We first started going to Disney in Florida in 1978 that was in the days when there was ONLY the Magic Kingdom and my daughter had her first experience of “It’s a Small World”. Since then we have watched the theme parks grow and grow as we visit every other year (is that bi-annual or does that mean twice a year?) and on each visit have to endure our daughter’s and subsequently our granddaughters addiction to the annoying Small World theme tune, that bloody song sticks in your brain for days on end. This time though we were visiting Paris and Tilly’s main concern was will there be a Small World there. Granda’s concern was OMG yes there probably will be.
The reason for our visit was because we were heading off to China at the end of August and taking the family with us. After studying the itinerary there were long distances to travel and we assumed Tilly would be bored so rather than miss out she was to have her own separate treat. It was also a treat for Grandma and Granda as we had never been before or travelled on the Eurostar.
We had an early start from Camberley arriving in St Pancras for 9.00am just as they opened the check in. The waiting lounge is very comfortable and the process of going first through UK passport control and then 10 yards further on through French Security was slick and efficient. We boarded the train and took our exceedingly comfortable seats and set off precisely on time.
Halfway through the journey we were approached by a Disney employee who had all of our details, handed us an envelope with our park tickets, our hotel check-in and baggage labels so that our cases could be collected from the train and transferred directly to the hotel. I can only assume this service was as efficient as the rest of the booking but we didn’t use it as we only had hand luggage.
Immediately outside of the Gare Marne La Vallée – Chessy is Disneyland as you can see from the photo the glass building is the station and the red building is the start of Disney Village so you really couldn’t get any closer.
We opted for the Hotel Santa Fe, which was inexpensive and lacked nothing. The price included breakfast and although the dining room was HUGE it was well organised and everyone managed to find a seat and enjoy a satisfying breakfast.
In the mornings there were two character autograph and photo sessions that had shorter queues than the park. The shuttle buses run every 12 minutes and whilst they do get crowded the ride only lasts 5 minutes, so is bearable. If you should want to walk (we didn’t) a footpath will take you to the park entrance in 15 minutes. The hotel also had a service where items purchased in the stores around the parks are delivered to the hotel shop at no extra charge, which makes it easier than carrying bags around all day.
Staying in a Disneyland Resorts Hotel means that you can get an extra 2 hours early access, with some rides open before the day tripping hoards descend. Bliss. So if your time is limited you can be in the park by 8.00am which also means you hit a quieter time for breakfast.
Our expectations were not very high, we thought that this park would be similar to Florida but we didn’t know how Disneyland would stack up to Disney World. Perhaps it would be a smaller, cheaper, watered down version but it was in France so at least the food would be good! How wrong we were – yes it was smaller and don’t expect the enthusiasm of the US Disney staff, it’s just not French to get over excited – but some of that Disney magic dust rubbed off on us and it was pure Disney enchantment from the moment we stepped through the turnstile.
By early afternoon we were wandering around the park, we thought we would do a recce and see what rides we would do the following days. As it happened, we didn´t have that much self-control and immediately went rushing over to the excellent Tarzan Encounter show. We then followed up with lots of photos on Main Street.
Main Street itself is similar to that at Disney World, except that it is shorter. City Hall looks nice, as are the covered arcades and walkways behind the stores and restaurants. There are numerous places to snack but the peculiar thing is that you can’t get a decent coffee for love nor money.
At around 7 pm each evening, Disney puts on a real spectacle. The costumes and floats are extravagant and the performers could be anywhere in the world. Like it or not, it really is magical.
The Disney Railroad has a nice looking station and the ride will take you to Frontierland.
Continued …. Frontierland