My Heart (Nearly) Belongs in Paris

Disneyland Paris: Martin Gardner offers plenty of details on the park and getting there, as well as notes on other activities in Paris.

From Martin Gardner
Posted August 22, 2004 at 8:03 PM
Ok, some background first.My wife and I have visited Disneyland Paris(DLP)every year since it first opened, our first trip being with "Mousetrips"- the Ill fated Fred Pontin venture where we stayed in Paris "La Defence". I dont think we could have been further away from the Park - thank heavens for the RER 'A'.In the interim, we have done the florida parks each year (even the years our two children were born)and, thrown in a trip to Tokyo Disneyland for good measure. The advantage for us in Japan was that my wife has blonde hair and I am 6ft 6inc tall - we never, ever lost sight of each other!.

Anyway, I am sitting at my desk in work on a Monday afternoon thinking we need a few days away before our 'Big' Holiday to Florida in October so I thought maybe the kids would like to go to DLP. Before I reached for the phone, I remembered our last visit just before Christmas. We had always favoured the Newport Bay Club, well maybe not favoured, but tolerated was a better word. There are some good points about the Newport Bay, its a nice walk to the Disney Village around the lake and then on to the Parks and it had always served our needs (I think fond memories sometimes drag you back to places even though they may not be perfect)However, the children were now 5 and 7 and we all needed something different. Besides, I was getting a little tired of the cattle stampead at Breakfast, queing at 9am with 50 other people for some Ham, a Danish Pastry and warm orange juice. The fact that you also needed a Golf Cart to take you to your room at night because the place was so vast, was off-putting.We both also felt the place was due a refurb and a lick of paint.

It was time to do something different, so, I hit the Internet.

After entering,"Family Hotel, Disneyland Paris" in the search engine it produced details on the new group of hotels, The Holiday Inn DLP, The Kyriad, the Explorer and the Movenpick Dream Castle.

After looking at Movenpicks website it seemed that we had found our alternative. They were offering a special introductory rate and, adding on the cost of DLP Passes,it was considerably cheaper.

Booked the flights, told my wife and children (Surprise!)and on the Saturday afternoon, we were off on a 3 night visit.

Because Air France and British Airways now fly in to terminal 2 CDG, it was easier, cheaper and quicker to get the TGV (it takes 10 minutes as opposed to 1hr 20 minutes on the Bus)

We arrived at the DLP Transport Terminus and hopped on one of the courtesy buses to the four new hotels. It took 5 minutes and soon we arrived at the Dream Castle. We were not disappointed.

Ok, its only been opened a month and the paint is still wet, but you could see instantaneously, thought had gone into its design and theme. Nice touches for familes in the lobby area where a small,themed ramp/steps up to the reception desk, so small kids could be seen and heard and an enclosed glass play area so Mums and Dads waiting for buses or to check in or out could relax for a few moments. Knights in Armour brandishing swords adourned the lobby area and, a sword in the stone you could try your hand at

All the facilities you would expect of a modern hotel were there and we were very impressed with the high quality fit and finish - a world apart from the Newport Bay.

On entering our room, things got better and better. A big, well lit bathroom with full size bath and power shower and a generous number of Big Fluffy bath and hand Towels. A Mini Bar, Air Conditioning and a large opening window looking out onto a nice patio and garden

However, by far the best feature of the room was the sleeping arrangements. For the Adults, a Bigger than Kingsize bed and for the kids, substantially built Bunk Beds with Individual night lights and curtains. I dont think we have ever slept in any hotel as a family as well as we did in that room. We all had our own space and plenty of space for our cases and even coat hangers near the front door!

Room service and In Room Movies (In several Languages)are also available, an upgrade from the Newport Bay

After settling in for the night, we awoke the next day refreshed and ready to hit the parks

Hotel staff at breakfast were extremely helpful and the buffet breakfast was a good selection of hot and cold food - even pots of english tea!

We jumped on a shuttle bus after breakfast which again, only took 5 minutes and then we were at the the transit station.

I had decided this time (weather permitting) we would spend a full day, Staying till fireworks over at 12.15am, at Disneyland Park and not Disney Studios. Whilst I think it has several great attractions, there is not as much for small children to do, although I would do both on a first visit.

We stayed all day, the weather was lovely, we did all our favourite stuff, the Lion King Show was excellent (try to time your lunch to coincide with the show to save the 1 hour 30 mins wait in line before the show)and we watched all the parades.
My Childrens particular favourites are Big Thunder Mountain, Pirates of the Carribean and anything in fantasyland!

The only "Extra" we did this time was the Plaza Gardens Restaurant which held a High Tea with the characters. Be warned, this "buffet" is cakes and pastry, not a meal buffet. My children loved it and the characters went around each table and spent time with the families and posed for photographs.

Because of the strength of the euro, DLP is, I believe, very expensive. Like most of us who go to major theme parks regularly, we have our own little places we know offer better value for money than others, but I still think DLP and the Disney Village restaurants, are expensive right now

On the second day, we decided to go into Paris and do the touristy (is that a word?) things. The RER A is quick and easy way to get into the centre of Paris. We did the Montmartre (what a fabulous view of paris)first, encountering some pushy artists behind the church, "we will draw you as ze demonstration" by which time they were in full flow and doing the keep the victim busy routine. They made a critical error however. I sell (quite successfully) for a living and they did not negotiate the price BEFORE completing the pictures. After great disgust on their side, I ended up paying them a fraction of what they asked for, no, demanded for their work. Their work was good but be warned, some fools could end up paying out £400 for 4 sketches if they pay, "zee normal price"

After doing a couple of other typically french things, we headed for the Champs Elysee to walk down it through the park and back on to the RER and back to the dream castle with two tired little girls.

I have to say the weather was so good, however, we had the mother of all thunderstorms and rainfall which appear to be affecting most of northern europe at the moment,in the middle of the night

Our third an final day was a lazy one, enjoying the small but good hotel swiming pool with again, excellent facilities. Nice Touches were the inflatable toys for the children to use. We also visited the La Valee Outlet Village where there is a great chinese!

I would throughly recommend the Movenpick dream castle to anyone travelling with children. I am glad we made the break away from the Newport Bay. I was mainly concerned that we would be too far away from the magic but in reality, its only a short bus ride away.

I am warming to DLP and God knows it has taken some time and money!. It will never replace Florida for me, but with shows like the Lion King - its certainly getting there.

Roll On Florida in October!!

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