My Whimsical Stay at the Madonna Inn

My Whimsical Stay at theMadonna Inn

In the midst of planning for my solo California trip, I decided to book a hotel to break-up my drive from Disneyland in Anaheim to San Francisco. I’m so happy I stumbled upon the Madonna Inn in my search. It ended up being a major highlight of my trip.

The Madonna Inn was constructed for just that purpose: to create a place to stop in the otherwise rural Central California town of San Luis Obispo. It opened its’ doors in 1958 with twelve rooms.

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Tips For Your First Visit to Disneyland Paris

disneyland paris tips disney

As I wrote about in a previous post, I went to Paris in March 2018 for nine days. When I was first planning my trip, I knew I had to include a day at Disneyland Paris in the itinerary.

I’ve been to the original Disneyland a few times and have stayed at Walt Disney World numerous times, but I didn’t make it to mouse’s house on my first vacation to Paris. I just had to go this time!

My day trip to the parks was absolutely lovely, though I wish I had done a bit more research beforehand. Here are ten tips for first-timers visiting Disneyland Paris that I learned from my magical day.

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1.) Take the (correct) Train

If you’re traveling from Paris to Disneyland like I did, there is an RER A train that will take you directly to the front gates of the park (Marne-la-Valee station.) This is super convenient and an inexpensive transportation option, but make sure you are getting on the right train! My friend and I made the mistake of getting on the incorrect RER at Chatelet and we had to go all the way back to Paris. Don’t make the same mistake!

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2.) Dress Appropriately

I would guess that Disneyland Paris has the most varied climate out of the rest of the parks, simply because Paris weather is truly seasonal: winter is real snowy winter, not the mild Florida winter that WDW experiences. Plan ahead while packing your clothes. I encourage wearing layers and having some waterproof items depending on the forecast. I started my day in a winter coat (which felt so odd at a Disney park) but the sun came through later in the afternoon and I was able to take it off.

3.) Don’t Worry About Language Barriers

While knowing a bit of language of whatever country you’re visiting is generally a good idea, you do not need to know French to enjoy Disneyland Paris. Most signs and major announcements were in both English and French, while characters in attractions tended to speak French. As someone who only know a few French phrases, I had no problem getting around.

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4.) Make Reservations to Avoid Fast Food

I have to be honest, the food at Disneyland Paris is pretty disappointing compared to other parks I’ve experienced. Every counter service stand tends to have similar offerings of burgers, hot dogs, and fries with little variation. The food I ate wasn’t terrible but it wasn’t nearly as unique or tasty as the stateside park fast food options. Make reservations well in advance for the few restaurants on site if you want better food. I made the mistake of not making any reservations and I’m still regretting it. If reservations run out, consider bringing your own food. I would’ve been happier if I had just brought a baguette to munch on from Paris!

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5.) Take Time to Explore the Castle

Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant, or Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, might be my favorite Disney castle I’ve ever been to. It’s so pretty and ornate, and it makes the original Sleeping Beauty Castle at the original Disneyland seem pretty lame in comparison. Plus, there’s a lot to explore in this castle! Inside is a gallery illustrating the story of Sleeping Beauty with stained glass and tapestries, as well as a Christmas store that operates all year. Below the castle is a cave with an awesome animatronic dragon. Why can’t there be a dragon in the basement of every castle??

6.) Keep the Size of the Parks in Mind

Unlike Walt Disney World Resort (so many attractions, so little time), a day trip to Disneyland Paris is reasonable. Even with my train snafu, one day felt like enough for both parks. This is because Walt Disney Studios Park, the second park similar to Hollywood Studios, is minuscule and doesn’t require a full day. I spent a total of two hours there and managed to do most of the major attractions, including Ratatouille via the single rider line. Consider starting and ending your day in the main park and hopping over to the studios sometime in the middle of the day for a change of scene.

tower of terror disneyland paris

7.) Enjoy an Adult Beverage

Alcohol is banned in all Disney parks with a castle, except for Disneyland Paris! Shortly after the park opened, beer and wine was added to the menu to better fill the expectations of European visitors. Take advantage of this quirk during your visit: sip on a glass of wine while enjoying the beauty of Main Street.

8.) Visit Disney Village

Disney Village is the equivalent of Downtown Disney or Disney Springs in the Paris parks. Make sure to stop by during your stay for some better food options and various stores. It is open later than the parks, so consider going there for dinner (woohoo Earl of Sandwich always comes through!)

9.) Be Aware of Seasonal Closures and Park Times

If you’re visiting during the off season, it is likely that multiple attractions will be closed and that the parks will close pretty early. I was hoping that my March visit would be close enough to Spring to avoid this, but that wasn’t the case. I was particularly sad that Alice’s Curious Labyrinth was closed when I went. If hitting as many attractions as possible is important to you, then be sure to visit later in the spring or summer. Yes, wait times will be longer then, but at least there will be more attractions to wait for. Also note that Walt Disney Studios Park tends to close several hours before the primary park, so keep that in mind.

10.) Enjoy the Details

My favorite part of visiting Disneyland Paris was noticing how the details differed from the other parks I had gone to. I particularly noticed that Disneyland Paris seems to be a lot pinker than other resorts. I also loved listening to what Disney characters sound like when they speak French, something I had not even considered would be a thing. Disney always does a superb job with the details, so take enough time to simply walk around and notice the little things that make this park unique.

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What’s your favorite part of Disneyland Paris? Share in the comments and stay tuned for more posts related to my upcoming trip to the original Anaheim park!

Don’t forget to pack a few self-care essentials to reduce your travel stress.

Tips for Your First Visit to Disneyland Paris

20 Inexpensive Products to Treat Yourself To!

20 Inexpensive Productsto Treat Yourself to!

One of my most popular posts listed 50 Ways to Treat Yourself For Free. What about those wonderful moments where you find that extra $5 sitting in your Venmo account? Consider splurging for a little pampering.

Here’s a list of 25 inexpensive products on Amazon to treat yourself to!

As an Amazon Associate I may earn from qualifying purchases.

1.) O’Keeffe’s Working Hands Hand Cream

If you work a lot with your hands, don’t forget to show them some loving! This hand cream will help heal dry and cracked skin.

2.) Celavi Essence Facial Mask – 12 Pack

Popping on a face mask is one of my favorite ways to pamper myself, so I try to buy packs of face masks to save money. This 12 pack has a nice variety, ranging from cucumber to charcoal.

3.) Sally Hansen Color Therapy Nail Polish

If you love wearing nail polish but find your nails are looking a little dry and brittle, try this Sally Hansen polish that includes argan oil! You’ll hydrate your nails while still rocking some color. I like the iridescent vibes of Reflection Pool, the shade above, and there are plenty of other shade options to choose from.

4.) Ariel EDGE Plush Hot/Cold Eye Mask

A cold eye mask can really put me in spa mode. I use one to reduce under-eye puffiness. These can also provide some relief to sufferers of migraine headaches!

5.) Don Sknarinyon 100% Cotton White Long Bath Robe

Nothing like a fresh robe! This unisex cotton one is light enough to wear in the summer months.

6.) ArtNaturals Bath Bomb Gift Set


Give yourself the gift of self-care by indulging in this 6-pack of bath bombs! The essential oils will turn your bath time into aromatherapy, and shea and cocoa butters will leave your skin feeling soft.

7.) Tone Fitness 1 Pound Walking Dumbbells

Walking is a pretty simple way to exercise, and it happens to be my favorite thing to do. These dumbbells could amp up your walking workout by throwing some strength training into the mix!

8.) Calm the F*ck Down: An Irreverent Adult Coloring Book

Step up your coloring game with this sarcastic and affordable option. You’ll chill out and get a laugh while you color this book. 

9.) YIHONG Set of 8 Stainless Steel Straws

Drinking seltzer or iced coffee from a straw feels like a tiny act of self-care, but plastic straws are terrible for the environment. Try this set of reusable straws that includes both straight and bent ones with cleaning brushes.

10.) Photo Clip String Lights for Hanging Photos, Cards, Memos and Artwork by EIISON

Hang up your polaroid photos in style with these photo clips that double as string lights! Your cute decorations will also make you feel warm and fuzzy whenever you look at them.

11.) Premium Activated Charcoal Scrub for Face & Body

Charcoal beauty products are certainly having a moment, but my favorite way to use charcoal is in a scrub like this one. Use it in the shower for smoother skin. You’ll feel SO clean after rinsing.

12.) Field Notebook Pack of 5 – 3.5″x5.5″ Lined Memo Books

There’s no better feeling than writing in a fresh journal. These sturdy little notebooks are small enough to bring anywhere, and the cover designs are so cute!

13.) Nature Republic Soothing & Moisture Aloe Vera Gel

I do my best to avoid sunburn, but the sun does sneak up on my fair skin every so often. Aloe vera is my go-to relief aid for sunburn. This gel will cool you down and hydrate your skin.

14.) NatraCure 5-Toe Gel Moisturizing Socks

If you have dry feet, cracked heels, or calluses, you should probably give these moisturizing socks a try. This at-home spa treatment will soften those tootsies right up, and you can add your own foot lotion to the socks as well!

15.) Lotus Cotton Swab/Q-Tip Holder

How cute is this cotton swab holder?? This tiny decoration will bring you joy whenever you reach for a fresh q-tip.

16.) Sweese Porcelain Tea Mug with Infuser and Lid

Enjoy a relaxing cup of loose-leaf tea in bed with this handy mug. You’ll reduce waste by ditching tea bags, and the lid will help your tea really steep by keeping in the steam.

17.) Start Where You Are: A Journal for Self-Exploration

Take time to know yourself with this inspiring interactive journal. It could help you bust through that creative block and self-reflect.

18.) Zodiac Sign Moon & Star Keychain

Celebrate your astrological sign with this adorable keychain. Seeing it on your key ring will remind you to check your daily horoscope!  

19.) 6 Owl Pots – 2.5 Inch Container for Plants

Objects that make you say “awww” are in their own self-care category. These tiny owl pots will be the perfect home for your next succulents, cactuses, or tiny bonsais.

20.) Radha Beauty Aromatherapy Essential Oils 100% Pure & Therapeutic grade – Sampler Gift Set of 8

Essential oils are a huge part of self-care for me. This gift set comes with Lavender, Tea Tree, Eucalyptus, Lemongrass, Orange, Peppermint, Frankincense, and Rosemary, so you’ll have plenty of scents to choose from and combine!

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