Thursday, 20 October 2011

Total Travel Guide to Disneyland Paris

While some people might never dream of incorporating a thoroughly American stop like Disneyland into their Paris vacation, the fact is that Disneyland Paris is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the region – and if you’re traveling with kids, a Disney-aholic, or just want a break in the usual museum/gallery routine, then a day spent at EuroDisney is a great alternative. The fact that it’s easy to reach from Paris, via car or public transportation, makes it even more appealing.

What to Do at Disneyland Paris

Like any true Disney theme park, Disneyland Resort Paris is a combination of amusement park rides, hotels, restaurants, and other recreational attractions. Euro Disney (as Disneyland Paris is often called) includes not one but two theme parks, in fact, and seven hotels.

Disneyland Park Paris
The first Disneyland Paris theme park is Disneyland Park Paris, which includes many of the same features you’ll find at other Disney properties. There’s Frontierland, Adventureland, Fantasyland, Discoveryland, and the popular Main Street U.S.A. A Disney train runs through several of the different “lands,” allowing for easy access between them.

Walt Disney Studios Park
The other theme park in Disneyland Paris is Walt Disney Studios Park. It opened after Disneyland Park Paris (Walt Disney Studios Park opened in 2002 while Disneyland Park Paris opened in 1992), and the different parts of this theme park are “studio lots.” There’s the Front Lot, Toon Studio, Production Courtyard, and Hollywood Boulevard – and there’s even a Backlot.

Disney Village
There’s more entertainment than just the two theme parks, however – Disney Village is full of restaurants, shops, and attractions that aren’t amusement park rides. The idea of Disney Village is to mimic Disney World’s “Downtown Disney” area, and you’ll find features like Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Dinner Show, an IMAX theatre, a bowling alley, and a disco.

Golf Disneyland
Disney isn’t just for the kids, as evidenced by Golf Disneyland – which has both 9-hole and 18-hole courses. (Although there is a kids section of Golf Disneyland, too!)

Lake Disney
As if it wasn’t enough to have a Disneyland Paris theme park, there’s a man-made lake at EuroDisney – called, what else, Lake Disney – which is at the center of three of the park’s resort hotels. It’s not exactly part of the recreation, but at least it’s pretty.

Where to Stay at Disneyland Paris

As mentioned, there are seven Disney-operated hotels at Disneyland Resort Paris, but those aren’t your only options. You can also choose to stay in one of the six non-Disney hotels near the park which offer free shuttle rides to and from EuroDisney. When you’re booking your hotel, if you’re planning to spend most of your time at Disneyland Paris just make sure to find out about the free shuttles – where they pick up and drop off, and when they run. Also note that if you choose to stay at Disney’s Davy Crockett Ranch (which is a Disney-operated hotel), the free shuttle buses don’t run to that hotel.

Getting Around at Disneyland Paris

You can get around most of Paris Disney easily on the Disney Railroad, including getting between the two main theme parks. There are also free shuttle buses which run between almost all the hotels in the area.

Getting to Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Resort Paris is located roughly 20 miles (32 km) east of Paris, and it’s pretty easy to get there whether you’ve got a car at your disposal or not.

*Find the most detailed information about getting from Paris to Disneyland Paris, including by train and by car, and even directions from the airport directly to EuroDisney.

Driving to Disney from Paris
Coming from Paris, you’ll want to take the A4 expressway in the direction Strasbourg/Metz. Disneyland Paris Resort is in Marne-la-Vallee. Take the Peripherique until you get to the east sector near Bercy where you’ll find the A4 exit, direction Metz/Strasbourg. To go directly to the parks, take exit 14, “Parcs Disney/Bailly-Romainvilliers.” To go to the Disney hotels, keep going and follow the signs for “Disney Hotel.” To get to Golf Disneyland, keep going and follow the “Golf” signs. To get to Disney’s Davy Crockett Ranch, take exit 13, “Provins.”

*Parking at Paris Disney is free for guests of the Disney Hotels (and some of the other Disney-approved hotels, be sure to ask when you’re booking), and otherwise costs €8 or more per day per car.

*More driving directions from other points in the region can be found on this page.

Taking the Train to Disney from Paris
Either the Thalys, the Eurostar, or the RER A4 will get you right to the entrance gate of Disneyland Paris they all stop at the “Marne-La-Vallee/Chessy” station. Not only is this station right in front of the main entrance to the parks, it’s also very close to all but one of the Disney hotels. Perhaps the easiest train trip is via the RER A from Paris – it takes just 35 minutes one-way to get from the Paris city center to Euro Disney on the express train, and trains run about every 20 minutes. The RER A stops at Charles-de-Gaulle Etoile, Auber, Chatelet-les-Halles, Gare de Lyon and Nation.

Taking the Bus to Disney from Paris Airports
If you’re just gung-ho to get to Disneyland Paris right away, then you can take an airport shuttle bus directly to the theme park. The VEA Airport Shuttle Bus links Charles de Gaulle Airport and Orly Airport with six of the Disney hotels. It runs every 15-60 minutes, 7 days a week. You can find out more on the bus company’s official website, or by calling +33 (0) 1 72 30 10 25. (Note that VEA is not suitable for disabled guests, nor is it available to or from Disney’s Davy Crockett Ranch.)

Visitor Information for Disneyland Paris
Park Open Hours: Depends on the season, but in the low season Disneyland Park Paris is open Sunday-Thursday 10:00-19:00, Friday-Saturday 10:00-21:00; Walt Disney Studios is open Sunday-Thursday 10:00-18:00, Friday-Saturday 10:00-19:00 – in the high season, the parks tend to stay open later, but don’t necessarily open earlier.

More Information for Disneyland Paris
The official Disney Paris website is here, where you then choose the country you live in (this is for both language and travel deal purposes, so you don’t necessarily want to click on the British flag if you live in the U.S. – you can get to the United States page by clicking “Other Countries” on the right and then choosing USA from the drop-down menu, or by clicking this link).

Buy Disneyland Paris tickets
You’ll find special ticket offers from Disneyland Resort Paris on this page.
(Oh, and a word of caution – these websites all come with very Disney-filed soundtracks and sound effects, so if you’re planning your Paris Disney vacation at work, you might want to hit the mute button before you visit.)

Disneyland Paris Contact Information
Telephone (in Paris) – 087 050 30303
Reservations office opening hours
 – Monday-Friday 8:15-19:45, Saturday 9:15-17:45, Sunday 9:15-16:45

Travel Guide to Disneyland Paris

Whether you have children or are vacationing as a couple, if you are in Paris, a must-do is Disneyland Paris ! The resort is divided into two parks: Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park. Just as how the California park is set up, it is similar to Disneyland Paris. Disneyland Park is divided into different lands such as Adventure land, Main Street, Fantasyland, and Frontier land. The Walt Disney Studios Park includes the Back lot, Toon Studio, and the Production.

Disney attractions

You can see many of the same classic attractions such as “It’s a small world” and the legendary Sleeping Beauty Castle! If you or someone you k now is a thrill-seeker, you’ll want to check out The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Big Thunder Mountain. You can also meet many of the beloved Disney characters around the world such as the Disney Princesses, Winnie the Pooh, and of course, Mickey Mouse.

Disneyland Paris offers things you won’t find at other parks such as Candleabration, where Mickey and the gang light up the castle. They also have Disney Magic Music Days which spotlights local musicians. You can also see in Walt Disney Studios Park, Crush’s Coaster and Moteurs…Action! Stunt Show Spectacular, where you can watch a live stunt show.

Disney Village

Want to get away from the parks? No problem. Paris Disneyland also has Disney Village, an entertainment district with restaurants, shopping, and street performers. Check out the latest movies on Disney Village Cinemas which boasts the largest movie screen in Europe! If you like 3-D, you gotta see IMAX, a real 3-D experience. For a unique experience, take a ride on the Panora Magique, a hot-air balloon that can take up to 30 people over 100 meters above Lake Disney. The ride has been in operation since April 2005 and by December 31st of that year, it had more than 10,000 riders. The ride offers a fabulous view of the park in 6 minutes. It is a quiet and eco-friendly ride and is certified by Aeronef. You can get tickets at the entrance to the park.

The Nex Arcade, located across from the Vinci car park, offers up a large amount of games for all ages. The building is two-stories of fun including dancing, flight simulators, basketball, foosball, and bowling. Nex Arcade is open form Mon.-Fri. 3 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Saturday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. It is open Sunday from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. The tokens are 2 for one token up to 20 for 15 tokens.

Disney Village also offers Hurricanes Club, which offers for the single travelers, Singles Night where singles can mix and mingle. They have Ladies Night everyday Tuesday and ladies can get in free. Thursday is Revival Night and admission is free for everyone. Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday, the admission cost is 15 per person and a drink. For students, it is 10 and a drink. If you’re into the country scene, check out Billy Bob’s where you can enjoy live music and food.

Disneyland Paris restaurants and facilities

If dining out is your thing, there is no shortage of great restaurants at Disneyland Paris. You can choose from quick eateries like the Backlot Express Restaurant, Buzz Lightyear’s Pizza Planet, or Au Chalet de la Marionette. They also have great buffets such as La Grange and the Plaza Gardens Restaurant. For an upscale experience, check out California Grill in the Disneyland Hotel or Walt’s- An American Restaurant in Main Street at the front of the park.

Disneyland Paris also offers the Celestia Spa where you can get massages, facials, and exercise in their fitness center. The resort also ahs world-class golf, outdoor activities, ice skating, and excursions to many of the exciting sites all over Paris. Disneyland Paris tickets are up to the three day, two park hopper.

Top Fun Facts About Disneyland Paris!

Disneyland Paris has had its share of controversy, catastrophe and crisis, but its position in the pantheon of top European and world tourist destinations has been assured for many years now. No matter whether you fall into the equally vocal ‘love it’ or ‘hate it’ camps, here are five fun facts about the eternally divisive yet popular theme park resort.

Serious planning to bring the Disney franchise to Europe followed the immediate success of the Disney theme park in Tokyo in 1983. The idea had been passed around by senior executives in the company for ten years before that but, at that time, it made more financial sense to go to Japan first. It took another nine years of planning, negotiating and building before the Euro Disney park opened to the public in 1992.

The location of the park had been the subject of intense debate during the planning stages. The original idea had been to locate the park on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea to take advantage of a warmer climate similar to the ones enjoyed by the American Disney resorts in Florida and California. France and Spain were both vying to play host to the park. The actual location was eventually chosen to be as close as possible to the largest target audience possible. Disneyland Paris is believed to be no more than four hours drive away for seventy million people and no more than a two hour flight away from three hundred million more.

The resort is huge, approximately 4,800 acres divided into two distinct theme parks, seven Disney owned hotels, six Disney associated hotels, an obligatory golf course and the resort’s very own railway station connected to the Parisian suburban transport network and international airports.

Disneyland Paris receives approximately twelve million visitors per year which makes it by far the most popular tourist attraction in Europe, easily beating such stalwarts as Buckingham Palace and the Eiffel Tower. In fact, Disneyland Paris is the fourth most visited tourist attraction in the world. The other three are the Disney resorts in Florida, California and Tokyo.

The name change from Euro Disney to Disneyland Paris came about after the company did some basic market research to establish why visitor numbers in the first years were so much lower than projected. One suggested reason was the connotations of the word ‘Euro’. To an American audience this suggested exotic glamour and cultured excitement. However, it was discovered that to a European audience, the word ‘Euro’ was associated with mundane finance and dour, repetitive work.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Eiffel Tower - Paris, France

The Eiffel Tower is one of the most famous structures in the world. It was named after Alexandre Eiffel whose team of engineers designed it. It cost £260,000 to build in 1889 with most of the money being provided by Eiffel himself and the French state. The Eiffel Tower rises to a height of 985 feet and for over forty years it was the highest structure in the world.

The top may be reached by using lifts and stairs with the first platform being 57,6 metres (189 feet), the second being 116 metres (380 feet) and the third at 276 metres (906 feet) above the ground. The structure is largely composed of triangulated sections and this allowed the engineers to build the tower so high.

It was originally looked upon as a temporary structure, built for the 1889 Worlds Fair. The Worlds Fair coincided with the centenary of the French Revolution. For forty years it was the tallest man-made structure in the world.

The Eiffel Tower was the entrance arch to the Worlds Fair and it was one of a number of designs entered as part of a competition. Alexandre Gustave Eiffel's company won the competition and so the the Tower became known as the Eiffel Tower. However, it was Morris Koechlin, an employee of Eiffel that designed the thousand foot structure.

Koechlin was a junior employees of the Eiffel Construction Business which specialised in the designing and building of bridges and viaducts al over the world. one of his first jobs was to design the framework for the Statues of Liberty.

His first design for the tower was rejected by Alexandre Gustave Eiffel as it was very plain and lacked 'class' and it was only after adding more graceful, ornate features that Eiffel decided to enter it for the competition. Eiffel also stated that he would finance the project to 80% of the cost of construction.

The original idea was for the tower to be dismantled after a twenty year period. However, it was so well built and engineered that it was decided to leave it in position. The various parts (of which there were thousands) were so well engineered that not even one had to be returned to workshops for alteration.

After the first year of opening so much money had be raised from people visiting the tower that the cost of construction was covered and Eiffel became rich.

Alexandre Gustave Eiffel conducted experiments on the tower such as using it as a giant pendulum, a pressure gauge, an instrument for measuring air resistance and atmospheric pressure. In 1898 it was discovered that the tower could also be used a magnificent radio tower. Consequently the Eiffel Tower was saved.

Book your hotels near Paris!

Top 10 FREE Activities at Disney World Orlando

Orlando-based travel companies created the Top 10 Free Activities at Disney World. These are the ten best, fun activities at Disney World that do not cost a penny.

1. Downtown Disney - You can walk around this huge shopping, dining and entertainment complex at Disney World. There is free entertainment at the Downtown Disney Marketplace that includes getting your picture taken with statutes of Buzz Lightyear and a pirate from the crew of the Flying Duchess, watching the boats, sprites, and ferries travel across the bay, pin trading at the pin pavilion, and the kids can play at the LegoLand playground and Legos area.

To stay cool, the kids can bring their swimsuits and play in the water jet area. Additionally, Westside (the western side of Downtown Disney) has several excellent restaurants, including Bongos Cuban CafĂ©, House of Blues, and Wolfgang Puck’s. Virgin Records also has a two-story store on the Westside that carries books, music, and videos. All of which can be sampled for FREE while visiting this store.

2. Animal Programs at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge - You can visit the animals in the savanna at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge. Depending on your viewing location, of which there are several, you will see giraffe, pelicans, flamingos, monkeys, and gazelles roaming the 33-acre wildlife preserve that surrounds the resort.

There are several educational programs throughout the day including special viewings in the evening with night vision goggles and special feeding times throughout the day. At the end of the day, stories will be told around the fire pit just outside the main lobby.
3. Hidden Mickey Hunt - Take a Hidden Mickey Hunt around any of the Disney resorts. Many of the resort front desks will have a Hidden Mickey guide for that resort, such as the Hidden Mickey Safari at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. These hidden versions of the classic Mickey ears logo (°o°) can be found throughout Disney property. This is a fun activity for kids and adults!

4. Stables & Petting Zoo - Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort has a fun area near Pioneer Hall that has stables with horses from Magic Kingdom and a petting zoo area. Plus for a nominal fee, kids can take a pony ride.

While you’re here, Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort has some of the most scenic and lengthy walking paths of any resort on Disney property, so get out there and enjoy some fitness in the beautiful Florida weather!

5. Water Taxi/Ferry Ride - Enjoy a leisure boat ride from Downtown Disney to Disney's Port Orleans Riverside Resort. You can walk around the beautiful trails and rivers around Disney's Port Orleans Riverside and then ride the water taxi back to Downtown Disney.

Additionally, you can take a ride on one of the ferries that takes resort guests to the Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. These include the ferry from the Wilderness Lodge that goes to Magic Kingdom, then Fort Wilderness, and finally back to Wilderness Lodge. This ferry gives riders great views of both Bay Lake and the Seven Seas Lagoon, including seeing long forgotten Disney attractions like River Country and Treasure Island.

Also, this ride will take you over one of the engineering feats on Disney property, the water “bridge.” This canal passes over a road as cars pass “under” the water. Disney’s Boardwalk, Yacht & Beach Clubs, and the Swan and Dolphin have a ferry that travels from these resorts to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and back providing amazing views of the Florida landscape and the Tower of Terror ride. All the resorts will provide you with a short-term parking permit (2-3 hours, depending on the season) to explore the resort.

6. Electrical Water Pageant - Spend an evening in a hammock on the beach at Disney’s Polynesian Resort while you watch the Electrical Water Pageant. This fun water parade runs in front of Disney's Grand Floridian Resort, Disney's Polynesian Resort, Disney's Contemporary Resort, Disney's Wilderness Lodge Resort, and Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort, nightly.

7. Wishes Fireworks - You can watch the Wishes Fireworks at Magic Kingdom from the Deck at Disney's Contemporary Resort. This is an amazing view of the fireworks above Cinderella's Castle.

8. Ride the Monorail - You can take a ride on the monorail loop to see some of the Walt Disney World Resort. This is always a fun ride for the whole family.

The main loop goes from the Magic Kingdom front entrance to the Ticketing and Transportation Center to EPCOT and back. There is also an “inner” loop that will take you from the front entrance of Magic Kingdom to Disney’s Grand Floridian, Disney’s Polynesian Resort, Disney’s Contemporary Resort, and then returning to the front entrance of Magic Kingdom.

You can even ask a Disney Cast Member if you can ride at the front with the driver. If you are lucky enough to ride up front, the driver will present you with a Monorail Driver’s License!

9. Campfire Singalong - Enjoy a fun evening at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort. Chip and Dale will greet you for this fun campfire sing-along. You can roast marshmallows and then sing some fun songs around the campfire. After the sing-along, enjoy a classic Disney movie on the big screen for FREE!

10. Disney’s Boardwalk - Enjoy evening activities on Disney's Boardwalk including games and live entertainment. You can even see some of the IllumiNations Show at Epcot along the Disney’s Boardwalk.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Family Travel Tips

1. Attitude is everything:

Expect problems, go with the flow and everything will work out great. Travel is hard and traveling with kids is even harder. But if you treat your trip like an adventure, annoyances, missteps and mishaps simply become small obstacles for your hearty band of explorers to overcome. I mean, seriously, do you think Dora would let a two-hour delay get to her? Would Indiana Jones get stressed out because the restaurant doesn't have chicken fingers? This applies just as much for parents as for children. If dogs can sense fear, you better believe your seven-year-old can. If you get stressed when you can't find your hotel, your kids will get stressed too. When you think of it as "exploring the neighborhood," everyone will feel better.

2. Things to bring:

Don't forget the drugs. It's always a good idea to travel with some children's Tylenol (or whatever you prefer) so that you don't have to worry about tracking down a drug store in a strange neighborhood at 11 P.M. Depending on how much space you have, you might want to bring small containers of cough syrup or Claritin as well. Finally, some parents swear by it and some parents detest it, but Benadryl can go a long way. Especially with long flights, giving you child something to help them sleep can make everyone a lot happier.

And definitely don't forget the baby wipes. Even if your kid was out of diapers during the Clinton administration, baby wipes are invaluable when traveling. As one reader wrote, "You can clean hands, faces, toilet seats, almost anything with them. On a hot day you can even wipe your face & neck with them to cool down a bit."

Other useful items. Kids get dirty, especially when they're traveling. Bring a small container of special travel detergent (the Tide from your garage won't work) so you can use your hotel sink to remove the damage from your child's meatball mishap. Ziploc bags have thousands of uses and take up hardly any space. Bring a variety of sizes if you can. Finally, a small, sturdy nightlight can help turn a scary hotel room into a cozy den.

3. Leave at the right time: 

If you kids nap, use their schedules to your advantage. For example, if you've got a long car ride, see if you can't leave an hour or so before their nap time. Most kids can entertain themselves for a little while so that buys you some time right there. Once they fall asleep around their normal nap time, you just bought yourself an hour or two of bliss on the way to your destination. This can work for flights as well. If you want to push your luck with this strategy, consider a red-eye flight. Especially if you're flying coast to coast (at least in the U.S.), you can try to entertain a kid for 6 hours on a daytime flight or you can have them sleep on a flight that leaves at 11 PM. Be warned, however, this is a high-risk, high-return gambit. When executed to perfection, you get on the plane, give your kid his teddy bear and wake up 3,000 miles away. When things go awry, however, you are awake all night enduring glares from the people seated near you and the whole family is transformed into cranky zombies the next day.

4. Getting the most out of your flight:

Do a little pre-planning. I always start with to check out the layout of my flight and try to pick good seats. Map out aisles, windows and think about where to place your family. Do you want everyone in the same row or would you really rather spread them out a little because Johnnie is always getting under Janie's skin? You can get creative here.

Special meals. For the airlines that still serve food, most have Children's meals. They tend to include more kid friendly options and often come with toys or stickers.

Board separately. Lots of airlines have dropped special boarding for families with small children. If that's an option for you, consider using it, especially if there is only one grown-up. But for me, I like to split up the parents to minimize the amount of time you spend on the plane. Send Sherpa Daddy onto the plane first with as much stuff as he can carry. Keep Mom or Grandpa or whoever in the boarding area until the gate agents physically force you onto the plane. This way your kids can run around and burn energy in the much roomier boarding area than in the 672 square inches they will attempt to occupy for the next four hours.

5. Choose your toys and books wisely. Toys with lots of small, moving parts are bound to end up as vacuum food. "One-trick" toys also take the express train for boredom town. Things like a good set of portable art supplies with crayons, markers and some paper can transform into hours of amusement (or at least distraction). One school of thought is to bring your kids' favorites. If you daughter can play at home with her Groovy Girl for four hours, it's probably a pretty good bet it will entertain her in the car as well. Another school of thought suggests holding toys in reserve for travel. Save a couple of brand-new toys to be dramatically unveiled just when your child is about to meltdown.

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