31 October 2011

Disneyland Paris--Part One. . .

The last weekend in August, just before school started, we decided to book a trip to Disneyland Paris.  It was one of the places on our list to visit while we are living here, and the girls needed a trip that was all about them and less about historical sites!!

To break the news, I set up the conservatory to look as if the Disney Store had thrown up in there.  Then we brought the girls in to help decide what to pack for a mystery trip.  They were understandably excited, so I waited for screams, squeals, and jumping up and down.  We did get some big smiles, but instead of a dramatic reaction, we got their inherited (from Daddy) calm (and frankly, unsatisfying) reaction to gifts!  Oh well, at least I knew they were excited!

We booked through a local high street travel agent for a 3 night/4 day stay at the Disneyland Hotel.  Since we were staying at a Disney property and could get in to the parks two hours early (8 am Thursday), we went down and stayed at a nearby hotel, Marriott's Village d'Ile-de-France, Wednesday night to be there bright and early Thursday morning.

Keith had been looking for a chance to travel through the "Chunnel"--the tunnel underneath the English Channel.  You can drive from England to France via this route--you drive your car onto a train that goes through the Chunnel--but we decided to take the train.  First it was a local train to London's St. Pancras International (about an hour), then the Eurostar from St. Pancras to Lille, France (another hour) where we changed trains.  Then it was directly to Marne la Valee Chessy at Disneyland Resort (a third hour).  Traveling by train wasn't too terrible. . the problem was our luggage.  When the kids are older and can help carry more or when we aren't going for four nights, it is a great way to go.  But lugging all of our stuff and all three children through stations and on and off trains was exhausting.  Needless to say, we were glad to arrive at Disney!!
 At the Leicester train station.

After we got off the train, we went on a search for the shuttle to the Marriott--we took the ascenseur. :)  I had to ask at the info desk where we could find the shuttle; I asked in French  (which I do not know--only the phrases from the travel books/website!) if she spoke English. . she motioned that she did a little. . .but we managed to get the answers we needed.  Found the bus, boarded it, tried to understand the driver, and eventually got off at the right stop--and then we walked 3/4 mile to the hotel.  That was fun.

Luckily, the hotel was worth the walk.  It is part of the Marriott Vacation Club and was a two bedroom/3 bathroom/two story villa with full kitchen, dining room, living room. . .it. was. awesome!  We will definitely have to consider staying in that type of accommodation again.  They have a bar/restaurant on site, as well as a grocery with a video library, game tables, etc.  Keith and the older girls did attempt to swim, but it was late enough in the evening that it had gotten quite chilly. . they didn't last for long!  And as a bonus, we got to sleep in an air-conditioned room!  Our house--most houses--doesn't have central a/c, and I forgot just how good a night of sleep you get in air-conditioning!!

 I snapped some pictures at the grocery.

 These were good. . basically Belgian waffles dipped in chocolate.
 I decided to do a load of laundry. . .and then realized that might be a little ambitious!
At least it was a familiar brand!
Thursday morning came much too soon. . I wanted to stay snuggled under the covers in my air-conditioned room!  But, our goal was to get to Disney before 8:00am so that we could take advantage of the Extra Magic Hours.  We had made the decision the night before to order a taxi to take us; our shuttle bus/hike adventure was not how we wanted to start our first day at Disneyland!  The taxi arrived and we were only about 7 minutes late getting out the door (quite impressive for the female members of this family!!)

We got to the Disneyland Hotel around 7:35. . .and I fell in love with Disney all over again!  From the second that you walk in the door, especially at the resorts, you just know that you are in the magical world of Disney!  There's just something about the way they do things leaves you with no doubt as to why they have been so successful for so long!!