Adventures by Disney London & Paris
Adventures by Disney
London and Paris
is now offering a variety of unique vacation experiences with a little
sprinkle of pixie dust, Adventures by Disney. Chris and Beci Mahnken,
owners of MouseFanTravel.com are currently experiencing the Adventure
of a lifetime… An Adventure By Disney to London & Paris!
For more information about upcoming Adventure By Disney itineraries, visit:
Our adventure actually began when a curiously large box arrived marked,
'Adventures By Disney'. It contained all the necessary tools to wet our
appetite for what was to come. It included a personalized itinerary booklet
with the details on our hotels and run down of the planned activities
as well as two very stylish Adventures By Disney back packs to cart around
the necessities while wondering around two of the most intriguing and
beautiful cities on the planet.
A few days
later, we were off. We boarded the plane in Seattle and had a connection
in JFK before landing at Heathrow in London at approx 7 am in the morning.
TIP: If connecting, be sure you have plenty of connection time. Call the
airline and ensure your flights have at least a 'legal connection time',
if not more. Our flights were arranged by the Disney folks and had just
a couple minutes over a legal connection. However, we were not warned
by the airline when I called to inquire about the possible pitfalls, that
we would actually have to leave the sure area and go into baggage claim
and go through the entire security process again before boarding the connecting
flight. Luckily our flight experienced no delays and there were no long
lines at the time we had to visit the security lines again… otherwise
we would have most likely missed the flight.
we arrived we disembarked the plane and joined a few hundred other arrivals
in the Passport control area. This is a very quick process with easy to
manage queues. Once we were approved to enter the country with a stamp
in the passport, we proceeded to baggage claim to track down our bags.
TIP: If you haven't already, this is a good time to stop and exchange
some US bills for the local currency. If the exchange rate isn't such
a great deal, just get a few pounds for tips (bellman, driver, etc) as
you make your way to your hotel and get settled.
our bags we passed through customs and began looking for our escort. A
smiling gentleman holding an Adventures by Disney sign had conveniently
positioned himself next to the exit area. We received a warm greeting
and an immediate offer to relieve us of some of the bags we were toting
We were escorted out of the terminal building to an awaiting car. And
not just a car… but a very stylish Mercedes with a well dressed,
and very friendly driver who was eager to share history, stories, and
point out items of interest during the 1 hour trip from the airport to
Chancery Court is 5-star hotel that's was voted "Best Luxury Hotel
by Destination: London" in 2005 by TripAdvisor Traveler's Choice.
Its hard to believe that it was built in 1912 as the Pearl Assurance Company.
A Grand entry greeting us as we drove through the archway and were immediately
met by staff ready to assist us.
walked through the doors and were forced to pause and take in the beauty
of the lobby and the 3 sparkling chandeliers with one centered over a
fragrant flower arrangement in the center of the room. Marble and dark
woods add to the sophisticated style
Guide Alexandra was waiting to greet us and with a smile informed us our
room was indeed ready. She escorted us through check in and advised they
would be available if we needed anything to help kick start our vacation.
Our first thought was … sleep.
I must admit,
I've learned something today. Traveling from the West coast of the US
to London is indeed a little tougher on the internal clock then I anticipated,
especially for those of us who are unable to sleep on a plane. As much
as I wanted to get out there and explore the city, My better judgment
took over and convinced my to nap, if even for 3 hours, so I would be
fresh for our first official event that evening.
is nicely appointed with a king bed and all the comforts of a luxury US
hotel, with some subtle differences. Most notably, if you are looking
for a coffee maker, you won't find one here. This is the land where tea
rules so the beverage tray in the room consists of a water warmer, several
choices of teas and hot cocoa as well as a few packets of instant coffee.
Safe, 1200w hair dryer, robes and bath accessories are all provided. And
if you managed to forget something, there is a drug store half a block
down from the hotel for any essentials. TIP: With everything that can
go wrong with appliance conversion, leave the hair dryer at home and use
the ones in the hotel. Another plus is your bag will be 3 pounds lighter
so you can bring back 3 pounds of more souvenirs!
official event was a dinner where we could meet our fellow travelers.
We met in the lobby at 5:30 pm and were escorted to a banquet room where,
after an ice breaker activity, the champagne glasses were raised to toast
the beginning of our adventure.
also included local cockney entertainment known as the Pearly King and
Pearly Queen wandering the room singing a special brand of local folk
songs as well as modified contemporary music. Chris couldn't resist the
opportunity to try on the jacket that was adorned with over 12,000 buttons
and weighing close to 20 pounds.
to know our new friends, Chris and I wandered back to our room to catch
upon our sleep and prepare for Day 2 which is scheduled to include some
of the most historic and magical items on the itinerary. But before we
left, we were presented with a special lanyard and – of course what's
a lanyard without a PIN! And not just any pin…… it's an exclusive
Adventures By Disney pin embossed with the logo on the back. COOL!
What a way
to end the day!
England. October 7, 2006 – Our Jolly Holiday
don't really have to tell you, but I will anyway. Disney sure knows how
to organize and handle their guests' needs. Last night at the dinner we
were presented with vouchers for breakfast each morning for our choice
of dining at a the continental breakfast buffet or a full breakfast at
a restaurant named The Pearl, and quite fitting I might add. It is decorated
with many fresh water pearls cascading down from the lighting, windows
and even dividing some sitting areas in the bar. We enjoyed a wonderful
meal with several of our fellow adventurers then proceeded to the lobby
to meet our guides to begin our day.
departed the hotel and boarded our private coach…. Not just any transportation
mind you. A trip to London isn't complete without a ride on a Double Decker
bus and our adventure included a genuine Routemaster from the 1950s and
is considered a rolling museum in itself. And to top it off, it's for
private use exclusively for our group. What a treat for the day!
This is where
we met our local guide, Steve, who is a registered Blue Badge Guide. For
those who are not familiar with the term, it's the British national standard
and recognized bench mark of excellence for guiding tours. Blue Badge
Guides are selected, trained and examined by the official British tourist
boards. The training is detailed and comprehensive, the examinations rigorous
and registration considered quite an achievement. In London the course
lasts for eighteen months, so you know this guy knows his stuff. You want
to know something about the royal family? Just ask… You want to know
where the Diagon Alley scenes in Harry Potter were shot? He can point
you there. Need a good place to stop for fish & chips? He can recommend
it. Want to know how many people lots their heads at The Tower? He knows.
More on that later.
Soon we were
off down the road… on the left hand side. Wow – that does take some
getting used to especially if you are the pedestrian in the equation.
The curbs at many crosswalks are marked with "LOOK LEFT" as
just a final reminder before you go barreling into traffic because you
think nothing is coming. And if you forget where you are and step out
in front of a car or taxi, they let you know by cranking down on their
horn while still barreling towards you. The guides do a great job acclimating
us to the new environment and frequently reminding us to watch all sides.
Abbey was the first stop on our agenda and is located across the way from
the parliament buildings. The area around this historic abbey was rather
quiet as it seemed the tourists may not have made it out of their hotels
of the Abbey are quite interesting. The first chapel was dedicated in
1065 and has been expanded many times since then. The whole grounds are
surrounded by various church buildings including two academies. As we
entered the outer cloister, you could hear the sound of the famed boy's
choir as they began their morning practice session. Steve explained what
we are to expect as we entered, explained what we were seeing and hearing,
as well as how the abbey functioned as the center of the community and
still does today. Another opportunity to point out the Disney difference-
While people where trying to decipher all the details of this place with
their eyes focused on various maps and guide books, we strolled though
the abbey with Steve as our guide knowing we wouldn't miss any of the
highlights. He saw to it that we had all the info we needed and them some,
as well as a resource immediately available for any questions we may have.
We were completely free to soak it all in.
itself is hard to describe. Soaring ceilings with impressive array of
sculpture and architecture and glass greet you at every turn. A few highlights….
the tomb of the unknown soldier, (the only tomb embedded in the floor
you are not allowed to walk on), THE coronation throne used in almost
every coronation of since Edward II in 1308. The burial sites and/or commemoration
plaques of several kings and queens, to may to list here, and those of
many poets and great writers including Geoffrey Chaucer, Lewis Carol,
and Charles Dickens. Indeed in many ways the entire history of England
since the Norman invasion can be seen walking thru Westminster Abbey.
our way through the various chapels and tombs at the abbey, it was time
to move on to our next discovery. We were directed to a public rest stop
for anyone who needed to use the facilities, which are called loos. Some
city locations require admission to these popular venues and the adventure
guides were waiting with coin in hand to direct us to our destination.
TIP: When exploring this area and other areas of the city this is the
best bet for facilities so have some extra change available.
we walked a few blocks to see the changing of the horse guard at Horse
Guards Parade as the traditional changing of the foot guard at the palace
was not being held that day. It was a 25 minute ceremony that allowed
us front row views of these majestic creatures, and the horses too!
we took a leisurely walk in the sunshine through St. James Park to Buckingham
Palace. Again, I had to remind myself, I really am in London and I'm standing
outside the palace! COOL! The union jack flying over the palace confirmed
the Queen was not in this day, most likely enjoying a day at Windsor approx
25 miles away.
After a lovely
high tea at a nice place around the corner from the Queen's house we came
back to the Hotel for a bit of a rest. Some people went out to Harrods
or a local museum. Some took naps. Some wrote bits of blog entries. The
break was well needed, because it would be a long night.
we headed out dinner. We were taken to a very exclusive very private club
called Soho House. It's a members only club with locations in London and
New York, reserved exclusively for members of the arts, theater and film
industries. It's marked on the street by a very ordinary door, reminiscent
of Club 33 at Disneyland. They served a wonderful family style dinner
which included a chicken caesar salad and selections of shrimp & beef
served family style.
the location was perfect! Located right across from the Prince Edward
Theatre. After dinner we crossed the street and went into the Theatre
for our showing of Mary Poppins. The show was fantastic. It's based on
a combination of the books and the Disney movie, so you get a few extra
scenes, and a bit of changes in place of some of the movie bits that would
be difficult or impossible to enact in a theatre.
Fans – If you tear up at a parade or the sound of the horn on the Disney
ship, be sure to have tissue paper with you.
The seats were terrific as well! Usually in packaged events you can expect
seats in a back corner, but not with Disney. We were seated in rows M,
N & O. This photo shows how close we were to the stage. It was perfect!
was a tremendous show, and we followed it up with a short tour back stage
where we got to see how the sets are manipulated.
We were whisked
from the theatre back to our hotel to get a little rest before our next
adventure – The Tower of London.