Disneyland last minute? Why not?! The weekend started Friday afternoon after spending the afternoon at the circus (Paulos Americano Circus) with a friend and her two and a half year old outside of London. Daddy decided to come with us, making a great Friday afternoon activity for the family. The circus was being held at a garden centre just off the A2, the direction of Dover, the departure point for ferries to Calais, France. My husband commented we should head to France for the night, and he was only half joking.
After the circus, we noticed the traffic heading back to London and it looked like it would be hours before we could actually get home. When people are standing on the motorway, out of their cars, you know it’s a bad traffic jam! So we looked at each other and I said, passports are in the car…we can buy nappies in France, let’s go!
A quick stop at my friend’s house to borrow some of her son’s clothes for Little Man, grab a couple of books and toys and nappies and away we went! We got one of the late ferries and figured we’d find a hotel along the way (we stayed at the Ibis in Senlis – we had to stop for petrol at the Total near that exit that had a card reader working after the station was shut and so was the logical place to stop at 3am. It also had a decent breakfast the next morning to kick start the day)
So how was the park? Amazing. We weren’t sure if there would be enough for Little Man to do since he is only two and a half. But I was amazed that there were actually loads for him, especially for just one day. We definitely didn’t cover everything and I’m sure had we spent more time prior to arriving to plan out our day we would have seen/done more but what we did was perfect for Little Man. Even the latest addition to our family, Mr Hulk, seemed to enjoy it, although for a three-month-old, every day is the same as long as he gets food, sleep and a clean nappy.
- Bring some snacks in for your child. There are loads of signs saying no outside food, but we found it so helpful to have snacks for Little Man on hand throughout the day.
- If you have a stroller, bring it. All rides have stroller parking and it was invaluable when Little Man needed a break from walking. They do hire out strollers, which looked great and stable. I saw loads of kids conked out in them throughout the day.
- Wear comfy shoes. This may seem obvious, but we both ended up buying flip flops there (great souvenir!) because our shoes just weren’t the right ones to walk around in all day long
- You really can buy everything there. They definitely mark everything up, but they when you’re in a pinch, you can get it. In the baby change rooms, they had nappies (€1 per nappy), a selection of baby food and sun cream for sale in the baby changing rooms. And if you have any nappy blow outs (we had about three with Mr Hulk), there certainly isn’t a shortage of clothing.
- The food we saw wasn’t amazing but you can find some healthy options. We found a great grain salad for Little Man, and I also saw fruit salad and single pieces of fruit you could buy.
- They have a Fast Pass system for the popular rides. Head to those first, swipe your admission ticket to get a time to return and ride the ride without waiting in the queue. We didn’t use them because they’re mostly for the bigger kid rides, but it seems like a brilliant idea
- If your kid needs a run around without you worrying about them running off (I know….sounds odd for a big amusement park), there is a playground in the Fantasyland area. It’s actually pretty good – split into a 3-6 and then 6-12 section, the 3-6 section had a little pirate ship with ropes, ladders and a slide, along with a few wall activities too. This was great after all the queuing we did.
- Split up tasks. When one of us was queuing for a ride with Little Man, the other was hanging out with Little B (lots of rides we came across don’t allow under ones) and scouted out the next move or food or souvenirs. This seemed to save time in the long run as most rides took about 45 minutes, including the queue.
- It’s a Small World was actually brilliant. I think Little Man loved that the most and both me and Daddy admitted it went too quickly. I know, that song is one of the worst songs to get caught in your head, but it was perfect and we probably would have ridden it again if Little Man wasn’t as exhausted as he was
- The character parade was really cool but I’m glad we didn’t wake up Little Man for it. For me and Daddy, it was fun to spot the Disney characters from all generations
- Leave before your child hits their limit. I think this was the best thing we did. We ended the day with a very happy and exhausted little boy knowing if we had stayed any longer, we would have had to battle him for something (listening, sitting, staying near us, etc) and we would have gotten cross and too stressed. Instead, we called it quits at a sensible time and left. We still managed about 8 hours there and have so many great memories (and photos) of our children’s first time in a Disney establishment.
We were originally set to take a late ferry back that night, but decided to spend he night in Paris and had a very relaxing day wandering around the Jardin Des Tuileries and the Louvre before having a leisurely lunch and then heading to the ferry.
Disney – we will be back, either in Paris, or in Florida and/or LA.