Celebrating Courtney’s birthday was always going to be a huge event. But it’s safe to say that for her most recent birthday we outdid ourselves by jumping on the Eurostar from London St. Pancras to Disneyland Paris to spend 2.5 days eating and amusement riding… and generally basking in the glory that is Disneyland Paris – French style!
The Eurostar in itself was a great experience. It’s pretty wild for people who are accustomed to 2 hour long train journeys not even taking you to another state in your home country (I could barely get from my parents’ home in the suburbs to the city in less than an hour!), let alone to another country… We had a nap, a hot chocolate, and before we knew it we had crossed the English Channel and were hurtling through the French countryside.
Upon arriving we were immediately greeted by excited children (most dressed as their favourite princess/character) and families, the faint smell of carnival food and the parks themselves in the distance. There may or may not have been a sing-a-long of part Of Your World whilst waiting for the bus. We jumped on a bus and headed to our hotel to check in and get rid of our bags so that we could enjoy a few hours at the Walt Disney Studios park.
We stayed at Disney’s Newport Bay Hotel, one of the official Disney hotels, which is truly decked out in Disney theme in every sense of the word. Because I am a fool, I didn’t get any pictures of our room or the interior of the hotel but you can take my word for it, it’s great. It feels like you are on the set of a 1930s Shirley Temple movie. Everything is wooden floorboards and beautiful white walls/door frames, red and gold tassels and cute little sailor hats. Although the weather was not particularly glorious, we didn’t care. We were at Disneyland Paris!
Walt Disney Studios ended up being slightly less exciting than what we were geared up for. It seemed to be stuck in the ‘80s, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but there weren’t that many rides, nor people, it had a bit of a ghost-town feel to it. We went on Crusher’s Coaster (a Finding Nemo themed ride) as our first ride, which I had thought would be kid-friendly and lovely and slow…. but OH MY GOSH…. it was crazy! There was a lot of spinning, a whole lot of being backwards and it generally made me regret having just had a coffee. But we did it! We spent about an hour wandering around, went on another ride or two, and then hit the Disneyland Park for the main event….
Maybe it was just because it was Christmas time and everything was Christmas themed, maybe because the sun was just setting, maybe because… you know… it was Disneyland… but there was so much excitement and a buzzing in the air, it was truly a magical feeling. Hoards of tired families with little ones in strollers yawned as they exited for the day, but we were just beginning. First stop, Space Mountain.
Is it crazy that the first rides we went on were really intense rollercoasters? Absolutely. Also, I lost my expensive Urban Outfitters hat that I had only christened THAT DAY in the depths of the abyss that is Space Mountain. Who wears a hat on a rollercoaster.. the answer is me. #regret. Anyway, so Space Mountain was really crazy and I think I had my eyes closed for most of the ride because I only remember seeing one thing which was a terrifying vortex of red lasers that made me really dizzy. As I screamed in terror, I silently prayed that we may come out of the experience alive and we did, sans hats, but we absolutely had to sit down for 15 minutes afterwards and recover.
We hit another two or three rides that evening before settling down in front of the Disney castle for the fireworks show… Frozen-themed! (NB. this was before Frozen had actually come out let alone taken over the universe in a barrage of youtube covers, so we didn’t really know what we were watching when a Snowman was projected onto the castle and Let It Go started playing, but retrospectively I know exactly what it was all about now)! The show was nothing short of spectacular. Incredible fireworks, water fountains timed perfectly, insanely beautiful video projection, it was my favourite part of Disneyland Paris and we indeed went back two more times to see it. And it was all multilingual! Half in French, half in English, with a few Christmas carols thrown in in Spanish/Italian/all sorts of different languages. Brill!
We had a buffet dinner that night at Walt’s Inventions Cafe, which was delicious. I also fulfilled a childhood dream courtesy of The Babysitter’s Super Special #1 ‘Baby-sitters on Board!’ in which I think it was Karen who wanted to meet Disney characters in a Disneyland restaurant… Photographic evidence:
The following morning we were really classy, you know, being in France and all, and stopped at the McDonalds just outside the park for some breakfast, which I think ended up being cheeseburgers because we missed the breakfast cut-off. We hit all the lands in Disneyland that day and rode some things twice (Peter Pan, Thunder Mountain, Indiana Jones…) as well as had a very fancy three course lunch at Walt’s American restaurant (can anyone say crème brulee that we couldn’t finish because we were so full from the amazing meal?!). I didn’t think I would be eating particularly well on my Disneyland experience but we managed to get a really gorgeous seafood buffet and three course meal in the mix. Not bad!
We did all the classic rides, It’s A Small World, the Pirates of the Caribbean, and even ended up on the kiddies Fairytale storybook rides on little boats. They ended up being my favourites for some reason… There was something so sweet about it. It helps that everything is in French which adds an extra level of sweetness! On one particular ride you slowly boat along a ‘river’ past various storybooks and little miniature models of those Disney stories… Magical.
I couldn’t get over how adorable everything being in French was.. Like this:
We had a minor mishap in which the ride Blake had been looking forward to (Michael Jackson’s ‘Captain Eo’) was closed (!) when we went to see it…. But the following day, we could all breathe easily, it was open again… There was also not a single person in the queue. Turns out an 80s nostalgic ‘4D’ film is not the most popular Disneyland attraction (It was actually pretty cool FYI):
Then there was that time that we went on the Pirates of the Caribbean Ride and Blake covered his face. I think that ride is designed for small children. Amazing. Additional photographic evidence in the front row:
We spent the last day picking up some Disney souvenirs, taking it easy and riding our last few favourite rides before heading back on the train to London. And that, my friends, was C’s birthday at Disneyland Paris.