Tuesday, 12 June 2018

A Vegan Meal at Auberge de Cendrillon, Disneyland Paris




When we booked Disneyland, I knew I wanted to take Ebony to one of the character dinners. I had earmarked the money right at the start of the planning so I knew it was there for when we needed it. What I didn’t do, however, was book the meal. And this was pretty dumb. The character dinners fill up months in advance, especially during busy periods, so you need to book it in advance. When we eventually rang to book it, two weeks before the holiday, we were advised to ring back days before in the hope of getting a cancellation. Luckily, I hadn’t mentioned a character dinner to Ebony so she wasn’t disappointed.

A couple of days before we arrived at Disneyland, Laurie rang the reservations number again and this time he was successful. The woman on the phone explained that cancellations are common so it’s always worth ringing repeatedly if you have no luck the first time. The woman on the phone also happened to be vegan (what are the chances) and she wasn’t overly hopeful we’d be able to find much vegan food at Disneyland. She made a few recommendations of places to try and gave some examples of the sorts of food we might find.

We booked the Princess lunch at Auberge de Cendrillon. Located near to the castle, this is one of the fancy restaurants in the park. Laurie popped in the day before to explain we were vegan, but we were told there wasn’t much they could do. It didn’t sound great, to be honest. We could have the prawn salad without the prawns, pasta and then a fruit salad. The lunch isn’t cheap, it came to around €125 just for me and Ebony to eat there. I did some Googling and found some pretty depressing photos of the vegan meal at the restaurant and it was almost enough to put me off. But then it’s not really about the food, is it? It’s about the princesses, and I decided I’d happily eat baked beans on toast if it meant Ebony got to have a magical meal at Disneyland, so we went anyway.

I didn’t tell Ebony about the meal in advance. I told her we were sneaking off for some special time just the two of us. She had decided to wear her Belle dress to the park that day so she was perfectly dressed for the occasion. I put a little bit of glitter on her face and sprayed glitter spray in her hair and then said I’d take her for a drink. When we got to the restaurant, we were asked to take a seat in the waiting area. As we waited, the seats around us started to fill up with other little girls wearing princess dresses.

After a 10 minute wait, we were taken through to the restaurant and shown to our seat. Our waitress came over to explain what the vegan options would be and they were what we were expecting. Soon enough, Cinderella’s mice scurried past and that caught Ebony’s attention. A little while later, Ebony noticed Ariel milling about in the background. She figured Ariel must have come for her lunch break at the restaurant, so was pretty excited to be eating where the princesses ate.

The Food
We’d been told the starter would be a ‘prawn salad without the prawns’, so I was expecting a miserable plate of salad leaves. We were actually served more of a seaweed salad (similar to the ones you get from sushi restaurants) which is one of Ebony’s favourite foods so she was thrilled. It was really tasty and we both cleared our plates.



Next up, we had pasta for the main course. Ebony had a plate of plain spaghetti served with a tomato sauce. This came on a plate shaped like Mickey Mouse so she was pretty much over the moon. She really liked the pasta sauce and managed to get spaghetti all over her autograph book moments before a princess arrived to sign her book. I had the same main course (sadly no Mickey Mouse plate for me) but with the addition of sauteed mushrooms which were taken from one of the other dishes on the menu. The tomato sauce was from the kids' menu so it wasn’t the most flavoursome dish, but it was a lot better than I was expecting and the mushrooms were really nice.



Finally, there was a fruit salad for dessert. When I’d looked online before the meal, I’d seen photos that looked like that tinned fruit salad from the 90s so I wasn’t expecting much. In actual fact, the fruit salad was really nice… but it was still a fruit salad. The non-vegan desserts look way better and I think if Ebony had seen one of those next to her fruit salad she’d have been pretty disappointed, but she didn’t and so she loved her dessert. It’s not exactly an exciting vegan menu, and it’s not worth the cost of the meal, but you’re not paying for the food, are you? It’s all about the experience and that was definitely worth the money.



The Princesses
Like I said, I wasn’t expecting much from the food, but I figured it would be worth the money as long as Ebony was able to meet a few princesses. And it was definitely worth it, she had the most amazing time and managed to collect quite a few autographs for her little book. The Little Mermaid came over to our table and introduced herself to Ebony who looked more than a little starstruck. Ariel signed her autograph book, posed for some photos and chatted to Ebony about Disneyland. We were at the restaurant for about two hours and during that time Ebony met Ariel, Aurora, Suzy and Perla (Cinderella’s mice, if you must know), Belle and Cinderella. Each came over and posed for photos, signed her autograph book and chatted with her about her day.



Belle is Ebony’s absolute favourite and she was in complete awe of Belle when she came over to chat to us. She gave her the biggest hug ever and had a huge smile plastered across her face for ages afterwards. I honestly don’t think I’ve seen her that genuinely happy since her sister was born. The princesses were amazing, they all took the time to talk to Ebony and happily chatted away to her about Disneyland and the other characters. Aurora, in particular, was amazing. While we were there, I saw her speak three languages fluently meaning that it didn’t matter what language the kids spoke they were still able to interact with their favourite princess.



At the end of the meal, Ebony snuck over to my seat and cuddled up to me and said it had been the absolute best 'me and her' time ever. Ever. And it truly was. You could stumble into Disneyland Paris without any forward planning and still have the most magical day ever, but the little extras add an extra touch of something special to an already brilliant holiday.

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