TRAVEL: A SUMMER GUIDE TO EUROPE'S THEME PARKS
NO 4: DISNEYLAND PARIS, FRANCE
Sunday 27 June 1999
We opted to stay in the centre of Paris through fear of Disney overload. The park has over 50 attractions in five themed "lands": Fantasyland, Discoveryland, Frontierland, Adventureland and Main Street USA.
The following morning inside the grounds, Lewis and Craig could be seen darting from one thing to another squealing with excitement. They recognised all the life-sized Disney characters who were meeting and greeting the tiny clientele, filled up an autograph book and queued an epic length of time for a photo opportunity with Mickey Mouse.
Smaller children will enjoy the themed Disney rides such as Peter Pan Flight, Pinocchio Ride, Alice in Wonderland, Pirates of the Caribbean and Small World.
Dare-devils should head towards the serious rollercoasters - Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Space Mountain and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril, with its terrifying "loop the loops".
Our family favourites were Honey I Shrunk the Audience, the latest attraction, and the racing cars of Autopia, one of the oldest rides. We also enjoyed Crescendo, which is best described as a Cirque du Soleil on water.
By evening we were expecting our children to be as tired as we were, but no, they were still raring to go. Solution? One of the park's evening dinner-shows. Our Wild West choice came with cowboy hats, chicken, ribs, corn on the cob and apple pie.
During the meal the audience was split into groups, each encouraged to cheer for its team of cowboys. This proved worth the effort as the boys instantly fell sleep on the return to Paris.
Best for: Children aged two-plus. Many of the bigger rides have height restrictions.
Worst for: Those who don't like queuing. Try to avoid weekends and school holidays when queues are up to 90 minutes long.
Admission price: Adults pounds 23, children pounds 18.
Opening times: Year-round, from 9am-8pm from 1-9 July and 9am-11pm during school summer holidays.
Food and drink: Children's menus from pounds 3.50, burgers from around 90p, soft drinks from pounds 1. I recommend the Rainforest Cafe and Annette's Diner. Adults who want to eat out alone should try Planet Hollywood or the Steak House in Disney Village. Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show costs pounds 34 for adults and pounds 20 for children aged three-11.
Don't miss: Main Street Electrical Parade every night from 10 July till the end of August, followed by Tinkerbell's Fantasy in the Sky fireworks, and the Disney Parade every day at 3pm.
Best for adults: Take time out to explore Paris - a Cityrama Tour includes all the major sites and lasts around two hours (cost: FFr150, children under seven go free). Visit the real Notre Dame cathedral so the children can see where Quasimodo was said to have lived. If the weather's good, a great place for a picnic is the Jardin des Tuileries.
Getting there: You can either take the Eurostar direct from London to Disneyland, or if you opt to say in the centre of Paris, the cost of a one-day pass valid to Marne la Vallee is pounds 11 for adults with a 50 per cent reduction for children under 12. Disneyland is situated in Marne la Vallee, a 40-minute train journey from the centre of Paris. Trains run every 10-15 minutes.
Sample package price: A three-night stay at Libertel Terminus Nord costs from pounds 235 for adults and pounds 110 for children aged two-11. That includes return Eurostar from Waterloo. Cresta Eurostar
(tel: 0161-929 0000).
Further information: Contact Disneyland Paris (tel: 0990 030303) and the French Tourist Board, 178 Piccadilly, London, W1V 0AL (tel: 0891 244123, calls charged at 60p per minute).
The author travelled with her two children, Lewis, seven, and Craig, five.
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