My son James, with the new Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for some posh place in the south east.4
Disneyland! Paris! What, little old me? Who'd have thought it. After our previous day with the family in Kent, on the Monday morning my brother-in-law Julian drove Amanda, James and I down to Ashford and the international train station there. We were to spend three nights and four days at the resort in Paris and James, being six years old, was rather excited. Almost as excited as Amanda and I really.
Our opening experiences of Eurostar were not the most favourable. For a start you had to get about 600 passengers down to the platform and the train via one rather small lift. We are then all waiting to board our train when an officious French lady clutching a clipboard informs us that all the baggage racks on these coaches were full already and we would have to put all our suitcases in the baggage coach. She sprints off down the platform with us tottering after her, some of us pulling cases the size of steamer trunks. Our cases are literally flung into a storage area and we walk back up the platform to our coach. Imagine our slight sense of humour failure when we get into our coach and find all of the baggage racks completely empty. We hammer through the tunnel and then down over the bland flat lands of north France. Just outside the station for Disneyland we are held up for about ten minutes because of a "security alert". Eventually we are in the station and begin trying to find which coach has our suitcases in it. Myself and some other chaps find our coach and have to virtually break into it to get to the cases. We then have to queue up for the Disneyland Express service which involves them taking our cases off us, we go straight to the fun park and our cases are then taken onto our hotel so we will find our stuff when we get there.
The park and everything in it are just as you would expect. Fun, fun, fun and capitalism run wild. There are hundreds of little shops, but it soon dawns on you that they all sell exactly the same stuff as each other. Some of the rides are particularly brilliant - Pirates of the Caribbean was great fun, the Star Wars "Star Tours" was mind blowing, and we had great delight in doing the Buzz Lightyear Lazer Blast game every single day!
Late afternoon on the first day we book into the hotel. The charming lady on the reception asks if we will be using the minibar - I have been warned off minibars for years past, and I was right to follow my instincts. In the minibar a tiny tube of Pringles crisps were 5 Euros. 5 EUROS? That's about £4.50. For a couple of the nights we ate in the Inventions Restaurant in the Hotel and their evening buffet was amazing. Langoustines, huge pacific prawns, medallions of beef in a sour cream sauce, beef bourguinon, scallop terrine, all wonderful high quality food, but as they had to cater for children there was even fun stuff like spaghetti and meat balls and even breaded chicken shapes and funny faces potato wedges. We did get stung on the first night. We were on a half-board option, so all our evening meals were paid for, however our drinks were extra. On this first night I ordered Amanda two glasses of house white wine and me two glasses of house red wine. These four glasses of wine cost me 36 Euros. On our second night we went to see the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show in the Disney Village - great fun, very touristy and very silly. But we all enjoyed it, even James who was delighted to receive a free stetson hat during the show which he could keep.
We had a fabulous, exhausting time and really only became completely saccharined out on the final afternoon. For me the funniest thing to see for the whole week was a family group we would see occasionally with lots of young children, a mum and dad, and a sallow faced miserable teenager, defiantly wearing a series of Slipknot t-shirts and desperately trying to remain looking cool while all the other members of his family are wearing Mickey Mouse ears.
James had his photo taken with Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto, Goofy, Tigger, Ee-Aw, Balloo and a host of other Disney characters. He had all sorts of stuff bought for him and went on all the rides he could ever possibly want. He is a very lucky boy!
We got the train back to Ashford and Julian picked us up again. We were all exhausted, but it was a magical experience. But my week wasn't over yet....