Monday, 5 January 2015

Let's get planning!

As you will know we have not been to 'Disney' since August 2013, and by 'Disney' I mean any sort of Disney resort!  My 'go to' choice would always be Walt Disney World, although I think as my podcast co-host Michelle has spent an awful lot of time in Disneyland these past 12 months I will confess to a renewed desire to venture out to the West Coast once again.

But aspirations of a US visit are some way off at the moment and so in approximately 34 days time we will be off to our closest Disney resort; Disneyland Paris.

Having gone for over a year with no vacation, let alone a Disney vacation, the whole family was starting to show the signs of why taking time away from home, work, school and the usual daily routine is a good thing!  So when I started seeing adverts for 'extra days and nights free' at Disneyland Paris, and then realised that our school break in February seemed to be at a slightly different time to the majority of the country resulting in slightly cheaper rates, it was a no brainer - let's get booked!

So we are all booked and getting ready to what exactly are we doing? Where are we staying? How are we getting there? Let me explain...

So let's talk travel. On our previous visits to Disneyland Paris we have either flown or used the Eurostar train service.  We had been fortunate previously to get flights to Paris from our local airport (only a few miles from our home!) and then transfer to the resort by way of coach, but when flights started to become tricky to come by we changed tact and used the Eurostar.

Now the direct Eurostar train service starts off at London St Pancras and travels straight to the doorstep of Disneyland Paris; it is literally a 3 minute walk fromthe train station to the main Disneyland park.  This service makes only a couple of stops en route at Ebbsfleet (just outside of London) and Ashford in Kent (on the Southern UK coast line).  Previously we have driven to Ashford (about a 5 hour drive) in order to pick up the train and go straight to Disney but this year we are picking the train up from Ebbsfleet which will only be about a 3 hour drive for us.  The option of going from London for us just wasn't viable as to get a local train to London would have been more expensive than using the car to drive to Ebbsfleet and we would then need a hotel in London for the night before we travel which would have been another expense.

So we are going to drive to Ebbsfleet, stay overnight in a cheap hotel (booked!) so that we will be ready for the Eurostar train the following morning.  We will park the car in a long stay car park (already pre-booked) and simply jump onto the train where we can sit back and enjoy the journey to the other side of Paris in just over 2 hours.  We will be able to check into our hotel and receive our park tickets on the train and then use the Disney Express Luggage Service when we get to our destination.  This means that we can take our luggage to the special Disney Express counter in the train station and our luggage will be taken straight to our hotel, leaving us free to head straight into the parks.  And when we come to return home the system operates in reverse - we drop our luggage off at Luggage Services within our hotel, we can go and make the most of our last few hours and then we simply collect the luggage from the Disney Express counter at the train station before getting on the train home.  This has worked brilliantly for us in the past and is one of the main reasons for choosing the Eurostar service.  It may not be the cheapest way to get to Disneyland Paris but it suits us, it gives us the knowledge that we can make the most of all days of our vacation and it saves us long check-in times for planes and a very long drive if we were to get there under our own steam!!

Next is the hotel; now for us we wanted to have the full on Disney experience and stay in a Disney hotel.  There are lots of other hotels within close proximity to Disneyland Paris and most of which operate some sort of shuttle service to and from the parks but for us it had to be a Disney one.  There are seven hotels to choose from; Disneyland Hotel, Disney's Hotel New York, Disney's Newport Bay Club, Disney's Sequoia Lodge, Disney's Hotel Cheyenne, Disney's Santa Fe and Disney's Davy Crockett Ranch.

We have opted for Disney's Sequoia Lodge which is one of their mid-range hotels (comparable to a moderate resort in WDW) and one we have stayed in once before. We have also stayed in Disney's Hotel Cheyenne on a number of occasions which is themed around the Wild West and was great for when our children were much younger.  The Sequoia Lodge, as the name implies, is themed around North American forests with a cosy mountain retreat vibe going on.  There's plenty of log fires which I think will be very welcome visiting in early February!! It is on the perimeter of Lake Disney, within close distance of Downtown Disney and only a 15 minute walk away from the parks.

And as I said before one of our main reasons for going is that by booking a package with Disney we are getting 2 nights and 2 days for free which means we are going to be able to spend nearly 5 full days in the parks and really explore everything that Disneyland Paris has to offer. Really starting to look forward to it now :)

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