Robin Goble and Larry Wilmot -- July 2005 -- Disneyland Paris (Offsite)
Bonjour, Mesdames et Messieurs! Bienvenue à mon Parc Disney rapport de voyage. Translation: Greetings, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to my Disneyland Paris trip report. Or, as the French like to say, “Leave at once, American swine, before I pervade disinterest in your general direction.” Just kidding. The French don’t say that. Well, they don’t say it to your face anyway and, if they do, they say it in French where you can’t understand it and they mostly just spit on the ground as they say it, instead of spitting directly on you. So, bonus.
Seriously, we love the French. The French are our friends. My mom and I went to Paris several years back and everyone we encountered was very nice to us, with the notable exception of a man on the subway who shoved my mother and a taxi driver who wouldn’t take us as a fare. (In his defense, we were in the Place de la Concorde and had just survived a spring deluge (or, as we’d say in Texas, a “gully washer!”) and we looked like a couple of drowned rats--I wouldn’t have let me in my car either.)
But enough about our international relations! This report isn’t about our foreign policy; it’s about something much more important than that—Disney, and, more specifically, my first trip to Disneyland Paris (DLP).
Now I don’t want to frighten you but you’re about to witness something that has never been seen before on the face of the earth and probably won’t be seen again in your lifetime—a Robin Goble trip report with no planning section! There, there, don’t be afraid. I know it seems to be one of the seven signs of the Apocalypse, but its really not as unthinkable as it sounds, and its not to say I won’t babble on incessantly before I actually get to the meat of the report anyway, so you’re really no better off than if I *had* written a planning section!
The reason that there’s no planning section is very simple. It’s because I haven’t done any actual planning for this trip. I can see you slapping the palm of your hand against your forehead in amazement. “Why didn’t *I* think of that,” you say, “Its brilliance is only outdone by its simplicity.” And the reason, dear reader, that there has been no planning for this trip is the fact that I have procured, as my tour guide and host, the internationally famous, Larry “planning is for wimps” Wilmot.
Seriously, my sister, Paula, and I met Larry and his lovely family in, of all the Un-Disney places, New York City this past January after striking up a friendship emailing each other over trip reports. The Wilmot's were kind enough to invite us to come visit them in Scotland and, not being one to pass on the opportunity to spend a summer in London (Yes, I *know* that London is not in Scotland—its just an expression. My geography, while not being my strongest subject in school, is not quite that shaky. Why, I’ve even been known to be able to locate Portugal on a map of the world before—hint: it’s next to Spain.), I was quick to accept their generous offer. Sadly, my Disney buddy Paula isn’t able to join me on this trip since I’m going for two weeks and she can’t get that much time off from her job, but I’m hoping to make that up to her with a Disney trip later in the year to Disneyland Resort (DLR) in California or Walt Disney World (WDW) in Florida.
Now of course Disneyland Paris isn’t the sole focus of the trip. There will be many other activities such as haggis wrestling (which will be kindly repaid with a Snipe hunting expedition should they ever decide to pay a visit to Texas), shell grip inspecting, bagpipe strangling, and other such quaint Highland customs. But, since this is supposed to be about Disney, I won’t include the details of the other portions of our trip, except when relevant or when I want to gloat about getting to spend two weeks in Europe!
On a much more serious note, the day before I was supposed to leave on my trip, I was at work when I heard about the terrorist attacks on London. Can I just take a minute to say how *furious* I am that there are people out there with such a complete disregard for human life.
I got an email from the Wilmot’s saying that we could cut out the London portion of our trip. I said that we could make that decision a bit later, once all of the facts were in. I’m supposed to fly into Gatwick airport in London on Saturday before changing planes and continuing on to Scotland. Unless the situation becomes worse than it is and they decide to shut down air travel into the area, I’m definitely going to be on that plane. I vowed after the September 11th attack on the U.S. that I would not change any plans that I had just because of the intimidation tactics of some terrorist group and now I have another chance to prove my resolve. I trust that God will take care of me. He always has.
Hey Folks its Larry Here. This report is looking great, but you know it would be a fuller trip report with a decent Planning Section, many of you may have read my TRs before, and I have always, (you check if you don't believe me) said. "Planning is the key to a good Disney Vacation." I've also told the world that I'm retiring as a Trip Report writer and that is true. But Robin, has kindly sent me an advance copy of her Trip Report, so I thought, hey, I may be retired but I'm not dead yet, so I thought that I might put a couple of comments into her Trip Report. You know just for old time’s sake, and I suppose just a weeny bit of vanity creeps in, and you kinda want your old chums, the good readers of mouseplanet and Radp and Disboards just to know that you are still alive. And I don't want Stringy Kevin to get all the limelight as chief British funnyman either. So If Robin doesn't mind, and if you good readers don't mind, I might just pop the odd comment in here. Anyway you wouldn’t want to read a Trip Report with No letter "U"s in it, or without any pithy British humour, now would you - no you wouldn't. There that wasn’t too bad was it? If you keep agreeing with me like that we will get on just fine.
OK back to you in Lubbock Robin.
Friday, July 8, - Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Gosh, there were too many activities to even mention. Some of the places we visited include Dunrobin Castle (Braggarts! They have castles just lying about all over the countryside there--you can’t swing a dead haggis without hitting a castle in Scotland!), Shin Falls, Cairn Gorm Mountain, Dornoch, Elgin, Forres, Findhorn, Duffus Castle, Glen Loth, and, the wildly famous Tesco’s. I tried haggis (twice!) neeps and tatties, fish and chips (with brown sauce) and mushy peas (also twice), crumpets, Yorkshire pudding, and much more, and obtained a layman’s working knowledge of the Venturi Effect.
Larry back again. Hey Robin was a great guest, she was very plucky tried everything food wise, brought us the hottest day's of the year over from Texas with her, and was generally a good egg. PS Have I told you about Shell Grip, its this evil road surface that they have put on all our junctions, and its like an abrasive tarmac, and it is designed to give you great grip when you break, but the problem is tyre wear................. OK I'll Shut up, sorry, back to you RG.
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
“If I keep touching my pants, you’ll know that I’m not playing with myself.”
This was the first official Disney-ish day of the trip. We were to fly to Luton airport right outside of London and spend part of the night there. I say part of the night because our plane for Paris left at 6:00 the next morning, so we had to leave for the airport at 4:45am and thus be up at 3:30 or 4:00 in the morning. (Larry - I'm not mean or anything, but that was the most expensive flipping hotel on the trip, and I was in it for about two flipping hours, Christmas Pah Humbug!!!)
The morning started with Larry taking me on his motorcycle to his office so I could meet some of the people that he works with while Jill took Pippin to the kennel where he would be staying while we were gone. This wasn’t my first trip on the bike. Larry had taken me for a ride the night before as well. I think he enjoyed dressing me up in heavily padded bike gear until I looked like a giant tick so much that he wanted to do it again, only this time he wanted to publicly humiliate me in front of people that he knew.
Larry - She was even dashing enough to go on my motorbike with me, looked very cool in her Biker Chick outfit, Oh Biker Chic, - sorry RG
So, after bundling up in borrowed bike gear from Greg (Yes, I could brag that I can wear the pants of a 17 year old, however, since I think that’s illegal in at least 15 countries, I’ll keep quiet about that for now.) we set off for Larry’s office where I met many nice, though slightly alarmed, people who, luckily, are used to seeing Larry in leather biking gear but looked a bit dubious to meet the Hell’s Angel from Texas. We got home around 11:00 and, while Larry started cooking lunch, I walked down to the grocery store to pick up some more eggs.
The plan for lunch was to eat anything that could spoil while we were gone for a week so Larry got to be very creative in the menu planning. After all the dust from the flour had settled, we had a lovely lunch consisting of Larry’s famous “strangled eggs,” with cheese and black pepper, bacon, croissants and English muffins, and his top secret hash browns with ham and his secret ingredient. I’ve been sworn to secrecy about the mystery ingredient and so, while I could tell you what it is, I’d then have to kill you.
(I have less scruples, and I am prepared to auction the information on eBay if there is a demand. - Larry.)
After lunch, everyone pitched in and helped clean up. We managed to fit all the luggage into the trunk (she means boot). of the car (Larry says he’ll invite me back if I mention that it’s a Jaguar--British racing green, thank you very much) and set off for the airport at 12:30. We only had to make one trip back to the house to pick up the laptop and the battery charger.
Larry parked the car at the airport and then put the keys in a carry-on bag with all of the travel documents. It felt odd not having the keys in his pocket and he kept checking both of the pockets in his trousers for them. He finally explained what he was doing after he became self conscious that he kept feeling around in his pockets with his hands. “If I keep touching my pants,” he said, “You’ll know I’m not playing with myself.”
Our flight was on time at 3:00 and we arrived in Luton at 4:25. The hotel we were staying at is adjacent to the airport so we only had a short walk to the hotel after we claimed our luggage. We checked in right at 5:00 and arranged for a cab to take us into Luton proper for some dinner at 6:00.
For this night, we had a boys’ room and a girls’ room. There were two single beds in each room so the boys gallantly agreed to let Jill and I have a room where we could each have our own bed and they took the other room where I believe Larry moved a mattress onto the floor and slept there for the night while the boys took the beds (one of which was minus one mattress!). Actually, I think they knew that we girls would be up earlier to get ready and they wanted all the extra sleep they could get for our early start the next morning.
We quickly got settled in our rooms then went back downstairs where our cab showed up promptly at 6:00. We all agreed that Chinese food sounded good, so we asked the people at the front desk to recommend a place. After a short drive into Luton, we wound up at a place called Sun Do, where Ed distinguished himself by eating his entire meal, including the ice cream for dessert, with chopsticks. Greg managed to eat his whole meal with chop sticks as well, but passed on eating the ice cream that way.
When we arrived, we were the only people in the whole restaurant. We knew it was early however, so we were undaunted. We ordered a family style meal and got to pick which appetizers and entrees we wanted. We had spring rolls, prawn toast, fried seaweed (which I had never tried before--it was very good), ribs, and flatbread for starters and, for entrees we had cashew chicken, sweet and sour chicken, beef with pineapple, beef in ginger, pork ribs, and pork with vegetables. Everything was delicious and we all ate ourselves silly. (You can't beat a nice bowl of monosodium glutamate - L)
About halfway through the meal another group of people finally arrived. They, as the second group of people in the entire place, actually had a reservation for their table. Greg remarked that he bet they were hot about paying a booking fee for their reservation!
On a sad note one of the reasons why the restaurant might have been empty, was because the day before Luton Railway Station which was next door had been closed off, whilst the police removed some explosives left there by the four London Bombers, This is the second time I have had a Disney trip right after a terrorist outrage I went to WDW a few days after 9/11. My personal view is the way to deal with them it to show them that we are not cowed by them, and we will continue our lifestyles and won't be daunted by that prospect. - Larry.
After dinner, we all felt the need to walk around a bit to let our food settle. We found a shopping center to look through but all the stores were closing up as it was almost 8:00. We walked a little further and found the Galaxy Center where War of the Worlds was showing at 8:15. We decided that sleep was definitely for wimps and got tickets for the movie. (Great Film by the way. I'll see it again as soon as they put the ending in. - LWW)
Afterwards, we called another cab and were back at the hotel by 11:00. We decided that this was the worst hotel value ever for the amount of time we were actually going to spend in bed.
In the girls’ room, Jill got ready for bed and we both set out the clothes we’d need for the next morning. I needed to unwind a bit after the movie so I went down to the lobby, got a diet coke at the bar, and started my trip report notes. I sent a few emails and then went back to the room and was in bed by 12:30
Thursday, July 14, 2005
“Why did Lancelot deserve his own carrousel?”
I started waking up around 3:00, worrying that the alarm clock wouldn’t go off. I finally got up around 3:20 and got a shower. Jill got up when I came out of the bathroom. She called down to the boys’ room around 4:00 to make sure they were up and getting ready, which they were. We were ready to go by 4:30 and we went down to the boys’ room and met them.
We went down to the lobby for some coffee and juice. They didn’t have the complimentary breakfast out yet. We had asked about it the night before and the man at the front desk told us that they’d have drinks out early, but the breakfast didn’t start until 6:00. Poor Larry, it just about killed him to not get his money’s worth on the free breakfast. He’d have you believe that he’s a bit tight with money (cheap and proud, I believe were his exact words), but I really didn’t see any signs of that while I was there. I mean, I didn’t really mind sharing the kids’ meals with Ed all the time and I certainly didn’t think anything of letting him sit in my lap on all of the flights and pretending that I was a ventriloquist and his was my puppet. I did think it was odd however when, after our flight landed safely, I heard him mumbling, “Well, there goes five bucks (she means pounds) down the drain for that flight insurance.”
Hey there Girl, I am not mean, I am thrifty. - Larry.
We made the quick walk to the airport at 4:45 and checked in for our flight at 5:00. We flew Easy Jet for all the flights that we took while I was there. It’s certainly a no-frills airline, but I’m used to that with Southwest Airlines here in America. The planes were real jets--not some cheap turbo-props, the flights were all on time, and the flight attendants were all very nice and helpful. All-in-all the experience was very good and apparently the prices can’t be beat if you make your reservations early enough. I do feel sorry for the flight attendants, however, because their uniforms are very ORANGE. ORANGE and gray, to be exact, and not particularly stylish. Bright, yes, but haute couture? Not so much.
We looked through a few gift shops at the airport and picked up some cokes and candy for the plane ride. (She means sweets) (I, for one, was glad to see that our English brothers are doing their part to further healthy breakfasts just like us Americans) Around 5:30, we boarded a bus that took us out on the tarmac to our airplane, which got us to France right on time at 7:00am.
We had to separate to go through customs, moi having to go to the Non-European Community line where I had to convince several concerned Frenchmen that, yes, I did indeed believe that Jerry Lewis was the funniest comedian since Soupy Sails and, no, I didn’t think that the *entire* world thought that the French were chicken and, yes, even I thought “freedom fries” was a bit silly.
Having performed that momentous task, I then met up with everyone else at the luggage claims area. Our luggage was there already, so we gathered it up and proceeded to find the bus to Disneyland Paris. We looked at the bus schedule and found that busses to DLP run approximately every 20 minutes during peak times and at least every hour the rest of the day and cost 14 euros per person. We asked a man working at the taxi stand how much a cab to DLP would cost and he said around 70 euros. Since there were 5 of us, we decided to just take a cab as it would be faster and about the same price as the bus.
The ride to Disneyland Resort took about 20-30 minutes. There weren’t the telltale purple signs like they have at WDW, but there *were* signs and it was still easy to get just as excited as we drew closer to the resort. On the way in, we could see the new tethered balloon that they have at Disney Village (the equivalent of Downtown Disney at WDW). (The driver didn't know the way to the Holiday Inn at DLP, fortunately I did, having driven there last year, so that helped, and kept the fee down, Remember the Thrifty Bit. - L)
Mr. Wilmot had kindly booked us into the Holiday Inn at Disneyland Resort. (Only because the Kandy Kane Motel was full, and there was a conference at Bates Motel - L:) This is like the Downtown Disney hotels at WDW--on-site hotels that aren’t run by Disney but that are just as conveniently located and that share many of the same perks as the Disney hotels. (The main one being that you get a Pink Bendy Bus, direct to the parks, and you can pretend to surf on the turntable in the middle of the bus.......... Whoo hooo. - L.)
The hotel itself was very nice. It has a subtle circus theme--not too in-your-face. The lobby was very big with lots of seating available. There was only a small line of people checking in so it didn’t take long to get our accommodations all squared away. They said our rooms would be ready by 3:00 so we got what things we needed out of our luggage, put on some sun block, and stored our bags with bell services so we could get right to the more important matters--Breakfast!
Ha. And you thought I was going to say “Disney,” didn’t you? Well, actually, I *was* going to say “Disney,” but Greg, being an active 17 year old male, said that breakfast was the first cause of the day, the snacks that we bought at the airport in Luton having long since been digested. Luckily, breakfast and Disney are very easy to combine.
A bus was pulling in right as we got our bags stored, so we hopped on and were dropped off at bus stop right outside of Disney Village. Also located there is the Marne-la-Vallee railway station that makes it very convenient to take day trips into Paris and the surrounding area. From the bus area, it’s about a one to two minute walk to Disney Village, Disneyland Park, and Walt Disney Studios, so everything is very close. (It might be a one to two minute walk for a young Texan woman but for an old fat Yorkshire man it's more like ten minutes.-LWW)
Disneyland Park was where we were headed so we struck out in that direction. The Disneyland Hotel (the Paris equivalent of the Grand Floridian) is incorporated into the entrance to Disneyland (or, more accurately, the entrance to Disneyland goes right through the middle of the Disneyland Hotel) and many of the rooms overlook Main Street. The hotel was lovely and, if you wanted to drop that kind of money, would be super-convenient to the parks.
Since the Wilmot’s already had annual passes (AP’s) for DLP, the plan was for Jill, Ed and Greg to go to the bakery on Main Street to get Greg (and the rest of the group as well) some sustenance while Larry went with me to get my park pass and then for us to meet up at the bakery when we were finished.
There was a good bit of a line for park passes and, while we waited, we were vastly amused by a child of the family in front of us in line. He was a boy, probably around eleven or twelve years old and I have never been so blatantly stared at as we were by this child. After reassuring ourselves that all clothing was fastened, hair was combed, nothing was stuck in our teeth, encrusted on our faces, or poking out where it shouldn’t be, we finally just had to laugh at this unblinking youth who couldn’t take his eyes off of us. Seriously, he could stare for France. (Yes I had the same feeling too, it was very strange, maybe the little boy recognised me, and was plucking up courage to ask if I could get Mary from the Comedy Warehouse’s autograph for him. - Larry.)
Once we got close enough to see the ticket prices we found out that a three-day park hopper was 101 euros, while an annual pass was only 117. We had five days that we were going to be able to visit the parks, so it made much more sense to go for the annual pass. Plus, as Larry said, there’s just something comforting about having an annual pass to a Disney park. Not wanting to brag, but I am actually in possession of *two* annual passes right now--one to Disneyland Paris and one to Disneyland Resort in California. Top that, if you can, Sue Holland!
Having Larry with me really paid off because, once it was our turn, we found out that he could get an annual passholder discount on *my* annual pass, making the final cost only 107 euros! Also, he was eligible to get an extra month added onto his annual pass for helping me purchase mine. So, bonus!
- However, I didn’t actually take up that option because I have stood in the Annual Passholder Office Line From Hell, before, and it actually works out that it takes more than a month to get to the front of the line, so you end up with less time than you started. - LWW
Unlike WDW, but similar to Disneyland Resort, in Paris you have to get your picture made for your annual pass. When you purchase the pass, you get a temporary card which will get you through the turnstiles. Then, during that day, you have to go to the annual passholder center and have your picture made and get your permanent card. There was time for that later, however. For now, it was time to get ourselves inside a Disney park and on a ride.
Okay, finally! Park passes in hand; we went through the turnstiles and were finally on Main Street. It was a bit of an odd feeling being on such a familiar street with the same feel as Main Street in WDW or Disneyland Resort, but knowing that you were in a foreign country, thousands of miles away from America. Except for hearing French phrases every now and then, I could have been on either of the Main Streets in the U.S. (Not least because of the heat that we were experiencing which was very Floridian for the whole visit - L.)
It was about 10:30 by now, so we hurried to the bakery to meet up with the others. Larry and I quickly shared a muffin and some puffy, pastry thingies (no, that’s not their technical name, but it escapes me right now) for breakfast along with a coffee for him and a Cola Light (aka Diet Coke--those French just have to be different) for me.
Oh, by the way, some of you readers, if you’ve noticed the date, may have realized a slight error in planning on our part. We had congratulated ourselves earlier, when we looked at the park hours for today, that the park was staying open until after 11:00--and on a non-weekend day, at that. What we hadn’t realized was that park was staying open so late to handle the crowds expected because July 14th just happens to be Bastille Day in France! Oops! Could we have picked a more crowded day than the French equivalent of the 4th of July?
(Hey Robin are you sure, that the 4th of July isn't the US equivalent of the 14th July????? - I'm, sure some bright spark reader, will tell us which came first, - No, I Know that July 4th is before the 14th, I meant which revolution was first.)
But, hey, we’re all Disney veterans here--surely we can handle the crowds and make sensible use of Fast Pass and still enjoy our day. No sweat. Also, an added bonus was that they were having a special Bastille Day fireworks show this evening.
After our quick breakfast, we decided to go ahead and get my annual pass processed, since we were close to the annual pass center, right inside of Discoveryland (the equivalent of Tomorrowland). Luckily, we had good timing and there was no wait at the AP center and I had my annual pass in about 10 minutes. (Some people have all the luck if you ask me.)
Larry said it was a tradition to let their guests pick what will be the first ride of the trip so I chose Big Thunder Mountain. With the park being crowded for Bastille Day, and the fact that it was already 10:45, we knew the stand-by line would be long so we decided to get Fast Passes for Big Thunder and then go and ride Pirates of the Caribbean (PoTC) while we waited for our Fast Pass time.
Now those of you who are regular readers of Larry Wilmot’s trip reports will know that he has a reputation as somewhat of a Fast Pass Scam artist (a gift that he’s passed on to his boys as well). Well, “scam” is really too harsh a word. Perhaps we should say that Larry is somewhat of an expert in finding non-traditional ways to liberate extra Fast Passes for his utilization. Doesn’t that sound much better than “scam?” In fact, he’s so well known for this ability, that he’s even been contacted by Disney a couple of times to discuss his findings. So, in my opinion, no trip would be complete without being able to scam a few Fast Passes ala Wilmot.
Unfortunately, though Ed demonstrated the workings of the most current way to acquire extra Fast Passes, we weren’t able to procure any for Big Thunder Mountain and so had to get some the old fashioned way. Our return time was for 11:50, so we set off to Adventureland to ride PoTC while we waited.
The outside of Pirates is very elaborate and well-done, complete with a Spanish Galleon, Skull Rock and the outside of the ride itself done up like a huge Spanish fort. The ride was pretty much a walk on and we hurried through the queue which was very similar to the one in Florida.
The ride was better than the Florida version and every bit as good as the one in California. The only distraction that would cause me to still rate the California ride a smidgeon higher than this version (aside from the nostalgia factor which boosts the California ride as well since it was the original ride and I grew up going on that one) is that the language switches back and forth between French and English and that was a little distracting. Whereas “We wants the Redhead!” was belted out in English, it was hard to tell what “Avast Ya Bloomin’ Cock-a-roaches!” was in French. (Vou est le Pamplemousse? - L)
The ride has two drops like its California counterpart and it also has a restaurant inside the ride as well. In this instance, it was the Blue Lagoon Restaurant instead of the Blue Bayou. The Blue Lagoon has a much more Caribbean feel to it instead of the Louisiana Bayou theme of the Blue Bayou, complete with palm trees and sand. In the French version, the jail scene is at the first of the ride and the battle scene between the ships and the fort is later on. The French version also has a very well done skull feature as you go down the second drop. Also, since it’s a bit newer than the Disneyland version, it seems a little fresher.
After we finished Pirates, we headed over to Phantom Manor (the Haunted Mansion). We cut through Fantasyland on our way from Adventureland to Frontierland and I got my first up-close look at Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.
Okay, so it’s France and they have lots of castles here, so Disney had to make this one a bit fancier that the ones at WDW or DLR. The castle is very lovely--all pink and blue with lots of turrets and towers and gold trim gilding all the spires. (Actually I'm not that sure that it doesn’t look that different to the castle at WDW the time that they made it into a cake - L) One of the neatest things about the castle however, is the dragon that lurks in the basement! La Taniere du Dragon is in the basement of the castle. He’s an animatronic dragon that moves and blows smoke and roars very realistically.
Phantom Manor is in Frontierland and it has a decidedly western theme to its story. The facade of the building, while run-down and spooky looking, wasn’t as pretty (in a scary and haunted way) as the mansions in either WDW or DLR. The ride itself was very good. They have different pictures in the stretch room and they put a lot more emphasis on the bride in this version--you see her very prominently displayed throughout the ride. I thought this version was a little scarier than the other two. They have a growling hell beast in the graveyard (okay, he’s a dog, but he’s not the little skinny, whimpering dog like the one at DLR) with glowing red eyes and they have lots of skeletons everywhere including one of the dead groom. I think it would be too intense for very young children.
Jill and the boys took the first doom buggy and Larry and I climbed into the second one. One of the Cast Members (CM’s) scared the snot out of me by jumping out at us from behind our doom buggy right as the safety bar was lowered down onto our laps.
At the end of the ride, everyone gets the same ghost in their doom buggy with them.
It was a very good attraction but I don’t think I’d rate it as high as either one of the other versions. I didn’t think the ballroom was as nicely done and I wasn’t a big fan of the whole western theme of the ride. Also, I didn’t like the stretch room as well as the other versions.
After Phantom Manor, it was time for our Fast Passes for Big Thunder so we headed there next. The “roughest ride in the wilderness” is much better here than in America, though none of us could exactly put on finger on why. (Oh I have a theory however, its the fact that it is on an island, and to get to the island you have to go through two dark tunnels at the start and end of the ride, and it just adds a lot more roller coaster feel to it, and makes it a bit more exciting. - L)
By now it was 1:30 and we were all getting ready for some lunch. We decided on hot dogs at Casey’s so Larry, Greg and Jill went there to order while Ed and I ran to Discoveryland to pick up Fast Passes for everyone for Space Mountain. We tried the Fast Pass scam technique but it didn’t work so, no joy. Our return time was 3:40. (Oh gosh I'm starting to look like the EX- Fast pass scam king now. I won't dare let my contacts in high places in Disney read this TR!!! They will have so much joy that they finally beat me!!! - L)
When we got back over to Casey’s on Main Street there was quite a lunch crowd. Larry and Jill were still in line to order and Greg had gone in search of a table for us. Ed and I found Greg at a table in the arcade behind the restaurant.
The arcades are something that DLP has that neither WDW nor DLR have. These are two big “hallways” that run along either side of Main Street behind all of the shops and restaurants. They are enclosed and they have tables and chairs along the walls so they’re good for finding an out of the way place to eat or rest or get out of the elements. They also come in handy when exiting the park as a way to avoid some of the crowds or to by pass the parade.
Ed and I waited with Greg and lunch soon arrived. We got the Pluto meals all around which consisted of a giant hot dog, fries, a drink, and profiteroles for dessert. (The ball things we had for breakfast were kinda like savory profiteroles, I was going to write that in the breakfast section of the report, but I couldn’t spell profiteroles until I saw how Robin spelt the word - L) Ed’s kids’ meal came with a miniature radio complete with batteries and headphones. It actually worked and was a pretty neat freebie.
After lunch, we decided to try and find another low crowd/fast loading ride while we waited for our Space Mountain Fast Passes, so we picked, much to Greg and Ed’s dismay, It’s A Small World (IASW)! We cut through Sleeping Beauty Castle again, only this time going upstairs to see Le Galerie de la Belle au Bois Dormant which is a beautiful display of the story of Sleeping Beauty on tapestries and stained glass windows. As you exit the display to the back of the castle, you come out on a nice balcony that overlooks Fantasyland.
As we headed towards It’s a Small World, we passed by Le Carrousel de Lancelot (Like I couldn’t have made that up--Le Carrousel de Lancelot! I suppose they also have Le Spinning Ride de Elephant, Le Nausea de Tea Cups and Le Ridiculously Long Line in the Blistering Heat de Tiny Cars as well!). Anyway, as we passed by the carrousel, knowing that it was King Arthur’s carrousel in DLR, I remarked that I wondered what Lancelot had done to deserve his own carrousel. Larry was quick to reply that it must have been all of his work in the field of dermatology.
The exterior of IASW is very reminiscent of the one at DLR--not quite as good, but better than WDW. At It’s a Small World, Larry, Greg and Jill got in one queue while Ed and I got in another one in order to see who got to the boats first (sadly, they got on four boats before Ed and I did). I must say that I was shocked and appalled at the number of grannies that Larry pushed down and walked over in order to get to the front of the line. (One Nil, One Nil, One Nil, One Nil - L.)
As we went through the ride, I thought I had spotted a trend--having an animal from a Disney movie in each country. There was a Slinky Dog (Toy Story) in Germany, a Pegasus (Hercules) in Greece, a Dragon (Mulan) in China. However, the theory petered out at the end.
After IASW, it still wasn’t quite time for our Space Mountain Fast Passes so we decided to go to Honey I Shrunk the Audience (Chere, Moi Shrunken ze Viewers). The dialogue is in French, but they provide headphones with it in English. I think we all nodded off a bit during the film (it had been a *very* early morning!)
After our small nap-ette, it was time for Space Mountain. You get to sit side-by-side (two per row) on the ride like the one at DLR instead of single file like the Space Mountain at WDW. I’ve always preferred getting to sit with someone. Unlike the other two incarnations, this one has a harness restraint system because you get to go upside down on the ride--three times (woohoo!). It also has a catapult launch (like Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster). Needless to say, I preferred this Space Mountain over either one of the American ones.
(Frequent DLP visitors might like to note that this has now changed, and has a new theme, gone is the Jules Verne to the Moon and Back theme, and its a more neon zappy spacey thing, it's very good however, sadly the re-hab hasn't made the ride anymore smooth, and it remains a Coaster that I am weary off as I have pulled neck parts before now, So I always do some neck exercises to loosen things up before I ride this, and consequently I prefer Space Mountain at WDW, which I really like. (Though I miss Crazy Larry and the Blue PVC Lady - like Crazy - Larry.))
After our journey to the moon and back, we decided it was time to go get our hotel rooms (it was 4:20) and rest a little. We headed out of the park, ducking through the arcade along the east side of Main Street in order to avoid the 3:00 parade (which started at 4:00) (- You think that's bad, it started at seven a couple of days later-L.). We got to the front of Main Street in time to have to wait for the last 3 floats to go by before we could exit the park. (Though one of the last floats is Mary Poppins. and I always like to see Our Mary -I do. Cor Blimey, Bangers and Mash, Chim Chimmineeeee - L.)
We caught the bus and were back at our hotel by 5:00 where we got our room numbers (our rooms were on the third floor, right next door to each other), picked up our luggage from bell services, and went to get settled in. We agreed to meet back up at 7:00 to go to dinner.
The rooms were very nice with lots of space. I unpacked my things, put on my swimming suit and went down to the pool around 5:45. I took a quick dip then went back to my room, showered, updated my trip report notes, and was dressed and ready to go by 7:00.
Ed had noticed that their room number was 2012 which just happens to be the year that the Olympics will be held in London. Larry took this as very good omen. I can tell you that he was a perfect gentleman and that he wasn’t the least bit smug about London winning the Olympic bid over Paris. Well, I *could* tell you that if I wasn’t averse to lying.
(Hey, I am a very non smug person, but you have to look at it this way...... We Won the Olympics, the French didn’t. Jacque Chirac is a big time sore looser, and lets face it London is the Hip Place to Be. I am going to volunteer at the Olympics, I can't wait. I've booked my leave already. Please feel free to come and Join Me. 2012 London - it's the place to be. - L. )
We caught the bus to Disney Village and took a look at the menus of a few of the restaurants and decided on King Ludwig’s. The decor of the restaurant reminded me of the Biergarten at Epcot, while the food was more along the lines of Le Cellier (kind of a steak and potato place). Larry and Greg both got the steak and baked potato with horseradish sauce. Jill and I both had the roasted chicken and French fries (I gave my fries to Greg while Larry and Jill swapped his baked potato for her fries - (there is no way I'm eating Horse Radish Anything.). Ed had chicken bits and fries. I think I also got a salad with my dinner as well. (You did. Rabbit food if you ask me? Not asking me? No I don't blame you.)
For dessert, Greg got an ice cream sundae, Jill and Larry both got the apple strudel, Ed had a waffle with ice cream, and I got orange crème brulee with the stipulation that everyone try it so I didn’t have to eat it all myself, so, we all basically shared. Larry declared that my crème brulee was one of the nicest desserts that he had ever had and he said that he liked the dessert-sharing idea. (Oh Gosh, I can't enthuse enough about that Crème Brulee, I've been to King Lud-Vigg's twice now and it's nothing to get over excited about, but that Crème brulee was really great, honestly, one of the nicest things I've ever eaten, I loved it.- L.)
While we were at dinner, we debated which day we should take to go into Paris proper. We decided that, since the parks stayed open late on Saturday, we should go to Paris that day and we’d still have time to see the parade and fireworks that evening at Disneyland. No sense in having annual passes and not using them every day we possibly can.
It was at this meal when Larry and I first began fighting over who got to pay the check. I, being a good guest, believed that I should buy dinner for my hosts. While Larry, being a good host, believed that he should buy dinner for his guest. The rest of the group got much amusement out of both of us trying to be the fastest with our credit cards. The poor servers were often taken aback by us forcing our money on them before they even got the check set down on the table. Not that either one of us are competitive or anything.
This meal was particularly memorable because Larry bested me in getting his credit card to the waiter first but the portable credit card machine wouldn’t process his card and so I got to whip mine out and say, in my most condescending tone, “Well you’d better use *this* one then.” Of course, the machine wouldn’t take mine either and so the waiter said he would go get another one and be right back. The prompted much jockeying for prime credit card position between Larry and myself. I think we may have even arm-wrestled at one point.
Ultimately however, Larry won out (sure, smug man--you beat a girl!). He said that was the greatest pleasure he’d ever had while spending money and that the victory was worth any price. I quickly proclaimed him the King of Gloating and Smugness--though he denies that he was ever Smug about it. I think it had something to do with the victory dance that he did and how he got the whole restaurant chanting “We’re number one!” with him. (Two Nil, Two Nil, Two Nil, Two Nil.- L)
After dinner, we walked over to Disneyland (it was about 10:00) in order to stake out a place for the 11:15 fireworks. Main Street was getting pretty packed, but we found a good place against a fence by the walkway to Adventureland. Larry and Jill agreed to hold our places while Ed, Greg and I went into Adventureland to look around a bit. Oddly enough, we found ourselves heading towards Indian Jones and the Temple of Peril which, surprisingly, was a walk on.
Greg warned me to hold my head very still on the ride and it only took one sharp corner and me bloodying my ears as they smacked into the harness for me to heed that advice. The ride is good, but it’s very jerky and your head does tend to bump against the harness a lot (which hurts!). We went back to meet up with Larry and Jill and found that we had made it just in time. A CM was making everyone move down towards Main Street and they were roping off a big area next to Adventureland. We ducked under the rope and met up with them on the other side.
The Cast Members were having a hard time getting the crowd to cooperate, but the finally succeeded in clearing a large area and getting it all cordoned off. It looked like it was going to be some kind of VIP viewing area for the fireworks.
We were speculating on who had enough pull to get special Bastille Day viewing of the fireworks and were waiting to see who was going to show up to use the VIP area when it hit me--wasn’t this Bastille Day? Wasn’t that the day that the commoners of France stormed the Bastille in protest of the privileges of the elite? Weren’t we celebrating the liberation and equality of the common man? And here we were, the little people, being pushed back from our good viewing spot to make room for a VIP area? A VIP AREA? A bourgeois elitist scum area, more like! The nerve of these Marie Antoinette types with their let-them-eat-cake attitude and their off-with-their-heads mentality trying to keep us in servitude! Well they won’t get away with! We will rage against the machine! We will not go quietly into the night! At-ti-ca! At-ti-ca! Soylent Green is people!
I think they actually had to slap me to bring me back down to earth. As it turns out, the viewing area was set aside for Cast Members, so good for Disney.
The fireworks started promptly at 11:15. They were set to patriotic French music and were very nice, though rather short in our opinion, as they only lasted for 7 minutes. After they were over, Main Street was a sea of people (most of whom were just standing around, so you had to really struggle to make your way out of the park). We finally crossed over a fence and walked out a good bit of the way on the grass. We ducked through the Arcade and made it to the bus stop by 11:30.
After dark, the esplanade between the Disney Village, the parks, and the train station comes alive with street vendors selling all kinds of glow-in-the-dark Eiffel tower statues, laser pens, mechanical dogs and cats, and all sorts of other junk. Ed saw the laser pens and immediately launched an all-out campaign to get someone to buy one for him but, sadly, with no luck this evening.
There was a huge line for the bus and they only seemed to be running two busses between the non-Disney hotels. Everyone was tired and we had to wait a very long time. It was frustrating watching the Disney busses pull up every few minutes to take guests back to the Disney hotels. We debated trying to walk back to the hotel, but we weren’t sure how long of a walk it would be or if we could find our way in the dark.
Larry began to doubt his ability as a tour guide and apologized that we were having to wait so long. I quickly assured his that bus schedules were not his fault and that he was doing a wonderful job. It had been a lovely day. It was a beautiful night, everyone was still in a good mood and we still had an abundance of pixie dust to see us through. About that time, one of the Disney busses pulled up to take us back to our hotel. Disney to the rescue.
We made it back to the hotel by 12:30. I got a coke, updated my trip report notes, and made it to bed by 1:45.
Friday, July 15, 2005
Today we woke with a singleness of mind that only the most noble of pursuits can supply. A joining of forces. A combining of resources. Two nations coming together to forge bonds and accomplish great things. Yes, that’s right. We were going to experience all the attractions in Walt Disney Studios in ONE DAY.
Some of you might remember that, a few years back, Larry proved (In a very scientific and thoroughly controlled double-blind method using statistical sampling, placebos, test subjects, focus groups, exit interviews, mayonnaise, and rope--or perhaps he just used himself and a ten-dollar Timex watch! - (It was a Ten Dollar Wal Mart Watch, which all the black paint peeled off, rather quickly - L) that the Studios was only two-thirds of a park by visiting every attraction in less than one day. We planned to duplicate that study today (for no particular reason other than the fact that it was now a matter of pride).
We met up at 8:30, took the bus to Disney Village, walked the short distance to the Studios entrance, and were soon on the French equivalent of Hollywood Boulevard, which happens to be conveniently located indoors. I suppose having the main entrance, restaurants and shops indoors comes in handy in case of bad weather. (That is true, but there is very little glamour or excitement, compared with the MGM street, to me it looks like some neon and cardboard cut outs in an aircraft hanger, give me MGM Studio's every time - even if it is raining. - L)
The choice for first ride of the day was unanimously Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster (RnRC) and so we headed there first. We were denied however as they were experiencing “technical difficulties.” (Yes I have a theory that there were not enough people in the park to bother to staff it for the first hour or so, thereby saving lots of French Francs, sorry Euros - but that looks bad, so why not say technical difficulties? - I could be wrong there and if DLP decide to sue, then just remember this is Robin's TR, I'm just commenting a bit, kinda hardly at all really. Anyway I don't agree with me, - It's Roy Disney's Fault he got us all rebellious. - L.)
Greg, the ever-hungry teenager was quick to point out that this would be a good time to get some breakfast so we went back to the entrance and queued up at the Restaurant en Coulisse (which somehow must translate as “McDonalds” because that’s what the restaurant is). They had a special which consisted of orange juice, hot chocolate or coffee, a croissant (hey, it is France), and a pan du chocolate (No. We didn’t have an actual PAN of chocolate. It’s French for “bread.” I know, I know. It’s like those French have a different word for everything!). There’s nothing like some pastry-intensive dining to get you going for the rest of the day.
Since we were back at the front of the park, we decided to hop on the Studio Tram Tour. Jeremy Irons is the English narrator for the Tram Tour which has much of the same elements as the one at WDW. Catastrophe Canyon was much the same but they also have a London street scene from Reign of Fire where they toast things up a bit as well.
After the Tram Tour, we made our way back to Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster, which was up and running (and a walk-on). We went through so quickly that we didn’t get to see the pre-show portion with Aerosmith. Little did I know what a blessing that was until I had to suffer through it later! We held back one limo so we could ride in the back. The ride itself is every bit as good as the one in WDW. (Though it is themed differently it’s more of the inside of the concert hall rather than the drive to the gig!! - And Robin you have to agree that compared with Florida, the outside is CHEAP with a capital Chee - L)
It was almost 10:30 by now, which was the starting time for the Moteurs...Action! stunt show. One word of warning about touring with Larry Wilmot: most of his comments begin with the statement “When I was in *this* show....” mainly because he has a knack for getting picked to be in productions. This happened to be the case as we were walking to the stunt show!
We found some seats in the stands right as they were asking for volunteers for the show. Faster than you could say “I want to be a Beet!” Larry was out of his seat and waving his arms wildly. Needless to say, he was chosen. Feigning surprise and humility that someone as quiet and shy by nature would be chosen, he made his way down to the front of the stands where he (and several other volunteers) were interviewed and had a small audition for the show (which was projected on giant video screens so everyone could see). (Gosh the shame of it, I'm sure I had a spot on my face, and on the screen it was four feet across. Yuky Do. -L)
I won’t give away all the tricks of the show but I must say that Larry did a nice job of getting shot in the leg and an even nicer job of limping. In fact, his acting skills at being shot at were so convincing, I think he may have mafia connections or something. (Now don't ever mess with Robin, because she has REAL connections- L)
Next up was the 11:30 showing of CineMagique, a tribute to 100 years of movies. Every time we went past the Production Courtyard (an area right outside the indoor “Hollywood Boulevard”), they were having the Lilo and Stitch Surfin’ Show. Actually, the French title is “Lilo and Stitch Surfent sur la Vague” which seems to mean Lilo and Stitch’s vague surfing adventure. For some reason, Minnie and Pluto join in this production which is “la tradition familiale hawaienne” where they “danser le Houla.” (I swear, I am not making that up--it’s actually in the program!)
About the fifth time we went past and heard the same songs and dialogue, Larry remarked “Oh great, its that darn Dildo and Stitch again!” I think it took him a minute to realize why I had to lay down on the pavement I was laughing so hard! (I like to think of that show as the Jigsaw Show, that's because I've seen all of it, but not in the right order and I'm pretty sure I said Oh its that Dido and Stitch again- L)
Now, where was I? Oh yes, CineMagique. Unbeknownst to me, the Wilmot’s engineered it so that I sat down beside a Cast Member who is part of the show (eventually turning into Martin Short--not a bad trick). The show itself was decent enough. (Decent enough, what kind of review is that????? It's a great show, using all kinds of cinemagique to remind you of the great heritage of Films, that we have, not only the Hollywood contribution but that of Europe as well. - L - You're not cross with me are you Robin?)
It was now time to head back to the Backlot area to see Armageddon. While we waited in line, I got some bottled water for us since it was a very warm day today. Armageddon is kind of a special effects show where you go into a room made to look like a set from the movie and then experience a scene with special effects (with actual fire very close to you, which was pretty impressive). (Oh Gosh Robin, thanks for the water, we were sweltering by then, it was like the relief of Maffakin when you brought those bottles to us. - L.)
Since we were so close to RnRC, we decided to hop on again (except for Jill who said once a trip was enough for her), this time getting in the front of the limo. We also had to suffer through the pre-show this time. Like at WDW, you go into a recording studio and, also like WDW, Aerosmith is there, but that’s where the similarities stop. Oh yes, they don’t have Illeana Douglas as the manager in this version, but some cheap Illeana Douglas look-a-like.
Steven Tyler says something about having a dream about an elevator? or doing loops? or some other drug-induced experience that makes absolutely no sense, while the rest of the band and the manager look-a-like stare at him, puzzled, blinking like cows. I think even they are confused. The fact that the film is in English makes it even worse because I couldn’t blame the language barrier for the nonsensical dialogue. The film is also (perhaps mercifully) very short--maybe 45 seconds, tops. A complete phone-in from Aerosmith. (It probably took them longer to cash the fee, than it took them to make the film. - It is very disappointing. I love the finger wagging Lisa Minnelli woman in the original, and it's quite impressive that you know her real name Robin. - L)
After RnRC, we went to the Animation Courtyard where we rode the Flying Carpets of Agrabah. This ride is like the Aladdin ride at the Magic Kingdom at WDW, but without the water-spitting camels. Greg gave this ride a miss and went to find us a spot for the Disney Cinema Parade.
After our ride, we caught up with Greg who had found a nice shady spot on some grass near the end of the parade route. Larry got some water for us and we had a nice 15 minute rest before the parade started. Greg slept sprawled out on the grass under a tree through the entire parade and Larry had a 10 minute power nap before it started. The parade itself was cute and had lots of characters in it and floats from some of the more popular Disney films (even an Incredibles one - Go Holly Hunter Go. - L ).
It was just slightly past 2:00 when the parade was over and we decided that lunch was in order. We ate at the Backlot Express where everyone had croque monsieur’s (kind of like a French grilled ham and cheese sandwich, only with the cheese part on top). Jill and Greg had fruit tarts, Ed had a cookie, and Larry and I split a cream puff for dessert. (Robin means a chocolate éclair?)
After lunch, since we were so close (I know, I know, that always seems to be my excuse), we took one more ride on Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster. (Like you do)
Next, we headed to the 3:15 show of Anamagique (the French are very big on “magique” apparently). Larry was keen to do this because he said he could “sleep through the pink elephant bits.” The show has roughly the same plot as Mickey’s Philharmagic (or, should I say “Philharmagique?”), only with live characters and puppets (think Philharmagic meets Voyage of The Little Mermaid) and, yes there are quiet a few “pink elephant” bits. The most disturbing element however (aside from the theme song which is every bit as annoying--and hard to get off your mind--as It's a Small World), was the fact that Baloo was wearing a grass skirt and a coconut-shell bra. (Hey he likes to express his feminine side.)
Also annoying was an announcement done by children’s voices at the beginning of the show. One child had a highly amusing lisp and I laughed until my stomach hurt as he said something about having to bwake your cam-a-wah. Now that’s comedy.
After his power nap before the parade, Larry didn’t sleep through the pink elephant bits, but Jill and Ed had a nice nap for the entire production. I think Anamagique just about finished Greg off because once it was over, he left us to go back to the hotel.
Next up was the Art of Disney Animation which consists of several displays, an animation demonstration, and then a film about animation. Ed thought it was highly amusing that I cried at Bambi (hey, they killed his mother!). (Hey I have six Thumpers for sale on EBay btw. - Never miss an opportunity to get sales that’s my motto.)
The final attraction of the park (and I’m sorry to say that we didn’t save the best for last) was the Television Production Tour. Three words: Wallows In Lameness! This is nothing but a series of rooms with television monitors which play clips from the Disney Channel and are narrated by the most annoyingly sugar-coated French girl known to man. At least in Superstar Limo at DLR (the previously most inane ride in any Disney park), you get to sit down for the stupid ride. Here you had to walk through and then stand in all of the rooms. We all agreed that we could never go to this attraction (and I use the term “attraction” *very* loosely here) again, and still die happy.
At the end of the Television Production Tour, in a vain attempt to console you, they dump you into a room that has several hands-on video games and Magic Easel drawing displays. They also have a CyberSpace Mountain like at Disney Quest, but the queue was tremendous. We did play around with some of the displays for a few minutes before leaving.
(I can't over emphasise how bad this attraction is, it is terrible, shocking, a travesty. Unless you are trying to beat my record for doing all the attractions in the park, then UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES DO THIS ATTRACTION. - If you want to do Cyber Space Mountain, sneak in the back, - L.)
It was now a little before 5:00 and we had finished all of the attractions at the Studios (and done RnRC three times, I might add). We walked out of the park to Disney Village where we picked up some post cards (and a phone card for me so I could call home (RG Phone Home, isn't that a Universal Film?). We checked on train times in order to go into Paris the next morning (they run pretty much every 15 or 20 minutes all day long) and then decided to meet up for dinner around 7:30.
The Wilmot’s went back to the hotel while I went to Disneyland in order to do some shopping. The parade had just ended and the shops were all fairly busy so I wound up going in to Fantasyland and having a look around there--just walking around and soaking up the atmosphere. The style of Fantasyland in Paris is more like the Fantasyland in California than the one in Florida.
After a while I took the bus back to the hotel, got a coke and freshened up a bit. I tried calling home, but couldn’t figure out how to make the phone card work.
We all met up at 7:30 and took the bus to Disney Village. Here is where they have Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, several bars and nightspots, restaurants including McDonald’s, Planet Hollywood, and the Rainforest Cafe, a movie theater and, of course, shopping.
They also have a bucking bronco machine, and I was terribly disappointed that Robin wouldn’t have a go on it. I mean she is from TEXAS after all. She probably didn't want to upset the French people by staying on for ten minutes and showing off. - L
The plan for the evening was to go and visit some of the Disney hotels and have dinner at one of their restaurants. We walked through Disney Village to Lake Disney and the Marina. At the marina, they have a tethered hot air balloon (Panoramagique, to be precise--I told you they were big on Magique here) that you can go up in, which looked quite fun. We checked out the price and found it a bargain at 12 euros per person, so we decided that we’d come back after dinner (and after it got dark) and give it a try. (Don't let them know we think it is a bargain, they will put the price up, I mean if someone as mean (sorry thrifty) as me doesn’t mind paying that much it must be under priced. - L)
Situated around Lake Disney are the Hotel New York, the Sequoia Lodge (like the Wilderness Lodge) and the Newport Bay Club (like the Beach/Yacht Club). The Hotel Sante Fe and the Cheyenne are a short distance farther.
We came to the Hotel New York first, where the buildings are designed to look like the Manhattan skyline. They have a “Rockefeller Center” behind the resort that has an ice skating rink in the winter time.(Done the real thing in NYC. I was terrified, though Robin was like Torville or Dean or someone. - L) For now, it was housing a bike run. (No ordinary bike run, but bikes with different sized wheels with concentric hubs so the wobble. - Hey it's fun not exercise we are after - L.) We checked out the menu at their restaurant before moving on to the Sequoia Lodge.
They had two restaurants at the Sequoia and we perused their menus as well and then continued walking along the lake to the Newport Bay Club. The Newport Bay also had two restaurants (the Yacht Club and the Cape Cod), both of which were closed for refurbishment.
We decided to eat at the Hunter Grill at the Sequoia Lodge. They had no tables available in the non-smoking section, but could get us in the smoking section right away. Luckily, no one was smoking in that section, and so, as we were all getting pretty hungry by now, we decided to sit there.
We all got the special which started with a frisson salad with lardon and a soft boiled egg (lovely sounding, isn’t it?). It turns out that lardon is pretty much ham (though even I know with my limited French, that “jambon” is ham as well). The salad was very good and we all enjoyed the lardon, regardless of what it was (and who can resist a frisson?). (Frisson is OK in small doses if you ask me -L)
The main course consisted of grilled pork, sausage, chicken, and steak which was served with corn, French fries, and grilled pineapple. For dessert we all tried the brownie sundae with vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce, and whipped cream, except for Ed who got to go to the kid’s dessert bar. The dinner was very good and we were quite stuffed when we were through.
Okay, in order to remain an unbiased journalist and to keep my reputation for unwaveringly reporting all the newsworthy events (don’t laugh--we trip report writers have a code of ethics too, its just kind of a wobbly one!), I suppose I’m going to have to mention the fact that it was at dinner this particular evening that I stabbed Larry. Yes, I admit it, I stabbed him. I can hear you asking now, “But Robin, how on earth did you exercise such control and make it this long *without* stabbing him? Amazing, isn’t it?
And no, it wasn’t over who got to pick up the check for dinner this evening although I did get to pay. I think it was because Larry was bleeding too severely to get his money out.
What happened was this. While we were waiting for dinner, we amused ourselves by playing with the cutlery (like you do!). We had all seen a variation on the same knife trick (for those of you who’ve seen Aliens, its the knife trick that the android Bishop does to Bill Paxton) where you place your hand, palm down on a table and stab a knife blade, as quickly as possible back and forth between your fingers. (Hey it is a Disney Trip after all, you need some gratuitous violence just to make it fun -L.) I don’t wish to get the child welfare board involved in this incident but I feel that I must point out that they let me do this trick on Ed first before any of the adults volunteered to let me try it with them.
Ed was wise beyond his years and put his hand down on the table first and then I put mine over it and thus was, in effect, sheltering his hand with my own as I rapidly stabbed between our fingers. Larry, on the other hand, wanted to try it next, but put his hand on top of mine--something I warned him about, by the way. Sure enough, next thing you know, Larry let out a yelp and yanked his nearly-severed hand away. Okay, it only made a small blood blister but I was appalled at the fact that I had stabbed my host and the number one trip report writer in the nation (retired-L). Larry bet me that I would neglect to include this part in my trip report so I had to confess to it in order to keep my street cred as a writer.
(Well never mind your creditability, though I must say how much I'm enjoying your Trip Report by the way, and I'm sorry I’m ruining it for you, with my comments, though I guess they will all get edited out by the time the world gets to read it. The most important thing that we should all remember is, that YOU STABBED ME!!! Can I point out that I only cried for a very short time, and didn't wet through more than four or five paper hankies with my tears. I think I was pretty brave considering that YOU MAIMED MY HAND. - L.
PS Readers will be pleased to know that after weeks of physiotherapy, I'm starting to get some feeling in my hand now, and I should be able to drive again pretty soon. )
We had kind of a knife theme going the whole meal because Larry, in an attempt to return the favor of my stabbing him in the hand, showed me how to play tunes on the flat wear using only a knife blade and the table top. Pretty impressive. I can tell I’m going to be in big demand at parties from here on out.
After we staunched the flow of blood from Larry’s hand, we walked back to the marina and queued up for the Panoramagique balloon ride. We had to wait for several trips before it was our turn but the evening was very nice and no one much minded the wait.
The trip itself was awesome. We went up quite high. In fact, you could see the Eiffel Tower, all lit up, from the balloon. All the lights of the Village and the two parks and, farther away, Paris, were beautiful from so far up. (The balloon was a bit of a highlight for me, I used to go gliding, so I miss the peace of being quietly at a thousand feet or more looking down at the sights below, so it was nice to get that feeling again. - L.)
After the balloon ride we took the bus back to our hotel (having a miniature “thumb war” tournament on the way). It was midnight by the time we got back to our rooms. We agreed to meet up at 8:45 the next day and said our good-nights. I found a phone down in the lobby that I could call home from and I was up talking to my Mom and then to my sister, Paula, until 2:30.
Saturday, June 16, 2005
“Is there a Fast Pass line?” (Said while queuing up for the Eiffel Tower.)
Seeing as how this is a Disney trip report, I won’t bore you with the details of our trip into Paris except to say that we did all sorts of French things including eating croissants in a sidewalk cafe, visiting Notre Dame, St. Chappelle, the Tullieres gardens, the Louvre (very quickly--kind of a Jiffy Louvre, though that joke was wasted on my English friends since they don’t have Jiffy Lube in the UK), the Place de la Concorde -( Now that the heathens have taken Concorde out of service in England and France, should this spot be called the Place de la Airbus 380? - L. ), walking down the Champs Elyessee, splashing around in the Trocadero fountain, having a Royale with Cheese at McDonalds (ala Pulp Fiction--one of my all-time favorite movies - Mine Too - L), walking along the Seine, and visiting the Eiffel Tower.
After our very Parisian day, we got back to our hotel at 6:15 and agreed to meet up for dinner at 8:00. Tonight was the debut night for the fireworks show Wishes, and for the new Fantillusion parade, and we wanted to see them both.
Larry decided it was time to take some bean photos. No, his brain had not baked in the Paris heat, he merely needed to photograph a well-traveled (and, quite possibly, salmonella-laden) can of S & W Premium Select black beans at various locations around the Disney resort. Gosh, that explanation doesn’t seem to be helping convince you of his sanity, does it? Let me start again.
Larry, it just so happens, is a bean ambassador. If you visit the website beansaroundtheworld.com, you’ll see the brain child of an ex-Disney cast member. He posts photos of a can of beans at various locations around the world. Those who take the pictures of the beans and send them in to him are known as bean ambassadors and enjoy all the perks and privileges that come with that title (free parking at all Taco Bell locations, diplomatic immunity--that sort of thing). Larry has taken the beans to several exotic locations and this was the bean’s second trip to Disneyland Paris, though they hadn’t been since the Studios was opened and he hadn’t taken any pictures of the beans at any of the Disney hotels.
So, Larry decided it was time to take some bean photos. See, doesn’t that statement make infinitely more sense to you now? I went with him and, not having a lot of time, we took a few pictures of the beans at the Hotel Santa Fe and at the Cheyenne Hotel. We did, however, find a walking path from the Disney Village back to our hotel.
(The only problem with Beans around the world is, they don't pay the airfares, otherwise I may have taken them to Australia by now, or even Bali. - Great website though so don't be afraid to go and visit. www.beansaroundtheworld.com. My photos are to be found from DLP, St Andrews, Perth, London and Belfast. - L. )
We had time for a little rest before we met up again at 8:00. Greg decided to stay at the hotel and get some more sleep, so the rest of us caught the bus to Disney Village around 8:30. We decided on a quick dinner at the New York Deli. I had ham and cheese on a baguette while Jill, Ed, and Larry all had tuna. We split two orders of French fries between us.
After dinner, we went to the Magic Kingdom and found a spot for the parade (which started at 10:30) on a street corner outside of Casey’s. Okay, so we were kind of underneath a hanging plant, but, if you didn’t mind a few leaves and blossoms in your hair, it was a pretty decent spot. (I don’t think being underneath a hanging plant quite describes the experience for me, it was more like having a floral hat. - And I got so frowned on by other people for picking bits of the hanging display off which were in front of my eyes, as it was regarded as Horticultural Vandalism - L.)
The parade started on time. Its a night-time parade with floats all lit up like Spectromagic or the Electrical Light Parade. Fantillusion seems to emphasize the Disney Villains with floats containing Ursula, Jafar, and Maleficient. (Yes I think they were taking the whole villain thing just a little bit too Jafar- L) The floats stop along the parade route and each villain transforms into its larger, and scarier counterpart (Jafar becomes the giant cobra, Ursula the octopus, and Maleficient the dragon). These are followed by the “good wins out over evil” floats which contain princesses (Snow White, Ariel, Belle, etc). My big gripe with the parade was that you only got to see one villain transform. For example, the Jafar float stopped in front of us so we got to watch his transformation into the cobra and back again, but then the other villain floats just passed us by because they had already transformed while Jafar was transforming as well. It would be nice to get to see all of them change. (Robin, you know these villains as well as I do, you can send them for as much counseling as you like, but they will only change if they really want to. - L)
After the parade was over, we moved out from under the hanging plant and out into the street to get a better view of the castle for the Wishes fireworks.
The show was much the same as it is as WDW with the exception of reduced fireworks but more lighting effects on the castle. I think I like the WDW version better. Larry was nice enough to have stuffed his pockets full of Kleenex for me because he knew how much I tend to cry at these fireworks. I again amused Ed greatly by boo-hooing over the show.
After the fireworks, we joined the sea of people trying to exit the park. Larry and I got separated from Jill and Ed and they made it to the bus stop before we did. The non-Disney resort busses were doing better than the Disney busses tonight and we made it onto the first bus and back to the hotel by 12:20. Ed was hungry so we got him some food out of a vending machine before going to our rooms.
I was too tired to call home tonight and went to bed around 1:30 after I updated my trip report notes.
Sunday, July 17, 2005
Today was another Disneyland day, so we met up at 8:30 and headed straight for the park and the 9:00 opening. Ignoring poor Greg’s pleas for breakfast, we went straight to Frontierland where we rode Big Thunder Mountain. We then hit Indiana Jones and Pirates of the Caribbean all by 10:15.
We were feeling charitable, having accomplished so much in such a short amount of time, so we agreed to go and get breakfast now. Ed and I made our usual trip to Discoveryland to pick up Fast Passes for Space Mountain (10:55 return time) while everyone else went to the bakery on Main Street to order breakfast.
After a breakfast, Larry, Greg, Ed and I went to use the Space Mountain Fast Passes while Jill went to stand in line for Lion King tickets (an ingenious system where you have to stand in line just to get tickets and then you have to queue up later as well to get into the theater!) which they weren’t distributing until 11:30.
We were off Space Mountain by 11:15 so we decided to go to Star Tours and see if we could actually make it to the moons of Endor this trip. I was pleased to see that the Scary-Hair American lady in the pre-show had been replaced by a Scary-Hair French lady for the DLP version. Other than that and the voice of the pilot being in French, Star Tours was exactly the same as the other locations.
By the time we finished with Star Tours, Jill had our Lion King tickets so we headed to Frontierland to see the 12:00 Tarzan show. It was quite different than the show at Animal Kingdom at WDW. Of course, the music is the same, but they use the actual music from the movie and they follow the storyline more closely. The also use a version of Two Hearts, One Family in which Phil Collins sings in several different languages, which was very good. Still, I think You’ll Be in My Heart is my favorite song. (Hey I've got that on my iPod if you would like me to email it to you Robin?)
After the show, the moment of truth had arrived. Larry had been saying for several days now that he was going to go to Dapper Dans on Main Street and get his hair cut. He had been growing his hair out for several months and had decided that he wanted the experience of having it cut at Disney, so we all went to the barber shop on Main Street.
They have a shave and haircut special for the bargain price of 26 euros and that’s what Larry decided on. We took several “before” and “during” photos while the barber worked on Larry. The CM was very thorough with both the haircut and the shave. The funniest part was when, after having finished shaving Larry with a straight razor, the CM applied some very cold aftershave that Larry could only describe (after he regained his ability to speak) as “bracing!” The CM did a really good job, however, and Larry looked very handsome after his experience. ( Thanks, I enjoyed it, it's quite funny really because passers by, look through the open window and wave to you, so you wave back, I think they think you are an actor or something.- That aftershave was quite a shock I must admit. I hope it wasn’t the French perfume that they sell in Epcot, which is called Just for Dogs!!!)
After the haircut, it was time for our 2:15 tickets to the Lion King (they do half of the show times in English and half of them in French). We only had to wait in line for maybe 5 minutes or so before they let us in the theater. While we were waiting in line we saw several people who didn’t understand the process (gee, I don’t know what would be confusing about having to queue up for tickets and then wait some more to get into the theater) and were waiting in line without having gotten tickets earlier. I felt sorry for them as they couldn’t get in once they got to the ticket collection point.
Jill, having taken the job of getting us into the Lion King personally, was on a mission and she got us great seats on the front row of the theater.
After the show we were all ready for lunch so we went to the Market House Deli on Main Street where I got pizza and all the Wilmot’s got croque monsieurs. Jill and the boys had chips and Larry and I shared a salad. (Oh gosh don't tell them I was eating Rabbit Food it will ruin my reputation. - L.)
After lunch it was 3:30 and we were ready to go back to the hotel for a rest break. Jill had a headache and was needing some cool and quiet. The boys and Jill took the bus while Larry and I took the walking path (we had an ulterior motive--we wanted to stop in the Disney Village and get ice cream cones, which we did!). We weren’t out to break any speed records so it took us about 30 minutes to get to the hotel, walking slowly and enjoying our ice cream.
Jill and the boys had to wait a while for a bus and they just beat us back to the hotel by about 5 minutes.
Larry was on a mission to finish taking the bean pictures at the Studios, so we stopped in the hotel long enough to pick up the beans and Ed (who wanted to come along) and then we took the bus back to Disney Village (having agreed to meet Jill and Greg outside Disneyland at 6:30) and went to Walt Disney Studios.
The first shot of the beans was outside the entrance to the studios at a big fountain. I had the privilege of getting to hold the can of beans for the shot. Woohoo! I’m a bean ambassador now too! Words fail me on the occasion of this great honor. (Welcome to the club, you will get the uniform from our outfitters in the post shortly.-L)
We took pictures of the beans in front of Anamagique, Armageddon, Minnie Mouse (she was posing for pictures during the parade), and Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster. Seeing as how we were so close to RnRC (right outside, to be exact) we decided we’d better go ahead and ride it as well. Hey, it may not be a creative excuse, but it works every time.
After we got off RnRC, we decided to check out the line for CyberSpace Mountain so we went in the exit door of the Disney Television Tour. Larry and Ed made it inside, but a CM stopped me and told me that I was going in the exit and that I had to go around and go in at the entrance. She wasn’t going to let me in, when Larry showed up beside me and said, “Do you mean to tell me that we would have to go back through this attraction?”
When she said that, yes, we would, Larry laughed and said that there was no way we would ever consider doing that and that he would rather die a thousand deaths than have to experience this attraction again. “Do you realize,” he told the CM, “that this is the worst attraction in any Disney park in the whole world?” This made the CM laugh and she went ahead and let me in. Larry was quick to point out that she certainly didn’t deny or argue with him about it being the worst attraction.
The line for CyberSpace Mountain was still really long, so we just sat in the cool, dark room while Ed played video games. On one of the Tarzan games, Ed got his initials on all ten of the top scores, so I took a picture of the screen for him. We had just gone outside when Ed realized that he had left his sunglasses inside so he darted back in to get them.
It was almost time to meet up with Jill and Greg, so we started making our way out of the park, stopping to look around in a shop or two on the way out. We met up with them outside the entrance to Disneyland and made our way to Main Street to find a spot for the 7:00 o’clock parade (no one seems to respect the sanctity of the 3:00 parade here). We found a vacant curb right by the dentist’s shop at the beginning of Main Street. (Gosh I never noticed that they have a dentist there, I suppose that they give you Laughing Gas? - L.)
The parade was quite nice with a very catchy song. I looked for the music on CD in several stores, but never had any luck finding it.
After the parade was over we began debating where to eat dinner (at the suggestion of Greg). We finally decided to try the buffet at the Plaza Gardens, so we went there to see how long a wait they had. Much to Greg’s dismay, they said they couldn’t get us in until 9:30. We went ahead and put our name on the list and then went in search for something to hold us over for two hours.
We went to Discoveryland and found a crepe stand. Greg and Jill both got crepes while the rest of us decided to tough it out until dinner time (okay, we may have sneaked a taste of Jill’s--Greg, however, was too hungry to share!).
Since we were in the neighborhood, we decided for another attempt to make it to the moons of Endor by taking that poor excuse for space travel, Star Tours shuttle. Alas, we again were denied our destination. We did however, save the free world (or “universe” I should say), so I suppose the trip wasn’t a complete waste of our time.
Afterwards, we decided to take the train for a loop around the park. They have a Grand Canyon diorama like on the train in California but, alas, there are no dinosaurs. Well, I suppose its a good thing that there aren’t *really* dinosaurs roaming around the Grand Canyon, but one can only wish for a T-Rex to take a big bite out of your boss from time.
After we finished our train lap, it was 9:10 so we made our way back to Plaza Gardens. We checked in and were seated in a matter of minutes. There was too much food to list, but I can say that there was a lot of variety and everything I tried was good.
After we finished eating, we were all pretty tired so we made our way out of the Park (using the handy arcade) and back to the hotel.
On the way to the bus stop, Ed’s wheedling and pleading was finally heeded and he got that laser pen that he’d had his eye on all week. While I’m sure the laser pen was a bargain at twice the price, the really amusing thing about it was the, shall I say, “poorly translated” instructions. We were tired and simpled out anyway and, as Greg read them aloud to us on the bus on the way to the hotel, they just kept getting funnier and funnier. It was a great way to improve your vocabulary with such misspelled words as “Intormation” instead of Information and “Over Explosure” instead of Over Exposure.
We decided that “Intormation” described the Disney Studios Television Production Tour perfectly and that the definition of the word should be “imparting useless information in a way that’s both torturous and painful.”
We also thought that “Over Explosure” could be when your bomb bag goes off prematurely after too much exposure to the sun.
Back at the hotel I called home and talked to my family for a bit and then began the sad job of packing up my stuff in preparation for our last day tomorrow. By the way, my favorite new French word that I’ve learned this trip is “Pampelmousse.” No, that isn’t an illicit activity that Canadians partake in. It’s actually French for “grapefruit,” but it’s infinitely more fun to say!
Monday, July 18, 2005
“That’s not tears. That’s where little children have wet themselves in fright.”
I got up a little early so I could finish up my packing. We all met up at 8:30 and went down to the lobby together. We checked our luggage with Bell Services and arranged for a taxi to pick us up from the hotel at 2:00 before we hopped on the bus and went to Disneyland for our last morning.
As soon as Greg heard that this was the morning to do rides in Fantasyland, he split off on his own (Using some lame excuse about being hungry--like he’s a seventeen year old or something!) saying that he’d meet back up with us around 10:30 at the Main Street bakery. (Gregory Two Breakfasts Wilmot - That's My Boy. I keep telling him, that you can eat as much as you like when you are growing upwards, but the moment you stop doing that if you don’t cut down your scoffing you start to grow outwards, Sadly teenagers see older people as a race from another planet, and don't realise that they ain’t that far away from being them, themselves.)
Our first mission for the day was to get Fast Passes for Peter Pan, since that ride seems to develop mob-conditions early no matter what park you’re in. Without much hope, Ed and I tried the Fast Past scam and, lo and behold, it actually worked! I was so stunned! At last, I could die happy--I’d had just participated in a true Wilmot experience. I should also mention that Larry was much relieved that his King of Fast Pass reputation was still intact. (Too Right I Was. - L)
Sneaky Fast Passes in hand, our first ride was Snow White. Again, the defender and protector of children in me must state that this ride is so not for kids. I remember being absolutely terrified on the Snow White at DLR in California when I was but a young and impressionable child of four. Of course, that didn’t seem to stop me from taking my nephew on and scaring the pants off of him when he was four now did it?
As we exited the ride, there were some puddles of what looked to be water on the pavement. I pointed them out to Larry and mentioned that those were the tears of small children that were taken on this ride. Larry said that the puddles weren’t tears but rather where the poor kids had wet themselves in abject terror!
Next up was a ride for all of us on Lancelot’s Carrousel. (I know it’s been several days now since you began reading this tome. Did you finally get the dermatology joke?) (No one ever gets my jokes; they just laugh because I'm bigger than them - L.) And then a spin on the Tea Cups (though Jill sat that one out). Larry, Ed and I got our cup spinning quite fast, first one direction and then the other. I hadn’t ridden the tea cups in a long time and it didn’t make me nearly as sick as I’d remembered.
After we regained our equilibrium, we went to the Storyland Boat ride. This ride loaded differently than the one at DLR. The one in France loads on a continually moving platform, kind of like Kali River Rapids in WDW or Grizzly River Run in DLR. There was no Monstro (the whale from Pinocchio) to go through like in DLR and there was no CM tour guide. Still, the scenes were all very pretty and there was the addition of a Wizard of Oz display. I’m not sure why Disney has the rights to that in Paris and not in America, but it was neat to see. (They do have Wizard of OZ on the Great Movie Ride though. - L)
After the boats, we rode the Casey, Jr. train ride (twice actually, and we rode in the cages both times--not that we’re childish or anything) before heading toward the bakery to meet up with Greg. We walked back via Discoveryland however so we could pick up Fast Passes for Space Mountain. After all, there’s no use in getting scammed Fast Passes if you’re not going to go ahead and get your legitimate ones as well. (Good Point, well made if you don't mind me saying so. - L)
We met Greg at the bakery and had some breakfast and then did a bit of last-chance shopping in some of the stores on Main Street. We figured we deserved some shopping since we’d accomplished so much in just an hour and a half since the park opened. Actually, now that I think about it, I think we did some shopping because we’d all decided, one at a time--like you do, that we needed to visit the restroom and so the rest of the group would shop while we waited on the various missing members of our party.
After our shopping, we returned to Space Mountain to take advantage of our Fast Passes and then went back to Fantasyland for our Peter Pan ride.
We walked to Frontierland hoping for one last ride on Big Thunder, but the stand by line was already too long. We consoled ourselves with another ride on Phantom Manor (the wait time said 30 minutes, but we were off the ride in 20). After the ride, I got some bottled water for us (another hot day!) and then Jill got some ice cream for everyone. Actually, I skipped the ice cream but Larry kindly made me a miniature cone by giving me the bottom portion of his.
We made our way back to Main Street as we ate our ice cream and then shopped a bit on the way out. Ultimately, we knew it was time to go so we exited the park (they had no hand stamps today--shame--I always like to get mine stamped as I leave on the last day) and went to the bus stop. A bus came right away and we made it back to the hotel by 1:20. We got our luggage and killed time while we waited in the lobby by downloading all my pictures from my digital camera onto Larry’s laptop as a back up. I’m almost ashamed to admit it but, the total number of pictures I took on this trip was over 650. Thank goodness for digital and being saved the cost of having all those developed!
Our taxi came just a little before 2:00 and took us to the airport.
Okay, I know this isn’t particularly “Disney” to mention, but I do want to say that we had a bomb scare at Charles de Gaulle airport, which we all thought was pretty cool. Someone had left a carry-on back at the security checkpoint. The airport issued several pages for the person to return and claim their bag, but no one ever did.
We were standing in the security screening queue and could see the bag in question just a few feet away from us. We talked to one of the security screeners about the bag and asked why they just didn’t run it through the x-ray equipment. Apparently that’s not the correct procedure (I suppose none of the screeners were particularly thrilled with the idea of getting blown up when they picked the bag up). We asked her what would happen to the bag and she said, just as cheerful as can be, “Ve vill explode it!”
Well we certainly wanted to hang around and see the explosion but apparently procedures state that they have to evacuate the terminal before they can go around blowing up strange bags. (Actually considering that there had been explosions in London only about 10 days before, we were incredibly silly, because we actually went closer to the package to see what it was, I'm not sure I would have predicted such weird behaviour, we get told that it's a suspected bomb, and we go and have a look at it, rather than scarpering as fast as we could. - L.)
Everyone had to leave and wait outside while they waited on the bomb squad to arrive. Military type guys wearing camouflage and carrying big guns kept moving us farther and farther away from the terminal. The bomb squad did finally arrive and they apparently exploded the bag and we were ultimately let back in. We had to wait outside for a little over an hour and a half but they held all the flights and so we didn’t have any trouble making our flight to London where we spent an enjoyable few days taking in all the sights. We returned to Scotland mid-week and had a few more days for sightseeing (Orkney Islands and Inverness) before I had to come back home to the US.
It was a wonderful trip that I’ll never forget and it was made all the more special because I got to spend it with such nice people and fellow Disney fans.
Thanks for reading this.
Thanks for a great TR Robin. I enjoyed it very much, and thanks for keeping my little comments in for folks to read, - Cheers Larry From Scotland.