So we’re back, after a lovely 10 days off work and off blogging- I’m a big believer in having a few breaks a year in order to recharge and feel inspired again! If you’ve been following me on Instagram or are friends with me on my personal Facebook page, you’ll know that we’ve recently spent 5 days over the Easter holidays in Disneyland Paris. It’s somewhere Adam and I have always wanted to take the children, and we thought it would be a great taster and not as far as say, Florida at the ages they’re at, in order to get the Disney experience.
So did we have a good time? Honestly, it was absolutely AMAZING! I knew we would have fun, but we didn’t realise quite how magical it would be seeing it through the eyes of Freddie and Sasha (age 5 and nearly 4). I’d read a few negative reviews online regarding the staff, the food and the cleanliness of the place, but our experience couldn’t have been further from these. I started off writing this post as one long one, but I have so many photos and there’s so much info to give, that I’m breaking the posts up into at least 3 parts. Hopefully you’ll come away from reading them all with lots of helpful tips and info, and also a feel for what it’s like to travel to Disneyland Paris with young children.
We opted for a 4 night/5 day stay, and to get a Eurostar service from St Pancras International at 10.14am on the Sunday, that went direct to Marne le Vallee (the station literally right next to the Disneyland park). I also decided to pay a little extra and book us into Standard Premier on our train. To be fair, I hadn’t been on the Eurostar prior to our trip, and the whole of the train looked in great nick and clean and comfy anyway. But with Standard Premier we got slightly bigger seats, and the main attraction was the fact we got a light meal and drinks included on the journey, which I thought was necessary as we were travelling with little ones over ‘eating times’. Freddie in particular was very impressed with the unlimited hot chocolate!
The whole journey there (and on our return) was totally stress-free and is now my favourite way to travel (I’m not a big fan of flying tbh, although I put up with it!), and we were door-to-door in under 3 hours which is amazing if you think about it! As our Eurostar was a solely Disneyland service, our park tickets and character breakfast, Princess lunch and Wild West show tickets were all given out to us on the train by a friendly member of staff, and everything explained to us, which was ridiculously helpful!
As far as entertaining the children were concerned, we did magazine, iPad and DVD player rotation, and that worked just fine for our two- as a big train fan, Freddie was out of his mind with excitement!
On arrival, we did have the option of using the ‘Disney Express’ service for our luggage (this means it’s taken straight to your Disney hotel on arrival so you can head to the park), but decided to go to the hotel ourselves to freshen up and have a bit of a rest. We stayed at the Newport Bay Club Hotel, which is a 5 minute shuttle bus ride from the station, or a 15 minute walk from the parks and the Disney Village. We chose the hotel as it looked lovely in the photos <shallow> and had a swimming pool, which we thought would give us the option of some non-park downtime if the kids were tired or the weather was bad.
The Newport is done up as a charming 1900s coastal mansion, and our family shared a nautical-themed room with two double beds (also the comfiest bed I’ve slept in in a long time!).
The check in at the hotel was easy, and we were given our room key here and our breakfast tickets, plus maps and park programmes. I was also very impressed with the security at the hotel, and in the park and train station in general. I know it’s a horrible thing to think about, but in light of recent events in France and the terrorism threat there is, it had been playing on my mind how secure and safe everything would be. Well in the train station we saw 6 armed police/army members, and at the hotels all bags and luggage goes through a scanner every time it comes in. Every person is body scanned before entering. The same applies again on entry to the actual theme parks, and we saw sniffer dogs near the entrances and by the station on several occasions. All this put little anxious me and my mind at rest, and I felt very safe throughout all of our stay, yet none of the security felt overtly intrusive or took the magic away.
Once were we in our hotel room, we decided to unpack and freshen up, and also tried to encourage F and S to have a nap as they’d been up so early and we didn’t think they’d last the evening. No chance! Our two were far too excited to sleep, so we decided to head into the park and grab an early dinner.
Entering the main Disneyland Park through the Disneyland Hotel gave me butterflies of excitement, and it was as I remembered it when I last went 17 years ago! As soon as you’re though the gates at the hotel and onto Main Street, the magic happens!
We arrived during their spring season, which meant that the park was ‘dressed’ for Easter and spring, with lots of lovely floral displays and few giant character Easter eggs on the way around!
We went for a bit of a stroll along Main Street, before stopping off at the Plaza Gardens restaurant nearby for an early buffet dinner. This restaurant was mid-range price-wise, so still not cheap (it cost about £90 for the 4 of us including unlimited food and soft drinks), but the food was delicious and there was a wide variety, and certainly wasn’t the junk food that I’d possibly been expecting. It looks rather posh but in reality was very friendly and welcoming with lots of families here.
^^^Our cheeky monkeys enjoying their pizza and greens! I think Freddie was flagging at this point, he doesn’t normally lean all over the table like this!
I have to admit that the dessert options were the business too- check out my Olaf cake!
We also picked up some fab glittery Minnie Mouse ears for our little lady (Freddie doesn’t ‘do’ fancy dress, so wasn’t interested!). I’m not going to lie, merchandise isn’t cheap here, but we budgeted to able to spoil them a bit on this trip.
After dinner, we stayed in the park for a lot later than expected, not going back to the hotel until 8.45pm (which is really late for our two!). The park was surprisingly quiet for a Sunday (I’d heard it could be busy then), and we practically walked on every ride in Fantasyland, or only queued for a few minutes. For under 7’s in particular, Fantasyland has the most rides that are suitable for little ones out of the whole of the park, so this is where we tended to spend most of our time during our stay. I think Adam won the record for the most gos on the ‘It’s a Small World’ ride- at least twice a day, every day!
Here are some photos of our favourite rides/things to do in Fantasyland…
The children were super-chuffed to recognise London on the ‘It’s a Small World’ ride, but unfortunately proved that their geographical knowledge is still rather limited on spotting The Eiffel Tower: “Look, Mummy and Daddy, The Crystal Palace Tower!”. You can take the family out of London…
This ride is a godsend when you need to go on something NOW with impatient little ones- queues move very quickly due to the rotation of the boats, and we only queued a maximum of 10 minutes on a busier day- other times we just walked straight on.
The tea cups were also a big hit, and again, generally had a fairly short queue.
Our two loved looking upstairs in Sleeping Beauty’s castle, and the detail in the stained glass windows and displays was breathtaking. It’s this attention to detail that makes Disney so, so good. The children weren’t too keen on braving the bottom of the castle though and seeing the dragon- for brave souls only!
We lost half an hour in the Alice in Wonderland Maze, and Freddie and Sasha thought it was great fun, and there are character models from the film dotted throughout.
Not long after our first early dinner out, we managed to catch the 5.30pm Main Street Parade, almost by chance as we didn’t know at that point what time it was on. We got a great spot, much less busy than on actual Main Street, by the ‘Pizzeria Bella Notte’, which is quite near where all the floats come out. There are low walls that are great for the children to stand on, and Sasha went on Adam’s shoulders and they managed to get a great view. I wasn’t sure if either F or S would be that bothered by the parade, but it turns out they were in awe of it! Freddie in particular was hooked, and had the biggest grin on his face. He was especially taken with Chip and Dale, asking who they were, and was infatuated all holiday (more on this later!).
Seeing them look so happy was a big highlight for us, and without getting too gushy, I’ll treasure seeing them look like that forever
We treated and surprised the children later that evening to a character toy each, Sasha getting Jesse from Toy Story, and Freddie a Chip and Dale cuddly toy pair- their little faces lighting up at this was magical, as we hardly ever buy them toys on a whim at home!
After a busy first day and evening, we headed back to the hotel for about 9pm. We would have liked to have stayed and seen the legendary fireworks display at 10pm (daily) at some point during our stay, but F and S aren’t keen on the loud bangs of fireworks, so we’ll save this for another trip!
I’ll tell you what though, the castle really does look incredible when it’s lit up at night.
…and when we arrived back at the hotel, our little poppets slept like logs and zonked out straight away! Adam went down to the bar and came back with a bottle of red and some bar snacks, and we toasted a successful first day at Disneyland Paris.
Our first day and evening had already promised so much, and we’d already loved every second. I was so chuffed at how seamlessly our whole journey, check in and first visit to the park had been- how your dream trip should be!
****See Part 2 of our trip HERE***
Since this post has already turned out to be pretty epic, I’ll show you the other highlights of our stay in Part 2, such as our character breakfast at Cafe Mickey, Dinner at Inventions, Princess Lunch and the Wild West Show, plus hints and tips of going there with young children in part 3…stay tuned!