In the beginning...
I was around 12 when my parents told my brother and I we would be going to
Blackpool for a 'little trip'. But from the beginning I knew that something was up! I'd rather you call me inquisitive, but in all honesty, I was just a nosey little kid! The things Mum kept buying, suitcases for example. Why did we need those to go to Blackpool? Then they tell us we'll be going on a coach, unusual because every other time we had gone in the car. Then, we're told we will be leaving at...! Blackpool is roughly an hour or so drive away, there was no way we needed to leave so early! So of course, I quizzed and questioned, the infamous, 'But why?' challenged their every answer.
Convinced something was going on, I was relentless, unlike my little brother, happy to go along with it all, completely oblivious. I am not really sure how long mum and dad planned to keep the secret, probably a lot longer than I let them! Looking back, I wish I could tell the younger me to just hush up and go along with it all! Finally, the cat was out of the bag, though after the enormous Mickey head luggage tags went on the cases, the game was up! We'd be taking the coach to Disneyland Paris, first to
, then a ferry to Dover , then the coach the rest of the way. We'd never been on a plane before and mum wasn't too keen on flying (my how things have changed now!) so the coach was the only way to get us there! Calais
We trundled along, all bundled up, at 4am to board the coach in the city centre. It had a few more stops to make before we would be underway. It was to be a very memorable trip! To start with, the coach driver got lost in
, driving around in literal circles looking for a family...that had already boarded the coach! Then the toilet broke. Our coach was full of families, most with young children and the driver was determined to make up for lost time, aka, toilet stops were out of the question! He did however, make frequent stops for the smokers, conveniently located nowhere near a toilet 90% of the time! Birmingham
We made it to the ferry just in time, waved goodbye to
and went off to explore the ship. I'd never been on a boat before, and all was well and good until my stomach realized I was in fact on a boat, going over somewhat choppy waters! I remember a room filled with squishy armchairs, curling up in one and willing the boat to go faster! The short crossing felt like a lifetime! Back on the coach, the driver promised us all a stop off along the way at some chocolate factory/warehouse, which got all the kids excited...so of course, we didn't end up stopping there! The chocolate factory became a booze warehouse and we wasted a huge chunk of our time waiting around as the driver tried to juggle suitcases and crates of wine in the hold! England
After a whopping 14hours, we finally pulled up outside the Hotel Cheyenne, it was pitch black outside, exhausted and a little grumpy, we wanted nothing more than to be off that coach. The downside was, we'd be back on it in less than 48 hours! The trip was a 2 night - 1 day deal my parents had found in the local paper, who could have guessed what that would lead to 10 years on! It was like walking into a Clint Eastwood movie, horseshoes above the swinging saloon doors and a roaring log fire. I have the most vivid memory of my little brother tottering off, puling his little suitcase behind him. The wheels clacked and banged on the wooden floor and he just kept going, still wrapped up in all his layers, eager to explore!
Back in 99', Disneyland Paris only consisted of the
and Magic Kingdom Park (their version of Downtown Disney). We headed straight into the Disney Village that night and I was amazed with the fairy lights, strung across the entirety of the village, giving the permanent illusion of a twinkling night sky! The next day we awoke before dawn, chowed down at the hotel buffet ad got the park for rope drop. We did everything! Nonstop from opening to close, rides, shows, characters, one after the other after the other! Looking back, I still can't believe we managed to fill a day there and still leave feeling like we could have done so much more! That night my little brother curled up in the bottom bunk bed with a Winnie the Pooh light spinner he'd been bought in the park, he kept spinning it, lighting it up and staring, completely mesmerized. He'd had that look on his face all day! All these years on, I think, secretly, he still has that spinner somewhere! He then made the announcement, his legs were so sore; he thought he'd left a muscle in the park! Guess that meant we'd have to come back someday to retrieve it! Disney Village
The next morning as we filed onto the coach each one of us realized we'd been bit by the Disney bug and holidaying has never been the same since! We've only been back to Disneyland Paris twice since that trip, having experienced the magic on a grander scale at Walt Disney World, we find it hard to even consider a trip to Disneyland Paris now. What Disneyland Paris did, is show us that there's a different way to holiday, a way that includes each and every member of the family, just like Walt intended! It was our first experience of a Disney holiday, of pin trading, cast members, guest service, characters and dining and it has since lead to so, so much more!
What was your first Disney trip experience?
Until next time,