4 Jun 2009

Practically Perfect Disneyland Paris

We left on Monday. The flight wasn't until after 6pm but Duncan was awake shortly after 4am in his excitement. Not excitement that we were going on holiday mind, but that a book I'd ordered for him from Amazon a few days previously was most likely to be delivered that day. Now I'd partied hard (for me) at the weekend and Mummies need their sleep, especially before setting off on adventures. Thankfully I managed to get him back to bed for a while, but he was still up early and waiting by the window for the postman. Glory be to the Royal Mail for they hath delivered unto us a saviour, in the form of a 2nd hand copy of Ladybird's "Percy Runs Away" a book we already have in few other formats and one he and I could both recite from memory.

The flight went well. I brought his buggy which proved to be so useful in Florida and just a couple of small backpacks that I could manage alone. I'd organised a taxi shuttle from the airport and we were met by the driver as soon as we exited French passport control. Only 40 minutes after we'd landed, we were in the hotel and checking in. Fantastic. On booking the hotel I'd requested a room close to the reception and breakfast restaurant if possible. They had delivered. We were staying in what had been the cheapest Disney hotel on site but our room was perfect, with a large double and sturdy bunk beds in the block nearest reception. Duncan loved our cowboy room and claimed the top bunk at once. We settled in then went to buy some drinks (I'd packed a lot of snacks) and he pounced on a stuffed Donald Duck toy. I bought it, he's been on a Donald phase for a while now and I know from before that these toys are useful and important to him. Donald was from then on his companion and protector and a most excellent duck.

Donald, cuddly and kind to overloaded little boys.

The only slot left for breakfast was 7.30 but we managed to drag ourselves awake and to the crowded breakfast hall. I'd asked for and received permission to scarper back to the room with our selection of rolls and croissants. We did the same both mornings and had a much more relaxed time that we'd have managed in the bustling and loud refectory.

Sometime after 9, we took the bus to the parks. It was a bit of a hassle getting the buggy on board but I'm pushy enough and we managed. After picking up Duncan's Easy Access Pass (green card to enable shorter queuing times and use of wheelchair accessible entrances) we were off on our first ride, Buzz Lightyear's Laser Quest. In a short time, we followed up with the Small World, Pinocchio and Pirates of the Caribbean rides. Then Duncan wanted to go "home". It was only 11.30. So we went towards the exit but on passing the Disney Rail Road station, he agreed to my suggestion of a ride and we did a circuit of the park.

On the train, photo taken by a nice German man with whom I'd griped about the lack of a ramp onto the disabled customers' carriage.

Afterwards, he asked to visit the Studio park. We queued for a few minutes for a hug and photo with Sully, then went to watch Crush's Coaster. He asked to go on the bus, meaning the Backlot Tour. This was I think, the highlight of the day. Having seen it before he knew what to expect but was still exhilarated by the fire and thundering water. Very cool.

Awesome Autistic Dude!

I was surprised that he asked to go see Stitch Live next as that had been one of the most difficult parts last time. But I complied and it worked out great. He laughed his head off with everyone else.

It all gets a bit much, this work at having fun.

We were both ready for a rest and went back via the train station shop where I picked up a few ice-creams and drinks. Mummy needed a cold beer after all that time in the sun. We had a lovely relaxing few hours in our room. He spent ages in the bath while I read a bit more (Restaurant at the End of the Universe) and we both had a wee sleep. Very chilled.

We went out again at 6 although the parks closed at 7. I'd hoped to buy him food in the place where they show cartoons but it was shut. Duncan wasn't so happy. It was busy and hot. "Too much" he called as he buried his head under Donald. I pushed him out to McDonald's and we queued for ages to buy him food and ice-cream. He ate as we walked home. It was much calmer on that particular path. After another relaxing time in our room (more bath time for the boy) we headed back to the hotel shop for water and he picked out a tiny ceramic bell to buy. It was just his sort of thing. Soon enough he climbed into his bunk and slept.

Next morning we hung around in the room a while later as we wouldn't be able to return once we'd checked out. We still left too early and it was hard at times throughout the day, just keeping going in the heat. The only ride Duncan wanted to go on by then was Phantom Manor so off we went, but it hadn't opened so we watched his beloved Big Thunder Mountain instead. Unfortunately, he still didn't feel even close to being ready to actually ride it. Shame, for I love it!

We wandered through Fantasy Land which was very crowded and in which there were speakers blasting out princess music at every turn. Duncan was fed up! He did agree to go on the Snow White ride and enjoyed it, but vetoed everything else.

He wanted to watch a show in the Studio but it was too late when we got there. We headed to the Rock'n'Roller coaster exit instead to watch for a while. I made the mistake of saying "let's go" when I was ready to leave and he panicked for a while thinking that I wanted him to go on the ride. Oops! Reassured, we left and went to the next show, a Playhouse Disney thing in French. It was nice and he liked it well enough but apart from Mickey and co. the characters were unfamiliar and it was all a bit too babyish.

We returned to ride Phantom Manor and he loved the spookiness. After another go on the Small World boat and a circuit of the park on the train, we settled in the Videopolis for a few cartoons in the cool. By then I was just trying to pass time. Duncan wanted to go back to the hotel and was disappointed that we couldn't get into the room again. But he consented to watch the parade with me so for the first time ever, we went to one of the dedicated viewing spots for disabled customers, showed our green card and waited in the roped off area. It was much better there. Duncan worried a bit about the potential for loud noises and bangs but was assured there would be loud music but no bangs. When the parade passed, we had an excellent view, right by the curb. He enjoyed it and several of the characters approached him and the others in our area to touch hands and ruffle hair. He loved that, otherwise I'd have pulled him back!

So finally all Disney-ed out I pushed him back slowly to the hotel, got our bags and awaited the taxi. It was early and we arrived at the airport 3 hours before the flight was leaving. Those were not such pleasant hours, especially since on passing passport control there is nowhere to sit but a cafe. It's a horrible place to wait.

To kill time, I took Duncan to the loo and he had great enjoyment washing his hands using touch-sensitive taps. We had been the only travellers in the vicinity so I didn't try to attenuate his loud appreciative calls of excitement. There was a loud knock on the door. Thinking someone else needed to use the disabled person's toilet, I called back that we'd be out soon. The person knocking informed me that he was "the police" and that I was to open the door asap. Thankfully I had not commenced my own business. I opened to find 2 large uniformed men looking around. I explained in my finest Franglais that my son is disabled and was excited by the taps. They left us alone.

A while later as I pushed him up and down the bleak hall I had a laugh about it, but not too much in case they decided I wasn't in a fit state to travel. We couldn't get into the seating area for another 30 minutes and the police had just about banged the toilet door down when I needed to use it. Apart from that, the journey home was fine. A baby started screaming 15 minutes before we landed and Duncan screamed a couple of times in sympathy, but thankfully no more than that. He had to visit the toilet twice but there was no-one sitting beside us. He worried when we'd landed and the plane was pulling in beside the terminal building that a crash was imminent, "Pull back! Apply the brakes!" he recommended.

I asked and was allowed to fast-track through passport control, we picked up the car and weary, we headed on the last leg of our journey home.


Jax said...

Sounds like a great trip, but I bet you were ready for a rest when you got back!

Grannymar said...

Gosh Sharon you certainly packed plenty into the short couple of days. I am sure you were really tired but pleased when you reached home once more.

Sharon said...

@Jax and Grannymar, it was fantastic and we were able to do so much since we didn't have to queue for rides. I was knackered when we got home and had a very lazy day yesterday.

AnnB said...

Sounds like an amazing trip. We've been talking about braving it for ages, you've really given me the boost I need to get my finger out and start planning - thanks for the inspiration!

lisadom said...

You are kind of selling it to me, a bit. But I know that Mr wouldn't cope.

When I went to Aus with Boo in January I actually paid for an extra night so we could use the Airport Hotel room until the flight took off. heaven as we went back there after checking in big luggage, and then went straight from the room to the plane.

Heartily recommend it. A Boo can be a boy when he has his own tv, and bathroom!


Sharon said...

AnnB, it is a good place if you have planned and take it easy. It is always very busy and the assess card is a must. Having been a few times I have some tips if you ever want to ask.

Lisa, (Sharon slaps her head) renting a airport room would have made life so much easier. I'm sure we could have got one for 50/60 euro too and just having a spot to wait for a while in the vicinity would have made the latter hours of that last day much more bearable.

Anonymous said...

Hope you two had a lovely time!

Although I do think those policemen were utter ******* to say the least. You'd think they'd have some common sense about these things, and also seems a bit unnerving knowing they'd willingly knock down a loo door even if someone was in there...

Venus Doom said...

Wow, looks like you both had a great time. There is nothing I love more than getting to spend some quality one on one time with one of the kids. I can really relate to your moments of tears at being overcome by your time with him. Lovely photos too!

Gonzo said...

Duncan is just sooo cute, especially with that card round his neck.
Really enjoyed reading this and I'm very happy for you both to have had such fun.

And I second what TheChris said, the police should realize how that could scare people with mental, or developmental disabilities to bits.

Dave said...

We are about to take our three boys to DisneyLand HongKong in October.

Our eldest (five years old) has ASD and long waits cause him to run off.

Can you tell me how you arranged for the Easy Access Pass?


Sharon said...

Hi Dave

Sorry for the delay in posting your comment. I've not been online much.

At the Diseny parks in Paris and Orlando I took a letter from my son's doctor and a photocopy of his disabled parking badge, then got the pass at the park entrance, in a place called guest services or something. At Orlando they didn't even ask to read it, as soon as I asked the staff member just got me a card. It was very helpful and will be great for your son too. I hope you have a great holiday.

Dave said...

Thanks for the info and good wishes Sharon,

We just got back. The boys loved it. We got a letter from the manager of the Autism Centre that Sulaiman attends and we got the pass very easily. Didn't really need it much at Disneyland because it was not peak season (we went over an Indian Holiday that is celebrated in Singapore but not much of the rest of Asia) but it did come in handy a couple of times - I also used the letter at the airport when there was a long queue and was allowed to skip to the Internet check in queue (yup forgot to check in online for teh return journey :( )

Only thing is that the boys keep asking to go back to Hong Kong all the time now...


Sharon said...

Hi Dave, thanks for reporting back on your holiday. I am so glad it went well for you and that your sons enjoyed themselves.