DISNEYLAND PARIS WITH TODDLERS

Despite visiting Disneyland Paris almost every year for as long as I can remember, nothing can compare to our most recent trip where we took our daughter for the first time. Miss E was just shy of 2 years old when we visited and she absolutely had the best time ever, she hasn’t stopped talking about it since we came home!
Lets face it, though. Disney holidays take a lot of planning, even without kids. It’s one of the most magical holiday destinations and there’s just so much so see and do, it’s wonderful! With this in mind, I wanted to share some top tips that I found really super useful during our stay. If you are planning to take your little one for the first time, I hope that these might be of some use!
Take a buggy! 

Disneyland Paris is huge and you’ll be out for most of the day so make sure you take a foldable buggy with you. Even if your child is a good walker and doesn’t use one at home, they will definitely need one after a few hours exploring everything that Disneyland has to offer!

It’s a good idea to pimp up your buggy (using a bright blanket maybe!) so that you can find it easily when you return from a ride and don’t leave anything valuable in your buggy whilst it’s untended.
If you’re travelling during a busy season, make sure you also take a cheap bicycle combination lock which will allow you to either chain your buggy to railings in the park or lock up the wheels making it harder to move/pinch. We picked one up for just £3.99 at Halfords.
Disneyland do offer buggy hire at both parks though using this more than one day during your trip will soon get very expensive. Plus, they look hideously uncomfortable (pretty much a chair on wheels!) so I wouldn’t recommend them for napping in.
Snacks!

Seriously, don’t underestimate how many snacks you’ll need for a day in the parks. They were our absolute saviour! Disneyland is big and overwhelming and tiring for little kids and it’s good to have plenty to keep them going whilst you wait in many, many queues!

I wouldn’t recommend buying them from Disneyland at all (4 euros for a bag of crisps?! 4 euros for the world’s smallest apple juice?! you get the idea!) so pack as many as you can before you travel!
One thing I found really helpful was having a resealable ziplock bag for each day of our trip and stuffing it with an assortment of healthy and not so healthy treats. For each day of our trip we put in a Nakd bar, an Ella’s kitchen pouch, a small bag of chocolate buttons, a box of raisins, a small bag of Haribo sweets, dried fruit and a chocolate lolly. As well as this we packed a juice carton or a Fruit Shoot per day.
Entertainment

Similar to snacks, I found it super useful to pack a bunch of entertaining things to take with us round the parks. Non-bulky items such as sheets of stickers, wax crayons & paper, bubbles, small packs of character cards, etc. There is an awful lot of waiting around for things in Disneyland and let’s face it, toddlers are not built for that and like to be kept busy!

These bits & bobs were a godsend whilst waiting for parades, shows and letting us eat full meals in restaurants. Amazing!
ID bands

We used one of these on Miss E and whilst we thankfully didn’t need to make use of it, I’d totally recommend your child wearing one at all times within the parks! We used an iDME band from Safe Tots which is reusable and is worn as a bracelet. You can fill in your details and contact numbers and slot them in the pocket inside the band making it easier for people to identify your child if they get lost and contact you quickly.

Go at your toddlers pace

You want your toddler to have the best experience possible so take each day at their pace! Obviously this is more difficult if you are travelling with older children too though!

If your toddler is getting tired and overwhelmed, head back to the hotel or go somewhere quiet for a good nap maybe. Don’t have too many expectations and don’t plan too far ahead! If they want to spend an entire morning riding the teacups and Dumbo repeatedly, then let them! If they would rather spend an afternoon looking at the same Elsa singing money box in every single shop (thanks, kiddo!), then do it! Miss E really surprised us and loved some of the more ‘scary’ rides and she loved meeting all of the characters, she was amazing!
Also! If your toddler does fall asleep in the buggy, make use of the baby switch service so you can take it in turns to go on the big rides whilst they snooze!
Make use of everything Disney has to offer

Especially, if you’re staying in a Disney resort hotel. We stayed at the Sequoia Lodge Hotel which has a lovely pool, offered free cot hire/bed guards/bottle warmers, a peaceful children’s corner with all kind of games and things to do, etc! Disney Hotels run free shuttle buses to the parks too which is superb.

By booking through Disney and depending on how you travel or what hotel you stay in, you’ll also have access to the Disney Express Service, extra magic hours and fast passes for rides. Amazing at any time, but even more handy when you’re travelling with small children!
Within the Disney parks, you’ll find that toddlers and babies are catered for really well. The baby care centres in each park offer quiet spaces with highchairs for feeding, plenty of changing areas and the chance to buy food or nappies if you need to!

Restaurants

Chances are, you’ll be eating out for every meal of your trip so plan this wisely! It’s worth researching your restaurants before you go (this website is amazing) as some cater for toddlers much better than others.

We purchased a Disney dining plan with our package and for some strange reason, Disney do not cater to children under 3 and are expected to eat from your plate! We therefore found that buffet style restaurants were best as you can all eat properly at no additional cost.
Plan to dine earlier than you usually do and book your restaurants before you travel otherwise you’ll face a long queue to be seated. By dining earlier, your toddler won’t be starving and will be a lot calmer at meal times!
Our favourite places to eat were Cafe Mickey (Disney Village), Parkside Diner (Hotel New York), Hunters Grill (Sequoia Lodge), Inventions (Disneyland Hotel), Plaza Gardens Restaurant and Casey’s Corner (both Main Street U.S.A.).

Our ‘Just For Tots’ Break at Butlins, Skegness

If you mentioned the word “Butlins” to me a few years ago, the first few words that would immediately pop into my head would include Redcoats, the seaside, cabaret shows and knobbly knee competitions. I’ll be honest with you, it’s not a holiday destination I have previously had on my radar.
Over the past year or two though, some of the amazing bloggers that I follow have been taking their families on trips to Butlins and sharing their experiences. I instantly became intrigued! Their trips looked like so much fun and photographs of the accommodation looked stunning.
I had been aware of the Butlins ‘just for tots’ breaks for a while and after reading so many positive reviews from other bloggers, we decided to take the plunge and book our first Butlins break in April 2017.
The ‘just for tots’ breaks are a relatively recent addition to the Butlins calendar, offered on select dates throughout the year. These breaks have been specially designed for families with children aged 5 and under and are the perfect way for little ones to enjoy everything that Butlins has to offer. From a jam-packed entertainment programme featuring beloved children’s TV characters to tailored dining, no detail has been left out when it comes to creating a holiday that perfectly fits around the schedule of a young child.
We stayed in a newly refurbished Seaside Apartment which was the perfect base for our break. Located at the heart of the resort, we could pop to the Skyline pavilion in less than a minute and we were not far at all from anything. I’m going to be sharing a full review of our accommodation soon so keep your eyes peeled for that one!

 

I’m amazed that there was so much to do during our time in Butlins…. we literally didn’t leave the resort all week. On arrival we were handed an entertainment schedule and a booklet detailing everything that was included in the price of our stay. Let me tell you, we absolutely loved sitting down each evening and highlighting all the things we wanted to do the following day….. from football coaching to play-doh sessions, messy play, shows, swimming and so much more!
I am so excited to share a few highlights from our break with you today. Here are our top five things that we loved about our ‘just for tots’ break at Butlins, Skegness.
Dining
Firstly, food. You know me, I love my food! We purchased the Premium Dining option when we booked our trip and this gave us a buffet breakfast and evening dinner at a premium restaurant for each morning and night of our stay. I can’t rate our dining experience enough, it far exceeded my expectations! Each morning we were greeted by the friendliest staff and for the children there was always a character waiting to greet them. Kiddo loved meeting Mr Bump and giving Dipsy from the Teletubbies a cuddle before breakfast. Such a magical experience for her!
The range of food available for both breakfast and evening dinner was amazing. My husband was a huge fan of the made to order breakfast sandwiches whilst I tried to work my way through the rest of the buffet. Each evening there was a different theme along with all the usual favourites… there was a Mexican night and an Italian, both of which were complete winners with us!
When it comes to little ones though, we really loved the fact that no detail was left out when it came to dining. High chairs and child friendly cutlery were available, kiddo was given crayons and puzzles each time we dined and there was always a huge range of food for children. Yep, even Ella’s Kitchen meals and plenty of fresh fruit! Kiddo loved being able to select her own food and she ate very well throughout our stay. She was particularly fond of the desserts but no surprises there!
When it came to lunch time, we were usually still pretty fully from breakfast though I just wanted to give Soho Coffee (you’ll find it inside the Pavilion) a special mention because their freshly made sandwiches, jacket potatoes and soups were to die for. We visited every day as I soon became ridiculously obsessed with their beetroot humus, avocado and feta baguettes. Fresh, handmade and absolutely delicious!
Entertainment
Butlins is famous for it’s entertainment and I can now fully appreciate the reason for this. It’s blummin’ fantastic! There was always something on, from shows to pantomime to sports classes and much more. Kiddo fell head over heels for the Skyline Gang who performed three shows throughout the week; “A Pirate’s Adventure”, “Carnival Crazy” and “It’s Magic”. These shows were perfect fun for little ones and were complete with juggling, magic, comedy and of course, plenty of catchy songs!
We tried to see as much as possible throughout our stay and this was made easy with the repeated entertainment schedule. We saw the Teletubbies, the Mr Men, Danger Mouse, Billie & Bonnie and the fabulous Whittington Rocks panto (definitely one for the adults too…. absolutely hilarious!). The highlight of the week for kiddo though was potentially the Mister Maker show, one of her TV favourites! Getting the opportunity to meet him after the show was a really special moment for her, especially as he really took his time with all of the children. No part of our break felt rushed, something we really loved about Butlins.
Throughout each show in the pavilion, the Redcoats were always sitting with children and encouraging them to join in. They were so friendly, enthusiastic and professional in their approach… I can see why they are such an asset for Butlins!

 

 

 

 

Outdoor fun
Outside of the Skyline Pavilion (the main activity hub), there is a whole heap of things to do outdoors. The weather was admittedly absolutely freezing during our trip (where on earth did spring go?!) so this is somewhere we’d love to spend more time when we return to Butlins! We loved the fairground. All of the rides are included in the price of our stay so it was lovely letting kiddo go on whatever rides she wanted, as many times as she wanted without having to say ‘no’!
She also loved the various outdoor playgrounds. Immediately outside of our apartment was a little park complete with swings, slide and seesaw. Little things like this really impressed kiddo and she often played in the park just before bed (“Park in the dark!”…. one of her favourite things!). Something she obviously doesn’t normally have the chance to do, eh?!

 

 

 

Learning, confidence and creativity

Kiddo’s confidence really shined during our break in Butlins. There were so many opportunities for her to be creative, learn new things or make new friends. It fills my heart with cheer to see her playing so independently, discovering new things and making use of opportunities available. I can tell you, she blummin’ loved the Tots Disco each evening. She was a fan of the Little Library, a cosy quiet space crammed full of exciting books to read. Also a favourite was the Littlemagictrain show which made use of role-play, storylines and fun music to unleash that imagination. We loved how well thought out the schedule was for little ones, it was so inspiring for them! There was always something new and exciting to try out.
Splash Waterworld

 

Finally, I wanted to mention the swimming pool. Splash Waterworld is potentially one of the best swimming pools we have been to with kiddo, it’s the perfect place for little ones to build confidence in the water! The pool opens from 9am and the morning session is “quiet time” where the bigger rides are switched off and the pool is quieter…. just right for a relaxing swim!
There are opportunities here for swimming lessons (£5pp) but as kiddo is already quite confident in the water, we loved spending time exploring everything the water park has to offer which includes everything from raft rides to little boats and a lovely lazy river (my fav!).
We had such an incredible time and the experience for kiddo was truly magical. I can’t believe we didn’t discover Butlins sooner!