Our Visit to Portland – Planning Part 2 of Our USA Road Trip

As part of our epic USA road trip this year, we are taking in the wonderful city of Portland. It might seem like an unusual city to some but BattleDad and I have wanted to make a visit to Portland ever since we started watching the TV series Grimm. It always looked very chic and like it could be a cool place to visit. I’ve written about our wish to visit Portland and we’re finally doing it. But planning our visit to Portland has been no meant feat I can tell you.

visit to portland
Portland by Night – Picture Source

Oregon is also somewhere I have wanted to visit to see autumn colours. While most people will visit Maine or New England to see autumn colours, Oregon is also somewhere to visit for this time of year. We may or may not see much in the way of autumn colours as we are visiting at the very start of September but you never know.

Our USA road trip starts in Portland but we don’t stop there. Firstly, we head to a place called Richland for an overnight stay before we spend a whole day driving to start part one of our trip: our visit to Yellowstone. After exploring Yellowstone for a few days, we make our way to Missoula for 3 days before heading back to Richland via part of the Dalles Shamrock Route. After another overnight stay, we head to our final destination of our USA road trip, Portland. There we will have 4 days to take in part of Route 101, the Pacific Coast Highway as well as discover and explore Portland and the surrounding areas.

Once again, I turned to the travel Facebook Groups I am a member of and asked for peoples advice on what to see and do in Portland, particularly with a 3 year old in tow. And boy did they come up trumps.

Recommendations for Our Visit to Portland

Portland Children’s Museum – This museum is dedicated to children and is located in Washington Park, near the Oregon Zoo. It is the 6th oldest children’s museum in the world. The Portland Children’s Museum is not a typical museum, opting to spend time investing in familiar materials to craft priceless opportunities for children to learn through play, rather than in precious objects. The exhibitions, workshops and objects on display are designed to be fun and bring about both creative and cooperative play in children. Reading some review on TripAdvisor, it seems it is designed with younger children in mind, which is perfect to us. So, I think a visit to this Children’s Museum is high on our list of things to do during our visit to Portland.

Oregon Museum of Science and Industry – This museum is one of America’s leading science centres and is a big attraction in Portland. Their mission is to Inspire curiosity through engaging science learning experiences, foster experimentation and the exchange of ideas, and stimulate informed action.  I have a feeling the Orgeon Museum of Science and Industry is going to be a lot like Techniquest, which I’ve brought BattleKid to, and will be enjoyed by both him and us adults. Another one for the to do list during our visit to Portland, particularly since they currently have a Pompeii Exhibition taking place.

Oregon Zoo – Also located in Washington Park near the Children’s Museum, this 64-acre zoo boasts nearly 2000 animals and over 200 species, and is also the oldest North America zoo west of the Mississippi. Exhibits include African Rainforest, African Savannah, Predators of the Serengeti, Amazon Flooded Forest and Condors of Columbia, to name but a few. I think no visit to Portland with a toddler in tow would be complete without adding the Oregon Zoo to your to do list. And it is most definitely on ours. With it being located beside both the Children’s Museum and the Hoyt Arboretum (see below) and with a light rail link to the Portland Japanese Gardens (see below), I think we’ll combine a visit to the zoo with these other attractions too.

Portland Japanese Gardens – Another attraction situated in Washington Park, these traditional Japanese gardens occupy 9 acres and is composed of eight garden spaces and a cultural village. With waterfalls, ponds, bonsai gardens and traditional plants, I think this is going to be a lovely place to visit for some quiet time after a hectic few weeks. As it is located at the opposite end to the Oregon Zoo and Children’s Museum we might make the Portland Japanese Garden our last stop during our visit to Washington Park. And I am secretly hoping some acers have vibrant leaves for me to photograph.

International Rose Test Garden – Another Portland attraction located in Washington Park, this garden is located near the Japanese Gardens. Occupying 4.5 acres, these gardens come into their own between April and October with different species in bloom at different times. The International Rose Test Garden has over 7000 plants of approximately 550 species. Who knew there were that many species of rose plants! If we get time we will pop in for a look after the Japanese Gardens and, if we do, I’ll be sniffing them to my heart’s content.

Hoyt Arboretum – Also located in Washington Park, this 189-acre arboretum hosts approximately 6000 individual trees and over 2000 species of shrub from around the world. Hoyt Arboretum boats 12 miles of trails, two of which are wheelchairs accessible, a visitor’s centre, indoor classroom, a picnic shelter and meadow. Although recommended as somewhere we should go during our visit to Portland, I am not sure if we will manage to squeeze this in.

Parks – As well as Washington Park, two other parks were suggested as somewhere we might like to visit. They were Forest Park and Mount Tabor Park. Forest Park is located in the west of Portland, while Mount Tabor Park, a dormant volcanic vent, is located in Southeast Portland. Again, I am not sure if we’ll have to time to visit these two parks during our visit to Portland.

Multnomah Falls – A waterfall located on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge, Multnomah Falls is one highlight I am not going to miss, come rain or shine. When we started thinking about visiting Portland many years ago, these falls were something I stumbled across and that was it, we had to go. From pictures I’ve seen they look spectacular. They are also located only 35 minutes’ drive from where we are staying in Portland.

visit to Portland
Multnomah Falls – Picture Source

Other Recommendations for Our Visit to Portland

Eateries – These have included places for the best donuts which include Voodoo Doughnuts and Blue Star Donuts. For great coffee (BattleDad, not me) we have been recommended a place called Stumptown Coffee Roasters. For BattleKid, the best ice cream place recommended to us was Salt and Straw Ice Cream near to a good shopping area. That’s me sorted! For breakfast, I stumbled across as place called Slappy Cakes, a place where you make your very own pancakes on a griddle at your table. It’s then up to you what you have with it. Only a 20-minute drive from our Portland accommodation, I think we’ll be having breakfast there! And for all-round good food, we’ve been recommended a place called Mother’s Bistro and Bar but have been told to get there early! This is always a good sign so that might be a good place for dinner.

Powell’s City of Books – The world’s largest independent book store, they have a very good children’s section and are located in Downtown Portland. I think we might find a nice book or two in there for BattleKid and plan to combine a trip there with some general shopping.

Resources Recommended for Our Visit to Portland

Two websites were recommended to me for our visit to Portland and I’ve found them both very helpful so far.

Cascadia Kids – A blog dedicated to travel with kids in the British Columbia, Oregon and Washington States of Canada and America, respectively, this has given me some very useful information. One particular post I enjoyed and gave me inspiration was Portland in a Day: 12 hours of fun. Through reading this post I discovered just how much of our Portland wish-list was located in Washington Park and in what order we might want to consider doing them.

Redtri – Another blog dedicated to inspiring parents to do fun things with their kids and they have a section on Portland. They have posts with days out ideas as well as a calendar of events on for families. I haven’t consulted this website too much but may do so closer to the time.

If I thought the Yellowstone leg of our USA road-trip was going to be jam-packed, Portland looks just as bad. As mentioned we want to take one day to drive part of Highway 101, the Pacific Coast Highway so it only really leaves us two and a half days to do things in and around Portland. I also want to do a bit of shopping and visit the Disney store to see if I can pick up one or two things in preparation for our visit to Disneyland Paris in December, and I might even get a few things exclusive to the states.

So, our visit to Portland is going to be busy. I mentioned all these great things to my mum and she said, “Are you going to have any part of the holiday that is just a holiday?”. I saw her point, and thankfully we haven’t planned anything to do during our few days in Missoula and Lolo, so I think that will be the real holiday part of our USA road-trip.

To summaries, our Portland Bucket List looks a bit like this.our visit to portland

Whether we get it all done remains to be see but we’ll definitely do our best to pack in as much as possible.

Cath x

our visit to portland our visit to portland

Our Visit to Yellowstone – Planning Part 1 of Our USA Road Trip

BattleDad and I have wanted to make a visit to Yellowstone ever since seeing the 3-part BBC documentary. It just looked like the most wonderful place to visit, full of wildlife and earth’s raw power. I can’t quite believe it was broadcast in 2009. We’ve watched it a few times since, and each time our desire to go to that part of the world just got stronger. I’ve mentioned this desire before on the blog.

visit to yellowstone
Old Faithful Geyser in Yellowstone – Picture Source

When BattleKid came along we knew we wanted to share our visit to Yellowstone with him but we became very torn. Do we go and just take lots of pictures for him to look back on when he’s older? Or do we wait until he is older so that he can remember the trip? We also wondered if we did the trip while he was young, would it be something he would do himself in years to come, therefore helping with some of the guilt we might feel at doing this trip of a lifetime while he was too young to remember it.

By last October, our patience ran out and we decided just to book it. We felt a little guilty as BattleKid will be three and a half and will most likely not remember the trip but we really wanted to go. We started by looking into flights. Originally we planned to fly to either Billings, Bozeman or Yellowstone airport itself, all via Salt Lake City, and hire a car there. We then wanted to drop the car off at Portland Airport as we would be combining our visit to Yellowstone with Portland.

However, when considering the car hire option we saw quotes of over $4000. That is just crazy money. To take that option would mean our transport costs would be well over $7000. That was our budget well and truly blown. So, we started again and found that car hire from and to Portland airport, for a big 4×4 RV car, was $1000 for two weeks. This was a bit more reasonable and so we took the decision to fly in and out of Portland and drive to Yellowstone.

I should point out that we are not doing the entire 860-mile drive from Portland Airport to Yellowstone in one go. Once we arrive into Portland, we’ll drive 220 miles to a place called Richland in Washington state near the Columbia River. We are staying overnight before then doing the 600-mile drive from Richland to Island Park, in Idaho, which is where we are staying. Our recent drive from Santander to Southern Portugal will have been good practice for us for a full day in the car. It’ll be a long day but worth it in the end. We had considered staying within Yellowstone itself but it was crazy money. 

Instead of staying in Yellowstone itself, we managed to secure a fabulous looking log cabin in the woods, through AirBnB, just outside a town called Island Park. This town is just a 30-minute drive to West Yellowstone. This base is ideally located for us and we might even see some wildlife from the cabin. We are staying there for 5 days before we slowly make our way back to Portland via Missoula and Richland again. The first two days of our USA road trip will be long and tiring but I am looking forward to our visit to Yellowstone.

With flights, car and accommodation all sorted, I started investigating what we should see and do in Yellowstone, beside the famous Old Faithful geyser. I asked a few travel Facebook groups I’m in for their recommendations. We got a varied response and here are what we’ve been recommended for our visit to Yellowstone.

Recommendations for our visit to Yellowstone

An ice cream at Mammoth Hot SpringsMammoth Hot Springs, located some 76 miles from Island Park in the North of Yellowstone National Park, is apparently a great place to watch elk parading while enjoying an ice cream. There is also a visitor’s centre and Fort Yellowstone is also located at Mammoth Springs. You can walk on boardwalks above the thermal spring features or drive around the travertine terraces, amazing looking terraces formed from limestone. I think this is a must-do area for our visit to Yellowstone.

The Boiling River – The Boiling River is only a few miles north of Mammoth Hot Springs, it is a Hydrothermal feature, popular for seasonal bathing, where a hot spring flows into a cold river water. It is one of the few legal areas within Yellowstone that is suitable for people to bath in; the river itself, not the spring. That said, it is not always open, there is no lifeguard on duty at any time, currents can be very strong and disease-causing bacteria thrive in the warm waters and there is only one toilet. While this would have been a nice idea to do during our visit to Yellowstone, I think we might give this a miss. I don’t fancy any of us getting ill just a few days into a two-week USA road trip.

Old West Dinner Cookout – This dining experience within Yellowstone was recommended to us and it is one we are seriously considering. Leaving from Roosevelt Lodge within Yellowstone itself, you travel for 30-45 minutes by traditional canvas wagon to the cookout area where you will find the cookout site serving steaks and traditional sides. As the experience starts at dusk it is one of the best places around the Roosevelt area to see wildlife. The only drawback is the 2-hour drive back from Roosevelt to our accommodation at Island Park.

The Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Centre – This wildlife park and education centre is located just outside Yellowstone at the West entrance, just 30 minutes from Island Park. The Centre is home to both grizzly bears and grey wolves, who unfortunately cannot live in the wild. The centre offers visitors to Yellowstone a unique chance to see these creatures who act as ambassadors for their wild counterparts within the park. As we will be passing through West Yellowstone to enter the National Park itself, we will definitely be visiting this centre!

Bear World – This drive-thru wildlife park is located south of Island Park, about a 55-minute drive, in a town called Rexburg near the Jackson or Teton Gate of Yellowstone National Park. You have a chance to see Mountain Elk, Bison, various Deer, Mountain Goats, Moose and both Black and Grizzly Bears. It also boasts a petting zoo, amusement rides and bottle-feeding experiences with the keepers. I think we will be taking time to visit here too.

Other recommendations for our visit to Yellowstone

Running Bear Pancake House – This eatery located in West Yellowstone has been recommended to us for breakfast. As we will be passing through West Yellowstone most days on our way into the National Park, I think we’ll definitely try this place out. I have suggested to BattleDad that we eat here on our first morning and if it’s good, we’ll eat there most mornings on our way into the park.

Jackson Lake Lodge – Located in Grand Tetons within Yellowstone, this hotel has been recommended to us for either breakfast or lunch. It is quite a drive from where we are staying in Island Park, so we may only go there if we are nearby one day.

To save money, buy groceries before going into the park – One person recommended we buy our groceries and lunch before going into Yellowstone as everything inside the park is very expensive. We are expecting the worst and so our plan it to eat breakfast outside the park if we don’t cook ourselves. Then on our first day we’ll try somewhere inside for lunch, and if it is extortionate then we’ll do as this person has suggested. But I do think lunch near Old Faithful is a given really. I’ll report back on the cost of things inside the park in forthcoming posts after our visit to Yellowstone.

Homemade pies made from scratch – While looking at the Bear World website I stumbled across a recomendation on their site for a place called Frontier Pies in Rexburg. They make and serve homemade pies of all sorts and I think we might just stop for pie there. I quite fancy the sound of the Jumbleberry Pie or the Lemon Meringue Pie.

All of this, alongside things like Old Faithful Geyser, the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and Mystic Falls, is going to make for a jam-packed few days during our visit to Yellowstone. And this is just the start of our USA road trip. From Yellowstone, we head to Missoula and Lolo National Park. Then we plan to drive along part of The Dalles Shamrock Tour on our way back to Richland, before we head for Portland. While in Portland we want to take a day to drive along part of the famous 101, the Pacific Coast Highway.

So, our Yellowstone Bucket List looks a bit like this.

visit to yellowstone

Come back after our visit to Yellowstone to see if we managed to tick them all off.

Cath x

visit to yellowstone visit to yellowstone

 

Rides for Under 5s at Disneyland Paris

So now that we’ve done the planning and booked our trip to Disneyland Paris for December, the next thing that sprung to mind was the fact that I have no idea what rides are suitable for BattleKid or not. As mentioned in my previous post, BattleDad and I have been to Disneyland Paris together twice before on the 15th and 20th anniversaries. But both times we went on rides I’d consider geared more for adults or older children. I have no idea which rides are rides for under 5s at Disneyland Paris.rides for under 5s at disneyland paris

This year is both Disneyland and BattleDad’s 25th anniversaries so it’s a big celebration trip for us. Coupled with BattleDad celebrating 25 years since he was part of the opening crew, BattleKid will be approaching 4, me 40 (eek), so we want to enjoy it as much as possible as a family. That means seeking out rides suitable for all of us. But having been a carefree, childless couple on our last trips, we never investigated rides for under 5s at Disneyland Paris. So where do you turn to for advice so you know ahead of time which ones to make a beeline for? The blogging community of course, and here are the ones that they have recommended as being ideal for us and most importantly, BattleKid!

Rides for Under 5s at Disneyland Paris

Peter Pan’s Flight

This ride in Fantasyland got an overwhelming vote from the bloggers. Emma from Our Fairy Tale Adventure recommended it and said to get our Fast Pass for this ride as soon as we get to the park. The Peter Pan ride was also recommended by Beth of Twinderelmo, Nicole from The Mum Reviews and Lauren from Mummy is a Gadget Geek. So, I think this is definitely going on our to-do list. You start at the Darling children’s nursery before flying over London by night to get to Neverland. After seeing the sights of Neverland you return to London by the power of pixie dust and happy thoughts. I think we’ll be going on this one without a doubt!

Buzz Lightyear Laser Blaster

This ride in Discoveryland was mentioned by many of the bloggers as another one not to be missed. It sounds fun too and has been recommended by Beth of Twinderelmo and Nicole from The Mum Reviews, while Laura of Mama, Eden and Me also enjoyed it. Nat from Awaybies said her son loved it so much they went on this ride no less than 6 times! It is an interactive ride in which you shoot at targets to get a final score at the end of your ride. Helping Buzz to defeat the Evil Emporer Zurg you gain a ranking in Star Command by the end. I can see this getting competitive between BattleDad and I nevermind BattleKid! And we can use our Fast Passes for this. Bonus.

It’s A Small World

…. After all. It’s stuck in your head, right? Sorry. But this ride, also in Fantasyland, got big thumbs up from Kerry of Blissful Domestication, who said it is not to be missed if visiting Disneyland Paris with younger kids. She went with her then 3 and 4-year-olds and while they loved rides catering for younger children such as cars, spaceships and boat rides, they especially loved It’s A Small World. Laura of Mama, Eden and Me also recommended this ride, as did Lauren of Mummy is a Gadget Geek. During your “It’s A Small World” tour, as you set sail the Seven Seaways, you will experience diverse cultures from around the world while accompanied by the iconic and sometimes annoying classic song. The song is already stuck in my head so I might as well go see what it’s all about.

Mad Hatters Tea Cups

This Fantasyland ride was recommended by both Emma of Our Fairy Tale Adventure and Lauren of Mummy is a Gadget Geek. Just from the pictures alone, it looks bright and colourful and fun. Each oversized tea cup spins and you control the speed and direction depending on the level of fun and stomach churning you might want. If the queue isn’t too bad for this I think I might try this one out. Not sure we want to do it too soon after lunch though.

Le Carrousel de Lancelot

Based in Fantasyland, this is Disney’s take on the classical carrousel where young knights ride upon hand-sculpted steeds and get ready for an enchanting ride. I’m hoping this ride as recommended by Emma of Our Fairy Tale Adventure will bring me back to Sunday afternoons watching Mary Poppins as a child.

Blanche-Neige et les Sept Nains (Snow White)

Nicole from The Mum Reviews recommended doing this ride as part of our Magic Hours if we can. This ride in Fantasyland allows you to experience the world of Snow White like never before, while you visit places like the haunted forest and the dwarves’ cottage.

Les Voyages de Pinocchio

Another Fantasyland ride on which you get to join Pinocchio and his friends such as Jiminy Cricket. This ride was also recommended by Nicole, especially during Magic Hours, which are extra hours you get in the park if you stay in a Disney Hotel. Point noted! Breakfast early then!

Orbitron

An awesome looking rocket ride in Discoveryland, this ride inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s drawing of the solar system was also recommended by Nicole as one to try and do during Magic Hours. Nicole did say that there aren’t many rides in the main Disney Park that are not suitable for little ones as opposed to those in the Walt Disney Studios Park.

Ratatouille: The Adventure

Ratatouille is a 4D experience based in the Walt Disney Studios Park which was introduced in 2014 and comes recommended by Lauren of Mummy is a Gadget Geek. Experience the sights, sounds and smells of Gusteau’s famous Parisian restaurant and you might leave hungry. Maybe one for just before lunch perhaps?

Cars Quartre Roues Rallye

A Disney Cars ride in Walt Disney Studios, I can us queuing up for this over and over again by a certain 3-year-old. Recommended by Emma of Our Fairy Tale Adventure, you get to zoom along Radiator Springs with Lightening McQueen. That’s one day’s activities sorted for our Cars fanatic!

Slinky Dog Zigzag Spin

A Walt Disney Studios ride also recommended by Emma, you are invited to shrink down to the size of Buzz and Woody and jump onto the back of Slinky as he tries to catch his tail. All Toy Story Fans will love this ride.

Any worry I had about rides for under 5s at Disneyland Paris have vanished thanks to the recommendations of all these wonderful bloggers. There are plenty to choose from and one or two even allow you to use Fast Pass which is great. There are some rides I can see us queuing hours for but as long as BattleKid comes away with a smile on his face I’ll be happy. My only concern is that the Pirates of the Caribbean ride is currently closed. This is the one BattleDad and I made sure we went on during our previous visits and I do hope it reopens before December.

I must mention an absolutely brilliant post written by Vicki of Family Travel with Ellie entitled ‘Disneyland Paris with young children’. In it she details the best rides for under 5s at Disneyland Paris including:

  • Buzz Lightyear Laser Blaster,
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant,
  • Orbitron,
  • Ratatouille: The Adventure,
  • Autopia,
  • It’s A Small World,
  • Peter Pan’s Flight and
  • Le Carrousel de Lancelot.

It is a brilliant post for anyone planning to visit or going to Disneyland Paris with under 5s and I’ve added it to my Disney Pinterest Board for reference! I’ve also added a fabulous post by Suzy of Our Bucket List Lives in which she gives a comprehensive breakdown off all the rides and which were suitable for her 3 year old son. It is going to be my guide for our trip!

A big thank you to all the bloggers who answered my call for help in what rides for under 5s at Disneyland Paris they would recommend we do. I haven’t been on any of these rides before so am looking forward to experiencing a different kind of Disney than before our son came along. While I enjoyed it I think this visit is going to be much more magical.

Would you recommend any other rides for under 5s at Disneyland Paris that might have been missed?

Cath x

rides for under 5s at disneyland paris rides for under 5s at disneyland paris

Wanderlust Kids

Also linked up to the Fearless Family Travel linky with Wandermust Family.

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 Kerry Louise 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. And if you’d like to know more hints and tips about doing Disneyland Paris with young children, you must read Kate of Five Little Star’s first post in a new series on her blog dedicated to Disneyland Paris, and also Suzy of Our Bucket List Lives post about doing Disneyland Paris with young kids. I’m eagerly awaiting the next ones!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

WANDERLUST KIDS

Holiday Diaries 2017

By now all my readers know that we are a wanderlust family and 2017 is shaping up nicely in terms of holidays. 2016 was a good year for time away as a family and with friends and this year is going to be no different.

This year I would like to take BattleKid home to Ireland for his first ever Saint Patrick’s Day. However, that’s not going to happen as I didn’t realise it’s Ireland’s game of the Six Nations against England and it just happens to be in Dublin. So as you can imagine the price of flights for that weekend has sky-rocketed. Instead, I have decided to take BattleKid home the weekend before to visit family and maybe visit somewhere nice (and maybe scenic) while we’re there. Plus Mum needs to get a shopping trip in tsome point too!

Soon after that it will be Easter and we have a trip to Portugal to visit my Mum and Dad’s new home near Tavira, where BattleKid and I went to last Easter and which I blogged about in the Portugal Diaries. I’m so happy my folks have finally found a place for their retirement and we are more than happy to have it as a place for some holidays. Even better that BattleKid gets to see his grandparents in the process too!portugal day2

In June we were supposed to be heading to our first ever festival, the Wychwood Festival. I read about this when Kerry of Kerry Louise Norris was lucky enough to attend last year. Her post set me thinking and very soon after reading her review I booked our tickets. However, due to personal circumstances we have had to postpone it until next year. Luckily the operator allowed us to defer our tickets rather than lose them as they are non-refundable which I thought was very kind of them. So June 2018 it’ll be! BattleDad and I have never been to a festival, can you believe that, and so we are really looking forward to it.

After a long wait during the summer our trip of a lifetime will soon be looming. We are doing a two week road trip in America next September, starting and ending in Portland, Oregon. We will be spending five days exploring Yellowstone National Park. Soon after we will be visiting Lolo National Forest. As soon as I found out there was a forest with the same name as my Dad, albeit a nickname of his, I knew I had to visit it. And to find it so close to Yellowstone and en-route to and from Portland was a bonus.  I’ve blogged about wanting to visit Yellowstone before and we had considered waiting until BattleKid was old enough to remember it but we just bit the bullet last October and booked it. Sometimes you just need to be spontaneous!

BattleDad wants to take a drive down part of the Pacific Coast Highway from Portland so that will be a day trip for us. There is also an amazing waterfall 30 minutes drive from Portland, the Multnomah Falls, that I definitely want to photograph. So it’s easy to see why this is going to be the trip of a lifetime for us. It’ll be a busy two weeks but I’m hoping we come away with great memories alongside some awesome pictures. I’m just not looking forward to the 11 hour plane journey to and from Portland with a three and a half year old.

Multnomah Falls

In October we have another trip to Bluestone planned with our friends who we go there with. It’s a mid-week visit this time and I cannot wait. October seems like such a long time away though! We will most likely visit Folly Farm while there and perhaps a few castles in West Wales we don’t get to visit due to the distance.

Then sometime before Christmas we are intending to visit Euro Disney with W and S (of the Bluestone Diaries) with their 2 children who will be just turning one and just turned three. BattleKid won’t be far off his fourth birthday so we felt that this year in November or December it would be the right time to bring him to Euro Disney for the first time. We invited W and S and they jumped at the chance. Both families are looking forward to it and we will also take a day or two to go into Paris as it’s been a few years since BattleDad and I last visited Paris and I need my fix, haha.

So 2017 isn’t looking too shabby when it comes to holidays for the Battle Family. It’s always nice to start the new year with something to look forward to and I think we can safely say we’ve got things to look forward to. What are your holiday plans for 2017?

Cath x

*Updated 19/03/2017
WanderlustKids