On the fourth time in a row we walked through the turnstile of the relaunched Star Tours: The Adventures Continue ride, the staff started to laugh.
By the sixth, I was shamefacedly struggling to look them in the eye but my five-year-old son was still bouncing up and down.
Until we arrived he hadn’t realised Star Wars was now such a large part of the Disneyland Paris experience which, on its 25th anniversary, perfectly blends the nostalgia of my childhood – the Alice In Wonderland maze, Sleeping Beauty’s castle and Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Peril ride – with his: Toy Story Playland, a chance to meet Spider-Man and, of course, Star Tours.
My son has not stopped talking to his little sister about his adventure
Sitting in the “space shuttle” in front of C-3PO as he chatted to us in French before piloting the ship away from the Evil Empire, through hyperspace and into pitched battles with stormtroopers in various worlds, Ben was gripped. With more than 70 different stories that are randomly changed, each time we buckled up we were given a new, exciting experience. It was only with the promise of his own lightsaber and pizza for dinner that I managed to drag him away.
He insisted that we went straight back the following morning after our night’s sleep at the newly refurbished 1900s-style coastal mansion Newport Bay Club, a 15-minute walk – or a shuttle ride – away just outside Disneyland Village, set on a lake.
Portholes in the room showed Pluto, Goofy and, of course, Mickey Mouse and all the high chairs in the restaurants had Mickey ears.
Ben insisted, having brought his Mickey with him (a case of coals to Newcastle if ever there was one) on sitting Mickey in a Mickey high chair during our buffet breakfasts at the hotel. He also joined us for lunches in the Cowboy Cookout in Frontierland and at Vapiano, an upmarket Mediterranean-inspired restaurant built around an ancient olive tree and with plants growing out of the wall.
Disneyland Paris is made up of a Village, where most of the shops and restaurants are, and two parks, the original Disneyland Park with Sleeping Beauty’s castle at its centre and the newer Walt Disney Studios. It is easy enough to move between the two but it is best to pick one each day, avoiding wasting valuable time and energy jogging backwards and forwards and queuing at turnstiles.
I was once told little boys are like puppies: keep them well fed and give them a run at least once a day. With this in mind, after trying his hand at a Wild West shooting gallery in Frontierland, we visited the Pocahontas Indian Village play area.
Next, we took the 1950s cars in Autopia for a spin (in his case causing tailbacks as he ground to a halt at every bend) and to eat too much ice cream. We just made it back to Main Street in time to watch the parade, with turtles, princesses, a dragon and Olaf from Frozen riding atop a giant reindeer as dancers swept ahead.
That evening we watched the illuminations: a new show to mark the 25th anniversary. With the castle lit up and fi reworks going off in time to the music, Ben sat on my shoulders giggling and whooping with joy.
Mickey was illuminated on the side of the castle along with Ariel from The Little Mermaid, the new live-action Beauty And The Beast and, of course, his favourite… Star Wars.
Back home, he has not stopped talking to his little sister about his adventure and promised her that if we go back he’ll show her round and protect her if we bump into Darth Vader. Maybe I’ll book him into the park’s Jedi Training Academy next time, just in case.
● GETTING THERE Disneyland Paris (0844 800 8111/ disneylandparis.co.uk) offers three-day breaks from £1,203 (two adults and two children), half-board. Price includes two nights at Disney’s Newport Bay Club, park entry tickets and return Eurostar travel from London St Pancras.
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