A lot of sun, and of course a lot of people :-)
The Castle is hidden, only the main tower is visible from Central Plaza, Casey corner, La petite maison des jouets are also covered, and Cinemagique.
Chaparal stage is ready for the new winter show, I saw a little house with a lot of snow on the roof, but nothing else :-( except a lovely cow!
Videopolis stage was closed, and they were preparing the new Mulan Show.
The Disney California Dream, was smaller than last year, but the Beach Music very good, no more demonstration of Rock'n Roll and Madison. I was very sad because people dont applaud a lot.
I eat in Pizzeria Bella Note. In the afternoon Parade was missing : Pinocchio, Peter Pan, La Petite Sirene, Aladdin, and Le roi Lion. To watch it easier, I was in front of City Hall, but the parade stop only one times for Steamboat Willie.
That's all for today.
Who we are
I'm Karen and I live in London with my nearly 5 year old daughter, Megan. We both have birthdays in September and she starts school next week, so this trip to Disneyland Paris was a sort of combined birthday treat and final pre-school fling. You may have seen my posts a few weeks at R.A.D.P. ago asking all sorts of questions. Thanks to all who replied and helped me plan our visit. This is my first trip to a Disney Park so my first trip report - it's turned out kind of long but you don't HAVE to read it :-)
Day 1: 1st September
We left home early to start our journey, arriving at Waterloo in good time for our 0937 train. At the Disneyland desk I was able to complete most of the hotel check-in and luggage transfer formalities and Megan was given an activity pack which helped keep her occupied on the 3 hour ride which took us right to the gates of DLP. It was a remarkably stress-free journey which meant that when we arrived just before 2pm French time we were relaxed and ready to start enjoying ourselves, knowing our luggage was safely on it's way to the Sequoia Lodge.
Minnie and Eeyore were greeting guests arriving off the train. Megan immediately ran up and gave Minnie a big hug, proudly displaying a Minnie sticker from the activity pack that she'd stuck to her T-shirt.
I'd decided not to pay to enter the park on our arrival day, feeling that it would be better to have time to explore Disney Village and settle into the hotel without rushing. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon, the best weather we saw on the whole trip. We sauntered into Disney Village which at that time of day was fairly empty, and just wandered around soaking in the atmosphere and gazing at the beautiful displays in the shop windows. Megan ran around the Disney Store marvelling at everything, particularly mesmerised by the Esmeralda, Belle, Sleeping Beauty etc dresses (I've promised to buy her one for her birthday which is coming up soon but she has yet to make the decision which one!) Another thing which captured her imagination was the suspended shark and boat displayed outside Key West Restaurant - each time we passed this she insisted on clambering into the boat and pretending to row or stretching up to put her hands in the shark's mouth. I was glad we had the time to just hang out here a bit when the place wasn't too crowded and noisy.
We walked to the gates of the park, stopping to peruse the names on the tiles in the Disney Promenade and admire the Mickey flowerbed and waterfalls in the gardens in front of the stunningly beautiful Disneyland Hotel. Megan was slightly disappointed that we could only look at the park through the gates but I promised her we'd have lots of time to enjoy it over the next three days.
We strolled back through Disney Village, along the side of the lake, looking in wonder at the stunning New York and picturesque Newport Bay Hotels. Arriving at the enormous Sequoia Lodge just after 3pm, it took a while to find the way to the Reception Desk, and when we did we discovered it would take another 10 minutes or so for our luggage to be unloaded. We checked in and were allocated a room on the fourth floor, so I decided we'd drop off the hand luggage there and come back to pick up the other bags. When we got to the room, we found the view from the window was completely obscured by scaffolding outside. We went back to Reception and asked to be transferred to another room. The luggage was ready and I requested a trolley to take it up to the room. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed that no-one offered to help take the luggage and to have to sign a form saying that if I didnt return the trolley I'd be charged 1500FF (£150). The second room we were assigned to wasn't much better - there was no scaffolding but the window couldn't be opened as it was on the first floor. I phoned reception and explained that I really needed to be able to open the window and requested a transfer to a room with a window that would open and for someone to help me take my luggage there.
Our final destination was a room on the fifth floor from which we could open the window onto a view of the lake, Disney Village and even see Sleeping Beauty's castle in the distance. Finally I could unpack and settle in although I still wasn't entirely happy as there was extremely noisy construction work going on outside. The following day we returned to our room to find scaffolding had been erected outside this room and the window handle had been removed. I do feel annoyed that when booking no-one told us that 40% of the hotel would be covered in scaffolding - if I'd known I would probably have chosen another hotel.
The swimming pool was lovely though - really well designed with trees and caves and a great water slide. After our swim we wandered around the lake and Megan had a go on the aquazoo, steering a small hippopotamus shaped boat around a cordoned off section. I was glad she chose this rather than a swan pedalo as I didn't feel up to too much pedalling.
It was my birthday so we treated ourselves to dinner in the spacious, friendly LA Bar and Grill which we hit just before the crowds started forming. Megan had the children's menu and I had quesadillas and a couple of beers. In general I tried not to spend too much on food and took bottled water, cartons of juice and snacks to eat discreetly in the park or in our room. We had another walk round the shops Disney Village, which was bustling now, then strolled back to our hotel, watched a bit of TV before turning in.
Day 2: 2nd September
I had set the alarm for 0630 and booked breakfast for 0700 so we could be among the first people to enter the park. Breakfast in the Hunter's Grill was pretty good and Megan developed a taste for 'pain au chocolat' which she proceeded to eat two of every morning of the trip. We caught the shuttle bus to the park and were at the gates at 8.20 before the turnstiles opened.
We were delighted to see Mickey come up to the gates and say hi to the handful of people waiting. He then beckoned to Megan to come through the turnstile and asked her to help him open the park by raising her arm to signal the driver of the Disney Railroad to start the train. She was thrilled, and spent the rest of the day talking about how Mickey chose her and how she opened the park and let all the people come in and have fun. She said she'd explained to Mickey that she couldn't come into the park the previous day because we'd arrived in the afternoon and he'd told her he was sad she wasn't there but very happy she was there today.
Fantasyland didn't open till 9 so we wandered around Frontierland. Dark rain clouds were gathering overhead so we bought yellow ponchos which were to become a familiar sight during the frequent rain showers over the next couple of days. As soon as Fantasyland was opened, we headed for Peter Pan's Flight and took the first two of our many rides on it. Megan was completely captivated by the sparkling lights and familiar characters, and so was I. Then we went on the Pinocchio ride; at first Megan was terrified and hid her head under my coat until right at the end, when she caught a glimpse of all the intricate moving puppets in Gepetto's house. She decided she wanted to ride again, this time at the back of the carriage and after that to go round yet again. This was to be another ride we returned to over and over.
She did not want to go on Snow White so we headed for It's a Small World and went round that twice - I haven't managed to get the tune out of my head since! Two spins on the Teacups completed our early morning ride bonanza and we were really into the swing of things. We looked around the Castle next, admiring the beautiful tapestries and models of the Sleeping Beauty story. Megan made me translate every page of the story books from French into English, even though she knows the story by heart. Then we took a glimpse into the Dragon's Lair - Megan was rather wary at first but soon got braver about approaching the dragon.
It was raining again but we ventured into Alice's Curious Labyrinth, eventually making our way to the Queen of Heart's castle. Perhaps this would have been better left till the sun was out - neither of us was particularly impressed although Megan enjoyed spotting the characters poking out of the hedges. The Pays des Contes de Fées was not working in the rain so we headed for the Casey Junior train ride. I thoroughly enjoyed this one, probably because the train scene and song are my favourite part of the Dumbo film.
Megan wanted to go to Discoveryland next and as it was raining I thought it would be a good idea to catch the Music & the Magic show. I'd misread the programme and thought this would be in the Visionarium (it was actually in the Videopolis) so we ended up seeing the Jules Verne adventure film instead. Megan hated the smoke of the door opening and the loud soundtrack and spent most of the show whinging and wanting to get out which kind of spoilt it for me.
I then headed for Star Tours, not really knowing what to expect. As we approached the ride and heard all the mock serious safety warnings (well they seemed mock to me but I can see they may have been alarming to a four year old), Megan again started to demand to be taken out. I managed to persuade her to enter the 'chamber' and put her seatbelt on but she cried throughout the space journey and again I was so busy comforting her that I couldn't get into the ride. We sat on a bench outside and had a snack and she was soon climbing happily around on the benches so I took her to Buzz Lightyear's Pizza Planet so she could do some more climbing and playing. I took a few deep breaths and reminded myself we were here to have fun and putting her through terrifying experiences wasn't going to be fun for either of us so I'd let her decide which rides she wanted to go on.
We hopped onto the Disneyland Railroad to get out of Discoveryland and within 2 minutes of boarding the train Megan had fallen asleep over my knees. It had been a busy morning. I let her sleep for an hour or so, whatever time it takes to circle the park 2 1/2 times! We eventually alighted at Frontierland and headed for the Pocahontas adventure playground but it was closed due to a piece of equipment being broken. So we walked to Adventureland and climbed up the Swiss Family Robinson Tree House, a wonderful piece of imagineering, then found our way to the mouth of Skull Rock and Captain Hook's Ship. We were slightly disappointed that the Galley remained closed all the time we were at the park as Megan had particularly wanted to buy a snack there.
Megan's friend Charlie had told her his favourite ride was Pirates of the Caribbean so she was keen to try this one. However, as we walked through the dark tunnels towards the ride and heard the pirate noises build up she got more and more frightened. There was no queue to speak of (Parade time I think) so we were on it before she knew what was happening and she spent the whole time under my coat and crying to get off. I quite liked it though!
She spent some of her pocket money on a Fruit Pastille ice lolly to cheer herself up then we went back to Fantasyland and rode the Pays de Conte des Fées a couple of times in a row, having lots of fun identifying familiar storybook characters and scenes. However, Megan pronounced that she preferred the Legoland Windsor Fairytale Brook.
We then went to the Theâtre du Château to wait for the show Winnie the Pooh and Friends too. During the 40 minute wait, Megan amused herself collecting different coloured tissue paper confetti shapes from the ground. I reflected on how much more absorbed she was by this simple task she'd set herself than by any ride or show. Of course Disneyland is a magical place and will provide us with lots of wonderful memories but the entertainment is all contrived and provided by others, which to some extent reduces the individual to a passive consumer. I'm glad that our main holiday this year was a 2 week camp on a beautiful, but sometimes wet and windy, Derbyshire hillside. There she was able to run wild, build fires and make up games with a bunch of other children during the day and have her imagination fired by a simple storyteller sitting round a campfire at night.
Anyway, enough of that. We wandered down Main Street in search of one of the gigantic Minnie lollies Megan had been hankering after for hours. We soon found one which she licked for 5 minutes then put back in the bag as "everyone is looking at me" (i.e. a few other children had given her the same type of envious glance she'd been giving lolly suckers all day!). We sat at the exit of Phantom Manor for a while, watching people coming out. This was one ride I really wanted to do and she didn't so I thought seeing other kids coming out unscathed may help persuade her to try. Not a hope!
I had a sudden desire for a hotdog, so we went to Casey's Corner and bought one each then strolled through Frontierland where we witnessed a disturbing incident. A 3 or 4 year old boy was crying angrily in a buggy (stroller) and his mother gave him a bottle of water. He immediately started tipping the water onto the floor in front of him. The father noticed this and told the mother who slapped him hard round the face twice. Megan and I were both shocked and she suggested I go and tell the mother it's unacceptable to hit people round the face but of course I kept my distance.
Megan wanted to ride Dumbo so we joined the 20 minute line, our first queue of longer than 5 minutes - not bad going for first timers I thought. A couple of yards ahead of us I spotted a family I recognised from London. Nice to see familiar faces and the queue seemed to fly past when exchanging trip-so-far stories. When we boarded our elephant I kidded Megan that I was scared of heights and didn't want her to take me up too high which meant she got great pleasure from taking us up as far as we could go and watching me pretend to suffer.
We were in good moods by now and happily queued for another ride on Peter Pan's Flight (at Megan's insistence), followed by a twirl on Lancelot's carrousel and Pinocchio again. I was really quite keen to see Snow White but Megan was adamant she knew the story and didn't want to see that old witch although she would quite like to hear what the ride was like. It was almost closing time and the queue had ebbed away so she stood by the turnstile and waited while I went round then sat me down on a wall outside and made me tell her every detail. She collected some flower petals from beneath a nearby tree and put them in the backpack with the by now soggy confetti.
Happy but exhausted we walked back to the Sequoia Lodge. Disney Village was too busy and noisy for my liking although if I'd let her Megan was keen to check out Planet Hollywood and generally hang out soaking up the atmosphere. Back at the hotel we made reservations for breakfast in the park the next morning and snacked on bread, cheese and fruit before falling asleep.
Day 3: 3rd September
Our 8.30 reservation for breakfast at the Cowboy Cookout meant we could sleep in a bit later today. It was cool to get through the park gates early by flashing our breakfast tickets (although Megan was all for waiting behind the turnstiles in case Mickey wanted her to open the park again). The breakfast was rather crowded and disorganised - you had to queue to get your plate, again for your food and once more for your drinks. The place wasn't very well laid out so the queues got mingled with each other leading to lots of pushing and shoving and waiting around. It didn't help that some of the beverages machines weren't working or were not refilled in time. I'd recommend anyone thinking of going there to arrive 10 minutes or so before the reservation time rather than 10 minutes late as we did.
Early morning Fantasyland ride-time again. I let Megan choose exactly what she wanted to go on. Yes, we started with Peter Pan's flight, three times in quick succession, followed by a double round of Pinocchio, three Teacup twirls and three non-stop circuits of the Casey Junior track. All in less than an hour. Phew!
We walked the long way round to go through the wonderful gateway to Adventureland. Aladdin's passage beckoned and we both enjoyed the intricate tableaux of scenes from the story so much we immediately went through again. Megan's pocket money was burning a hole in her pocket as usual so we hit the bazaar and she spent ages pondering over a display of jewellery before settling upon a pretty Ariel pendant with starfish and seashell beads. I walked round absorbing the eastern atmosphere and admiring the realistic features and ornaments.
We spent a bit more time discovering caves, bridges and tunnels on Adventure Isle before heading back to Discoveryland to catch the marvellous Music and Magic show at the Videopolis. I'm not generally into flashy musical-type things but this was very professional and a joy to experience, especially the scene where Ariel 'swims' around the stage against a watery backdrop. Very clever. Megan loved the show too.
A quick tour round Nautilus was the next stop. Megan wasn't particularly keen on the dark entrance or gloomy interior but I got quite a thrill out of the giant octopus. We picnicked at a table outside the Hyperion café (several people were doing the same!) accompanied by live rock 'n' roll music coming from a nearby stand - something to do with the California Dream theme which I'd been deliberately ignoring, not being into baseball or cheerleading. We saw Goofy, Minnie and Pluto passing by in California clothes but Megan didn't feel like talking to them this time.
It seemed like time to take the train so she could have a nap if she felt like one so we hopped onto the Railroad. She stayed awake though so we got off at Frontierland and checked to see if the Pocahontas playground was open. It wasn't so I chose to go on a River Rogue Keelboat instead - a great little trip with all sorts of interesting things to see and a fantastic view of Big Thunder Mountain. (Needless to say Big Thunder Mountain was not in Megan's league and as I'm not particularly mad on fast rides myself I didn't really mind not going on it.)
We found ourselves back in Main Street and lured into the Boardwalk Candy Palace. After considering every possible sweet in the shop, Megan bought herself the thing she'd originally spotted, a jelly sweet in the shape of a burger. I just knew all the bits would fall out if she tried to eat it walking along so we sat outside the Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlour and she had fun pretending it was a real burger and she was having her lunch.
It was nearly time for the Parade so we found a space in along the pavement further down Main St and waited for it to begin. It was a good stop because several floats stopped nearby and invited children to join in and Megan got to dance in a ring with Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and Belle. Soon afterwards one of the sweeps with Mary Poppins chose her to dance with him and clean out one of the smoking chimney stacks on the float. She looked very overwhelmed and serious about it at the time but afterwards was full of herself and made me promise we'd watch the parade again tomorrow.
I splashed out on ice creams for us both back at the Gibson Girl - I had rum 'n' raisin and Megan had chocolate. We couldn't really decide what we wanted to do next so we wandered back to Adventureland. I sat around on the neat African chairs outside the Hakuna Matata restaurant and Café Brousse while Megan ran up and down the steps, exploring passageways and finding her way back to me, gradually going further and further afield. She was keen to try to find a way down to the sandy beaches of Adventure Isle but it looked like they were out of bounds.
At around 6pm I was really tired and wanted to call it a day but Megan was adamant she wanted to stay in the park till closing time. She hates to feel she's missing out on anything, even though there wasn't anything she specially wanted to do. Earlier she had suggested that I go on Phantom Manor while she waited outside the exit on the wall we'd sat on the previous day and I'd said no, I wouldn't want to leave her there on her own. Now, knowing it was one thing which may tempt me to stay in the park, she made the offer again, persuading me she'd be absolutely fine waiting for me and didn't care if it took 20 minutes or so. I reluctantly agreed, part of me really wanting to do the ride, another part admiring her independence and concern that I should have a good time. Yet another part felt terribly guilty about even contemplating leaving my precious almost-5-year-old alone, albeit in a fairly safe place where the chances of an evil stranger attempting to abduct her were pretty minimal. Having established that there were no queues, we found a suitable spot on the wall for her to wait, I gave her a sandwich and a drink, checked and double checked with her that she was happy to wait for me and made her promise not to move. She made me promise to tell her everything about the ride and shooed me away, impatient for a taste of independence.
Perhaps because my heart and soul were out there on the wall, I went through the ride in a daze, numb with worry that something would happen to her, almost oblivious to the horrors in front of me. I'd love to do the ride again and take in more details. Of course Megan was absolutely fine when I emerged from the exit 15 minutes after leaving her. She wasn't even scanning the faces of people coming out, but casually dangling on the railings behind the wall watching the splashes on the Big Thunder Mountain. "That didn't seem long at all," she said, "and not one stranger spoke to me. Tell me all about it. I heard a boy about my age come out and say it wasn't scary at all." And we walked hand in hand out of the park chatting about the ride. Sometimes she's so grown up
We strolled back to the hotel, pausing to rest and look across the lake to the beautifully-lit Newport Bay Hotel.
Day 4: 4th September
An early start today as we needed to pack up and check out. I'd promised Megan a character breakfast so this was our last chance. We got to the LA Bar & Grill in Disney Village just after 7.30 and were immediately seated in the centre of the restaurant. The food was excellent - a sumptuous buffet of fruit salad, fresh watermelon, smoked salmon, delicious tiny sausages, crisp bacon and perfect scrambled eggs. Not to mention the cold meats, cheese, cereals, croissants, pastries and flans.
Chip & Dale, Mickey, Tigger, Gepetto and a few animal characters we didn't recognise arrived one by one. Megan ran up to Mickey expecting him to recognise her as the girl he'd chosen to open the park but he waved her away, indicating he'd be touring round the tables. "I guess Mickey's seen enough of me now," she said sadly as she returned to her breakfast. She remained glum for the rest of the meal. I asked one of the waitresses if Mickey would be coming round in our direction as Megan was really keen to see him and she said he would but he left the restaurant without doing so. None of the characters made it to our table before we left at 8.45am, except for Chip (Dale?) who did try to say hi, but Megan concentrated hard on gouging a spoonful from her kiwi fruit and hardly looked at him. I tried to console her by explaining Mickey had to rush off to open the park and she'd already had a special meeting with him so it was only fair that the other children got a chance.
Straight to fantasyland once again on entering the park, and, you've guessed it, onto Peter Pan for a couple of quick rides. I can fly! Then, wait for it, Pinocchio twice. The queues were building up more quickly today, perhaps because the weather was better and it was Friday. We bumped into our London friends again going into the Snow White queue which Megan had decided she was brave enough for then changed her mind at the last minute.
On our way over to Discoveryland we noticed Tigger and Eeyore were on stage signing autographs etc at the Theâtre du Château and Megan had really wanted to get up there and explore the Hundred Acre Wood set. So we queued for a while to meet them and Megan gave Eeyore (or Donkey Boy as she prefers to call him) a big cuddle and kiss to cheer him up because he seemed sad.
We only had to wait a short while to get into a car at Autopia and it was a bright pink one, Megan's favourite colour. I pushed the pedal down while she steered and we got to the end in one piece, just about. Orbitron was next on the list of rides we hadn't tried yet, so we queued up for 20 minutes or so for that. An Italian man was in the queue just in front of us with two children and just as he got to the front he gestured to four other adults and two more children to come and join them. Not only that, but the cast member in charge allowed two of the children to do the ride twice over. Oh well Neither of us particularly liked the ride when we did get on - uncomfortable and rather pointless I thought.
We were both keen to see the Music and Magic show again so we headed into the Videopolis and enjoyed the pre-show cartoons and a chance to sit and drink coffee while we waited. Once again, we were both captivated by the dazzling costumes and familiar film scenes & songs.
We then browsed the dresses and soft toys in the Seven Dwarves Cottage shop. Megan ended up choosing a gorgeous Dalmatian Puppy (Penny) to replace her beloved white rabbit which she'd lost somewhere between the Eurostar and the Sequoia Lodge on Day 1 and had been periodically bursting into tears about over the whole trip. I'd made several enquiries but it hadn't turned up in Lost Property at the hotel or the station. As soon as she had something to cuddle and love her mood changed dramatically from rather petulant and moany to cheerful and chirpy. It's so easy to irritably dismiss children's emotions but I now realised she'd actually been grieving quite badly over the loss of the rabbit.
The Disney Railroad from Main Street Station took us back to Fantasyland where we entered the Fantasy Festival Stage for the 1330 showing of En Scene S'il Vous Plaît. This was a hilarious show, with Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Pluto, Chip & Dale and other favourites clowning, singing and dancing in all sorts of bright costumes. We got talking to a young Spanish girl and her dad - Laura had spotted Megan's Ariel necklace and as she had one the same they hit it off immediately despite having very little language in common.
After the show Megan told me that Penny (new stuffed toy) wanted to go round the whole park on the train (Penny had expressed this desire before but had had to get off after one stop or we'd have missed the show). So we did just that, arriving back in Fantasyland just in time to secure a good spot to watch the parade again - just outside It's a Small World so we had a good close-up view of the floats as they emerged from the gates. Megan was a bit disappointed they didn't stop and invite her to dance again but I appreciated the chance to really take in the details and see a different perspective. Also once it had passed we were able to head off quickly and ride on Casey Junior and Pays du Conte des Fées without having to queue.
We had reservations for the Character Tea at Buzz Lightyear's Pizza Planet so walked to Discoveryland and sat for a while watching Space Mountain and listening to the screams as the carriages shot up the outer tube. We wandered into the viewing gallery and it was spectacular inside - a warren of tunnels through which carriages hurtled in all directions through almost pitch blackness. Of course Megan was freaked by the dark and noise so we got out quick.
Arriving early at the Pizza Planet, Megan enjoyed climbing around on the enormous toy car model at the front. Megan tucked into her cake and biscuits with gusto before the characters arrived. Chip 'n' Dale were first on the scene again and Megan cuddled and played with Dale (Chip?) and generally enjoyed hurtling around the play area. After what seemed like ages, Buzz showed up, closely followed by Woody, and the place hummed with excitement as the kids swarmed round them and parents with cameras formed an outer circle. Personally I found this a much more relaxed and fun setting than the Character Breakfast and Megan seemed to enjoy it more too.
Leaving the Pizza Planet, we realised we had just over an hour left in the park. Megan wanted to do Peter Pan's flight one last time but the queue was too long, as was that for Pinocchio. Snow White had hardly any queue, and I think Megan was on the verge of being brave enough to try it, but that old fear of the witch won the day once more. So we went slowly back through the Fantasyland for the last time. I bought a beautiful glass snowstorm musical box for my cousin's wedding present in La Boutique du Château. Megan spent her last few francs in the Emporium on some plastic character figurines and chocolate medals, leaving just enough for the large Mickey Mouse balloon she'd been planning on since Day 1.
Sadly we walked out of the park, vowing to come again before too long. Megan asked if we could have one last quick stop in Disney Village, to climb up into the globe of Planet Hollywood and have a brief glimpse around. She'd been intrigued by what was inside each time we had passed and it had always either been closed or swamped. "That was cool!" she said when we'd seen it, a phrase I've never heard her use before.
One last enquiry about the lost rabbit at the station ( no joy :-( ). Bought some sandwiches for the journey. Picked up the luggage and dragged everything through customs and immigration and onto the Eurostar and soon we were speeding away