This is the year of my 40th birthday and I knew that I wanted to do something pretty big. I am told that most people take their 40th in their stride, but I think that it is a pretty big deal. I can't escape the thought that, all being well (fingers crossed), I am now roughly halfway through my life. I have to admit to finding that scary. I mean, the first half went quick enough and I have so much that I want to achieve. I am also conscious that the kids are growing so fast and there are so many things that I want to experience with them while they are still young.
So, I have been thinking more about the concept of a bucket list and now I have two! They aren't written down or anything, although perhaps they should be. I have a long forgotten personal bucket list that had become rather dusty and neglected for the past decade as I was busy with getting the kids up and running. There are things that have been sitting on that list since I was about 10 years old... that's 30 years people! I also have a new Family bucket list of things that I hope we can achieve while the kids are young. Of course, there is some overlap between the two.
I am not a big birthday party sort of girl and I knew that I didn't want that for my birthday. My husband and I toyed with the idea of the two of us taking a trip away somewhere very special, like New York but I felt very sad about not taking the kids. In the end I decided that I would love to go to Disneyland Paris as a family. I figured that Bear was just about old enough to manage it.
Apart from the trill of going to Disneyland Paris, my husband and I were also excited to try out the shuttle service from Folkestone to Calais as we figured that this could be a route that we could take more often in the future if we fancied quick little breaks over to France. I am not brave enough to attempt driving on the continent, but my husband is. Our plan was exciting but pretty crazy. We decided to hop straight into the car after we picked the boys up from school and then drive to Paris. How cool is that?
The shuttle service turned out to be brilliant. It is so quick and easy. My inner child couldn't get over the mind blowing fact that we were driving the car onto a train. We were in a car, on a train, in a tunnel, under the sea! Even the kids weren't as excited as me.
The drive was long and exhausting. We hadn't got around to updating our sat nav so we ended up taking a longer route than we needed to and got a little bit lost in the end. After a brief nap the kids found it hard to sleep and were tired and complaining. It wasn't easy, but we got there. We arrived at the Davey Crocket Ranch after midnight. After a quick look around we collapsed into our beds.
How fantastic was it to wake up in Disneyland Paris? We quickly tried to get our bearings and then headed over to the park (about a 15min drive away). It is tempting to give a run down of everything that we did but honestly it is a bit of a blur. It is an overwhelming place. Between the fact that we were all exhausted from the journey and the fact that there is a lot to get your head around, we really didn't know what we were doing that first day. All I can say is that we loved it, we had a fantastic time... and we knew that to get the most out of it, we would need to become more strategic.
So, the next day we had a game plan. Get there early, use the fast pass, do one side of the park and then the other... The think is that there so much to distract you from the plan.
This was our final day and there were still a few things that we wanted to get done. One of the main things is that I was keen for Bear to have the opportunity to meet the Princesses. The queues for the Princess Pavilion are always very long, so we got into the park early with the intention to get in there fast. In the end we waited 90 mins to see Snow White. She was wonderful and very Snow White-ish, but she is not one of Bear's favourites. You don't get told who you will be meeting so it is a bit of a risk. I wouldn't be keen to do it again, but Bear was already to queue again in the hope of meeting Ariel. They post all of the photos from the session so that you can buy them at the end. So Bear could see that she missed out on Ariel. I had a very heavy heart on the final day. We hoped to get lots done but it was even busier than the other days and so we had to cut our losses and admit defeat. We now consider this to be a trail run. We will go back for sure!
It took me a while to figure out that you don't have to buy the photo. You just take a photo of the display photo. Everyone was doing it!
It has been hard to return to normal life. We returned late on Bank Holiday Monday and then had to be at school and work early the next day. My head and heart will still in Disney for most of the week. It is such a magical experience. I cannot wait to return. And when I do... I will have a rock solid game plan. And the app! I only found out about the app afterwards.