Disneyland Paris trip report October 5-8, 2008
I posted a complete Paris trip report at The DPN which is the forums associated with my podcast, Meandering Mouse Club TV. I have included here just the part for the DLP portion of the trip.
Wow, what can you say? Several years in the making, it finally happened that I was able to visit my 10th and 11th parks (parks 6 and 10 in the order of opening dates) to complete my goal of visiting all of the Disney theme parks around the globe and it was a thrill. First week of October 2008 was the travel time.
It was a year of serious talking and planning. The trip happened with an 8 hour flight to Houston, where I met up with Jeff and then we boarded the same flight for a 9 hour flight to Paris. Before heading to the parks, we visited the City of Paris and my jaw was on the floor most of the time for several reasons. First, the city is amazing. The architecture and the art put you into visual overload almost instantly. For me, it had been 7 years since I was in fall weather and it just added beauty to the trip. The return trip home for me was tough with 8 hours from Paris to Newark, NJ and then 11 hours to Honolulu. That last leg was brutal.
Day five, was transfer day to move to the Disneyland Paris Resort and checked into the Sequoia Lodge. We couldn’t get in right away so we had to drop off the luggage, grab what we needed and headed over to the Magic Kingdom style park. This day was the only day that the park would be open late. Ten o’clock pm (22h00) was the closing time this night where every other night was 19h00.
The sequoia is rustic in nature. When you walk in there was a fire place smoke smell. The leaves were starting to turn color and it looked beautiful. When we went to the room, the paths with their trees, some covered walkways, and the beaver creek really added to the ambiance.
The first day for me was really hard. I was so taken aback by how dirty and in disrepair the place is. Between the dealing with smoking in queue (not inside buildings), the cost of soda, the worn paint, things not working, the dirt, the cracks in and chunks of missing pavement, burnt out bulbs, dirty algae ridden water, gum laden surfaces, junk in the flower beds, overflowing trash and trash cans I was major league bumming. Three days of travel, 12 time zones and thousands of dollars to get there and I was greeted with this. As a former custodian CM, I wanted to tell someone give me a scraper and pan and broom, I’ll clean the place.
At one point while waiting for Le Petit Train du Cirque there were two majorly overflowing trash cans in the queue. My eyes got wet and I was very disillusioned with the park. My anticipation for the excitement was just crushed. It took me a little while after that I decided that it was what it was and just to enjoy the fact that I was in Paris doing something that only a handful of people have ever done. There was no sense in pointing out every flaw as there were many of them. What I had to enjoy was the detail that was in the park and get over the other stuff that distracted from it.
Effects weren’t working at many locations. At Space Mountain, they cannon was supposed to have movement but wasn’t. The clock at Small World was off by 5 minutes and sometimes the figures didn’t come out. In Phantom Manor when something was supposed to be in your doom buggie, it didn’t show. A good percentage of the lights on the back of tea cups were out. Path lights were out all over the place.
One fun experience on day one was eating at Walt’s. It’s a restaurant located on the corner of Main and Center Streets up on the second floor. Steak was on the menu. The restaurant was a tribute to Walt Disney. Pictures from throughout his life were throughout the establishment. The dining room was split into sections that covered different themes of the park. We walked through the adventure themed area to be seated in the fantasy section. We saw other sections devoted to discovery and the frontier.
The park has amazing details to it. In the castle, they tell the story of Sleeping Beauty with a bejeweled cover reminiscent of the old Disney movies as you enter the area. There is stained glass that tells the story. In one scene talking about the burning of the spinning wheels, there is the fireplace with the burning items. Outside of the castle you can see the back of the fireplace and the chimney. In the store attached to the Snow White ride, it’s themed like the Seven Dwarves’ house. There is a pick ax with a sock on the end, just like the scene where Snow White first enters their cottage. In the Nautilus walk though they have the huge organ just like in the “real” Nautilus had. Skull Rock…how cool was that??!! Over in the Cinderella area they had the well and shoes that she wore to do her chores.
The walk thru fort with closing doors, Phantom Manor, Big Thunder Railroad, Space Mountain, most of Fantasyland, Small World ride, the Castle, and Pirates of the Caribbean were in my book better than their counterparts located at any of the other parks. Imagineering did a great job with this park. When you enter the park you pass under the Disneyland Paris hotel. When you are at the castle and look down Main Street, the hotel at the end really completes the scene. The castle completes and meshes in with Fantasyland better than any of the other castles. The park itself is awesome.
We arrived on the second day of the Halloween festivities. Main Street USA and Frontierland were taken over by pumpkin people who were trying to paint the place orange. Everywhere in these areas were pumpkin people statues doing different acts of vandalism. Paint was spilled on the ground and orange foot prints were leading out of the “wet” spots.
One item that I noticed here was the freedom of the characters. First, they have characters at the hotels. One on trip inside the DLP Hotel there were characters milling in the lobby with people. They brought a train float/parade down Main Street to the hub where it stopped. The characters got off, went to different spokes of the hub and mingled with people. There was a train toot and they got back on the train and back down Main Street. Characters would interact with people chasing them around as I saw real pumpkin people doing in Town Square. In Adventureland, Tigger and Goofy were playing with each other and guests. Tigger even tried to sit in a stroller. For the most part there weren’t queues of people to greet characters. It was awesome to see the interaction.
The Walt Disney Studios Paris park was a small park to say the least. You would walk front entrance to the tram tour in the back of the park in about 4 minutes and about a 3 minute walk from Stitch Live to Crushes Coaster going sideways left to right as viewed from the park front. You could see how DCA and former Disney MGM Studios had a great influence on this park. This truly is a ½ day park. From 10h00 to 14h00, we did all but Armageddon Special Effects show, Lights, Motors, Action stunt show, Cars Road Rally and Aladdin’s Magic Carpets. Another 2 to 2.5 hours and we could have had done them all. It was 10 minutes for Road Rally and Carpets. LMA was 50 minutes and 20 minutes for Armageddon. The tram tour had Catastrophe Canyon and costume shop like MGM with trams like MGM. Tower of Terror was DCAs version of tower. Stitch Live was like Hong Kong. Aladdin was from Magic Kingdom. Road Rally was Francis Lady Bug Boogie redone with Cars. Rock-n-Roller Coaster was like MGM. MGM got LMA from Paris. Animation had drawing your character like DCA. Animagique was like Little Mermaid at MGM or vice-a-versa as I don’t know which came first. Cinemagique was like Magic Lantern Theater in Disney Sea. So really there was nothing really new or ground breaking there. Crushes Coaster stood out in that it had the Nemo roller coaster theme with the turtle shell ride vehicles that allowed for front and back seating like Toy Story Mania and the craziness of Mulholland Madness/Primeval Whirl but this had angled/banked track instead of just flat.