I am a freelance writer living in Gloucestershire. I have been writing family style articles in the form of columns for newspapers since 2000 and spent four years presenting an interview chat show on Forest of Dean Radio.
There is something so very magical about Disneyland. The anticipation and excitement starts from the first moment.
When we got to the end of the moving pavement at the entrance, the two year old, who had been dressed in her full Minnie Mouse regalia by the older girls, was so entranced, that she wanted more. She was most put out when we wouldn't allow her to go backwards on the moving platform and was only pacified when she saw the Disney towers, and realised that we were in DISNEYLAND.
We are of course all Disney mad in our house. The girls, from eldest daughter (22) down, are all aspiring Disney Princesses, and even eldest son, aged 19 was spotted skipping along the pavement at one point. This was much to the embarrassment of the 12 year old. It really isn't what big brothers do, but as he pointed out, this is the one place in the world where everyone, even 19 year old boys, can skip on the path.
There were nine of us in our party, aged from 2 to 50 but there really is something for everyone in Disneyland. It is the 20th anniversary of the Paris Parks and as such the events of the day are geared to the celebrations. In the afternoon there was a train to follow with Disney characters on board. The two and the four year old were so excited by this that we had to follow it all the way back to the gates. Twice.
With opportunities to be photographed with the "stars", children were queuing up for long periods to get a shot with their favourite princesses. The two year old wasn't keen on the wait, and instead dived through the rope to stand right in front of Rapunzel. She looked so cute and smiley that I was quite happy to risk the shame and take a photo there and then. Other members of the family are more respectable though and pulled her back.
The older 'kids' (12 to 22) then went off for the thrills and spills rides returning to join us later with, it has to be said, the girls all wearing princess crowns. Hubby and I settled for a more tame version of the parks, visiting (several times) the "Small World" ride, the Mary Poppins style Merry Go Round, Dumbo and the Teacups. Over in Toyland, where Buzz Lightyear is as big as the Eiffel Tower, we visited the Slinky Dog Ride. Two Year Old was up for more thrills than the four year old, but both had a ball.
If you do nothing else at Disneyland though, you must stay for the late night parade. It is a full show with the word magic taking on a new dimension. Two and Four year old were on Hubby's and Eldest Son's shoulders, and I thought that both men were going to be toppled by the excitement of the little ones 'waves', as "Mickey Mouse" glided past on his float in his full evening regalia. The whole crowd must have heard them shouting "Mickey"!
The fireworks are phenomenal. They use laser lighting too, and at one point, with Disney Towers lit up to look like "Notre Dame" we could easily have been convinced that we were actually forty miles down the down at the real cathedral.
We can all be cynical about Disney, about the clichéd endings and the rose tinted gloss to life, but Walt Disney was a very clever man. In a world where life can be more than a little depressing at times, Disney can lift our spirits and give us hope, even for a few minutes. Whether you are watching a Disney film such as Enchanted (a current favourite in our house) or at one of the world's Disneyland parks, you can, for a short while, be completely swept away from reality.
It is a bit of a hop from Bristol: 298 miles to be precise, with a stretch of water spanning 22 miles or so in the middle. But with the Eurostar from Paris only taking 2 hours and 40 minutes from St. Pancras, you can actually travel from Bristol to Disneyland in a little over 4 hours. There are current deals which allow 7 year olds and under to enter the park for free and lots of other internet offers. We managed to buy some of our tickets using supermarket points, and the rest as an internet deal. It brought the total cost down to a little under half price, not cheap, but for a real treat well worth every penny.
This really is something that everyone should do in their lives, at least once.