Le Grand Voyage 2017 | Day Four - Disneyland Calling


Having told our son that, for our holiday, we were going on a big boat to meet Mickey Mouse, it was the big day - we were off to Disneyland! To put this in to context, when we got on the ferry in Dover, he was asking where Mickey Mouse was, and everyday afterwards he would ask the same question whenever we left the caravan.

After grabbing some breakfast (another 'Maxi Choco' - an elongated pain au chocolate) and getting ready, we set off. The drive down was pleasant, however we drove passed a number of memorials erected in honour of those that fell during the Great War. Even in an excited car, it was sobering to consider that this was a region that had been the central to the war.

After an hours drive, our excitement reach fever pitch as we saw the entrance to the Disneyland where Mickey was overseeing our arrival. We had decided that we would park on site in the anticipation that it would be easier to leave at the end of the day. We parted with our €20 and pulled into a bay, even with it being outside the school holidays I was surprised that the car parks was a lot of free spaces (the car park was less than a third full). After a few minutes walking and we arrived in to Disney Village. We had made the decision to go into Disneyland Parc, so we made a beeline for there through the various security measures (bag scans and metal detection).

After walking under the resort hotel we entered Main Street USA, sort of an old school American high street. It was here that we got our first glimpse of the Disney characters - Chip and Dale were stood in a bandstand, but they disappeared before we could get to them. The first place we visited was one of the many stores on site to get our son an autograph book and pen, before heading back onto the street to try and spend time with Goofy and Pluto. Again they went for a break before we could get to them, so instead we had a brief look in an Arcade showcasing posters and models from yesteryear.

We then proceeded to go through Main Street towards Sleeping Beauty's castle. I've got to admit, I was surprised how small it seemed, I always imagined it was massive (shows what I know). But we made our way up inside and I took my little boy for a look round whilst Nikki stayed with his pushchair. Just beyond the castle was the sword in the stone from one of my favourite stories.From there Nikki took our son on a carousel as the queue was quite short.

By this time we were looking to get some lunch. The first place we spotted was Au Chalet De La Marionette, inspired by Pinocchio, serving chicken and chips which was perfect for our family.

After lunch we spotted Peter Pan and Wendy, who again were just about to disappear for a break. Instead we joined a queue to meet Captain Hook and Mister Smee. After a short while my son got to meet some Disney characters - even if they were from a film he's not seen!

From there we made our way to the Pirates Of The Caribbean ride. The queues were very short for one of the iconic Disney rides. Through the very dark passages we walked (stumbling in places), before waiting a short while to board our boat. Our little boy loved the experience to my surprise, but the ride was soon over and we headed out to see what we looked like when our photo was taken (it wasn't the most flattering of shots).

We continued around the park, passed Peter Pan's Flight as the queues looked to be too long, and found a theatre where you could meet Mickey Mouse. The queue was due to last 30 minutes, but thanks to constant Mickey cartoons playing we were soon getting excited to meet the main man! Although it was a bit of a blur, I think we spent 5 minutes with him getting his autograph and photos taken alongside him. In all the excitement though, nikki and I forgot to get photos with us! I will admit when we left, I took our son outside whilst Nikki got our photos and we had a bit of a chat about the experience. Where it was the long day, where it was because we had built up this moment for him, I don't know, what I do know is that I came over very emotional.

When Nikki finally sorted our photographs out (buying Disney's PhotoPass+), we took a stroll through Fantasyland, passed Alice's Curios Labyrinth and the Princess Pavilion, to  sit down and have a well deserved ice cream. During this break we had our first shower of the day, fortunately we were sat under an umbrella so we didn't get too wet. Across from the ice cream store was It's A Small World. Having joked about the ride, we forced ourselves towards the entrance. Again the queues were kind to us and we soon boarded our boat as the music started to mesmerise us. In honesty I enjoyed the trip, so much so that we asked if we could go round for a second time with the queue almost being nonexistent. The cast members / staff agreed and we ended up on a boat of our own, which was great but surreal at the same time. On the second pass our son was obviously feeling more comfortable as he started to wave at the animals. The cast member at the end of the ride told us that by going on two successive trips the song will be stuck in our heads for 5 years!

We proceeded through Fantasyland on to Discoveryland, where we joined the queue for the Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast ride. This is an interactive ride with passengers helping Buzz shoot targets to accumulate their score. I found it to be a lot of fun, managing to score 55,400 which I thought was quite impressive for a first attempt.

We spent some time in the store buying a few souvenirs before returning to the gardens in front of the Sleeping Beauty's castle for the parade. We got a decent spot near the front for my son, but as soon as it started he wanted to be higher up, so he got bundled on to my shoulders for a better vantage point. The parade was great, with lots of recognisable characters taking part, the worst thing was my son grabbing on to my hair (a bit like Remy in 'Ratatouille' [2007]).

When the crowds started to disperse, we made our way to Frontierland and Adventure Isle we just walked around these areas before ending up at The Mad Hatters Teacups. I took the opportunity to take my son on these and I think he really enjoyed them, helping me spin the wheel making the cup turn faster.

At this point we had to consider our options, there was about three hours until the park closed and the illumination show began, but the characters were no longer accessible and rides were beginning to close. Somehow these hours passed by and we found ourselves near the front of the audience in time for the show. My little boy began to get restless in th hour we were stood there, so I offered him my phone to watch the 'Minions' [2015] film (I didn't think to download anything Disney before we left home). There was a cute moment when my son noticed a French girl next to him had started to watch the film, he turned the screen so she could see it easily.

The Illumination Show started at 21:00, with fireworks, fountains, lasers accompanying a projected montage of Disney footage set to some of their most iconic songs. By this time I was feeling exhausted so I don't remember a huge amount other than some of the songs just sound wrong not being sung in English.

When the show ended we followed the masses back along Main Street USA, back under the resort hotel, up toward Disney Village. We resisted the opportunity to go in there and continued back to the car... or so we thought. We ended up in the bus station area of the car park and had to negotiate roads that weren't suitable for tackling with a pushchair, but we made it back eventually without any other hitches. I was surprised at how easy it was to leave the car park, I was expecting it to be slow leaving, but we made it out in no time.

Tomorrow is going to be another rest day to recover from a couple of very hectic days and let my legs recover. We will also be looking at how we're going to approach our next / last day in Disneyland on Wednesday.

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