Wonder Kids Blog

Wayne Wonder Based in Gloucestershire in the U.K is one of the country's leading children's entertainers and winner of multiple awards across his field.

As a magician and children's entertainer I am constantly on the look out for new ideas, different takes on old ideas and practically anything I can add into my repertoire.  As a by product of this I come across or invent lots of ideas that for one reason or another I can't fit into my shows.  That doesn't mean that they are no good in fact many of them work great for ideas to try at home.  I only realised this after having my daughter and seeing how much she enjoyed them.  That's why I have created this resource, for families to visit take away what they want and try these things at home.  You have everything at your fingertips for great, easy and inexpensive ideas for your little ones at home.  Going out to new experiences and spending time together as a family is important if not crucial to a child's development but that doesn't mean you have to go out and spend lots of money every time, you can create amazing memories just by investing a little bit of time at home with these great ideas.

Here's my Facebook page  - https://www.facebook.com/WayneWonderEntertainment  

Disneyland Paris 25th Anniversary - Restaurants & Shows

Disneyland Paris Wonder kids Review Restaurants

Welcome to the penultimate episode of this epic review for Disneyland Paris in 2017.  So we are nearly at the end of the review, this week we are looking at the restaurants we visited and why we chose them, we'll also review some of the shows you can catch around the park with plenty of tips and tricks along the way too. If you are only just starting to plan or think about a trip to Disneyland or maybe you are trying to save up for a trip than I have something that may interest you.  If your kids still have birthday's coming up before you go then have a look at the Birthday Party Boxes I have for sale.  At less than £100 per box with FREE delivery they really offer amazing value for money and will be one of the most inexpensive parties you can do. A brilliant concept that I have put together, A complete party in a box, using all my experience in the party industry, just click on the kit pictured, the range available is growing every month. Before we kick off this weeks new review make sure you have read all the other blog posts first.

Booking the Restaurants

You need to book the restaurants you want to go too.  I think this is just good practise no matter what time of the year you are going.  You can book the restaurants from 60 days before your arrival, so make sure you have planned every restaurant you would like to eat in by then.  Some of the more popular restaurants get booked up really fast, so as soon as it's 60 days before you arrive get on the phone and start booking.  One little confusing hiccup we had was that the Disney employee we spoke to when booking our restaurants tried to claim that you could only book from 60 days prior to eating at a restaurant, the difference this makes is that lets say if you are going for a week long holiday, lets say arriving on a Saturday and you call up 60 days before you are due to arrive on the Saturday they said that we could only book the meal for the Saturday not for our other nights there as it was more than 60 days before we would be eating there? 

Did that make sense? Im getting confused just typing it, we managed to explain that in their advertising it says to make reservations 60 days before your arrival not before eating at each restaurant and they did let us carry on with our bookings.  Another thing you might come across is that with some of the character meet & greet restaurants Disney have to make sure that the restaurant will have enough people dinning with them to justify opening the restaurant, so with ADC if they only have 3 tables booked on a certain day they may try to move your booking however this can go the other way too, so if they get lots of people wanting to book a certain date that they weren't planning to open on then they may open the restaurant for an extra date, this happened with us at ADC on the Sunday that we stayed, we wanted an early evening meal to fit in after the parade and before the Princess Waltz but initially Disney were only offering Sunday lunch slot.  We came back to them and due to so much demand they opened the restaurant later because they could fill it.

So what restaurants are in the park? quick answer is there are loads, so I have listed below a quick link list for some of the most popular places to eat. Go and check them out, below I have included the reviews for the places that we ate in. The video below shows way more than the few pictures I have included with every review.

Restaurants we ate in and reviewed below

Just some of the other restaurants

For the shows you will need a programme which you can find here.

Bistrot Chez Remy

This was our first restaurant, it's located in the Studio's Park and it's based on the film Ratatouille. The theming/decorations in this place are incredible, we had seen a few youtube video's where characters from this film are walking around the restaurant and we wrongly assumed that they did this all the time.  It was another reason for us booking this restaurant and we were disappointed on the day to see that there weren't any characters in the restaurant.  Once we got back we looked into it and none of the Disney advertising mentions character meets at this restaurant so it was our mistake and assumption.  We still loved the restaurant and the food was fantastic, we were actually served by a Brit which was very pleasant on our first meal of the weekend. Main courses we had were Steak, Sea Bass, Cod and the kids had Spaghetti with ratatouille.  Obviously there is lots of Ratatouille on the menu, it comes with nearly every dish which was great for me, I loved it. 

Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show

This was something really different and personally my favourite meal of our time there.  Not because the quality of the food was amazing (although the food was perfectly exceptable).  This is a much more informal meal.  This meal is all about the show which not only features cowboy's and brilliant horses but you will also see native Americans and buffalo's too.  The seating is not allocated, it's first come first served so get there about an hour before the show starts, the entrance area is also a bar with a live band.  We all bought drinks but you do get drinks included with your meal too. Once you have some drinks go and stand near one of the large staircases.  Do not stand near the stage for the live band.  Once the barrier opens get up there as quick as you can, there are plenty of seats for everybody so theres no need to push or anything but the first up get the best seats. The show gets off to a slow start but the action picks up with loads of stunts and games played.  You get real audience interaction with some great entertainers actually coming right up to you and a free Cowboy hat that you get to keep.  The stadium is split into four different sections I believe, each section has a different colour which is indicated by a band around your cowboy hat, we were on the yellow team and had to cheer on the yellow cowboy's. Food wise, you start with chilli and cornbread, followed by a barbecue meat selection and potatoes, desert was apple crumble with ice cream.  I couldn't even manage a desert there was so much food. Drinks are served throughout the show, I had three beers and a coke, you can also get water too. For kids they don't get the chilli but they do get a small barbecue meat selection and potatoes followed by an ice lolly which my daughter was very happy with.  Like I said this meal isn't about having award winning food but the whole experience with just how much food and drink was on offer combined with a brilliant live show with amazingly talented people and animals was amazing.

Mickey and the Magician

This show seems to go a little under the radar and you don't pay anything extra for it, you just need to queue up and go in.  I think because it's not charged extra for then people think it can't be any good? Trust me when I say that this show should not be missed! Again get to the theatre at least an hour before the show starts, check your programme for the timings.  You just have to wait I'm afraid so maybe try packing a busy pack to keep the kids amused whilst you wait.  I wrote about them years ago, you could take a modern version and maybe even Disney Theme it.

This is a full on West End style production, in fact it felt a little like an advert for all of the Disney west end shows, you get a little snip-it from each of there most popular shows, such as Aladdin and Lion King with plenty of other characters making appearances too.  The story is that Mickey Mouse is a cleaner for a magician that seems to live in a French studio loft apartment.  Obviously Mickey is a bit of a dreamer and starts to meddle with things that maybe he shouldn't.  Im not going to spoil the show and I have included some pictures that are promo pictures from Disney, no photography is allowed in the theatre. Trust me you won't be disapointed, just plan the time to go and see it.

ADC

Located near the castle, this wouldn't normally be the kind of restaurant that we would pick to eat at but for us this was all about meeting some princess's.  We didn't want to waste time in the park queuing up for hours at the Princess Pavillion to meet one or two princess's so this was a kill two birds with one stone option.  We had to eat and we met princess's whilst we did it.  We were pleasantly surprised at this restaurant. The food was not big quantities but it was a three course meal so we were all filled by the end, the quality of the food will blow you away though.  Everything was cooked and served to perfection.  They even had a special 25th Anniversary menu that you could pick from in addition to the standard menu.  This 25th Anniversary menu had steak and a special desert on it however I can not remember what the starters were.  I had prawns, followed by veal encroute and then I think some sort of cheesecake.  All of it was amazing and to top everything off we got to meet loads of characters.  I have no idea if you normally meet so many characters in one visit but we met, Cinderella, Ariel, Snow White, Aurora, Suzy and Perla all of whom signed my daughters autograph book.

Princess Waltz 

This is like a mini show, it only lasts about 15 minutes, in fact watch the video above and you'll hear my daughter at the end of the show say "Is that it?" at the end.  This was not my cup of tea but again there is no additional fee for this just check your programme for start times.  We planned it perfectly so that we only had a few minutes after our meal at ADC before this show started.  This show is on the Castle Stage which is only around the corner from the ADC restaurant kind of opposite the entrance to Discoveryland. All of the princess's are in the show and they dance and sing, my daughter enjoyed it as did all of the other kids.  I don't think there were any really well known songs featured which would bring this show up a level, make it more interactive and get the kids to sing a long would make this show better.

Annette's Diner

This was our last meal at DLP, we chose it because it mentions in Disney's advertising that the staff are on skates and we thought that would be cool to go and see however again once we got there they said that they weren't on skates today.  Located in the Disney Village It's a nice place to go and have some food though, we were having a late lunch and found the portions to be very generous.  I have heard of many people just sharing food rather than ordering for every person. Themed like a 50/60's diner with appropriate music too.   

Thats it for this walk ladies and gentleman but make sure you come back next week for my final review where I explore the Studio's Park, this was easily my favourite park at Disney and I'll tell you why next week.

Disneyland Paris 25th Anniversary - Parade and Illuminations

Wonder Kids Reviews Disneyland Paris 2017

Yay it's our third week of Disneyland Paris reviews.  This week we are going all in on the Parade and the Illuminations show.  This will probably be a shorter post this week but worry not I have two more blog posts planned to complete the Disneyland Paris review and they will both be much bigger and more in depth.  I just wanted to add in a quick mention for the new Wonder Kids Facebook page.  It's only a couple of weeks old and we have loads of great content on there everyday! from arts & crafts based on our huge library of ideas to great recipe's that are ideal for getting the kids into the kitchen.  We also had some great fathers day gift ideas just recently and we have loads of great parenting ideas and news from the Wonder Kids digital magazine sourced from around the world.  Please do go and take a look, remember to hit that like button.

In week one of my review I talked about arriving at the park and what I felt about the Newport Bay Hotel, you can read it here.  Last week I walked through the main park rides and some meet & greets which you can find here.

Lets get on with this weeks review, I'll start with the parade.  Now this was one of the biggest hyped things before visiting Disneyland.  Almost every advert they put out features the Disney Parade especially with the 25th Anniversary celebrations, a brand new parade was announced.  For me personally the parade was one of the dissapointments of our trip, maybe the idea was built up so much in my mind that the reality of it could never match what I had in my head. Now I know I have mentioned a few times that the time we spent there was really hot, the weather was about 34℃ and I do think this is an important thing to consider with the parade.  

Wonder Kids Disney Tip #5

Disney Tip #5

Watch the parade near It's a Small World for great pictures and you'll know when the last float has been seen and get onto your next ride quicker!

The parade we attended only lasted little over 10 minutes which was disappointing and there was no fire breathing Dragon on the day we watched.  Im not sure if both of these were due to the heat? I can understand that the characters can not do a bigger/longer parade in that sort of heat but it's still disappointing.  I've included an advert below for Disneyland Paris so you can see what I mean about how hyped the parade is. Saying this though it was one of my daughters favourite parts of the holiday, she loved the parade and even got a hug by the Geenie from Aladdin. Lets get on with some tips for the parade.  It starts near the ride It's a Small World and continues down the road, pass the castle, down main street and ends in the town square, so I would recommend getting a space either towards the end of Main Street or near it's a small world.  This way you get to see everything and should get some great pictures.  We opted to go near it's a small world because once the last float had gone past we can then move straight on to another ride whilst there are loads of people still waiting to see the last float come up main street. 

Although I was dissapointed that the parade didn't last very long and really disappointed that there was no fire breathing dragon! the float and characters that were out were spectacular, very well designed, beautifully constructed and the interaction with the characters is superb. Something I only found out on the day was that Disney pick a "Star Family" that get to be included in the parade.  They get to sit in a nice car and they start the parade, this would be an amazing experience for any kid, obviously you get out at the end of the parade and can then stay at the end of the route to see the rest of the parade come by. I don't know how this family is chosen or who chooses them, if you know please do let me know in the comments below.  Below I have included my video of the parade and the illuminations show too.  You'll see exactly what to expect.  

The parade starts at 5.30pm and you'll need to get a spot for the parade at least an hour before it starts, believe it or not people do start getting spots even earlier than this.  We found a small tree to sit under for some shade and had a great view of the parade. I had heard tales of loads of pushing and shoving to get good spots but this isn't something we experienced at all.  We did near the end of the parade have a mother push in a little to get her 18 month old baby near the front which I thought was a little pointless but there was plenty of room.  You will also need to get a spot for the illuminations show at least and hour before it starts at the parks closing time.  This time varies depending on the day and time of year.  Again people start picking spots hours before this show starts and we were very lucky to get a great spot near the castle grounds about an hour before the show started.  I loved this show, it was amazing infact I got very little footage of it because I put my phone down and just watched it.  The video above came from my mum who managed to film the entire show (sorry about the VVS). One little bug we had was that whilst everyone was waiting for the show to start we were all sat down.  Everyone was very happy, chatting, kids playing with toys and gifts they had got that day, some people having a bite to eat and because everyone was sat down we all had a great view of the castle. Unfortunately this was not to last, as soon as the show started the people in front of me stood up, I have no idea why? They where sat as close to the barrier as you could get, there was nothing obstructing their view but because they stood this meant that our entire group had to stand.  Now I'm 6'4" tall so if I stand up, everyone behind me has to stand up and move to see.  I know this annoyed a lot of people including myself but I had no other choice if I wanted to still see the show.  Please people stay seated if you are at the front.  One saving grace was that a lovely French family ushered my daughter to the front with them so that she could see everything which I was very thankful for.  This show is superb and takes you through loads of Disney classics and favourites with amazing technology.  The planning and team that put this show together must be incredible.  You can watch the whole show above but maybe you shouldn't and just leave it as a surprise? plus it won't look as good as it does in person.

That's it for this week, make sure you come back next week for an in depth look at some of the shows available around the park and some amazing restaurants.  Please do take a couple of minutes to join our mailing list, found to the top right of this page.  It's completely free, you can unsubscribe at any point but if you do decide to sign up then I will send you great ideas, games, crafts, recipe's and interesting news articles from time to time.  We do not share your details with anybody and I certainly do not spam you with email upon email, it's just every now and then.

Disneyland Paris 25th Anniversary - Arrival

Welcome to the first post of a brand new month here at Wonder Kids and we have got something really very special.  Myself and my family have just got back from an amazing holiday to Disneyland Paris.  We all had an amazing time and really didn't want to come home.  Now rather than just have me blather on about how great everything was, I thought I would share the best tips we found before leaving and the best advice we discovered whilst being there.  To make these posts easier to read I am going to break them up into weekly updates maybe with one or two bonus posts thrown in.  

Before I kick off with these posts, I have to include a link to a Facebook Group.  This group is essential for anyone planning a trip to Disneyland Paris. At your fingertips you have a wealth of experience from people that have been through the planning process before and a wealth of tips from people who are really helpful and willing to share.  Join the group Disneyland Paris for Brits, you will find it invaluable.

So where to start? If you are just thinking about going, please do it! I can not recommend it enough, it really was the happiest place on earth for us but we are all big Disney fans.  In our group it was myself, wife and our 7yr old daughter.  My mum, dad and my younger sister who has some physical and learning disabilities.  I mention my sisters disabilities because I can share some advice on how we got around the park later on in these posts.

Whenever travelling abroad I like to try to learn at least the basics of the native language.  I think it's good manners and you never know when it will come in handy.  With French I think most British people can just about get by from our basic secondary school teachings but a refresher and the chance to challenge yourself to get better should always be welcomed.  I don't think you have to speak French to go to Disney, every staff member we spoke to had brilliant English however there was one day, that was incredibly hot and we really wanted some ice cream (Créme Glacée).  We eventually found somewhere on Main Street but another guest just walked out and assumed we were French, He told me (in French) that they were closing for about 20 minutes to re-stock.  I could just about understand, thank him and explain that I was English.  It's little things like this that I think really help when you can understand the native language. To learn languages I use an app on my phone called Duolingo, it's free and great for basic learning, it's not the most perfect way to learn another language but it is free.

Disneyland Paris Tips

Disney Tip #1

Check your Eurostar tickets, you probably won't sit with the rest of your family, Call Eurostar as they may be able to relocate everybody to sit together. We managed to get two sets of 4 seats with tables but I think this may depend on the time of year and how busy the train is.

We booked as one large group through Magic Breaks who dealt with everything superbly and everything went to plan without a hitch. We travelled by Eurostar which again was all included in the package from Magic Breaks.  Throughout these posts you'll see little tips pop up in Disney characters or pictures like the one opposite. The journey by train was pretty straight forward, in light of recent tragedies in the U.K security was very tight but we expected as much and made sure we had extra time to get through the security checks.  We made sure that we had plenty of activities with us to keep the kids busy throughout the journey. Remember that France is one hour ahead of the UK, our phones adjusted automatically but mechanical watches will need to be changed.  The great thing about travelling by Eurostar was arriving at Disney.  You literally arrive just outside the park, again at the park security was tight but it's all there for a good reason.  After a little confusion we figured that the hotel we were staying in (Newport Bay Club) was just past the Disney Village and huge balloon.  This balloon is not included in the entrance price for the park, it was €12.00 per adult and I think maybe €6.00 per child.  

Arriving at the Hotel

The first thing that strikes me about all the hotel's I saw was the size, these hotels are massive.  Newport Bay Club was very impressive with over a thousand rooms.  We had heard tales of massive queues in Disney hotels to check in.  In fact I believe that there is some sort of service you pay for where you check in at a separate location but I didn't see this on my visit.  We were pleasantly surprised on arrival that the queue was very small and we're British so queuing is our thing. The check in happens in two stages, At the first counter you give the booking name, they then give you a clipboard and pen with a form to fill out.  You are supposed to fill this in whilst waiting in another line.  This is an awkward experience, everyone was struggling to hold hand luggage, move suitcases and find a good writing position.  I found the form to be very squashed together and very small, it would be much better spaced out more and over two pages but hey. The second counter at check in is where you hand in the form you filled out.  They then run through things like breakfast times, room key's and meal vouchers if you have them (more on this later).

The Newport Bay Club Hotel was beautiful, even if we did only use it a place to crash at the end of very long days.  We didn't get back until 11pm-12pm every night we stayed and we were all just exhausted.  The whole hotel and rooms where very clean, the cleaning staff where brilliant and very nice, in fact something I am going to come back to again and again is just how nice and helpful the entire staff at Disney were.  I really think they should open a school on customer service to train other companies.  Breakfast was served in the beautiful Cape Cod Restaurant which is very large and provides a buffet breakfast.  There was plenty on offer, full cooked breakfasts, continental style and even pastries.  There is something for everyone.  This hotel also offer's an inside and outside pool which was very popular during our stay with other guests.  We had incredible weather throughout our stay with the temperature staying at around 34℃.  Our group did not have the time to experience the pool but we could hear how busy it was so I am taking that as a good review.

Planning is key

Now after making the booking and getting your travel and hotel all sorted I can understand that you want it all to be done and just wait for the holiday to come round but there is more you should do to make sure you make the most of this holiday.  For me I think this is a very expensive holiday so I wanted to make sure that I made the most of it and got as much for my money as I possible could.  I think I achieved this but for my daughter she was super excited about it and again wanted to do loads to make the most of her holiday.  So in order to do this planning is key, there are two key things that I would recommend you plan once you have you holiday all booked.

Meal Plans

Eating at Disney is not cheap so this will vary depending on your budget, there is a huge McDonalds located in the Disney village that was rammed every night.  I think this may well be the cheapest eating option there is but like I said I wanted to make the most of spending this much money on a long weekend holiday.  So my wife and I sat down and started going through all the different meal plans.  This was frustrating and confusing to say the least! My wife really loves the film Rataouille and really wanted to experience eating at Remy's restaurant, my daughter really wanted to meet all the Disney characters, I mean ALL of them.  I knew this would be impossible so we looked at the meal plans to help us achieve this.  We started with Bistro Chez Remy and then slowly added other restaurants like Buffalo Bill's, Auberge De Cendrillon (ADC), Annettes Diner.  We picked Remy's and ADC because of the character meet and greets.  We picked Buffalo Bill because it sounded like such a different experience to anything else you can get at the park and we picked Annettes Diner for our final day because it's a 50's/60's American themed Diner where the waitress's roll around in skates.  I will review the restaurants in a future post in much more detail. We first tried to work out how much our meals would cost if we didn't pick a meal plan and just paid cash at each of these restaurants.  I didn't keep the figures from this calculation but it was lots, lots and lots. Now each type of meal plan only allows you to pick certain restaurants, we ended up going for the Premium meal plan which I think cost us about €500.00 euro for the three of us but the plus side of this meant that we didn't need to take much cash with us at all.  Once you book one of these meal plans you then pick up vouchers when you check in to your hotel. In order to get the restaurants we wanted we had to take this meal plan but like I said it meant we could get more character meets without eating time out of our day and have some cool experiences like the Wild West Show.  It's a lot of money, but I think it was worth it and I'll explain why in my restaurant review coming up.

Disneyland Paris Tips from Wonder Kids

Disney Tip #2

When you stay at one of the Disney Hotel's, you get Early entrance into the parks before it opens to the general public. This is called Early Magic Hours.  get to the biggest best rides or the most popular meet and greets first thing in the morning to beat the queues.  Many people skip an early breakfast and get into the park first thing, then come back to the hotel for a later breakfast before returning to the park.

Planning the park

This I think is really important but at the same time I don't think any plans you make before you go should be set in stone.  Get yourself a park map and use youtube to do some homework to find which rides and attractions you would like to see the most.  Im telling you now that unless you are going for a week or more then you won't be able to do everything.  The thing that surprised us was the walking distance between everything.  The three main parks/areas are Studio's, Village, and the Main Park, don't think you can do one ride in studio's and then scoot on over to the main park for the next ride, you will waist loads of time just walking.  The main park is split into different lands, Fantasy Land, Discovery land, Adventure Land and Frontier Land.  Again the distance between these different lands is quite big so don't plan to be zig zagging across the park for different rides, hit one area and then move on once you have been on everything you need.  Again I will review the rides in much more detail in future posts.

Thats it for the first post in this series.  I promise I will be going into much more detail and have loads more reviews, videos and pictures coming up. Come back next week.