So towards the end of August we had a lovely family holiday to Disneyland Paris with all of James' family (12 of us at some points)! As we were a large and slightly late booking going over a weekend we were lucky enough to have our meals thrown into the price (I'm sure you pay some way or another though).
James has a large family with 4 brothers and one sister, the youngest of his siblings being 4 and the eldest 24, plus his sister and brother had their partners with them! So both the Disney and Studio parks had something for the small and big kids alike. With it being August we knew it would be busy but with the kids having school and James' eldest brother returning from America with his new partner for a couple of weeks it was the only time we could all go.
We booked two lodges at the Camp Davy Crockett Ranch, we had two of the older style lodges-the beds weren't the most comfortable but for a place to get some shut eye they were perfectly fine (just ignore the fact we took the mattress off the sofa bed frame as it didn't fold flat)! From reviews I have read on trip advisor the new premium lodges are much better-I haven't seen one myself so can only go by what I have read. We only had one slight problem with the lodge, the floor was quite dirty on our first night, but once we mentioned it to the office they bought a cleaner around the next morning, apart from that the lodges were sparkling clean. A couple of downsides to the ranch was that we were in one of the furthest lodges from the pool area, and had to drive to it, and also the fab pool was absolutely freezing which was such a shame! I happily watched the others have fun from the sidelines, the boys all enjoyed the water slide!
With the meal vouchers we could collect our breakfast from a hut close to our lodge, every person got a bread roll, brioche and croissant, along with orange juice, milk and a selection of butter, jams, chocolate spread and sachets of hot chocolate/coffee/teas. For lunches and dinner we had ticket vouchers, these had a face value (I think lunch meals were about 11 euros, and dinner about 25 euros) as we were a large family we booked all of our dinner meals about a month or two before the holiday, this was very beneficial as we could just walk straight into our reserved table. The vouchers are only usable in certain restaurants, but you can also use them at their face value in other restaurants and pay the extra, which is what we did on a few nights. The lunch meal vouchers can only be used at selected fast food outlets, everything comes with chips (I even had salad one day which came with them)! So the lunch menu does get a bit tedious if you use them every day.
We were very lucky with the weather, the week before we went it was about 30C, and the week after they had a bit more rain, we had mid twenties with a breeze which was just right for me (if not a little too hot in the sun). It was just really nice to have 5 days of sun apart from one little shower whilst we ate our meal one night. Certainly made up for the lack of sun in Cornwall a couple of weeks earlier.
A large group obviously made it hard to stick together all the time so we went off and did our own things some days and stayed together some mornings, James was allowed a few goes on the big boy rides whilst me and his Mum looked after the little ones-the two boys spent ages jumping over a massive toy story Rex! Obviously I couldn't go on too much, so I did spend a fair amount of time sat on the paving waiting to wave to my boys!
One thing I did find a bit annoying-especially being pregnant was that smoking was allowed in the park and it seemed to be everyone, I guess the French still haven't caught onto that one then! And also the loos also weren't the nicest so think they could do with a few more cleaners especially on the busy days. Also whilst we were there a few of the bigger rides seemed to have a lot of problems with temporarily breaking down...
The kids (and big kids alike) had a lovely time, I was a bit sceptical as I do prefer more relaxing, less 'fake' holidays but I just loved watching our little boys face light up seeing the characters and enjoying himself on the rides. He hasn't stopped talking about it and keeps asking to go back, even when he plays with his cars, he makes up stories of them going to Disney and parking there etc. We found out that he is a very big Toy Story fan, and as we had a lot of Euros left (and James being James) he did come home with a big Buzz and Woody, Alex was very cute on the Buzz Lightyear ride, where instead of shooting the targets at the end of the ride he sat in awe and waved at Buzz saying "Hi Buzz"! Both toys have been taken to bed every night since!
-Take lots of snacks and water/drinks in a rucksack, and take the rucksack into the queues with you. (the drinks and snacks aren't cheap)!
-Take a stroller for kids under 5-there is a lot of walking involved even from the car park to the park gates is a long walk. You can hire them out if need be and there are plenty of places to leave them around the park.
-Make good use of fastpass tickets, get to the ride you want to go to first and work around the allocated time you are given.
-If you can afford it/if it's included in your price go for the meal vouchers, the meals would have been extremely costly otherwise. We saved so much money this way, and actually didn't need to take as many Euros with us as we did.
-If you don't have meal vouchers-take lunch in with you.
-Going in a large group makes queues go much quicker/more entertainment for the younger ones.
-Bring a strong man with you for holding tired toddlers in queues-luckily James fits that description!
-If you aren't staying at at Disney resort bare in mind you have to pay daily for the parking (15 euros).
-If extended family want to look after the little ones for a bit never say no ;)
-Wear comfy shoes (you wouldn't believe some of the heels I saw on some women)!
-Go to the toilets that are slightly out of the hustle and bustle, they are generally much quieter and cleaner!
-If you have young children go to one of the restaurants that have the characters come to the table-I have never seen Alex look so excited!
-Enjoy the look on your kids faces and film/take many photos to capture it.
-If you are buying toys, leave it until the last day-otherwise the kids will expect something everyday!
We have lots of lovely photos, but I know James doesn't like me putting too many on here. Also a lot of them have his family in too and don't think his parents would like the photos to go on here.