Disney Adventures!

Need a test post, just stealing this one that I made for Lisa’s blog :-)

We booked a trip to Euro-Disney for us and our three year old daughter arriving on a Thursday late afternoon and leaving Sunday night, we did the usual preparation before we left and asked for advice from people that had been before, checked trip advisor etc but essentially we were winging it. I’d like to give a bit of Disney advice (specifically for 3 year olds!) as well as reviewing the hotel, so apologies if you’ve heard it all before!

The Airport: we arrived at CDG airport, some strange men were hanging around the terminal asking people if they were going to Disney, maybe these were for people that booked buses or taxis but they didn’t have signs with names and looked more like touts… regardless, we never saw the people that went with them again so you decide their fate. There are two main ways to get to Disney from the airport.. shuttlebus (~60 minutes) or TGV fast train (~10 minutes).. The train was 27 euro per adult and free for our child, I think this is a little more expensive than the shuttle but I wanted to go 200mph… You may need to walk for about 10 minutes to get to either transport method so just keep following the signs for SNCF, avoid the RER as this is the underground to paris. When you get to the right area you’ll go down some escalators and if you’ve not bought your ticket online then go to the big purple TGV office and get your tickets there, the destination is Chessy Marne la Vallée which is the first stop but if you just mutter disney at them in a bad french accent and look humble and apologetic then you’ll end up with some tickets and probably told to look for a specific destination, for us it was Marseille, it wasn’t as much fun as I had thought but does only take 10 minutes and you’re at the station which is basically in Disney.

Arriving at the Disney complex: When you leave the train station you will see all the buses, you will also see your hotel over the tree line if you’re staying in the New York. You can walk to the hotel, it’s very close but you either have to enter the park and walk down the village or out on to the road and it’s a lot easier to just hop on the bus and they’ll bring you right to the door.

The New York hotel: The hotel lobby was busy but the check-in was quick and the staff were very nice to both us and our daughter, later in our stay I noticed large queues for check-in when shuttle buses were off-loading their cargo so enjoy that if you didn’t get the train :-) All the questions I had buzzing around in my head were answered before I had to ask, they provided maps, tickets, a little name tag for our daughter and an easy-pass which could be used to get in to the park from 8am-10am before the official opening time (More on this later). The easy pass can also be converted to a charge card so you can buy things in the park and have it added to your hotel bill which might save you money depending on your bank card as it’s only one transaction at the end. Breakfast runs in time slots and you’ll be asked what time you wish to go to breakfast, this is odd but probably a necessity to cope with the volume of people, I am not a morning person but if you have younger children I’d recommend 7:30am to give you plenty of chance to get to the park for pre-access. They’ll also give you a map of the hotel which describes the different areas and room locations, read it as the room numbering doesn’t make much sense!

We had a standard room with two double beds, there was nothing special about the room and it was a bit dated but it was clean and comfortable and had all the things we needed, there is a small safe that will hold your passports etc, the key is a real key so don’t lose it. There is a small old TV with a dodgy remote that we sometimes put on for background noise so we didn’t have to talk to each other while we lay half dead from all the walking, on it is a number of Disney channels from various countries but only one english one and the program selection was of no interest to a 3 year old, we were hardly in the room for this to be much of a concern though. If you’re on the ground floor then you’ll likely also have a window/door for access to the outside, handy but can’t be locked from the outside. The only complaint was that our daughter was napping one afternoon when the cleaners came in ignorning the “Do not disturb” sign, so if you’re little one is napping put the door bar on as well!

There are two restaurants on site, we only tried the park side diner which is also where breakfast is supposed to take place but more often than not during our stay it was moved to the city bar which in my opinion was much more comfortable. This will probably be your first experience of disney processed food and high traffic food production systems. Try not to concern yourself people, the food is rubbish almost everywhere and costs a fortune for what it is; accept this fact early and deal with it. I suspect there may be nicer restaurants around the place and even the other one in the hotel looks like it has a nicer menu but we didn’t invest enough time trying to find any others and just put up with the food situation. Breakfast time is a good time to grab a few bits of fruit for the day plus there are a few shops where you can get sandwiches etc, many people brought their own and I was often jealous of them and maybe in future visits we’ll bring / find food not full of empty calories. You’ll probably also by now have heard people moaning about something or other, most of these people are high maintenance with unfounded complaints… or founded but need to chill out.

Each morning (and maybe other times I don’t know) there is a meet and greet with disney characters in the lobby, usually there is one character a 5 minute break then another character, the queues for this feature (service? opportunity?) are more than acceptable and you’ll not have to wait long for your child to see their beloved Disney hero, or in our case watch them chuck the autograph book at them and run away in the opposite direction screaming.

There are other things around the hotel we didn’t use like the ice rink which because it’s seasonal was full of those big balls you get in to and run about in, the roger rabbit corner which seems to be just that, a corner (with some seats and a fake car), the swimming pool and arcade. Most of these things would interest older children but we didn’t hang around much and went in search of more age appropriate ventures in the park.

Day One
We arrived on a Thursday late afternoon and needed food so headed straight out. The hotel is at the top of the Disney Village, which is really just a street with a number of food places and shops, and we wanted to go to the other end which has a Planet Holywood. As you walk down through the Disney village answering all your childs questions and asking her to close her mouth from dropped jaw excitement you begin to feel the first tingle in your wallet as your child looks on at all the other children with various Disney apparel and Dodads. Now you’re faced with a decision, to buy or not to buy. Your child is three and can be distracted with much lies and deceipt, I’m quite sensible with cash I think but not enough to deny my daughter in this type of situation (albeit peppered with a small dose of practicality and a modicum of common sense) We didn’t buy anything right away, and took that day to survey what was available so after food which extracted about 90 euro out of us we went to the park , it was getting late but with the timezone difference Sophie was good to go for another hour or so. When we got in people were starting to gather, we suspected it was for the light show that happens before the park closes so we had a look around then picked a spot and waited…. and waited… then a bit more waiting, more people… soon we were in a sea of people many of which were holding iPads and then eventually the show was about to begin and we all stood and looked at the castle like rabbits caught in the headlights. What we were about to see was amazingly well done and I’ll not insult the creators by trying to describe it, the only thing that annoyed me was standing in a sea of fecking eejits holding up their slabs (iPads) capturing memories for later reminisicing. It would be nice for people to stop and experience it with their own eyes rather than through a ridiculously big camera. First day complete and back to the hotel for some sleep as we were all knackered.

Day Two
Friday morning, Minor grumbling this morning due to the music we heard until after midnight followed by a major facepalm when we realised we left the window open. We trundled over to breakfast in search of sustinence and got some fruit to take with us before setting of on our proper Disney adventure. The 8am-10am pre-access allows hotel guests to gain access prior to opening, there is only a few rides available at this time but thankfully it’s most of the ones that a 3 year old can go on! (Dumbo, teacups, smallworld, the carousel and peter pan if it wasn’t shut while we were there), queueing for rides was quick and sometimes there was practically no queue. Sophie was a bit unsure of some of the rides and needed some encouragement (physical dragging) but over the next few days grew to enjoy the rides.

After the park opened the crowds were not that bad, we casually walked about and probably had lunch somewhere and I’m sure I probably grumbled about the cost and then we went back to the hotel so Sophie could have a nap. This is when the cracks began to form around the sensible approach to purchasing items but it came fast and swift and a trip to the main Disney shop occured with a princess dress at 60 euro but she never shuts up about princesses and she near wet herself looking at all the dresses, don’t worry I’m sure there are plenty of other trigger items out there for you dads with boys! As a father I can tell you now that you will buy that dress for your daughter, you just will… yes it’s over 50 quid and costs more than anything you’ve bought yourself in the last year but you know you’re going to because the additional enjoyment and happiness added to her Disney trip will increase exponentially with each step she takes as a princess.

Anyway… I started this as a review for trip advisor, didn’t actually advise on much and had a rant but I’m bored now … I’ll let Lisa finish :P


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