Wow, where did the year go? As the year draws to a close, it is time to look back at our 2017 plans and wishes and review it. Did we tick them all off, what will be carried forward to 2018? So read on for […]
Tag: family time
Disneyland Paris at Christmas – A Memory to Last a Lifetime
Last Christmas after thinking of what to buy the kids for Christmas. Dreading the thought of just buying lots of toys just for the sake of buying toys. We certainly didn’t need more toys in our house as it was already bursting at the seams. I racked my brains, scrub that I quickly came up with the idea of creating a magical Christmas forever memory for the whole family. The obvious choice was Disneyland Paris, we had been several times before but not at Christmas. I thought that it would totally be out of my budget but still had a little online search. Once I saw that it wasn’t as expensive I dropped my trusty personal travel agent a message. She came up with a very reasonable price that couldn’t be missed. I made a snap decision and booked!!
The kids had absolutely no idea and as Christmas approached they gave me there lists. To which I replied with I’m not sure what I’m getting you yet. But whilst they were out of my hair at school and nursery, I head to Primark for the odd Disney clothes shop. And picked up thermals and warm clothes in the Aldi ski super buys.
The run-up to Christmas flew as it always does with endless school Christmas plays and activities. We were booked to go on the Monday before Christmas and return on Friday the day before Christmas Eve. On Saturday morning came the big reveal, the girls were dead excited. The boy or should I say Home Boy was less so as he makes out he would prefer to stay home and watch Ninjago on repeat.
Travelling with 5 children on my own can sometimes be a little full on but they are pretty good kids and realise when they need to help. My eldest, was fab being in-car entertainment when she wasn’t catching 40 winks! I opted to drive as I prefer that the kids are contained in the car rather than dealing with airports and hoping they behave on a flight or on the Eurostar.
We started our journey from Wiltshire at about 3am on the Monday, with the kids in their PJs. We arrived in Folkestone in good time and were on the train under the sea around 7am. The weather was good to us and we arrived as Davy Crockett mid-afternoon. We quickly decamped grabbed a snack and heading to the park.
The moment we entered those gates and the kids eyes lighted up, I knew that this certainly would live on in the minds forever. Disneyland Paris at Christmas was truly magical and everything that we had expected and more.
It was busy but we expected that so we didn’t go on some of the rides as there was no way we were queuing for anything an hour plus. We saw all the parades, some more than once as you spot things you didn’t the first time. One of our favourite things was to meet the characters and Aliza was no longer scared of large characters either.
We had a hectic busy, pretty exhausting 5 days but WOW we loved it. When we returned home we had a very low-key Christmas with minimal pressies. Not once was anything that wasn’t brought off of those long Christmas lists mentioned.
Now where are we off to this year, no pressure to top that then!!!!
Warwick Castle – Knights and Castles not just for boys.
Our final Merlin trip out for the summer holidays was to Warwick Castle. I have to admit it wasn’t first on our list when we got our Merlin Annual Passes earlier in the year. But chatting to the tribe they all agreed that the boy of the family would love a day out full of Knights and Castles. It sure isn’t just for boys the girls were hooked and loved every second, well apart from the odd squabble and toddler meltdown, but no family day out would be complete without those!
It is just under a 2 hour drive from us so as we usually do we packed a picnic and set off early for a full on day out. We were at the castle just before they opened so bagged a space close by in the stables car park, definitely worth the extra pennies as it was right at the castle entrance so no trek across town.
As we arrived the kids spotted a Knight on horseback add were instantly buzzing, then we all saw the size of the castle and couldn’t wait to explore.
We checked out the maze and completed all of the stamps on our card before finally stepping inside the castle walls, then stopping for a snack on the lawn in the middle whilst planning where we were going to head next.
There was a full schedule of shows and events to fill the day.
Having researched Warwick Castle on Instagram, the jousting was definitely a firm favourite with many so we needed to take a look, we got down to the field in plenty of time to get our ringside or should that be arena side view pitch. We certainly weren’t disappointed, it was amazing balls as one of the kids said. High pace, energetic, audience engaging with an added bit of sense of humour.
We then headed into the castle, wow wow the kids loved it. Then it was picnic time followed by a visit to the Princess Tower to help her solve the mystery.
The kingmaker display was very interesting but a little too dark for the baby of the family so couldn’t explore as much as we would have liked because she was desperate to escape.
Birds aren’t my thing so missed that one out (selfish Mummy!), plus the thought of trekking (carrying little ones up) up the tower didn’t appeal either so will do that on another visit when the kids are a bit bigger.
We finished the day off watching the Horrible Histories show and the fire catapult. The horrible histories show was very funny from start to finish, I had heard of Horrible Histories but never watched a programme or shared one of their books with the tribe, so I was amazed how informative and educational it was whilst being so light hearted. We will definitely be looking out for more HH stuff. We sat on the hillside waiting for the real fire to be launched by the man powered catapult. A good end to a memorable day.
We will definitely be returning, have you visited Warwick Castle? What was your favourite thing.
A few weeks ago we headed to Chessington World of Adventures, check out the highlights of our Chessington Adventure.
As a child I have some fond memories of family days out at Chessington World of Adventures. So it is great to add to those memories by taking the pickles all too.
A few years ago I took the two eldest girls for a night’s break at the Azteca Hotel, we had an amazing time and ever since I have wanted to return with the whole clan. Now we have our Merlin Annual passes, top of myself and most of the pickles theme parks to visit was Chessington.
After a rocky start to the holidays with the boy breaking both of his wrists, I wasn’t sure if we should still go as he wouldn’t be able to go on any rides and could be bored. But seriously what was I thinking, after taking a good look at the website, I saw there was shows for him to watch and tons of animals to see.
So we set off along the M4 on Wednesday, loaded up with a hearty picnic and waterproofs well it is British Summertime so rain was forecast.
After several toilet stops, we arrived just after 10, I thought being the first week of the school holidays it would be packed but I was wrong, the park was pretty quiet, with most ride queues only being between 5-10 minutes.
We downloaded the Chessington app, which was really helpful, to keep an eye on queue times, showtimes, closest toilets (essential when your taking a recently toilet trained toddler), a map of the park and where you were in the park, plus planner to help you keep track of all the things our family wanted to do on this visit.
What did we do and see?
So going back to those childhood memories of mine, a firm favourite has always been the Bubbleworks and as it is closing in September we hot footed it there, we will be returning later in the summer hopefully once Faryl’s plaster is off for him to ride it before it closes.
Then we had a rest and a snack watching the sea lion show, next to the sea lion bay is the Land of Kings featuring Tigers, Lions and Gorillas. The lions were pretty sleepy but always for the pickles to see the sheer size of them close up. As we got to the Tigers one came out had a wander around and the pickles followed her to the top of her enclosure, where she stretched out to bathe in the sunshine. We could watch the cheeky gorillas for hours on end, seeing the silver back get a little bit irritated by the young gorillas and beat his chest, then Aliza, 3 was so excited and proud that one of the baby Gorillas came to the glass and high fives her, definitely the highlight of her day.
I have seen the adverts for Pandamonium and have to admit I wasn’t so sure but, the kids were captivated and loved the interactive, entertaining show. Plus the baby Panda was pretty cute.
We headed to the sealife centre, definitely more interesting for the older pickles than the Little Pickles that were more interested in just dashing through until they found Dory, which the did and briefly looked at before racing off again.
We stopped for a picnic, but then it obviously started to rain, so we had to decamp and shelter under a tree finishing our picnic before the rain passed and we continued with our day.
My favourite animals are Giraffes so I couldn’t miss Zufari, the bumpy truck ride to see, Zebra, Rhinos, Giraffes and Flamingos.
We donned our poundland ponchos and got soaked on the Dragon Fall, a complete must for a family day out at a theme park.
Then we did some other rides including Tomb Blaster, Scorpion Express (The Baby’s first roller coaster) and finally myself and the 3 oldest girls braved the Vampire ride which I remember from my childhood and it was just as heart racing as ever.
So what did we miss?
Things we missed the Penguins of Madagascar show, Temple of Mayhem, Dragon’s playhouse, Canopy Capers and Jungle Bus plus several smaller rides. So plenty more to explore on our next trip plus you can never have enough goes on Zufari and of course the Bubbleworks before they close.
Plus all the rides Faryl missed out whilst waiting with Grandma sporting his plaster cast duo!
What did we eat?
We took a bumper picnic like we always do on a day out, full of plenty of bottles of water and snacks as walking 16,000 steps (yes that’s what my iPhone told me) needs lots of energy.
We only brought the odd coffee and slushy from a kiosk on this visit but next time we will hopefully take advantage of our 20% Merlin Annual Passholders discount and fill up at one of the parks restaurants before our long drive home.
On the way home the kids actually said a huge Thank You off their own backs (no prompting, that is like a huge parenting win in itself). Then went on to say that Chessington was the best theme park they have ever been to and can’t wait to go back, so off to find my diary and schedule a date to return.