Friday, 19 August 2016

Our Break At Disneyland Paris

As a child I would plead to visit Disneyworld in Florida, it was somewhere I'd always heard about being magical and was eager to visit and meet all the characters. When I was 15 my mum and dad took me there over Christmas but I was a moody, hormonal, unappreciative teenager then and don't think I truly appreciated the magical experience I was lucky enough to have.
It hadn't really crossed my mind to visit Disneyland in Paris until I noticed a bargain deal one Sunday afternoon. It came out at less than £500 for the three of us to stay in Disney's Santa Fe Hotel with breakfast, three day hopper passes into both parks and included return ferry crossing during the school holidays. I then priced it on the Disneyland Paris site and it came out at over a £1000 but that did include dinner.
It seemed like a no brainer as we wanted a summer getaway out of England and knew it would appeal to Eliot so I booked it.
On the 7th of August we headed down to Dover which was a fairly long drive but we were pleasantly surprised we didn't encounter any horrendous traffic like had been reported a couple of weeks earlier.

 The crossing was smooth and took around an hour and a half. Eliot absolutely loved being on the ferry and couldn't keep still, a success for the start of his first break abroad!
We then embarked on the three and a half hour drive to the hotel which I wasn't looking forward to!
 Thankfully there wasn't much traffic but as France is an hour ahead it meant our arrival would be pretty late. We stopped off for food around 8:30pm at a motorway service station but there wasn't a lot on offer and it seemed to be winding down for the evening so we decided to try the next service station which turned out to be closed. So that's something to note if you're planning a trip to France and arrive in the evening. The petrol garages were still open so you could still get hold of sandwiches. Unfortunately there wasn't anything Eliot would have eaten so we continued our journey hoping to come across a McDonalds! As we were switching motorways coming up to Paris there was a sign for KFC which also turned out to be a couple doors down from a McDonalds so dinner was finally sorted even if it was really late!

We finally arrived at the Santa Fe hotel just before midnight, we were all knackered! We were greeted by security after they'd finished rolling their eyes at me because I attempted to drive in on the wrong side! I was still getting my bearings driving on the other side of the road. Security checked our booking and looked in the boot of the car before allowing us to enter.
Next stop was reception where we were met by a very pleasant 'Disney Cast Member' who gave us our park tickets and character breakfast tickets along with a map and our room key. The hotel was a lot bigger than I imagined with different 'blocks' all named after the characters in Disney's cars, we were in McQueen!
After a little bit of faffing with the room key card, we were finally in! 

 The room was immaculately clean with the theme of cars throughout. There was plenty of space to put things away with a rail for hanging clothes along with a large chest of drawers. There was a safe for locking away valuables but we didn't use it as the other half had read a review about things being stolen, I'm not sure if it was one review or more but we kept our money and passports with us.
There was a TV with mostly French channels but a couple were in English and two double beds.
The bathroom had clean towels and complimentary toiletries, I just loved the hair and body wash with the Mickey Mouse ears lid! There was also a hairdryer in there which I wasn't expecting which was very handy as I hadn't bought my own. There was a bath with a shower which was ideal for us as Eliot has a shower phobia! 
Even though it was so late Eliot was so excited being in a new room it took him a while to get settled, even when he was in bed it took him ages to get to sleep considering he hadn't napped at all during the long journey.
I didn't sleep till a lot later and didn't have the best nights sleep, I was worried Eliot was going to roll out of the bed and the fan on the ceiling was a bit loud. Still, I woke up earlier than planned before my alarm went off!
Once we were all ready we headed to the buffet breakfast which is served between 7:30am and 11am. We arrived just after half past 10 which meant we had missed the most congested time (between 8:30am & 9:30am). There were four different cereals to choose from, three of them being sugary ones and Special K. There were obviously croissants, pain au chocolate  along we little French bread rolls and bread to toast. There was also mixed fruits, cheeses and meats. There were coffee machines and orange & apple juice dispensers to help yourself to as many beverages as you needed. We enjoyed breakfast here and took our left over croissants with us for snacks later on.
After breakfast we left to get the free shuttle bus to the Disneyland parks, the pick up point was near reception. As we walked through  reception I swiftly noticed a theme park style queue of people who had just arrived to check in. I felt relieved we'd arrived the night before, missing the queue madness! 
I would definitely stay at the Hotel Santa Fe again and recommend it to families particularly those whose kids are Cars fans!

We were dropped at 'Marne La Vallee Chessy' train station, a couple of minutes to the entrance for the Disney Village. It took under ten minutes to get there and with the shuttle buses running from 7am until 1am it means you can relax about getting to and from the parks.
Before you can enter Disney Village there is a security point to go through, bags get checked through an x-ray machine and you walk through a metal detector. It was always very swift and we were through in no time at all on every visit.
We decided to head into the Disney Studios first of all, I'd been enticed by the Hollywood Tower Of Terror which I'd gone on in Florida but wasn't brave enough to go on by myself  this time! The other half did though.
Whilst Eliot and I waited for the OH (as the queue time was only 15mins), we wandered around seeing what rides we could go on next. Eliot also managed to get his photo taken with Goofy which was quite lucky as it can be tricky meeting the characters around the parks without queuing or waiting for a long time. We seemed to be in the right place at the right time.

Once the OH had finally been on the Hollywood Tower of Terror we went on the Studio Tour ride which was one of my faves, as well as seeing lots of different props from various films you experience some of the special effects that are carried out on sets.

Part of A set on the studio tram tour

We then ventured to 'Playland' where the theme was the wonderful Toy Story. There were a few rides there but Eliot would only go on the Slinky Dog ride.
On Slinky Dog!
 After that we ventured to where the rather popular 'Ratouille' ride was. The queue was rather long, as Eliot had already had mini meltdowns queuing up we decided to find a ride that had a shorter queue.
We went on the a 'Cars' ride and also flew on Aladdin's magic carpet which for some reason made me feel quite emotional!

After that we headed into the main Disneyland Park which you enter under the Disneyland Hotel, once you put your passes through you walk onto Main Street USA. The OH and I were very quickly 'wowed' by Sleeping Beauty's Castle. There really is a 'magical feeling' when you step into Disney!
There are four different themed areas in addition to Main Street USA, Frontier Land, Adventure Land, Fantasy Land and Discovery Land. Fantasyland is where the majority of rides suitable for children are. You'll find the likes of the teacups, a carousel, flying elephants and the famous 'It's A Small World'. However there are rides in all areas that smaller children are able to go on. 
 There are several places to eat around the parks and in the Disney Village. There are price ranges but as you'd expect the lowest priced places to eat are still pricey. We paid just under 90 euros for the three of us to eat in the Plaza Gardens buffet restaurant. The food was ok, nothing special there were different dishes to choose from including meat, fish pasta and salad. The best thing about it was the dessert selection! Personally I wouldn't pay to eat there again, we really wished we'd researched dining options carefully!
We stayed in the Disneyland park till about half 10 as we wanted to see the fire works but we were all shattered and as we had to be up earlier to go to a pre-booked character breakfast we decided to leave and stay later the next night.

The next morning just before 8am we arrived at CafĂ© Mickey in the Disney Village for a character breakfast. I'd pre-booked when I booked the holiday. It was buffet style like at the hotel. There was hot breakfast available as well as a selection of cereals, meats, cheeses, pastries, fruit.
While people were eating or queuing for their breakfasts Mickey, Mouse, Goofy, Pluto and after the two chipmunks appeared, they made their way around the restaurant signing autographs and having pictures taken. As you can see from Eliot's face in the pictures, it was well worth the experience, he was so excited! I was disappointed there were no more characters, I really thought there would and should have been more characters like Donald Duck and Minnie to accompany Mickey! Still Eliot thoroughly enjoyed the experience and that was the main thing.
After meeting the characters Eliot had his first pony ride at Disney's Hotel Cheyenne which was next to our hotel. Eliot had seen the ponies the day before and had asked to ride one. Children had to be three and over and a certain height to be able to ride.
It was 6 euros for something ridiculous like a minute and a half but the staff weren't strict and let me walk the pony round for longer.
After that we caught the train into Paris which took longer than I expected (over an hour to the Eiffel Tower). I wasn't keen on going as the OH and I had visited in 2009 and apart from the train ride it wouldn't be as appealing as Disney to Eliot. The OH was desperate for 'escargots' and wanted to see some of the sights again. After a quick visit to the Eiffel Tower and lunch I decided to bring Eliot back to Disneyland. I also wanted to make sure we got back for the Parade.
We got back into the park about half 4 and people were already sitting down on the pavements ready for the parade at half 5, so I found us a spot on Main Street USA. I was concerned about keeping Eliot in one place waiting for an hour. I had some snacks that kept him occupied and luckily had a couple of toy cars with me too. He did sprawl himself out over the floor wheeling them along, accidentally kicking people as he moved around but it kept him busy.
Waiting for the parade
The OH arrived back from Paris just in time for the parade. It was amazing, if you visit make sure you make time to get a good spot to see it, it really is not to be missed! Disney pull out all the stops and the atmosphere makes it an unforgettable experience!

After the parade we headed for some more rides and spent the rest of the evening in the Disneyland Park.
View from the castle in 'Alice's Curious Labrynth'

Flying a rocket in Discovery Land
We stayed until around 11pm and watched the water and light shows on Sleeping Beauty's castle. They were fantastic, really worth staying up to see even if you are shattered!
The next day was sadly our departure day but we didn't have to leave to get our ferry till around 3pm so after breakfast, packing up the car and checking out we headed to the Disney Studios. The park was a whole lot busier than it had been on our first visit and plans to go on some of the rides we hadn't been on went out the window as the queues were really long. After a ride on slinky dog we made our way back into the Disneyland park for our last few rides Then when it was time we all left reluctantly!

I highly recommend visiting Disneyland Paris, we thoroughly enjoyed it and are planning to go back in the future. It really was a magical experience and so special for children.

Here's part 1 of our trip to Disneyland, lookout for part 2!

Have you visited Disneyland Paris?

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