IF you’re wondering where to take the family for the October school holidays, then I reckon I may have an answer that the children will love you for ever for.
It may seem an obvious choice, but Disneyland Paris offers feel-good fun for everyone. I know as I have been lucky enough to visit during the Hallowe’en Festival and had a Cinderella’s Ball of a time.
Spell-binding during any season, Disneyland Paris is even more enchanting this year as it is currently celebrating its 25th anniversary. Autumn is especially ‘spooktacular’ with giant pumpkins, parades, ghosts and adrenaline-fuelled rides during October and early November. You don’t have to wait to celebrate Guy Fawkes on November 5 as every night is a fireworks fiesta.
The incredible Disney Illuminations show each evening is simply a must-see at least once in your lifetime. As if by magic, the turrets and towers light up as the wonder of Disney is brought to life in front of your very eyes in a blaze of special effects.
Lasers and holograms decorate Sleeping Beauty Castle in an explosion of flames and fountains that sprinkle sparkly stardust across Paris skies. This mesmerising show is the icing on the cake of an extraordinary journey through Disneyland Paris.
Without any young children in tow, I thought I might feel as welcome as Cruella De Vil, but far from it. Costumed characters from Donald Duck to Olaf grinned from ear to ear as they embraced their meet ‘n’ greet guests.
A handsome Gaston from Beauty and the Beast flirtatiously blew kisses and smugly posed for photos. The crowd were all for dressing up too – it seemed almost everyone had Mickey or Minnie Mouse ears.
There are two parks within Disneyland Paris – those with younger children will enjoy more gentle entertainment in the company of princesses to pirates in Disneyland Park; while teenagers and adults will undoubtedly relish the thrills and spills of Walt Disney Studios.
At the latter, the Studio Tram Tour: Behind the Magic is an action-packed adventure around full-scale film sets. It was like being in the middle of a disaster movie as a tanker suddenly exploded in a ball of flames and a river realistically burst its banks, threatening to swallow us up in the flood.
If you’re brave enough, the Twilight Tower of Terror does just what it says on the tin. I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but I wouldn’t eat lunch at the many themed restaurants before you enter!
Highlights for the 25th anniversary include a new parade and the Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain – definitely a force to be reckoned with, while youngsters can also join the Jedi Training Academy for some sabre laser action.
Located in the new town of Marne-la-Vallée, Disneyland Paris (www.disneylandparis.co.uk) is a short train ride from the centre of the French capital as well as Charles de Gaulle airport.
Booking into one of the seven individually-themed Disney Hotels gives you VIP access to attractions with FASTPASS and extended time to roam the Parks with Extra Magic Hours.
I stayed at one of the associated hotels on the Resort – the Vienna House Magic Circus Hotel Paris (viennahouse.com/en/magic-circus-paris), a 10-minute free shuttle ride away. Family rooms are decorated like big tents, with a double bed and curtained off bunk, while reception staff are dressed like ringmasters.
The new Villages Nature Paris now also offers self-catering cottages and apartments as well as impressive leisure facilities, including an amazing water park, which you can buy a day pass for.
Experiencing the wonder of Disney through your children’s eyes will undoubtedly make the holiday even more special, but Disneyland Paris is not just for families.
Our grown-up-only break gave us the freedom to go bargain hunting at the luxury outlet shopping centre La Vallée Village as well as quaff bubbly at famous cellars in the nearby celebrated region of Champagne.
Here’s to the 25th Anniversary of Disneyland Paris and many more years of making all ages very happy… Santé!
The Dunstane Houses have stood at the gateway to old-town Edinburgh since the 1860s. Now they are being transformed into a boutique hotel. Dunstane House (thedunstane.com) has already received a million-pound renovation, while twin property Hampton House will open at the end of 2017. All-day dining is available at the Ba’ Bar, with Scottish produce and rare whiskies.
‘The Sheldrick Trust – 40 years On’ is a poignant short film charting the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust which works for the protection and conservation of wildlife. The DSWT has pioneered hand-raising orphaned baby elephants. The film will premiere at London’s Royal Geographical Society on 12 Oct 2017 during the Explorers against Extinction event organised by the Real Africa Trust.
Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines (fredolsencruises.com) is reinforcing its Scottish connections in 2018 by introducing its flagship Balmoral to Rosyth (Edinburgh) for the first time. Nine itineraries will include the Norwegian Fjords, Baltic and German Waterways, while there will also be sailings from Newcastle. Book by 18 Oct 2017 to receive a free upgrade to All Inclusive drinks.
Here is a Christmas gift of a holiday! Esprit Ski (espritski.com) is offering seven nights on a chalet board basis (HB with afternoon tea and wine at dinner) to Chalet Begonia, La Rosière, France, from just under £500 pp (£1,999 for a family of four). The price includes return flights from Edinburgh and transfers, departing on 19th Dec 2017.