Posts from the ‘France’ Category

Disneyland Paris ’06: Going Home

Today Joe woke up at 7am and I followed, at 7:30am. Steve, who had an earlier flight, had left around 6:30am.

After some last-minute packing, we were out the door by 8am and went to our breakfast buffet (in the restaurant this time, not the convention center…I guess they use the convention center for overflow and we had never been downstairs this early?). After breakfast (different location but exact same food…I didn’t have a Nutella-covered chocolate croissant today though; I’m going home today so it’s back to “healthier eating mode”), we went back to room and got our luggage. The hotel concierge said there was a 9:25am shuttle that would bring us directly to Charles De Gaulle Airport, but it wouldn’t actually arrive at the airport until 10:40am – with a 12:55pm international flight, that was a little too close for comfort, so we took the DLP bus to the train station at DLP (it’s actually a walkable distance…we had passed the train station every day on the way to the parks, but now we would have LOTS of luggage in tow), then the train to airport (a 10-minute ride, albeit a cramped one, as we were crammed in with lots of other people and their luggage).

Good karma was with us as we exited the train, as there was a luggage cart right there, which made carrying the 3 big bags, 2 carry-ons and 2 MONDO HEAVY personal bags a lot easier . Unfortunately, you can’t take the escalator if you have a luggage cart. More unfortunately, the one elevator that serviced that platform was ALWAYS crowded every time it got back to our floor. After being bypassed by 3 or 4 full elevators in 10 minutes, we dumped our luggage cart and took the escalator, after all.

Finding our terminal was a trip and a half because there were few signs and we were so early that our flight information wasn’t on the “Depatures” board yet. We had to ask few people and eventually found out that we had to get to Terminal A, which was just past Terminal C (A after C? WTF? Damn French…). It was a long walk just to get to Terminal C so we got a cart guy to drive us to beginning of C (tipped him 2€, which was about $2.75…don’t know if that was a good tip or not, since tipping is not as mandatory as it is in the States, but we didn’t have many Euros to spare), then we walked to Terminal A.

The line for Continental check-in was LONG but apparently boarding Houston was a priority (we now only had about 2 hours until boarding time) so we (and a dozen other people) got brough closer to the front of the line. Their security screening is much better than the US, with more specific questions about what we’ve been doing, what we were carrying, etc.. After checking in, we went through X-ray where, again, Joe’s bag got hand checked (we’ve really got to stop giving him the bag of computer wires as carry-on). Finally made it to Gate 47A and sat the 75 minutes until boarding.

They started pre-boarding about 45 minutes before our scheduled departure time. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your point of view, “pre-boarding” out of France means double-checking passports (actually, by this point, I think this was triple-checking) and hand-searching every piece of carry-on luggage from every passenger. From a BIG ASS plane. A 777. And so, of course, we took off 40 minutes late.

I slept for the first hour and a half of being on the plane, so I missed the “mini pretzel and 4 oz beverage” service. I was wide-eyed and bushy-tailed for the lunch feast though…a 4″ x 6″ container of salad greens (and 1 tomato wedge…oh, the luxury!), Italian dressing, a 4″ x 6″ container of breaded chicken (couldn’t have been more than 3 oz of poultry, but at least it was thoroughly cooked, unlike the French, who eat it pink) with most of the breading and mozzarella cheese topping sticking to the foil cover, 15 cooked carrot coins, some wilted string beans, overcooked rice, a 3″ x 3″ dinner roll with a pat of butter, 2 crackers with cheese and a 2″ x 2″ coffee cake with raisins and cinnamon.

Around 3pm or so, some idiot’s cell phone went off during the flight. Not a welcoming sound in this day and age of air travel (especially since it felt like they had been just one step short of an anal probe back at the Charles du Gaulle airport). It stopped after 3 rings though.

At 7pm (1pm ET), while flying over Canada (somewhere northeast of Montreal), the flight crew handed us small containers of vanilla ice cream. This was a welcomed treat I had never experienced on a plane before and I dare say it was better than the entire 3pm lunch!

10pm (4pm ET) was snack time again, this time with a ham and cheese sandwich on something the size of a dinner roll, a small bag of potato chips and a small round candy bar that reminded me of a 100 Grand bar. The sandwich sucked but the snacks were OK.

We landed safely in Houston, went through Customs, gathered our luggage, gave back our luggage, went through X-ray again and, after the planned layover and an additional 30-minute delay because our plane had come in late, boarded our plane bound for Orlando. I slept that entire 2-hour flight.

Finally, after being on planes for about 13 hours, we were home and our vacation was done. Pity.

So what are my thoughts and opinions (I know, I know…you didn’t ask. Someone else did ). Well, I still love traveling. I love seeing new places and having new experiences. We had been to London and DLP 10 years ago, so neither destination was new to us, but we did new and different things in each location.

I love London. I love how they have pubs that are older than our country. I love how they can have so much history intermeshed with a modern city. I love the architecture of the buildings that didn’t get demolished in WW2. I love that they speak English as a primary language .

Disneyland Paris is something I have a love-hate relationship with, similar to the feelings I often have about WDW. On the surface, it’s beautiful and magical and perfect in every way. But if you look close, there’s a lot of tarnish amongst all the fun, shiny stuff; most of it based in Bad Show. And almost all of it seems to point at lack of money. What else would be the excuse for cracks in the sidewalk that are 4″ x 1.5″ x 1″…or plants and weeds that are so high that they block out parts of the show…or 1/2″ of dust on surfaces…or parts of attractions that are majorly broken and are allowed to stay on stage…or a parade where there’s an obvious pattern of every other lightbulb being out? It HAS to be lack of funding for maintenance and gardeners and equipment and supplies, because if not, then the blame has to be on apathy. And that’d suck.

I think that, had we not gone to Tokyo Disneyland last year, I wouldn’t be so critical. But in Japan, they REALLY have their act together. They take pride in their work, whether they’re a manager or a street cleaner. They always have a smile and an upbeat attitude. The parks are pristine, with everything in working order, and if there’s a lightbulb out one day, you can be sure it’ll be replaced and working by the next day. It’s amazing what a park can be like, if someone is willing to follow the old adage of, “you have to put in money to make money.” God bless Oriental Land Company.

Will we go back? Yeah. But not for another 10 years or so. England is lovely but there is history and architecture in other places too. As for DLP, the Studios really need more attractions to make it be even NEAR worth a day pass. Disneyland Park badly needs maintenance but could use a few more attractions too…there were NO new major attractions there since our last visit in May/June 1996. But we’re making plans for our next “Disney trip” and if anyone would like to join us on our return trip to Tokyo Disneyland in 2008…..

Disneyland Paris ’06: Disney Studios Paris and Disneyland Paris park

Since today was our “last day,” we agreed to wake up early and make the most of our day. So at 7:30am, I woke up, followed by Steve and finally Joe (I’ve already called dibs on waking up last tomorrow) and we were out the door by 9am.

The breakfast buffet was the same as yesterday’s and yes, I was bad and had the Nutella on the chocolate croissant again (VBEG).

Today was our day to see the Walt Disney Studios. We knew there was not much to see so we figured we could finish the park in 2 hours.

I don’t know if these are permanent or no…they look like construction walls, but who knows. Anyway, they are the walls that lead you from the Disney Village area to the Studios. I swear, there are more people painted on the walls than were in the park. And they looked a lot happier too… And dig those trompe-l’oeil flowerpots!

The front entrance to the Disney Studios

Joe & Sharon in front of the DLP version of the Earful Tower. You can’t see it during the daytime, but at night they silhouette the tower in lights. Well, except for most of the right ear…the lights are all out on that part.

After going through the equivalent of the “Town Square” of the park (2 shops, a fountain, Guest Services and restrooms. Oh and a photo opportunity with a limo [with Ohio auto tags???] and sometimes a character), you are forced to go through a “soundstage” to get to the rest of the Studios. The soundstage includes some gift shops on the left and some fast-food counter service on the right, but the establishments on each side are interconnected, like how the shops on Main Street are.

Adding insult to injury…this is the DLP equivalent of our favorite restaurant at WDW’s Disney-MGM Studio’s…

…and it’s just counter service in France

DLP finally got a “Partners” statue. Walt would be turning over in his grave if he knew his likeness was in this park.

“To all who enter this studio of dreams…welcome.” Yup, he’s DEFINITELY spinning circles in Forest Lawn.

The Studio Tram Tour was a few dozen feet behind the Partners statue, so we decided to start there. By the way, nice attraction sign, huh? That simplistic, cheap, 2D style of signage was pretty much status quo throughout the park…but hey, it helped you keep your expectations down. Sigh.

As I said, we expected to finish the park in about 2 hours, but if the screwy way they loaded the tram tour is any indication of how they run the park, we’ll take 3 hours because they only loaded the tram 1/2 full. We had a good 15 minute wait for no reason that I could see.

Because they have tourists from so many different nations, they give you an option to queue up based on what language you speak (French go here, English go here, German go here, etc). Once they know who speaks what language, they use (all pre-recorded) celebrities to narrate in those languages. As per an online DLP site I found, Nastassja Kinski would great you in German, Jeremy Irons in English, Famke Jansen in Dutch, Isabella Rosselini in Italian, etc.

As our queue was apparently comprised of only French- and English-speaking guests, our tour was narrated by Jeremy Irons and a French actress, via TV. I wasn’t paying attention to the narration but Joe said that it didn’t sound like the 2 narrators were saying the same thing. The French woman would go on and on and on, but Jeremy would only have a few lines.

The first quick stop on the tour was to see what an “actual” studio set looked like:

The set from Dinotopia

Next was Catastrophe Canyon and it was essentially the same as the Disney-MGM Studios version at WDW…

there’s rain…

…and an explosion…

…and a deluge that gets the left side of the tram car wet. During an earthquake, of course.

They let us know that the attraction used 265,000 litres of water (instead of the 70,000 gallons they use in the US. By the way, 70,000 gallons is, indeed, roughly 265,000 litres. I did the conversion {thank-you Cathy [wink]}).

The Service des Costumes was next on the tour (there were people working in it so I’m assuming it’s the actual Costuming department for the park) and they had a small selection of costumes from Narnia in the cases of the “costume tunnel” (those of you who have gone to Disney-MGM Studio’s tram tour will know what I mean).

Next was a scene of a demolished London, adapted from the Touchstone film Reign of Fire. The scene included a HUGE ball of fire, which totally scared the crap out of the little girl in front of us.

The tour also showed props like cars and statues from older Touchstone and Miramax movies..

We next went on Armageddon: Les Effets Speciaux, which put us into a scene on the film “Armageddon” so we could experience wind, fire, smoke, and outer space stuff banging into our rocket ship. It was OK…nothing special and pretty reminiscent of Twister at Universal, complete with a dozen-off screaming children.

Animagique was next, which was a stage show done in black light. I could swear they just copied bits and pieces of Voyage of the Little Mermaid, Legend of the Lion King, Jungle Book Show, etc. It well done, with lots of dancing and music, but nothing that made me go “wow”.

The next thing we did was Cinemagique, which really WAS good. They had a simple storyline which included superimposing Martin Short (not quite as popular in France as Jerry Lewis, but “up there”) into dozens of famous movies. It was extremely well-done and even made me laugh out loud a few times. Easily the best thing at the Studios.

The guys went on Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster next…I still wasn’t in the mood for coasters, so I sat outside and held their stuff. They said the ride was the same as ours except the pre-show is stupid and nearly non-existant.

Outside the R&RC was a photo op to be the Ice Queen from Narnia. With my patented “icy stare of death,” how could I resist?

Joe was getting hungry so he got a waffle with chocolate sauce from a cart outside the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. He said it was THE worst thing he’s eaten the whole trip.

Buying the waffle

Throwing it out

The next thing we visited was the Art of Animation attraction.

The movie that they showed first was the same movie as the one they used to show on the old animation tour at Disney-MGM Studios (where the tear-jerker song was “Baby Mine”). Once we were out of the movie, they offered a typical “what it’s like to be an animator” theater show, which we always skipped in English at MGM…so we skipped it in French too. Once out of the theater, the attraction offered choices of character concepts (how characters are developed, via picture boards), how to draw Disney characters (lessons every hour) and binaural sound (heard at WDW a bezillion times). We skipped all of those too (although I did take the opportunity to stop in the Disney Gallery gift shop while there).

We didn’t go on every attraction at the Studios, simply because they were either lame (like the Flying Carpets over Agrabah…another off-the-shelf Dumbo ride)…

…or were attractions that were exactly like the ones in WDW and we tended to not like (like Stunt Show Spectacular).

They’re in the midst of building a Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, but it’s not scheduled to be open for a while yet.

They’re also apparently building an attraction based on Pixar’s “Cars” but otherwise, there’s really not a whole lot to see.

We were done with the Studios by 2:15pm (FOUR HOURS!)

(“That’s a wrap.” Yeahright. Wrap it in newspaper, like you do with yesterday’s fish)

We left the park and wandered back in the Disney Village, in search of the post office we were told was there, so we could buy Air Mail stamps.

It was and we did, and we mailed out a few more postcards (the postcards mailed from this post office had a DLP-specific stamp cancellation). Since the post office was inside the DLP train station, Joe also took the opportunity to get a train schedule so we could figure out what time we needed to leave for the airport tomorrow.

With that mission accomplished, we walked towards Disneyland Park but before going inside, we did a quick walk through of the Disneyland Hotel. WOW, is that place beautiful! Almost on par with the Grand Floridian Resort Hotel in WDW. Still not worth its mondo price, but gorgeous, all the same.

The outside of the Disneyland Hotel. You have to walk through the ground floor of the hotel to get to the front gate of Disneyland Park

The main lobby. The table holds marionettes of the witch from Snow White and Malificent, the evil queen from Sleeping Beauty

Fireplace in the main lobby

The grand staircase in the main lobby

The DLP version of the California Grill. Similar to WDW’s version. From “Featured as one of the top Disneyland Resort Paris restaurants, the California Grill is situated in the Disneyland Hotel. From its dining area it offers great views of the Disneyland Park, making it one of the most attractive places to eat. The restaurant offers western American style food from California. It also features an extensive wine list. Drawback: expensive.”

Another restaurant in the Disneyland Hotel

We made it back to the Disneyland Park, with some picture-taking opportunities along the way.

In front of Town Square, with the train station

City Hall

The gazebo in Town Square (same location as where the flagpole is at WDW)

The barbershop which is not exactly ON Main Street…it’s sorta just OFF Main Street, in an alcove. What’s more, it’s listed as an attraction.

View from one Main Street alcove to another

In front of the Wishes dais that makes the laser and film designs on the castle during the fireworks show

The castle

Frontierland train station

Chip & Dale (Tic & Toc) are VERY popular in DLP

The hand-washing-only water supply at the (closed) petting zoo. And no, he wasn’t really drinking the water

A view of Adventureland



Star Tours

The “map” of Nautilus

Visionarium, where they show The Lion King show

Tried to get tickets for the Lion King stage show but unfortunately, by the time we got to the ticket area (the far back right corner of the park), all the shows were sold out, except for the one we wouldn’t have time to see.

We decided to have “linner” so we went to the Cowboy Cookout Barbeque, a’la Disney fast food.

It wasn’t horrible…just typical theme park barbeque. Joe and I both had a “#3”, which was 3 pork ribs, fries, a chocolate mousse dessert and a drink.

Next was a round-trip ride on the Disneyland Railroad so we could see the Grand Canyon diorama (which turned out to be pretty lame), get to where we wanted to go and sit for a while, while doing it. Felt good. Sucked to get up.

We exited at the Fantasyland station and went on the Storybook Canal Boats.

The ride was similar to DL in CA, though the boats were set up differently (rows of seats, not “sit wherever you can”, like on Jungle Cruise) and there was no narration. Some of the scenes were different too (their ride had Peter and the Wolf and Return to Oz???) and, of course, the overgrowth of weeds and intended plants was atrocious.

Steve parted with us at this time, to go do his own thing. The Casey Jr.Train Ride had a 30-minute wait so we skipped that and instead used our “free” Fast Passes for another ride on Buzz Lightyear. I did even better this time…Level 4/Over 100,000 points (Joe had over 200,000 but for me, 100K+ is still good…I’ve been known to get a whopping 6,000 points on the Buzz Lighyear at home.

Steve said we could have his Fast Pass so Joe used it to go on Space Mountain again (60 minute standby wait). I enjoyed the act of sitting, while waiting for him (the “waking up at 7:30am was catching up with both of us).

We made our way over to Sleeping Beauty Castle to see the tapestries and stained glass windows that depicted the story of Sleeping Beauty. They’re beautiful and housed on the U-shaped 2nd floor of the castle.

Sleeping Beauty sleeping

Some of the stained glass windows

A closer view of a stained glass window

You can walk outside the castle on this second level and see Fantasyland from a birds’ eye view. Pretty cool, huh?

Following that, we went down into the dungeon to see the audio-animatronic dragon who lives there…alternately sleeping, growling and blowing smoke at his visitors.

Get out of my dungeon!

This is a slightly fuzzy, 15-second video (with no sound) of the dragon doing its stuff:

By this point, we were REALLY tired and decided to forego seeing Fantillusion and Wishes again (both were OK but not great), in favor of going back to the room and packing, with the thought of going back out, later on, if we had time. Before we left we agreed to go on Pirates of the Caribbean one last time, if the queue was less than 15 min. With a 10-minute line, our last attraction was one of our favorites.

The walk back to the hotel was a long, painful one (feet and backs, alternately). Getting to the room and taking off our shoes felt WONDERFUL and it was almost a disappointment when, at 10:30 or so, we decided to go back out, get our VAT forms filled out by the hotel’s gif shop cashier (so we can get some money back) and, while we were out, go have a light meal somewhere. We decided upon, of all places, Planet Hollywood. Now, for those of you who don’t know, we have a Planet Hollywood no more than 9 miles from our house and we NEVER go there. In fact, I have never even stepped foot in it. But, as Joe says, at WDW, there are lots of better places to eat…at DLP, it IS one of the better places to eat. SO…off to PH we went. Joe had chicken strips and fries and I had some chocolate ice cream.

PH is still not my favorite place but it hit the spot.

We went back to the room and here I am, finishing my last blog entry. I doubt I’ll write anything tomorrow (Saturday) since it’s just going to be a traveling day but I’m sure I’ll write something about my impression of DLP, this 2nd time around, pretty soon.

By the way, This is the official U.K. website for DLP. It had a bunch of pictures and information that I didn’t even begin to touch. And this is a Travel Channel special that shows some great footage of the park:

Au revoir! Or is it au revior? I dunno…I took Spanish in school and Joe took Latin. Whatever…see ya!

Disneyland Paris ’06: Disneyland Paris park

Woke up at a luxurious 8:30am (log for the anal-retentive: Joe, Sharon, Steve) and, after some technical difficulties with trying to load Steve’s camera, we were out the door by 10:10am.

Our buffet breakfast included 5 different kinds of cereal (including Kellogg’s Extra, which tasted really, REALLY good but I did some searching on the Web (of course [wink]) and they only sell it in France, Italy, Spain and, I think, Belgium and hotels and hospitals in Germany), yogurt, fruit, luncheon meats, a variety of breads and pastries, veal sausage, buttery runny scrambled eggs, potatoes and bacon. Choice of drinks were coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and several types of juices. France has a Nutella-like concoction that comes in single-serving tubs. With those, I discovered that Nutella on a chocolate croissant is AWESOME. And probably 2500 calories and 147 grams of fat. But MAN, was it GOOD!

After briefly going back into the room, we went on our way to DL, rain gear prepared since it was raining as we went outside (it rained on and off all day).

Phantom Manor was our first stop…it’s very different from any of the HM attractions…much darker, much scarier, with lots of skeletons and more of a storyline. There’s a terrific “Old West” scene towards the end and their “cemetary/backyard” is more of a “crypt” in Paris. Click here for more information about Phantom Manor.

Sign on the front gate

“Crypt” that a CM is supposed to stand in. I believe it’s a relatively new addition to the attraction.

The Phantom Manor building

An “abandoned” tea house in the Phantom Manor queue

The “front door” of Phantom Manor

After finishing the attraction, we stopped at “Boot Hill,” which is the “cemetary” next to PM, to read the gravestones.

Unfortunately, some were roped off and many others were unreadable because of the overgrowth of plants and weeds. Talk about Bad Show. Pity.

Some guy from the U.K. made a beautiful film about Phantom Manor, including some good footage of the entire ride. It’s in 4 parts on You Tube. The first one explains the history of the attraction (as well as the entire Frontierland area and how the various attractions and buildings are inter-connected) and the other 3 show the attraction itself. and the whole thing is about a half-hour long but if you ask me, it’s worth the view.

Part One:

Part Two:

Part Three:

Part Four:

Pretty good, huh? Anyway, back to our trip…We would have gone on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad next…

…but it’s closed until October. According to the DLP website, it wasn’t supposed to close until AFTER we had gone home. Damn.

The guys went on the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril attraction was only a 15 minute wait but I wasn’t in the mood for a coaster, especially one that brings you upside down. So I held their stuff while they went on, and took some pictures.

They said it was like a Wild Mouse ride (which I can tolerate if I’m in a “coaster mood”), with a loop (which I can also usually tolerate). Maybe I’ll feel more like it tomorrow.

We next made a quick stop at Colonel Hathi’s Pizza Safari. We weren’t hungry yet but, as per Steve, the place was called the Explorers Club for the first less-than-six-months that “Euro Disneyland” was open. According to Jim Hill, the restaurant was based on the Enchanted Tiki Room, but a lot of the background decor is still very much like the Adventurers Club, IMHO. So, needless to say, we took full advantage of the picture-taking opportunity.

Current sign

The main building

Light fixture on the front porch still reflects the original “Explorers Club” theming

An example of the artifacts near/above the cash registers

The upside-down rickshaw mentioned in Jim Hill’s article

Fireplace (gate says “EC”, though difficult to read at this angle) and more artifacts

Unintentional or not, this would easily fit into the Adventurers Club

The dining/table section of the Colonel Hathi fast food restaurant

La Passage Enchante d’Aladdin (Aladdin’s Enchanted Passage) attraction was next:

It’s a walk-through, telling the story of Aladdin, using simple-moving animatronics reminiscent of the store windows of the Emporium at WDW and DL. Fairly low-tech but sill enjoyable. I wasn’t able to get any decent pictures of the inside, but this web site has a good description of it, with pictures.

Next was Pirates of Caribbean:

The queue reminded me of the “cave” parts of WDW’s queue (without air conditioning).

Skeleton in the POTC queue

The attraction itself is a mixture of the “regular” POTC that we’re familiar with, interspersed with scenes of skeletons, 2 extra small drops, a picture-taking moment, etc. I especially enjoyed seeing the pirate chasing the woman-who-was-not-holding-food. We took video of the entire ride and are going to try to get it onto YouTube, if we can. Will keep you posted.

We made a quick stop at Adventure Isle, which is the DLP version of Tom Sawyer Island. When we had gone to DLP in ’96, we discovered quite a few things that Disney would consider to be “dangerous”, including an access hole in Skull Rock that was pitch black dark but had a 3′ drop. Fortunately, we saw that the area is now barricaded by a garbage can and the door to the access hole is now closed. There were still lots of other things they did and allowed that are, IMHO, “bad show” but at least that dangerous eyesore has been fixed.

Skull Rock

A dangerous situation fixed.

We decided to take the Disneyland Railroad from Fantasyland to Main Street.

As we started to leave the Main Street station, it started to pour so we waited at the station for a few minutes. We then went to Walt’s (one of the 4 sit-down restaurants in the park) to try to get reservations for lunch or dinner (whichever would allow us to eat upstairs, which was prettier than downstairs dining) and, as it turned out, they said we could be seated immediately. We were seated in the Adventureland room, with Middle Eastern and POTC decor on the walls. They offered 2 or 3 course price-fixed meals as well as an a’la carte menu (an update from our last visit, where they only had price fix and the choices were only appetizer/main course or main course/dessert). I ordered a tomato-and-mozzarella salad (the tomato had been through a blender), steamed cod with cauliflower (and pieces of grapefruit and orange??? And since when does cod have curry on it?) and an apple-and-apricot crumble with honey nougat ice cream, Joe got Boston clam chowder and and Steve got foi gois, veal with sweetbreads (yeah. brains.) and poached pear with black currant ice cream.

Outside view of Walt’s restaurant

Podium inside Walt’s. When we ate there in 1995, the restaurant was 2 stories high and those doulbe doors to the right of the podium led to the 1st floor dining area (non-smoking area, used only for lunch). At the time, we were not allowed to go upstairs, even to see the decor of the rest of the restaurant (the upstairs dining area was only open for dinner). However, when we asked where the restrooms were, we were told they were upstairs. Amazingly, we all had to pee at the same time (grin). The downstairs dining area has now been turned into a gift shop and dining is only upstairs.

Each room of Walt’s is themed after a “land” in DLP. We ate in “Adventureland” so there were items related to POTC, the Aladdin attraction, etc.

After “linner” (lunch and dinner), the 3 of us went our separate ways. Joe went back to the room to nap, Steve stayed in the park to go on rides and I shopped for 3 hours straight (when I’m going to power shop, I really prefer to do it sans Joe. He gets bored. I know he gets bored. And I feel bad when he gets bored. So I just make sure I have my “shopping time” alone and we’re both happy [wink]).

Shopping does make one tired though, so at 7pm or so, I made it back to the room and took a nap from 7 to 8:30. It was a beautiful thing. Joe was still sleeping when I got into the room, so it made “meeting up” a lot easier too.

We made it back to the park a little before 9:30pm and went on It’s A Small World.

I’m sorry…despite how annoying everyone thinks this attraction is, I’ve always liked it an awful lot (grin). The DLP version has some scenes that are all its own and except for the disappointment of seeing some dolls whose mouths didn’t work…or who were facing the wrong direction…or only one arm would move…or all the lightbulbs that were out, it was a very enjoyable ride (an enjoyable ride that, however, I took no pictures of. But there are lots of pictures on this website and you can also see someone’s recent homemade video of the entire DLP attraction (as well as the dragon under the castle, Space Mountain from the outside and the giant squid in the Jules Verne 20,000 Leagues walk-thru), thanks to YouTube:
Anyway, IASW is sponsored by France Telecom company who has their own, small attraction outside IASM that is very cute and fits in well with the little dolls of the attraction.

At this point, we decided to skip seeing Fantillusion and Wishes tonight and focus on favorite rides instead, to see if we could avoid the longer lines. We went on Pirates of the Caribbean first, this time videotaping the whole thing. Then we went on Phantom Manor, twice in a row (once with camcorder in use, once without). The more I see that attraction, the more I appreciate its differences from the other “Haunted Mansion” attractions around the world.

The park closed at 11pm, so Joe and I went to Disney Village to get a snack. Disney Village (previously called Festival Disney, when we went in 1996) is similar to Pleasure Island or even Disney’s West Side, wherein they have shops and nightclubs (well, one nightclub) interspersed with various sit-down and take-away restaurants and entertainment areas. Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show is here, as is a Planet Hollywood, Disney Store, a Gaumont multi-plex theater (currently showing the film “Snakes on a Plane”, more commonly known as “Des Serpents Dans L’Avion” in France), etc., all in a wide, long path between the DLP hotels area and where they 2 theme parks enter.

Disney Village from the hotel end (daytime)

Disney Village from the park end. A portion of Annette’s Diner is on the far left side of the picture

We eventually settled on getting “take away” from Annette’s, a “Happy Days”-style place, with burgers, fries, etc. Joe got a burger and fries and I got a peanut butter milkshake (by the way…they use Skippy peanut butter). Made it back to the hotel, where Steve already was (we had texted back and forth with him and he had told us he went back to the hotel early) and we all agreed to wake up early on Friday, to take advantage of our last day.

England & Disneyland Paris ’06: Travel to France through Chunnel via Eurostar, Disneyland Paris

Woke up 5:30am (for those of you who are keeping track, it was Sharon, Steve, Joe, in that order) and, after finishing our packing (and disputing an internet usage charge for 5 days when we had only used it for 4), were on our way by 7:30am.

We quickly realized that traveling from train station to train station was a LOT easier (NO STAIRS!) when we used the handicapped-accessible routes. We went from Earl’s Court to Westminster, then to Waterloo Station. After checking in and getting our Eurostar (through the Chunnel) tickets, we went upstairs to where they had some small shops and restaurants. I bought my coffee (I finally learned how to order it the way I like it: “milk coffee, very milky, with cold milk, and I’d like it as a take away.”) and we hung out, waiting to board our 9:37am train. Boarding was called about a half-hour beforehand.

Our Eurostar train. We had reserved seats in Car #8

Steve and Joe sitting on the Eurostar train

We were seated in a Priority/Business Class train and got breakfast included.

Breakfast started with a croissant, whole wheat roll, butter, jelly (currant or strawberry), and strawberry yogurt with a choice of coffee, tea or hot chocolate.

This was followed about a half-hour later by scrambled egg, a chicken sausage and beans (I never knew that Heinz beans could be a breakfast food either. Different culture).

Fortunately, I was very full from the first course because the second course was NASTY.

The rest of the Eurotrain ride was pretty unremarkable, especially since I slept through a good portion of it.

First view of DLP Resort, taken from the train

We disembarked the train at the Disneyland Paris Resort, went out of station and found our bus to the Hotel NY.

The bus was warm and several of the people smelled but fortunately, the bus only has 2 stops (NY and Sequoia) and NY was first so we were able to get off the bus rather quickly.

We checked in (they had a designated children’s check-in spot that included steps so kids could see [“be a part of”] the check-in process.

It was a nice touch and appreciated by little moi (wink).

After the check-in process, they gave us room 2233. That room was too close to elevator (we’d hear everybody go past us on the way to the elevator) and had a really sucky view (the roof of the hotel’s convention center), so we tried to get another room. There were apparently slim pickings but eventually they found us another one, on the same floor, on the same wing, but apparently down a different hallway. That room wasn’t ready yet so we needed to wait until check-in at 3pm (a 40 minute wait). So we grabbed some chairs and sat it out.

The front lobby of the Hotel New York

A few minutes after 3pm, we went back to the front desk and they gave us our new room assignment, #3101. Went upstairs and WOW, what a difference! We were now on the 3rd floor, on the corner (so we had 2 windows), with a view of the lake. Needless to say, we kept the room (grin).

The room had 2 double beds

Joe sitting in our room, between our 2 windows

View of the bathroom sinks and shower

View out of window #1

A little to the left of the above view. Guests were able to go onto the balloon, for a price (15 Euros or so). Steve did it; Joe and I did not

View out of window #2

There’s our room!

After unpacking, we decided to go to Disneyland Park, since we had length-of-stay park hopper passes, for free, as part of paying for the room with DVC points (we had a free breakfast buffet and 1 Fast Pass, for whatever FP attraction we wished, per person, per day). As we walked outside, we passed the Concierge, who happened to be speaking to a family of British people. Joe said, “Listen! He sounds just like Serge from Beverly Hills Cop!” And sonofagun, he was right! How will we ever be able to figure out the gay guys from the straight guys if ALL of them sound like gay guys???

The bag checkpoint for DLP Park

“To all who come to this happy place, welcome.”

Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant (Sleeping Beauty’s Castle)

Entrance to Discoveryland (DLP’s name for Tomorrowland)

We decided to use our “free” Fast Passes on Buzz Lightyear, since it just opened a few months ago and had a 65 minute queue. The queue is the same as ours in theming, but the path is different (theirs is in the old “Visionarium/Nine Eyes” building) and they go back and forth between French and English. The attraction is the “higher tech” one that everyone except WDW has.

We then got Fast Passes for Space Mountain…we were told to come back between 7:10pm and 7:40pm and since it was only mid-afternoon by this point, we walked around Discoveryland for little while (we didn’t go on any attractions because lines were mostly 45+ minutes) and while in Pizza Planet (to pee, not to eat) and decided to eat dinner, and go back to hotel to nap. We decided to have dinner at Chicago Steak House, which was at Disney Village (formerly Festival Disney). I got angus rump roast, Joe had sirloin steak and Steve ordered a rump steak. The food was very, VERY good. We even splurged and got dessert…Joe and I split a Chicago sundae (3 kinds of ice cream, a brownie and other good stuff) and Steve got a rum baba (we thought it would be a babka-like dessert but it was more like a muffin SOAKED in rum). The only bad point of the restaurant was the noisy toys they gave to each child…with the annoyance it was in a huge, relatively empty room with, say, 10 of those things, I can only imagine what a roomful of them would sound like.

We were done with dinner around 7pm and, by this time, really exhausted, so we decided to nap for a little while. We were back in room 3101 by 7:20pm and were fast asleep by 7:30pm. 9pm never came so fast in our lives.

After getting re-dressed and walking back to the park, we decided to see how bad the walk-on line for Space Mountain was. Just 25 minutes now (50 min before dinner) so we decided to wait. Surprisingly, I didn’t get stopped by the Disney Height Police this time (I had been stopped during our trip in 1996, because I was RIGHT at the height cutoff…the cutoff now was 1 meter, 32 cm, which converts to 4’4″. I’m just shy 4’7″ so I guess they lowered the height requirements at some point). The beginning of the queue was, again, similar to WDW’s, but following a nice preview of the initial launch, the queue took on more of a Jules Verne/Discoveryland look. The lack of air conditioning in the enclosed/indoor was sorely missed though. The line was, indeed, about 20 or 25 minutes and the ride was very, VERY good…a nice, smooth coaster with a strong takeoff and good special effects (some of which they slow down the ride for, so you can appreciate them). And I kept my eyes open the whole time (those of you who have gone on “larger” roller coasters with me know that I usually have to go on twice, because I tend to keep my eyes closed the first time through)!

Daytime picture of Space Mountain

The Fantillusion parade was scheduled to start in a few minutes, so we “camped out” near It’s A Small World. The parade was very pretty and the music was great, although it doesn’t hold a candle to my all-time the Main Street Electrical Parade. Unfortunately, we didn’t take any pictures of the parade, however if you click here, it will bring you to a terrific DLP site that has great description, as well as pictures of the parade.

We decided to go on Space Mountain again and grabbed our spots for the Wishes fireworks. Wishes was very well-done, using the castle as a “screen” for projections and lasers (ie when the Blue Fairy comes on, there is a picture of her, with blue and green laser lights around her, projected onto the castle).

Daytime view of the dais that projects the images and lasers onto the castle

YouTube has a very good video of DLP’s Wishes:

Although the use of laser and pictures on the castle is unique, I CAN say that their fireworks still weren’t nearly as spectacular as WDW’s. Then again, no Disney park’s fireworks are as spectacular as WDW’s. There’s an interesting discussion about Wishes and worldwide Disney fireworks in general, if you click here.

After Wishes, we went back to the hotel and went to bed, ready to start our first full day at Disneyland Paris.