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A very Disney Christmas

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What is it? A trip to Disneyland Resort Paris in late November.

Where? We were fortunate enough to travel on the the first Disney train ever to leave the newly refurbished St Pancras International station for the Magic Kingdom. We spent one night in the Hotel New York before returning back to London late the following evening.

Description: [Boarding_the_eurostar.jpg]Decorated in sparkling Christmas lights with (real) reindeer and (fake) snow aplenty, the Magic Kingdom in late November can whisk even the most unrepentant Scrooge into a festive mood. Wendy Sloane took her two oldest daughters on the first Disney train to leave St Pancras International station to see what the fuss was all about

To get into the Christmas spirit, leaving all humbugs behind.

Of course the the Park and next-door Universal Studios have tons to offer, and a hopper pass lets you do both. But if you need a break from all that Disney madness, take advantage of the outdoor ice rink, have a swim or warm up in the hotel’s steam room and sauna.

The Park stays open until 10pm and there are restaurants outside the park, along with bars and nightclubs, that stay open later. And the metro station to Paris is virtually outside the gates.

Book baby-sitters in the Disney hotels.

We stayed in the Hotel New York, which has a gym, swimming pool with kid’s pool, steam room and sauna and full spa facilities. Check before you go to see what your hotel has on offer.

Local activities: See above. Or visit Paris!

Wish we had known: That the buffets in the restaurants were so palatable. We ate at a fast-food restaurant adjacent to the theatre showing the Lion King, which we all adored, but the food was nasty (unless you’re a fan of chewy chicken sandwiches). The buffets, however, were affordable and I enjoyed a most delicious boeuf bourguignon and absolutely scrummy scalloped potatoes, amongst other treats.

Our top tip: If you’re going in winter, take lots of warm clothes with you. The sun sets early and scarves, hats and gloves are a must.

Kids say: “I promise not to shut my eyes on the Peter Pan ride, Snow White ride and Phantom Manor if we can go on all of them again!” says Tilly. “Space Mountain was the best,” says Josie (who had to go with another adult as I was too scared of copious vomit [my own]).

Getting There: Prices for a two-night three-day package to Disneyland Resort Paris including return travel with Eurostar in November 2007 start from L248 per adult, L159 per child (aged 7-11yrs) and L83 per child aged 4-6yrs (travel only). Children under 7 years old stay and play for free during the park’s 15th birthday celebrations. The price includes two nights’ accommodation with continental breakfast at Disney’s Hotel Santa Fe and three-day hopper tickets for the Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park. For more information, visit www.disneylandparis.co.uk. Eurostar operates a daily service from London St Pancras International and Ashford International to the gates of Disneyland Resort Paris with return fares from L59. Tickets are available direct from eurostar.com or 08705 186 186

About our stay: As a devout Jewish atheist, there is nothing I love more than Christmas. Growing up amongst the Mormons in Utah, Christmas was always the most important holiday of the year, and we celebrated it in style. Although my parents drew the line at installing a life-sized plastic Santa with sleigh and reindeer on our roof, like many of our neighbours did, we nonetheless had one of the biggest Christmas trees around, with stacks and stacks of brightly wrapped pressies piled underneath. Imagine my excitement, then, when we were invited to travel on the first Disney train to leave St Pancras International station to Disneyland Resort Paris, to see the Magic Kingdom transformed into a magical winter wonderland in anticipation of the Big Day. Being in the States earlier that week I had already done most of my Christmas shopping, although it was only late November, so I was already in the Christmas spirit (albeit terribly skint). Bring it on! I arrived at the station with my two eldest daughters, Josie, 7, and five-year-old Tilly, raring to go. The three of us donned Minnie Mouse ears – yes, even sophisticated Josie – to make the most of being among the first people ever to make the maiden voyage from St Pancras to Disney, and listened happily to a merry brass band sending us off. Travelling Eurostar first-class made up for having to rise at an ungodly hour, and as I sipped coffee and ate my hot breakfast while skimming the morning papers, life couldn’t be better. [Mickey_and_minnie_on_ice.jpg] Two and a half hours later we arrived in Disney, where our luggage was whisked away and we made the five-minute walk to the Park. The cold weather and fact we were there mid-week meant virtually no queues, so as we waited five minutes for our first ride, It’s a Small World, we spontaneously burst into happy song. “It’s a small world, after all,” I sang loudly and joyfully, until a (rather handsome) Englishman behind us interrupted my reverie, remarking that he only knew a few of the words himself. “You only know the chorus? Listen to this!” I said proudly, and began to recite the entire song to him, from start to finish. But instead of thanking me profusely, he gave me an odd look. “You really need to get out more,” he said. All of a sudden, he didn’t look quite so handsome. From now until January 6th, Disney has transformed itself into a veritable Christmas extravaganza, with an enormous Christmas tree on Main Street, more than one million twinkling lights lighting up the evening sky, and even several fake snowfalls per day. My children in particular loved seeing Goofy dressed as Father Christmas in a beautifully decorated sledge, and also enjoyed watching the Mice on Ice (that’s Minnie and Mickey) skate alongside other Disney characters. I loved the Disney rendition of the Lion King, which is rumoured to often feature actors from the West End production in the cast. [Goofy_in_his_sleigh.jpg] The obligatory Disney Parade, which we have always adored, was also Christmas-themed with a (human) Father Christmas pulling up the rear being pulled by several (real) reindeer. Sadly, the genuine Rudolphs looked like they’d be a lot happier frolicking back in Lapland than doing Santa’s bidding on a hard pavement. Even Josie was a bit distressed when she saw them, preferring instead the nine-foot-tall reindeer characters who pranced around displaying their huge soft antlers and funny round bums. Our hotel was comfortable and the buffet breakfast was delicious, fortifying the girls to face the cold again the following morning. Despite my Utah origins I like warmth, so visiting Disney in November for me was a bit of a toss-up: bitter cold and no queues, or warm weather and long ones? With my fingers blue from the cold, it was a tough question. Josie and Tilly didn’t seem to mind the weather but even with a down jacket, hat and gloves, I still found it too bracing for my taste. Still, it was worth a touch of the old frostbite to get a dose of Disney – and a festive Christmas dose at that – to last me through the winter… Wendy Sloane is Travel Editor of entertainthekids.com. She divides her time between writing, travelling and taking care of her three small daughters.

Created: 2007-11-28 12:30:35.713

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