We decided that we were brave enough to tackle our first (and only one so far) holiday abroad with O when he had just turned two. Being the Disney junior fan that he is we decided to take him to Disneyland Paris but we were also slightly nervous as he was a pretty hectic toddler! We were only going for a weekend as the husband is self employed and at the time the business was still in it’s infancy so he didn’t want to let his clients down and potentially lose business.
|Take cover! The boy is on his way|
One thing I’ve learnt over the years of holidaying before the boys was to do our research before we went. I spent a few lots of time scrawling through forums on trip advisor, Disneyland sites & parent websites to get a balanced idea of what to expect – this would the husband & I’s first visit to Disney too! This was time was well invested.
We caught the train up to London on the Thursday and booked into a budget hotel with a family room on Covent garden. It was a lovely day so we decided to walk from Waterloo and as soon as were over London bridge at a set of traffic lights O was sick – full on projectile vomit everywhere! We were whisked along with the crowds and pulled into a side road to sort him out. The buggy was full of sick – he was covered, his shoes were covered and he was sick again. We stripped him off, got a carrier bag from a nearby shop scooped out the buggy washed it and the boy down with wet wipes and bottles of water and headed straight for the hotel – no Covent garden entertainment for us.
At the hotel we took the seat cover off the buggy and washed it with shampoo & shower gel to get the stench out of it. With no buggy we were limited to where we could go so we just found the nearest restaurant and retired after dinner. Luckily O was OK, we had visions of returning home the next day but he wasn’t sick again it must have been the London air and the sun shining down on us.
We took the Eurostar to Paris on the Friday followed by the RER to take us to our Paris hotel. The hotel we picked wasn’t a Disney hotel (limited budget) but was one of their partner hotels. At the time of booking this would have meant that we could still access the magic hour of being allowed into the park before it opens to none Disney & partner hotel guests so less queues. However, the policy changed to only Disney hotel guests so no magic hour for us.
|Great time to develop a fear of characters O|
We only had Saturday in the actual park but we could access the Disney village when ever we liked. We booked into see the Buffalo Bills show on our first night as the reviews were good. It was also an excuse to check things out before the park visit.
The show was really good – we arrived late as we hadn’t set our clocks to French time so were seated right at the back. This wasn’t an issue as it was easy to access, had a great view and we didn’t experience any of the dust or smell form the arena. We all thoroughly enjoyed the show.
The next day we were armed with healthy snacks, fruit pouches, drinks, a map & the Disney app on our phones (the app lets you know approx waiting times) and a plan of what rides the boy would like to go on – first stop buzz light year as we had read this gets really busy.
We arrived at the park entrance half an hour before opening as they let you through the turnstiles and into the park before it opens. This meant we could get closer to buzz so less queueing – two year olds don’t like to queue! As soon as the park was officially open they lifted the rope and we headed straight for buzz. We left the buggy and the queue was only 10 mins, constantly moving with exciting things to look at all the way round until it was our turn.
Next stop was the go-cart type cars with a 30 minutes queue which moved well and we kept O entertained by sliding him along the bars. He loved the ride and we were relaxed as it was going to plan.
The park was beginning to get busier by now so we headed for ‘it’s a small world’ hoping on a couple of smaller rides on the way which only had 1 minute queues. When we arrived at the small world ride the queue was over an hour. We didn’t want to wait that long so we headed out of the main park and into Disney Studios. We stopped for lunch and it was the perfect time to try and push O to sleep. We walked round the studios park to suss out where things where whilst O slept.
We had a plan to watch the Disney junior show and then go straight into the Stitch Live show, the timings were spot on and the park was a lot quieter than the main one. The boy woke up just in time for the show starting and danced along and tried to get up on the stage to see Handy Manny.
During the Stitch show the husband was picked as part of the interactive experience, he thought we had escaped by sitting on the back row. The show was excellent and O loved seeing daddy on the big screen.
We went on the Armageddon, Studio’s tram tour & the toy soldiers ride. The queues were starting to get bigger so we headed back to the main park. It was a fluky moment of perfect timing because as soon as we arrived back into the main park the parade was about to go past so we saw the parade too.
We were planning on staying in the park to watch the St Patrick day fireworks which didn’t start until 9 so we took our time had dinner and managed to go on a few more rides (pirates of the Caribbean, the teacups, the carousel, its a small world, the haunted house, as well as letting O explore the play park. We took it at his pace and when he was flagging we walked along the quieter routes to get him to sleep.
We grabbed a few coffees and positioned ourselves on a good bench by the castle for the fireworks. We didn’t know whether to wake O in time for the display but he woke up with 5 minutes to go so he got to enjoy them too.
It was a very long day but we were proud of what we managed to achieve without any stress or upset. One thing that really got to me though was when I saw a small girl about 7 years old get knocked in the head by someone else’s rucksack, she was crying and her dad just hurried her along getting stressed because he wanted to get to space mountain. He didn’t even stop to ask why she was crying so I imagine there experience wasn’t as chilled as ours.
So here’s my tips for achieving a chilled day at Disneyland or any toddler’s holiday:
1) Do your research
2) Have a rough plan but be prepared to adapt it
3) Be prepared – take drinks, snacks, toys – play doh is a good one for the train!
4) Most theme parks require you to leave your buggy – we bought a second hand stroller for theme park visits so it wasn’t so precious.
5) Take it at your child’s pace.
6) Have fun – if you don’t have fun what’s the point.
Karen Beddow founded Mini Travellers in 2014 while doing what she loves most...going on holiday!
Mini Travellers is for parents looking for holiday ideas, destination reviews, days out and things to do with the kids. We also have family travel tips, activity ideas and all other things family holiday related. Take a look at some of our latest reviews for holidays and day trips in the UK.