Friday 27th January, 2012

It’s 7.30am and a sea of hot pink ski jackets swamp Ronaldsway airport in the Isle of Man as 26 Brownies, senior section and leaders from Ballaugh and Arbory Brownies descend to start their journey to Disneyland Paris. It’s hard to believe that the time has come to start our adventure after months of fundraising …… selling chocolate brownies, a sponsored rescue, a 60’s, 70’s and 80’s night for the grown ups and a Christmas auction. The excitement increases as a life size Mickey Mouse appears from nowhere wishing the Brownies well on their journey (Tawny Owl is a sport!). Before you know it we’re striding through departures to board our Flybe flight to Gatwick airport. No more sleeps, we’re off!

We arrive at Gatwick airport in London at about 11am and are met by Dave our coach driver from Woodcocks coaches. We travel on towards the Channel tunnel, animated faces watching the world go by. After a couple of comfort stops we reach the ‘Chunnel’. This was a new experience for most of us and our expectations were somewhat different to the reality… in a coach, on a train, in a tunnel… what more can be said? It only takes us half an hour to reach Calais and then we head on to Paris, stopping en route for our first taste of French cuisine in a service station in Veron.  Brown Owl’s O’level grasp of the French language (not practiced for some 25 years!) did somehow manage to get us fed and we then set-off on the last leg of our journey to Disneyland Paris. The closer we get, the more frequent the signs and the more eager we all become. Finally, some twelve hours after meeting at the Isle of Man airport we arrive and are met by the Venture Abroad reps, who look after us and show us to our cabins for a long awaited rest.

Saturday 28th January, 2012

7.00am (French time) and Brown Owl is up and bouncing around like Tigger! After a quick whizz around the cabins with a trill of Hi-di-hi campers, it is soon ascertained that all are ready for breakfast. This is delivered and yummmmmmm! French loaf, pain au lait, croissants, jam, coffee, chocolate spread, tea, coffee, juice… we all have our fill and get ready for the day ahead.

9.30am and, having split into groups of who wants the ‘scary’ rides (how I managed to get into this group still escapes me) and who wants the gentle rides, we board the coach and set off for Disneyland. The anticipation builds as we get closer… from the coach park we can see space mountain and, having set a meeting place (5pm at City Hall for the parade) we skip along the moving walkways towards the parks!

Our morning begins in Discoveryland, alighting the Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast ride. It’s evident that my shooting skills are a little rusty to say the least – only scoring 2,100 which is less than everyone!  We travel on, trying out Captain EO, Les Mysteres du Nautilus and, for the brave few, Space Mountain (I had to purchase the photo as nobody would actually believe I did it!).

After a quick stop for a burger lunch, Fantasyland is next and there was much merriment as we all boarded Dumbo the flying elephant and the Mad Hatter’s tea cups. ‘It’s a small world’ was wonderful and one Brownie took over 40 photographs on the way around. In Adventureland, we marvelled at Aladdin’s cave and, after stopping in the Disney castle to gaze around, made our way through to Frontierland. Unfortunately (?), Big Thunder Mountain had a queuing time of over an hour so we settled for a spooky trip through Phantom Manor before boarding the Disneyland railroad to take us back to City Hall, where we were meeting the rest of our party for the parade.

Laughter and chatter rang out through Main Street as the girls in the hot pink jackets regrouped to watch the parade… what a fantastic spectacle! The floats and dancers were magnificent, the girls’ faces were alight as the Disney princesses danced up to them and waved and a pirate with a wicked glint in his eye tried to persuade Ooma (one of our Guiders) to run away with him.

We then toddled off to Planet Hollywood where our evening meal was booked. Superbly organised, in a hall packed with other members of the Guiding movement, all chattering about the day’s events. A delicious meal was served and we headed off to shop, shop, shop! Presents for home, souvenirs, sweeties for a midnight feast – a grand time was had by all.

At 9pm we met our coach who took us back to our cabins at the Davy Crockett Ranch and, even though our coach driver wasn’t scheduled to drive, he came along to ensure our travel plans for the next day were all in order (what a sweetie). Exhausted, we all tumble into our beds and sleep.

Sunday 29th January, 2012

6.00 am and, annoyingly at such an early hour, Brown Owl is bouncing around again. All packed and ready to go we board our coach at 7.30 to Café Mickey for breakfast with the characters. What a spread is laid out before us… cooked, continental anything you could wish for. Plates piled high with delicious food. Suddenly Goofy appears in the café… he patiently visits every table, signing autographs and posing for pictures, followed by a very sad donkey and Mickey Mouse himself!

All too soon it’s time for us to depart and, singing and skipping along, we meet Dave in the coach park and head for home. At Calais we spend the last of our Euros in the supermarket and disembark the coach to show our passports to the border control. After a quick return on the ‘Chunnel’ we are once again on UK soil heading back to Gatwick. We say our goodbyes to Dave and make our way to Giraffe in Gatwick airport for a wonderful feast. The check-in staff at Flybe were waiting for us and had booked our seats together on the flight home. We were afforded the use of the family security room which made everything effortless and before we knew it we were on the final leg of our journey home to the Isle of Man. We arrived at 9pm to a sea of awaiting family and friends. Even though exhaustion was clear, the girls still managed to tell all about their wonderful trip.

A lifetime of memories in three short days. Thank you Venture Abroad for the experience of a lifetime.

Elaine Fenton
1st Ballaugh (St. Mary’s) & 1st Arbory Brownies