Top tip number 1. Keep the trip a surprise if you can. I think our little ladies may have exploded with excitement had they known we were going and with no sense of time of how long a week or to be honest even a couple of days is it would have been torture for them.. and us! We told the girls we were off to France and then revealed exactly where just before we were about to leave. Here's how it went down:
We booked our trip with Disneyland Paris directly to make the most of an offer they had on giving us 2 extra nights and 2 extra days free with free entry into the park for children under 7. Having originally thought we would go for 3 nights, 4 days this took us to 5 nights, 6 days at the Wild West themed Hotel Cheyenne which was about a 15 minute walk from the parks and a 10 minute walk to the Disney village. We stayed in one of the newly decorated Texas Rooms which are Toy Story themed and provided a perfect base for our stay. We opted to travel by Eurostar rather than flying as we are less than an hour by train to London and connecting to the Eurostar from Kings Cross is super easy. It's worth knowing that you can get significantly reduced fares on your train travel to Kings Cross St Pancras if traveling by Eurostar to Paris by contacting Eurostar Domestic Travel on 01233 617 913. Booking our Eurostar as part of a package with Disneyland Paris gave us Disney Express Tickets which meant that when the train arrived at Disneyland Paris with three (ok two) very excited little ladies we could go straight into the park and having dropped our bags at the designated point at the station they were taken straight to our hotel and the magic could begin straight away. This for me was fab and one of the many reasons why booking directly is top tip number 2.
Top tip number 3 - buy some Disney treats before you go as everything is very expensive when you are there. We spent a few weeks collecting bits and bobs to give the girls on the train to keep them busy. They were so happy with them and they definitely kept them busy as well as hopefully making the journey feel as special as we knew the trip would be. They included a travel sized Disney princess colouring pad and crayons, a minnie tsum tsum, stickers, a Disney lego mini figure, a frozen themed chocolate lollipop, a disney kinder egg, some mini princess travel books and an olaf pen. Most of this was sourced from eBay and supermarkets. We also got the girls some minnie ear headbands for less than £2 each from eBay before we went which they didn't take off the whole time we were there, they were about 13 euros each in the parks so I was really pleased we had pre purchased some as the girls were too little to tell the difference.
|Just about to leave in their Minnie Ears!|
Top tip number 4 - We packed some of the girl's princess dresses so they could wear them there. It was wonderful watching them skip through Disneyland in their Elsa and Anna dresses, they really felt like real princesses. They wore them to the frozen sing along show and because they were dressed as princesses we were given seats a in special princess area of the theatre which the little ladies just loved. It's so nice for them to be able to wear the outfits when they watch the parade too or when they meet their favourite characters. Again they are expensive to buy there so worth taking with you if your children like this kind of thing.
I would also recommend taking lots of snacks as food is expensive to buy in the parks and healthy food is also tricky to come by. I took a whole bag filled with things like dried fruit to nibble on and some mini packets of biscuits, crackers and crisps which kept the little ladies busy while in queues. I also packed some large zip lock bags and at breakfast time popped what the little ladies hadn't eaten into one of these bags and they had breakfast on the go later or ate it for lunch. It was a continental style buffet breakfast with croissants, ham, cheese and little french rolls. It seemed a shame for it to go in the bin and the girls ate very little of what we made them at breakfast time as it was quite busy and overwhelming in the buffet hall, i'd say this saved us about £30 a day, as we didn't need to buy lunch which is why it's top tip number 5. Fruit is quite hard to find in the park but I did find a stall selling it in Adventureland near to the Aladdin meet and greet area which sold apples and bananas and another just inside the Walt Disney Studios one afternoon. They were 1.50 euros but Miss Tibs kept asking me for fruit and they were devoured so we happily paid this, I think it's worth knowing that you can get some in these spot if you want it so that's top tip number 6 :)
On the subject of food top tip number 7 is research and plan how you're going to eat while you're there. It is absolutely worth booking some if not all of your restaurants in advance, firstly to guarantee a reservation as the popular ones get booked up quickly, particularly around normal childrens mealtimes.
We booked Cafe Mickey and the ratatouille restaurant Chez Remy about 2 weeks before we went as we knew these were definitely places we wanted to eat. Both were fantastic experiences and we all really enjoyed it, the food although at a premium was very good. Meeting the characters as we ate in Cafe Mickey was brilliant and they girls loved it.
Our favourite meal was definitely in Chez Remy and felt like a well deserved treat after a busy day in the park. We also ate at the rainforest cafe in the Disney Village which again was a wonderful experience with good food. I think expecting food to be expensive and budgeting for it and planning where you want to eat in advance really helped. We also ate a buffet style meal at our hotel one evening and then had some cheaper more snacky meals at the Earl of Sandwich and Mcdonalds. Before we went I spent a long time reading about all the restaurants and viewing sample menus on an independent website called www.dlpguide.com: it was so useful and gave me a good overview. We didn't book a meal plan as 2 of our children were under 3 and the children's menu starts from age 3 upwards. We were able to order just one child's set menu and split it between all 3 girls as the portions are generous and they also shared from our plates. The staff happily offered extra plates for our two youngest. I think if we revisit when all three girls are older a dining plan may work out better value as you can use your dining plan vouchers in all the restaurants and top up with cash if the cost of your meal exceeds your dining plan allowance.
Top top number 8 kind of follows suit in that it involves planning. I really recommend doing as much research as you can before you go and putting together a loose itinerary as it will make your trip so much more enjoyable and you'll have more time to have fun rather than trying to figure everything out when you are there. I read a lot of other blogs and watched a lot of vlogs before I went which were full of handy hints and tips and nuggets of golden Disney knowledge, one of my favourites is the Trip Advisor Disneyland Paris Forum. There is just so much to see and do with lots of shows, meet and greets and parades etc you could easily miss if you don't. Obviously make it something that is flexible as it's all about having fun here! .
Top tip number 9 is to get hold of the the most up to date show and parade programme which you can find on the Disneyland Paris website, it does change regularly so worth checking before you go. You can also pick these up along with park maps as you go into the park but who wants to be studying schedules when there are rides to go on! I also downloaded the official Disneyland Paris mobile App which includes a map with current queue times which was really helpful, particularly for things like the very popular princess pavilion when you can meet a princess.
Top tip number 10 is to take everything with you that will make your day as easy as possible like a pushchair. It's so tiring spending a whole day in the park as an adult and a long walk back to the hotels so I can only imagine what it would have been like for our little ladies if we hadn't had our fabulous Out n About Double Nipper with us . The girls sat and napped in it when they were tired or if it was really busy and we needed to keep them together in a crowd. It was also great for popping coats and other bits and bobs in that we would otherwise have had to carry. I also took a sling for the baby which meant she could see what was going on and also freed up a space in the pushchair, pac a macs for the forecast showers we had while there and water bottles to fill up. There are water fountains outside all of the toilets, we didn't buy any drinks at all while we were there apart from at dinner time.
Things not to miss...
- The parade is amazing, we watched it twice once on main street which had a great atmosphere but was very busy and once by the turrets in Fantasyland just down from Pizzeria Bella Notte. The latter was our favourite spot as it was close to the start and meant once the last float had come by we could go on some rides or queue for the Princess Pavillion while most other people were still watching the parade.
- The fireworks are just spectacular. They are on late (park closing time) but worth keeping the children up for just once, our little ladies couldn't believe their eyes and thought it was literally magic. A late afternoon nap and a slow morning the next day and you're good to go.
- Meeting characters was a highlight of the trip for the little ladies, they got so excited and were over the moon to have a cuddle, picture and ask them to write in their autograph book. It's worth leaving a blank page next to each signature so you can print out and stick in the co-ordinating photos when you get home. Character dining was a brilliant way to meet lots of characters in a short space of time.
- Our favourite rides were the teacups and its a small world in Fantasyland, and the Ratatouille ride in the Walt Disney Studios park is amazing and well worth the long queues or getting to the park early for and snapping up a fast pass which gives you an allotted time to ride.
It sounds so cliched but we had the most magical week, the little ladies absolutely adored it and so did we. We spent quite a lot of the holiday trying not to cry at their wonder at everything and at their pure joy on the rides and everything they saw. The moment you first walk into the park and they see that iconic castle is indescribable and super special. The looks on their faces as they meet a princess or cuddle Minnie Mouse are almost impossible to capture. My last tip isn't numbered but is simply to take lots of photos, drink it all in, and make some beautiful memories with your family, it's a holiday you will never forget.
If you have visited Disneyland Paris and have any other tips please do leave them for readers in the comments below. Thank you.