Is it possible to travel to Disneyland Paris with a toddler and pram? Elvira Mendoza shares her experience from a recent trip to Eurodisney with her husband and toddler.
I have just come back from a magical weekend at Disneyland Paris with my two-year-old toddler and my husband. It was especially magical for me, as I had dreamed about going there since I was a girl! We always use public transport, so we took the Thalys high speed train to Paris. Children under four are free on the Thalys if you carry them in your lap, or you can pay for an extra seat. We opted to carry our little one on our laps. The train ride takes three and a half hours from Amsterdam Centraal to Paris Nord.
There are always promotions running on the Thalys, and joining their mailing list gives you advance notice of cheaper price tickets. We chose a hotel that was two stations away from Disneyland Paris, and was a 45 minute train ride on the RER from Paris Nord. We coped with the Thalys train journey and RER ride by bringing small bags of toys of different sizes and shapes, doing a lot of window watching, using apps on my iphone and watching movies on my laptop. Our trip was at 3pm and our son had already taken his nap, so he was quite active on the train. We traveled with a pram, which we folded and stored while on the Thalys, and two bags and the diaper bag. A big issue with the pram is that, if by chance the escalators or lifts are damaged in the stations in Paris, it is a big effort to get it up or down; we had a couple of these moments but luckily someone always helped us. The Disneyland RER station has escalators and lift, and most of the RER stations going towards Disneyland have both as well. However, be prepared mentally to find that none work and opt for plan B: carry the pram and bags up and down.
We stayed in the Golden Tulip Marne La Vallée in a small town called Bussy Saint George. It is a 4-star hotel, and we had a very clean and nice room. The area has a nice Pâtisserie-Boulangerie, where you can get a nice French breakfast. The hotel is just a five minute walk from the RER station, which also was very practical. A suggestion to save a little money is to skip the breakfast in the hotel, and have a croissant, juice and coffee from a bakery. You can save time by catching the train and eating while on board. The park opens at 10am for those who are not staying in the Disney hotels. To use as much of the day as possible, it is important to arrive on time. We spent the whole day there. The pram was great because, every time my little one felt tired, he just went and sat down, and even took an hour's nap when he was exhausted. If you don't bring a pram, you can also rent one to use at the park.
We started with Fantasy Land. Fantasy Land begins with a crossing into the castle and of course this already makes a big impression on your little one. Be prepared to see some shocked faces at the beginning instead of happiness as they try to grasp what they are experiencing for the first time. On Disneyland Paris' website you can find a list of attractions appropriate for different age groups. We chose to follow their recommended attractions for toddlers: we started with “It’s a small world”, went into Alice´s maze, waited in the queue for one hour and a half to meet Mickey, rode the train Casey Jr. (from Dumbo), and, from then on, we just went around the park trying to look for fun things for all three of us. In Discovery Land there is Videopolis, a great place to take a break. Videopolis has Pixar movies running permanently, fast food to eat, and you can sit and relax for a while.
It was a great day at Disneyland. Our hotel room had a bathtub so all of us enjoyed that as well after the exhausting experience at the park. The next day, we left the hotel around 10am, had breakfast, and took the RER back to Gare du Nord. We followed good old Dutch tradition and had some sandwiches on the train, and papa and LO spent the three hour ride home to Amsterdam sleeping and me...reading.
So, yes, it is possible to go to Disneyland Paris with a toddler and the pram. We were very strict with our budget but we had nice time and even had lunch and dinner in Disneyland in the fast food places. My final recommendations are to book ahead for the best discounts, identify the rides that can be fun for everyone, and be prepared to walk and stand in the queue for hours. Carry books, toys, food and drink around for those moments, relax any time you can - and enjoy. At the end, our little one couldn´t stop laughing and smiling… and talked about Mickey all the way home. It was worth the trip!
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Elvira Helena Brock Mendoza is a Colombian mother and expat who has lived in Canada and South Africa, and traveled around different countries. Her company, Mariposa Vlinder, offers low-cost parties to children. View her blog at elvirahelena.blogspot.nl.
photo credit: Elvira Mendoza