We headed out on Sunday on the Eurostar 'Disney Express' train, straight to the park from Ashford. The train was on time, quick and stress free. Jacob was fascinated at the fact the train went under the sea! Meaning he spent a lot of time looking out of the window, hoping to see a fish or shark.
Our package gave us the facility to ditch our bags at the railway station (they would be delivered to our hotel) and run straight for the rides! This was a godsend with two excited 5 year olds!
Over the next few days we experienced so many spins, twists, turns, speeds, thrills and spills- all in the name of fun! Our favourite rides were 'Buzz Lightyear Blast, Star Tours and It's a small world'. Each of these visited at least twice daily!
We were quite lucky as most of the rides had 30 min or less queuing time. Which we found do-able with the boys, but some rides had a 'fast pass' system meaning we could get a time slot and come back then, with less queuing. But this system still involved some queue. My big issue with waiting in line was the fact that all people are expected to stand and wait their turn, an unwritten rule! We had to fend off many adults trying to push past the boys! I was shocked that grown men and women thought it was perfectly acceptable to push past children. Children who were waiting patiently for their turn! I realise it is very 'British' to queue, but turn taking and patience should be a 'human' concept surely???!! What example is this setting to your children if you are unable to wait in a line?
A similar scene was seen when a character appeared in the park. Many children would rush towards the character for a photo or autograph. Now in my experience, children left to their own devices in this situation can sort out a system of fairness and turn taking. Occasionally there is a child unable to wait, but this child is usually put into place by the other children waiting! However, I witnessed adults pushing children out of the way in order to shove their child in front of the characters! I saw 'Dads' (male carers) arguing over whose child was first in line! And worst of all parents encouraging/commanding their child to 'push 'em out the way'! What are we teaching our children??!!! Step away parents and let the children show you how to behave!! In the above picture our boys had waited about 10 mins for their turn to meet the Mad Hatter. they did this by themselves with us (adults) just looking on from a distance ready to take a photo. I'm proud of them!
Disney is a brand well known for putting on a show! The 'Disney Dreams' show is the parks closing finale last thing at night, around 11pm. The castle in the middle of the park is used as a 'screen' on which many familiar film scenes are projected. The fountains spurt in time to music, fireworks boom and flames ignite! We were lucky enough to get front row views (after standing to wait fending off pushing in parents! for an hour prior to the start). It was absolutely spectacular! We all enjoyed it and discussed it all the way back to the hotel! Despite the late start time, it is a must see show!
We had breakfast with the characters, meaning we got up close and personal to Mickey Mouse! We met other characters as we ate. Around the park we managed to spy a few other characters such as Peter Pan, Captain Jack Sparrow, Buzz Lightyear, Mad Hatter, Donald Duck, Pluto and Winnie the Pooh. Seeing the character got me thinking.........
Ask a boy what characters they'd hope/like to see in Disney and your likely to hear Mickey, Donald, Buzz, Peter Pan, Captain Hook. Ask a girl which characters they hope to see and I'm certain you'd hear Cinderella, Belle, Little Mermaid, Rapunzel, Snow White. I realise this is quite stereotypical and somewhat sexist, but I think its fairly representative of children under 5! However, in the park the sight of a Disney female is rare. They are 'hidden' in the Princess Palace, which you have to queue, often for at least 2 hours to get into and have an audience with which ever Princesses are in there. No choice or prior knowledge of character. There is no 'princess, Little Mermaid, Sleeping Beauty, Minnie Mouse themed ride.
BUT there is a 'Buzz Lightyear' ride, a 'Star Wars' ride, a 'soldiers from Toy Story' ride, a Peter Pan ride, a Lancelot Knight Carousel, a pirate ship and ride, a car stunt show and a wild west cowboy show. I realise none of these rides or shows are purely for boys, but the reality is most little girls visiting Disney long to see the characters they dress up as and love from films. I couldn't help but feel the park was very male orientated. If I had been a 5 year old girl visiting I would have definitely have wanted to see more 'girly' inspired rides and shows!
As I said, I went with two 5 year old boys, they were absolutely enthralled with everything they saw and experienced, but I'd like to hear from you if you visited with a young girl!