This is the final part of my holiday review. The first part provided details of travelling to France by ferry and the Eurocamp International camp site and the second travelling around Paris on the RER and metro. In this I provide details of two days that we spent at Disneyland Paris.
We have visited Disneyland Paris on several occasions. This is the first time we've visited with children without the need for a pushchair and fortunately the weather was much improved after our previous trip was during some of the worst snow for many years (Disneyland Paris at Christmas), although the weather was still unpredictable.
We visited during the Spring Bank half term holiday. This holiday is normally at Whitsun and coincides with a public holiday in other countries in Europe. Due to the additional public holiday for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee half-term was moved out a further week. This means that whilst the week we visited was the week of the UK public holiday it was not in the rest of Europe and so was much less busy that it may otherwise have been for a public holiday.
We did consider driving to Disneyland, but decided on the train as there is a convenient train station on the same train line only a few minutes walk from the caravan site, which was easier than having to drive to Disneyland. There is a car parking charge at Disneyland, although perhaps slightly cheaper than the train once fuel is factored in the cost would have been similar.
I've already provided details of travelling by train in the previous part travelling on the RER train to Disneyland Paris. There was a train that left at around 8.30am and arrived at the park around the time that it opened. This meant travelling at peak time, which was busy but not too bad as the train did get quieter. There was a train a little later that was much quieter.
The cost of the tickets for Disneyland Paris were very expensive. We bought two-day park hopper tickets. These allowed access to both the Disneyland Park and Disneyland Studios and were used on non-consecutive days. We bought these from Eurocamp as an extra when we booked the tickets. This did include a discount, although there are other ways to purchase that result in the same discount (online, ferry etc.). Even with the discount the cost of the Disneyland tickets was almost as much as we paid for the rest of the holiday.
We regularly go to theme parks and the rides are the main attraction for us. With two children that are both over 90cm (the crucial minimum height for many rides), although a little too small for some of the bigger rides, we headed straight for many of the big rides and getting some of the fast passes. Disneyland is well known for it's very long queues, but as stated this was outside of most of the European public holidays and we avoided the weekend so queues were not as bad as we have seen on some other visits. I am a fan of the fast pass virtual queueing system that Disneyland use. Unlike some other theme parks there is no additional charge for the fast pass system.
Some of our favourite rides are Big Thunder Mountain Railway; Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast; Crush's Coaster; Hollywood Tower Hotel; Lightening McQueen Cars; Star Wars Star Tours and the Pirates of the Carribean Boat Ride.
Unfortunately the Studio Tours ride was not working on this visit, and we were unable to go on the Army Men parachute drop due to high winds.
We were particularly happy to see that Big Thunder Mountain Railway was working as it's one of our favourite rides which was out of order when we tried on our previous visit. We managed to squeeze in several rides on the Runaway Train type ride.
Meeting the Characters
We did see a few of the Disney Characters as we were walking around and when the Disney Character Train came past, but did not go out to specifically meet the characters instead preferring to meet some at Cafe Mickey.
Keeping in contact - two way radios
We did split up a few times whilst at Disneyland mainly when a minimum heigh restriction prevented our son from going on a ride. Rather than risk picking up a large mobile phone bill we took a pair of two-way radios with us. We had Binatone 750 which have a long range (up to 8km). There were some occasions when the distance (and obstacles) resulted in a poor signal, but generally this worked very well.
I believe that most PMR446 two-way radios sold in the UK are also suitable for use in France, but you should check if purchasing one. As well as looking for a radio with a good range if possible a radio with CTCSS and Digital codes will allow a larger number of sub channel combinations to avoid having to share a sub channel with other users. Typically a radio will state up to 968 sub channel combinations compared to the standard 8 basic channels.
Note that the radios that have a large number of "sub channels" still use the same 8 channels as the cheaper radios, but the CTCSS and Digital codes restrict communications between those radios that the same codes.
Eating at Disneyland Paris and the Disney Village
We took a packed lunch to save us from having to purchase lunch. We had a meal at the Disney Village each evening. One restaurant we wanted to visit was Cafe Mickey, where a number of Disney characters visit you at your table during your visit. We tried to book the restaurant as soon as we went to Disneyland, but the only space that was available was the following Saturday lunchtime or evening. We didn't want to go to Disneyland at the weekend as I expect it would have been much busier, so we booked for Saturday lunchtime and made an extra visit to Disney Village on the Saturday to eat at Cafe Mickey and to do some shopping. We've never had that problem before and with hindsight it may have been better to book Cafe Mickey before travelling, although I'm not sure quite how far in advance you can book. In the end it worked out OK as one and half days sightseeing in Paris were sufficient.
On the two evenings we were in Disneyland we ate at the Rainforest Cafe and King Ludwigs Castle which are our other favourite restaurants that are particularly suitable for young children (both these gave a discount for each other for a visit to the other within two days).
Cafe Mickey which we visited on the Saturday lunchtime was a great way to meet a few of the Disney characters without spending a long time queueing. There were fewer characters than when we have visited before, presumably because our previous visits were in the evenings, but there was still about as much time spent with the characters.
Preparing for the weather
The weather was completely unpredictable whilst we were on holiday. Within the space of one-day it went from being incredibly hot, to heavy downpours of rain. This did mean that we carried a lot with us, especially once we'd got a packed lunch as well. If we were staying at a Disneyland Hotel as we have done on previous visits then we would still have been far enough away to have needed to carry the same selection of waterproofs and warmer clothes.
We had a great time at Disneyland Paris. Travelling to Paris by train and staying at Eurocamp kept the costs down, but the tickets for Disneyland Paris added a significant cost to the holiday. It was easy to travel by train and was worth the visit.