Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Forget Lapland, get to Disneyland's Enchanted Christmas

I’d never been to Disneyland, my son has – with grandparents – but not I.

It isn’t something I feel like I’d missed out on as a child. My parents were far from skint so we could have gone, but just didn’t. I think we were a happy family of Disney sceptics.

We would question if it is really a ‘magical’ place, or is it a land of the repressed failed actor in dodgy costumes charging a fortune for the air you breath?


It’s actually both.

But the latter thought is now miniscule and only still exists because the grumpy frugal cynic in me will never completely be suppressed. Though Disney ran him properly into a corner, and poked him with the most sparkly and pretty stick you’ve ever seen. He was also mauled by puppies.

If you didn’t follow my bragging on Twitter we spent last weekend, my son and I, at Disneyland Paris enjoying their hospitality and a first look at their Enchanted Christmas experience.

On one level I’m really uncomfortable saying it was magical, but I’m struggling to find a better word to accurately describe it.


Only a parent would understand (did I really just type that?) the experience and almost overwhelming sense of warmth and bliss you feel when your child is clearly having so much fun, and is in awe of their surroundings.

This was the first overseas trip we’d done just as a pair – we’ve always travelled with family or friends before - and I am delighted that this jaunt didn’t include a flight.

Flying annoys me. I used to do it a lot for work and ‘pleasure’, but being a 6” 2’ lummox, one that can’t stand unnecessary waiting it is never to be a process I am going to enjoy.

The excellent Eurostar service - direct to Disneyland Paris - negated the need to be stuck in an airport for longer than the physical flight to Paris takes, thus making it quicker, as well as convenient, to travel by train.

Even when you factor in a regional train to London it is still quicker, and without the stress of an airport and transfer too.

Plus you get to carry as much luggage as you want, don’t need to wait for it, and as for comfort? Well, does this demonstrate the humungous difference to plane travel?

The Disneyland station, or Marne-la-Vallee, was so close to the resort it almost makes the coaches to the hotels frivolous. It actually lands you right between the Disney Village and the parks themselves.

I think you get the fact that I liked the Eurostar. Oooh, but did I mention you can walk from London Euston to St Pancras international in less than 10 minutes, probably a shorter distance than you would have to make in a queue to your plane's air-walk-thingy.

Plus it provided some of the weekend's finest moments.

Max asked if we’d see fishes, he then harassed the lovely Disney PR people, and learnt how to play the Happy Families card game on the way home.


J’aime Eurostar.

As for Disneyland, that place is awesome, errr, m-a-g-i-c-a-l even.

Not at all as I expected, considering it’s full of excited children and harangued parents, it was surprisingly pleasant and with a relaxed vibe.

I didn’t experience any bad service, but this could be to do with the staff being too busy laughing at my French a la Brummie accent. Think midlands version of Del Boy.

There really is something for everyone, and by being there for a couple of days you can take the normal intensity of a theme park visit away. We spent an hour one afternoon with our feet up – until we were told off – watching Disney cartoons on a big-screen.

This was sandwiched by me annihilating beating my boy on the Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast attraction twice.

Hassle is also removed by having the free-to-all fast pass system for the mega rides. Cut our wait for Big Thunder Mountain to under five minutes. Yeah, I’m that sad I timed it.

The prices weren’t ridiculous, but you couldn’t say they were reasonable either, but it is difficult to put a price on the experience you get rather than the physical yield from your Euros, schilling and cents.


If you are a family in the market for a Christmas short-break this has to be infinitely better than going to see Santa at Lapland.

I have close family that did that last year, they were disappointed with the amount of money they’d spent and the lack of options once in ‘Lapland’. I wish I'd been able to recommend this brilliant alternative.

Disneyland’s Enchanted Christmas would not disappoint, you have all the magic (really need a better word) of Christmas, Santa even looks like the one from the Coca-Cola adverts, proper picture perfect, plus you have the wonderful setting and a host of unique things to do, this is on top of all the year-round attractions. It even snows.

Check us out with Santa.

We even carried a Flip movie camera around with us, and once heavily edited this footage may see the light of day too.

And if you want the logistical details of making the trip to Disneyland Paris Enchanted Christmas here they are:

For information about a family break to Disneyland Paris, call direct on 08448 008 111 or visit www.disneylandparis.com

During Disney’s Enchanted Christmas prices for a two-night three-day package including return travel with Eurostar in December 2011 start from £1087.20 for a family of two adults and two children (aged 3-6yrs). The price includes return travel with Eurostar, two nights’ accommodation with continental breakfast at Disney’s Hotel New York and three day hopper tickets for the Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park and is based on two adults sharing.

The same package staying at Disney’s Hotel Santa Fe starts from £878.40 for a family of two adults and two children (aged 3-6yrs).