Planning Our First Family Visit to Disneyland Paris

BattleDad and I have been to Disneyland Paris (or EuroDisney as we still refer to it) two times. Each time it was a special anniversary for both Disney and my husband. You see my husband worked at Disneyland Paris for a year as part of the opening crew in 1992. Our two visits coincided with the 15th and 20th anniversary of the opening of Disneyland Paris. Well, this year is the 25th anniversary and so we are due another trip but this time things are a little different. You see it will be our first family visit to Disneyland Paris, as I mentioned in our holiday plans for 2017. Not only is it our first family visit and hubby’s 25th anniversary, but BattleKid will be almost four and my 40th birthday is looming this year too. So how do we even begin planning our first family visit to Disneyland Paris?planning our first family visit to disneyland paris

Firstly, we are going with friends so needed to choose a mutually agreed time to go. Personally, we wanted to leave it as late in the year as possible so it would be close to both my birthday (December) and BattleKid’s in January. Late November or December seemed like a good prospect when we started planning our first family visit to Disneyland Paris. Plus, my hubby reliably informed us that Disneyland will be decorated for Christmas so there would be just a little extra magic going around. So, we decided on the first week in December.

Next, we are going mid-week rather than at the weekend. Our friends had a quick look on the Disneyland Paris website and saw an “Extra Nights Free” promotion, so both couples were soon checking this out. But planning our first family visit to Disneyland Paris is a minefield, so I turned to the blogging community to get their hints and tips to help with our own planning.

Tips for planning our first family visit to Disneyland Paris

Where to stay

I never realised there were so many hotels associated with Disneyland Paris. I thought there was the main one, and maybe one or two others, but there are no less than seven Disney hotels, and a host of other partner hotels to choose from. Jennifer from My Mummys Pennies advises to stay somewhere fitting to your budget and you will get out of it what you need. She stayed at both the Santa Fe and Newport Bay Hotels, while Anna from Squats Sass and Saggy Skin has stayed at the Sequoi Lodge. Both Carol from Family Makes and Corrina (my sister-in-law), travel guru at Cherry Sue Doin the Do, have stayed at the Davy Crockett Ranch. Carol says the Davy Crockett Ranch is cheaper than the other hotels, the characters still visit this hotel, and her children are still taking about this accommodation (with its great leisure facilities) to this day!

What to pack

I know for a fact that Paris can be chilly in December. Our first visit as a couple was for my birthday at the end of December and I got very cold waiting in the queue to go up the Eiffel Tower on my 30th birthday, so I know we’re going to need jumpers and coats. I’ll need to fish these out of storage as they’re hardly going to be worn in Portugal. Beth from Twinderelmo has advised taking lip balm too as she found her lips got quite sore when she visited during winter. Lisa from That British Betty says to bring lots of snacks as those in the park are mega bucks. Jennifer from My Mummys Pennies has advised taking layers that are easy to take on and off as you go in and out of places. Janet from Falcondale Life says to pack a cool bag so you can pack it full of snacks and sandwiches form the breakfast buffet as again, lunch and snacks in the park are expensive. Kellie from My Little Babog advises to buy your character costumes, autograph book and pen at home and bring them with you to save spending a fortune in the park. And she also says bring your own raincoat as the ponchos are expensive and aren’t as good as raincoats. To sum up, as we are going in December, we’ll need layers and warm coats, raincoats, character costumes, autograph book and pen, and a cool bag with lots of snacks. Better book two hold bags so!

Where to eat

Quite a few of the bloggers, including Corrina, Kellie, Lisa and Janet have said to raid the breakfast buffet as lunch/snacks are expensive in the park and to bring snacks with you. Up until last year breakfast was included in a Disneyland hotel stay but it is now extra as part of the meal plan. I think we are planning to go with at least breakfast, so I’ll be following their advice and filling a cool bag to bring in with us. I might also pack snacks into our suitcases to bring with us. Kaz from Ickle Pickles Life reiterated this tip about bringing in your own snacks, but also says to bring in your own water bottles and refill them from the water fountains in the parks, saving you loads on drinks inside!

That said I do want to do at least one or two special meals as we have a few celebrations during our stay so we may book breakfast with the characters. Both Jennifer and Kellie have recommended Café Mickey for a meal so I think I’ll be considering that. Kerry from All About A Mini Norris, who is one of the biggest Disney fans I know, says to ensure you book your table service restaurants well in advance. This will guarantee a reservation plus ensure there is no queuing up and being disappointed when you can’t get in where you want. Point noted Kerry, thank you!

What to see and do

Beth says Christmas is a magical time to visit Disney so to make sure we don’t miss the extra Christmas parade. Sarah from Boo Roo and Tigger Too told us that her favourite ride is the Peter Pan Ride

So magical and you feel as though you are soaring through the skies of Neverland.

Evany Carr, who’s mum Michelle blogs at All Things Baby and Me, has actually been part of a Disney parade. How cool is that! If you’d like to know how that was possible, watch her YouTube video. Lisa also says the parades and fireworks are not to be missed.

Michelle from Playdays and Runways and her family always go to Disneyland in December as she feels it’s the best time of year to go. She has said we must definitely watch the tree lighting ceremony which happens nightly at 6pm in the town square and is simply magical. Mickey and friends gather round to tell a festive story and sing Christmas songs. Then the lights go out in main street before coming back on one-by-one until every light on the Christmas tree has been lit. She said

even after years of watching it I still get goosebumps.

Beth has also said that you can visit Santa when at Disney around Christmas to get you in the mood so that might well be on our to-do list!

Other hints and tips

Nicola from All Things Spliced said that when you go into the park early in the morning you should head left. Most visitors head right and work their way around anti-clockwise. So, by going left and clockwise you should beat most of the crowds. Kellie from My Little Babog went one further and said when queuing for rides, queue on the left. Unusual but great hints to remember. The other big tip from many people was to bring your character costumes from home and dress your little ones in them. Those dressed up get more attention from the characters so it’s worth doing it. Corrina’s daughter got special preferential treatment when she was dressed as Elsa from Frozen, and she also saw a little boy dressed as Darth Vader get special treatment too on the Star Wars ride. Shopping list: must buy character costumes!

I have to thank everyone who has helped us in planning our first family visit to Disneyland Paris so far. I’m armed with hints and tips (and a growing shopping list). We are in the final stages of deciding where to stay and whether we stick to a budget or blow it completely as it’s a special occasion. Corrina wrote a great post, Just Say Yes – The Art of Bagging a Good Travel Deal, which I’m mulling over and I’ve got Kellie’s 30 Awesome Dinseyland Paris Tips and Tricks – EuroDisney post bookmarked! Kerry’s Disneyland Paris Accommodation post is also being read with a fine tooth-comb to help us make a final accommodation decision.planning our first family visit to disneyland paris

All that’s left to do in planning our first family visit to Disneyland Paris is to make a final decision on accommodation, book our flights and start getting excited for an awesome few days!

Is there anything else you could add to the great advice we’ve been given so far?

Cath x

planning our first family visit to disneyland paris planning our first family visit to disneyland paris planning our first family visit to disneyland paris

Tenerife Day 8: 30/12/2016

We were up for 7.30 so got washed and dressed before having breakfast, our last of our Christmas holiday. While I got on with the final bits of packing, BattleKid watched the Lion Guard. Thank god for Disney Junior. I also managed to finish my book too, a first in a long time. I don’t get the chance to read books much these days unless it’s in bed before sleep.

We checked out at 11am and left our luggage in the luggage room at reception as we had a while to wait for the taxi to the airport. We headed to the themed restaurant at the sea front for a cuppa and some cakes. BattleKid also had a final play in the playground.

At 12.15 we asked reception to call a taxi and were still waiting 30 minutes later. It was a bit ridiculous. BattleKid fell asleep and stayed asleep until we had checked in for our flight at 1.20 and headed through security. I had kept an eye on the departures of Bristol Airport and thankfully our plane had left on time from the UK so we were looking good for a better time of it than our journey to Tenerife.

We got through security no problem and went to find somewhere for lunch. We had plenty of time before our flight was due to take off so found a seat in O’Leary’s bar and had a rather nice lunch. After eating up, BattleKid insisted on having a ride on one of the amusement cars. It combined a ride with a photo, but typically he was looking down when the camera took the picture. What a waste of money!Tenerife Holiday Diaries Day 8

We walked around the airport, getting a few bits for the plane before heading to our gate when called. However boarding was delayed until 16.45, 15 minutes after our departure time. So much for getting home on time. We then sat on the plane until the doors finally closed at 5.10pm. The captain made an announcement after the doors closed to say they had been on the ground for 2 hours and he had been calling for passengers since 4.10pm! For some reason there was congestion in the terminal and although he and our plane were ready for an on time departure, the ground staff couldn’t get their act together! We took off at 5.28 and had a few snacks on the plane to tide us over.

BattleKid fell asleep on the way home from the airport and we transferred him straight to bed when we got home in the hope Santa would make a special delivery that night as we’d not been home Christmas Eve. And he did!

Although we enjoyed some quality time together, it wasn’t quite the holiday we had hoped for. We came away feeling quite disappointed and let down, particularly where the hotel and pool were concerned. I somehow don’t think we’ll be going away for Christmas again, unless it is to Ireland to spend it with family. Would I recommend Tenerife as a destination? Yes, but I would stay in a bigger resort where there are more things to see and do. I wouldn’t recommend our hotel for Christmas or any other time of the year. It needs some serious updating and a face lift.

Thanks for reading our Tenerife Holiday Diaries.

Cath x

Tenerife Day 7: 29/12/2016

As per usual, we were up before 7 so pottered around before getting dressed and going downstairs for breakfast. After filling our bellies we headed for the nearest pharmacy to get some cream for BattleKid who by this stage was tearing itchy, especially along his neckline!

The pharmacist confirmed it was heat rash and off we went back to the hotel with the sole purpose of trying to keep his mind off the itch. It reminded me of our damn chicken pox episode in Lanzarote a few years ago!

We stopped at the playground and let BattleKid run around for a while before heading up to our room to allow me to start packing us. BattleKid chilled out on the sofa with Disney Junior on the TV for a while and then playing with his stickers. I usually reserve them for the plane but this was an exceptional circumstance.Tenerife Holiday Diaries Day 7

We went for lunch just before 1 before heading back to our room. We had hoped to spend some time beside the pool but the breeze was just too much and we knew BattleKid would want to get in and end up freezing again. The cold wind against wet skin just wasn’t worth the hassle of trying to get him out of the pool. So we forwent the pool which was a shame. Had the pool been properly heated like advertised we’d have spent a lot more time in it.

After mostly packing us I read for a bit before having a snooze on the bed. BattleKid even got 20 minutes himself. Gone are the days of 2 hour marathon naps and boy do I miss them!

Our usual nightly routine of showers, dinner, bedtime and Mr Robot rounded off our last night in Tenerife. It had been a bit of a mixed holiday all round. Strange to be away at Christmas, nice to see some of the island and go to Loro Parque. Epic in terms of making a huge decision about our family’s future but disappointed with the hotel and non-heated pool situations.

Home day tomorrow.

Cath x

Tenerife Day 6: 28/12/2016

We were up by 7am and had decided to make the most of having a car by going out and doing something we were sure BattleKid would enjoy. I packed our change bag for the day and after having breakfast we headed straight for the car to head to the north of the island and our destination: Loro Parque in Puerto Cruz.

I can tell you that I did not enjoy the journey there. The roads are very twisty and turny as you head up the side of the mountain, and then descend it as you head towards Puerto Cruz. I actually felt very sick during the journey and was worried about BattleKid, although he seemed fine.

We arrived about an hour and a half after we left and parked within the car park of Loro Parque itself at a cost of €4. There is some free parking on the road outside of Loro Parque but you have to be lucky to get it.

We joined the queue and paid €34 each, BattleKid was free, and we were in. Sneakily you  have to pass some staff with cameras by some parrots to get your picture taken, but we didn’t bother buying them at the end of the day. But you cannot avoid them at all!Tenerife Holiday Diaries Day 6

We initially passed a number of bird enclosures with the most amazingly coloured parakeets and parrots. We also passed the gorilla enclosure and after that we headed towards the penguin house. This was the most amazing penguin house I’d ever seen.

When we had finished with them we checked the times of the animal shows and saw that there was an orca show due soon so headed towards that. Attending the show brought about mixed feelings for me. I haven’t seen Black Fish and don’t agree with such beautiful creatures being enclosed in a watery jail but at the same time it was amazing to see them. Such beautiful, intelligent creatures. I just wish they were free in the ocean where they belong.

From there we passed the beautiful white Siberian tiger before seeing Chimps, other moneys and many, many more birds. The array of birds at Loro Parque is quite something. Lunchtime was looming so we found a seat at a grill restaurant and had good food. It made a nice change to be served nice food at a zoo and it wasn’t too expensive either for what we had. Poor BattleKid was closing his eyes while eating his spaghetti to avoid being splashed in his eyes haha!Tenerife Holiday Diaries Day 6

After lunch we saw the flamingo’s en-route to the aquarium, which also had some different species of shark. We had pretty much seen everything we had wanted to including sloths, tortoise, otters, crocodiles and various types of monkeys. At 2pm we decided to head back to the south of the island, this time passing through El Teide National Park and seeing the mountain from the other side. It took us almost 3 hours to get back to the hotel but the scenery was absolutely stunning so it more than made up for it. Snow-capped mountains and snow banks on the side of the roads made way for drier land as we descended the mountain. Along parts of the journey back you’d swear we were in Utah or somewhere similar.Tenerife Holiday Diaries Day 6

The twisty roads were reminiscent of the Alps or the Rockies and it was certainly unexpected scenery. Again the twisty roads made me feel nauseous. BattleKid napped for over an hour on the journey home. But we were glad we took the different route home to see more of the middle of Tenerife Island.

When we got back we had our showers and got ready for my birthday dinner in the themed restaurant out at the sea front where we’d had tea and cakes after our morning walk a few days before.

The meal theme was Chinese/Oriental and it was a nice change from the usual buffet things on offer in the main restaurant.

After dinner we visited the playground on our way back and once BattleKid was settled we watched another Mr Robot (with quite a shocking end) before heading to bed ourselves. I had a bad night with BattleKid due to him itching his way through most of the night with a heat rash. He always seems to suffer with one. He’ll have to get used to it when we are permanently in the sun!

Pop by tomorrow for our last full day in Tenerife.

Cath x

Tenerife Day 5: 27/12/2016

We were up before 7, got dressed and headed for breakfast for 8am. We decided that today wasn’t going to be a lazy day. After breakfast BattleDad went to source a car and arrived back after an hour. An hour! BattleKid was mighty bored and soon playing up, so we ended up colouring and playing cars on the balcony while we waited.

At 10am we finally headed off for a drive, determined to see a bit more of Tenerife. We started in the direction of El Teide National Park which houses the highest peak on Tenerife Island. The mountains were snow-capped which was mad considering we were in shorts and t-shirts down at the coast. That said they were very beautiful. They reminded me of the mountains on Sicily.Tenerife Holiday Diaries Day 5

After driving for over an hour we finally arrived at Los Gigantes resort further up the coast. We stopped for lunch and the most amazing fresh food at a small place called Boost. Everything was really fresh and brilliant value for money. It was the nicest lunch we’d had so far in Tenerife. BattleDad had the spicy tuna panini, BattleKid had some of the ham and mozzarella wrap I ordered for him and I had the chicken wrap. They were all really tasty. I also ordered a fresh fruit salad in case BattleKid didn’t like his wrap and between him and me we devoured it. The portion sizes were very generous and we left feeling quite satisfied.

We drove back to our hotel following the coast road, which was quite twisty and turny. Grabbing our towels we then spent an hour beside the pool and this time tried a different tactic with BattleKid. We warned him that we would countdown to getting him out, following through with a 10 minute warning, then a 5 and 1 minute warning and this time we didn’t have any tantrum at all. There was a slight protest but nothing like the previous screaming matches. Result I’d say.Tenerife Holiday Diaries Day 5

Our evening routine followed previous evenings with another visit to the hotel playground. BattleKid was as happy as Larry and there were no protests when we headed upstairs for bedtime. Once he was down, BattleDad and I had a cup of tea with another episode of Mr Robot before turning in. We were glad we had the car and had seen some of the internal part of the island. The only thing to decide was what to do with it tomorrow.

Pop back tomorrow to see if we ventured even further.

Cath x