Saturday 21 February 2015

A half-term break to Disneyland Paris

Ram keeps a pretty good eye on holiday prices, and last year he spotted a great deal on Disneyland Paris this February half-term. We hesitated for a while, after all we've only just enjoyed a fantastic trip to Disneyworld in Orlando, but in the end we just couldn't resist and booked ourselves a four night stay at the Sequoia Lodge Disney hotel.

Family break to Disneyland Paris

We last visited Disneyland Paris by train for Harry's second birthday back in 2011, staying at the Santa Fe hotel. This time we drove all the way from home, using our accumulated Tesco points to cover the Eurotunnel fare. 

Children at Disneyland Paris

The Sequoia Lodge was a great choice. We had a good sized room with two double beds, and it's just a 15 minute walk from the parks with continental breakfast included. Most of the walk is through the Disney Village, past a variety of shops and restaurants. Both Disney parks (Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park) have their entrances almost next door to each other, with the station just a few minutes away. Because the parks are adjacent you can easily pop in and out between the two, and having the station so close means that central Paris is less than an hour away by train.

When you stay at a Disney hotel your park passes are included, even for your arrival and departure days. We left home after lunch the day before and stayed an extra night beforehand at a local Novotel so that we could enjoy a full day in the park on our arrival day, then we travelled back in the evening of our final day.

The parks were very busy during this half-term week. Although as a Disney hotel guest you can enter the park two hours early, we didn't find that this really helped, especially as only a few rides were actually open at that time. It was pretty cold too, although we were well wrapped up.

Disneyland Paris with small children

Harry is pretty timid when it comes to going on rides, but he's more worried about the movement of a ride rather than what he's going to see. So he loves the Phantom Manor and Blanche-Neige et les Sept Nains (Snow White) but doesn't like Pirates of the Caribbean because it has two gentle hills. Mia on the other hand loves the faster rides but found some of the dark rides scary, in particular Snow White where she was terrified of the witch and had to ride with her hands over her eyes.

Both children loved the new Ratatouille ride which is an innovative 3D adventure ride through the Paris restaurant from the film. It was very popular, and we only managed to ride it by queueing up first thing in the morning for Fastpass tickets later in the day. This was a pretty stressful experience to be honest as the queues weren't very well managed, but it was worth doing.  

Another favourite attraction was Alice's Curious Labyrinth, and the children enjoyed Peter Pan's Flight, It's a Small World and Le Pays des Contes de Fées (a boat ride through fairytale scenes). Disneyland Paris park has several walk through attractions, like Le Passage Enchanté d'Aladdin, as well as the Pocahontas Indian Village playground and Adventure Isle play areas, and underneath the castle is a dark cave occupied by a very realistic dragon. It's nice to have these areas to explore without the need to queue.

The parade took place at 5.30pm every day and was very popular, to get a space at the front you needed to be in position well over half an hour beforehand. It was pretty good, some lovely floats and of course the Frozen sisters.

Frozen float in the parade at Disneyland Paris

Every evening just before the park closed there was a performance of Disney Dreams! - a fantastic show around the castle with lasers, fireworks, music and projections onto the castle. It was very very good, probably the best evening show that we've ever seen at any of the Disney parks. Although the view was better if you were nearer the castle, you could still get a pretty good view from anywhere on Main Street, only arriving just a few minutes before it started. 

Disneyland Paris castle by night

One morning we ventured into central Paris with the children by train. Knowing that the Paris Metro is not at all pushchair friendly we left it at the hotel and found a route that avoided too much walking to save little legs. We popped up at the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, and finished at La Défense where we ate lunch. I'm really glad that we took the chance to do it, as the children really enjoyed it.

Children by the Eiffel Tower in the mist

One downside to Disneyland Paris is that eating out can be expensive, and unless you want to travel away from the parks your options are limited. We found that the food in the parks was very over-priced and not that good. We paid nearly 47 euros for a buffet meal at Buzz Lightyear's Pizza Planet and the food was not great with a poorly designed layout, although there was a good play area there for the children so we could eat in peace. We had a nice meal one evening at the Rainforest Cafe in the Disney Village, but again it wasn't cheap. There is a McDonald's if you need something quick and more budget friendly, and we took plenty of snacks with us to avoid buying lunch.

I must admit that we all felt a little Disneyed out by the end of the holiday, and it will probably be a few years until our next visit. But we had a brilliant holiday, with lots to see and do, and plenty of Disney magic. 


  1. I really want to take Bob to Disneyland Paris! I have been and I know she will love it! Glad you had a wonderful time! x


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