We hadn’t had a holiday for the last few years. Paddy was a baby the last time we went away. It was a cottage rental in Dorset. In fact, we hadn’t been anywhere else but within the UK for years.
It had long been a dream to take the children to Disneyland Paris. It had long been a dream to visit Disneyland Paris
ourselves, with or without the kids. But we thought the kids wouldn’t forgive us if we ever went without them and we do have to keep in mind that they’ll be choosing our nursing home some day. We never thought we would be able to afford to take our family there, and the more our family grew the less it seemed likely that we’d ever visit the Magical Kingdom.
Last year we saw an offer for under 12’s to go to Disneyland Paris for free! Bearing in mind the two oldest children had left home and were claiming independence, it then left us with seven children all under the age of 12!
If you know me you’ll know I love a good deal and this deal was too good to miss!
So we decided to book it and that it would be part of their Christmas present, killing two birds with one Mickey Mouse shaped stone.
The beauty of homeschooling means we get the flexibility of arranging trips when everyone else is stuck in the classroom. We can make the most of off-peak prices and take advantage of less crowded periods.
One disadvantage to having a large family is that there are very few with accommodation large enough for all of you. Needing as much space as possible we decided to book the Davy Crockett Ranch. Being the size family we are we were told we needed to book two cabins as there was a maximum of six to a cabin. Needing to save as much money as possible we had to go for the cheapest option available. We booked two, one bedroom cabins for four nights and five days at the end of March.
We had to arrange the Eurotunnel journey ourselves due to having to book a larger than average vehicle but that wasn’t a problem at all. Soon enough everything was booked and we were ready to go!
We set out early in the morning on March 21st. As we got to the Eurotunnel earlier than we were booked to go we were given the option to wait or to get on the next shuttle. We opted to keep on moving. The journey took a total of 35 minutes from England to France and was quite pleasant. It was a lot smoother than I expected it to be and seemed surreal to think that I remember when they were building the tunnel we were travelling through.
Once we reached Calais we got straight onto the A26 motorway to Arras, then from Arras the A1 motorway leaving just after the Charles de Gaulle airport (exit 6), and onto the A4. As we were heading directly for the Davy Crockett Ranch we had to turn off at exit 13, but if you’re heading straight for Disneyland Paris you’ll need to stay on until exit 14 (Val D’Europe, Parc Disneyland). The journey from Calais to Disneyland took about four hours in total, but we did stop at a service station for an early lunch and loo break.
When you arrive at the Ranch you need to check in after 3pm. You can collect your tickets etc beforehand to head onto the Park if arrive much earlier and don’t want to be hanging about but keys are not given out for cabins until 3pm. You will be given a hotel ID card known as the “Easy Pass” which entitles you to free parking access at the Disney Parks, use of the swimming pool, the Ranch facilities and also enables you to collect your breakfast in the mornings.
Your “Easy Pass” will also enable those staying in any of the Disneyland Hotels to visit the Park from 8am, giving you an extra two hours there before it opens to the general public at 10am. The only problem you may have is trying to time getting there for eight when you cannot collect your breakfast until 7.30am. We got around this by carrying forward the breakfasts. For example, we took our own cereal for the first morning’s breakfast and collected the breakfast from the cabin situated at the entrance of our part of the Ranch as soon as it opened at 7.30am.
Getting a head start on the first morning allowed us to keep hold of the breakfast and we would either have it for lunch or for breakfast the following morning. The breakfasts were more than adequate with cartons of orange juice, milk and sachets of coffee and hot chocolate and tea bags. Also baguettes, brioche and small packs of jam and nutella were included too. There was plenty for everyone to feast on.
The cabins are set in different sections within 140 acres of woods. We were allocated two cabins set beside each other in the Timber Trail. The cabins are best described as cladded mobile homes and I was a little dubious regarding what to expect, given that we had taken the cheapest option of cabin and the reviews I had read online were not very positive.
I couldn’t have been better surprised. We arrived and walked through the door of one cabin. It was far more spacious than I had expected and was so clean and welcoming. The lounge had a sofa which pulled out into a bed, cupboards, a television complete with welcome message for our family, and a kitchenette with full sized larder fridge, microwave, sink and a two ringed hob. We had brought along two travel cots for the youngest members of the family, hoping that one cabin might be big enough so that we wouldn’t have to split the family up at night. Looking around at the room available we could see that this was possible.
The bedroom had a double bed and a bunk bed along with wardrobes along one wall. There was plenty of room between beds and enough space to set up one of the travel cots. We would sleep on the pull out bed in the lounge and set up the other travel cot for Joseph so that he would remain near to us.
The bathroom was large and so very clean. There were complimentary Mickey Mouse toiletries placed on the vanity unit and a full sized bath with overhead shower. And the toilet worked fine.
Most of the reviews I had read online before we left had complained about ants in the cabins. Well, there were a few ants crawling here and there but nothing like the infestation I had been under the impression of. Let’s face it, if you’re in a cabin in the middle of trees and forestry there are bound to be a few insects about. If you aren’t prepared for that then perhaps a ranch isn’t the place to choose.
We decided to use the second cabin we had rented to store all the equipment we didn’t need to keep to hand so it freed up more space for us in the cabin we would be staying in. Once we’d looked around and did a quick bit of unpacking we headed for the Park. Disneyland Paris here we come!
Join us for Part 2 soon – less chat – more pictures and videos.