So last week we went away to Disney Land Paris for 5 days….. and it was pretty awesome!
We live in Manchester, so it was a bit of a trek! We set off at 04:10am to drive down to Ebbsfleet International to catch the Eurostar. Having never travelled by Eurostar and being a nightmare traveller of any type (I hate planes, trains and ferry’s), I was a touch nervous! Thankfully you only have to be at the train station 30 mins before your departure, so a lot less hanging around than flying. Having never travelled by Eurostar I wasn’t sure what was allowed in baggage. After searching on-line I saw that you could take food and drink. We had a luggage allowance of two bags each and a handbag. In total we had one holdall for me and my husband, one for the kids and one full of food!! Things like crisps, biscuits and sweets to keep the kids going in between the expensive meals! Security and passport control was super swift and before we knew it we were sat in our seats and on our way to meet Mickey and the gang!
Keeping the kids happy on the journey. To pass the time on the journey I had made the kids a busy pack each.
They were full of crayons, stickers, colouring books and each had a toy in, all Disney themed. I had visited the Disney store in Manchester and bought a small Woody soft toy and a small Jessie soft toy. While paying the cashier asked if they were for presents so I mentioned I was buying them due to going to Disney Land, and that we were staying in a cowboy and western style hotel hence the choice of characters. The cashier was super helpful and get together loads of colouring pages, stickers, badges, Mickey Mouse shaped confetti and so much more!! I was so grateful as this would help with the busy packs.
Disney express bag drop. When we arrived we took our bags to the Disney express bag drop. If you are stay at one of the official Disney hotels I would highly recommend this service, it frees up so much of your first day. Which can make a huge difference if your only going for 2/3 days. You go to the 1st floor and you will see the Disney Express desk, you find the hotel you are staying at and drop your bag at the point they give you a ticket for you bag and off you go!
Getting in to get into the Disney parks you have to have all bags scanned again. The queues can seem big but are fairly swift and you’ll be through in no time. If you don’t have any bags you can just go straight through. Once through security you will enter Disney Village and see shops, bars and restaurants.
Such as Annette’s, Planet Hollywood, Cafe Mickey, The Lego store, Disney store and many many more! At this point you decide which way to go, look round Disney village, go into Walt Disney Studios or into Disney Land. I would head straight for Disney Land especially if it’s your first time as that where the real magic is…. and the castle! It feels like a series of entrances…. you go through security, though the underneath of the Disney Land Hotel. Your tickets are checked and its through turnstiles or they will open a door for pushchairs and wheelchairs. They your on Main Street, which is full of cafes and shops…. LOTS of shops!!– If you have room bring any fancy dress with you from home. A princess dress from Asda is £12.50 or about £25 from the Disney store. Over there you are talking 50-60 Euros! Some things are reasonable and a similar price to Disney Store here, but also check before you say “yeah sure you can have it” as some stuff is just silly money! You will the see the beautiful castle. You go over the draw bridge and through the castle into Fantasyland and are greeted by a magnificent carousel.
Rides and fast pass In this part of the park is where you will see the majority of the ride and lots of characters. There are fast passes but you can only get one fast pass per ticket at a time. So if there are four of you, you could all get a fast pass for the Peter Pan ride, but you wouldn’t be able to get one for the Buzz light year ride until the Peter Pan one had expired. If like us you have a little one that isn’t wanting to go on something you could use two tickets for Peter pan and Two for Buzz Lightyear which is a bit of a way of getting round having to wait.
Queues are long and rides are short so pick what you are willing to wait for. At certain times the queues seem to lessen. We found mid to late afternoon and Parade time. There is an App which will tell you which rides are Open, Closed and also the wait times, I’d advise getting this as it can save a bit of leg work. Our two are 3 and 6 years old and both waited really well. As I said the queues are long. It was one hour to meet Mickey Mouse, but this is in a nice warm cinema style building and as we went in February it was a welcomed queue! The queue to see a Princess at the Princess Pavilion was 2 1/2 hours… and we were there before it had even opened! So with that in mind I would advise you take little ones to the toilet to avoid having to leave the queue as you may not get back in your place. Have some sweets to hand and a small drink should they need it.
Meeting the characters We bought an autograph book for the kids to share. They loved meeting the characters and collecting the autographs. Most of the queues were about 30 mins, but some were way longer. Minnie 45 mins,,,, Mickey 1 hr,,,, Princess 2 1/2 hrs,,,,Captain Hook and Smee 1hr,,,,
Photos Most have an official photographer but they will let you take your own photos and even take them for you. There is absolutely no pressure to buy the official photos, which is really nice. We did use our own camera but we also bought the official ones to. You can buy individual ones or buy the photo pass which is about 50 Euros but if you are going to be buying more than one I’d say its worth it as individual ones are about 20 Euro. The photo pass means you get all your official photos in an on-line album and can access it for 12 month by which point you need to have saved them to your computer or printed them off. It does mean that you can get bigger prints for a lot less and grandparents can have a copy to. You also aren’t trying to be careful packing them in a case to travel home.
Princess Pavilion A word of warning with the Princess Pavilion, if your little one is like mine they will have a particular Princess they want to meet. It is pot luck who you get to meet, as I said we queued for 2 1/2 hours and my little girl was sooooo excited to meet Sleeping Beauty. You don’t get to pick or even find out until you walk in.
We got Cinderella and I have never seen my little girl more disappointed. She still gave her a hug, got her autograph and a pictures but as we walked out she burst into tears and said ” Cinderella made me sad!” It really was awful, so we went and sat on the wall outside near a ride called ‘It’s a Small World’. We waited a further 45 mins to see if Sleeping Beauty would appear.
Thankfully she did as the princess do swap over and go for breaks, but they are chaperoned by park staff and you can not stop them for a proper photo or autograph. We managed to get one of our daughter near her beloved princess and this was good enough for her who then said “Cinderella made me sad but Aurora made me happy!”
Food and drink
Now you are going to need to eat…. and if your kids are like ours… you’ll probably need a drink to! First night we went to Planet Hollywood. For two children’s meals, which included a drink and dessert. One starter, two burger and chips and two pints of Lager it came to about 90 Euros. The following day we found a Mc Donalds near Cafe Mickey, as you would expect it was much cheaper. for two large adult meals and two happy meals it was 25 Euros. Its very busy but the queues go down quick and there is plenty of seating outside. To make it even quicker you can order and pay at a machine if you are willing to use your card. The Sports bar near Annette’s was also more reasonably priced at 50 Euros for two children’s meals (including drink and desert), two adult meals and two pints of lager. One place I would not recommend is Pizza Planet. This is an expensive play centre. The food is buffet style, pizza, pasta etc. There is a soft play area and Toy Story theme throughout. Once you go in to look the kids will not want to leave…. AND YOU DEFINITELY WILL! I found this place a bit dirty with a toilet smell about it. the food was shocking. It was a choice of two different pizzas or pasta. Very little salad and to be honest look half closed. The drink is included in the price but is either a hot drink or fizzy drink. Our kids don’t like fizzy drinks and there was no fruit juice or water so they went without. Unfortunately you don’t see any of this until you have parted with your money, and we found very few of the staff in this particular part didn’t speak much English. This was my only negative experience in the whole park… do yourself a favour and AVOID!
Hotel We stayed at Cheyenne and it was perfect for us. It is one of the budget hotel options but still really good. It is a western theme and the kids loved thinking it was Woody and Jessie’s house. It is a 10 minute walk to the park, or there is a direct free shuttle bus but they do get busy. I can’t say I rated the breakfast and one day we were so sick of bread and croissants we skipped breakfast. There was a choice of toast, bread rolls and ham (great for making sandwiches to shove in your bag) and croissants. By the second day I just felt bloated. We managed to buy some cans of lager from the hotel shop but be warned the are 3.99 each!!!
Overall I would say we will definitely try to go back again. It is expensive and if your not careful the price could mount up quickly. We had a fab time and the kids loved it. It was great to see them so wrapped up in it and believing in the magic of Disney. I wouldn’t have wanted to go for any less than 5 days with little ones as we wouldn’t have been able to spend time queueing for characters and think I would have got frustrated with the hour long wait queues. We booked our tickets and hotel through the Disney website and managed to get their regular offer of 2 nights free. This offer is only on certain dates and you must read the small print. In order for them to run this offer it must be on at least one of their hotels. So for the dates we booked it happened to be Cheyenne, if we had stayed at another hotel we would not have got this offer, so check everything carefully. We booked our Euro star separate as it was cheaper. We had to pay for parking at Ebbsfleet but if we were to go again when the kids are older I would go from Manchester Piccadilly to Euston, then over to St Pancras and get the Euro star direct from there.
1) Buy Brit guide to Disneyland Paris. This book will save you time and money. I didn’t buy it till I’d already booked but there is chapters on the hotels and travel. So its a good book to get before you book anything.
2) Budget your money. Decide how much you are taking for each day and stick to it. It’s to easy to spend especially when kids are begging you.
3) Calpol. Take Calpol with you as it is not as easy to get over there as it is her in the UK. My daughter started to burn up and was full of a cold. My husband had to take a train out of Disney to a near by shopping centre to find a pharmacy. It isn’t a difficult journey to do but there is a language barrier as my husband doesn’t speak a word of French and all the medication instructions are in French and the dosage goes of the child’s weight rather than age. So just take some to be on the safe side.
4) Pram. We took our 3 year olds pram and we needed it!There is a lot of walking and you are on you feet all day. Our kids took turns in it. Even our 6 year old boy was happy to sit in his sisters flowery pram to give his feet a rest! They do hire them but they are very basic and can be pricey once you add up deposit and if it goes missing your responsible.
5) Queue for the things that matter. If your kids are desperate to meet Mickey or a Princess, its worth the wait just to see their faces. Make sure you have some sweets to hand and they have been to the toilet, if you phone is charged maybe let them play some games to pass the time.
6) Stunt show. Make sure you look up the time of the car stunt show in the Walt Disney Studios. Its BRILLIANT!
7) Take gifts with you to save money there. As I said the dressing up dresses are double the price, so if you can fit them in your luggage do.
I bought gifts over here and wrapped them in Disney paper. I gave them a gift each at night once back at the hotel… which was sneaky trick to get them away from the park. You can pick up Disney clothing really cheap at Primark and the supermarkets.