We flew into Paris early in the morning and caught a shuttle bus from the airport to our Disney Hotel. We stayed in the Disney theme hotel called the Sequoia Lodge which was kind of like an oversized version of the Dude Ranch in Blanding. It certainly reminded us of summer camp, except for the sub-zero temperatures. We weren't able to check into our hotel right away, but we did check our bags and got our park passes, which is what we really wanted anyway. We headed straight to the park and started scoping out the rides.
Eryka and I could hardly contain our anticipation as we came up to the park entrance. After passing through a quick security check, we entered the park and were engulfed in the Disney atmosphere. Actually, it had started a lot earlier with our hotel and our walk to the park from the hotel since we had to pass through the Disney village. Disneyland Paris is a whole Disney complex, and since Disney was able to buy up all the land and control development plans from the beginning, everything is Disney, Disney, Disney all around. It's very well done and keeps the spirit of Disney very alive (and allows Disney to maintain a tight leash on marketing and revenues).
Since it was a Sunday afternoon, the park was packed. The first ride the kids wanted to go on was the Dumbo Flight. After spending half of the afternoon standing in freezing temperatures with Isaac while Stella slept on my shoulder and Eryka explored the park with Joaquin, we spent 2 minutes of minor thrills (slightly more major for the kids - they kept asking to go on the Dumbo ride throughout our stay) and then I found out that was the longest line in the whole park that day.
After realizing we couldn't feel our toes any more, we walked back to our hotel and got our room key so we could get warm and gear up for an evening in the park. The kids were thrilled to have the Disney Channel in English and it was a bit of a struggle to convince them to go back out for dinner and the park, but Eryka and I were undaunted.
After a semi-fancy dinner in the Disney Village just outside of the park, we headed back to the Disneyland, where we hoped to take advantage of the extended hours on Sunday evenings. We were in luck. The kids were able to go on the Dumbo ride again with virtually no wait. We rode on nearly all the kiddy rides without any wait, and as the kids got tired, Eryka and I headed over to Space Mountain where we were able to do the "Kid Swap" -- after Eryka stood in line and rode while I waited at the exit with the kids, I was then able to jump on the next train without having to stand in line.
Exhausted, we headed to our hotel and got a good night's sleep.
Monday was the day we set aside for Paris. We hoped to see the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower and visit a nice restaurant, knowing our time was short and our ability to see very much in Paris would be limited to this one day and our ability to manage with the kids. We discovered that getting around an unfamiliar city in the winter is much more difficult with three kids than with two kids.
While the Louvre was great, our attempts at fine dining were thwarted by fussy, messy kids and we only caught a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower from the distance before we threw in the towel and caught the train back to Disneyland.
We were able to placate the kids after a not-so-fun day in Paris by spending the evening at the hotel swimming pool. This quickly became Isaac's favorite. The next day he and I made our own visit to the pool and he finally worked up the courage to swim with just floaties, no kickboard, and no assistance from Dad. He soon realized how much funner swimming was with his newfound freedom and also decided he was just like his favorite video game character, Link, from the Legend of Zelda series (because Link knows how to swim). That was very cool. In fact, the day after we got home from Paris, he said he wanted to go back to Disneyland so he could go swimming with floaties. Kids.
After Monday, we spent two more days in Disneyland. It was great because we didn't feel rushed, we were able to go on nearly all the rides, we saw parades and shows and characters and had a fun, magical holiday. The Buzz Lightyear ride was a big hit as the kids got to shoot their laser guns at the evil Zurg as we took a slow ride through the galazy. On the other hand, Isaac was seriously bitter that Mom dragged him on Thunder Mountain, and we had to buy Isaac's and Stella's forgiveness for taking them on Pirates of the Caribbean by getting them cute pirate t-shirts at the end of the ride.
The highlight of our time in the park was lunch at Sleeping Beauty's Castle on Tuesday. While the menu was certainly tops for a Disney park restaurant, the real premium came in the form of a personal visit from the Disney princesses taking time to visit with the kids and sign pictures as they waltzed through the restaurant. Stella absolutely adores the Disney princesses, and this was by far her favorite part of the trip, though she thought she had to play it cool every time a princess paid us a visit.
As you can see, Isaac wasn't shy at all about getting one-on-one time with the princesses.
To cap off our trip, we caught the Disney Christmas parade just before leaving the park and catching the shuttle bus to the airport. Here's a picture of Isaac enjoying the parade.
We hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas. We miss you all and love you and wish you the best of the New Year from our little corner of Europe.