After living almost three years in Germany, we had done our fair amount of traveling. I think we hit something like 13 countries, not too shabby! Our last big trip before returning to the U.S. was Disneyland Paris. This wasn’t on our original “European Bucket List” and the well-seasoned traveler in me is a little embarrassed to admit how much fun we had. The idea was brought up by one of our friends, and we looked into it, found a great deal and said, “What the heck?!”
We got a package deal staying at the Davy Crockett Ranch, a Disneyland Hotel near the park. We shared a cabin (read: single wide trailer) with one of the families we went with. Our lodging and tickets were bundled together, and were actually very affordable. The cabins weren’t far from the park, we drove each morning. Parking was also included in our rate.
We went in October, so the park was all decorated for Halloween and had special parades for the season.
First thing was first, we stopped in for a quick breakfast while we waited for the other families to arrive. We all drove in from Germany that first morning. Made for a long day for the adults, but saved us one night of lodging expenses. It was about a four hour drive for us.
Once everyone was together, we stopped in front of the beautiful castle for some pictures. You want to know what draws a crowd? Three one-year olds dressed up like princesses and their moms flailing around trying to get them to all look and smile.
After that racket, we finally started riding some rides. Dumbo with the Dads, the carousel, Snow White, and Peter Pan. Babies can actually ride quite a bit in Disneyland.
Be careful of the so called “dark rides” like Snow White, Pinocchio, and Peter Pan. Sometimes they can be scary for little ones! I was surprised that our little girl didn’t seemed bothered by any of these. She even rode on the Pirates of the Caribbean without any tears!
We went back to our cabins for dinner. We brought food in coolers and were able to cook for ourselves. It was nice to be able to save some money and to have a little break where the girls could either lay down or just run around in a contained area. Once we ate and recharged, we went back to the park to see the nighttime show. I can’t remember what it was called, maybe Disney Dreams? It was an awesome show. There were projections on the castle and on curtains of water next to the castle. They sold light up Mickey ears that all synchronized to the music and were matched the colors of the projections as well. It was very fun, and did not disappoint!
The next morning, the moms all hit a weakness. We fell for the princess trap. We all said we weren’t going to do it and then we all caved. We just couldn’t resist the chance to see our little princesses with the “real” princesses! So we beelined for the Princess Pavilion first thing in the morning. We thought surely if we went straight there, the line wouldn’t be that long. Well when we got there it didn’t appear that the line was very long, so we were encouraged. There was a sign that said 30 minutes and we thought that wasn’t too bad. What we didn’t realize is that was 30 minutes outside waiting before getting inside where we waited another hour and a half! I kid you not, it took us two hours to see ONE princess! Let me tell you how much fun it is to wait in a crowded line with three one-year olds…not fun at all. And once you’re in the building, there’s no turning back, no sign of how much longer it will be. So you’re just hoping it goes fast and keep telling yourself that you’re almost there. After all the waiting, it was finally our turn! One look at Sleeping Beauty sent my little princess into a terrified panic. She did not want to stand next to Sleeping Beauty for a picture and clung to me the entire time…FAIL!
The dads were horrified when we finally emerged from the Princess pit. They couldn’t believe we had just spent that amount of time for something our little girls didn’t even enjoy. And I have to agree with them! Oh well, it definitely made some memories!
Everyone was happy to be out and about again, and able to run around.
Here’s a behind the scenes look at what it’s like to try to wrangle little ones for a photo:
But it makes for an oh-so-cute result if you are patient!
One of our favorite things about this Disneyland visit was the parades! Our little girls loved the music and watching the characters. The fall parade had especially catchy music. We found ourselves watching this parade more than once!
We spent our final morning at the Hollywood Studios park that is right next to the Magic Kingdom. This was the most crowded day of our visit. We had hoped to ride the Ratatouille ride but by the time we got there the Fast Passes were for very late in the day and we were all planning to drive home in the afternoon. We walked around a bit, and went back to the Magic Kingdom briefly. The weather took a turn and started to rain and that’s when everyone decided to call it and head home.
We loved our quick trip to Disneyland Paris. Honestly we had heard a lot of Americans complain about it. They seemed to say it was not as fun, not as big, not as good as Disney in the states. I don’t know, maybe those people are die-hard Disney folks or had bigger children that weren’t as entertained. We had a blast! We found plenty to do with our babies, and enjoyed watching them have fun together.
Here’s a couple things that made our trip more enjoyable:
*Bringing food into the park-each day we packed snacks, water bottles, sandwiches, pasta salad, and fruit. We didn’t bring a huge cooler, just something small enough to fit in the bottom of the stroller. Not only was it a money saver, it was a time saver. Instead of waiting in line to order and waiting for food to be ready, we could just find a place to sit and eat right away.
*Sharing accommodations with another family-this brought our costs way down, and made it fun for our girls. I’m sure this isn’t always possible, especially when family size starts to grow. But if it is an option, I would recommend it!
*Being flexible-there was no real agenda, and no real panic about packing in rides. Flexibility was key when traveling with babies.
*Buying our princess dresses and t-shirts in advance-everything is more expensive in the parks. Princess dresses were 50-60 euro! I borrowed my daughter’s Belle dress from a friend, and my mom found her Elsa dress at JC Penny for around $30.
What we should’ve done better:
*Researched more-had we researched more, we would’ve found out how popular the new Ratatouille ride was and could’ve tried harder to get there early for Fast Passes.
*Prepared more for weather-we had an umbrella, but that didn’t cut it for two adults. We should’ve brought ponchos and rain boots. It would’ve let us enjoy the park longer and let us take advantage of lower crowds as many people leave when it rains!