Oh my lord. We’ve been away for Christmas this year, and not just to anywhere, but to the place where magic really happens – DISNEYLAND PARIS.
If you are thinking of going at all, you simply have to, but Christmas time is just incredible. We’ve been saying for ages that we wanted to go away for Christmas so that we didn’t have to do anything at home on Christmas Day. No mess, no plates to wash up, no hundreds of presents! It was great.
- Christmas dinner with the princesses
- Olivia’s face on the parachute ride
- Meeting Mickey Mouse and Père Noël
- All you can eat breakfast
- Our Disney Christmas tree
- It was bitterly, bitterly cold
- We all came down with colds
- The meal plans are a bit more confusing now
- Being tricked into getting on Space Mountain
As a family, we DO Disney. This is our third time going together (Jamie has gone an additional 3 times with Kiera, and Kiera went another time with her mum… that makes 7 times for her now!!!!) so we weren’t newbies to the whole thing, but since the last time we went in January 2016, things have changed quite a bit!
What to Book…
We always book our Disney holidays directly through Disneyland Paris, but there are 2 things especially that we make sure are on our bookings!
1. Meal Plan
Since we went in 2016, Disney have completely changed their meal plans. Instead of half board or full board, they now have multiple options for half board and full board meal plans. Normally, we book a full board meal plan because it saves so much time and money. You just book your meal at your hotel in the evening, or in one of the parks for lunch, and it’s all already paid for. The cost of the restaurants in the park for a 3 person buffet is about 95 euros so you don’t want to be shelling out for that every day!
They’ve also now got rid of the Pause Gourmande/Teatime Treat vouchers from the half board meal plan. We managed fairly well on the half board standard meal plan this time, but in future I will always still go for full board – the trouble is that when we booked, this was unavailable.
We did have a bit of a problem over Christmas Eve being told that we couldn’t use our vouchers at the hotel for dinner because they were doing a special Christmas Eve dinner that we had to pay for. Needless to say, I obviously wasn’t too happy with that but we managed to get a late lunch/early dinner in the park and so had a cheap meal deal in our hotel room for supper.
2. Character Dining
Jamie had done the lunch with the princesses once with Kiera, and our Christmas dinner this year was lunch with the princesses. From what Jamie told me about the last time he did that character dining, I wasn’t expecting it to be that great, but actually, it was incredible and I’m so glad we did it!
We had already done breakfast with the characters the last time we took Kiera and that was really great, but seeing as you already get an all you can eat buffet for breakfast and you can meet those characters every morning at the hotel, it didn’t feel like it was worth as much as the lunch with the princesses. It was still brilliant – Pluto came and “ate” Kiera’s sausages and we got some amazing photos, and there were loads of characters coming between the tables.
At lunch with the princesses, Olivia met 4 princesses (Cinderella, Ariel, Belle and Sleeping Beauty) after having already met Snow White in the Princess Pavilion, and also met the two mice from Cinderella, Suzy and Perla. The characters were brilliant, Ariel was especially good and the mice made a huge fuss of Olivia, pretending to sew her dress for her like they do for Cinderella! It was truly magical for Olivia, and her face lit up as soon as she walked in and saw “Cinder-e
Aside from the characters, you also get a 3 course meal which was really good, and even though we didn’t technically have a meal plan for Olivia as she is under 3, she had the same meal as Kiera and was very happy with it!
What to See and Who to Meet…
1. Princess Pavilion
The waiting times for meeting the characters is always long, but at least on one day, make sure you go to the Princess Pavilion. It opens at 10am and the notice board outside tells you which Princess is inside to meet. Olivia waited about an hour to see Snow White, but with Kiera I remember we waited about 90 minutes to see Cinderella and we were quite unimpressed with the whole thing (Kiera was made up about it). This time we were better prepared – Jamie took Kiera on the bigger rides while I waited to meet Snow White, Olivia had her own autograph book to draw in so that we kept the Princess one intact, and she also made friends with another little girl and was playing with her in the queue.
Snow White was absolutely fantastic with Olivia (even if Olivia did tell her that her favourite princess was Anna), and Olivia was starstruck and went all shy, but we got some amazing photos! Waiting times are always a bummer, but inside the Princess Pavilion there are loads of things to look at – castles and items from the fairytales line the walls and so does the magic mirror from Snow White! It’s a really great experience.
2. Meet the Characters at the Hotel
Every morning, your Disney hotel will have a character waiting for you to take pictures with. On Christmas Day, we had Père Noël at Breakfast with us and Olivia went straight over to see him! It was an amazing moment for her to meet Father Christmas and get that extra signature in her autograph book.
Even without needing to go at Christmas time, the characters will be there waiting and if your little ones want to meet characters like Mickey Mouse, you are far better off meeting them at the hotel rather than waiting the 90 minutes to Meet Mickey Mouse in the Disneyland Park.
The official photographers are there too and they asked Olivia to go back to give Mickey Mouse a kiss!
3. Meet the Characters in the Parks
All of the characters in the Walt Disney Studios Park now have to be reserved in advance on the Lineberty App – Minnie Mouse is over there, as are the Toy Story Characters, and, Spiderman.
Olivia really wanted to meet Spiderman and we weren’t familiar with this app until we tried to meet Pluto and were told we needed a reservation! Upon closer inspection it seems like a good idea – you can get into a virtual queue to meet the character of your choice, then spend minimal time actually queuing up and get your photos and autographs done ready for you to go straight back to the rides.
Spiderman was great, and I wish we could have done Minnie Mouse too except her queue was full up when we tried to get a space, and also I didn’t see any way of knowing if it was Minnie or one of the other characters! Either way, these are definitely easier to meet and greet than in the Disneyland Park where you physically queue up for as long as it takes.
4. The Parade
We only managed to gatecrash the parade on this trip, which was a shame as Olivia wanted to see Anna, Elsa and Rapunzel, who all feature in the parade. The trouble was the timing as she was pretty much asleep at that time every day we were there! I don’t think there is a way you can actually meet those other characters, so if you have Frozen or Tangled fans, try to get a good spot near the ground so you can see Rapunzel (Anna and Elsa are on a big float so you can’t miss them!)
5. The Illuminations
We didn’t get to see these at all this time due to Olivia needing sleep and feeling a bit rotten, and also, the cold would have been even worse at 10pm when the Fireworks started. However we have seen them before and absolutely loved them! The whole castle is lit up and projected onto, it’s truly magnificent and I’m more than a little gutted that we couldn’t stay to see them on this trip.
6. Christmas Shows
One of the other advantages to going to Disneyland at Christmas time is that you get a bunch of extra Christmas shows put on! Most of them are on stages outside, however one was indoors in the nice warm Videopolis near Space Mountain and the Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast ride. Olivia loved watching Mickey and Minnie Mouse and it’s great because you get a seat and a chance to warm up a bit before going and braving the cold again! Plus, French hot chocolate is yummy and there’s a food spot right inside where you can use your magic passes/food vouchers!!!
Would we do it all again?
I never want another Christmas at home – think of how much of the rubbish we have skipped out on by being away! The girls knew that they were only getting little presents as Disneyland was their Christmas present, and we had no dinner to cook (we don’t eat Turkey anyway!)
Okay, so maybe we won’t do it every year, but it was really nice to get away over Christmas and Disneyland was simply incredible over Christmas time. 100% recommend!
Have you taken your family away over Christmas? Will you be doing it again?
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