Walt Disney was surely a very clever man. Not only did he bring us the most famous mouse of all time (Sorry Danger Mouse, you’re great but your predecessor casts a long shadow ). He also wrote the following – so simple and yet true.
“Laughter is timeless, imagination has no age, dreams are forever.”
The mere mention of the word Disney conjures up all of the feels from when I was my children’s age. Magic, fun, mystery, joy, adventures…..all limitless. Once you could imagine it you could believe it.
I’m going to be completely honest here. When Aer Lingus approached me to work with them promoting their September Sale I was blown away. When they mentioned Disneyland Paris my brain went into overdrive with excitement. We are a crowd after all…. a crowd of 2 adults and 4 young children with plenty of baggage (metaphorically too 🥴😂). It was certainly a win/win. Aer Lingus wanted to demonstrate the benefits of getting out & exploring regardless of your accompanying party at off peak times & we are 6 people always headed in different directions so less crowds sounds ideal.
I am all about the easy life to be honest. And my husband even more so. 10kg cabin luggage as standard (safe in the knowledge that no one would try wrestle it off me and into the hold) and flights into central airports such as Paris Charles de Gaulle holds huge appeal when you are operating on a 3 and 5 year olds schedule. The schedule of no patience, constant snacking, limited attention span, general disorder and chaos – let no man, woman or child come between me and my 10kg cabin luggage.
My kids went to school on Friday morning bursting with excitement. By 4pm Irish time we were sitting in our hotel room, the Newport Bay Hotel, ready to take the 5 minute stroll to the food village outside DisneyLand Paris. It was more of a slow gallop, if I am to be honest. Try slowing down 4 under 10 year olds with Disneyland tickets in their hands.
We ate in the Rainforest Cafe for the 1st night. Its a pretty fun place to eat with moving robotic animals, thunder storms with added light and sound effects (you obviously don’t get wet – its make believe). The food was mostly irrelevant but let’s face it, you aren’t in Disney for the food. It did the job and off we went into DisneyLand Park for the firework show and a few rollercoasters.
My Top Tips for Tackling Disney with Under 10 year olds:
- Book a private transfer. We did this & I wondered should I have chanced the train. The train station is literally at the door of the parks – so convenient for anyone coming from Paris or further afield. We booked a minibus van. With our bags and kids it really was so worthwhile. Paris CDG is a perfectly located for the Parks and is about 45minutes away door to door. At €150 return for the 6 of us, we felt it was money well spent. I also heard on my DM’s in Instagram from people who have done both with kids that this is a lot less hassle for not much more money.
- Bring a buggy!! I had no intention of bringing one until I was advised by someone I trust to do so. BEST DECISION EVER. Jacob is almost 4, for reference. We brought the buggy to France in July and in 3 weeks we used it twice (if you don’t include the trips to the laundry room sans child but full of our washing LOL). However we would have had certainly have ended up hiring one had we not. For context, I did 28000 steps on the Saturday – considering we stood in Que’s for over an hour at a time this is was huge.
- Get up super early. You’ll feel like you can’t do if following a late night at the amazing firework show the night before (9pm on Friday, 10pm on Saturday when we were there) however it really is a must. We set our alarms for 6:45am each morning in order to get all the sleepy heads down to the buffet breakfast by 7:30am. This was in order to get out to the park by 8:30am and avoid the worst of the que’s.
- Avoid peak season if possible. This really is my top tip. Forget the weather – you can wrap up. Aer Lingus do some great winter offers on their flights to Charles De Gaule year round. The park and their hotels also offer some great value on lower season. Most importantly though it’s about less people. From the length of the que’s to just getting around the park comfortably. By 10:45am on the Sunday morning we were there the que for the Ratotouille ride was 110mins long. Just to give you an idea.
- Bring breakfast in your hotel and bring snacks to the park. The village outside the parks has all the usual burger joints (McDonals, Planet Hollywood, Rainforest Cafe etc). None of it is gourmet cooking but it gets the job done – let ‘s face it you are not there for the food. However it was easy for us to walk into somewhere in the village at 6/7pm both nights with no booking. There was a big que for the Mickey Mouse cafe though so I would book this prior to going if you really want to get in at a specific time. I may have had some of the breakfast buffet pain au chocolat’s and croissants with me.
- Measure your kids before going. So you can have some idea what rides they cannot get on – you can prepare them to avoid disappointment. We did great in this regard. Jacob is 103cm and the cut off for any of the big rides that we would consider bringing him on is 102cm. Happy days. Bear in mind there will be rides closed for refurbishment too when you are there. Last weekend it was Indiana Jones and the – in case someone has their heart set on them.
- Head straight for a FastPass kiosk for the ride that is important to you as 10am. Not every ride has a FastPass however the big ones do. You scan your ticket and it generates another one for you at an allocated time slot for you to return and enjoy the ride after joining a much shorter que. We only managed to get 2 FastPass’s all weekend but that was fine. We did everything we wanted to do bar one ride for the boys. They are oblivious so happy days. You can buy a separate FastPass ticket also – they have varying grades with different prices. Disney only sell a limited number of these – they were gone when I looked at them but we did fine as we were. I think an older family would probably get more value from them to be honest.
- There are 2 parks – DisneyLand Park and Walt Disney Studios. Both are fantastic. We found the Studio Park to have an older crowd as it more of a theme park whereas DisneyLand was more magical. Both are really fantastic.
- There is priority access for those with additional needs. All the information on the Disneyland Paris site.
If budget allows I would stay in a Disney hotel to benefit of the Magic hours. This basically means that you get into the parks before the general public. This is not a necessity by any means but it is a very welcome luxury especially when travelling with small children.
Summary of Rides we experienced:
- Disneyland Park
- Big Thunder Mountain – 102cm. A runaway style steam engine that rattles around and through a mountain at speed. Minimum height 102cm. We all went on this. Fiadh cried getting on it but loved it. Ollie was notoriously happy getting on it but cried getting off it. Jacob decided once was enough. It’s fantastic but our mistake was we should have eased Ollie in rather than going for the jugular on ride 1.
- Pirates of the Carribbean – 102cm – everyone loved this despite the warnings outside that some children find it scary. We all went on this. Jacob decided once was enough here too.
- Phantom Manor – any height. Caoilinn & I did this whilst the others sailed the Thunder Mesa Riverboat landing. They LOVED it. Phantom Manor was good fun. Not a fast rollercoaster but spooky. It’s what I called a ghost train growing up.
- Le Cabane des Robinson – any height. This is super cute. They all loved exploring this.
- Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain – 120cm. Caoilinn & I did this – she also went on with her Dad. She loved it. I nearly had to be sedated after it. It’s a flyer. Still not over it.
- Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast – any height. We did this 4 times. The boys ADORED it and the girls really enjoyed it too. It’s a little carriage on a track that you can spin around whist shooting a laser gun at targets for a score. Harmless family fun.
- Star Wars Tours: The Adventures Continue – 102cm. This is a simulator. I predisposed to feeling sea sick when even looking at a car ferry. However I only felt my stomach rolling once really here. It’s great fun and we did this twice. Fiadh was terrified getting on but loved it. Jacob was convinced to go twice. It’s hard when you are 3 to understand that C3PO hasn’t really taken control of the ship and you are rattling around somewhere in some galaxy.
- Peter Pan’s Flight – any height. Every one loved this but it is super short. Its magical though and not a bit scary.
- Also did the Mad Hatter’s tea cups, Dumbo the flying elephant , le carrousel de Lancelot, Alice’s curious Labyrinth & Casey Jr – le petit train du Cirque. All great for the entire family.
2. Walt Disney Studio
- The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror – 102cm. You would want to be insane to put a small child on this. Simple because it is terrifying atmosphere wise. I have to say it was the biggest belly laugh I got in a very long time. It’s hilarious. Caoilinn did it with me and again with her Dad.
- Ratatouille – any height. This is a smilulator/roller coaster mixture. Its harmless and great fun. Highly recommend for all.
- Crush’s coaster – 107cm. Fast and furious rollercoaster. Ollie and Jacob gave it a miss. Which was the right decision. Jacob was too small regardless. The girls LOVED it.
- Slinky dog – all heights. The boys and their Dad did this. They really enjoyed it.
- Moteurs…..Action – all heights. This is a stunt show. It takes about an hour. Every loved this too. I’d highly recommend this – it also forces you to sit down and stop.
By 1.15pm on Sunday we were in our taxi bus en-route to Paris CDG for our 4pm flight. Tired, sleepy bodies with thousands of steps on their legs but still brimming with excitement from our magical adventure.
As I wearily loaded my crew on board I have to admit I was thankful for helpful crew, moving bags and guiding us along with out making any fuss. Landing 10 minutes from home also made the thought and practicality of the journey home much more appealing.
Thank you Aer Lingus for the greatest adventure. Travel outside of summer time doesn’t have to be only for those who are civilised & fully grown. An unruly bunch like us can do so too, without losing our sanity (or a family member in crowds) with a little help from you. No wonder you are Irelands only 4* airline – a fact pointed out to me by a 7 year old marketeers dream. Well I can see why.