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Just a few weekends ago, I was sitting down snuggled up in a thick jumper curled up in front of a log fire sipping on a mug of hot chocolate. I could have been at home as the rain lashed down looking wistfully out the window mumbling to myself how much I hate the closed season, yet, I wasn’t – I was in the Sequoia Lodge hotel at Disneyland Paris, ready to go out and enjoy the park.

However grim the off-season seems, remember you’re not alone. Almost every pastime relies on the seasons, and almost every pastime leaves you out in the cold for at least a few months in the year. It’s how you make the most of those miserable few months that makes the difference.

Fortunately for us theme park enthusiasts, the winters are becoming a lot more bearable, and I don’t mean just because of the effects of global warming. British enthusiasts are particularly guilty of hibernating during the closed season, when nowadays there’s no excuse unless of course time off is your prerogative.

Disneyland Paris perhaps showed the world that even in the most miserable weather you can open a theme park and people will flock to it given enough incentive.

Since Disneyland Paris opened in 1992, the concept of theme park resorts has taken off. Having done so, it has become a lot easier to open theme parks during the closed season as with hotels having winter offers, there is a whole untapped captive audience at your beck and call.

We’ve seen Phantasialand and Europa Park in particular follow Disneyland Paris’ lead, while to a lesser extent parks like Alton Towers and Pleasure Beach Blackpool have in the past tried opening selectively over the winter.

Ryanair plane

Ryanair means that you can do a weekend break abroad for as much as a weekend break at home

Thanks to the good people at Ryanair and EasyJet, European theme parks are easier than ever to get to from the UK, while around Europe railways are often one of the best ways of getting around, even from country to country.

If you’re desperate to do theme parks during the winter, now there’s really no excuse. Winter gives many the opportunity to discover new parks, while often experiencing them at their very best.

No longer is the winter dank and miserable, and no longer should you be, either.

Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris is one of the best winter retreats in the whole of Europe, thanks in part to the fact it is part of a resort, and also mainly because the park is so well geared towards inclement weather.

It is also a very, very easy park to get to. From the UK, Eurostar run services from London Waterloo (soon London St. Pancras) via Ashford International, and assuming that you book into a resort hotel via Disney themselves, then in theory with bags being taken to the hotel for you, you could be on Big Thunder Mountain just over two hours after getting on your Eurostar train in central London.

The Eurostar trail makes only the one brief stop in Ashford International, before heading towards Folkestone, under the channel and through the rolling French countryside before arriving at Marne la Vallée, which is right in the centre of the resort.

If you don’t book directly through Disney, you’ll have to check into the hotel yourself, but with six hotels a short shuttle bus ride away and the park within walking distance, it is hardly likely to put a downer on your holiday. Continues...

Coaster Kingdom Magazine


Issue 25: Jan 2006

Issue 25
Closed season? What closed season?

In The Picture
In The Picture
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