I have to apologize first off for the lack of pictures for this post. Unfortunately, it is really difficult to keep track of a one year-old by yourself and take pictures on a visit to Disneyland!
Since Easter is a three-day weekend in France and the daycare center was closed, I decided to do something very different and take Santi to Disneyland Paris for the afternoon. I was a little nervous this might not be a good idea. I worried he would hate it, be scared, it would be too hard to take him on the rides myself. But after reading up some travel blogs by families who had taken small children his age and had a great time, I decided to go for it. I even was optimistic and bought an annual passport to the two parks (Disneyland and Walt Disney Studios) so that we can make this a more regular outing. Parc Disneyland (as apparently now it prefers to be called, rather than Eurodisney) is much less expensive than Disneyland or Disneyworld in the US, so it actually was a great deal.
I decided to take Santi on the trek after he's finished lunch and prefereably had had a nap. He was willing to eat most of his lunch, but he refused to do the nap, even though he was obviously tired. So we set off on the trip. First there is a 20 minute metro ride to the RER station (the trains that serve Paris and the outlying cities). Then it's another 35 minutes on the RER to the front gate of the park. The train ride went well. There was a father and son in the seat facing us who were goofing around with the father pretending to bite his son's had over and over. Santi thought this was hilarious and started shoving his hand in my face laughing. I played along by giving him lots of kisses on his hand, which made him giggle even harder. Then he finally settled down and fell asleep for the rest of the ride, maybe 20 minutes in all.
The RER dropped us off a 2 minute walk from the entrance gate. We got through the gate and headed over to the stroller rental. The stroller was a little scary (enormous and very spartan), but Santi was happy because it was higher off the ground than his normal stroller and he had a great view. Rolling down mainstreet he perked up and was staring wide-eyed at all the colorful buildings and the people. A jazz band was playing and he liked that too. Then, being France, we had to go stand in half-hour line at the Disney annual passport office to get my provisional printed-at-home passport upgraded to the official laminated version with my photo. Santi was very patient and spent his time grinning at the other kids running around the office while they waited for their parents.
Finally we were free to enjoy ourselves! We first went on "It's a Small World". In the line, Santi was starting to look tired and bored. I was trying to keep an eye on the crazed Italian tourists who were determined to crawl over us to get ahead in the line. But once we were in the boat and entering the room with the dancing, singing dolls, Santi was all eyes. Actually, all eyes, pointing fingers, big grins, and excited squeals. He had no idea what this was, but he LIKED it! He kept craning his head to see everything and looking at me as if to see if I was believing this too. Occasionally he would also turn around to bat his eyelashes and give his cutest grin to the Italian ladies who had just been trying to push past us. Actually, now that we were all on the boat, they kept gushing about how "bello" Santi was. After leaving the boat you can pass through a little hall that has models of buildings from all over the world in the same style as the ride. Santi loved that too.
Next we started to stroll around a little, but it was SO crowded that it got a little overwhelming trying to get through the crowd with the stroller. Santi wanted to get out and push the stroller, which was fine. But then he wanted to walk around in the crowd, which was not ok because he almost got stomped on a couple of times (by people who clearly saw him and he was only a step or two away from me). So I sat him down and fed him a snack. By this point, the lack of a nap was catching up with him and he got pretty fussy. But I bundled him back into his stroller and walked him till he fell asleep. I spent the next hour strolling with him, people watching, and making mental notes on what would be fun things to do on this trip and future ones.
After he woke up in a great mood, we tried the Pinocchio ride. He loved, loved, loved being in line for it! He was grinning at everyone, blowing kisses, sticking his tongue out. He is such a ham and everyone was eating it up. He also seemed to really like the kitchy chandeliers that hang down over the line area, and when I let him grab onto the wooden hand-rail. He has a hand-rail obsession in general right now. The ride itself he seemed to like, but not as much as "It's a Small World". Maybe because it's kind of loud.
I wanted to take him on Peter Pan, but the line was 50 minutes (now I wonder if he wouldn't have liked that too. I suspect his favorite part of the park was the lines). So we did Snow White instead. Wow! That's really not a very good ride for small children. I know they put a warning sign that it may frighten small children, but it was even worse than what I imagined. It' just basically scenes of the evil witch, skeletons in a dungeon, and a scary forest at night. Then a random scene of Snow White and Prince Charming for maybe 30 seconds before you exit. Blech! Santi didn't cry, but I felt him stiffen up and he grabbed my hair and wouldn't let go (a sure sign he is either very tired or upset).
After that it was starting to get late so I decided to drop off the stroller and head home. Unfortunately I had forgotten about the Mainstreet parade. There was nothing to do but wait it out and watch it. I was afraid Santi was getting tired and would be restless. But he loved it! He was craning his neck to see the floats and would wave and grin at them. His favorite was the Lion King/Jungle Book float. But he also was very happy to see the Disney Princesses and waved lots and lots at them. I thought the whole things was so funny and adorable because we haven't shown him much Disney stuff and I'm sure he had no clue who any of those people are.
Finally we joined the masses pouring out the exit gate. Santi cotinued to be in a great mood on the RER and the metro. I felt badly that I hadn't bought him a souvenir, because he kept pointing at the Mickey Mouse helium balloons and smiling at me every time he saw one. But it seemed like a hassle to bring on the train, especially if it was going to be crowded. Luckily for me, on the RER someone left behind on their seat a small empty bucket for Disney cotton candy that had all the classic character painted on it. When Santi saw it and gave me that "Can I have it? Please?" look, I let him take it home, since it was obviously abandoned but clean. He was proudly carrying it by the handle around the apartment when we got home.
So, a great end to a nice weekend. We'll have to head back over the next year to ride the Merry-go-round, Peter Pan, Dumbo, Buzz Lightyear, meet some characters, and maybe even try Pirates of the Carribean (not sure about that one yet). Oh, and there's that whole other park I've never been to either.
PS - I should add that the visit was made VERY much easier by the Tonga hammock sling I just bought. It's cotton, super light and small, but apparently very comfortable for Santi. It was perfect for carrying him on my hip on the train, for holding him while we waited in the lines, watching the parade, and for those moments when he just didn't want to be in the stroller. I think they only sell them in France, but I'm sure there is something similar in the US too.
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