This January and February, groups of Brownies, Guides, Cubs and Scouts made their way to the magical world of Disneyland Paris to hop aboard the magic carpet.
2nd St Leonards Guides were one of the groups to experience the delightful thrills of Disneyland after they decided their 100th birthday year called for something special to mark the occasion. Gill Clare, Leader of 2nd St Leonards Guides, gives us her account of the trip…
The Build Up to Disneyland Departure
It all began back in the summer of 2015. Nearing the end of the summer term at Guides, we began discussing plans not only for the term ahead but the ‘big’ birthday of our Unit. In 2017, 2nd St Leonards Guides would celebrate 100 years since it was first registered.
We decided that this momentous occasion demanded a special adventure and the Guides voted unanimously to visit to Disneyland Paris.
Over the summer, enquiries were made, Venture Abroad were enlisted to help with the planning and booking, and an initial letter was produced ready to go out to parents and Guides in September 2015. By the closing date that Autumn, we had a total of 40 signed up to go – the adventure had begun!
So began the fundraising events, by both the Unit and individuals, the planning by girls and leaders and Gill began to make the first of many lists!
The year slipped by and in the Autumn of 2016 the plans began to take shape. Trip fleeces were purchased, and thanks to a grant from Girlguiding Sussex East, our International scarves and badges too.
We held an overnight for participants so that we could involve the Guides closely in planning the meals and programme and it also gave us the chance to have a second parents’ meeting. Gill’s lists got longer and more numerous!
Christmas came and went, the final bills were paid to Venture Abroad and the weeks until our adventure reached single figures. Three days before we left, everyone met at the Guide hall so that kit could be checked, passports handed in, and so that each girl could collect a trip fleece, international scarf, County hat and of course that essential accessory – Minnie Mouse ears!
Sunday 12th February 2017
Through the (very) early morning mist, a steady stream of cars made their way to Ashford International station. At last, it was the day that we had waited so long for – we were on our way!
At the station, the girls gathered into travel groups with their appointed adults, to be issued with luggage labels, passports and tickets. Then with a wave to the parents, we were off to St. Pancras International to board the Eurostar to Paris. At Paris, Gare du Nord, we transferred to a coach for the final thirty miles to the Explorer Hotel at the Disneyland Resort.
By 4pm we had checked in, unpacked, and were on our way to the hotel swimming pool for a reviving swim – once we had mastered the locker system! Showered and refreshed, we went to the hotel restaurant for our evening meal. After enjoying a delicious range of food at the buffet, we put on our hats and coats and set off on the ‘bendy ‘ bus to the Disney village. After enjoying the sights and sounds of the village we returned to the hotel to settle down to sleep after our very long day.
Monday 13th February
Up bright and early, we were greeted by blue skies and sunshine. After breakfast we packed our day bags and set off on the resort bus to the Disney Magic Kingdom, a ten-minute ride from the hotel. Through the turnstiles and…there we were in Main Street, with the iconic Disney castle at the end of it – we were really here!
The day passed as we travelled through Fantasy, Discovery, Adventure and Frontier lands. Many braved the big rides and others preferred a gentler experience, but there was something for everyone to enjoy.
We purchased a Photo-Pass Plus and had all the photos that were taken on the rides loaded onto it. This was good value as by the end of the holiday we had 41 photos on our card. These could then be downloaded once back home and saved the girls buying the photos themselves.
Having watched the parade at the end of the afternoon, we were ready for a rest and refuel so we went to the Disney Village for our pre-booked meal at Planet Hollywood.
With renewed energy, we returned to the Park to watch the spectacular firework display before returning to our hotel and our beds.
Tuesday 14th February
This was our second full day at the Resort and time to visit the Walt Disney Studios. A master plan was put in place to maximise the rides and thrills. Those of us that chose not to ride the ‘lift’ in the Tower of Terror knew that they had made the right decision once they saw the photographs!
Midway through the afternoon, we returned to the Magic Kingdom for some more rides before arriving at the Plaza Gardens restaurant for our evening meal – and what an amazing meal it was too! There was plenty of choice and as much as we could eat, whilst seated with a view of the parade outside.
After dinner, there was time for a few more rides, and for Gill to better her score on the Buzz Lightyear ride, before we watched the fireworks for the final time – on this occasion, from a very good vantage point. Then it was back to the hotel for our final night.
Wednesday 15th February.
After breakfast came the task of packing cases and emptying rooms but at last we put our cases in the luggage lockers and handed back our room key cards. With time for some last minute shopping, we boarded the resort ‘bendy’ bus to the Disney Village.
The sun shone brightly as at 1pm we boarded our coach and said our farewells to Disneyland.
After a short coach ride, we trundled our cases down the street to the Gare du Nord. By now we had loading and storing 40 cases down to a fine art, thanks to Peter and Dan.
Once at St Pancras International, we entertained the commuters by swiftly handing out 40 McDonalds meals on the platform before climbing aboard our Ashford bound train.
Soon, tired but happy Guides carrying an assortment of helium balloons were reunited with their parents.
A Note of Thanks
What a fantastic way to celebrate the 100th birthday of our Unit. We had done it – we lived the dream!
A huge thank you to everyone who helped us to make this trip possible;
The fantastic leadership team,
Parents and friends,
Girlguiding Sussex East
Venture Abroad – especially Katie Farrell
And of course the Guides themselves who were such a pleasure to be with throughout the trip – you were all such good ambassadors for Girlguiding.
Written by Gill Clare, Guide leader – 2nd St Leonards Guides.