PREPARING FOR BIRTH – THE BABYMOON (Disneyland Paris Review)

Preparing for Birth, Reviews

THE ONE WHERE WE TOOK THE KIDS

(& loads of photos!)

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Admittedly it’s a bit of an oxymoron as traditionally a Babymoon is a chance to get away with your other half before the birth of your baby i.e. without the baby (or any other kids for that matter!), to remind yourself just one last time what life was like pre-kids when you were free to be spontaneous and wild. Although the whole being wild is somewhat mediated by the fact you’re heavily pregnant and therefore can’t actually be that wild…

When you’ve got kids already though things are slightly different. Not least because you can’t really remember what life was like before they came along so it’s more difficult to recreate those distant memories. But saying that it’s still nice to get away and spend some time together before you go from a family of 3 to 4 or 4 to 5 in our case.

 

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So I had a Babymoon last pregnancy and have one planned this time too (will be blogging about that very soon! Roll on Friday! Whoop Whoop!). If nothing else, it’s a good excuse to have a break from the kids and get some decent sleep when you’re at your most knackered, so why not take it?!

But it’s not just your relationship with your partner that is set to change with the arrival of a new baby, just as significantly is the change of dynamic that occurs for your existing children with the arrival of a new sibling! So I like to do a ‘Babymoon’ with them too! To spend some time together doing something special before everything changes for them.

 

 

Last time at 34 weeks pregnant I planned a whole weekend of fun with my eldest, just him and I. On the Friday night the fun began when we went to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. On Saturday we had brunch at our favourite spot in Brixton Village before visiting this old fashioned sweet shop just off Bond Street (down a little hidden cobbled street) that we had been meaning to find for a while. Then with bags stuffed with more sugar than we could consume without being sick, we headed off on a duck tour! A duck tour is basically a tour around London in a yellow tank-type vehicle that can be driven right into the Thames. It’s half road vehicle, half boat. It’s proper touristy but really fun! The next day we went to Legoland for the day. We were there from morning until park closing time, riding all the rides and taking in the mega firework display at the end! It was October half term so there were some extra special Halloween-related activities. It was so much fun, albeit totally exhausting, but we have so many memories of our weekend of fun before little Arlo Bear came into our lives.

 

This time with two kids to entertain we upped our Babymoon game and headed off on a proper Mini adventure to Paris! In an actual Mini! That’s right, a family of four with a weekend’s worth of luggage including a pram, drove to Paris in a Mini! It was surprisingly ok.

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We took the Mamas and Papas Armadillo Flip XT which was great for so many reasons:

  1.  It folds down super compact and fits in the Mini’s boot (even leaving room for 2x bags!).
  2. With the footmuff it’s the cosiest thing ever, which given we were going to Paris on a cold wet weekend in February was only a good thing.
  3. It’s built for naps! The seat reclines to flat, the liner is super plush and squidgy which makes it really comfy, there’s a foot plate bit (not the technical term) which extends and lifts up meaning baby’s legs aren’t left to dangle over the edge and the hood is absolutely enormous and can be pulled right over, transforming the buggy into a cosy dark little cave which fully protects baby from the elements.
  4. It has a seriously roomy basket underneath which was meant we didn’t have to lug our stuff about all day and on the rides!

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Since we planned to visit Disneyland and be there for the full 12 hours until 10pm at night (!) having somewhere for Arlo to sleep was really important. We had considered going without the buggy and just hiring one at the park in order to free up some space in the Mini but when we saw what was on offer at the park we were so glad we brought the Flip XT with us! The hire pushchairs at the park were really basic, no padding at all and not even a recline option. They looked just like the metal wheelchairs you find in hospital for transporting patients between floors! Arlo would have been unable to sleep and mega mega grumpy as a result! We would probably have had to leave early. So we were so glad we’d brought our own especially as the Flip XT is practically a bed on wheels! Arlo was obviously happy too because he spent many hours tucked up inside sleeping- making his tired mama very jealous!!

(If interested you can read my full review of the Mamas and Papas Armadillo Flip XT here).

Anyway enough with the pram chat! So I’m 34 weeks pregnant, just like last time, but this time round it’s not just Oisin and I, but also Arlo (as he’s due to become a big bro too) and James (aka Daddy). So the whole troupe.

 

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We set off from Folkestone on Friday morning catching an early-ish Eurotunnel crossing. Typically we arrived with not much time to spare before our crossing so were able to drive straight through and onto the train. The crossing itself is only about half an hour and the drive to Paris is less than 3 hours. So it really is very easy and very quick! We often drive to Devon and Manchester visiting family and that takes longer than driving to Paris!!

We booked to stay at a new hotel called B&B hotel Disneyland Paris. It’s not an official Disney hotel on the park site itself (those cost a bomb) but it’s somehow loosely affiliated with Disney and is listed on their website as a ‘Partner Hotel’. It’s about a mile away from the park and is in an area where there are a number of hotels all existing for the sole purpose of accommodating Disneyland guests.

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The hotel is basic but brand new so everything is really clean and most importantly working! It was a total bargain- £135 for the 2 nights for a family of 4 and that included breakfast for us all. There’s also a free bus shuttle to the park from the hotel which takes 5-10mins. Bearing in mind it’s February half term we thought that was a great deal.

The breakfast was great too- maybe not so much the scrambled egg which looked a little dubious but there were plenty of cereals, yoghurts, croissants, brioche, freshly squeezed juices etc. on offer. And it was all you can eat, so we ate loads, obvs.

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The bedroom had a kingsize bed and two singles all with actual duvets not the annoying sheet and blanket combo you often get. The shower was good (in strength and temp- nothing worse than a weak shower) and the towels were new and relatively fluffy. It was free to park at the hotel for the duration of our stay and the free shuttle to the park saved us quite a bit as I’m sure the parking at Disneyland doesn’t come cheap. Also I imagine the queues in and out wouldn’t have been much fun.

The only negatives of the hotel were that the mattresses were HARD and there were no toiletries or tea making facilities in the rooms. But other than that it was great and definitely did the job. I wouldn’t certainly recommend and look to stay there again next time we visit Disney!

I don’t really need to review Disneyland itself because you either love it or hate it. I firmly fall into the first category. I love the magic, the lights, the music, the rides, the colour, the nostalgia and the escapism. Twice round ‘it’s all a small world’ and there was a definite improvement in my mental state of wellbeing. And seeing my kids’ faces light up also brings me much joy. Oisin was giddy with excitement (and terror-induced adrenaline) after a go on ‘Space Mountain’ and even Arlo was flapping his little arms and squawking with happiness on ‘it’s a small world’ (hence we went round twice).

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The fact it was February meant the weather wasn’t great but that was offset by the fact that the queues were also greatly reduced in comparison to when I’ve been previously in August, smack bang in the middle of the school summer hols! Beautiful blue skies last time but also 90min queues for every single ride and sometimes even longer. February brought grey skies and drizzle but the queues were never more than 30 mins and most of the time less. Many rides only had 5-10 min queue times which was nothing.

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Also one (rather large) bonus of going when heavily pregnant was that we got an easy access pass, allowing the whole family to skip the queue for rides that were suitable for pregos. So that ruled out the rollercoasters. And we had to queue for Pirates of the Caribbean, which was deemed too dangerous for a pregnant person (although weirdly babies were allowed?!).

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So overall I’d say it was better going at this time of year, despite the weather; we got to go on a lot more rides and spent a lot less time standing in queues. Tickets for the park are also cheaper off peak. But saying that, if you can time your pregnancy with the summer break and get an easy access pass, then that might be the ultimate plan! Sunshine and queue jumping sounds good.

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One last tip for Disney: TAKE A PICNIC!! A friend text me before I went saying Disney was ‘full of horrible food and horrible people’. I thought this was harsh until I sampled the culinary disappointment. Then I understood where she was coming from. It wouldn’t be so bad if the food was gross but at least cheap or if it was expensive but tasty. But expensive and gross is the worst combo of the lot. And that’s exactly what’s on offer! Expect to pay 50 Euro for lunch for 3 people and get some pasta slop that tastes worse than a 90s school dinner served with a watered-down carbonated drink. I really really really wish we had taken our own picnic. For the same money we could have had a delicious spread with snacks and treats to last the whole day! We will definitely be doing this next time.

So there we have it – my review of our Mini adventure to Disneyland Paris at 34 weeks pregnant for a Babymoon, with the kids!

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I’m now sat in the car at Calais, writing this whilst waiting to board our train home, and despite the pain I was in last night after a whole day on my feet lugging the bump (and extra lbs) about, I definitely hope we come back soon! Not quite sure how we will manage with 2x babies and a double buggy but I’m sure we’ll give it a go! Although probably not in a Mini, hey…!

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