My gorgeous nephew Harvey is a big Disney fan, he can name every princess and is in that precious stage of childhood where everything is magical. After years of pleading, and plenty of research, my sister and brother-in-law decided the time was right to take their two boys to Disneyland. This is their story.
Harvey, age 6
Disneyland was very good. When we got there I made a video where Daddy said close my eyes and then I opened my eyes and Daddy said “can you see the Princess castle” and I said “I can see everything!”
I went on a sky high ride but I was a little bit scared because I sort of went too high but I enjoyed it and that was the first ride I went on. And Ryan and Daddy went on Hyperspace Mountain.
I went on Haunted House, it wasn’t scary, not as scary as Twilight Zone. And a Star Wars ride. I couldn’t go on Space Mountain because I was too young.
We didn’t have to queue for the rides, only the Buzz Lightyear ride. I liked Pirates of the Caribbean because it showed everything in it. There was some lady (The Wicked Queen) in a house and she shut the window and opened it again. And also in the Alice In Wonderland maze I saw the Queen of Hearts and she was so angry! I like mazes because I find the way through.
There was only one ride I didn’t like, it was called The Twilight Zone and people call it Terror Tower. I didn’t like it because it was too scary. Let me tell you how it was too scary, because I was sitting on a small chair and then I’ve gone down so fast and then I cried. Mummy loved Terror Tower but I was sick on it and Ryan didn’t like it at all.
Characters and parades
I saw some animated characters in the Studios Park, they were Snow White, Cinderella, Mickey Mouse and Mushu from Mulan. And someone from Frozen.
We took a picture of some people. I took a picture with Maleficent and I think Ariel.
I saw a parade when it was still sunny, it was a princess parade. I did have one firework night. It was at the princess castle and it was so cool because when they let them go it showed Mickey Mouse on the castle sitting on a snowflake and Elsa was singing “Let it go”. That was how I liked it.
I had one breakfast to see the characters but I only saw a few. I think I saw Piglet from Winnie the Pooh, Eyore, I saw the richest duck (Scrooge), Daisy Duck, Mickey Mouse, I saw him a lot of times and I think I saw Tigger as well.
For lunch we had a cheese sandwich but the cheese was terrible because it actually tasted like a chicken’s mouth. But the breakfast with the characters was very nice.
My favourite bit was the Disney stores and the (It’s a Small World) castle ride where all of the dollies sing it’s a small, small world. And they were from all different countries like Kenya.
There was even a hundred Disney stores. I bought two things at Disney stores. Let me tell you which ones there are.
There was a Disney store near the hotel that I was in and another Disney store nearly near the hotels, and let me tell you what I got. I got a magic wand lightsaber and a Tinkerbell doll that actually can flap its wings if you press the button on the back. I think I bought them with my pocket money but I’m not sure.
I got some Minnie ears and they were limited edition.
Final thoughts from Harvey
My favourite thing was everything. The thing I didn’t like at all was Twilight Zone the most, it was the worstest whole entire one.
I would like to go back to Disneyland because when we left I was very sad.
It was my best holiday ever.
Ryan, age 9
There was this sign where there were two flying people and they didn’t have any clothes on and you could see their bums! (pick pocket warning sign).
I liked the spaceship ride with asteroids hitting it, and then in the middle fire hits it. And the Dumbo ride that goes up and up and up. There was only one ride I couldn’t go on because I wasn’t tall enough and that was Big Thunder Mountain.
One of my favourite ones was Autopia where Harvey went with Daddy but I got to go on my own and it’s where you drive but if you’re about to crash it keeps you on the road because it’s got a safety thing so the wheels don’t go off.
Daddy and Harvey were in front of me but they got stuck on an island and the light went green so I went past them.
I didn’t like the ride that Harvey wanted to go on because it went round in circles and it was boring. And the haunted house because it wasn’t that haunted. It has skulls and things but nothing that freaked me out.
Global landmarks and rude words
My favourite bit was It’s a Small World where you get to see mini people, bigger than you but there was the Eiffel Tower and the Golden Gate Bridge. You went round it on a boat and at the start it said hello in every language and at the end it said goodbye in every language and one of them looked like the word fart, but it was ‘fahrt’ but it didn’t look much like an h!
Ethics and fairness
Some of the rides you have to wait an hour and some people get fast tracked and they can skip queues but it’s really expensive. Every time you were about to take a photo with someone there was always a fast track that was going to go right before us.
I don’t think it’s fair, everyone should have it the same without anyone having to pay.
The first two days we got to go on the rides quicker because it wasn’t the weekend. We ran out of time to see everything we wanted to see.
Food and shopping
For breakfast we had a buffet and I had beans, sausages, eggs and something else. We met some of the characters, my favourite was Goofy. We didn’t get to see Pluto because everyone wanted to see him.
Harvey wanted to go in every Disney shop. I got a lightsaber and a Mickey Mouse dressed up for Halloween, and a fidget spinner.
Final thoughts from Ryan
We all got along very well and I only played with my tablet for maybe two hours the whole time. It was my favourite holiday, I liked it more than when we go to a villa on the beach.
We all loved it, it was great being together as a family and seeing the boys enjoy themselves so much.
It was nice to do something different from our usual beach holiday, and this was great family time, we were together the whole time. Rather than having a lay in, we were up and out of the hotel by 8am, walked up to ten miles a day and then all went to bed early and exhausted! Four days was enough, I’m not sure I’d have energy for seven, although the boys wanted to stay longer.
We booked direct with Disney, who were offering a discounted package as part of the park’s 25 year anniversary celebrations. The 4 day, 3 night package for our family of 4 cost £1500 and included:
- Eurostar train tickets from London to Disneyland
- 4 day theme park tickets
- Accommodation (1 double room with extra beds for the kids)
- Express luggage service
- Half board plus (breakfast and either lunch or dinner)
- Breakfast with the characters
Two weeks prior to departure a welcome pack arrived in post with Disney luggage tags for each of us, that was a nice touch and the kids loved it.
We live in Oxfordshire so we had a very early start to catch the Eurostar in London. We took five trains to reach Disneyland, but the kids were excited so we had a good trip.
Express luggage service
On arrival at the Disney train station, our luggage was taken to the hotel for us so we could go straight to the park. Although the queue for this was 20 minutes, it was a really good service, especially on the way back as we were able to have a day in the park and collect our luggage at the station.
Harvey loves Disney princesses so it was heaven on earth for him. Ryan thought it would be full of princesses so he was pleasantly surprised by how much there was for him. He even wanted his own Mickey ears which surprised me.
Kids are honest, adults are not. There were so many rude and selfish parents. On one occasion Harvey was pushed out of the way, into the road by a man whose wife then held Harvey back by his head, so the man could film the parade. They didn’t even have children with them. Several times parents pushed in line for rides, whereas children didn’t. Time at the park is precious for all of us, we teach our children manners and would like to see others do the same.
We stayed at the Sequoia Lodge, which was average. I wish we’d booked Newport Bay which had just been refurbished, it was glistening like a mirage across the lake and looked lovely. Next time I’d check to see which, if any, hotels have recently been updated.
Food and drink
Our package included breakfast, although this was only a croissant and a drink, not much food considering the active day ahead. We booked one character breakfast before we went (they fill up quickly so it’s worth pre-booking), this cost extra and included a buffet breakfast, with plenty to eat. I was able to make up sandwiches for us all for lunch from the buffet, so it was worth the extra cost.
There’s a huge choice of restaurants in both the park and hotels, but you can only book a day in advance. We hadn’t booked anything for our first night, and struggled to find a table. Each day we had to choose a new restaurant and get it booked for the following evening.
It’s worth taking snacks into the park, the breakfast wasn’t enough to see us through to lunch, especially as we were on the go the whole time, and of course snacks in the park are very expensive.
As it was Halloween, staff were walking around handing out mini packs of sweets, but this can’t be counted on.
I made up sandwiches for lunch from the buffet, as the food in the park is so expensive. On the last day we visited McDonalds, we had to queue for half an hour and paid twice as much as we would in the UK (€35 for 4 meals). Despite the cost, the food was cold.
I wish we’d booked a lunch with the princesses (Auberge de Cendrillon). Instead of queuing for 90 minutes per princess, as we did at the character breakfast, they come to you at your table and join you for a chat. I didn’t book it as it was expensive, but in hindsight it would have been better to pay the extra than to queue for several hours.
There’s a huge choice of restaurants in both the park and hotels, but you can only book a day in advance. We hadn’t booked anything for our first night, and struggled to find a table.
Each day we had to choose a new restaurant and get it booked for the following evening.
The quality of food varies a lot between restaurants. Some restaurants have two menus (e.g. The Steak House), one for people using half board vouchers, like us, another for people prepared to pay extra. The half board menu has only two options per course. The kids meals tiny and served on a plastic Mickey Mouse plate which Ryan, at 9 years of age, didn’t appreciate, and the portion was far too small for him.
We found the all you can eat buffet in our hotel very good (Hunter’s Grill, Sequoia Lodge). There was plenty of choice and the quality was good. Ryan could get enough to eat and they boys loved the dessert choices which changed every day, for example one day there was a chocolate fountain.
If we hadn’t chosen the half board food option we would have paid a fortune for food. The all you can eat buffet in the hotel was €35 per adult, so it would have cost well over €100 a night for the four of us.
Drinks were really expensive, a beer was around €8-9 and trust me, at the end of a long day the adults need a drink!
Final thoughts from Mum
I think the right age range to visit is 5 to 10 years. When they’re 5 you can get by without a pushchair and there are no issues with accidents or having to rush to the toilet. They’re also old enough to appreciate it. By 10, kids these days might think it’s a bit young for them. I was taken to Disney when I was 14 and didn’t think it was cool!
We loved being together as a family and seeing the kids enjoy it. Harvey cried his eyes out at the end, he was devastated to leave and wants to go to Disneyworld next. We teach our boys the value of money, so we now have a family savings tin for our next Disney holiday. When we make savings as a family we put the money in the tin and the boys contribute to the fund by selling their old toys. We’ll go again in the next 18 months, and it’s all we’ll hear about from the boys until then!
The whole experience was fantastic, the staff could never do enough for you to make the experience perfect for the kids. You know you’re going to pay a lot, but it’s worth it just to see the kids’ faces, Harvey especially.
I thought the Twilight Zone was brilliant, it was by far the best ride but the kids hated it! The Queen of Hearts was hilarious. She made boxing fists at Harvey and then blew kisses at me, she had the boys in stitches!
I’d say get there early as the queues towards the middle of the day were horrendous. We were stood for 45 minutes to see Mickey and then some fast track people arrived and we had to wait another 10 minutes, with two very excited kids who didn’t understand why someone was pushing in. Not everyone can afford fast track, it feels like it is geared up to the rich.
Next time if I could I’d avoid Eurostar, every step was a rush and we were being pushed and shoved during rush hour in London. A flight would have cost less. I’d also consider staying just outside the park where the hotels and food are cheaper, and it’s only one 5 minute train stop down the road.
It was brilliant. If I could I’d take them back tomorrow.
- Pack a breakfast and snacks for the train journey
- Hotel check in took 40 minutes. Like everyone else, we checked in after the park closed at 5:30pm. Next time we would eat dinner first to avoid the queue.
- We took drinks from home to take into the park to avoid inflated charges
- When you’re staying in an official Disney hotel you get into the park 2 hours earlier (Disney magic hours) than the general public, however there wasn’t much open so it was hard to find enough to do until 10am. Not very magic!
- Made up sandwiches for lunch from the buffet, as food was so expensive.
- Take snacks, a large bag of Dorritos was €5 when you can get them for £1-2 in the UK.
- Take a basic medical kit – there weren’t many places to buy things like Paracetomol and if you could find it, it was very expensive.
- There was only one plug socket in the hotel room, so take an extension lead!
- There are no mobile phone charging stations in the park, take a power pack so you can keep your camera on for photo opportunities
- The PhotoPass + package sounds great, but it was a bit of a rip off as only about three rides had cameras and there were often no official photographers with the characters. We got about ten different photos from the PhotoPass+ service, which cost £45, the rest I took myself.
- Some characters have a 90 minute wait for photographs. It would be better with an appointment system, or to have more characters wandering around. But in the meantime, choose the characters you want to see according to how much time you want to wait.