While some might argue that there’s no better Disney park than Orlando’s Walt Disney World, we decide to visit its smaller sibling during a pre-Christmas trip to Paris.
We’re in the city of romance to sample the mulled wine, the hot crépes and the atmosphere at Paris’ magical Champs Elysées Christmas market, or the Marches de Noel. But, while us grown-ups love simply strolling through what looks like a scene straight out of a movie, it’s not enough to keep our little ones entertained.
So, while we’re in the city, we decide to treat them to a couple of days at Disneyland Paris. It’s so easy to get to Paris with a wealth of international options including Orbiz in the US, Jet2holidays from the UK or Zuji from Australia, so spending two days shopping and two days at Disney is the perfect combination.
For our children though, the holiday doesn’t really being until we reach Disneyland. Smaller than its American counterparts, the park is divided into four distinct zones, but it’s still entirely possible to get around everything in two days.
And, as we’re staying onsite at Disney’s Hotel New York, just a five-minute walk to the main gates, it means we can make the most of our visit, as hotel guests get to enjoy extra hours in the park.
As soon as we arrive, it’s clear Disney has entered into the Christmas spirit in a way that only Disney can – even though we’re not quite into December.
Visit as day turns to dusk and the whole park turns into a giant twinkly fairytale. Disney certainly doesn’t do anything by halves.
The Christmas tree that greats you as you enter Main Street is the biggest we’ve ever seen, towering 24m from ground to star, and weighting more than 24 tons. A park attendant tells us it takes 500 bulbs to illuminate, 600 baubles to decorate it and more than 20 people to put it up.And, as for Disneyland’s iconic symbol, Sleeping Beauty’s fantasy castle, that is completely ablaze too, with nearly half a million lights, set out in LED curtains across the roof and turrets.
The old-fashioned carousel is another highlight, hundreds of lights casting a glow on the rising and falling children as they ride white horses.
During the rest of the year, Mickey Mouse and his girlfriend Minnie might be the characters everyone is waiting for during Disney’s renowned parades. But, at this time of year, Santa Claus is the main attraction as he arrives at the end of the Once Upon a Christmas Dream Parade, heralded by crimson-clad toy soldiers.
Santa’s village is set up at Frontierland, a re-creation of an Old West town. There’s a letterbox where you can post your letter to Santa, or you can simply hand it to Father Christmas when you meet him. The queues are fairly lengthy, but worth it to see the look of joy on our children’s faces – although they do look a bit confused when at first he greets them in French. But, of course, Santa has to speak all the different languages of the world to check whether the globe’s children are being naughty or nice.
They both pose for pictures with Santa, before we head back to Main Street, with its old-fashioned shops as twilight sets in. As we walk towards the entrance, snowflakes start to fall. Yes, Disney can even make a white Christmas happen on cue.
The festive markets and snowy stroll back to the hotel have been the perfect start to the festive season. We’re just not sure how our little ones are going to manage to wait another month, given the excitement levels built up by our twinkly, magical Disneyland trip.
Special guest post by Katie who is a rookie travel and food blogger from England. You can follow her adventures on @delightsomeblog.