So we came into a bit of money earlier in the year, and decided we’d each have a treat. Mrs R got her new kitchen (report follows), I got my big telly (report follows), and Alex got his return trip to Disneyland Paris. Here’s the trip report!
I actually like Disneyland, and I like myself for liking it. Dismissing it as some sort of chav nightmare is the easy middle-class thing to do. Coming out of the closet and saying it’s actually great fun is far cooler, IMHO. Firstly, plaudits to Short Breaks for seamless organisation of the trip; I picked them off the web because I liked their web site and because it had some credible testimonials, and the company was efficient and friendly. What’s more, when I needed to be a pain and rearrange the train time back, they were there on Sunday morning when most travel agents would be in bed. Secondly, three cheers for Eurostar once more; the journeys were comfortable and on time, and the service impeccable (yes, we did go Leisure Select, but it wasn’t that much more expensive than “standard” class, and is easily worth the money).
We took the plunge this time, as it was a special treat, and stayed in the Disneyland Hotel, the gaudy pink creation straddling the entrance to the main park. Having now stayed in a selection of hotels on three trips to Disneyland Paris, I’d thoroughly recommend either shelling out for this hotel, or going for something much cheaper, off-site. Ignore the other “on-site” Disney hotels. For us, it’s all about location. The Disneyland Hotel is almost within the park, so you can pop back to your room during the day and it makes all the difference. If you don’t have this convenience, and have to make a trip to the park, you won’t return to your room during the day; so whether you’re a 15-minute walk from the park (the other Disney hotels) or a 15-minute bus ride (the cheaper, off-site hotels) doesn’t really matter.
The hotel was also very pleasant to stay in, as you’d expect. Service was excellent, and some effort was clearly being put in to give it a refined, relaxing air, quite different to the lively holiday atmosphere of other hotels. The standard food (i.e breakfast) was very good, although the expensive evening buffet was rather disappointing for the price.
As for the park, well, it’s Disneyland! All the rides were present and correct, and Alex has definitely progressed from “It’s a Small World” being his favourite (when he was three and a half) to Pirates of the Caribbean and Star Tours (two years on). More interesting for the parents too! I can’t believe we’d never been to see the “Moteurs…” stunt show before – it was great fun – and the new Lion King show was a tremendous spectacle too. We thought two-and-a-half days was about right for us; we did just over half a day in the Studio park, and the rest in the main one, with most time spent in Discoveryland and Fantasyland. The other two are really in need of a bit of livening up. We also caught the last occurrence of the night-time parade and fireworks over the castle before it closed for the winter, which was a bit of a result (although a planned one!).
Overall then, a great holiday, if you take it for what it is. Sure, there are loads of improvements they could make, starting with the admission that the incongruous theming (a “future world” which seems to have been deliberately set in the fifties anyone?) means nothing to the kids and has had its day. Several of the attractions are well past their sell-by date in an age of video gaming. But the good bits are very good, the organisation is impeccable, and the smile on the face of our five year old said it all.