So, before I could blink, the trip I was soooo looking forward to has been and gone. Just like that. Isn't it always the way? Now have 'next-holiday syndrome' which means I am spending my evenings on the computer browsing villas and flights and at any dangerous moment could click 'purchase'. I'm not gonna lie, it could be expensive... :-S
Summer 2016 was a trip to Disneyland Paris. And it was AMAZING!!
Nana and I had our reservations. Friends of ours had been and had said 'urgh, hell on earth' and 'it's an acquired taste, not for us...' so after initially being super excited we were feeling a bit of trepidation as we boarded the flight. Would it be mental busy? Would we lose a child? Would we be hot and miserable and cranky?
We flew from Birmingham Airport so Husband dropped us off at 7.30am on Friday morning. We cleared security ASAP and then performed the obligatory act of 'tire out the small people before they get strapped into a chair for an hour...' Yawn!
We landed, caught our shuttle bus, got dropped off at the front door of the hotel by 2pm...perfect! We were a bit early for check-in but a room was available (thank you Disney God!) so we quickly unpacked our bags while the boys squealed about the fact that there was a TV in our room (bless, little country mice!!)
Now, here's the deal. I reckon hardcore Disney fans who are full of the joys of spring and intent on their kids experiencing every single second of Disney-joy that they possibly can, would probably have packed a backpack right about now and headed straight to the park for 9 hours of fun...not us. My children do NOT do well on little sleep...and therefore neither do I! Nana was all for the relaxed approach after a morning of travel so we grabbed a snack and a drink in the hotel bar then threw on our swim gear and had 2 hours in the hotel pool (which was almost EMPTY due to all the hardcore Disney fans being at the park!!)
After a buffet dinner in the hotel restaurant we popped the boys to bed at 8.30pm (which is already pretty late for them both) and enjoyed a sneaky drink in the bathroom. Travelling with kids. What a hoot.
Next morning, however, we were ready to GO! We had set the alarm and were down at the breakfast buffet by 7.15am. Must say at this point, the buffet was incredible. Everything you wanted, friendly staff, child-friendly...and tonnes of little bits and pieces you could throw in your backpack for snacks throughout the day! Disney can be expensive if you snack here and there throughout your time in the park but if you're smart, take snacks and fill up your water bottles at the drinks fountains and BAM, out the door. I had packed enough snacks for the 5 days in my checked holdall but we did grab some fruit and croissants from the buffet too...I felt incredibly guilty for the first 2 days until I saw a German Mama make up 12 sandwiches and pack them all up into sandwich bags without even blinking! After that I didn't feel quite so bad ;-)
A perk of staying in the Disney hotels is that you get extra hours (8-10am) in the park before the general public arrive. I had gone into the whole trip saying we wouldn't plan, we wouldn't micro-manage the itinerary...thing is, once I got there it became a competition with myself to get to as many awesome rides as we could before the queues started to form. I had to slap myself!
On the whole, the boys were young enough to just wander and hop onto whichever ride we found that didn't have a large queue...I can well imagine that older children would have a definite plan which might involve queuing or frustrations...? We weren't prepared to wait 60 mins for Peter Pan at 9.20am on the Saturday morning but on Sunday morning we got there by 8.07am and went on it THREE times without queuing at all. Boy nearly pee'd his pants. Pan is his hero!!
When we'd booked the holiday we had bought 'half-board meal vouchers' which can be used at almost all the restaurants in the park (and are a 'must' if you ever visit, set menus are at least £25 a head for adults in every place we saw so dinner bills would have soon added up to an eye-watering total!) For some bizarre reason, Toddler didn't qualify for vouchers (maybe in France two year olds don't eat??) so we did have to pay for his dinners but £20 rather than £80 was fine!
We spotted quite a few Disney characters around the park that the boys could have queued up to meet but Boy wasn't bothered either way so I was damned if I was going to insist he stand in the heat. The concierge at our hotel had suggested the Disney Cafe as an alternative so on Sunday evening we headed here.
The Disney Cafe was fun, five characters came out and walked around the tables throughout the meal. It was relaxed and noisy (which normally I hate but when you have two, small, tired people who are VERY excited to meet Minnie Mouse it helps if no-one can hear them shrieking above their own children!!) When Minnie approached our table Toddler seemed a bit confused and clingy and Boy jumped so far behind Nana he was almost inside her tshirt!! By the end of the evening he was happily trying to pull their noses off, though. From one extreme to another...
The one and only person we queued to see, Toddler's beloved Buzz! We had ridden the Buzz ride three times on Saturday afternoon so on Monday, when we saw him at the Walt Disney Park he decided he MUST stand in the queue to meet him. 40 mins in 36' heat? Sure. I'd love to. But do you know, they didn't grumble once!! It was either the promise of Buzz, impending heat stroke or simple fatigue on their third day of excitement?! Either way, worth it. Toddler got stage fright and wouldn't let go of Nana's hand but Boy was right in there saying hello. Very cute!
After Buzz we found this baby outside Chez Remy...guess how long it was before Boy dunked his hat in and poured the contents over his head?! It was HOT! I was so tempted to copy him...
Sent this screen shot to Husband (who had flatly refused to join us on this trip due to a) crowds b) heat and c) French people! How rude!) He replied with something along the lines of 'Good job I didn't come, then, I'd have exploded!' Ha ha!
So there you have it. A quick recap of our trip. It's not full of insider info and great tips because I don't really have anything new to say that you can't find on Pinterest. There were hundreds of families with sleeping children in pushchairs after 8pm...ours were in bed almost on time every night apart from one naughty trip to see the fireworks at 11pm...but that's because they are horrible without enough sleep and I'm a control freak so...you gotta do whatever works for your family!
In conclusion, awesome trip. Quick flight, only 1 hour time difference, super friendly and helpful staff (French people but who have to pretend to be American and SUPER happy all the time, ha!), loads to keep the kids busy and relatively easy to keep costs down once you're there (I had heard horror stories about the price of things!) We will definitely go again.