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Trip Report: Adventures by Disney London and Paris Adventure

During our last Adventures by Disney (AbD) trip to Greece, we figured that we’d take a year off from group travel. We loved our adventure, but I had some home projects that I wanted to budget for. While I love AbD, they definitely can be expensive vacations. But after looking at a few other vacation options, we ultimately decided that we wanted to go on another AbD trip.

The kids really wanted to see the landmarks of London and Paris, so we once again headed across the Atlantic to the Cities of Knights and Lights tour – the Adventures by Disney London and Paris trip. This eight-day adventure included three nights in London and four nights in Paris. We added on one day at the beginning of the trip to get acclimated to the time change, and two days at the end to visit Disneyland Paris.

Packing for this trip was a bit of a challenge. We needed casual and nicer clothes, and unlike Greece, there wasn’t a time where we were just hanging out in bathing suits. We needed regular clothes every day. While the weather in London and Paris is typically cooler than home, they were having a heat wave during our trip.

We also needed both UK and mainland Europe electrical adapters, and two separate types of foreign currency. I decided to use ATMs at both destinations, and didn’t change money at all at home. That made it much easier.

For this trip, we booked our airfare through AbD. It was a great decision, because we were able to get convenient flights at a better price than I could get on my own. Our flight to London was scheduled to leave at 7:20pm, with an arrival at 7am.

However, once we were at the airport, we learned of a flight delay. The cargo door wasn’t opening properly, and they had to fly in a new part. Ultimately, our delay was about 2 hours, which wasn’t too big of an issue, especially since we were to land at 7am originally.

Trip Report: Adventures by Disney London and Paris Adventure

Marble Arch in London at Hyde Park

Day 1: Flight and First Day in London

I didn’t get much sleep on the flight, but I didn’t expect to. It was a little painful waiting almost an hour to get through British customs, but once we were through, our luggage was waiting for us.

We found our AbD driver right away, and were off to the Landmark Hotel. I had heard great things about the hotel, and I wasn’t disappointed. It was a absolutely beautiful!

Because it was so early, I didn’t expect that our room would be ready. Luckily, it was. We headed upstairs and barely looked at the room. Instead, we just fell right to sleep.

I didn’t want to mess up sleep patterns too much, so we just napped for an hour. Then, we ventured out for lunch because we were starving. The hotel has a delicious on-site restaurant, Great Central, so we just headed there to make things easier. Then, we went back to the room to shower and unpack before exploring London.

The Landmark Hotel is gorgeous. Located in the Marylebone neighborhood, it’s pretty convenient to many London landmarks. The rooms are also huge by European standards. Because we had four nights planned there, we were able to unpack and settle into the room.

With so many things on our AbD agenda, we didn’t have too much that we HAD to do during our free time. On the first day, we just walked to Hyde Park and down Oxford Street. We stopped at a small cafe for snacks for dinner, and then went to bed early.

Day 2: Start of the AbD

We got up nice and early on our first full day, and enjoyed the huge breakfast buffet at the Landmark. It’s pretty pricey, but it was included with our AbD stay.

Then, we met our adventure guides. I was thrilled to find that one of our guides was Marissa, who was one of our guides in Italy. Our other guide, Fern, is a local guide from Wales. Both were so friendly and helpful. They really made our adventure even more magical and were great with the kids.

Buckingham Palace

Earlier in the summer, I had purchased tickets to tour the state rooms at Buckingham Palace. They are only open for ten weeks per year – luckily during our trip.

It was so amazing to see these rooms that are actually used by the royal family, and I’d definitely recommend booking this if you can. They are timed tickets, so it’s best to buy in advance.

Then, we got in a cab and headed to the London Eye. Marissa had recommended purchasing the Fast Track option on our tickets. Apparently, in nice summer weather, the line can get quite long.

With the Fast Track entry, we were riding about 15 minutes after we arrived. The ride on the Eye is about 30 minutes and is a great way to see the city. It’s expensive, but worth doing at least once. We purchased the tickets through our hotel concierge, but they can also be bought online or at the ticket booth (I’d recommend purchasing them online).

After the London Eye, we took a cab to Covent Garden for lunch (see hotels near Covent Garden). We decided to dine at the Punch and Judy Pub, one of the oldest pubs in the London. Then, we went back to our room to get ready for our AbD welcome reception and dinner.

At the reception, we met the other members of our group. We were also given the opportunity to pre-order most of our group meals for the trip. This makes things so much easier when a big group descends on a restaurant.

In retrospect, I wish I had taken a photo of my choices. I couldn’t remember what I had ordered later in the trip. After filling in our choices, we boarded a motor coach to a local pub.

There, we had a private room, a fun surprise guest, and some delicious food. It was a festive night for our first evening, and it was great to meet everyone.

Buckingham Palace from Afar

Day 3: Westminster Abbey and Tower of London

Our first full day started with the delicious breakfast buffet. Then, we met our local guide Steven, and boarded a coach to Westminster Abbey. As we drove, Steven gave us a small city tour in the bus.

When we arrived, we split into two separate groups with Steven and another local guide, Sarah. I think most of our group was surprised to see how many famous people are buried in the Abbey.

Next, we walked through St. James’s Park to Buckingham Palace. It was a nice walk, and we were able to get some great pictures of the palace from the park. We were there in time to catch part of the changing of the guard. Then, it was another short walk to the coach to head toward the Tower of London.

Lunch was at a delicious restaurant tucked under the Tower Bridge. My daughter and I had bangers and mash, and they were so good!

Then, we walked to the Tower of London, where Steven guided us around. We also had a quick private meet and greet with a Beefeater.

After the guided tour, we were given some free time. Most of us chose to line up to see the Crown Jewels. The line was pretty long, but it was moving along quickly.

Thames RIB Experience

We met after our free time and walked down to the Thames. There, we were separated into groups, and boarded Thames RIB Experience boats. This was one of my favorite parts of the trip. Part thrill ride, part tour boat, the RIB boats are so unique.

We got a guided tour of the Thames and then headed to a slightly more secluded area. There, the captain gave us a thrill ride on the boat. I would recommend this – the kids loved it too.

We went back to the Landmark after the boat ride. This night was Jr. Adventurer night, which meant that the kids had a special dinner with the guides.

The adults were able to dine in the restaurant at the hotel, while the kids enjoyed a meal and Disney movie. In our past adventures, Jr. Adventurer night was on a later night in the trip. I think I prefer that, because then the kids and adults actually know each other. But this was a great way for them to meet.

Archery in Windsor

Day 4: Windsor

After a full day of touring London, it was time to head outside the city. Our first stop was to an estate right outside of Windsor. There, we had one of our most fun activities of the whole adventure.

After a quick lesson, we were divided into teams for an archery competition. It was surprisingly competitive, and our team was thrilled to come in third. Then, we got back on the bus to finish the journey to Windsor.

The town of Windsor, England

Windsor, home of Windsor Castle, is still a festive atmosphere after the royal wedding. We had lots of free time to shop and grab a quick meal.

Then we met up for scone making. We all made two scones and were able to enjoy them with clotted cream, jam, and a perfect pot of British tea. The mother/daughter team who taught us how to make scones were delightful, and shared some of their excitement about being so close to the royal wedding.

After enjoying our snack, we went into the castle. Steven provided the narration to us as we headed into the castle. Then, we were provided some free time as we toured the various state rooms (narrated tours aren’t permitted).

After the tour, we had a little more free time, and then were surprised by our guides with some popsicles. It was a very hot day, so it was nice to get a refreshing treat.

This was already our last evening in London, and we had dinner on our own. Marissa provided me with a list of family-friendly pubs within walking distance, and we decided to go to the Grazing Goat.

This delicious restaurant offers lots of options for families, including a few kids meals. I loved my entree, a prime rib. It was a nice walk too, and we enjoyed seeing London for the last time during this trip.

The Louvre

Day 5: Eurostar and Louvre

We had a later meeting time this morning, and took advantage of the time to pack. AbD collected our checked luggage in the morning, and it magically appeared in our hotel rooms later in the afternoon.

Fern and Marissa had recommended going to the M&S Food Hall across the street from our hotel to grab some snacks for the train ride. We used our remaining pounds to buy fruit and veggies for the trip.

After meeting in the lobby, we got on the coach and headed to the St. Pancras Station. There, we went through security and then waited for our EuroStar train to Paris. It was delayed by a few minutes, and then we all boarded. AbD had booked us in first class, and the seats were nice and comfortable.

A small meal (and complimentary wine!) is served aboard the train, but I was glad to have the snacks. The trip itself is short – less than 2 1/2 hours. We were in Paris in such a short time. There we immediately met our new local guide, Alec, and boarded a coach to the Louvre.

At the Louvre, we split into several groups. The Jr. Adventurers went with Fern and Marissa for a scavenger hunt, while the adults were divided between Alec and another local guide, Cid.

The Louvre is absolutely huge, but we did a highlights tour. We saw the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, and other works of art.

We then went to our new hotel, the Hilton Paris Opera. I was prepared for this hotel room to be significantly smaller than the one at the Landmark, but I was pleasantly surprised. We had two rooms, and they were both a nice size. It was great to have two bathrooms also. It made getting ready so much easier.

Dinner that night was together as a group. We went to the restaurant downstairs, where we were treated to a private dining experience. My beef bourguignon was probably one of my favorite meals on the trip.

Cheese in La Marais

Day 6: Food, food, food

Day 6 was HOT. With a forecasted temperature of 98 degrees, we tried our hardest to prepare for the heat with lots of sunscreen and water. We started with a bus ride to the La Marais district of Paris. There, we explored in small groups with a local guide who took us to several food markets and shops.

We were able to taste macarons, chocolate, wine, cheese, and waffle cookies. I absolutely loved this part of the trip because it felt like an authentic Parisian experience.

There were options available for my daughter, who is allergic to tree nuts. I always appreciate the steps AbD takes to ensure my daughter’s safety and enjoyment.

Next, we went to Montmartre. There, we had the option to walk up the 250 steps or take the Funicular. Between the heat and my bad knee, I opted for the Funicular. There was a bit of a line, but it moved quickly.

Sacre Coeur

We were given free time at Montmartre to eat and shop. We found a small sidewalk cafe and ordered some traditional Parisienne favorites, like escargot, crepes, wine, and a cheese plate.

Some members of our group purchased caricature drawings too. After meeting up again, we went for a small walking tour of the area, and then ended up at our final destination for a wine tasting.

While the adults sat at two long tables, the kids and our adventure guides went into a separate room. There they drank juice and played some games. The adults got to taste five different wines as well as local cheeses and charcuterie. We were all so hot and tired, so we drank lots of water too.

View of the Eiffel Tower from Galleries Lafayette.

After the wine tasting, we headed back down to the coach (I took the stairs this time), and then were on our own for dinner. Our guides recommended a local spot, Paris London, for dinner. First, we visited the top floor of the Galeries Lafayette. While this department store offers loads of products for sale, we were there for the gorgeous views of the Eiffel Tower.

Then, we walked for a few more minutes to the restaurant. We weren’t too hungry after a long day of eating, so the kids split a pizza and my husband and I enjoyed salads.

I think overall, this was my favorite day of the trip. It was so fun to explore the small neighborhoods of Paris, and taste local foods.

Versaille from the gardens

Day 7: Versailles and the Eiffel Tower

Did I mention the heat wave? Finally the weather broke on our Versailles day. It went from a high of 98 to a high of 73. It was absolutely perfect.

We drove to Versailles, and were there when it opened. Both Alec and Cid were there to guide, and we were split into groups. It’s such a gorgeous place, and I’m so glad we were there early because the crowds definitely came later in the morning.

We had a bit of free time once the tour was over, and then we walked through the gardens to a small tram. This took us to lunch in the Little Venice area of Versailles. This beautiful outdoor restaurant had great food, but there were also a ton of bees that were a bit distracting.

After lunch, we had the option to go for a bike ride around the canal, or do a garden walk. Only two of us opted for the garden walk with Cid, while everyone else biked. They had a variety of bike sizes, including bikes with training wheels for the younger kids.

Everyone loved the bike ride. I’m so glad that the temperatures cooperated – that would have been tougher to do in the heat. The garden tour was interesting too, and I got some great photos.

Next, we headed to everyone’s most anticipated destination – the Eiffel Tower! First, we took some fun pictures in front of the tower. Then, we went through security and headed in. Everyone knew to be patient going in, but the wait really wasn’t very long.

La Tour Eiffel

Our tickets took us to the second floor, which has beautiful panoramic views of the city. While most of took photos at this vantage point, there were more amenities on the first floor. So, after taking pictures, we headed down for slushes, wine, and shopping.

They gave us a good amount of free time at the Eiffel Tower, so we were able to enjoy everything. Then, we met back on the ground and went back to the Hilton on our coach.

This was another free night. Twelve of us decided to venture to the Champs-Elysee for shopping and dinner. The hotel concierge wasn’t able to make reservations for twelve of us, but she recommended a spot where we may be able to all get in.

It was about a thirty minute walk, and we were even able to stop at a Disney Store. I was surprised by how much security all of the major stores had. We had to check bags both in and out of the stores.

The restaurant we went to, Chez Andre, was the perfect spot. They had a few kids’ meal items, and some delicious and authentic Parisienne dishes for the adults. While they couldn’t seat 12 of us together, they were able to seat us in two groups. It was a fun night, and one of the better meals that I had on the trip.

Notre Dame from the Latin Quarter

Day 8: Notre Dame, La Musee De Chocolate, Farewell Dinner

I always hate the last day of any AbD, and this was no exception. I had a full vacation, but still knew that I’d miss our guides and new friends.

We woke up to heavy rain, although it had lightened up by the time our meeting time rolled around. Our guides had provided us with ponchos on the first day, and they definitely came in handy.

We boarded the coach along with our local guide Alec, and headed to Notre Dome. There, we had the option to walk up to the top, or have extra on our own time. My husband and son walked up to the top, while my daughter and I opted to tour the cathedral. It was very, very crowded, but still so beautiful to see.

After meeting up with my husband, son, and some friends, we walked over to the Latin Quarter. During our on our own time, we had a quick lunch, and did some souvenir shopping. We had some extra time, and sat outside the cathedral.

There were a few men there with pigeon food, and for a payment of 10 Euro, they would give you food and take your picture with the pigeons. We chose to avoid that scam, but did enjoy watching everyone else with the pigeons.

Our next stop was Le Musee Gourmand Du Chocolat. We were divided into groups to make chocolate and tour the museum. Making the chocolate was so much fun!

After, the kids were able to skip the museum tour and instead do a scavenger hunt. The museum offers lots of samples and a small shop, and we all got to take a small bag of chocolate.

We had quite a bit of time after the museum to pack up and get ready for our farewell dinner. Although we had a busy vacation filled with fun, I definitely wasn’t ready to say bye.

Double macaron from Laduree

Dinner was at the famous Laduree. Our guides had set up assigned seating based on the groups we’d all been hanging around with. The meal included lots of delicious touches, like the Laduree double-decker macaron.

After a few surprises, we went back to the hotel. Everyone was so sad to say bye, although 6 families (including us!) were going to Disneyland Paris for two days.

Walt Disney Studios Park

Day 9: Disneyland Paris

The Disneyland Paris is an optional add-on to the London/Paris AbD. By booking directly through AbD, we received a few perks, including an unlimited FastPass, breakfast, and private transfer to and from the hotel.

After meeting our driver in front of the hotel and saying bye to Marissa and Fern, we drove about 45 minutes to Disneyland Paris. We arrived at our hotel, the Disney’s Hotel New York, and immediately had to go through security.

All of our bags had to be scanned, and we went through metal detectors. We were then guided through reception, where we received our park tickets and FastPasses.

Because we booked through AbD, we were able to go to the club-level check in, where we got a good orientation on what to see at the parks. Our room wasn’t ready yet, so we headed to the parks.

I was most surprised at how close everything is at Disneyland Paris. Just a few steps out our hotel door, and we were at Disney Village. We went through bag check there, and then headed through. We chose to visit the Walt Disney Studios Park first. Overall, it was about a ten minute walk right to the front of the park.

We rode the Ratatouille ride first, and loved it! It’s so unique, and fun. Then, we went on a few of our favorites – the Rock n Roller Coaster (avec Aerosmith), and the Tower of Terror. Both were a bit different from their US counterparts, but still pretty similar.

We also went to Toy Story Playspace, and went on the parachute ride. We wanted to go on the RC Racers, but the line was a little too long.

Disneyland Paris was having their Wine and Food Festival, so we visited a few of the kiosks for lunch. There are separate sections of French food and European food.

It was time for our room to be ready, so we went back to the hotel. We took a break and then went back to Disneyland. We took advantage of our FastPasses to ride a few of the more popular rides, and then had dinner.

Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Paris

Day 10: Disneyland Paris

We didn’t set an alarm to wake up, so it was a more leisurely morning. We had breakfast at our resort (included with our AbD package), and then headed to the Studios for Extra Magic Hours.

We had wanted to ride the Crush Coaster, but it was down for a while. So instead, we went to the RC Racers ride. The line was short, and we were glad to have the opportunity to ride.

Then, we walked the ten minutes over to Disneyland, and went on what ended up being our favorite ride – Big Thunder Mountain. It’s similar to the US version, but goes into a dark tunnel underwater.

After a full day at the parks, we packed up for our return home. It was such a fabulous vacation experience, but we were definitely ready to go back home.

Overall, this trip was definitely different from our other AbD trips. There was so much more to see, with less downtime. We also never went swimming! But, it was definitely so much fun, and a great way to see two of the largest cities in the world.

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