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Romford, Essex A trip to Disneyland, Paris

Each week, Mystery Shopper calls on agents across the UK. Shops are judged on five criteria:

Agency appearance (15%)
Brochure racking (10%)
Product knowledge (25%)
Sales technique (25%)
Staff attitude (25%)

The top-scoring agency receives a Travel Weekly certificate of commendation. Agencies must score a minimum of 60% to qualify. Any agency that scores under 30% will be named and shamed as this week’s Shop of Horrors. Please note, no additional information will be given about Mystery Shopper’s visits.

Flight Centre, RomfordFlight Centre
Unit 5, Laurie Walk, Liberty Shopping Centre

It was awkward getting into this agency as it was so narrow there wasn’t much space to squeeze past customers at the counter. The agent said going by coach was cheapest, but changed her mind and said travel by Eurostar was less expensive. She then contradicted other agents, saying it would be better to wait until three months before departure for special offers on the train fare. When I said I’d already been told the train got booked up early, she said it wasn’t possible to book more than three months in advance.

Score: 43%

Going Places, RomfordGoing Places
28 Liberty 2 Shopping Centre

All the consultants were busy. I browsed the racks, but there were lots of gaps and no Disneyland brochures. After a few minutes I was served by one agent who gave me the Paris Travel Service Disneyland brochure. She said driving would be the cheapest option, or switching to another hotel – which she said could save about £200 per person – but didn’t name any. She explained that the Disneyland Hotel was expensive but included access to the theme park. Only as an afterthought did she add that the agency was offering £50 off all Disneyland Resort Paris bookings.

Score: 50%

First Choice, RomfordFirst Choice
78 South Street

Getting information out of this agency was as slow and painful as pulling teeth. I had to wait a while to be served as there were only two consultants and both were busy with clients. By the time another consultant appeared and offered to help, I had already selected a copy of a dedicated Disneyland brochure. The consultant suggested I looked at the New York hotel. She said she had stayed there and it was very nice, and a lot cheaper than the Disneyland. When I pushed her for more advice she said the train would be cheaper than flying.

Score: 51%

Unit 11, Mercury Gardens, Liberty 2 Shopping Centre

The consultant said the cheapest way to get to Disneyland was by coach, but pointed out that I would have to go for longer because of the length of the journey. She went away to find brochures and came back with Leger and Cresta Holidays, explaining that Thomson had a dedicated Disneyland brochure but she was out of stock. She found that the Disneyland Hotel wasn’t available for travel by coach, and recommended I switched to a cheaper hotel. After pointing out that the Disneyland was expensive because it was the only one inside the theme park, she said the others were only a short bus ride away. She explained she had visited them all on an educational and strongly recommended the Newport Bay as a cheaper alternative. Although it was less pricey, she thought it was a nicer hotel, and showed me pictures in the Cresta brochure. On checking the prices she found that the Newport Bay was £100 per adult cheaper than the Disneyland, though the child prices were similar. She warned me off the Santa Fe, describing it as “a bit basic”.

Score: 75%


Tip 1: Of the Disneyland Resort hotels, the Disneyland is the most expensive, and is situated at the entrance to the theme park.

Tip 2:Cresta, Paris Travel Service, Thomas Cook Signature and Thomson all feature this hotel, and include Eurostar, air travel and self-drive (the cheapest option).

Tip 3: The New York is the second most expensive hotel. All resort hotels offer unlimited entrance to Disneyland and Walt Disney Studios.

Tip 4: Coach holidays are operated by Leger Holidays and a wide range of regional companies, but none offer the Disneyland Hotel.

Tip 5: It is not possible to book directly with Eurostar more than three months before departure; however, it can be booked via a tour operator.


Mystery Shopper had promised to take her daughter to Disneyland Resort Paris for her eighth birthday in early October. Unfortunately for MS, her daughter had her heart set on staying in the Disneyland Hotel, which MS knew from conversations with other parents at the school gates, was the most expensive. By calling on agents in Romford, she was hoping to find out if there were any early booking special offers she could take advantage of, either on the travel or the accommodation, or whether she would be better to wait until closer to the time to get a last-minute deal. She also wanted to know whether it would be cheaper to fly, take the train, or drive. As they were planning to go out of season, she wondered if there was any hurry to book.

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