5 February 2019

Disneyland Paris Christmas 2018 │Day One:Travels, Sequoia & Annette's

Well, I haven't done a post like this in a while - a whole two years to be exact.
If you read my recent Disney post, you'll know that in December one of my besties Chloe and I went on a very festive break to Disneyland Paris. I'm aware that we're in February, so I hope you don't mind a little bit of festive cheer, even if it is two months late.

I stayed in London overnight with a close friend and bright and early on Monday morning, I met Chloe at St Pancras International. We traveled via Eurostar which, in my opinion, is the most efficient way to get to Disneyland Paris. Security was plain sailing, as it always is, and we went straight to PRET to get some on-journey snacks. When we were paying for our food, we overheard that our train had been delayed by half an hour. Great.

Half an hour turned into 45 minutes which then turned into an hour.
Chloe and I passed the time by catching up on each other's lives, eagerly anticipating our boarding call. The last time we saw each other was on our Halloween trip to Disneyland Paris in 2016 so as you can imagine, we had a lot to talk about.

Eventually, our train was called and we joined the rush of people heaving heavy suitcases down the platform. The rest of the journey was straightforward; we passed the time by doing our makeup, playing games and watching To All The Boys I've Loved Before.

As soon as we arrived, we jumped straight on a shuttle bus to our hotel. We chose to stay in on-site in Disney's Sequoia Lodge and I'll tell you now, we couldn't have picked a more beautiful place to stay.

The one perk of staying on-site is that the magic of the parks never leaves you. 
We pulled our cases into the lobby and neither of us could believe our eyes. It looked like one of the lodges you see in movies; there were Christmas trees on every corner, roaring log fires, twinkling lights draped and hot chocolates with cream and marshmallows. I'll be honest, I cried. It was beyond my imagination. 

It turns out that the Eurostar delay played in our favour as our room was ready early and we'd just missed the dreaded torrential rainstorm forecast for the afternoon. The cast members who checked us in were so helpful and had so much time for us, explaining our dining plan, reservations, and room keys. 

Included in our holiday package was the half board dining plan, entitling us to breakfast each morning in Café Hyperion as well as one full meal each day. The plan could be used in every restaurant apart from those including character dining, however, there is an option to book a Plaza Gardens character breakfast which we took advantage of. 

Sequoia Lodge is like a mini resort and I LOVE IT! 
I've stayed there once before but our room was in the main building, so being able to stay in one of the smaller lodges was lovely. Our room came with two double beds (much to the delight of Chloe and me), a huge bathroom mirror, a decent hairdryer, and a power shower. We couldn't have asked for much more. 

We dumped our stuff, put glitter on our faces and within minutes we were on our way into the park. 

Another great thing about staying at Sequoia - I promise I will shut up about this hotel at some point - is that it's a 10-minute walk from the parks. It's a beautiful walk through the woodland, around Lake Disney and then through the Disney Village. Obviously, shuttle buses are available but in my opinion, walking is so much quicker! 

When I turned the corner and saw the sun setting around the Disneyland Hotel, I could feel the excitement building inside me. I just wanted to get inside and walk down Main Street. I wanted to see Disneyland Paris in all its festive glory. My stomach was full of butterflies, I didn't know the perfect way to express my emotions. 

As we scanned our passes, I heard them announced that the parade would be starting in ten minutes. There were no questions asked. Chloe and I rushed to the edge of Main Street and luckily, we got a front row spot for our first parade of the trip. 

One thing I was most looking forward to was seeing Disney Stars on Parade in the dark. It took me back to being a little girl when Disneyland Paris had a nighttime parade before the fireworks - I still wish they'd bring that back.

We didn't have to wait for long before the music started and the characters came dancing past. There's something about watching the parade in the dark that adds a little extra magic. The floats are twinkling as they go past, character interaction is amazing and seeing the dragon breathe fire is SPECTACULAR! It's a completely different experience.

Chloe and I were both wearing our matching light up Christmas ears from Ears Ever After and we got so many compliments from characters, especially when we turned the lights on. As Rapunzel and Flynn went past in their carriage, Flynn pointed to our ears and Rapunzel said they looked as pretty as the lanterns. Then Aurora came over and told us how beautiful we looked.

We got the royal seal of approval. Life goals, complete.

If this trip taught me anything, it's that there's Disneyland and then there's Disneyland at Christmas. It's a whole new magical experience.

That first time seeing the castle at the bottom of Main Street is up there with one of the greatest feelings in the world. It was twinkling like pixie dust had be sprinkled all over it. I felt breathless like my body couldn't handle the mixture of emotions going round in my head. Did I want to cry? Laugh? Smile? Dance? Who knows.

I felt teary eyed as I walked towards the Castle, but then it started to snow and I lost it. Everything was perfect; Mickey-shaped garlands were draped over Main Street, the Christmas tree sparkled in the middle of Town Square and I was with one of my best friends in my favourite place. It's what dreams are made of.

We hung around Central Plaza for a while, taking photos and trying to come to terms with how magical it looked. All traces of reality had disappeared and we were in the perfect winter wonderland.

When we checked into the hotel we tried to book an evening meal at Captain Jacks as part of our dining plan. However, they told us that there was no room but we could enquire at the restaurant when we had a chance. So, Captain Jacks was our first port of call.

We made our way through Adventureland and into the restaurant. A very lovely cast member checked the system and told us that there was a reservation available for Wednesday night, our last night of the trip. We booked without hesitation. Chloe adores Captain Jack and it's been a dream of mine to dine in Captain Jack's (previously Blue Lagoon) for years - it was perfect!

Top Tip: If you want to book a table service restaurant at your hotel but there's no availability, then enquire at the restaurant in the park. It's still part of your dining plan and it means that you won't miss out! 

We left the restaurant and made Pirates of the Caribbean our first ride of the trip. Chloe hadn't been on it since the refurbishment last year, so when she saw Captain Jack now had his own permanent section, she freaked out a little bit. It's the perfect ride if you want to get warm as the queue is indoors and it's always a short wait. 

After Pirates, it was time for mine and Chloe's all-time favourite ride; Big Thunder Mountain. 
We were determined to go on it in the dark so when we saw that thirty-minute wait, we jumped straight in the queue. Within ten minutes we were hanging on to our hats and glasses (gold star if you got that reference) and whizzing away under Thunder Mesa. We cry-laughed the entire way around and the view of the Castle was breathtaking! 

Top Tip: If you can, go on Big Thunder Mountain in the dark. It's SO MUCH FUN!

Coming off Big Thunder gave us the buzz of energy we needed and once we'd calmed down, we made our way to It's A Small World. This is one of my favourites and always reminds me of family trips with my grandparents. As we started off on the boat we hummed along to the classic song, but what I wasn't expecting was for the ride to be Christmas themed. I was lost for words. It was adorable. 

After a long (kind of stressful) day traveling, we decided to skip Disney Illuminations and made our way towards the Disney Village for some food. Bizarrely, most of the restaurants in the park closed at 5pm, I understand that it's winter but I'd have hoped they'd be open for longer.

I'll be honest, I was craving a burger so Annette's Diner was top of the list. We were able to use our half board dining plan and I couldn't quite believe just how much food we got. I started with onion rings, then moved onto my chicken burger (which was to die for) and then finished things off with a slice of chocolate cake. I basically rolled down the steps on the way out. 

Annette's was lovely. It's a proper retro sixties diner and the staff serve you on rollerskates - I was completely baffled and couldn't help but wonder if they have to go through a rollerskate audition before they get the job. The staff were constantly photo-bombing guests selfies and couldn't have been more helpful, plus the food was absolutely delicious. My burger lived up to expectation and was exactly what I needed. 

As much as we wanted to spend the night singing karaoke in Sport's Bar, we thought it was best to call it a night and walked back to Sequoia. I was so ready to dive on that comfy double bed and I think I fell asleep straight away. We had an early morning ahead of us and another fun day in the park!

Lots of Love,


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