Most helpful critical review
20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Just a glossy, uncritical, sloppy guide full of omissions
on 5 November 2010
Superficially a comprehensive guide that claims `It's a fact, nobody does it better'. Maybe no-one does it better in English for Disneyland Paris but compared to the guides to other Disney Theme Parks this is so poor. I have had to plan for a 5 night trip to DLP in January. My only experience of Disney was a highly enjoyable visit to Florida over 20 years ago. We used the `unofficial' guide (thank God not a `Brit' guide) which enabled us to avoid the usual traps and queues. This was completely honest, unbiased, pulled no punches and clearly included an enormous amount of detailed, statistical, original research into queuing patterns, customer dislikes and likes, clear reasoned suggestions for itineraries and so on.
I was hoping to find, in the Brit guide, similar detailed help for the DLP but there is none. This guide spends 32 pages describing how to get from the UK to the Park. Much of the information is out of date by the time the guide is published and who needs help getting from Hull to Zeebrugge, or Dover to Calais? Pure padding. I will be driving from the south of France, my friends from Ireland and, like 95% of drivers, the only help we need is a detailed map of the car parks plus information of hours of opening, distance from the car park to the main entrance, whether we can park at a village hotel or do we have to use the main car park, where do we park to pick up friends arriving by train, does the main car park ticket allow us to leave and return a couple of later without paying extra (say it starts pouring with rain and we want to visit the Auchon supermarket for a few hours), what are the merits of using our car rather than the shuttle bus if we are at the end on the shuttle run and so on. No information at all on any of these points.
Hotels. All we find is a bland, uncritical copy of glossy hotel brochures. Mild reservations about some of them but no real guidance to help us make a choice. We ended up using Tripadvisor. A couple of hours research on the internet looking at the feedbacks unearths a plethora of criticism and few plaudits. Some hotels are clearly not up to scratch, give poor value for money and are tired, dilapidated and need totally revamping. Not a hint of this in this 2010 guide.
Restaurants and cafes contribute to the overall DLP experience as they are either very, extremely or astronomically expensive. So detailed guidance is welcome. A family of four will spend around 200-250 for the `privilege' of eating in the Park. From the hundreds of feedbacks on Tripadvisor and similar sites it is clear that many are a rip off, many exist for the spectacle rather than their awful food whilst others are genuinely good. This guide fails to critically assess the numerous food outlets that are unacceptable. I have tried to make a detailed itinerary for each of our days and need the opening/closing times. Often this information is lacking. We will be visiting in mid January and by now the authors should have finished research into which outlets always close in the slow season. No information.
Where are the detailed tips on how to avoid queuing at the rides and attractions? The unofficial Orlando guide excels with its maps and gives exact times and days for every season and public holiday. You know you need to plan to avoid certain queues and this guide understands this. I turned to this Brit guide in the expectation that, as the blurb on the back page trumpets, I could `Do yourself a favour - plan it'. What a let down. If only this guide would give some practical, researched precise advice. In mid January we can expect bad weather, probably a day where it rains continuously or maybe snow. Surely some attractions close in really adverse weather but I can find no information. Perhaps all the rides stay open? Which rides and attractions are weather friendly? Perhaps all the rides and attractions are equally enjoyable for young children when it is sunny in mid summer or pouring with rain in mid winter? Perhaps Pigs fly? Where is the advice for an itinerary when the weather is really adverse? The guide handily observes which hotels do not have air-conditioning but clearly the authors have not visited Disneyland in the winter months. I stayed in Reims first week of 1997 when the temperature was well below minus 12 in the day and minus 18 at night. What advice do I get from this guide when temperatures are so low? Are all the restaurants adequately heated? The indoor attractions? Which rides are a no-no for children when it is freezing or raining all day. This information is vital if I am to plan a flexible 5 night stay in January.
I had hoped to find scaled maps, not the useless, ubiquitous Disney picto-maps. Google Earth and ViaMichelin websites are not much better. The authors should invest in a cartographer to create clear, accurate `town' maps and plans - to scale - of the overall complex, each of the `Lands', the Village, etc
The back cover promised information on:
1) "Eating at any time: every bar and night club". No, you fail to give the opening and closing times of all the outlets. Further, nothing objective on known failings
2) "Getting around with minimum stress". No, huge gaps in basic information.
3) "The best times: seats and prices - and how to avoid queues". There are no details, or well researched information on how to avoid queues. I suggest you look at the Unofficial Guide to Orlando - learn from it and re-write this guide.
4) "What to do when the weather changes or if the children get tired". Again quite lacking in advice. You need a complete section on exactly what to do when it is pouring with rain. Or blistering hot. Likewise no information on which attractions are impossible to enjoy in adverse weather, which will close when there is heavy rain or snow, and which are closed throughout non holiday periods in mid winter and early spring.
I will award one star for the book's only unique tip - stay at the Vienna Dream Castle Hotel. Sadly this book is a bland, syrupy, sloppy, uncritical guide. It is does not address the many valid questions necessary for forward planning and devotes too many pages to the irrelevant. When there is some relevant content it is devoid of the crucial details. The Guide fails to live up to its publicity. I note that the authors admit they have various `partners' in the tourism industry. It shows as they clearly do not wish to upset anyone connected with DLP. So, do not buy.
PS. The day after I finished the above review Amazon sent me "The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland Paris" by Sehlinger & Testa. What a contrast! Proper maps clearly showing the layout of the whole complex, roads are clearly defined, the scale of the maps shown with clear signing, brilliant photographs and a really comprehensive list of relevant contents. And all this before page 1! A quick glance confirms that this guide will critically answer all the points not addressed in the Brit guide. And the `getting there' section comprehensively and clearly covered in less than a dozen or so pages.