Tuesday September 27th, 2016

Our Trip to Disneyland Paris (2015)

This is not a sponsored post and was first published on 24 June 2015. We finally used our year passes twice, the second time was after Christmas 2015 until New Year.


There are a million ways to go to and enjoy Disneyland Paris. To decide what ways we would choose, I read many websites and forums for tips which were helpful when deciding many things for the trip. Here’s how we did our trip earlier this year (Easter holiday, 5-9 April 2015). By no means I’m saying it’s the best way, but perhaps sharing this, you may find some tips that work for you, too.

We bought 1-year passes

Since Paris (or Marnee-la-Vallée for Disneyland) is only a bit more than 3 hours away, and that we hadn’t had traveling plans for the whole year in 2015, we decided to get the Passeports Annuels and to use them for more than one trip. There are 3 kinds of passes and considering our travel plans, we chose the “Fantasy”, merely due to fewer restriction dates as well as discounts in restaurants and shops. Unlike the cheaper “Francilien”, this one can be used immediately and offers the extra “Magic Hours” and free parking  (you can read about the differences between the passes here).

I bought the e-tickets in advance at TicketMaster.fr (and then exchanged them to the plastic cards at the Park on the first day of visit). In Lausanne you can buy these tickets through fnac, however I found that there the tickets cost more. Not too much more but the difference was significant when multiplied by four. In general whether you buy year or day pass, I’d recommend to buy them earlier as otherwise you’ll have to queue in front of the ticket booth. And since in Disneyland you’ll stand in lines all day, do minimize the unnecessary queuing!

The total cost for 4 Fantasy passes was 717.45 (2015 price + 1.45 fee), making it the biggest chunk of the whole budget. However as we went for four days, that was only 20 more than if we bought the normal priced park tickets for 2 adults (47 each) and 2 children (EUR40 each) for 4 days (total of 696).

Note that if you stay in one of the Disney hotels, park tickets are usually included and thus can be cheaper vs buying tickets and booking hotel rooms separately.


We bought the train tickets 3 months in advance

We went by train, via Geneva. The TGV Lyria from Geneva took us directly to Marne-la-Vallée TGV station which is directly in front of Disneyland. The trip took around 3 hours.

I booked the tickets exactly 3 months in advance, as the train tickets at SNCF only go on sale from 3 months in advance, and by then reduced priced tickets are still available. It may not be necessary to really buy the tickets that on the same day as they go on sale, but that’s just the kind of person I am 😉

Total cost for 2 adults, 1 child (4-12) and one baby (0-under 4) including seat reservations for all was 140 one way.

We stayed at a hotel-apartment

One of the reason we skipped Disney hotels was to avoid having to eat in restaurants all the time. So, we chose to stay at a hotel-apartment and thus could prepare own breakfast and dinner. The hotel (Adagio) was located next to a huge shopping center where there was a huge supermarket. So we bought the groceries there – around EUR20 for food and snack for the whole 4-day stay! I could so get used to French grocery prices! 🙂

We had a few meals in the park and Disney Village and here’s what we spent for 2 adults and 2 children (age 3 and 6):

  • McDonald’s Disney Village – 45
  • New York Style Sandwiches – 45
  • Au Chalet de la Marionnette – 50
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Pizza Planet Restaurant – 60

Those listed above were the restaurants on the cheaper range (and we had 10% discount thanks to the year pass). We could not afford to go to the more expensive ones, which was one of the reasons that…

We skipped the dining with Disney characters

Although this must be one of the most fun things to do in Disneyland, the prices were just too expensive for us. And, we happen to have very shy kids that we suspect may even shrink to the seats when the characters come. So, no dining with the Disney characters, but I don’t think the kids missed it at all, as they could meet the stars at other places throughout the parks.

That said, go if you could afford it!

Still on the subject of meals, check the Meal Plans offered by the Parks. You may find one that suits your needs and budget.


We arrived early at the park and used FastPass when possible

As our year passes offer us the extra “Magic Hours” between 8-10am for the Disneyland Park (not the Studio Park that opens at 10am), we did our best to arrive early at the gate. These extra hours really made the difference. Not all rides and attractions were open for these extra hours, but it was still cool to be able to squeeze in more rides before the park became crowded.

The Walt Disney Studio Park officially starts at 10am, although the gates were opened half an hour earlier. The most popular ride at the moment was the Ratatouille, so my suggestion is to go there directly. You can either go to the ride line, or the FastPass line. If you go directly to the ride line when the ride just opens, you’ll be inside in minutes even when the line looks super long. Come later and it may take as long as 70min. We did this ride with FastPass – when we first got inside the Studio Park at around 9:40, hubby and kids directly went to rides with almost no queue (Cars and Toy Story ones) while I got our FastPasses for Ratatouille. This ride btw, is awesome! Not to be missed!

The rides we used FastPasses with our 3 and 6-yo were:
– Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast, Disneyland Park
– Peter Pan’s Flight, Disneyland Park
– Ratatouille: The Adventure, Walt Disney Studio

If you have older kids, you can also use of the “single rider” lines for some rides.


We had early lunch

We went early to lunch to beat the crowd, usually around 11-11:30am. This saved us from long queues. However, we found that many Meet-Characters events took place at these lunch hours (obviously to draw the crowd from the dining area), so if your kids can’t skip meeting with Rapunzel or Buzz Lightyear, pack some snack and go for late lunch instead.

We brought snacks and water

The official Disneyland page says you can’t take food and drinks inside, but it’s not really true (read here). In fact you should always have snack and water with you. The range of snack that the parks offer are not what I would normally give my kids, and most of the times there were long lines. When we were there for some reasons I didn’t understand most water fountains did not work. I only found 2 that worked, so we usually filled up our bottles there. Bottled water and other bottled drinks were also sold at some of the souvenir shops where the cashier lines were better than at the food stalls.

You can also bring lunch-type food such as sandwiches, although the Parks forbid a real picnic. We saw many visitors ate sandwiches while waiting for a show (outside the theater before the doors were opened)


We spent a few days

I knew what to expect with queuing times in Disneyland as I had been to the Disneyworld in Orlando many years ago. So when I planned this trip I realized that we would enjoy it better when we go for a few days (four in this case) instead of just a weekend. It worked really well. We had to wake up and go out the door earlier to enjoy the extra Magic Hours, but inside the Parks we never felt that we had to rush going from one ride to another. We knew we would have the time, and having the year pass also assured us that we would come back another time within a year.

Note that four days were still not enough to do all rides and attractions, but we were totally satisfied with the trip.


A few additional notes

There were many sites that offered excellent tips and I found two very helpful:

I also downloaded the iPhone App, but honestly I didn’t use it much. It was not very accurate regarding wait times for rides, and there was no public Wi-Fi in the parks so that I had to use the 3G/4G roaming data plan from my provider. I believe I only used it to check for restaurant prices (marked by the number of €s).

The maps provided at the Parks were the ones we extensively used as we could only find the schedule of actual events (shows, meet-the-characters) there. They are available in different languages so make sure to pick one up when you enter the park.

We were blessed with lovely weather (sunny and blue sky) but underestimated how cold it would still be in April. So even though we had our spring jackets with us, we ended up buying pullovers at the souvenir shops!

And finally, the (rough) calculation of what we spent for 2 adults and 2 kids (3 & 6) for 4 days in Disneyland:

  • Park year passes = 717.45
  • Train tickets = 280
  • Hotel = 467.52
  • Food = around €250
  • Souvenirs = around 250
  • Total = 1964.97

Not cheap at all but it was really as cheap as we could get at that time! And now excuse me while I book for another Disneyland Paris trip for Christmas time 🙂

Hope this post is helpful! Have you been there and have tips to share? Leave a comment! x

Monday September 26th, 2016

Top 10 Reasons Why Swiss Trains are Family-friendly

*Re-post from January 2015*

It may come as a surprise to many that we don’t have a car. Being a family of four and living outside urban areas, some people may find it unimaginable. But we have adapted our lifestyle to it and the excellent public transport in Switzerland has been spoiling us. Here are the reasons why we love and stick with it:

1. The Family Coach and Family Zone

I have blogged about the family coach before. This coach is especially good for going to the airports as these trains passed Geneva as well as Zurich airports. On the lower deck you can leave your stroller and on the upper deck the kids can roam around and play.

On some trains that do not have the space for family coach – the InterCity and InterCity tilting trains, there are family zones, complete with board games. More info here.

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Thursday September 22nd, 2016

Pop Star Party – with the help from Once Upon A Time Parties

*Sponsored post*

Once Upon A Time Parties was created by Melissa, the smart lady I’m privileged to collaborate many times with. She was the talented baker who sponsored two cakes for my daughter’s birthday (as can be seen here and here). Last year she announced a new party entertainment company, and I knew it was going to be great.


I am a very DIY person, and I love love LOVE organizing my children’s birthday parties. We always have a theme and started discussing and crafting at least 2 months before the party date (Yes, it’s just in my nature to be super organized for a few things, like parties). It all went well until we started preparing for my daughter’s 8th birthday.

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Tuesday September 20th, 2016

Autumn “Troc” – 2016

It’s Troc Season now. If you didn’t know what troc is, read this excellent post explaining what it is and how it works. To make it short, it’s some kind of second-hand market where you can sell, shop, or both.

I received some information about a couple of trocs coming up, as you can see below:

Marché au jouets (Toy Market) at Chailly, Saturday 24 September 2016


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Wednesday September 14th, 2016

This & That – Week #37 September 2016


It has been a while since my last blog post. Sorry! Besides enjoying the current fab end-of-summer weather, I’m very busy “behind the curtain”. I have been working on some new plans for the blog. First was the event directory, there are many events coming up this end of summer so make sure you check it regularly!

I also just started an Instagram account, so if you are there too, follow me! Then, finding local sponsors and re-starting AdSense. There are many more I need to do, as I have to make sure that finally the blog can pay for itself and later pay for my time writing and maintaining it!

But now let’s blog about what’s happening in Lausanne and around…

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Friday September 2nd, 2016

Autumn Holiday Activities in Lausanne and Around (2016) – Updated

This is not a sponsored post


We are touching the end of summer, and it’s somehow already September (can you believe it?!) – It’s about time to think about school autumn holiday coming this October! :)

For those not yet familiar with the school here, school kids in Switzerland have holidays often, approximately every 6 weeks (find the list here). This may stress many parents, especially ones who are employed. Chatting around, I found that most employed couple rely on help from grandparents or families (who sometimes fly from another side of the planet). Or hire a temporary nanny when they can afford one. Or they take turns taking off days from their office. But considering the active life of kids, even the stay-at-home parents need programs to keep those little ones and teens happily occupied.

Below I complied different kinds of activities and camps that are offered during the school holidays in Lausanne and surrounding areas. Please click the links for more info.

As a general rule, the winter holiday after Christmas and the Relâches (February) are considered ski holiday thus most of the sport camps offered concentrated into this. For other holidays, activities are more varied.

Offers from the city of Lausanne and surrounding municipalities (Le SJL, le CVAJ and la FASL)

Note that these may be reserved for children domiciled inside the municipalities. Check current offers here on the column on the left hand side

Educational, Wildlife and Nature themes

  • Pop In’s – Full or half day, 3-12y (info)
  • L’écoline in St.Sulpice – Full or half day, there is also one bilingual French-English week, 3-9y (info)
  • Camps des Graines de Curieux – in Ecublens, 4-10y (info)
  • Kids Break – whole day trips for 4-12y, starts from Fribourg (info)
  • Club Vacances in Vevey and Promasens (Fribourg), 3-12y (info)

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Thursday June 23rd, 2016

Luggage and flight luggage from the SBB/CFF (Updated)


On our long-haul trip to Asia 5 years ago, my husband and I flew with 3 large suitcases, 1 80L hiking backpack, 1 cabin bag, 1 umbrella stroller, 2 small backpacks, a 3.5 year-old toddler and a 6 month-old baby. Unfortunately the airline (Emirates) didn’t offer the possibility to check-in at the station, and as we had no car, we were supposed to take everything on the train with us to the Zurich airport.

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Thursday June 16th, 2016

Permit Expires While Abroad? You May Need a Return Visa!


For some of us, our nationalities restrict us from leaving and re-entering Switzerland without a valid Swiss residency permit. Now that we have lived in Switzerland for more than a decade, it happened to us several times that our permits expired during the times we were abroad. In those cases we had to apply for return visas (visas de retour) before leaving Switzerland, since otherwise we may not be able to re-enter Switzerland.

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Tuesday June 14th, 2016

Teachers and Day-Care Childminders – Should You Give Presents?

A re-post from June 2015


We are only a couple of weeks to end-of-school term, and are also nearing the summer holiday time of many day-cares. I have heard questions regarding presents for teachers and day-care childminders around this time, as well as before Christmas. What is the norm here in Switzerland?

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Tuesday May 31st, 2016

Spring Cleaning: Donating to Second-hand Shops


In the past I have blogged about donating plastic bags, textile, shoes, maternity and baby items, bikes, and how to sell your stuff. But once a year for the last 4 years I have been doing huge clean-up the easiest way by dumping donating all my clutters, big and small, to a local second-hand shop.

Honestly, this is my most preferred way of getting rid of clutters. First, I don’t need to sort through different things and bring them to different places. Second, it saves my time and energy to bring them anywhere – as in my case the shop came to pick up! Third, I can donate just about anything… from candles, books, baby gear to mattress and dining table.

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