Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Disneyland Paris - Making Dreams Come True - A Budget Trip That Feels Anything But

Today we're going to discover the magic of Disneyland Paris. High on the wishlist of most little 'uns and some big 'uns too, we're dispelling the myth that it always costs a fortune to make Disney dreams come true. 

(Little known fact: Our eldest Bro (BattleDad) was part of the first ever Euro Disney crew all the way back in 1992. We weren't at all jealous that he got to test out the parks before everyone else. NOT AT ALL) 

Cinderella’s Castle

My mantra for travelling anywhere is 'book it yourself' as most times you do save a quite a few Euro that would be better off in your pocket than a travel agent's. By all means check the prices with them too, just so you know where the better deal is but when it comes to real savings: BIY!

Flights: Case in point, Disneyland Paris, there are a couple of airports you can fly into & having used both I can, hand on heart, say that Charles de Gaulle is the only one you should use, so that means an Aer Lingus flight...pppsssttt they have a sale on at the moment! We usually pay about €100pp return

The only argument is, who gets the window seat?!

How to get to Disneyland: Easy really, get the train from the airport! There are two options here, you can get the TGV, a more expensive, faster train (about 10 minutes) that will bring you direct to Marne-La-Vallee Chessy (Disney) prices start at €36 per adult, €9 4-11yrs, under 4 free on your knee return but these prices can go to over €70pp return, depending on the time of the train you get. Further info on these prices can be found HERE.

It's slightly cheaper to take the ordinary train RER B (blue line) to Chatelet Les Halles (Paris) and then transfer to RER A (red line), there is usually no major pain in transferring as the RER A is on the same level just on the next track over. Travel time is about an hour. All train tickets can be bought at the train station/automated machines in the airport.

You could also get a taxi which costs about €50/€60 & travel time of about 45 minutes but we'd rather save that money for shenanigans. 

Monsters Inc. Disney

Where to stay & how to book: 

Having stayed in both of the two key rated hotels in the park (Hotel Santa Fe & Hotel Cheyenne) I wouldn't bother going with their higher rated counterparts, save your money for treats. 

Both of the themed hotels we stayed in were perfect, large clean rooms & a free regular shuttle bus from the front of the hotel to the main park gates. Otherwise it’s about a 15-20 minute stroll. We always book through www.disneylandparis.ie and usually pay around €460 for 2 adults & 3 children for 2 nights B&B & 3 days in the parks. 

Keep an eye out as Disney has regular offers such as under 12s stay & play free, free meals or extra nights free.

Themed Hotels at Disney

Oldsmobile Disney

During check-in at your hotel you will be given cards with your time slot for breakfast each morning, whatever you do don’t miss that slot or you’ll miss breakfast. Meals can be ridiculously expensive (it was over €70 for a family lunch in an average fast food restaurant) do like everybody else does & stock up on those bread rolls with ham & cheese at breakfast. 

If you're clever, you’ll bring a lunch box with you for your bag, make them at the breakfast table & pop them in your bag for lunch in the park. You can get mayonnaise sachets at the food stalls in the park for putting on your rolls. Who wants to spend precious family time queuing in mile long queues for overpriced fast food anyway?  

 Reception at the Tower of Terror! (One of the adults favourites BY FAR)

When to go: We usually go the first week in January as it’s so much cheaper, the Christmas decorations are up until 6th Jan & there are far fewer queues. It does tend to be cold so bring your woolies and wrap up well but there's something unmistakably magical about the place while it's still Christmas time. 

You'll find prices increase slowly as January goes on with huge price hikes from February onward. 

Snug as bugs!

There are tons of rides & amusements to keep the family entertained all day long. When you check into your hotel you’ll get a map of the parks and it’s best to try to make some sort of plan as to what you want to see & do during your short stay. Throughout the day, the Disney characters make appearances in the parks & hotels for meet & greets with children, these times & places will be put on notice boards in your hotel.  

The magic really happens at night when the parade comes down Main Street. It’s really wonderful to see & your children will remember it for years. Just get there early to get a good vantage point. There is also a great light show at Cinderella’s Castle so don’t miss that!

Cinderella’s Fairytale Castle

Hints & Tips: 

  • The shops are very expensive in Disney so we had a scout around over here before we went & brought toys & Disney costumes with us to give the little ones while there. The only things we really bought in the shops were the themed lolly pops! For our flight I bought Mickey Mouse party bags in Mr Price & filled them with mini colouring books, crayons, lollies & a small toy to keep them amused. 

  • Bring an extra battery for your camera, likewise an extra memory card as you’ll soon run out! They have a camera shop on Main Street in the Park but it’s crazy money. You can buy these very cheaply from ebay or amazon before you go.
  • Just outside the main entrance there is a shop in the train station where you can buy drinks to take into the park.

  • Aim to get to the park at about 9:30 each morning otherwise there are huge queues. Not as ridiculous as later in the year but you'll still be in for a lengthy wait unless you start earlyFastpass is available for some of the bigger rides, I'd highly recommend you use it!

  • If you're a big coffee drinker you might consider taking a flask with you & fill it up at breakfast as a coffee is €4+ in the park. Restaurants can get very busy, even in off season so if you see that your little one is starting to get hungry head for food as the last thing you want is a hangry child (or parent)!

  • Bring their favourite Disney dress up costumes with them to wear. They'll feel even more part of the magic around them. We like to bring Disney jammies too (you'll always find character favourites in Penney's) so at bath and bedtime there's no fuss about getting changed. 

It's true that a Disney trip can cost a small (or even a large) fortune, especially when you're bringing more than one child, but it needn't. We've found with these little tweaks that the children still have the trip of their dreams and we don't come home to a credit card bill of our nightmares. 

Tell us, have you been to Disneyland Paris, any hints or tips of your own? 

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