“Let’s book Disney Land and surprise the girls,” I said. “It will be a a magical dream come true for them,” I said. Little did I realise at that point and up until 15 days later, that it would in fact be a dream for us so called “grown ups” too.
Having been utterly spoiled in the past, usually only having to travel 20 minutes up the road to the Docks in order to reach our holiday destination, we were really unsure that flying and possible airport hassle was for us. We had to constantly remind ourselves that were doing this for the girls. Right? (Yes that is actually a rhetorical question, to my past self).
Reaching our destination
Looking back, the journey to Paris was faultless. We were picked up by the driver at 4am. Myself and the girls whipped out our neck pillows as if it were a Western saloon shoot out, and slept for the entire journey to London’s Gatwick Airport. My husband has since informed me that he felt obliged to s.t.a.y a..w…a….k…..e because it became evident to him that the taxi driver was so clearly used to being up at that ridiculous hour.
We all breezed through check in like professionals, it might have been something to do with the fact that we were each only carrying cabin luggage, not hold luggage. At first I didn’t know the difference; if your read my blog or follow me on instagram you will know that we don’t fly. Easyjet were really helpful in advising us on how everything worked before we set off. I called them pre-flight for some much needed advice. Yes I know, I was surprised too. I’ve read and heard mixed reviews. However, It is my job to be honest to you, my readers, and our outward flight experience was as it says on the label – easy. We had smoothly and safely landed in Paris Charles De Gaulle just 40 minutes after take off.
Disney Hotel – Santa Fe
We booked our Disney holiday just 15 days before we landed in Paris, therefore Mary, the lovely and patient Travel Agent from Thomas Cook was somewhat under pressure, meeting our needs. Not that you would’ve known, Mary was calm and friendly. In fact, I’m sure she had a blast sat there for almost 2.5 hours with us; me in person and my husband on the end of a telephone.
We didn’t get to chose our accommodation on this occasion, remember, we only booked 15 days beforehand. We were collected from the airport by an aptly named “Magic shuttle bus” and transported to our destination. The journey took approximately 40 minutes, (thankfully we were the second drop off) to our hotel – Santa Fe – a Disney Cars themed accommodation. We were not sure what the girls might make of this; They were open mouthed and wide eyed when we pulled up outside, as was the entire occupation of the shuttle bus, who were gasping in delight, on approach. It has to be said, we all felt rather special stepping off this bus.
Staff at Santa Fe were on hand immediately to help with us new arrivals. We had stepped into a seemingly different world, full of Mexican themed decor, all inspired by the Disney movie, Cars. The staff at the hotel and actually the Disney parks have fantastic uniforms, I’m not talking smart suites and tailored dresses. I am talking all out, in character, themed uniforms. Whilst checking in we were informed about absolutely everything from travels to and from the park, to our flight home! Neither my husband or I had any questions to ask. We thought this was quite something considering we were Disney Land first timers.
Our room, was spacious, compromising of two double beds, a good sized bathroom with a shower and a bath – and yes, the all important hotel miniature toiletries were included, complete with Mickey mouse heads for lids, needless to say, they made it back to England! A hairdryer and electric shaver/electric toothbrush adapter was also present. In addition, the room had a T.V, of which you can set the language, a safety deposit box, a ceiling fan and a large hanging area for clothes. The decor, as I’ve mentioned before is Disney Cars themed, all orange and red hues with a vibrant border, featuring Lightning McQueen, Mater, and many more. Our girls loved it.
There are literally hundreds of restaurants to choose from. We had booked half board (breakfast and Dinner) with our Disney package. We were informed by Mary, our friendly Travel Agent, that we needed to book our restaurants before we left. Well I’m afraid I was far too excited to think about that at the time of booking and whoopsie, I forgot to pre-book anything. Luckily our good friends at Santa Fe were ready and waiting to help. After passing them our food vouchers, we were soon booked in to many different restaurants throughout Disney Land, including our hotel, another Disney hotel and a couple on the park itself. We did scrap one of the vouchers mind, in favor of Planet Hollywood (which is not included in the choice). This was for a special occasion; our daughters 10th birthday. You can’t miss Planet Hollywood, it’s located between the two parks. The food overall was delicious in all of the restaurants we ate in, however Planet Hollywood did seem to claim first prize, nominated by our daughters, one is incredibly fussy, as I’ve mentioned before in a previous blog, and the other is like me, a foodie. The menu here is exactly what you’d expect from Planet Hollywood.
Disney Land Park
Mind blowing, magical mayhem and madness are the words that spring to the forefront of my mind when I think of the main park. We always cruise, or have done since we became addicted in 2013. However, many people had mentioned how the girls would love Disney and advised us to try Paris so that we didn’t have too far too fly. It’s not that we don’t like the flying part, it is more the airport, luggage restrictions and waiting around. Anyhow, we booked Disney on a “what can we do in the half term” whim. I honestly believed that I could take or leave the hustle and bustle of Disney. I was completely and utterly wrong!
The day we arrived was a wash out for my youngest daughter and myself for she had been quite poorly beforehand. If you didn’t know already, both of my girls were born with a rare blood disorder that causes them to have a low immune system, consequently illness is common practice for us. This again is another reason why we book cruises, (on board doctors and a helipad) Anyhow, back to the matter in hand. The journey to Paris had wiped her out, therefore we both slept until the evening. My husband took my eldest, excited daughter to the park for the afternoon where they watched the Princess/Pirate parade and experienced a few of the rides. This was great for us because it meant they knew exactly what to do already. We all headed back to the park together that evening and thankfully the park was relatively calm, human traffic wise. We managed to get on 3/4 of the rides that we popped down on our to do list before we left home. The rides will be featured in another blog at a later date. One ride that we all found rather special was Big Thunder Mountain.
Walt Disney Studio Park
The studio park is relatively smaller than its neighbour, however its just as big fun wise. We didn’t spend as much time in this park, purely because it didn’t take as much time to get around. We made sure between us that we went on each and every ride inside, well except for one; Hollywood Tower hotel! My husband insisted the only reason he didn’t go on was because we ran out of time, yeah-yeah, cue the laughing face emoji! The girls were practically glued to the parachute ride and Toy Story’s RC Racer. Collectively our favorite in this park was the train tour behind the movie set, with phenomenal special effects; pyrotechnics and gallons of water.
For me, in fact for all of us, the illuminations projected off of Cinderella’s castle was worth every single penny alone. It became evident an hour and a half before the illuminations that they were going to be exceptional. Tourists were setting up for the show as if knowing exactly what to expect. The popcorn and toffee apple cart close by must’ve made a substantial amount of money on this night. Come to think of it, they must make an inconceivable amount in a week, as the illuminations and fireworks are on every night. I believe this is part of their 25th anniversary celebrations. I cannot put into words how overwhelmed I felt by this truly enchanting display. I took a minute to survey my surroundings, each and every person had wide eyes and even wider open mouths, all completely mesmerized, stood in awe.
Journey back to London
We all woke up on the Friday morning with heavy hearts, all knowing that this was the day we had to leave such a magical, almost surreal place. Despite this, we were determined to make the most of the day. We were up and out of our hotel as quick as I book cruise holidays. The parks were particularly busy on the Friday, this meant we were only able to pick one ride each, one last time. I know, there are far worse problems to have, which is what we explained to the girls and ensured they knew this was a blessing not a problem or hindrance.
We made our way back to the hotel where we were picked up by the “magic shuttle” returning us to Paris Charles Du Gaulle Airport. The journey was far quicker than anticipated, consequently we had more time hanging around at the airport. We had all been consumed by tiredness at this point. The news soon spread around our boarding gate that the flight was delayed by 1 hour and 45 minutes, more waiting, more tiredness, more festering grumpiness! After landing in London there were some problems with exiting the plane, this further delayed us by another hour. By the time we reached home it was 2am, needless to say we all went straight to the comfort and warmth of our own beds and dreamt of magical, enchanted places that really do exist…
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Forever grateful. Claire xx