‘My child turned into a mini-monarch through Disneyland’s new My Royal Dream Experience’

By Staff

With his hand on his heart, I watch my son swear a solemn oath. “I will protect my kingdom with courage,” he pledges. “I will fight injustice and evil.” Disconcerting words for any mother to hear, particularly when coming from her eight-year-old.

It was only as Freddie was officially declared a valiant member of the noble family of Disney princes – and invited to immortalise the moment with a special photo shoot – that he finally broke character and burst into laughter.

The ceremony is a culmination of Disneyland Paris’ My Royal Dream Experience, offered exclusively at the revamped Disneyland Hotel, which has just reopened to guests for the first time since March 2020.

Freddie was decked head-to-toe in a regal velvet and satin number, complete with the most impressive puffed shoulders I’ve seen and a billowing cape that grazed his ankles, his Skechers trainers well hidden under a pair of leatherette booties. This majestic makeover took place under the glare of a Hollywood vanity mirror’s bulbs, with a gallon of gel to slick back his hair and a coat of arms – to match his sword and shield – daubed across a cheekbone. I thought he looked handsome, though I’ll admit to being biased.

As Fred’s princification reached a climax, a small girl’s Elsa transformation was nearing completion in the cubicle next door. With the swish of a magic wand and a shower of fairy dust, the words “bibiddi-bobiddi-boo” echoed through the air. Not quite so much battling against the forces of darkness for the princesses, then.

Once the royal portrait had been taken (an assistant on standby to waft Fred’s cape for the action shots), the newest prince in the kingdom headed out into the world.

All the staff were primed to play along with his status as Disney royalty. Lifts and doors were opened with swooping bows and curtseys, and the restaurant maitre d’ greeted Prince Frederick at lunch with the words: “Welcome, your Royal Highness.”

Freddie certainly cut a fine figure as he strode through the Disneyland parks that afternoon. He honoured his promise of bravery, courageously taking on Emperor Zurg at the Buzz Lightyear Laser Blaster before vanquishing dozens of out-of-control Spider-Bots aboard the Spider-Man W.E.B. Adventure over on the Marvel Campus.

Royally reimagined

The Disneyland Hotel has spent the last few years undergoing a royal makeover of its own. It closed its doors, along with the rest of the travel industry, when Covid restrictions came into force but stayed shut until this January, busy perfecting its regal revamp long after face masks and social distancing were abandoned.

The façade, which has provided the princess-pink backdrop in millions of holiday snaps for three decades, remains unchanged, but the interior has been stripped back and given a new beginning. Now the first five-star hotel in the world dedicated to Disney royalty is welcoming guests, and it certainly feels every inch the palace from the moment a Royal Greeter welcomes you inside.

Arriving for our check-in, Freddie and I couldn’t take our eyes off the 36ft, 2,600lb chandelier which lights the lobby. Created by a crystal-blowing expert in the Czech Republic and with a centrepiece that’s shaped like Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, it hangs magnificently in the centre of the hall.

The reception itself takes its inspiration from old-school castle libraries, a dozen deep alcoves in dark wood and marble, packed with hefty tomes (though this being Disney, there’s not a speck of dust on any of them).

While those visiting the park were queuing for up to 70 minutes to rub shoulders with their favourite Disney divas, at the flagship hotel Fred and I found ourselves bumping into princesses at almost every turn. As we waited for our room, Cinderella herself descended the central staircase to join two comedians, La Troupe Royale Disney, who perform skits to entertain residents throughout the day.

Sleeping beauties

With almost 500 bedrooms in five signature designs, from an elegant Superior room through to the Frozen-themed Royal Suite decorated like Queen Elsa’s Ice Palace, which will set you back a cool £9,000 a night, the property is immense.

Being whisked to our Deluxe room involved two separate lift rides and an almost 10-minute walk through lengthy corridors, but it was definitely worth the schlep – the attention to detail that is obvious as you explore the property doesn’t lapse once you step away from the public areas.

Our TV was hidden inside a “magic mirror”, a giant jewellery box housed the tea and coffee facilities, and a Tangled looking glass framed with Rapunzel’s locks hung on the wall. Look down and nods to Disney’s royal adventures can be spotted woven into the carpets, from Aladdin’s lamp to Cinderella’s slipper.

Simply pick your perfect pillow from a menu of seven options to ensure you too could sleep for 100 years.

Fred’s favourite feature was the “bedtime ritual”. With the flick of a switch, lights dimmed and an illuminated canopy above our heads bathed the room in relaxing hues of blue and pink while LED lights hidden in the artwork on our walls made them twinkle like the night sky.

There are plenty of reasons to choose this hotel over other options at Disneyland Paris, from an exclusive entrance to the park to ensure speedy access, to the chance to pose alongside a plethora of princesses in the Royal Kids Club.

Need a moment without your little darlings? Parents can deposit them in the club for two hours, freeing them up to ride the bigger roller coasters, or ease theme park-weary limbs with a visit to the Clarins spa.

Dining delights

You don’t have to be dolled up like Prince Charming to receive a royal welcome at the Royal Banquet, the Disneyland Hotel buffet restaurant. Diners are greeted by Mickey, Minnie and friends, dressed in new, majestic costumes you won’t spot them wearing elsewhere.

If you’re wondering if a buffet really can be regal, wait till you set eyes on the platters of lobsters, langoustine, smoked salmon, crab claws and oysters piled high on the seafood bar.

The dessert table groans under the weight of classics such as tarte tatin, ­macarons and tarte au citron, but the stars of the show are the exclusive Disney creations, which included an Excalibur chocolate-caramel mousse, a Bippidi-Bobbidi pumpkin, and Enchanted Rose, a strawberry and rhubarb mousse and compote combo with Breton biscuit, which won our vote as the best of the bunch.

At first, Freddie was a little unsure of how to interact with Mickey and his entourage, whispering, “Why do they keep interrupting our dinner?” as Minnie blew her fourth kiss of the evening at him.

But he got into the swing of things once Goofy had sealed their friendship by enveloping him in a hug that squeezed all the air out of him. Pluto had him in stitches throughout the night, revisiting our table time and time again to wiggle his bottom as Fred worked his way through a plate of Mickey Mouse-shaped croquettes and chicken nuggets.

If you’d rather not serve yourself, book to dine at La Table de Lumière, reserved for guests of the Disneyland Hotel. Inspired by the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles and with more than just a nod to the Beauty And The Beast ballroom scene, it’s all silver service and the finest French cuisine. Even the children’s menu is fairly refined (think potato veloute, confit prawns and roasted sea bass in carrot and orange sauce), though Fred was in his element once a Cogsworth Swiss Roll came out for dessert.

I had wondered whether my football-mad, gaming-obsessed boy might think himself too cool for the prince and princesses experience, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. He was rather pink-of-cheek as a trio of beauties – Belle, Ariel and Aurora – visited our table to say hello.

He declared his stay “incredible, magical, extraordinary” and awarded it “four and three-quarters out of five”, only docking the quarter point as he hadn’t managed to bump into Donald Duck at the breakfast bar.

Book the holiday

  • Disneyland Paris offers a one-night stay from £449pp, including accommodation at Disneyland Hotel with access to the Disney Parks for two days and return Eurostar travel via Lille. Based on two adults and two children (aged 3-9) sharing a Superior Room and travelling on November 3. disneylandparis.com
  • More info at france.fr

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