Monday, 20 February 2017

Our Disneyland Paris Diaries - February 2017

Last week, I wrote about our planned last minute escape to my happy place - Disneyland Paris.

After a bit of a rubbish start to the year, I was more than ready for a change of scene and could think of no better place to head to than the Happiest Place On Earth!

Considering I only visited Disneyland Paris for the first time last October, it probably seems quite soon to return for some people but I just completely fell in love with the place and could think of no better way to spend the bit of money we had unexpectedly come into.

We decided against taking Sailor with us (partially because we had been warned about how cold the weather would be and didn't think it would be enjoyable for him, and partly because - as anybody with a family of more than 4 knows - holiday companies like to rip you off massively for "large family" rooms and so we just wouldn't have been able to afford it at such short notice!) - so instead it was just the four of us.

Day 1

After a long and tiring journey on the Eurostar from Ebbsfleet with a changeover in Lille, we arrived to Disneyland on Monday at around 2.30 pm - we always make use of the Disney Express luggage service which only costs an extra £40 or so and means that you drop your bags off at the station for them to be taken to your hotel, you also get your park tickets and any other extras (meal plan vouchers, photo pass vouchers, etc) handed to you there too so that you can go straight into the parks and start having fun!

We headed to Disney Studios first as Tyne had talked non-stop about the Tower Of Terror since we left Ebbsfleet - he was only just tall enough to ride and the queue was 40 minutes long, but as part of our holiday package we had a hotel Fast Pass ticket each for every day of the holiday so Jon & Tyne used theirs to ride this.

After this, we decided to head into the Disneyland park as the queues in Studios were quite long (probably because this is where all of the Season Of The Force action is happening!) - the boys both fell asleep in the pushchair so Jon and I took the opportunity to have half an hours child-free sit down and a hot dog each from Casey's Corner, which - after hours of tantrums on the journey - felt like the equivalent of a morning at the spa!

We then got a spot for Disney Magic On Parade, the kids woke up just in time to watch it and enjoy their Tea Time Treats of donuts and drinks while they did.

Noah wasn't too fussed by the parade but Tyne really enjoyed seeing it again, he loves waving to the characters and seeing the toy story soldiers!

After the parade, we had a walk around the park and went on It's A Small World - it was our first time on the ride as it had been closed during our last visit, and we all really enjoyed it. We then had a go on Dumbo, before heading out of the park and to Cafe Mickey for our evening meal.

The character interaction in Cafe Mickey was, as always, fantastic - that evening we had Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto and Tigger - Tyne loved hugging and chatting to each one, but Noah would only entertain Goofy who he took a real shine to!

After dinner, we headed back to the hotel for our first look around the Sequoia Lodge - we were staying in a Golden Forest Club room which meant that we had access to a private lounge with free soft drinks, hot drinks and some snacks - it was lovely to have a little quiet space to relax in after a busy day!

Unfortunately we encountered a couple of problems at the hotel - namely that our bags had gone missing (but were soon found!) and that I stepped in some sick in the lobby (yuck!) so we decided to complain, and were then promptly upgraded by way of an apology to a Golden Forest Suite - the room was enormous with a fantastic view over Lake Disney, we could even see the rehearsals of the Dreams show on the castle at around 2 am, which was really cool!

Day 2

On our second day, we were up and ready at 6:40 am - unheard of for me but I was determined to make the most of Extra Magic Hours (2 hours park time exclusively for Disney hotel guests before the park opens to the general public) - we headed to Breakfast in the Golden Forest Lounge which was REALLY nice.

Breakfast in the Disney hotels can be a bit of a scrum and is usually continental breakfast only, but when you stay in one of the hotel "Club" schemes (Golden forest club for Sequoia Lodge, Compass Club for Newport Bay, etc) you get a hot breakfast buffet - and this didn't disappoint! They had everything from pastries and fruit, to Actimel drinks, cereals, yoghurts galore, eggs, veal sausages, and tons more - I personally went for the maple bacon (THE most delicious bacon I have ever tasted!) and pancakes each morning, breakfast of champions! The kids were more than happy with their Nutella spread pancakes and yogurts!

After breakfast, we headed to the park and arrived just after 8 am - we had a walk around Main Street to see which characters were out, and after meeting Donald Duck (who was very funny!) we headed into Fantasyland to do some rides.

We did Peter Pans Flight, the Tea Cups, Snow White & The 7 Dwarves, Pinocchio and Its A Small World again before heading round to meet Captain Jack Sparrow in AdventureLand - this had been something Tyne had been most looking forward to, he dressed in his pirate costume (over his ski suit!) and the interaction with Captain Jack was great - Tyne was delighted!

After this, we headed to Studios to do some of the Season Of The Force things - a quick costume change for Tyne into his Stormtroopers outfit and we were ready to watch the Star Wars show, and the First Order march - Tyne got a salute from every one of the Storm troopers which really made his day! It really is well worth dressing your little ones up in Disneyland as they do make an extra effort to interact with the children in costumes.

We grabbed lunch at Restaurant En Coulisse as we just love their chicken burgers, and then did some of the Studios rides including Toy Story Parachute Drop, Slinky Dog, and Cars (which is a favourite of all of us and which Noah really loved!). After watching some more of the Star Wars things and going to the Disney Junior Live show (which they both really enjoyed!), it was time for dinner at Chez Remy - the Ratatouille themed restaurant - I'll be doing a separate post on the food soon but I will say it was a bit of a let down.

After our meal, we were in a hurry to get to the Tower to watch the end of day Star Wars finale - we had about 15 minutes to spare so we used our Hotel Fast Passes for a quick go on the Ratatouille ride (another one we all loved!) before running around to watch the show - I'm not a Star Wars fan at all, infact I've never even seen the films and have no desire to, but even I enjoyed the finale show!

That evening we had planned to go swimming at the hotel, but we were all too tired -instead we lazed in the Golden Forest Lounge gorging on Marshmallows and hot chocolates until bedtime!

Day 3

The next morning we did Extra Magic Hours after breakfast once again - I was determined to meet a Disney Princess this time, so Jon held our spaces in the queue at Princess Pavillions and I took the boys on a couple of the Fantasyland rides...we had about an hour left to queue and I was amazed by how well behaved the boys were, and it was worth it - I got to meet Ariel! Life made!!

After our Princess meet, we headed into Frontierland where Tyne rode his first proper rollercoaster - Big Thunder Mountain! - unfortunately we couldn't all go on as Noah isn't tall enough so I sat it out, but Jon tells me it was brilliant and that Tyne loved every second of it!

After that we had lunch at Plaza Gardens buffet restaurant - another one we wouldn't repeat but more on that another time - before heading to Discoveryland where we all had a go on Buzz Lightyear's Laser Blast, and Tyne & Jon had their first go on Orbitron.

We decided to head back to the hotel that afternoon to try out the Golden Forest afternoon tea, which was a lovely selection of canapes and cakes - it was lovely to just have a bit of down time, but we were soon raring to get back to the park!

We stopped at the Lego shop on the way back as the boys loved playing in there (we called in every night on our way back to the hotel!), and then watched the parade again - after a few more goes on Peter Pans Flight it was time to get a spot for Disney Dreams, the end of evening show at the Castle, the boys really enjoyed it and - as always - it brought a tear to my eye!

After closing, we headed to Cafe Mickey once again for our second meal there of the week - again the character interaction was great, they all spent so much time with Tyne as he just loves to chat to them - they easily spent 20 minutes per character with him and never made him feel rushed at all, it really is so worth visiting Cafe Mickey to really get to spend some time with the characters away from the rushed atmosphere of the park.

That evening we had Mickey, Goofy, Pluto, Eeyore and Geppetto which was fab as Geppetto is a real favourite of Tyne's for some reason!

Day 4

The next day was time to check out, because we had booked Disney Express luggage service we didn't need to worry about carrying our luggage around with us - we just left it at the hotel and could collect it at the train station an hour before departure.

We were a bit dismayed to see how long the queue was to check out, but thankfully that was the main queue - the Golden Forest queue was empty and we were checked out in seconds!

We spent the day doing some more character meets (Tyne had been asking to meet Chip & Dale so we were delighted to find them in Frontierland!), riding in the Main Street Vehicles (Tyne was THRILLED to get a ride in the back of the police van!) and going on some last rides - we wanted to ride Phantom Manor as it's a favourite of Tyne's but we were worried that it would be too frightening for Noah - to our surprise he LOVED it and when we got off he was shouting "AGAIN! AGAIN!" so we ended up riding it 3 times in a row!! It seems we have another little daredevil on our hands, they definitely don't get it from me!

After a delicious lunch at Cowboy Cookout Barbecue, a visit to watch the Frozen sing a long show, and watching the Frozen Royal Welcome as Elsa & Anna drove along Main Street on their horse driven carriage - it was time to head out of the park! We had just enough time for one last visit to the Lego shop for the boys and some retail therapy in the Disney village for me, and then it was off on the Eurostar home.

I'm not going to lie and pretend our whole trip was all smooth sailing - it wasn't! I wouldn't call Disneyland with toddlers a relaxing holiday at all - there are still tantrums and bad behaviour a plenty (if anything it's amplified because of how overwhelmed they are by everything!), they still get grumpy and tired, you don't really get to do the things that you would like to do (unless you're one of those people who gets to take grandparents/built in babysitters on holiday with you in which case I ENVY YOU!) and the travelling to and from France part can be a bit of a nightmare (at least in our experience! Trying to juggle a double buggy and two young children on and off of two different trains single handedly because your partner is dealing with the suitcases...all while the youngest child is having a screaming meltdown and refusing to move from the floor of the carriage? NOT FUN)

But, as with anything, those memories tend to fade quickly and you're left with the memories of the moments like these....

And no matter how much you may, at the time, have felt like forever abandoning them to live in "It's A Small World" with the mechanical're soon planning your next trip, filled with the memories of Disney magic.

You just can't beat it!

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