I spent 2 weeks in France...and my favorite part was Disneyland

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When I began planning my belated honeymoon in January of last year, I booked travel dates based on flight prices. We knew we wanted a two-week trip, preferably in the fall of 2018, and when the Hopper app turned up round-trip tickets on American Airlines for $500 each, I jumped on it. It was a happy accident that the first Wednesday we were in Paris was Halloween.

Halloween is, in large part, an American holiday. It is also a very recent holiday, and hasn't caught on in Europe besides giving clubs and bars an easy theme night. I did some research on Halloween events in Paris, and I found a few horror-themed balls and gruesome DJ sets, but I kept seeing Disneyland Paris pop up over and over. As I don't have kids, I had originally discounted it, but in annoyance I finally clicked on a link.

Disneyland Paris hosts a Halloween Party after-hours on Halloween night that is more adult-oriented than its daytime events. There is, of course, access to rides, character meet and greets, and some restaurants, but the party also includes DJ stages, exclusive shows and parades, and - most importantly - the sale of alcohol.

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We got into the park at 8 pm - just in time for the opening parade. It was all my Halloween dreams come to life. Garlands of fall leaves wrapped in twinkly lights spanned Main Street, jack-o'-lanterns grinned from every rooftop, lamppost, and square, often in the shape of Mickey. The castle was lit with projection-mapping, and was covered alternately with jack-o'-lanterns, spiders, ghosts, and a giant snake that slithered around the main tower. We were giddy with excitement, jumping around like little kids, which probably wasn't the most considerate response given I was wearing fairy wings for my Tinkerbell costume.

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As if summoned by our antics, the Villains parade began at that moment - a spellbinding showstopper giving all the Disney baddies their moment in the limelight. There was even a steampunk Maleficent dragon that breathed real fire! We danced through the crowds toward the castle and grabbed a hot Nutella crepe from one of the cart vendors in the main square.

We wanted to spend most of our night experiencing the park rather than waiting in line for rides, but I got a Fastpass for Big Thunder Mountain - it's my favorite. I would suggest picking one ride to prioritize, because by the time we had used our first Fastpass, the booths were all sold out for the rest of the night. We flitted between Frontierland and Discoveryland, running into zombie pirates in a cave while passing through Adventureland, and going down under the castle to see the dragon chained there.

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It was midnight by the time we got the lay of the land. We headed back up Main Street to do some shopping, and picked up one of the coveted spirit jerseys and two Christmas ornaments. Then we hit up a dance party in Frontierland DJ'ed by Goofy and Max. I think that was the most fun I have ever had - dancing to French pop with a bunch of strangers in costumes. In that moment, we were all the same, the music and the fun and the magic uniting us. Disney, an expert party thrower on all fronts, has a real magic in negating differences like that. We all just want to be invited to the party.

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Hannah Moseley