Decisions, Decisions, Decisions
Back in September, I started thinking about maybe planning a trip to Disneyland Paris for Noah. Herfstvakantie “Fall Break” was coming up in November. I wanted to treat my five-year-old to some Disney magic. It would be an understatement to say I’ve been feeling some guilt, ranging anywhere from heaps of it to just mere pangs, about the changes in Noah’s life this year.
Although I know it’s for the best, and I can see he’s adjusted splendidly to the separation, I’m always in a state of hyper-awareness. It’s downright exhausting at times for me, but I’m hopeful it will get better with time. Mom guilt is real…
Before Explorers Hotel Was Even A Thought
“Noah! What do you say we go to Disneyland Paris during the herfstvakantie?!”
“Really? Yes, mama!”
“Okay, mama’s gonna buy the tickets and we will go by train because it’s super easy by train!”
“Yes! Another adventure for us!”
“But can papa come too?”
That five-worded question stopped me in my tracks. It’s not the first time Noah had posed that same exact question, but why did it always feel the first time? Needless to say, it has gotten easier to answer all of Noah’s very valid questions in a thoughtful and deliberate manner, as time has gone by. And Noah’s been able to come to terms with the fact that “mama and papa will never live together again.”
So I took a few seconds to really think about it. And I surprised myself with my answer.
“You know what, Noah, maybe papa should share this trip with us because Disneyland is a big deal. And he will probably want to be there for your first Disney adventure. So if you really want, you can go ahead and ask him if he wants to join us ok?”
Two days later, according to our co-parenting schedule, when Davy came to pick up Noah, Noah spoke up right away. I’d thought he’d wait until he got home to Davy’s house. But in true Noah form, he nipped in right in the bud in front of me, and I have to say I was impressed.
“Papa, I told mama that I want you to come to Disneyland with me and her. So mama said I can ask you if you want to come. But you will have to pay your own way because mama already paid for me and her.”
Disney Adventure: Getting There
So Noah and I started our Disneyland Paris adventure early Wednesday morning, on the first of November, smack-dab in the middle of herfstvakantie. We had to take the tram from our town in Evergem, to the Ghent St. Peter’s train station, to catch a morning train to Brussels. From there we boarded the Thalys to Marne-la-Vallée, Paris. It’s a town basically in the middle of nowhere just outside Paris, where Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney Studios Park are situated.
And for those of you who don’t know, because I didn’t know either, the Marne-la-Vallée train station literally drops you off at the gates of Disneyland. Like, you walk out of the train station and you are immediately enveloped in Disney air.
Door-to-door, with a lot of organization and props to Noah, the entire trip took us about 3.5 hours. I realize parents all think their kids are the best, but I have to say that traveling with Noah in the last five years has been pretty easy. I got lucky. He’s a great kid.
Just when I worry that I may be spoiling him, he shows me each and every time that he deserves all my love and attention. And Disneyland.
Hello Explorers Hotel
— Jun Song (@JunDishes) November 6, 2017
The lobby was still decked out in Halloween gore galore, and Noah got into the spirit right away. He’s such a little ham!
Aptly named “Explorers Hotel,” the hotel beckoned us to promptly go off exploring the grounds while our room was being readied. The outdoor playground for little pirates was pretty amazing. And there was so much room for kids to run around safely.
For me personally, I appreciated how well-kept the grounds were. And having just quit smoking just about a month before, I appreciated all the extra fresh air.
I think I took that for granted for so long.
Explorers Hotel: A Family Paradise
Noah actually took the following picture using my iPhone:
Not bad huh?
This ginormous pool paradise is the one reason I chose Explorers Hotel in the first place when I was searching for accommodations for this trip. They also boasted of a 6D-cinema and arcade, which Noah tried and loved. And there also a huge indoor playground as well, with a giant ball-pit and everything.
This place was made for families with small children as far as the premises go, regardless of what your definition of “family” is. It’s probably the least romantic place on earth, but that was exactly what I needed considering I was sharing this trip with my soon-to-be-ex-husband. But it had everything a five-year-old could want.
However, Explorers Hotel could use a little makeover, overall. It had a motel-y feel once you started walking down the corridors to get to your room. That is, once we actually got our room, because our room wasn’t ready when it was supposed to be. It happens. And as a traveler, you can either let things ruin your day or just go with the flow. I always choose the latter, as a general rule in life.
I do have to be honest and say that when we were finally given a key card, we got to our room and opened it only to discover a French family of four already in there. Thankfully nobody was naked when we opened the door. How embarrassing for all of us, but mostly the staff manning Guest Relations at Explorers Hotel.
In the end, we got our final room assignment. All was forgiven. We even had balloons on our beds as well as little welcome gifts awaiting a very excited Noah.
The first thing we did was change and head to the pool!
- There are towels in your room for bathing, but you’re not allowed to bring them down to the pool. So bring your own pool towels from home if you have room in your luggage, so you don’t have to pay extra fees to rent one.
- Also, only lycra swimsuits are allowed. So dudes:: No swim “shorts”…you gotta wear the tight European-style swim briefs. If you don’t have one, you can buy one at the hotel but they’re pretty pricey.
- Get to the pool early if you want to snag a lounge chair. By the time we got there in the late afternoon, there were none. So I had to keep my eye peeled for the next available one.
- During the day, your only “food” options are sandwiches or dessert-type snacks. The on-site restaurants don’t open until about 6pm.
- Refrigerators are only provided in the suites, so be sure to request one in advance, for a fee of course, if you need one.
I’ll be posting another blog specific to Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney Studios Park, for those of you planning a trip and wanting a tip or two. Now that I’ve recovered from my PDD, that is.