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What's New At Merlin Attractions In 2021

12 April 2021

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Today is the day that we begin the second step of the Roadmap out of lockdown and restrictions. All non essential shops will open, as well as hairdressers and beer gardens to name a few. I think the one thing we have been looking forward to the most is the opening of the Theme Parks. Visiting theme parks is our favourite day out and we can't wait till we can visit our favourites this year. 

Merlin Standard Annual Pass


We are Merlin Pass holders so their attractions will be top of our visit list this year. They have been working hard behind the scenes during lockdown to bring lots of new and exciting updates to their parks and attractions in 2021. Here is what we can look forward to.

Alton Towers
Due to Covid-19 the opening of David Walliams land was delayed but it now looks set to open this year with the 'land' being added to the park map and features new rides. 

Gangsta Granny: The Ride
This dark ride will take you on a journey based on the popular David Walliams book, Gangsta Granny. 

You must be 0.9m or over to ride, and 1.2m or over to ride without an adult. All riders aged 11+ must wear a face mask. 

Royal Carousel
Hop on board the Queens horses or sit on the throne as you spin round and round. 

If you are under 1.3m you must be with an adult (18+). All riders aged 11+ must wear a face mask. 

Raj's Bouncy Bottom Burp
Bounce up and down on Raj's Bouncy Bottom Burp Ride. 

You must be at least 0.9m to ride Raj's Bouncy Bottom Burp. If you are under 1.1m you must be with an adult (18+). All riders aged 11+ must wear a face mask. 

If you are familiar with Alton Towers you may know David Walliams land will take over the former land Cloud Cuckoo Land. 

Although the location has not been confirmed yet I can only assume that Gangsta Granny The Ride will either be in the Charlie and The Chocolate Factory ride which closed in 2015 or the old Wobble World play area. 

The Royal Carousel and Raj's Bouncy Bottom Burp sound very familiar to the Carousel and Frog Hopper which were located in Cloud Cuckoo Land so may not be new rides as such, maybe just rebranded. 

Alton made a very exciting announcement recently on their social media that they have added three 'pop up' type rides to the park called The Retro Squad. 

We don't know a lot about these rides other than they are old school rides called Mixtape, Funk'n'Fly and Roller Disco. 

The locations of the rides have been shared with a brief description.

Roller Disco 
Located in The Dark Forest and is a spinning ride.

Mix Tape 
Located in X Sector and seems to be a 'bouncy' type of ride. 

Funk'n'Fly 
Located in Forbidden Valley and says we will soar to heights.

All three rides require you to be a minimum of 1.2m and all riders aged 11+ must wear a face mask. 

All the above rides may not open on the 12th April 2021. Further updates will be made with opening dates once released.

Chessington World Of Adventures
It looks like there is just one new addition to Chessington World of Adventures in 2021. 

Croc Drop
Jump on board and reach great heights before being plunge 25m in to the Crocs Jaw.

Croc Drop is a fun and exciting 'drop tower' type of ride which requires all riders to be a minimum of 1.2m. If you are between 1.2-1.3 you must ride with an adult over the age of 16. All riders over 1.3 can ride alone. 

There is no update about face masks for this ride however I assume it will be similar to Alton Towers. 

Legoland Windsor Resort
Opening on the 29th May Lego Mythica is a new land coming to Legoland Windsor Resort. Mythica is a parallel universe where all the lego creatures we create go so they can come to life. 

There are three new rides opening in the land of Lego Mythica and includes the UK's first ever flying theatre ride. 

Flight Of The Sky Lion
Take a ride with Maximus through Lego Mythica and explore the realms facing some of the rarest and scariest creatures.

Fire and Ice Free Fall
Two spinning top tower rides.

Hydra's Challenge.
An interactive water ride with twists and turns.

Again there isn't much information about the new land and the three exciting new rides. As soon as information is released I will update minimum height restrictions and other updates. 

Thorpe Park 
Just one new attraction heading to Thorpe Park this spring and it is a UK first.

Black Mirror Labyrinth
Opening on May 21st The UK's first ever Black Mirror Experience attraction. Described as a twisted and sensory defying maze it will lead you in to the core of the Black Mirror Universe. 

Based on the description I will assume this will be adults only however will update as soon as more information is released. 

Warwick Castle
A new activity trail to follow.

Zog and The Quest For The Golden Star
Included in the price of your ticket and available until 5th September 2021, the Zog activity trail will keep you busy. Learn how to become a true dragon, rescue a princess and collect stamps along the way. 

Zog will be there to pose for a photograph and hand out some golden stars too. 

All these new rides and attractions should keep us busy this year. What are you looking forward to most?

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Michelle
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The Secret Path In The Gardens Trail | Tatton Park

9 April 2021

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After visiting Tatton Park last Christmas time to join in with their Holly's Festive Feast trail we have been on the lookout for something similar. We found the new trail, Percy The Park Keeper - The Secret Path In The Gardens Trail, which started on 2nd April. 

The secret path sign


What To Expect At Percy The Park Keeper - The Secret Path In The Gardens Trail. Tatton Park, WA16 6QN (Sat Nav WA16 6SG)

Percy The Park Keeper and all his animal friends have headed to Tatton Park this Spring for an adventure. 

The idea behind the trail is Percy is working in Tatton Gardens. You must follow the trail along secret paths and sloping hills to help Percy find all the items that have gone missing which he needs to have a big Spring clean-up

boy looking at a trail map


The trail begins in the garden entrance. You can pick up your trail map and pencil upon arrival and head out in the gardens to start your journey along the secret path. 

Dad and son walking along the grass

boy pointing in a direction of a path


Once you are on your way you can follow the squirrel signposts which will tell you which direction to go in next. 

boy looking at a signpost

boy and dad completing a trail map


There are 7 clues in total hidden around the gardens and you can solve each one and write them down on your trail sheet. Each answer is a missing item that Percy needs to finish his Spring clean up. 

tatton gardens

tatton gardens

tatton gardens


The gardens are so big and you can of course head off and explore the gardens along the way or after you gave finished the trails. There is lots to explore and you can use your map to help you get back on track. 

If you complete all the clues in order when you complete clue number 6 you may spot someone in the distance. It's Percy! Percy is at his potting shed ready to say hello to all his visitors. 

Meeting Percy the park keeper
Meeting Percy the park keeper


When we arrived at the potting shed, Percy introduced himself and had a lovely chat with little J about what football team he supports. He then gave us a a little pot which contained a french bean. He told us all about the bean and the steps we need to follow to help it grow. As it was Easter weekend Little J was also given a Lindt chocolate bunny which was a lovely surprise. We took a quick photo with Percy and then we were on our way to find the last clue. 

Meeting Percy the park keeper


Once you complete the trail there is another photo opportunity with Percy and his animal friends.

On your way out you can collect your Percy The Park Keeper trail sticker to keep. 

Anything Else?
Percy The Park Keeper - The Secret Path In The Gardens Trail is available every day until 13th June 2021.

Times:
10am - 6pm (last entry 5pm) 

Price: 
Garden entry: £8 adult, £6 child, National Trust members go free (but must still book a timed ticket to visit). 

£1 per child for Percy the Park Keeper’s garden trail sheets (including NT members).

There are no toilets inside the garden area so make sure you head to the toilets before you enter which are just outside the gardens entrance. 

There are plenty of grass areas suitable for a picnic both in and outside the gardens plus there are picnic benches and tables scattered around the estate too. 

The Stable Restaurant is open daily 10am-5pm and offers a limited takeaway menu. 

Parkland is open daily 10am – 7pm (last entry 6pm). The Farm and Mansion are currently closed. 

All vehicles will be charged £8 parking fee, this is half price for blue badge holders, cyclists and pedestrians are free to enter.

Tatton gardens


The gardens have plenty of space to ensure social distancing and the trail is a lovely family day out to enjoy with the little ones.

Michelle

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Big Little Tent Festival This Easter | AD

30 March 2021

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Disclosure - This is a paid collaboration with The Little Big Tent Festival 

The clocks have sprung forward so the nights are getting lighter and for us that means more time in our garden. We spent so much time in our garden last year due to being in lockdown and staying at home. The weather was kind to us and we had lots of fun playing garden games, playing in the pool and also making tents and camping outside. 

The little big tent festival bunting

While we were safe at home last year we were introduced to the Big Little Tent Festival. The Caravan Club created the idea of Big Little Tent Festival during lockdown. It was an idea that meant we could still enjoy all the fun of the great outdoors but from our own home. 

Big Little Tent Festival is back again this year and is taking place over the Easter weekend which falls on the 3rd and 4th April. Restrictions in the UK are still in place so this is the perfect way to get outdoors, pitch a tent, and enjoy nature all from your own garden. 

There are lots of festival fun and activities to join in with across the weekend including a Zoom party to meet The Mermaid Princess and The Friendly Neighbourhood Hero for games, superhero training, and a campfire song! You can take part in their facebook love children's quiz, enjoy bushcraft and so much more. 

You’ll find all the information you need on their Facebook page - Big Little Tent Festival

To get you in the festival and camping mood the Caravan Club have created a free downloadable pack which contains everything your and your family will need for a home camping festival experience. 

Little big Tent Festival wristband


Create your own festival wristbands. Use the wristband templates in the pack to make them as colourful as you like. 

Decorate your garden or home with The Big Little Tent festival colour your own bunting. 

Create a To Do list. Everything you need to make the festival fun.

Whether you're camping indoors or outside there is a packing list perfect for you. 

Boy colouring in


Lots of fun activities for the kids to enjoy, word search, garden bingo, spot the difference and much more, 

When you download the pack you will be entered in to a draw for a chance to win with Raleigh. Raleigh are offering the chance to win one of two amazing bikes. 

Raleigh's Pop and Molli children's bikes are worth up to £350 each. Perfect for exploring the great outdoors and getting some exercise too. 

Make sure you join in with The Big Little Tent Festival Twitter party on Wednesday 31st March between 7-8pm to find out lots more about the Caravan Club and The Big Little Tent Festival. There will be chances to win prizes too. Make sure you follow @BigLittleTent and use the hashtag #BLTF21 in your tweets. 

boys in a tent


Not matter whether you have a tent or have to improvise, camp indoors or out, the Little Big Tent Festival is fun for all and the perfect way to spend an Easter Weekend

Michelle
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Things To Do In The North West This Easter

23 March 2021

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The kids have only been back at school for a few weeks but it won't be long until they are off again for Easter break. Last Easter we were in lockdown in the UK however this year although some things are not fully open yet, restrictions are easing and there are some nice activities to keep us busy in the North West.

illuminated rainbow


River Of Light
Liverpool Waterfront

The River of Light will commence one year on from the day the UK went in to its first lockdown. The River of Light trail will light up Liverpool's Waterfront for a total of 14 nights from Tuesday 23rd March to Monday 5 April. Local residents can explore the free River of Light Trail free of charge. 

There is a total of 11 illuminated artworks in various locations across the city's waterfront. You can view the trail at any time throughout the day however the artworks will be only be lit from 6pm - 10.30pm each night. 

In total the River of Light trail covers 2km and is a full walking loop so there is no set start or finish point. Covid-safe measures will be in place and everyone is required to follow government guidelines so that the trail can be enjoyed by all. 

To see a full list of installations head to visitliverpool.com/riveroflight and for a full list of FAQ's you can head to Visit Liverpool.

Easter Special flyer


Social Kids - The Parking Lot Easter Breakout
Speke Hall Ave, Speke, Liverpool L24 1YD

The Parking Lot Social’s Easter Breakout is perfect to get the kids away from their screens and to enjoy lots of Easter fun. The Parking Lot Social’s Easter Breakout DJ will occupy you for a full 90 minutes including a silent disco, car-a-oke, an interactive quiz, party bingo & lots more.

One hour before the party starts the warm up DJ/MC will host some music, fun and games to get everyone in the mood to party.

The Parking Lot Social’s Easter Breakout tickets are available to buy for both the 17th and 18th April. 

Saturday 17th April 
Gates Open 11am - Pre-show with a live DJ to get you settled in, and hyped up.
Show Starts 12pm - Let the party commence!
End Time 1:30pm approx

Sunday 18th April 
Gates Open 2:15pm - Pre-show with a live DJ to get you settled in, and hyped up.
Show Starts 3:15pm - Let the party commence!
End Time 4:45pm approx

Easter Eggs in a basket


Easter Trail at Speke Hall
The Walk, Speke, Liverpool, L24 1XD

Explore the gardens and park at Speke Hall on their Easter Trail. Complete all the activities at the 10 trail points along the way and have lots of fun.  

To help you along the way you can purchase a trail pack which costs £3 on top of the general admission cost to enter Speke Hall. 

Each trail pack includes an activity sheet and  pencil to help you complete and a chocolate egg or allergen free reward.

The trail is available Wednesday 31st March to Sunday 11th April (except Tuesday 6th April) 10.30am – 5pm. Tickets for the Easter Trail are available to purchase on the day however you do need to book your tickets for Speke Hall in advance and tickets for the Easter period will go on sale on Friday 26th March.

Family Welly Walks


The Storybarn – Strolling into Spring
Calderstones Mansion House, Calderstones Rd, Liverpool L18 3JB

This Easter enjoy the scenery and explore Calderstones Park on a Spring Welly Walk.  Make sure you bring all five senses with you so you can enjoy and play games, listen to stories and even create your own.

The Spring Welly Walks will last a hour-long and will take place outdoors. You can't rely on the great British weather so make you dress appropriately and prepared.  The Storyhunter will be waiting for you on the steps of the Mansion House.

Best suited to children aged 4 - 8 but there’ll be fun for the whole family.

Tickets are available to purchase in advance and £4 each for both and adults and children. Under 1's go free. 

Percy pushing a wheelbarrow


Percy the Park Keeper - The Secret Path in the Gardens
Tatton Park, Knutsford, Cheshire, WA16 6QN (Sat Nav WA16 6SG)

Head to Tatton Park to join Percy the Park Keeper and his animal friends on a Spring adventure.  The family trail will take you inside Tatton Park’s gardens. Follow the pathways and help Percy along the way to take care of nature and wildlife. Why not stop off for a selfie at Percy’s potting shed, here you can enjoy the all the sights and smells of spring. Can you find all of Percy's animal friends along the way? Once you have finished collect your Easter chocolate treat and meet Percy too.

Percy The Park Keeper - The Secret Path in the Gardens trail is available from 2nd April - 5th April for Easter however the trail will continue through to the 13th June.

The trail is available 10am - 6pm (last entry 5pm).
 
Garden entry is priced at £8 per adult, £6 per child, National Trust members go free (but you must still book a timed ticket to visit). £1 per child for Percy the Park Keeper’s garden trail sheets (including NT members,

I will add to this post if more days out / Easter themed activities pop up.

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If you found this post useful there are a few ways that you could say thanks and support Playdays and Runways.

Leave us a comment below and let us know about your visit 

Visit our Out and About section for more days out ideas

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Share This Post With Friends Who May Also Find It Useful. 

Michelle
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Holly's Festive Feast Christmas Trail, Tatton Park

1 December 2020

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We have begun our Christmas Festivities with a trip to Tatton Park to enjoy the Christmas Garden Trail, Holly's Festive Feast. 

holly's festive feast sign



boy with rabbit statue



What To Expect At A Christmas Trail: Holly's Festive Feast, Tatton Park, WA16 6QN (Sat Nav WA16 6SG)
Holly the Hare needs your help, she’s been invited to a festive garden feast with Tatton Park’s other woodland friends, but she’s mislaid her invitation! Journey through the Gardens and help solve the puzzles to find her friends at their Christmas party.

Holly Festive Feast party pack


The trail begins at The Gardens entrance where you can pick up your party pack. Inside you will find an animal mask, candy cane, pencils, pencil, sticker, tag for the wish tree and a question sheet and map. 

boy looking at an arrow sign


Next you need to follow the arrows to find the clues to help Holly The Hare get to the party in time. 

Holly's Festive Feast clue

man and boy writing


There are 6 clues in total which take you all around the gardens. You can also head off on different paths to explore if you wish but make sure you get back on track as you don't want to miss the party.

Each clue is easy to solve although younger ones may need a little help from a grown up. Just below each clue is a beautiful stature of Holly The Hare. 

Once you have worked out the clues, pop your answer on the sheet and then head off to find the next clue. 

Two boys looking at a clue

Boy looking at a sign


When you find clue number 6 you then have to find Holly's invitation which will then tell you where the party is. 

Holly's Festive Feast

Holly's Festive Feast

Holly's Festive Feast


Once you have found the party venue join the queue and wait your turn to head inside and see the animals enjoying their party. 

Holly's Festive Feast wish tree

Holly's Festive Feast wish tree

Holly's Festive Feast wish tree




wish tree

Although Holly The Hare made it to her party in time there is still more to do. Next head to the wish tree to put on your own wish.

Roasting marshmallows

Roasting marshmallows

Eating a roasted marshmallow

Eating a roasted marshmallow


Last but not least follow your nose to find Pat the jolly Gardener whose job it is to care for the gardens and wildlife. Pat’s keeping warm by the fire roasting chestnuts.You can even enjoy a chestnut or roast your own marshmallow before heading to the exit as your trail comes to an end.

Anything Else?
Holly's Festive Feast Christmas Trail is available on selected dates
Sat 28th - Sun 29th November
Tues 1st  - Sun 6th December
Tues 8th - Sun 13th December
Tues 15th - Thurs 24th December (including 21 Monday Dec)
Sat 26th December - Sun 3rd January (including 28 Monday Dec)

The trail opens at 10am - 4pm (with the last entry being 3pm). The trail took us well over 2 hours as we explored around the gardens and woodlands so entering at 3pm may cut your time short as it closes at 4pm.

Entry to the mid-winter gardens this festive season is £8 an adult, £6 a child and free for National Trust members.

To experience the full trail experience you may want to the purchase the party pack mentioned above. This costs an extra £2.

There are no toilets inside the garden area so make sure you head to the toilets before you enter which are just outside the gardens entrance. 

Refreshments are available for take away only at Stable Restaurant plus there are snacks, ice creams and drinks available in the gift shop. 

There are lots of picnic benches and tables available to enjoy a picnic for takeaway at with some being under a marquee. 

Head to the Stables Restaurant for festive food and drink and browse pop up Christmas stalls in the stableyard - a mini market of local traders selling homeware, Christmas gifts and more.  This is available to enjoy 11am-4pm
Fri 4, Sat 5 and Sun 6 December
Fri  11, Sat 12 and Sun 13 December 

The cosy Gardener's Cottage this Christmas is inviting you to experience the delights of a Festive Afternoon Tea – and great news for little ones -  they can feel special too with their own limited edition mini festive tea with choice of sandwiches, crisps, hot chocolate or juice and a Christmas tree cookie. Available to enjoy Tuesday - Sunday from 2 Dec until 3 Jan 2021 

Parkland is closed Mondays and open Tuesdays - Sundays 10am – 5pm (last entry 4pm)
Farm and Mansion are currently closed. 

All vehicles will be charged £7 parking fee, this is half price for blue badge holders, cyclists and pedestrians are free to enter.

Please ensure you follow social distancing rules & Government guidelines and if somewhere is busy on arrival, please consider leaving and returning at a later date. 

Face coverings are required in the cafe, gift shop and also the toilets for those aged 11+ (usual exemptions apply)  

Check for local lockdowns / travel restrictions before visiting anywhere. 

Always check with the venue direct as things may have changed after this post was published. 

What Is Close By?
Dunham Massey, WA14 4SJ - 15 Minute Drive
Dunham Massey is a green oasis nestled between the urban sprawl of Manchester and rural tranquillity of Cheshire.

Arley Hall and Gardens, CW9 6NA - 15 Minute Drive
Arley Hall & Gardens is a place of enormous character, charm and interest. Visitors are frequently struck by the warm and intimate atmosphere and the feeling that Arley is a much-cherished family home.

Further Away.
Dream, WA9 4BB - 30 Minute Drive
Dream is a huge sculpture of a child's face situated in the middle of Sutton Manor. You may have read our post recently about our visit to Dream. It's just a 30 Minute Drive from Tatton Park and nice easy walk to enjoy.

Speke Hall Estate and Gardens, L24 1XD - 40 Minute Drive
Speke Hall Gardens and Estate is a National Trust property just outside Liverpool with lots of walking trails, adventure playground and beautiful views of the River Mersey.

Holly's Festive Feast Christmas Trail at Tatton Park will definitely put you in a festive mood and ready for the big day. 

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If you found this post useful there are a few ways that you could say thanks and support Playdays and Runways.

Leave us a comment below and let us know about your visit 

Visit our Out and About section for more days out ideas

Like us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram


Share This Post With Friends Who May Also Find It Useful. 


Michelle
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Disneyland Paris At Christmas - Ten Things I Missed in 2020

26 November 2020

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Yesterday Disneyland Paris announced they are to remain closed until February. When I read Disney's announcement of the closure it brought tears to my eyes as this time of year is usually when we head to Paris for a Disney break and it's sad that this year we can't. Disneyland Paris at Christmas time has become a little bit of a tradition and I then got more upset thinking of all the things I will miss because we are unable to go. 

Disneyland Paris at Christmas Time


Watching Big and Little J's face when we tell them we are going to Disney that night
John and I are very good at keeping secrets and we manage to make it right up till before the journey to the airport before we tell the boys we are going. We usually get an early evening flight so we always have the suitcases packed and in the car, pick them up from school for a quick change of clothes and head to the airport. Their faces are priceless even though we usually go every year they never know when so are always surprised. 

Arriving At The Hotel
Again we usually keep the hotel a secret until we are almost there. We have stayed in all the hotels over the years except for Cheyenne and I love watching them guess which one we are staying in based on little clues we give them. I love walking through the hotel doors knowing we all wake up in Disney the next day.

Disneyland Paris at Christmas Time

Disneyland Paris at Christmas Time


Walking down Main Street from the Christmas tree to the Castle. 
The Tree and Castle take my breath away every year. Seeing the tree as you enter the Disneyland Park never gets old, it's my favourite. I love walking down Main Street with the castle in the distance, Christmas decorations all around and the Christmas songs playing. It's just the best feeling ever. 

Disneyland Paris at Christmas Time

Disneyland Paris at Christmas Time


Planning Our Days
Christmas time at Disneyland Paris is fairly quiet compared to other times of the year so we usually head there for 3 full days and that is more than enough time to do everything we want to. I don't usually plan the days beforehand however we usually spend a day in each park and then do half a day in each park on the last day. I love watching little J as he gets out the park maps and starts planning where we are heading to first and what rides to go on. 

Our Little Thrillseeker
Although he is only seven little J has been riding some of the bigger rides in theme parks for a few years now as he is very tall for his age so is over the minimum height required. Every year he chooses a new ride and is more than happy to push himself out of his comfort zone. Although a family ride his first thrill coaster at Disneyland Paris was Big Thunder Mountain, then he moved on to Crushes Coaster and last year it was RC. I think this year he would have chose Indiana Jones Coaster or Tower of Terror. Maybe if we get to go next year he will choose both. 

big thunder mountain at night time


Big Thunder Mountain In The Dark
This has been one of our favourite things to do at Disneyland Paris for as long as I can remember. There comes a time in the late evening where Frontierland goes completely quiet. Big Thunder has almost no queue so we keep going round and round riding again and again and it's just one of those small things that we do and it makes us happy.

frozen show at Disneyland Paris


Meeting the Characters in their Christmas clothes
Like all the other seasons the Characters dress in their best for the Christmas season and we love meeting Christmas Winnie, Christmas Stitch and a personal favourite Christmas Jack Skellington. Again the queues are always pretty quiet so we never have a problem meeting them and I find they spend lots of time with the boys than they do at other times in the year. 

disneyland paris christmas parade


Choosing A Christmas Decoration
Our Christmas tree is filled with Disneyland Paris decorations that we have bought over the years. Some have the year on, others don't. It will be really sad not adding a Disneyland Paris Christmas decoration to the tree this year. 

Watching The Tree Lighting Ceremony
Every evening Mickey and Friends gather at the bottom of the huge Christmas tree and put on a show for everyone which ends in the whole of Main Street going dark whilst we then watch the tree light up as Christmas carols play in the background

Spending Time Together
Although we have spent more time together as a family than usual this year it is always nice to spend quality time together especially on holiday away from screens and distractions. It's nice to chat, laugh and watch the boys enjoy the magic of Disney together.

disneyland paris christmas parade


Disneyland Paris is so magical especially at Christmas time and there are so many more things that I will miss but I know it's for the best and I really do hope that everyone stays safe and well. 

Michelle
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