I had been to Europe a couple of times, but for some reason, France was left out of each and every itinerary in the past and I can’t remember exactly why. The ONLY encounter I have had with France was a side trip out of Switzerland, to a tiny town called “Evian” (yes.. I believe that’s where the famous mineral water brand came from). I guess you could say I didn’t choose to go to France this time either, but rather it was what was available to fly with the Singapore Krisflyer points that I had accumulated over the last year, during the period we wanted to go. We picked to go during the week after the Monaco Grand Prix (one of the F1 races that I really wanted to attend) from the 29th May to 10th June. I would have liked to go to Monaco F1 but given our late planning, it was just not worth it. What finally sold it for me (hmm.. wait.. actually Ethan), was that the fact that there is a Disneyland over there. So not only does mummy get to go shopping, at least there is something in it for Ethan.
Our trip was pretty short though.. just 10 days with a rather cramped itinerary that covered Disneyland, Paris city and a bit of the French Riviera (namely Nice, Cannes and Monaco). With a direct flight that took just over 13 hours, we thought we could manage with a 3 year old travelling with us. Surprisingly we did.. which we achieved with an overnight flight!
For our first stop, our original intent was to take it easy on the first day before going to Disneyland Paris the following day (Given the 6 hours time difference and jetlag will probably consume us). But with unfavourable weather forecast (which turned out to be untrue).. we wasted NO time at all, and headed straight from the airport when we landed at around 7am, to drop off our luggages to our hotel near Disneyland Paris. Thankfully, there was a shuttle service as well that took us straight to Disneyland as well, and we even managed to arrive at the gate before opening time of 9:30am! As expected, Ethan fell asleep (jet lag / time zone difference), while we barely stay awake with a bit of adrenaline and perhaps strong coffee.
This is my second trip to Disneyland (last one being at California just a year ago), so we were quite familiar with the system. There are a lot of similarities between the two, and we used the same strategy as our last trip to beat the queues. It was as simple as download the Disney mobile app, and head straight for rides that showed up in the app with the shortest waiting times. This usually means the rides towards the farthest end of the park first in the morning. Once we were in to the main park, we went straight for “It’s a Small World After All”, and then the Peter Pan’s Flight ride. Then we went for Pirates of the Caribbean ride which surprisingly had NO LINE at all! I am guessing this one looked a little scarier than other rides, though it’s probably the one I enjoy the most. The rest of the rides were pretty much optional. The unique ones that we didn’t get to see in the one in California, were rides like the “Autopia”, which I can best describe as a car ride from the 70s..
Arguably, one of the least popular ride (or perhaps should be called “attraction”), turned out to be Ethan’s favourite! It has a rather French name called, “Les Mysteres du Nautilus”. We called it the “yellow submarine” ride. And it’s really a ride where we get to walk underground into a ‘submarine’ to see the mysteries of this special submarine and the undersea. Ethan was addicted to the part where you get to see a scary octopus gradually showing up on one of the pitch dark windows. It’s really just a video of an octopus playing in a loop on a giant screen, but we probably spent a good hour in there alone. No idea why he liked it so much. Best of all, there were absolutely NO line at all.
The ‘second’ favourite ride for Ethan would have to be the Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast ride, where he was semi in-charge. He gets to hold a laser gun firing away at all the monsters, and evil robots while we ride in this ‘space ship’..
I even went on the only “heartbeat raising” ride, i.e. Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain without a queue as I went alone. I can only describe it as the indoor version of a similar ride we have at Universal Studios in Singapore (except that one is outdoors). Overall, we didn’t have to wait any more than 10-20 minutes for most rides. We didn’t try go to every single ride, nor did we bother to stay behind until 11pm for the fireworks either though. We were pretty much done by 4pm (and happily did) as jet lag started to kick in. We (minus Ethan) were surprised we were able to last just about the whole day without falling asleep! I put it down to the fact that we had a good sleep on the flight, as well as adrenaline and perhaps coffee that kept us going all day!
After we left the park, the best discovery we made was arguably the pizza we ordered for takeaway (meant for Ethan) from Vapianos. It’s a chain restaurant located just outside the entrance gate to Disneyland, and frankly the food on offer looked better than anything else we saw in the theme park itself! So when I got the takeaway pizza, we were pleasantly surprised when we opened the box in the hotel to find out that it was shaped like “Mickey Mouse”!
More importantly, Ethan actually ate most of the pizza too! THAT is rare. Maybe we don’t get to have good pizzas in Singapore much, but whatever we had was definitely good pizza!
Another important find (at least for us) was bubble tea! We came to France thinking Ethan is going to have trouble “surviving” without bubble tea for 10 days, but we “ran” into it on the first day, at this local joint called “BB Tea” near our accommodation.
The tea turned out to be VERY nice too, though the price was at least twice we pay for in Singapore.
For the second day, we went to Walt Disney Studios located just next door to the main park, and frankly I did not have high expectations for it to begin with. Reading the reviews prior.. I knew Ethan (being 3 years old) weren’t going to enjoy it as much as the main Disneyland Park itself given it appeals to older kids. There were a few shows/rides that I knew we had to see, namely Ratatouille, along with Stitch Live. Everything else were “optional extras”. Unlike the main park, the queues just got too unbearably long (more than 45 mins) by late morning/mid-day. The only other show we went to see was “Disney Studio Live” which Ethan slept through. We had seen this one before in California as well. We were pretty much done by 2pm. Thinking back, that was pretty bad value for money, in terms of the short amount of time we spent there (probably less than 4 hours in total). We had so much time left in the afternoon, we went strolling around the Val d’Europe shopping center near where we stayed. Ethan probably had as much fun in the toy shops and play areas as he did in the Disneyland Park itself from the expressions he showed me.
Time flew by so quickly when you have fun. We only had 2 days for Disneyland, and already packing up to head to our next destination. We barely had time to enjoy our accommodation at all, which included a spa/swimming pool. I did go to have a quick dip in the morning myself (unfortunately Ethan wasn’t allowed). But before you know it, we packed up, went to the train station to head straight to our next destination.. French Riviera!