This is how I would sum up our Disneyland trip: heavy legs, non-stop laughter, dodgy stomach, fun, queuing, wanting to have another go, asking when we are going to come back to Disney. If you want all the details, just keep reading!
My generation’s associations with Disney are Mickey Mouse, Pluto and Donald. Today, Anna, Elsa, Cars or Dorie are much more trendy. But who would we meet in Disneyland? What character experiences would we have in the park?
Oh, you are going to Paris? You know that’s where Disneyland is, right? Don’t you want to… , you know? Yes! Yes, we did want to go to Disneyland. So I started the planning process by gathering some information. I decided that we would stay at a Disney Hotel. Was it worth it? Would I do it again?
After we thought about it long and hard we finally decided to stay in Disney’s Hotel Santa Fe. We booked almost half a year in advance on the Disneyland Paris website.
I already talked about our journey to the hotel in detail in a different post. We arrived at the hotel pretty early in the day. After the obligatory security bag check, we went into the main building where the reception desks are. But wait a minute! Who was there, in the lobby, welcoming us (and the other arriving guests of cause)? GOOFY!!! Time for a photo! Check-in had to wait.
There were “only” four other families in front of us in the queue at reception but it still took about 30 minutes until one of the two receptionists had time for us. To be honest, I cannot understand what could have possibly taken them that long. Our check-in was completed in about 5 minutes and we left reception with the most important information to enjoy our stay.
It was such a good idea to arrive early. We passed by the reception again later (around 2 pm) and there were about 30 families in the queue waiting to be checked in.
We got to lock our luggage in a huge storage room in the hotel for free until our room was ready. I tip my hat to the two members of staff that manage masses of bags and suitcases and are able to return them to the right person pretty quickly when they reclaim their baggage.
Now it was time for breakfast. Our hotel has a Starbucks on site as an additional service for the guests. We enjoyed the morning with free WiFi and the usual Starbucks menu. Next, we had a look around the Disney Shop and gathered some first impressions. After that, we went on a little discovery tour through the hotel.
Disney Hotel Santa Fe
The hotel consists of the main building, a service building and four hotel areas. Every area is named after a character from “Cars”. Our room was in the “Mater” area. The guest rooms of that area were in bungalow type buildings, of which some had an upper floor. Small paths between the buildings were built to resemble small streets. Other than that the area was quite barren, just like a desert would be. There is one central car park but otherwise no other car parks around the bungalows.
We didn’t know that yet when we first inspected the area, but as soon as the sun sets and it gets dark, the whole complex shines in an absolutely wonderful light. The upper parts of the buildings are lit up and show projections of a desert landscape.
The signposts that helped visitors navigate the premises were very good and the park plan that was given to us at reception reliably showed us the right way.
It is the norm in most hotels that the rooms are ready for new guests in the early afternoon. It wasn’t any different here and it fit perfectly as our family was united at the hotel at around 2 pm. Our room in the Disney Hotel Santa Fe was number 15, Bungalow 25, ground floor.
Two French double beds in a “Cars” themed room were waiting for us. There were pylon shaped reading lights on the bedside tables and throws with “Cars” print on the beds. Every detail in the room fit the theme, even in the bathroom. Even though I don’t really like “Cars”, I absolutely enjoyed the theming. The room wasn’t very spacious, but why should it be. All we wanted to do in there was sleep as we wanted to spend the rest of our time exploring the park. I don’t know if it was down to exhaustion or due to the good quality beds – we slept splendidly through both nights.
Two breakfasts and two lunches or two dinners were included in our room package. We had our first dinner the evening of the arrival day. The restaurant served Tex-Mex cuisine which is more or less fitting for the theme. We had to inform a member of staff at reception about the time we’d like to eat and they reserved a table for us.
There were long queues in front of the restaurant and processing our vouchers took forever. There was one drink for each of us included. It was a little confusing that we had to order our drinks from a limited menu right as we walked into the restaurant. We were seated and had to pick up our drinks at the bar. We couldn’t place an order for a second drink at the table or at the bar. The food was alright. Some of the food items were cold and the presentation of the food showed that this venue expects a quick and constant flow of guests.
It wasn’t cosy at all, it felt like the waiting area of a train station.
We had our second dinner in the park. Here, too, we had to book a table in advance!
The breakfast at the hotel was more of the same. The processing of our vouchers was very cumbersome and once that was completed we were seated. The selection of breakfast foods was solid and the amounts more than enough to get fuel for a long park day.
We didn’t like the restaurant and should we ever stay in the hotel again, we would not come back to eat here.