This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, and this half term we braved Disneyland Paris.
Before you think of booking such a holiday, remember, this is purely for the kids, and not for you. I’m sure I’m going to sound like a real misery, but I’m going to start with the bad things first.
From the moment you arrive at the Euro Star, you realise that the service, if you’ve ever been to Disney World or Disneyland is not going to be quite the same at Euro Disney. The food is terrible, and you have to queue for a three minute ride for about an hour, even when it says 30 minutes at the entrance, and even if you have a fast track pass. Having said that, some of the queues were very quick, and that was a nice surprise.
Sadly for us, lots of the rides were out of order, and we even got a escorted off Pinnochio with no explanation, but it was actually quite fun. Even with all the above bad points for the adults, nothing could really scupper it, when you see the looks on your children’s faces. I think it was the highlight of any holiday, and they loved every single second.
Nanny Anita used to work at Disney, and spent hours pulling together a game plan, which I’m going to share below. There are some points I’d like to add.
Make sure you don’t go to Euro Disney during the French holiday time, this doesn’t just mean half term, check for public holidays too.
If you’re taking the Euro Star direct to Euro Disney, instead of Paris CDG, remember to pre-book your seats together (I liked the sequence with the table in the middle), and don’t forget that on the return leg your carriage will be full of families with very tired children! Make sure you don’t have much on the following day.
We stayed in the Disney Hotel which is pretty amazing. It’s basically a Princess castle, and the children loved it. It reminded me of the Old Ritz in Paris, made with children in mind. Our booking included breakfast with the Disney characters and not only was this a huge hit with the children, but it meant that we didn’t have to queue up to meet the characters in the park.
The whole of Euro Disney is groaning with shops and Disney paraphernalia, and I suggest you buy an autograph book and a Disney pen for the characters to sign. My children got very excited about this.
Look online and decide where you want to eat. If you want to have lunch with Cinderella, make sure you book! Don’t get too excited about the food.
I was pleased to have fast track tickets even though it cost extra, not everywhere accepts them, but it was well worth it. I would say go with a game plan, but remember that it might easily change, due to weather, timings, and rides being out of order.
The children loved the parade, which is on daily, and a must. When asked, my daughter said her favourite thing was Captain Hook and Mini Mouse, and asking my son the same question, his was the Buzz Lightyear ride. My last piece of advice is to get the little children a little back-pack, and write your telephone number on their arm. In the backpack, water, suncream, mini wet wipes, a pad and pen, a healthy snack, a little torch for if the rides are scary, and something to play with in the queues. Mine played with an old etch sketch for hours, and I’m pleased to say that with all that queueing, we didn’t have one meltdown.
All in all a thoroughly enjoyable but exhausting 48 hours!
Nanny Anita on Going to Disney
Going on a trip to any of the 5 different Disneylands or World is possibly the most exciting holiday destination for any child (and adult), and it is easy as a first timer to either get buried under all the information or go woefully unprepared. As a self confessed Disney addict I have been to all 11 parks around the world and on every Disney cruise line ship (I even eventually ended up working as a performer for them for 2 years) so I have literally been there and done it all. So here are just a few tips for helping you get ready for an up coming trip or get you in the mood to book one.
My four most important tips are these:
1. Go with a plan of action; know which park you are going to on each day, where you will be eating, and what rides you would like to do.
2. Don’t stress, just go with the flow. You know the saying “the best laid plans of mice and men”, well it is a very apt saying when visiting a Disney park. Tired children, seeing unexpected characters, the weather, crowds, attractions being down are just a few things that will make you change plans.
3. Don’t force children onto rides or meeting the characters if it upsets them, you will only end up making the wrong types of memories.
4. Smell the roses! There is so much to see and do, don’t forget to take the time to enjoy it.
Planning your trip
Once your trip is booked it is time to start doing your research.
Look on the official websites for opening times, if you are staying in a Disney resort you will be able to make the most of the extra magic hours (one park will either be open before or after the normal operating times).
Book your restaurants as soon as you can. Check with the official website to see if you can book reservations online or over the phone. For Walt Disney World (WDW) you can book 180 days in advance, so if you would like to eat with the characters then the earlier you book the better.
Check to see if they have any celebrations going on like the Halloween or Christmas parties (they require separate tickets).
WDW and Disneyland in California now offer Fastpass+ which is were you can book 3 time slots per day per person to go on rides, see characters or view shows 2 months in advance. Check out their websites for more details.
It may seem odd but measure your children before you go, then you can check it against which rides have height requirements and therefore avoid any tears when you get there.
Get your child involved, ask them what rides they would like to do and if they would like to see the characters.
Remember to plan down time, you will never be quite as tired as you will be after a trip to a Disney resort.
What to take/download
Each park has official apps which will give you up to date wait times when you are there; for Disneyland California and Walt Disney World it is the My Disney Experience App.
Around every park there are Hidden Mickeys (there is an app and book) which are great to look out for while waiting in lines.
If you think your child maybe afraid of the darker parts of a ride consider taking a light up toy, we took a fibre optic hand held wand (£2.50 from amazon).
Something to occupy little ones in the queue, we took a mini wipe board that they could drawn on and then erased.
Finally if you are going to Disneyland Paris do be warned, it is nothing like the other resorts. The cast members don’t display that friendliness and magic that Disney is famous for, so go with lower expectations and hopefully they will be exceeded.
So as a former cast member I wish you a magical and Disney filled day.
Possible plan for 2 days and 1 night
This is a possible itinerary for 2 children who are 3 and 4 years old, one of which was over 112cm and the other 94cms. When making your own itinerary try to one area of the park at a time, it will cut down on unnecessary walking.
When you arrive, I suggest heading into Disneyland Park and going straight to Fantasyland to get lots of rides for everyone.
Parade is at 5:30 so if the kiddies are hungry I would recommend grabbing something from one of the counter service restaurants and eating it while waiting for the parade (naughty I know but it is all part of the Disney experience).
If they aren’t too tired and want to do more then head over into Discoveryland to do the Autopia (they get to drive a car), Orbitron (a space version of Dumbo) and Buzz Lightyear (it’s a laser shooting game).
If there is time perhaps try Star Tours (this ride is a simulator and has a height restriction). When I have taken small kids on, if they get scared I tell them to close their eyes and imagine they are driving down a bumpy road.
Another option would be to watch the parade then head into the Disney Village; it has some great shops and normally cool things going on.
I would then call it a night, if we haven’t already.
If the kids are up early and rearing to go then I suggest heading into Disneyland Park as Disney hotel guests get into the parks 2 hrs earlier than other guests. I would use this quieter time to do some of the attractions we didn’t get a chance to do yesterday. So head to the left and work our way round from there. Definitely have to try to do Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (again this ride has a height restriction).
There aren’t any really good (if any) table service restaurants in the Walt Disney Studios so if you want a proper meal then I would have it in the Disneyland Park . After lunch I think we should head into the other park.
Depending on the time I would say plan to do the 3pm Stunt Show with Lightning McQueen.
I would try to do the Cars rally and toy story rides. Depending on how the little ones did with Big Thunder Mountain they may want to try Crush’s Coaster.