Despite a very tiring day on Saturday, we embraced the theme park commando ethos, and Adam made a point of setting his iPhone alarm for 8.00am. However, with the whole clocks going back thing, this all went wrong, as Adam manually adjusted his phone before going to sleep, only to find the iPhone then adjusted itself during the night.
All this confusion meant that when his alarm went off it was actually 9am, and not 8am. As welcome as the extra hour of sleep was, this now meant that all our plans of getting to the Studios early lay in tatters amongst our twisted duvets and dirty clothes.
However, we did not do anything stupid, like miss breakfast. After quickly showering, dressing and packing, we made our way down to the restaurant to find a fairly long queue to get in. This was a worrying sign for the day ahead. We were soon shown to a table, and unleashed on the crepery etc once again.
After checking out, we joined the cast of Ghandi outside the hotel, who were all waiting for the next bus to the parks. As it arrived, Adam trampled several small children and got on, but alas, I was trapped behind people who were quite frankly bigger than me, so I could not get past them. No matter, the next bus was only five minutes away, and I met Adam at the train station, after he had checked that France actually had trains running today. Luckily, today was one of those special non strike days in France.
Once again, the scrum to enter the park was large and unorganised, and we had to do it twice, once to get into the Disneyland park, and check our luggage in Guest Services so we didn’t have to cart it round all day, and then again to get into the Studios next door, as the latter has no facility to hold your luggage. When checking in my bag I put my receipt in my back Jeans pocket, along with my mobile phone (which now has a full charge!). That might be important later!
Adam was keen to try to ride the RC Racer ride first, as it was new. Having not arrived at the park at first opening our fears for the queue situation were large and valid, as the posted time was 75 minutes. As it was only likely to get worse, we decided to give it a whirl, and were then delighted to spot a single rider line. We clambered through and over a couple of barriers to get to it, and waited around 15 minutes for me to get on first, shortly followed by Adam a few minutes after.
I took a video of Adam’s go, which is both the wrong way around, and the reason I then had minimal battery for the rest of the day again!
The ride itself was another one of those that looked less intense than it turned out to be. I wouldn’t say I would wait 75 minutes for the two minute experience, but it was good fun, and worth the 15 minutes we waited.
Adam was not keen to ride Tower of Terror, and wanted to take some photos of the new Toy Story area, so I toddled off, VIP Fastpass in hand, to ride it solo. I couldn’t spot the Fastpass entrance initially, as it had a queue all of its own. I was shocked to realise that this queue was (mainly) French folk, waiting to speak to the CM, and see if they could get in now with a 2.30pm entry time!! I floated gracefully to the front, with my timeless, uber Fastpass, and endured the hatred as I was allowed into the hallowed halls. Once inside, I used local knowledge (from Orlando!) to stand at the right place in the library, allowing me to leave first and get to the loading area.
The ride itself is a good one. There is no forward moving section as there is in Orlando, but the droppy stuff is just as good.
After meeting up with Adam in the gift shop, we made our way over to the Rock n Rollercoaster. Another 75 minute wait is thankfully avoided with the magic pass, and again, a ride similar to Orlando, yet different. It was very good indeed, and brought out similar shrieks and screams all the way round.
Next, was one of my favourite attractions of the weekend, Cinemagique. This to me is a great example of what Disney does best. I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone yet to experience it, but it is a live action and film show, brilliantly executed, and thoroughly entertaining. As an added bonus for me it stars Martin Short, who I love in O Canada, and no matter how many times I see them, makes me howl with laughter, as Franque in the Father of the Bride films.
I did some extensive gift shopping in the area where last night Cast Members were “attacking” guests in a ghoulish manner. Today was business as usual really, and in a typical Dad type shopping session, we are were quickly in and out of the shop area, equipped with two suitable presents for the girls. Job done!
Having largely done the park now, in addition to what we covered last night, we headed for the exit, and across to the other park. You may have noticed a complete absence of food since breakfast, so we remedied this at this stage with a welcome Hot Dog at Caseys.
Suitably refueled, it was time to do battle on Buzz Lightyear. Being honest, my expectations of victory were low, bearing in mind Adam was a veteran of 35 previous visits. We got through the first battle, which was the usual congregation of confused French folk around the Fastpass entrance, trying to negotiate with the CM, that it really was time for them to go in.
With a wave of our “golden ticket” we were in, but still had a 10 minute queue or so before loading. As expected Adam wins easily, however he was very gutted that we both achieved the same level (Level 4) even though our scores were miles apart. I counted that as a creditable draw, and quickly moved on.
Star Tours was next, and this was almost identical to the one I am used to, apart from, of course, the fact that the pilot does the whole thing in French. No matter. Having ridden it countless times I knew the script anyway.
Next, we wandered to the castle. It was very pleasing to see that they have actually used it for something more useful than just a restaurant, and a place for Tinkerbell to jump off. There are shops of course, in which Adam bought a Christmas bauble, but they also have an area you can wander around, and do some sort of walking tour, plus in the basement, an impressive dragon in its lair.
After watching a few minutes of the show currently in progress in front of the castle, it was time to make our way out, and head for the train station. Upon collecting our bags, I discovered that my receipt must have fallen from my pocket upon me taking out my phone to see how little battery I had left somewhere in the park. Luckily, with some ID and a description of my bag, it didn’t pose a problem.
At the train station, Adam discovered that his original train was delayed by an hour, which would have meant he missed his flight, so after a quick review of the time-table he realised he had to take the train leaving, sort of nowish.
So a rushed thank you (from me) and good-bye, and he was off to his train. This left me with nearly two hours to kill until my train, so I set off for a wander around Disney Village. Having my bag with me, I was wanded at the entrance. Beggars can’t be choosers!! A touch more shopping happened, in which I picked up a present for Louise, and then had a general mooch.
Disaster was narrowly averted, when in a crowded shop, I turned around only to hear the bag on my back bash into a load of Disney mugs hung up in the aisle. I closed my eyes, and prayed that no further sounds followed, which would signal the smashing of the mugs, and either a quick getaway or a painful use of the credit card. Luckily, nothing fell to earth, and I quickly moved on.
Having exhausted my interest in retail, I went back across to the train station, bought a drink and sat outside people watching for quite a while. I then wandered around the station, and frustratingly discovered a source of power for my phone in the waiting room, about ten minutes before I was due to board!! A quick injection of juice, a tweet bemoaning the shocking battery performance of my phone, and it was time to go to the platform.
I won’t bore you with the details of the train journeys home, as everything was on time, and pretty uneventful. I will comment on the delightful food I endured on the Eurostar leg, which was basically a microwaved pitta bread with a slice of dairylea and wafer thin ham. It only cost me around £7, with a soft drink!
The walk from St Pancras to Euston was brisk, as the time between trains was short, but I made it quite easily, and took my seat in First Class (this is very cheap at 8.30pm on a Sunday night!!), and settled in for the last leg.
Louise picked me up just after 11pm, and I was more than happy to find my own bed about half an hour later.
I have to say that I really enjoyed the weekend, and would once again like to thank Adam, Juz and Craig (the DisneyBrit Podcast folk) for their generous prize, and of course to Adam for looking after me all weekend.
Having never really fancied or planned a trip to Disneyland Paris, I was pleasantly surprised by the experience. Once inside the parks, they are of the same quality of the Orlando parks, and indeed some parts are better! For me, my obsession is not just with the Disney parks, but now I realise it is with the whole Florida experience. The whole place feels like a theme park!! In Paris, I felt that once outside the gates, the “magic” did not pervade. I’m not saying anyone was rude, or we had bad service by any means. It is an intangible thing, that you just feel.
The one thing that did strike me was that unless you are careful, a weekend at DLRP, with the family could get very expensive very quickly. With flights (or trains), hotel, park tickets, food etc you could easily be into a couple of grand. I’m sure you can do it for less of course, with knowledge and experience, just like Florida, but I’m not sure I would want to invest that sort of cash into such a short break.
If money was not an issue I would gladly return, with the family, and have a really good time I’m sure.
Thanks for reading these unusual blog posts, and with these travel journals providing a break from sheds, garages, work and general Meldrew style moaning, normal service shall be resumed next time around.
Till the next time…..