We have just returned from the most magical weekend away at Disneyland Paris.
Kam decided that Maicen’s third birthday was the perfect time to take the boys to Disneyland. Maice loves so many of the Disney characters, particularly Mickey Mouse, Kion (from the Lion Guard) and Nemo so we thought this would be a great birthday present. With Rhys being just 18 months old, he’s not quite there with the characters yet, but definitely knows who Mickey Mouse is.
We opted to take the Eurostar as it took us straight there and avoided a taxi from the airport if we flew in. We got an Uber taxi from our house at 7.30am and arrived at Kings Cross around 8.45am. Our Eurostar departed at around 10.15am so we had ample time to print our tickets, grab some snacks from M&S, as well as an all important hot chocolate for my breakfast from Costa but not quite enough time to get the boys their paninis from there. The boys were so well behaved from the time we left home, all through our journey to Paris. Especially considering the fact they had such a busy day and went to bed late the previous night. We tried to give them breakfast before we left home but they weren’t really interested; making the M&S pit stop even more essential. Rhys had half a sandwich during the journey which was just enough to fill his belly and allow him to sleep for an hour and a half. I made the mistake of buying a mozerella panini for Maicen from the cafe after we went through immigration but he’s such a fussy eater that he knew it wasn’t the costa panini he usually has so spat it out saying ‘that’s yucky mummy.’ The only thing he would eat, unsurprisingly, was pringles. It’s true – once you pop, you just can’t stop. Maice is addicted to the blooming things and would happily eat a whole tube in one sitting. After snacking, he too fell asleep, as did I for an hour or so. We decided not to pay for a seat for Maicen and kept him and Rhys on our lap and that was fine as they slept. So the journey there was pretty easy.
We arrived and all I can say is…..wow! It is absolutely magical! It takes a lot to impress me, but I was impressed. Kam had booked the Disneyland Hotel and paying the extra to be right next to the park was the best thing we did. It meant that we were never in a rush and that we could easily go back to our room if the boys were getting tired or cold. As they were celebrating 25 years of Disney, there was a free half board upgrade offer when we booked. It was my first Disneyland experience and I kind of expected it to be a little cheesy and over rated, but no, I would recommend it to everyone…..couples, families, teenagers….the lot.
We got into our room for around 3pm and freshened up and headed straight for Disney Park. As we were walking down “Main Street USA” we saw a line to meet Goofy and Pluto. Maicen was so excited so we queued up for around 30 minutes to do so. After getting into the park, the first ride we went on was the carousel (Le Carrousel de Lancelot) in the area called Fantasyland. Luckily there were 4 horses in a row free, so we secured the boys using the belts and sat on a horse each next to them and as they were in close proximity, I was confident I could hold on to Rhys to ensure he didn’t fall. Initially Rhys was a bit frightened, but he soon warmed up to it, as did Maicen. That was our first ride as a family, and one I will never forget.
We stayed in Fantasyland and next we went on Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups, which both the boys loved and then before we knew it, it was 4.45pm and time to head back to Main Street for the Disney Stars Parade, which started at 5.30pm. This was a fantastic experience and we were right there at the front. I would say that we arrived just in time to get a good view. Rhys was fed up of sitting in his pushchair so we took him out just before it started. Both of the boys were standing and clapping and cheering as the characters they have watched so many times on TV passed through during the parade. Their favourite was Mickey and Friends of course. The ambience around the park as all the children (and adults) watched the parade was incredible. A must for any trip to Disneyland.
Upon arrival to the hotel, Kam was advised that all of the table service restaurants were fully booked for the duration of our stay other than one booking available at 4pm that same day, which was far too early for us. So we tried to find a fast food place around the park. Maicen decided he wanted pizza and chips, which for some reason was incredibly difficult to locate, most probably because we were so tired by that point. But the Italian restaurant in Fantasyland (Pizzeria Belle Notte), which would have been perfect for us, seemed to be closed. So we headed back to the hotel and got room service instead.
I ordered a children’s meal for the boys and was advised that the pizza was big enough for two – it was. The options for starter was soup or breadsticks with cherry tomatoes, neither of which were going to be even remotely appealing to my boys. I ordered the tomatoes, in the hope that the boys would eat the breadsticks, which actually turned out to be two rather hard bread rolls. They had a slice of pizza each, which was ok, nothing great, but they ate it so that was good enough for me. I had told room service that I was going to use the half board tickets and would order the boys dinner first and then call back for ours as I wanted to bath and feed them first so that they were settled.
When I called back to order a steak and chips for Kam and fish and chips for myself with a bottle of coke, I was told that the value came to around 80 euros and I had a face value of 60 euros on each adult half board ticket. When I asked if I could call back and order more later, they advised that it had to be ordered in one go. I was slightly disappointed that this wasn’t explained during check in, as I could have used the two adult half boards to cover the cost of both the children’s and our meals and paid just a few euros more for the value exceeding the voucher face value. Instead I was having to pay a few euros (8 I think) for the boys meal on top of the children’s half board ticket, as I also ordered two cups of warm milk for them and then another 20 odd euros extra for our meals. Alternatively I could have used both the adult half boards for all of our meals and not paid anything extra. So I called reception as advised to do so by the room service and they said that I only needed to use one adult half board and I could keep the other and they would clear the rest of the bill owed as a way of a good will gesture. The customer service provided was excellent and they were only too happy to help and rectify the situation.
We had planned on waking up early the following morning to make use of the early (8am) access we had to the park as a guest of the hotel. However the boys were in such a deep sleep that we let them wake up in their own time, which was in fact 8am. By the time they were dressed and down for breakfast it was around 8.30am. Rhys had porridge and Maicen told me it was yucky and refused to have it. He did have a few spoons of what looked like Frosties and then was apparently full. Breakfast was mediocre, nothing amazing, pretty standard. We got to the park for around 9.30 and dodged the character meet and greets along the way to actually get into the park before it opened up for everyone at 10am. Lucky we did that because as we entered Fantasyland and walked through, I saw a massive Meet Mickey Mouse sign with a relatively short queue so we quickly joined that, knowing it would be the highlight of the trip for Maice and Rhys. This was indoors, in comparison to the other character meets which were just a small set up outside. We walked through a theatre style room, snaking along barriers, watching episodes of Mickey Mouse that were playing on the big screen at the front. It took around 20 minutes and we were there….meeting the famous Mickey Mouse! Both of the boys gave him cuddles and were so excited. There little faces just lit up in amazement. The photos turned out great too, despite both our boys having very bad hair days!
We managed a couple of walk through rides including Le Passage Enchante d’ Aladdin and Alice’s Curious Labyrinth (which is essentially a Wonderland themed hedge maze) and then headed towards Walt Disney Studios Park. There are lots of character meets here too, but we tried to distract the boys attention so they wouldn’t see them, as there was so much more to see and do there. We went on the Flying Carpets Over Agrabah, Slinky Dog Zigzag Spin and a couple of others.
Following this we went back to the hotel by 3pm to allow the boys to have naps as we had a long night ahead of us, with the Wild West show we had booked for dinner starting at 6.30pm and the famous illuminations/fireworks at 10pm.
Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show with Mickey and Friends was well and truly out of this world. In a stadium like setting with benches going all the way around, we watched and learned how the West was won, with a series of stunts and shoot outs involving cowboys and Indians, as well as cattle, buffalo, horses and not forgetting Mickey, Minnie, Pluto and Goofy. Even the Chipmunks showed their faces. There was plenty of audience participation with us being divided into 4 teams and cheering on for our team to win the horse races and obstacle courses, whilst being encouraged to wave our cowboy hats around. All this was topped off by the great Texan style meal we were served as we watched on. Beers, coke, juice and water were included in the price, which we used our hotel half board for. We paid an additional 15 euros per person to get better seating in the inner circle, which was definitely worth the extra cost, as the boys had a great view. I really can’t explain how much Maicen truly loved every minute of it. Rhys, on the other hand, didn’t know whether to laugh and clap or cry. In all honesty he’s a little bit too young for it, but we don’t know when we will be back there so we had to do it. Don’t get me wrong, he wasn’t balling and crying, I think he found the noise and the dim lighting a bit over whelming at times but at the same time he couldn’t help but join in as we were all cheering.
We initially thought we’d have time to use our fast passes to get one more ride in before the fireworks started, but actually, after the show finished at around 8.30pm, we went to the hotel to change Rhys’s nappy and freshen up and didn’t get back to the park until 9.15, by which time part of it had been closed off to prepare the fireworks display. Also, we could see that the areas with the best views were getting quite packed so we decided to park up and sit down on the floor with all the other spectators eagerly awaiting the start of the show. By this time Rhys was asleep in his pushchair and Maicen was dozing off, which we were gutted about but we wanted to stay and watch it ourselves. However as soon as it started, Rhys woke up, crying in his pushchair but as soon as I took him out, he looked on in amazement and Maicen watched the display, resting his sleepy little head on Kam’s shoulder. The pink Disney castle was illuminated with various themed displays including Sleeping Beauty, The Lion King, Peter Pan and of course Frozen just to name a few, with firework displays going off at various points, which to my surprise weren’t very loud. However this may have been masked by the blaring music which accompanied the illuminations. I have honestly never seen anything like it, it was simply breath taking. We headed back to our hotel room, although getting out of the park took some time, with two little wide awake monsters, who decided they wanted to do anything but sleep. Maicen eventually went to sleep at around 11.30pm and Rhys wanted to stay up and talk to us until midnight.
The following morning, Kam and I woke up at 6.30am and packed our suitcases and got ready before waking the boys up at 7.30am. We managed to get them dressed and ready to leave by 8am and called for the concierge to collect our luggage. Check out was swift, which allowed us to reach the park at 8.10am. We opted for a later breakfast today, as the boys didn’t seem to eat too well the previous morning so we hoped they would eat better a bit later on. We ventured into Discovery Land as there were a few rides which were age appropriate for the boys and we hadn’t been there before. This was the perfect time to get into the park. Within an hour and a half we managed to fit 5 rides in. Following this we went for breakfast as our breakfast half board was also valid at a couple of places in the park. By 10.30 we had eaten and went to Disney Studios as we wanted to go on the studio tours and watch the Motor Stunt show.
Both of the boys loved the tram tour and Maicen and Kam were fascinated by the stunt show. Again, Rhys wanted to watch but was holding on to me for dear life due to the loud noises of engines revving . We had lunch at 12pm at McDonalds in Disney Village, where there are lots of other places including Rainforest Cafe and Planet Hollywood. We wanted to get dessert in Rainforest Cafe, however you could only be seated if you were eating lunch and not just dessert. Luckily there was an American Diner just around the corner, from which we ordered ice creams.
We managed to pack so much into our last day and the boys did so well. We couldn’t have had a better day. We finished it off by viewing our professional photos at one of the Disney stores, where we purchased a package including 3 prints and 3 digital images for approximately 35 euros. We then allowed the boys to choose one present each to take back but of course Maicen chose for Rhys and himself, which didn’t bother Rhys too much anyway, as by this point he was pretty tired and happy to sit in his pushchair. We bought our fridge magnet, which is something we collect from all of our holiday destinations and I chose a pretty cool Disneyland Paris mug for myself. The toys that Maice chose were €19.99 (almost £17) and would have cost £12 in England. So it’s probably not that cost effective to buy from there but it’s all part of the experience.
We went back to the hotel for the final time at 3pm to collect our luggage and to change Rhys’s nappy etc and got to the station by 3.45pm. This is where things went a bit downhill. The queue was massive and we couldn’t understand how they anticipated getting everyone through security and onto the train within an hour. Well it was impossible, so we departed 45 minutes late. The boys were exhausted, over tired in fact, by this point, making the 3 hour journey long and tiresome with them fighting with one another and whinging the whole journey back. We ordered an Uber again to get home from King’s Cross and finally on our way home, the boys fell asleep. We tucked them into bed, not daring to change them into their pyjamas and sooner after went to bed ourselves.
The journey back was hard work, but our Disney experience was worth every second of it. I couldn’t have planned a better birthday for Maicen myself, so hats off to my amazing husband for pulling this one off. Roll on Mexico in 2 months time!