and lemon

Siobhan experiences the 4D world of Ratatouille, which is located in the Walt Disney Studios Park

A glimpse inside the Ratatouille ride at Disneyland Paris 

There are more than 60 new dishes to order including a vegan panini and Mickey Mouse-shaped pizza, but it’s the new range of distinctly French desserts that get our thumbs up, including rainbow-coloured macarons decorated with the obligatory ‘30’, Mickey-shaped cookies on sticks and a feather-light white chocolate and strawberry dome cake.

Fuelled by – much needed – sugar, we tackle the rides with renewed determination, with Big Thunder Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean and the Star Wars simulator Star Tours proving the biggest hits in Disneyland Park.

Just next door in Walt Disney Studios Park, we plummet to the floor on the Toy Story-themed Parachute Drop, experience the 4D world of Ratatouille and brave the Nemo-inspired spinning roller coaster Crush’s Coaster (twice!)

Yet for all the thrills and spills, it’s the old-fashioned Disney charm that really wows my son. He giggles gleefully when he’s tickled by a giant Goofy as they pose for a photo together and gladly receives a bear hug from Mickey, dressed in his brand new iridescent 30th-anniversary outfit. 

Siobhan and her son enjoy Crush’s Coaster so much that they go on it a second time. The spinning roller coaster ride is inspired by Finding Nemo

‘We plummet to the floor on the Toy Story-themed Parachute Drop,’ writes Siobhan. Pictured is the statue of Buzz Lightyear at the entrance to the ride 

The Star Wars simulator Star Tours (shown above) proves to be one of the biggest hits in Disneyland Park, says Siobhan 

Above are two characters in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland Paris – another big hit with visitors 

Over in Walt Disney Studios Park, he barely bats an eyelid at the long queue to meet characters from Marvel’s Avengers and declares the wait well worth it once he’s raced against Black Panther and even promised Captain America he’ll be good in school. 

It’s fair to say he’ll be keen to return once the dedicated new Avengers Campus opens later this year with rides based on blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man and Iron Man.

Elsewhere, even more Disney characters including Rapunzel, Princess Tiana and Aladdin’s Genie pop up in the impossibly uplifting new ‘Dream… and Shine Brighter’ show, performed daily on Central Plaza. 

A scene from the ‘impossibly uplifting’ brand-new ‘Dream… and Shine Brighter’ show that’s performed daily on Central Plaza

Above is the ‘revamped’ nightly firework show, which includes elaborate projections of characters from films including The Lion King on Sleeping Beauty Castle

But the real magic happens after dark. The nightly firework show has been revamped in dramatic Disney fashion, with illuminated dancing fountains, lasers and elaborate projections of characters from films including Frozen, Star Wars and The Lion King on Sleeping Beauty Castle. 

Finally, over 200 illuminated drones form a twinkling ‘30’ high in the sky in a dazzling state-of-the-art display that leaves the crowd open-mouthed.

Turns out every day at Disneyland Paris ends with a happy ever after. 

TRAVEL FACTS 

A two-night stay on May 3 at Disneyland Paris starts from £344 per person including accommodation at Disney’s Sequoia Lodge, three-day park entry and return Eurostar from London St Pancras via Lille. The price is based on two adults and two children aged three to nine sharing a standard room. Book at www.disneyholidays.co.uk.

Eurostar reopens its direct service to Disneyland Paris from London St Pancras on March 25. Fares start at £39 one-way for adults, based on a return journey, and £28 one-way for children aged between four and 11. Book at www.eurostar.com.

 

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