Our trip to Disneyland Paris

Back in February half term my family and I had a wicked few days in Paris including 2 days at Disneyland Paris, which was so amazing! A few people have asked me to share my experience so here we go!

Id like to start by saying that I am by no means a Disneyland expert but I can share with you what we did! hopefully it helps anyone out there that is thinking of going themselves.

We booked our trip while I was on maternity leave so we were doing it on a budget, we kept costs down in a number of ways (some of which wouldn’t suit everyone, I appreciate that).

Accommodation 

Disney hotels work out really expensive, you can get deals with meal plans and park tickets included which obviously makes it more cost effective but we also planned to spend some time in Paris so we wanted something conveniently located for both. We stayed in an Airbnb in Serris which, by train, is only 5 minutes from Disney and about 45 minutes from the Eiffel Tower. The location was PERFECT it was right opposite Val d’Europe, which for those that haven’t been before, is a HUGE shopping centre just outside of Paris. They have loads of shops (including a supermarket and pharmacy) and restaurants (patisseries too) there is a high end retail area and a small soft play. Out one end of the shopping centre is the train station, which is just one stop away Disney (the stop is Chessy) and is only costs a couple euros each – children under 10 are free, One of the days we bought a travel card for Paris and that was about 45 euros in total.

The apartment was good, with secure parking and everything you would need (high chair, travel cot, toys) and the hosts were really accommodating, it was lovely inside and had a balcony.

Travel 

We drove to Paris on the Eurotunnel. The journey there took 7 hours (that included about 1 hour for the Eurotunnel, getting on and off etc). The way back was more of a mission as we got caught in traffic following an accident on the m25 but that can happen anywhere. To keep our girls busy I made my older 2 a game each of “pass the parcel” where for every half an hour or so ,that we were driving they could unwrap another layer that had questions designed to build excitement about our trip like “discuss what you are looking forward to the most” and “sing your favourite Disney song”…it helped kill the time a little. The Eurotunnel is grim but its quick! The journey in France was fairly direct and nice and chilled as we weren’t anywhere near central Paris. As I mentioned our car was in a secure parking lot for our trip and we went into the shopping centre on the last day after we checked out and the parking there was free and easy too.

Disney Park Tickets 

Our park tickets were just the standard ones, you can keep an eye out for discounts all over the place, i cant remember where we got ours in the end to be honest. We opted for entrance to both parks on both days but we only went into Disney Studios for 1 ride, its not as nice in there so we weren’t too bothered about staying too long. The rides in that one are more suitable for older kids so if you have older ones it would probably be more of interest then it was to us.

Food

Food is obviously an area where you can spend a fortune! We had 2 days in Disney so one day we booked tickets for the Buffalo Bills show and had our dinner there and the other night we ate just outside the Disney Village at Vapiano which sells Italian cuisine – the food was really nice and it was really reasonably priced. The restaurant has a “concept” though which can be frustrating – look below for my review on both,

When we were in the parks we took our own lunches  as you’re allowed to bring in food and they have picnic areas. We cooked dinner in the apartment the other days (much more convenient with a baby anyway!) and we didn’t really have time in the parks to buy snacks or drinks so those were kept to a minimum.

Our days in Disney

Security for the parks is really good, everyone is screened before entering the village so its nice and safe. Once you have been through security there is Disney village where you can access shops and restaurants – you dont need a ticket to enter this bit.  Then you go through to either of the 2 parks. The Magic Kingdom is AMAZING!! its so magical and pretty with the Sleeping Beauty castle, beautiful shop fronts, lovely areas and some great rides.

My favourite rides here were Peter Pans flight – the queue was always HUGE so either go first thing if you can or get your fast pass for it. Its worth the wait thought and is a good one for all the family. My other favourite was Big Thunder Mountain.  Its a Small World is a classic but is the oddest experience ever, so make sure you see that one too. We didn’t really do character meet and greets as we weren’t really bothered, There are characters walking around the park and if you want a picture with one of them you will need to be ready as they dont stop! if you are othered about this just have your camera in your pocket not your bag (as I found out….missing a photo op with Mickey! boo).

 

Babies are allowed to sit on your lap on any ride where there is no height restriction and you can also do baby swap so you only need to queue for a ride once. when one of you gets to the front, tell one of the staff members you would like to do a baby swap and they will give you a ticket so your companion can either go straight to the exit and skip the queue completely or they can join the fast pass queue (ask the staff which one as it different for different rides).

You can hire a push chair in the park which is 25 euros a day and isnt comfortable enough for really little ones but is strong enough to support the weight of older ones. take sure you take a bike lock whether you take your own or you rent one to avoid them going missing.

The parades are so good, we didn’t wait to get a good seat we just held our kids up to see and that was fine. The atmosphere is great and the floats are really something else.

One night we went to Buffalo Bills Wild West Dhow – when you get in you get a cowboy hat that you can take home and you are assigned a team. once you are seated they run a show (I wasn’t really following the story – I will explain in a bit) which is really fun, the audience are really involved and the show has horses, cows, guns the works! the food was alright, ribs and chicken and potatos, nothing too special but fine. They had childrens and vegi options so im sure they cater for different dietary requirements. My enjoyment was limited as we had our 1 year old with us,. Children under 3 are free but they dont get a seat or food so my 1 year old was climbing all over me, putting her hands in my food and drinks. one bonus is that its unlimited beer (and other drinks of course). My other 2 girls enjoyed it and it was fun so if you have children over 3 id definitely recommend it!

The dinner we had at Vapiano was much nicer food and a lot cheaper BUT they have this “concept”, now in my opinion when you enter a restaurant you shouldnt be asked if you know the “concept” but here you do….you go op to the counter  and order your own food then once its cooked you go up again to get it and take it to your own table. It was all fine but I was tired and in a mood so wasn’t best pleased. that being said I would recommend going there even though we had to carry our own food up in the lift to get to our table.

After seeing the Buffalo Bills show we sadly missed the fireworks and the weather meant they were cancelled the second day 🙁 but we watched the projections and they were my favourite thing ever! I got all emotional watching them remembering how much of an amazing time we had had and I was sad it was going to be over as it was on the last night.

The only ride we went on in the Disney Studios was Ratatouille and that was so good!!! it was a long wait for that one and I wasn’t in the best mood but it was brilliant! you get 3D glasses and travel around as a mouse on the floor of the restaurant. If you dont mind going on as a single rider then you can get on much quicker. inside the park there are lots of good photo opportunities including Buzz and Monsters inc. we didn’t really see much else so I cant really say much more about it.

Our day in Paris

With our really action packed Disney days we had a fairly chilled day in Paris, we just went to look at the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre (for some lady bug and cat noir poses) and Arc du Carrousel. We also went on a boat ride up the Seine. It was just what we needed in the middle of our other busy days. It was nice to visit and id like to go back to see more.

Its really difficult to go into detail about what an amazing time we had at Disney, its intense…theres loads of Facebook groups to follow for tips but honestly I found it put too much pressure on our trip and personally I didn’t enjoy it until I relaxed. Thought one of the groups set up messaging groups for people going at the same time and that was really helpful for sharing tips and information. There are a whole host of shows and character breakfasts that we didn’t do – the girls weren’t bothered – and we didn’t have time to go in the shops really so we actually didn’t spend as much as we thought, its expensive obviously but really it wasn’t as much as it could have been!

Local charity St Albans Mencap Goes Live

St Albans Mencap is a local charity who providing services to children and adults with varying learning disabilities, including physical, emotional, social and/or behavioural.

It is such a great organisation and its dedicated staff have been working really hard to provide a great programme of online sessions during lockdown to support these families. Follow them on Facebook.

I chatted to Stacey Smith, Senior Manager of Children and Adult Services from St Albans Mencap, to find out more!

Stacey – 

Unable to support our children, adults and families in the typical way recently, myself (Stacey) and Kelsey put our heads together and decided if we can’t meet in person we will instead bring the fun to each of their homes!
We are very lucky at St Albans Mencap to have lots of very talented staff members who were keen to jump on board and get involved in making it such a huge success. Without our talented staff dedicating their time to host and plan these interactive sessions, it wouldn’t be the success it is today! (Shout out to Sandi, Heather, Zarqa, Ellie, Marc, Lois, Pete and Sam)

We are now into our 4th week of live programmes, running at least one interactive live session per day and have a fun array of cooking, drama, music and craft sessions to keep our children and adults busy. We also have two visual/Makaton story sessions for a bit of down time, and this week have developed our first Venturers/Teenager hangout session to allow a catch up and chill zone for our Teenagers, with music and a quiz.

The feedback on the sessions has been overwhelming…..
‘These Zoom sessions are the highlight of her day’

‘You guys are doing a great job for families, thank you so much, it gives a bit of continuity with normal life…’

‘Honestly the SNAP sessions are a life saver at the moment. M loves them. Thank you all for doing such fantastic things! They are amazing! ’

To come and join in with the fun of the live sessions, download our home activity pack of ideas to keep you busy at home, or take part in our weekly challenge like our Facebook page to get constant updates.
Alternatively, you can email staceysmith@stalbansmencap.org.uk or kelseyferrari@stalbansmencap.org.uk to request more info and get secure event links.

 

Stacey Smith has been at St Albans Mencap since 2013 and is Senior Manager of Children and Adult Services