Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Disneyland Paris………..The magic begins the moment the tell them! A mums world review and our experience.

The Magic begins the moment you tell them, that’s the slogan and it isn’t wrong. I wish we hadn’t told them as early as we did because it was along time coming as the girls haven’t really got a concept of weeks and months.

            We had an early start, we left the house at 630am, the adventure began there, “but mummy its still dark and I’m sleeping” breakfast felt like it lasted an eternity and the girls got so excited it was hard getting them to stay still for shoes and coats. The drive to the airport wasn’t bad, the roads were clear and the girls were happily chatting to one another, I’m a terrible flyer and my stomach was in knots all the way and by the time we had arrived I was already panicking and we hadn’t even checked in. I chose to fly to Paris (even though I hate flying) because it was a lot quicker and at the time I thought it would be more exciting for the girls because they had never flew before. Check in was self service, clever mummy used the wrong machine and it couldn’t find us on the flight, after nearly crying and stamping my feet like toddler we got checked in, luggage was underweight and we had plenty of time to grab a coffee. We sailed through security and I even managed to control myself in the airport shops; all that was left to do was to get on the plane. My fear of flying isn’t because of crashing or anything like that, it’s because I can’t stand the feeling of going up in the air, I feel sick and my stomach does summersaults. I didn’t want to frighten the girls I had told them how great flying was and how much they would love it, if only I could convince myself. The plane was small and we found our seats easily, the only problem was that because the plane was so small we couldn’t all sit next to each other; I was to be across the isle.

I had my sick bag at the ready as soon as the engine started, I pretended to use it like a fan so my eldest didn’t think anything of it but I felt terrible. I had been sat next to a pilot (not the pilot, just another passenger going on holiday) and can never thank him enough; he spoke to me all the way up, giving me hints and tips on how not to throw up. Once in the air I was ok again, I got my pre packed picnic out (to pass the time) and gave the girls some snacks. The flight was really quick and the landing was smooth; minus a couple of seatbelt mishaps (mishaps being my middle daughter wouldn’t keep it on) we had arrived. The nightmare had just begun; no one could have prepared me for the nightmare at the France airport we had landed in.

Once off the plan we followed the signs to collect our luggage, we had to get a tram. My partner stepped onto the tram and the doors shut, the girls and I were left standing on the platform. 10 minutes and a lot of worry later we stepped onto the next tram to meet up with daddy and collect our luggage; wrong. Once off the tram we found my other half and went through passport control but still no luggage; three walking escalators and two lifts later (buy now the baby was getting heavy) we had the found the right carousel. The problem we were facing was no pushchair, the airport staff couldn’t understand me and I couldn’t understand them either, where was our pushchair? We finally found an English speaking employee who informed us our pushchair would come out separately on another carousel; a ten minute walk away. I was getting stressed out and regretting the whole idea to fly.

 All our luggage together we set off for our Disney transfer coach, we found it easily enough because the queue was spilling into the airport. “I need a wee mummy”, by the time we had been to the toilet the coach had been and gone and the next one wasn’t for another thirty minutes. I started feeding the girls, crisps, sweets and anything else I could find to pass the time before we could get on the coach. Once the coach arrived (late) we were on our way to our hotel only forty-five minutes to go.

            It was smooth sailing from then, we had a pleasant journey to the hotel and check in was very quick and very smooth, all we had to do was find our room. The Disney hotel SANTE FE was very basic but it was well compact and clean, our room was fairly big and we had everything we needed, the staff were friendly and very helpful. I unpacked had a quick cuppa and we were ready to go and explore. The hotel runs a free shuttle bus to the Disney parks, it arrives every ten minutes like clockwork and a godsend when you don’t know the way yourself.

            I found the Disney park a bit of a letdown if I’m honest, too many shops and I thought they could have more rides. The decorations were amazing, its Halloween season and it really did look magical but the girls were so excited and so tired. We had a walk around the main park but didn’t really go on any rides or in to many shops, it really is massive. The plan was to get an early night and then spend a whole day in the park. Once the children were asleep I started to find faults with the hotel I had chosen. As we only had one room with two double beds and a cot, once the girls were asleep my partner and I couldn’t really talk, watch TV, or have the main lights on; these are not faults of the hotel but faults with my booking of the holiday. 

            The next morning we headed to the main area of the hotel for breakfast and along the way we bumped into Mickey and Minnie. The girls gave the characters a hug and had their photos taken and also got autographs. Once we found the canteen I was pleasantly surprised at the choice for breakfast, I had read a continental breakfast and wasn’t really sure what to expect, it was wonderful. The buffet style breakfast had something for everyone; bread rolls, croissants, ham, cheese, fruits, cereals and toast not forgetting the wide variety of jams and spreads. We loaded our tray and set off to find a table. The hotel was busy and finding a table wasn’t easy but finding a high chair was impossible, I asked the staff and was told to look around the room because they didn’t have many. After having no luck with finding a high chair I asked a family who had one if I could have theirs when they had finished, I felt very rude interrupting someone else’s breakfast but they didn’t seem to mind and sure enough they let me know when they finished with it. The canteen also offered a wide variety of drinks at breakfast but I had developed an instant disliking to the French milk so it was just water for me. Before we had left England I had read on a parenting forum how expensive the food is in the Disney parks and the advice given was to make ham rolls at breakfast and take them with you for lunch. I set about making the lunch and tried to be discrete but half the hotel guests were doing the same thing and the staff didn’t seem to mind.

            Once we arrived in the park the dance train/parade was just beginning, the train passed us and the characters waved and dancers were dancing in front and behind the train; the downside to the parade was the ignorance of other people; I understand that everyone wanted to see but people were moving children’s prams out of the way and pushing people so their child could see. During the five days we were there the ignorance of people was astounding, the pushing and shoving to see characters and shows was unbelievable and that was the biggest disappointment for me. The prices of items in the park were very expensive, a coffee, water and juice was over ten euro! The children loved fantasy land and seeing the princesses, it truly was our favourite part of the parks. The queues for the rides were very long, many of them being an hour long, Disney offer a fast pass and in hindsight it is worth buying; queuing for up to an hour with three children could be hard work.

            During our visit we went to the Walt Disney studio park, the live shows were amazing and the interactive stitch show is a must see. We hired a pushchair for our three year old because the walking was getting too much for her, we paid nine euro a day for the privilege, the buggy was very lightweight  and another must have; I hadn’t realised just how big the resort was. The toy story play land was brilliant and very imaginative but we found it wasn’t really suitable for young children; many of the rides had height restrictions and were really a bit more for pre teens upwards. Playhouse Disney live was also very good. Our three year old got so into it, dancing to the music and she loved seeing her favourite characters on the stage (even if they were puppets.) All of the live shows were free and available in many different languages, the times and languages were clearly shown so you knew exactly what time to be where.

            Out eldest daughter turned six while we were away and we had a meal booked at café Mickey with a surprise birthday cake. We arrived for our reservation and were kept waiting another twenty minutes for our table to be ready. Once seated we gave our food orders to the waiter and enjoyed seeing the characters walking around the restaurant, they took the time to stop at every table and spend a few minutes with all the children. The food wasn’t great, I’m not a very fussy eater but my stake was over cooked and very chewy (I ordered medium rare) and the chips were cold. The cake arrived with Mickey Mouse and the whole restaurant clapped their hands and sang happy birthday to my daughter. With our meals my partner and I had a starter each and a desert but I was still very surprised to be presented with a bill of 159 euro.

            Mickey’s not so scary Halloween party was next on the agenda. The park opened at night for the event and was very well lit and also very quite. The characters were everywhere and all of the rides were also on, the best bit was no ques. At 25 euro each (over threes) the night didn’t come cheap but we met so many different characters and also saw three parades, the children were given trick or treat sweets on every corner and felt really special, the final show was spectacular.

            A tea party with the characters, 19 euro each (over threes) was a bit of  let down for us. I had expected a bit more from the food on offer, it was just pudding, doughnuts, yogurts and chocolate cake.  I wasn’t expecting a three course meal but maybe something hot. Five characters were present at the party but seemed to spend more time back stage then they did in the eating area. If we had known how little time the girls would get with the characters we wouldn’t have paid the money.

            The journey home was better than the one to get there, the bus dropped us off where we needed to be and we checked in without any hassle. The flight wasn’t very smooth but I think I handled it quite well; the holiday had been a great success until the plane began to land. My little one (1) began to cry as we were landing and a French man shouted over to my partner in broken English, “cant you shut it up” to say I was offended is an understatement. We were already doing what we could to settle our daughter but babies cry, my partner was very angry and a few choice actions back to the other man made the whole situation worse. By the time we hit the run way the man was shouting at my partner in French, we could guess what he was saying with his hand signals. I am very proud to say that my partner picked our daughter up and walked off the plane and never said another word to the man in question, the better man walks away, and with our children present it was the right move.

            It’s lovely to be home and the memories we will hold forever, were talking about going back next Christmas. To sum up my review id say: it’s brilliant just to see the children’s faces light up. I do think it’s too expensive once you are there but that isn’t going to change. Timing is crucial for characters/parades and shows so try and plan well ahead. Book as much as you can; meals, shows ect. before you leave so it is one less thing to worry about then you get their. Disney offer a great meal option when booking. I have found; are the cheapest place to book your package is with Disney directly.

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1 comment:

  1. That was really a ver huge post :)
    but it was really very sweet that you shared you entire experience

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    i have followed yours , do follow mine too :)