Ringing in the New Year. In Canada – before kids – New Year’s with my family always consisted of a huge fondue supper surrounded by tons of family and friends. When my kids were here, but not able to eat adult food, New Year’s consisted of my husband and I having a huge lobster seafood supper. Once my kids could eat real food with us, our romantic seafood meal turned into pizza and chips. One common denominator was always watching the “ball drop” in New York, from my couch. The fireworks, the festivities… It all looked like so much fun! That was what I wanted for New Year’s!
What is your “dream come true”? What is one thing you have always always wanted to see and/or do, that once it was done, you felt “complete”? More than happy? For my husband, seeing the Pyramids of Giza was his dream come true. Since he was a child and had learnt about them, it is one thing he has always wanted to visit. Everything else was, and has been a total bonus. Well for me, the one thing I have always wanted to see, was fireworks on New Year’s Eve at Disneyworld. Getting to Florida from our home in Canada is almost thirty hours of driving – or a four hour plane ride. Disneyland Paris, well that is a four hour drive from our home! Four hour drive instead of a four hour plane ride – so much more accessible.
My parents were going to be here for New Year’s this year, so I asked them, and they agreed, Disney was happening! I found a hotel twenty-five minutes away – one family room for five, and one double room. It was 620$Cnd for three nights for two rooms – excellent price at New Year’s!! We could have stayed at a Disney hotel – but that was 2200€ for the three nights – so make that 3000$Cnd for three nights! There was another hotel, a Disney affiliated hotel, and that one was 1700€ – 2500$Cnd! Thanks, but no thanks! And that didn’t even include the tickets to the Disney Parks – that was strictly the hotel. Sure, most have breakfast included, have free parking for the park (20€) a day, magic hours (you get into the park two hours before it opens to the public) and have amazing Disney decorations, but for my family, it wasn’t worth it. Many people enjoy that, and I probably would as well if it were a lower season, but for New Year’s, there was no way I was spending that much on a hotel! Especially since we wouldn’t be actually spending much time in our hotel. We would be out nightly until at least 10:00 when the parks close, and then back at 10:00am for when it opens – no time for anything other than sleep! So for us, a twenty-five minute drive was better.
We left our house at 9:00am, checked into our hotel at 1:30, and got to Disney at 3:00. I can honestly tell you, I was not expecting there to be so little people. As we were walking towards the entrance, there were so many people leaving! Get to the ticket office, and there was one person in line in front of us. One! We purchased the three day passes instead of the two day. It was only about 5-10€ more for the extra day, so just in case anything was missed our first two days, we had an entire full day to see what was missed. You had access to both parks on site – the Disneyland Park, and the Walt Disney Studios Park. So I figured one day at Disney, one at the Studios, and last day for whatever else we wanted. Get through the gates, and literally the first thing you see is a giant Mickey ears wreath! Decorated with lights and Christmas balls. So awesome! Walk through a little more, and there is a giant Christmas tree! Past that, and there are Mickey ears wreaths hanging all the way down Main street. And as the night goes on, everything gets lit up – you can’t get more magical then that.
First area we went to, was the castle. It’s not like you don’t see enough castles in Europe 😉 But this, this was different – this is the Disney castle!! The kids faces lit up! The awe was absolutely amazing to see! Most castles we see are beautiful, but dark colours. This, was colourful and bright and had gold! We walked through, and there was a Sword in the Stone right out back – kids all had to attempt to pull the stone out. Next up was the carousel. Not even a ten minute wait in line! Pretty much, our entire evening was like this! New Year’s Eve, and no more than a twenty minute wait for any ride we went on! How amazing is that?!?! From there, we zig-zagged through the park. Probably not the smartest of moves as we should have finished one entire section, then move on to the next, but that’s not how we roll 😉
It was now 11:15, so we started our way to the castle for firework time! It was already packed at this time. We had to push our way through the crowd, and got a spot right in the middle! Kids were bored and tired, and wanted absolutely nothing to do with just waiting around – I was starting to get worried this wonderful New Year’s at Disney was a horrible idea. And then the countdown started… Their faces miraculously lit up. And the fireworks started. I just kept thinking “wow, I cannot believe I am here”. Fireworks stopped a little earlier than I thought they would, but then, a show started. An animated show projecting on the castle. Olaf was the main “host”. There was music, so much amazing music! And Let It Go… Let it go has become my favorite Disney song – I can sing it at the drop of a hat – and sad part, I know all the words. Anyone who has heard this song, knows, there are “climax” areas – music gets louder, Elsa sings stronger. Well during these parts of the animation, extra fireworks were set off. It was amazing. The entire show lasted twenty minutes. Longer than I was expecting, and to tell you the truth, not 100% what I was fully expecting – but I was so satisfied. This was everything I have wanted to see at New Year’s, and I was actually here experiencing it! The three kids, no matter how tired, enjoyed it so much. We hung around until around 1:00 while the crowd died out, and headed back to our hotel before an early start the next day!
My original plan was to go to Walt Disney Studios today (second day), but we didn’t even see half of what we wanted the day before – so back to Disneyland we went. Turned out to be great again! I loved that everything was open New Year’s Day!!!
Adventure Isle was a cute area where kids could just move around – although the main bridge was closed because of the cold weather – same as at Pirate’s Beach. Because there are waterfalls, they close the bridge off so it doesn’t freeze and make ice. La Passage Enchante d’Aladdin was a nice walk through an “old school” Disney story. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril was a great ride – actually has upside down turns and very fast! It was thrilling! Pirates of the Caribbean was an awesome quiet ride that goes through a pirate village. It’s pretty much It’s a Small World, but pirates. And the walk to the ride was amazingly hot – people were actually sitting in there just to warm up. It was -5 outside, so the heat was wonderful!
We enjoyed this area a lot. John and I did Space Mountain while Nonna and Nonno watched a show with the kids in the food court – warm up time! Much better than I remember it being when I was younger! Autopia is where you can drive your own car – but make sure the person you are with can actually reach and is strong enough to hit the pedal – we got stuck waiting much longer than we should have because a little girl was alone, and couldn’t drive it herself. Orbitron was great as the kids could move the spaceship alone. Last, but our favorite here – was the Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast. You sit in a seat, get a laser gun, and shoot targets along the walls. The kids – and Daddy! – loved this! There was big competition on who would win! We fast-passed the first time, then waited the ten minutes the next two. To wait ten minutes to see the look on the kids’ faces was totally worth it! Nathan and Daddy switched scores – so Nathan kicked Daddy’s butt, and he makes it known! 😉 Probably our favorite ride!
Fantasyland was the kids area – Carrousel, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, It’s a Small World, Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups, Peter Pan’s Flight…etc Lots of fun, and perfect for kids!
This was more of an adult section, but still fun. John and I waited for Big Thunder Mountain while Nonna and Nonno took the kids on some kiddie rides. Just when you think the ride is almost over, another twist or slope happens – it was worth the thirty minute wait! We all went into Phantom Manor, (wasn’t too bad for the kids) and the Thunder Mesa Riverboat ride. Nice relaxing, twenty minute boat ride. There was no wait at all, so that made it even better!
Pretty much the only thing here other than souvenir shops and restaurants is the Disneyland Railroad. This was probably the most memorable ride for us all. Tyler’s thing is trains, so he was already excited about going on. The lady directing the line told us where to sit, and my mom mentioned “well the kids were hoping to sit at the front, is that okay?” And of course it was. We got there and the conductor’s name was Fabien. He was tooting the horn for the kids, and once he realized that the kids loved trains, we got even extra attention. At the third stop he took the three kids out of our coach, and showed them exactly how a real steam engine works – like Hiro from Thomas the Tank Engine. Tyler’s absolute favorite has always been Hiro, so to see the look on his face for a real Hiro, was amazing! Fabien showed them how the engine runs, and even let the three kids pull the horn. I really could not have asked for a better experience – he made it even more worth it, and an excellent start to our day!!
WALT DISNEY STUDIOS
Since Disneyland had taken two days, I was worried we were going to miss a lot here. We got into the park for opening at 10:00, and it closed at 8:00. First thing you see as you walk out into the park, is Hollywood’s Tower of Terror. Kids were height appropriate, so we all waited in line. Line was 30 mins, but all seven of us were there, so it went quickly. I remember at Disney in Florida, you go in, bring you up 13 stories, open doors to show you how high you are, get dropped the 13 stories, then ride is over. Here, the ride was so much better. You get brought up 13 stories, doors open (this is where your picture is taken so make sure you smile!) but you don’t just get dropped once, they drop you, bring you back up, open the doors again, drop you – again, for about 3-4 times in total. It was absolutely amazing! First thing we went to go see was what our picture looked like. Kids all had looks of total shock, which just that made me buy the picture! One picture was 16€, and two was 20€. So we got two, one for us, one for my parents. They also have deals for if you thought you would buy another one on another ride, but I knew this was the only one I would want.
Next onto Armageddon Special Effects. Fire came out and scared the kids, so after the Tower of Terror and that one, we went to something for them. Saw that a Disney Junior show was starting, so we went to that. Since we have not watched Disney Junior since living in Canada, this was quite exciting. The kids loved singing to the songs they knew, along with some of their favorite characters – being sang live right in front of them!
Another show we really enjoyed was the Moteurs : Action! Stunt Show Spectacular. They are filming a live movie right in front of you – an action scene. Motorcycles chasing after each other shooting, cars flying through the air, they even had Lightning McQueen chasing a bad guy! They show and explain how a person catches on fire during a movie. Nathan actually did not like that part – he enjoyed everything until then. He was scared the man wasn’t okay, but once we explained it to him, he was better. But the entire show was spectacular – I am very glad we took the thirty minutes to see it! I mean, how often can you get to see a car flying through the air?!?!
The rest of our day was spent on all the rides – none of which were missed! The kids absolutely adored the Slinky Dog from Toy Story ride! I stopped counting how many times they went on. There was no one in line, so as soon as they got off, they went running back on, and got on the next ride. They sat in the dog’s head, in the tail, in the middle… Seeing their faces was amazing! John tried to videotape them chanting and cheering, but of course they stopped once the camera was on them. They also enjoyed the Cars Quatres Roues Rallye a lot – went on that a couple times as well. Nathan enjoyed the Toy Soldier Parachute Drop – the green army men from Toy Story. I was worried he would be scared of a “drop” from the Tower of Terror, but when we showed him it was softer, he went on it twice!
We went on the family ride Ratatouille : The Adventure. The line up was always long, so we decided just to wait the thirty mins, since the line never got under that. This is a 3D ride that makes you feel like a mouse in the movie. Best part was when the mice try to take a cork off the wine bottle – and the cork comes straight at you – Zachary just about jumped out of his seat – too funny! It certainly made me laugh. There are signs before you get in that say, “if you get dizzy or motion sickness, this is not the ride for you”. Well I get motion sickness quite quickly. This ride, no matter how cute, if you get motion sickness, do not go on!! I can honestly say my stomach felt quite funky at the end of it.
Adults had rides for them as well. John and I went on RC Racer while the kids were on Slinky Dog. It’s almost like the pirate ship at fairs that rocks you back and forth. Instead though, you are sitting in a Hot Wheels car and it shoots you very fast back and forth. Most thrilling is literally when you are up backwards and facing the floor – your body is parallel. John, my dad and I went on the Rock ‘n Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith while my mom watched the boys. That was a fun ride! Loops and turns, you don’t have a chance to get bored! John and I also did Crush’s Coaster alone, just before closing time. Just when we both though to ourselves “the kids would have enjoyed this, we should have brought them”, you get twisted and moved in ways the kids would have hated – it was an excellent thing we didn’t bring them. But for John and I, we enjoyed it!
That night, instead of leaving when Studios closed, we decided to go back to Disneyland and see the closing fireworks show. It was kind of like New Year’s Eve – they had fireworks, and a show as well. My mom bought popcorn for the kids to enjoy at showtime, and since it was almost closing time, the lady topped up extra amounts so she wouldn’t waste any popcorn – that was nice of her! Plus, extra for seven people sharing, always goes a long way 😉 I am so glad we ended our trip like this!!!
We saw as many shows as we could. First was the Frozen Sing-Along. All the main Frozen songs are sang live right in front of you. Olaf, Anna, Christof, and even Elsa are there! It’s an interactive show, so there are dancers dancing pretty much in your face if you are on the lower rows, which we were! We all really enjoyed that – plus the words are on the screens in front of you if you don’t know the songs!
Mickey’s Magical Christmas Lights is where Mickey and Minnie Mouse light the massive Christmas Tree at the front entrance. It was difficult to see with so many people, but the lighting is beautiful!
Frozen : A Royal Welcome is where Anna and Elsa come down Main Street in a horse-drawn carriage. I honestly thought it was more of a show with more characters than just Anna and Elsa, but it was nice to hear Let It Go being sung in different languages!!
We also saw the Disney’s Christmas Parade. I’m sure it’s pretty much the same parade as non-Christmas time, just without the holiday costumes, but it was nice to see the Christmas aspect of it! It was also nice to see the “older” Disney characters… The ones I remember from when I was young, not just the new ones – ie : Frozen. There was Pluto, Donald, Daisy, Chip and Dale, Woody and Buzz…etc And at the end, Santa!!
I mentioned this Fastpass option earlier. This is where, if the line is too long for a specific ride, you use your entrance ticket, and get a time-frame to come back, and bypass the long lines. Most of the bigger rides had this option – Buzz Lightyear Laser, Big Thunder Mountain, Space Mountain, Tower of Terror…etc The lines for us were not long enough to really use this great offer! I believe you can only use this option three times a day, and you can only have one Fastpass going at one time. The only one we used it on was Buzz Lightyear’s Laser ride. I’m sure this would be great during high season, but for us, it just wasn’t needed.
SINGLE VS TOGETHER
Another great thing that was offered, was the option to go on rides as a single rider. So instead of a forty-five minute wait to go on Space Mountain together, John and I went on as single riders, and waited ten minutes instead. As a single rider you get put next to anyone who doesn’t have a “partner”. So if the ride is two by two, and friends go on as three, the single rider would get put with the third person. Any of the adult rides that offered it, John and I went alone. I mean, it’s not like you can communicate with the person next to you on the rides anyways, who cares who you sit beside… This drastically cut our wait times, which was excellent – and got us back to the kids and my parents quicker!
Disney, being Disney, has different restaurants where you can dine with your favorite characters. I can honestly say, for the price of most of them, I am very glad I didn’t do any of them. My kids are a total extension of their Momma – they HATE characters. Won’t go near them! Pretty much petrified. We got one picture in three days of one child with Pluto! That’s it! So for me to pay to eat with characters, to not actually get any picture with them, would have been a waste of my money! I was satisfied with the food court type of meals. They were not cheap, but good enough for what we needed!
We ate at the McDonalds in the Disney Village once, and at Earl’s Sandwich restaurant once for supper, and the next day for breakfast. Starbucks was also visited for our coffee fix – and my dad and I NEED our coffee fix 😉
We pretty much bought souvenirs whenever, and wherever. We probably were not smart about it, but really, it’s Disney! We probably bought stuff that was way too expensive, but the look on the kids’ faces when we bought something for them, or something they would like, was unlike anything else. This entire trip was for the kids, so whatever I could do to make them happy, was all that mattered.
Having my parents here to help, and to enjoy this with us, just made it all the better. We didn’t travel around very much, but to me, this was perfect. I can only hope, it was the same for them! ❤