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Jody Grantham -- May 2002 -- Disneyland Paris (NBC)


SUMMARY

  • Date of Visit: May 15, 2002
  • Hotel: Disney's Newport Bay Club, standard room (one night)
  • Travel Method: Air from Canada to Holland, Rail from Holland to Paris
  • Trip Report Author: Jody Grantham (Canadian - age 34), solo trip [Disney portion]
  • Disney Experience: Disneyland Paris rookie, Walt Disney World veteran: '79, '91, '97, '98, '99, '00, '02

OVERVIEW

This trip report covers the 5 hours and 43 minutes I enjoyed in Disneyland Park in Paris, my tours of the Disney hotels in Disneyland Paris Resort, my one night stay at Disney's Newport Bay Club hotel, and some notes on my travels to and from the resort. I did not visit the new Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris due to lack of time.

For a trip of such brief duration, this is a very long trip report. I have added lots of detail because I like to have a complete record, and hopefully the extra detail like rates at all Disneyland Paris Resort hotels and a few restaurant menus will provide anyone thinking of a trip to Disneyland Paris Resort with plenty of information.

Disneyland Park refers just to Disneyland Park in Paris, the theme park that is like Magic Kingdom in Florida, and Disneyland Paris Resort refers to the entire Disney resort in Paris, including Disneyland Park, Walt Disney Studios Park, Disney Village, and all of the Disney hotels in the resort.

Note that all costs I incurred were denominated in Euros (E = Euros). For some of the prices I quote in Euros, I have also converted the Euro cost to U.S. dollars and to Canadian dollars using exchange rates in effect in mid-May 2002, as follows: 1 Euro = .923 U.S. dollars = 1.454 Canadian dollars. For those prices that I did not convert, the reader may use these exchange rates for conversion.

INTRODUCTION

In May of 2002, my wife, daughter and I attended the wedding of our friends in Rijswijk, Holland. Though I am a fan of Disney parks, almost up until we left for Holland I did not consider visiting Disneyland Paris because my wife told me that the train from southwestern Holland to Paris takes about seven hours. That, plus local trains in Paris and checking into a hotel in Disneyland Paris Resort would eat up the best part of a day, plus almost that again on return. So two travels days plus a park-visit day would be three days. With only a week in Holland, taking three days out for a side trip to Disneyland Paris Resort was too much. Besides, in April 2002 we had spent nine nights in Walt Disney World in Florida.

A couple of days before we left I found out that there is a new high-speed train on the route from Holland to Paris called the Thalys line. It takes about three and a half hours to make the trip, half the time of the regular train. This meant that I could take an early morning train to Paris, and maybe get a late night train back, or maybe a train back early the next morning, and the total trip time would only be about a day and a half instead of almost three days. I became more interested.

The day before we left for Holland I visited a travel agency called, "Let's Take the Kids Travel Agency", and they had a full-size (8.5" by 11") color brochure of Disneyland Paris Resort. This turned out to be a great resource because it had maps of the resort inside, plus photos and descriptions of all of the hotels in Disneyland Paris Resort.

We left for Holland in the evening of Sunday, May 12, 2002. The flight to Holland went well, and our daughter, nearly nine months old at the time, handled her first flight very well and didn't bother other passengers. She even had a little basket-like bed to sleep in (it attached to the bulkhead in front of us).

We arrived in Amsterdam in the middle of the day on Monday, May 13, met my wife's friend, the bride-to-be, and took the train to Rijswijk (with a transfer in Den Haag). Since this trip report is for my trip to Disneyland Paris Resort, I will skip most of the details of our visit to Holland, except to say that the trip went well, our friends' wedding went well, and Holland is a nice place.

Ever since I first brought up the real possibility of a side-trip to Disneyland Paris Resort, my wife didn't want to talk about it at any length. Though she and our daughter were welcome to come with me on a trip to Disneyland Paris Resort if it went ahead, we both knew that such a side trip would be rushed and hectic. My wife was not interested in taking our baby on a hectic side trip. My wife did not object to my possibly taking a solo side trip to Disneyland Paris Resort, and though she knows I am a huge Disney fan, she didn't really like the idea of me running off through Europe alone. So we mostly avoided the issue, and didn't even seriously discuss it with our friends in Holland until the night before I actually went.

In the late evening of Tuesday, May 14, I asked our friends in Holland if I could use their internet service to find out more info on how to get to Disneyland Paris Resort. I found out about trains leaving throughout the following day, and it seemed to me that the first train that went direct from Holland to Paris was the best idea. There was an earlier train but it involved a transfer in Brussels. Also, I found out that there is a train directly from Holland to Disneyland Paris Resort, but it only runs on Fridays, returning on Sundays. This would save local trains in Paris, but I didn't want to spend three days, and the weekend would probably be busier in the parks than a weekday. So, I settled on the earliest direct train to Paris the next morning, Wednesday, May 15, from Holland to Paris.

This trip would be quite an adventure. I had no hotel reservation, spoke very little French, would have to face the local trains of Paris, and had to be back the next day (Thursday, May 16) for the wedding! It was all so quick and uncertain, and I felt guilty about leaving my wife and daughter behind. Of course, my wife and daughter would be taken care of by our good friends, but still part of me didn't want to leave.

THE TRAINS TO DISNEYLAND PARIS RESORT

On the morning of Wednesday, May 15, I left our hotel room at 6:15 a.m. to wait for the bus to the train station. It was a cool morning, and the road was quiet and peaceful. Most of the buildings around were very old, and I imagined the time of the German occupation. It was like being in a storybook.

I was beginning to miss my wife and daughter, knowing I would be far away. Even at that point, standing and waiting for the bus with an overnight bag hanging on my shoulder, I was uncertain if I should actually make the trip. I told myself that I would decide whether or not to go by the time the bus pulled up to my stop.

The bus pulled up to my stop, and I got on. It was about a ten minute bus ride to the train station. I boarded the local train to Den Haag (The Hague), which was actually in the opposite direction of Paris, but I had to go to Den Haag to board the speed train. I waited about 15 minutes for the local train, then boarded for my short trip to Den Haag. A few minutes later, I was there.

Once in Den Haag, I quickly found the ticket office of the Thalys train service. I was only interested in a one-way ticket because I didn't know if I would be returning late that night, or on a train the next morning. I asked about the cost of ticket to Paris, and the attendant said, "73.30 Euros" ($68 U.S., $107 Cdn) for one-way in comfort level 2 (second class). I said thank you and moved away from the ticket counter. The return fare would be about double 73.30 Euros. The price of the ticket was more than I had guessed. The web site of Thalys indicated that the fare would be as low as 107 Euros return, but the ticket agent said that fare is limited and is usually sold out a couple of months before trip. And I was missing my wife and daughter. I knew that if I bought the ticket, that would be it. There was still time for me to turn back, and I imagined my surprised, happy wife if I were to turn up at our hotel instead of completing the tip to Disneyland Paris Resort. I thought about it, and realized that my wife would be in good hands with her friend Ticia, and that they could use some girl-time alone before the wedding. I would only be gone a day or so. And how many opportunities would I get to be a three and half hour train ride from Disneyland Paris Resort?

At 7:24 am, I bought the train ticket for train no. 9316 to Paris. On my way out of the ticket office I saw a sandwich shop, and I bought a ham and cheese sub. Based on my travels in Holland and Paris, this ham and cheese sub sandwich was available everywhere.

I went up to the train platform, and got on the train when it arrived. I found my seat on the train, platform 17, seat 91. I sat down, relaxed, and a couple of minutes later, the train was on it way. Short of a derailment, I was on my way to Paris.

The train was clean and comfortable. I had a set of seats to myself, so I stretched out. I fell into a deep relaxation as the houses and laneways of Holland zipped by my window. The muffled whoosh and rumble of the train made me feel sleepy. I dozed in and out of consciousness a couple of times on the ride to Brussels. We stopped for a few minutes in Brussels, then resumed the trip. There were no stops from Brussels to Paris, and the track was fairly straight, so the train was able to get up to full speed (around 300 kilometers per hour). I watched the amazing blur of the countryside, then fell asleep.

I woke up about fifteen minutes short of Paris, and I headed to the washroom to freshen up. At 11:05 a.m. Paris time, the train stopped. I got off the train and set my eyes on Paris for the first time in my life. The view of Paris is limited from the train platform in Paris Gare du Nord (my arrival station), but it was still my first view of Paris.

Luckily, I saw I sign for the "RER" trains and I knew from reading info on the web that I had to take such a train to get from Paris to Disneyland Paris Resort. I walked down some stairs into the underground labyrinth that is the Paris subway. The place looked like an explosive concussion had just rippled through it. Wires hung from gashes in the ceiling and some walls were torn out. It was probably renovations.

I lined up at the first ticket booth I saw. I didn't really know for sure it was a ticket booth, but I was in a rush and I needed info on how to get to Disneyland Paris Resort. About five people were in front of me, but in a few minutes it was my turn and I said, "une billet pour Parc Disney... Marne-La-Vallee-Chessy". I paid for return fare to Disneyland Paris Resort (technically the train station in Disneyland Paris Resort is called Marne-La-Vallee-Chessy). The fare cost 5.95 Euros each way, or 11.90 Euros return ($11 U.S., $17.37 Cdn).

Getting the train tickets turned out to be simple enough, but finding the platform for the correct train was a nightmare. After a few seconds of walking around bewildered, I just picked a staircase and went down. I looked around for a subway map to tell me if I was in the right area, but no luck. Eventually I asked someone where to go. The person I asked told me to go to another platform, so I did. Of course, once on the correct platform, I didn't know which side of the platform to wait for my train or even if I had in fact arrived at the correct platform. I asked another fellow for assistance, and he pointed to the empty tracks to wait at. He ended up getting on the train with me. Coincidentally, he got off the train where I was supposed to transfer and was able to point me to my transfer point. I thanked him, and just hoped that I could remember all of this on the way back.

The train for Disneyland Paris Resort arrived at about 11:20 a.m., and I got on. It was a fairly long ride from Paris out to the Chessy station, about 45 minutes. I used some of the time on the train to think about which Disney hotel to stay at, should I choose to stay overnight and should rooms be available. I became more certain that I wanted to stay at Disney's Hotel Cheyenne. The thought of renting a room in the Wild West circa 1870 was thrilling. And of all the hotels in Disneyland Paris Resort, the Hotel Cheyenne seemed to be the most different from the hotels I have seen in Walt Disney World.

As the subway eventually moved above ground, I was able to see part of Paris along the journey. I watched houses as they passed by and I imagined the lives of Parisians, and their ancestors. My mind drifted through time and history.

ARRIVAL AT DISNEYLAND PARIS RESORT

I arrived at the Marne-La-Vallee-Chessy/Disneyland train station at 12:05 p.m. Paris time. I went up an escalator and found myself in a clean, bright little train station. I looked out the floor-to-ceiling windows of the station and saw a sign for Disney Village! I walked out the doors and saw the Disneyland Hotel off to the right! I made it! I was so excited! Of course, I was also in a rush because I needed to find a hotel, drop off my stuff and get to a park because I had only a half day to see things. I would have to leave early the next morning.

Between the Chessy train station and the entrance to the Disney Village is a Disney information booth. I went up and asked how to get to Disney's Hotel Cheyenne. The Disney Cast Member (CM) pointed me toward the yellow buses. The main bus station for Disneyland Paris Resort is right next to the Chessy train station. I walked up to the bus platform for Hotel Cheyenne and luckily there was a bus waiting. When I saw the bus I broke into a light jog. I returned to a walk as I noticed the bus driver was not about to leave immediately. I got on and the bus driver waited a couple of minutes more for additional passengers, then departed. The yellow Disney bus looked new.

THE QUEST FOR A HOTEL ROOM

The bus to Disney's Hotel Cheyenne took about four minutes get to the hotel. On the way, I caught a glimpse of Disney's Hotel New York. Hotel New York looks more like Hotel Continental Europe circa 1975 rather than anything in New York. Hotel New York did not appeal to me.

The bus drove past a security booth and onto the grounds of Hotel Cheyenne. I got off the bus and felt very happy to be in the Wild West. The buildings looked so neat. And for some reason the place looked deserted, which even added to the mystique of the place. It felt like all the townsfolk were hidden away in their homes and shops, waiting for Black Bart to ride into town, guns a-blazing.

I entered the check-in building of Hotel Cheyenne, noticing a neat little shop with lots of Wild West gear. The inside of the check-in building had a dark hardwood floor, and the empty line up area for guests checking in was roped-off with thick, coarse cowboy rope. For the first time in my life I wanted to be a cowboy in Kansas or Wyoming in the 1870's. Disney had nailed it perfect. The theme of Hotel Cheyenne was so great that I immediately wished for Walt Disney World in Florida to build an identical resort.

I walked up to the registration desk and told the smiling Cast Member (CM) that I was interested in a room for one night, but had no reservation. She told me that there were no rooms left, but that she would double-check. I felt that the hotel was too deserted to be full, so I had my hopes. Alas, after checking, there were no rooms available. Suddenly I wondered if I would have to find a place to sleep in the alleys of Paris! The CM offered to call other Disney hotels to see if they had any rooms available. She called Disney's Sequoia Lodge and Disney's Newport Bay Club hotel. Both had rooms available. As a matter of fact, the rates I was quoted were about 20% lower than the advertised rates in the Disneyland Paris Resort brochure! The Disney CM quoted me a rate of 190.91 Euros ($176 U.S., $277 Cdn) at the Newport Bay Club and 170 Euros ($156 U.S., $247 Cdn) at the Sequoia Lodge. I was impressed.

The following are the "rack rates" (published full price in U.S. dollars) of each of the Disney hotels in Disneyland Paris Resort for 2002:

Hotel Santa Fe [2 "Key" Resort, Old South-West Theme] - $163 U.S. dollars

Hotel Cheyenne [2 "Key" Resort, Wild West Theme] - $177 U.S. dollars

Davy Crockett Ranch [2 "Key" Resort, Cabins] - $181 U.S. dollars

Sequoia Lodge [3 "Key" Resort, Mountain Resort] - $200 U.S. dollars

New Port Bay Club [3 "Key" Resort, New England Beach Resort] - $214 U.S. dollars

Hotel New York [4 "Key" Resort - Urban Hotel Tower Theme] - $232 U.S. dollars

Disneyland Hotel [4 "Key" Resort - Victorian Fantasy Theme] - $322 U.S. dollars

I left Hotel Cheyenne and took the bus back to the main bus station. Had I known, I could have walked through Hotel Cheyenne to a path behind it, then along a path to both the Sequoia Lodge and the Newport Bay Club, but the layout of Disneyland Paris Resort was still foreign to me at that moment.

I had the four minute ride from Hotel Cheyenne to the bus station to decide whether to go to Sequoia Lodge or Disney's Newport Bay Club. The Sequoia Lodge is reminiscent of Wilderness Lodge in Walt Disney World in Florida, but not quite as beautiful (it is hard to match the beauty of Wilderness Lodge). The Newport Bay Club is similar to the Yacht Club and Beach Club hotels in Florida. Since I had stayed at Wilderness Lodge in Walt Disney World twice before, and since I had never stayed at the Yacht Club or the Beach Club in Walt Disney World, I decided to try out the Newport Bay Club hotel.

I took the bus to the Newport Bay Club hotel. The ride took about eight minutes. At this point, I was getting worried that the parks would be busy and my time to enjoy them was dwindling. I walked to the door of the bus before anyone else to make sure I had a jump on checking-in. I got off the bus and walked quickly into the hotel and noticed a huge globe of the earth in the foyer. I saw the registration area to the right and went in. The lobby was nice, and a bit similar to that of the Beach Club hotel in Florida.

I walked up to a CM behind the registration desk and asked for a room for one night. She quoted me 190.91 Euros, the same rate that I had been quoted for the Newport Bay Club as given by the CM at Hotel Cheyenne. I said I would take the room, and I thought I heard the CM tell me that the room is on the fourth floor. Once checked in, I went to find my room. The CM had written my room number on my hotel brochure, and read it to be 6362. I though it odd that a room number starting with the number "6" would be on the fourth floor, but this was Europe.

I walked around the sixth floor of the hotel but could not find my room. I went down to the fourth floor, trying to remember for sure what the CM at the registration desk had said. I eventually found a person from housekeeping. I showed her my room card with what I thought was room 6362 on it. She pointed me to room 4342. I tried to show her that my room card was for room 6362, but she kept pointing to room 4342. I put the room key into the door and it opened. News flash: Parisians write the number four to make it appear exactly like the number six.

At 1:33 p.m., I entered my room and I was ecstatic. I love nice hotel rooms, and this room definitely was. The room was small, about the same size as a room in a Disney moderate hotel in Walt Disney World. The room had two double beds, a table with two chairs, and a cabinet with a television inside. The bathroom had a toilet and shower. The sink is just out side the bathroom. The colors were white with light blue accents.

Now that I was finally in my room I knew that it was merely a matter of changing shirts and I would be off to Disneyland Park Paris. I recorded the room on my video camera before I disturbed anything, then I called my wife in Holland to let her know I was alive and at my destination. She was glad to hear from me, assured me that she and baby were in goods hands, and she wished me a fun day.

I changed shirts, arranged what I needed for the rest of the day, applied sun block, then I headed out to experience the fun. I was so excited and happy that I felt like laughing out loud. In fact on several occasions, I did.

THE WALK FROM MY HOTEL TO DISNEYLAND PARK

I walked through the floor maze inside the Newport Bay Club and back down to the lobby. I lined up behind one person at the concierge desk to buy my one-day admission ticket. The ticket cost 36 Euros ($33 U.S., $52 Cdn) and was good for either Disneyland Park or the new Walt Disney Studios. There were no park-hopping privileges, but I knew I wouldn't have time to park hop anyway. The price for a one-day pass was fantastic! The price for a one-day pass to a major park in Walt Disney World in Florida was $50.88 U.S. (tax included) in May, 2002, so the Disneyland Park Paris one-day pass was 35% cheaper than the Florida park pass!

Though my one-day pass could be used at either Disneyland Park or Walt Disney Studios, there was never a question as to which park I wanted to visit. I wanted to visit Disneyland Park because it is a classic Disney park like the Magic Kingdom or Disneyland in California. The Magic Kingdom in Florida is my favorite of any theme park. I wanted to visit Disneyland Park Paris to see the differences from the Magic Kingdom.

Getting to Disneyland Park from a Disneyland Paris Resort hotel involves either walking or taking a bus from your hotel to the main bus station that is about 100 feet from the "Welcome to Disneyland Paris" sign. There is no monorail option. My monorail thrills will remain with the Disney parks in the U.S.A.

At 1:56 p.m., I left the main building of the Newport Bay Club hotel. In front of me was a large, rectangular man-made lake. At the far end of the lake I could see Hotel New York, and on the right side of the lake was the Sequoia Lodge. It was a beautiful day. The weather was mostly sunny with a temperature of about 23 degrees Celsius (73 degree Fahrenheit).

I took several pictures and some video of the scenery around the lake. A swan-shaped paddleboat cruised through my lens.

I walked quickly toward Disney Village. When walking from one of the Disneyland Paris Resort hotels (except the Disneyland Hotel), you have to walk through Disney Village to get to the theme parks.

Disney Village was smaller than Downtown Disney in Walt Disney World, but crammed full of restaurants, shops, and huge icons. I passed by a restaurant called, "Chicago". Also, I noticed a booth advertising tickets for Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. It looked like a lot of fun, but was not showing on the day I was there (darn!). The cost for the show is 50 Euros for adults ($46 U.S., $73 Canadian) and 30 Euros ($28 U.S., $44 Canadian) for children 3 to 11. The show is advertised as follows:

"An authentic Western show with a Texan dinner. Imagine wild buffalo, Indians and cowboys together in an arena right before your eyes! With stagecoach attacks, gunfight showdowns, shooting demonstrations, horse-riding displays and a delicious Texas-style barbecue, this will be a night to remember!"

The menu of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show includes:

- Trailside breads

- Cattleman's chili

- Sausage

- Roast chicken

- Ranch house smoked ribs

- Granny's apple cobbler with vanilla ice cream

- Unlimited water, beer or Coca-Cola

- Vegetarian Menu or pork-free menu also available

The admission also includes a free souvenir cowboy hat. The shows last one and a half hours, and are held at 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. except on certain dates. It looks like a big show based on photos in the pamphlet.

I would take a closer look at Disney Village later, but at that moment I was on a mission to get to Disneyland Park as soon as possible.

DISNEYLAND PARK

As I exited Disney Village, I could clearly see the dusk-red rooftop of the Disneyland Hotel in the distance, so it was easy to find my way from there. I walked under the "Welcome to Disneyland" triple-arched sign and down a path to some stairs that led to a landing with a great vista of the Disneyland Hotel. I thought it looked very pretty, with a Victorian fantasy theme. It is near to being a Grand Floridian class hotel, with a similar but fancier theme. It looks fancier than the Grand Floridian due to multiple steeple-like peaks, lots of gold trim, a big Mickey Mouse clock, and a faint pink hue on the external walls instead of Grand Floridian white. I prefer the classier Grand Floridian, but the Disneyland Hotel is necessarily more tinged with fantasy, after all it is at the gates of the Disneyland Park.

I stopped at the landing in front of the hotel and set down my video camera on its tripod. As I walked into the shot, I noticed a girl of about eight years walking down the steps toward my camera, and I had to turn back and wave her off. This happened as the camera rolled. I positioned myself in the shot a got a few seconds of video, enough to later capture a digital photo. Then I walked off the landing and down through the Disneyland Hotel.

The turnstiles for the Disneyland Park are at the far end of a tunnel that runs under the middle of the Disneyland Hotel. There are ticket booths in the tunnel for those who need to purchase tickets.

I was filming with my video camera as I approached the turnstile, and as I noticed the closing distance between it and me, I rushed to shut down the camera, deposit it in its "holster", and retrieve my ticket. I passed through the ticket turnstile at 2:17 p.m. I had five hours and forty-three minutes to have a blast and to see what I wanted to see.

When you pass through the ticket turnstiles under the Disneyland Hotel, you do not exit directly onto Main Street U.S.A. or the Town Square. There is a small courtyard between the Disneyland Hotel and the entrance to Main Street U.S.A. The courtyard has some trees in it, and a small Disney store on each side.

The entrance to Main Street U.S.A. is through tunnels under the Main Street Railroad Station. The railroad station looms large above courtyard, opposite the Disneyland Hotel. High up, near the top of the railroad station is a maroon sign with "Main Street U.S.A." in golden letters. Just as I looked up to get a good look at the sign, music began to play from the organ in the train station, as if on cue for my entrance. My excitement started to build. The walkways under the railroad station are wide and are lined with artist-rendition posters of various attractions, and contain plain blue fixtures filled with park maps in many different languages. As I walked through, all of stress of my getting from Holland to Disneyland Park with time to spare to actually see most of what I wanted washed away. I said, "aw, cool", out loud to myself as the video rolled.

I was in the Town Square!!! I was so excited! I was just bursting with anticipation and happiness and my face must have been obscured by my smile. I took my first footage of the castle in the distance, and then I took a good look around the town square. Everything was beautiful, clean and well set; it was very Disney. The Town Square had a theme similar to that of the Magic Kingdom in Florida, but it was a very different layout. There was no Tony's Town Square Restaurant. The square itself seems longer from left to right, but more shallow from the entrance to the exit. This may have been just a perception, though, caused by an oblong grassy park with Gazebo in the middle of the square. Signs were clearly visible above several buildings, such as the Main Street Transportation Co. off the right, the Emporium in front of me on the left side of the street, and the Storybook Store and City hall on the far left of the Town Square.

I walked out of the square and down Main Street U.S.A. There seemed to be many more shops along the street than in the Florida park. One of the shops was covered top to bottom by a taught white sheet due to renovations. I stopped in the middle of Main Street and set my video camera down on its tripod, facing the castle. I hoped to get some video of me in front of the castle, but with all of the traffic on the street I didn't have time to get the shot correct. When I checked the video later, all that was visible of me were my legs in front of the distant castle.

I resumed my walk down Main Street and noticed how it seemed to have more to offer than its counterpart in Florida. I was nearly consumed by curiosity but I knew that I had to first head to the attractions that had the highest probability of line-ups before I took up precious time shopping.

At 2:21 p.m., I walked out of Main Street U.S.A. into the Central Plaza looking for the attractions board. I found it in the lower right quadrant of the Central Plaza, as opposed to the lower left quadrant of the same area in Florida. Wow, was I surprised at how short the waits were! Here were the wait times:

Orbitron - 10 minutes

Autotopia - ferme/closed

Le Visionarium - 0 minutes

Star Tours - 10 minutes

Space Mountain - 10 minutes

Honey, I Shrunk the Audience - 0 minutes

Alice's Curious Labyrinth - "attraction closed, check back later"

Casey Jr. [roller coaster for kids] - "attraction closed, check back later"

"It's a small world" - 0 minutes

Peter Pan's Flight - 30 minutes

Contes de Fees - 20 minutes

Dumbo the Flying Elephant - 30 minutes

Mad Hatter's Tea Cups - 10 minutes

Pinocchio - 20 minutes

Blanche-Neige - 10 minutes

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril - 10 minutes

Pirates of the Caribbean - 0 minutes

Big Thunder Mountain - ferme/closed

Phantom Manor - 0 minutes

Riverboat Landing - 20 minutes

Les Mysteres du Nautilus - [blank]

The Tarzan Encounter - shows at 12:00, 13:15, 15:45, 17:45

Minnie's Birthday Surprise - shows at 11:30, 12:30, 13:30, 16:00 and 17:15

Winnie the Pooh and Friends Too (Castle Stage) - ferme/closed

The Wonderful World of Disney Parade - one parade at 15:00

The fastpass option was available on Star Tours, Space Mountain, Peter Pan's Flight, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril, and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

Although I was thrilled with the short waits posted for the attractions, I was not sure if the actual waits would match. Knowing that I would only have a few hours to experience the park, I had planned ahead of time to first try to go on the rides I was most interested in. These were Space Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, Phantom Manor and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril, and possibly Big Thunder Mountain. Pinocchio was also in the back of my mind as there is no Pinocchio ride in Walt Disney World in Florida. I was interested in Space Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean and Phantom Manor to see any differences with the Florida park versions.

I decided that since Space Mountain was so close, that would be my first ride in Disneyland Resort Paris. I walked through the Central Plaza and into Discoveryland, which is like Tomorrowland, with a bit of Epcot's Future World thrown in. What I could see from this vista were the Orbitron (like the Asto Orbiter rockets in Walt Disney World) and Space Mountain, both styled much differently than their counterparts in Florida. The colours were primarily tan and gold. I could hear birds chirping.

I walked up to the entrance to the Space Mountain ride and saw a wait posted of 10 minutes. Great! The attractions board in the Central Plaza was right! If this held up, I knew that I would get to see all of the attractions I wanted, and some multiple times (this turned out to be correct).

Space Mountain (Discoveryland)

The internal walkway in Space Mountain in Disneyland Park Paris is even darker than the walkway for the same ride in Florida, if that is possible. It was so dark, sometimes I had to use the "nightshot" feature on my video camera to navigate. I walked all the way through the line with no stops until I arrived at the loading area. The loading area is open to sunlight on the sides, and is made up like a 19th century central train station. Actually, the whole attraction feels like a 19th century Jules Verne fantasy. The ride vehicles are called "moon cars", and are linked together as you would imagine on a roller coaster. At 2:33pm, I boarded a moon car. I was alone in the left front seat, in a car on the left track.

The moon car entered a twisty corridor, then dove down a slight incline, then up, then stopped in a launch tube. For about 5 seconds the car sat at the bottom of the launch tube, with one panel of the tube open to my left. Then the moon car shot up another twenty feet along the launch tube, stopped, and several more panels of the tube rolled open to expose sunlight. The car paused another 5 seconds, then WOOSH! Off to the moon. I rocketed into the darkness. The roller coaster seemed a little more extreme than the one in Florida, and I soon realized that it was very difficult to hold onto the video camera. My glasses were about to fly off, so I had to take them off and hold them in my hand. Near the end of the ride I passed under a moon than looked like a cream pie with a face in it, and then it was over. The ride lasted one minute and fifty-seven seconds. Thirty-three seconds from the time the moon car started to move, one minute and eleven seconds of thrills, and thirteen seconds from thrill end to full stop and exit.

Overall opinion of Space Mountain: Thrilling ride. Highly recommended. Different in theme and slightly higher thrill level than its counterpart in Florida. Ride time 1 minute and 57 seconds.

Outside Space Mountain I saw submarines for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, but the attraction was closed, at least temporarily. I took some video of the area then headed out in the direction of the castle. I saw the "Winnie the Pooh and Friends Too" stage on the left front flank of the castle, though it was empty. I passed through a side passage in the castle, entered Fantasyland, and saw "Le Carrousel de Lancelot" (similar to Cinderella's Golden Carousel) in front of me.

Pinocchio (Fantasyland)

I walked ahead then saw Pinocchio to my left. Although the attractions board had shown a wait time of 20 minutes, the board at the ride showed that the wait had declined to 15 minutes. The line looked reasonable, and I thought I should ride it then just in case lines grew later. So, at 2:50 p.m., I got in line for Pinocchio! In line, I admired the wonderful Pinocchio murals on the wall behind the ride loading area. The line ended up taking just under ten minutes. It was a fun ride with many scenes re-created from the movie. Each scene contained a set similar to the movie, and had audio-animatronic characters. Very, very, well done and highly recommended for those who enjoy innocence and magic. From scene to scene, Jiminy cricket pointed the way. One thing that was hard to get used to was the French language track. Of course, I was in France, but many of the signs I had seen up to this point were in English, or bi-lingual.

Overall opinion of Pinocchio: Fun ride, very cute. Recommended. Ride time 2 minutes and 22 seconds.

One interesting observation is that if the park were in Quebec, a predominantly French-speaking province in Canada, no English signs would have been allowed unless the French translation in larger size was present on the sign as well. So, for example, the English-only sign for "Main Street U.S.A." at the beginning of the park would not have been allowed in the province of Quebec due to the language law in that province.

Exiting Pinocchio, I was off to ride Pirates of the Caribbean. I walked through the left side of Fantasyland and noticed a thirty-minute wait at Peter Pan's Flight. It was then I should have gotten a Fastpass, because the regular line for Peter Pan got longer and longer all day, and I didn't need a Fastpass anywhere else in the park.

On my way, I felt hungry so I took my chocolate protein bar from my prized waist pouch. The protein bar was good, but as I feared it dried me out and I started to get thirsty.

I bought my waist pouch in Walt Disney World in Florida one month earlier. The pouch has Mickey Mouse on the front, and he is smiling with an American flag waving behind him. The caption, "Walt Disney World - An American Tradition Since 1971" is below Mickey.

I entered Adventureland, and immediately saw Captain Hook's pirate ship in a lagoon in front of Skull Rock. A waterfall spewed from the mouth of Skull Rock. It was all very neat. To my right was the queue for Pirates of the Caribbean. The sign for the ride was painted on a sail from a Pirate Ship, and was strung up over the entrance to the queue.

Pirates of the Caribbean (Adventureland)

At 3:00pm, I entered the attraction. It was very dark inside, but there was no line. I whistled "A Pirate's Life for Me" as the instrumental played throughout the queue. I almost walked on the ride, except for about a two-minute wait in the loading area.

The ride started with a slow sail past the Blue Lagoon Restaurant, lit dimly to fit with the theme of the ride. It reminded me of the restaurant at the beginning of El Rio del Tempo in the Mexican attraction at Epcot, except with a pirate theme, and I have read that Pirates of the Caribbean in Disneyland has a restaurant near the beginning of the ride.

The boat went up a long incline through the darkness. I entered an area on fire with battle. Flotsam scattered about. Pirates in a fort returned fire at Pirates on a ship. A pirate swung overhead on a rope. Next was the classic jail scene with the doggy holding the cell keys in his mouth. Then, past another pirate ship, this one with a Captain Hook-like character, and a storm blowing. Next, through the town. Lots of mayhem amide the flicker of fire and song. I saw two well-dressed pirates fighting with swords. Then a scene with drunken, singing pirates, and occasional pillaging and pilfering on the periphery. And then WOOSH! Down a watery drop, and we entered the world of the undead pirates. Lots of animated skeletons with wild expressions on their bony faces. Then the treasure room, again filled with skeletons. One last scene had a sitting, stationery skeleton holding a bottle of spirits. The fluid from the bottle flowed into his open mouth and down past his exposed spine.

Overall opinion of Pirates of the Caribbean: fantastic ride. I highly recommend it. Different and more elaborate than its counterpart in Florida. Ride time 9 minutes and 20 seconds.

I exited the attraction and headed out to search for the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril. On the way, I got a closer look at Captain Hook's pirate ship, and it had been built in very fine detail. I saw the menu for "Captain Hook's Galley", a restaurant inside the ship. It served giant hot dogs (4.30 Euros / $3.96 U.S. / $6.25 Canadian), pizza slice (3.30 Euros / $3.04 U.S. / $4.80 Canadian), and potato chips (1 Euro / $0.92 U.S. / $1.45 Canadian). They also served a few deserts and drinks.

As I passed by the pirate ship and through Adventure Isle, I noticed a fun play area for kids, including a rope bridge high up above everything.

By 3:18pm, I had built up quite a thirst, but did not immediately find a food stand. This was another difference from the park in Florida, where an expensive drink of water or soda pop was never far away. Finally I found a popcorn stand, and I encountered some fidelity with the park in Florida: very high food and drink prices. Coca-Cola or Vittel brand bottled water (2.60 Euros / $2.40 U.S. / $3.78 Canadian), small popcorn (same price as a drink), large popcorn (3.20 Euros / $2.94 U.S. / $4.65 Canadian), or a large popcorn and drink combination (5.00 Euros / $4.60 U.S. / $7.27 Canadian). I bought one bottle of water. It was a wide-shaped bottle of water and hard to carry around, but it was so expensive I couldn't throw out what was left. So, I decided to use my video camera bag to hold the water when I was on rides (I would be using the video camera on most rides).

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril (Adventureland)

At 3:22 p.m. I walked up to the entrance to the queue for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril and saw a 5 minute wait posted. WOO-HOO! The queue was well done according to the high Disney standard, with scenes of recently abandoned archeologist camps. The theme of the ride is a mine cart on rails running through an archaeological dig at an ancient stone temple in the jungles of Southeast Asia. As I approached the loading area, I noticed that the roller coaster ran backwards (the rider sits but faces the back of the mine cart vehicle). I walked right up to the loading area and was directed to a spot for the next mine cart. The next cart came, but the riders stayed on for another ride. I was mildly off-put by this. I can understand letting people stay on for another ride if no one is waiting, but I was! Oh well, it turned out to be a lucky break for me as that very ride vehicle ended up getting stuck at the top of the ride. The ride had to temporarily shut down. Not knowing how long the problem would last, I set off in search of other adventure.

A comment on the Indiana Jones ride in Disneyland Paris is that it is very different from what I have seen in pictures of the Indiana Jones ride in Disneyland, California. The Paris version is an outdoor roller coaster, albeit with a well-done theme, whereas what I have seen in pictures of the California Indiana Jones ride is more of an indoor ride that depends more on a fantastic interactive set.

I headed toward Frontierland. On the way, I passed Colonel Hathi's Pizza Outpost Restaurant. I did not check the menu, but I think we can assume it serves pizza.

Just past the restaurant I noticed the large tree to my left. It was the Robinson Crusoe Treehouse. I didn't have time to see it that day. I must say that it looked very similar to the Tree of Life in Animal Kingdom, but without the animals carved into the trunk.

I walked past the Indiana Jones Adventure Outpost, which I thought was very far from the Indiana Jones ride. It had jungle/safari theme merchandise.

Some African hand drummers played on the bridge leading to the Robinson Crusoe Treehouse. The area they played in had a some African theme, including the Hakuna Matata Restaurant. At 3:30 I stopped for a minute to listen to the drums, then headed off into Frontierland.

On a whim I turned right, and I saw a sign for the Cowboy Cookout Barbecue. I love barbecued food! The thought of barbecued food displaced the fact that I had eaten a protein bar earlier. I suddenly noticed my growing hunger. What a great day! Great attractions, wonderful atmosphere, short lines, a barbecue restaurant...then I saw the "Closed" sign. Cowboy Cookout Barbecue was closed! There goes my chance to be a cowboy and eat barbecue at the same time!

I decided to examine the park guide map to find another restaurant. By reading it, I found out that almost all of the restaurants in Disneyland Paris are not open everyday of the week. Some are open Wednesday to Monday, some Saturday to Tuesday, some Friday to Tuesday, some Friday to Wednesday, and some everyday except Sunday. The Cowboy Cookout Barbecue was open Friday to Wednesday, except Wednesday, May 15th! Did they know I was coming?

My first choice then my second choice then my third choice for a place to eat were closed, and my head began to spin trying to figure out the maze of open and closed restaurants. I decided to finish wandering through Frontierland.

I headed for Big Thunder Mountain, but found it closed for the day! Well, I wasn't too disappointed because I figured that it probably didn't vary as much from the Florida version as did other rides like Space Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean, except that Big Thunder Mountain (the is no "Railroad" in its name in the Paris version) in Paris is set on an Island in the middle of an unnamed lake in Frontierland.

Rustler Round Up Shootin' Gallery (Frontierland)

I continued along my way, in the general direction of Phantom Manor, and at 3:36 p.m. I saw the Rustler Round Up Shootin' Gallery. It had a sign inside that said, "Boot Hill". I like to make things go whoosh and bang at the pop of a gun, so I saddled up and put in my 2 Euros ($1.84 U.S., $2.91 Canadian). I started popping things as fast as the trigger could reset. I shot stuff close up, and stuff as far away as possible down the other side of the gallery. I had rabbits hopping and birds fluttering and undead Boot Hill residents perking up from their graves. An old windmill was hit and it began to spin, and then I hit the Banjo and it twanged a few bars.

I left the Shootin' Gallery satisfied that I had set the Wild West on edge, and I turned around to face a street full of wooden buildings from the Ol' West. The "Lucky Nugget Saloon, Gemstone of the West" held the street corner. Disneyland Paris had done a great job on Frontierland. I was having such a wonderful time at Disneyland Paris, and the streets of Frontierland kept my smile alive. I could feel the tumbleweeds blowing in from the distance. It was a magical atmosphere of fun.

I continued walking, and round a bend I saw the Riverboat, and snapped a photo.

Phantom Manor (Frontierland)

It was 3:42 p.m. Phantom Manor called to me from up on yonder hill, and I approached. The wait time posted at the entrance was...0 minutes! Great! Phantom Manor has a long queue through well kept shrubs and trees, though the queue was empty when I walked through. I by-passed a covered area that was meant to be a queue extension when lines got long. Creepy music drifted out from inside it, like some tinny echo from a dusty phonograph in the attic. As I neared the entrance, the faint moans of ghosts haunted the air. The floorboards on the veranda creaked. It was time to go in.

A French voice began to speak and tried to sound scary. My fellow ghost busters filed into the room, and the doors closed behind us taking away most of the light. Three paintings of scenes from the 19th century sat at the top of the walls. One of a girl in a blue dress and wearing ribbons in her hair as she walked through a gentle stream, one of a couple having a romantic picnic, and one of a lady with a parasol and riding in a rowboat. As the room stretched the pictures began to get longer. A gruesome man-lizard was revealed under the water of the stream, and he looked with hunger to the unknowing girl. The lady in the rowboat was headed off the edge of a waterfall. The romantic picnic was being invaded by ants and was about to be disrupted by a huge snake.

A door to the chamber opened, leading to a hall full of disturbing paintings and dim lantern lights. The hall led to a large room with two majestic staircases, cobwebs, and a large window through which dark clouds and an angry storm could be seen. I boarded a black vehicle moving on a track through the house. A haunting female voice moaned a song. The sadness and loneliness of her lament filled the darkness. As the black vehicle bore me through the mansion, I passed a hallway and saw the ghost of a bride slowly making its way toward me. On I went, past a piano playing without a player. From an open hallway above, I looked down upon a great room full of ghosts and haunts, and I hoped they did not notice me. Then I was taken outside into the night, through a dark and malignant cemetery. An undead skeleton, his cape waving in the wind, laughed at me, and his decaying dog snarled.

I was very impressed by Phantom Manor. It had many similarities to the Haunted Mansion in Walt Disney World in Florida, but it also had many differences. The boarding area for the ride vehicles was the first real indication of that. As described above, it is far more elaborate than the boarding area on Haunted Mansion in Walt Disney World. Particularly during the second half of the ride, I was subjected to many new scary scenes that are not in the Walt Disney World version. It was great!

Of note, some of the soundtrack in Phantom Manor was in English, and some in French.

Overall opinion of Phantom Manor: fantastic ride. I highly recommend it. Different and a little more elaborate (and a little more scary) than its counterpart in Florida. The ride time was about six minutes, including the time in the stretching room.

I left Phantom Manor and decided to find a place to eat. As I walked, I took in the atmosphere of that section of Frontierland. I saw the riverboat again, and Riverboat Landing, and all of the great Wild West structures along the old frontier streets. I saw the "Silver Spur Steakhouse", and that sounded great to me. I couldn't tell if it was open, so I walked up and pulled the handle...locked. Where could I get food in this place? The Cowboy Cookout Barbecue and now the steakhouse, both closed. I wanted to eat, and I hoped that somewhere on Main Street U.S.A. there would be an open eatery.

To get from Frontierland to Main Street, I had to pass through a frontier fort made of logs. It was well done, like everything else I had seen so far that day, and I saw many kids between the ages of four and ten romping through it.

By 4:08pm I had made my way to Main Street. I had passed through Casey's, but it was just fast food and I was in the mood for a sit-down meal. So I walked down the street looking for a better place. I found Walt's Restaurant about halfway down Main Street, but it was only open from noon until 3:00pm. I have reprinted the menu below, and while it looked good, the place was closed so I moved on.

Walt's Restaurant Menu

Starters:

- One starter, one main dish, one dessert - 28.00 E

- East coast crab cake - 9.25 E

- Salad of young lettuce and egg benedict - 8.00 E

- Smoked salmon on muffin with horseradish - 9.00 E

- Boston Clam Soup - 8.65 E

- California style grilled Portobello mushroom with tomato - 7.75 E

- "Orlando" shrimp salad - 9.75 E

Main Dishes:

- Supreme of farmhouse chicken with crayfish and Chardonnay - 18.25 E

- The original Texas spare ribs - 18.50 E

- Primavera style linguini - 17.50 E

- Walt's Gourmet Burger - 17.50 E

- Roasted cod steak with crispy bacon - 19.65 E

- Grilled king prawn kebab - 23.75 E

Specials:

- Surf and Turf - Fillet of beef and grilled king prawn. - 38.00 E

- "Pepper and mustard" grilled fillet of beef - 25.00 E

- Birthday cake (whole cake) - 22.00 E

Children's Menu:

- 1 main dish, 1 desert, 1 soft drink 250 ml. - 10.00 E

- Main dishes - minced steak, grilled chicken escalope, ravioli with alfredo sauce, primavera style linguini, or breaded fillet of fish

- Desserts - Mickey sundae or fruit yogurt or Chocolate Angle cake

Desserts:

- Apple brioche served with a light Bourbon sauce - 7.30 E

- Walt's pancake with fresh fruit - 7.50 E

- Crème brullee with pecans - 7.00 E

- Chocolate Angel cake, orange syrup - 7.30 E

- Fantasia cheesecake - 7.00 E

- Lilly's sundae - 6.80 E

- Various drinks including wine.

Next I found Victoria's Home Style Restaurant (see menu below). But it was mainly a sandwich shop, so I did not enter.

Victoria's Home Style Restaurant

- Ham, cheese, sour cream, toasted bread - 5.20 E

- Ham and cheese sandwich - 4.00 E

- Potato chips - 1.00 E

- Cheese and bacon quiche - 4.30 E

- 4 cheese pizza slice - 3.20 E

- Ham, cheese and mushroom pizza slice - 3.20 E

- "Panier Express" (1 ham and cheese sandwich, 1 packet of crisps, 1 sugared doughnut, 1 500 ml bottled water or 330 ml soda pop) - 7.00 E

- Various hot and cold drinks.

I was getting a little frustrated that most places to eat were either closed all day, only open for lunch, or were not full restaurants. Where can a guy get something decent to eat for dinner around here? I decided to leave Main Street and eat at the first open, full menu sit-down restaurant I could find. Just as I was exiting Main Street, I saw the Plaza Gardens Restaurant. It was a buffet, which is always a risk, but I did not know if I would find anywhere better, so I went in. The place had few patrons when I entered at 4:12 p.m.

The food at Plaza Gardens Restaurant is not great. I survived mostly on potatoes au gratin (scalloped potatoes with real melted cheese). The meat dishes were not good. I didn't try the fish because I only like it a certain way (Cajun). But after one experimental plate that was left mostly untouched and then two plates of potatoes, I settled in on dessert. The dessert was very good. I had chocolate mousse and some sort of strawberry mousse pie. Overall, I recommend you skip this restaurant. If you are having trouble finding a decent and open full-service restaurant in Disneyland Park, I suggest you head out to Disney Village or one of the Disneyland Paris hotel restaurants. I finished eating at the Plaza Gardens at 4:52 p.m. See the menu below.

Plaza Gardens Restaurant

- Open from 11:30am to 7:00pm and from July 6th to September 1st 11:30am to 10:00pm

- All You Can Eat Buffet (including starters, main courses and desserts) - 20.00 E

- Children's Buffet - 10.55 E

- Plus various wines, beers, soft drinks and water are available.

I had eaten quite a lot of potatoes au gratin as well as bites of a few other things and a big dessert at Plaza Gardens, and my stomach was not feeling its best. I was not sick, but it did not feel like the right time for screeching, spinning speed. I decided that it was a good time to visit Sleeping Beauty's Castle. As I walked out toward the castle, a horse-drawn trolley car passed by me.

Sleeping Beauty's Castle

I walked into the main entrance of the castle at 4:57 p.m., and I saw stairs leading up to a second floor. I walked up and saw a series of large stained-glass windows each with a scene from the movie Sleeping Beauty. There were also some murals and some tapestries. The middle of the second floor is open to the first floor below, and the ceiling of the second floor is vaulted, so it has a very open feel. There were several large, open storybooks on stands spaced about the second floor. It was very beautiful and well done. I walked out onto a parapet (like a balcony) off the second floor, and it was really neat to view Fantasyland from on high.

I walked down a spiral staircase back down to the main floor of the castle, and I walked through the two shops inside. The first shop I entered was almost a standard Disney store except that it concentrated on Sorcerer Mickey. The next store was full swords, crystal, and medieval trinkets.

The last thing remaining for me to see in the castle was the lair of the Dragon. I found the sign "La Teniere du Dragon", and proceeded down a set of stairs into the dark lair. It was cold, dank, and full of shadows, just as you might expect. Behind a short rock wall, I could see a crouched dragon. You can get fairly close to it, just not quite close enough to touch. Its neck turned to the left then the right and back as its mouth opened and closed. As I got near, it let out a loud roar of the kind that might scare little children.

At 5:07 p.m., I left Sleeping Beauty Castle very pleased. It was a nice place to relax and there was plenty to see. Except for the lack of open full-service restaurants, Disneyland Paris was just hitting high note after high note for me.

I had just under three hours left. I had made it on three of the four attractions that were "must see despite any length of line"; these had been Space Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Phantom Manor. I had not yet made it onto Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril.

Since there had been almost no line at any of these rides, I was left with plenty of time to wander the park and just ride what I felt like. I headed into Fantasyland, thinking maybe I would ride Peter Pan, but when I got there the wait was posted at 45 minutes. I wondered what was so amazing about the Peter Pan ride in Disneyland Paris, or how inefficient the ride system must be, for it to be the only ride in the entire park with a significant line. It was too late to get a fastpass for Peter Pan, and I regret not getting one earlier in the day. I ended up not using fastpass at any time during my visit, because every other ride had very short lines.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril (Adventureland)

My stomach was feeling less stuffed, so I decided that I would go back to Indiana Jones to see if it was up and running. I walked through the maze of Adventureland and arrived at Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril at 5:19pm. I rode it and it was thrilling. On a roller-coaster thrill scale of 1 to 10 it probably rates a 6 or 7. I made a video recording of the ride. It is very jarring, and a lot of fun. You can't see the big drops coming because you are seated backwards. At the peak of the roller coaster there was a great view of the park and of the Disneyland Hotel in the distance.

I exited the ride at 5:25 p.m.

Overall opinion of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril: fun ride. I recommend it to those who love roller coasters and don't mind a lot of jarring movement. The ride time was about two minutes.

I walked through Adventureland and into the Adventureland Bazaar. For a Bazaar, it seemed very quiet. The architecture and ambiance was very Aladdin, or Ali Babba and the Forty Thieves.

I decided to head to Main Street U.S.A to examine the attractions board so I could plan the remainder of my visit. The following were the ride time posted on the attractions board at about 5:34 p.m.:

Orbitron - 20 minutes

Le Visionarium - 0 minutes

Star Tours - 10 minutes

Space Mountain - 10 minutes

Honey, I Shrunk the Audience - 10 minutes

Alice's Curious Labyrinth - 0 minutes

Casey Jr. [roller coaster for kids] - 60 minutes

"It's a small world" - 0 minutes

Peter Pan's Flight - 45 minutes

Contes de Fees - 20 minutes

Dumbo the Flying Elephant - 45 minutes

Mad Hatter's Tea Cups - 10 minutes

Pinocchio - 10 minutes

Blanche-Neige - 10 minutes

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril - 10 minutes

Pirates of the Caribbean - 0 minutes

Phantom Manor - 0 minutes

Riverboat Landing - 20 minutes

[closed rides and periodic shows not repeated from my first listing]

On one of my passes through the shops of Main Street U.S.A. earlier in the day, I had noticed that there were indoor pedestrian walking malls, or "arcades", behind the shops on each side of Main Street U.S.A. At 5:36 p.m., I decided to visit the one behind the Emporium side of the street because it has a "Statue of Liberty" theme. Its name is the "Liberty Arcade and Tableau". The word "arcade" in the name does not refer to video games, but instead refers to a roofed passageway with shops on one side. The walls of the arcade are lined with framed paintings and murals of various scenes involving the Statue of Liberty. The painting I liked the most showed a long ago scene on the Hudson River, full of sail and steam ships, with fireworks lighting up the night. There was a display in the arcade listing the history of the statue. There was another display detailing the renovation of the statue that was completed in 1986, including three vials containing samples of various deposits that had collected on the Statue of Liberty before its renovation. The arcades themselves are a great idea, because they are a place to get out of the sun and into relative quiet, and a place to relax and sit down. On top of that, "Liberty Arcade and Tableau" is a wonderful celebration of the Statue of Liberty and the ideas of America. Well, done, Disneyland Paris. Very well done.

At 5:43pm, I left the arcade and headed into the Emporium. I walked through the series of connected shops that are collectively known as the Emporium, glancing about and occasionally stopping for anything interesting. It was great to see so many unique products that were not available in Walt Disney World in Florida. I noted several items that I was interested in, such as a Disneyland Paris guidebook and postcards of each of the Disney hotels. I did not want to carry the items around with me so I decided to hold off purchasing anything until it was near park-closing time.

I left the Emporium, and saw the Main Street U.S.A. train station and I hoped to get a ride on the train before it closed.

I decided to peruse the shops on the side of Main Street opposite the Emporium. There was a bake shop with sandwiches and pastries, but I had already eaten. At 5:56pm I found a candy store, and it was fantastic. It was called the "Boardwalk Candy Palace". I saw some lollipops and some sugar wafer candy that were of interest and noted them for later purchase. Next was a men's clothing store, and then finally a Disney store with unique items including snow globes, watches and figurines.

I spent a few more minutes mulling around the Main Street U.S.A. and Central Plaza area, including taking some photos of the Main Street transportation. I had spent about a half hour just taking in the atmosphere, and browsing. It was time to saddle-up for more rides.

Space Mountain was close, so why not? I had been distracted on my first ride by my efforts to video tape it, and by a sudden realization that I should hold my glasses instead of let them fly off my face and into the abyss of the Space Mountain set. So this ride would be more just sitting back and enjoying the thrill.

The line for my second ride on Space Mountain was even shorter than the first, maybe one minute instead of four or five. I enjoyed it more than my first ride due to a lack of encumbrance from a video camera and a set of glasses that were safely tucked away in my Walt Disney World travel pouch.

When I exited Space Mountain at 6:16 p.m., I decided to go around the back way and see the rest of Discoveryland. I passed by "Honey I Shrunk The Audience", having experienced the ride three times previously in recent years in Florida and suspecting the Paris ride was identical. I paused to get a good look at the X-Wing fighter stationed at the entrance to Star Tours. I took some pictures of the X-Wing, then saw the entrance to the "Videopolis". I was curious about what it was given that the guide map described it only as a "show".

It turned out that Videopolis is a large indoor theater with a huge movie screen and two big video screens. When I went in, nothing was playing on the big theater screen but cartoons were running on the side video screens. Only a few people were in the seats, probably taking a break like me.

I spotted a fast food outlet inside the Videopolis and to the left of the theater screens. I crossed over to it, a place called the "Café Hyperion", and ordered a medium Sprite.

Menu of Café Hyperion / Burgers & Co.:

- Hamburger - 1.55 E

- Cheeseburger - 2.00 E

- Double Cheeseburger - 2.90 E

- Omelette Burger - 3.40 E

- Double Bacon Burger - 4.00 E

- Hyper Chicken Burger - 5.50 E

- Hyper Burger - 5.20 E

- Chicken Nuggets (6 piece) - 3.35 E

- Chicken Nuggets (9 piece) - 4.15 E

- French Fries (normal portion) - 1.85 E

- French Fries (large portion) - 2.45 E

- Mixed Salad - 2.30 E

- Salad Mushu - 3.85 E

- Salad Atlantide - 5.35 E

- Hyper Burger Combo (with fries and soda pop or beer) - 9.80 E

- Hyper Chicken Combo (with fries and soda pop or beer) - 9.80 E

- Bacon Burger Combo (double bacon burger, fries, soda or water) - 9.00 E

- Nugget Combo (6 chicken nuggets, fries, soda or water) - 9.00 E

- Donald Combo (with fries and soda pop) - 6.00 E

- Child Combo (burger or 4 chicken nuggets, milk or soda pop, and a surprise) - 5.00 E

I left Café Hyperion at 6:30 p.m., and I saw the sign for the Visionarium right in front of me. It is identical to "The Timekeeper" from Walt Disney World. I decided that I wanted to see it because I liked it the first time I saw it in 1998, and since the attraction is at least temporarily closed in Florida, it might be my last opportunity to see it again.

Visionarium (Discoveryland)

The pre-show to the Visionarium is different from the Timekeeper. The Visionarium pre-show is a large, dark room with a video screen, with a show that celebrates progress and development. The main show of the Visionarium is exactly like the Timekeeper in Florida, except that the main sound track is in French. I was glad to find head sets available so I could get the English translation of the show. The show was fun to watch. I always like 360 degree movies. It had been four years since I had seen this one, and these days it only runs in Florida during busier periods, so it was nice to get a chance to see it again.

Overall opinion of Visionarium: fun show. Not a blockbuster, but definitely a must see at least once, and worth seeing again once every few years.

As I left the Visionarium, I spotted a little shop not far away. Inside the shop, at 7:00 p.m., I purchased a "Disneyland Paris" magnet. It just had the name of the park, and was mostly silver in color with some multi-colored hi-lights. It cost 1.52 Euros ($1.40 U.S., $2.21 Canadian).

I headed out for Fantasyland. I had just one hour before the close of the park, and I wanted to experience a few more attractions. I entered Fantasyland and decided to just wander and ride. I noticed how Fantasyland is so well laid out with plenty of space. It feels open and fun, not crowded with attractions. Another A+ for Disneyland Paris.

"It's A Small World" (Fantasyland)

Like many attractions in Disneyland Park Paris, the queues and displays in front of the attraction were larger and more elaborate than in the Magic Kingdom in Florida. This was due to the fact that Disneyland Park Paris is a larger park with lots of room for more and larger attractions. This is especially noticeable in Fantasyland.

The first place I stopped in Fantasyland was in front of "It's A Small World". The area in front of the attraction matches its theme. At the entrance to the queue there is a colorful rowboat full of lots of "Small World" dolls. Further into the queue there is a shallow pool of water, and two fountains in the middle of the pool showered water into the air. In this version of "It's A Small World", passengers board the boats outside the attraction. There is a covered loading platform that is used to board people on the boats. Everything about the attraction looked clean, freshly painted, and sparkling.

I walked onto the ride at 7:03 p.m. with no wait. Once inside, the boat passed through a short tunnel with black lit signs on each side, including "Bon Voyage" signs sponsored by France Telecom. Then I was in the main of the attraction. There were so many different dancing dolls and set scenes that I cannot describe them all here. Ice skaters, mountaineers, sultans, the Taj Mahal, Polynesian drums and dancers in grass skirts, Swiss Alps, Spanish and later Mexican guitarists, Canadian Mounties, Hollywood, football players, and a grand finale set up like a summer fair, and that is just to name a few. This was a great attraction.

The boat exited the attraction through another tunnel with black lit signs. At 7:10 p.m. I stepped out of the boat onto the exit platform inside the building, and followed a hallway that led to a room full of ten to sixteen foot tall replicas of various buildings around the world. They were meant for children to run around and through. It is a great way to let kids burn off some energy after sitting in a slow-moving boat for a while.

Overall opinion of "It's A Small World": great ride. It is more elaborate and grand than the attraction of the same name in Florida. I recommend it. The ride time was seven minutes.

As I left "It's A Small World" I noticed the Disneyland Railroad Fantasyland Station. It was just leaving the station, so I thought that maybe I would get on further down the line. One of my favorite attractions in Walt Disney World in Florida is the Walt Disney World Railroad, because I love the leisurely, shaded ride alongside the various lands and forests of the Magic Kingdom. The open sides of the rail cars allow for a cooling breeze and the sounds of the park to waft in. And it is a great opportunity to reflect on the magic and innocence of it all. I hoped I would get a chance to ride the Disneyland Paris Railroad before the close of the park, though I knew it would be difficult given the proximity of closing time.

Mad Hatter's Tea Cups (Fantasyland)

Not too far away from "It's A Small World" were the Mad Hatter's Tea Cups. I noticed that the roof over the Tea Cups is clear glass (with painted metal supports) in the Paris park (in Florida there is a solid-colored top on the attraction to shield from the Florida sun).

I have never been on the Tea Cups in Florida, so what a great opportunity! As I got in line, the ride began to load for its next run, but I just missed getting on. I used my time in the queue to film the attraction, and to determine which cups spun the fastest. Of course, there may be no discernable difference between any of the cups in terms of ease of spin, but I like to pretend there is.

At 7:19 p.m. I boarded and a minute later the ride started up. It was a lot of fun, but there was more resistance on the turning wheel than I had imagined. Turning the wheel on the Tea Cups was a real work out. The spinning didn't bother me, but all that turning almost made me light headed. Almost. It was fun to rotate and revolve at the same time.

Overall opinion of the Mad Hatter's Tea Cups: it's a fun ride and likely even more fun with two or more people who can giggle with each other in the attempt to maintain the spin. It is probably very similar to the version in Florida. I recommend it. The ride time was about two minutes.

Upon exiting the Tea Cups I noticed Alice's Curious Labyrinth. The guide map calls it "a maze of hedges leading to the castle of Alice in Wonderland's Queen of Hearts". Its entrance is a green hedge in the shape of an arch with a "Curious Labyrinth" sign running across the top. Off to the right and deep inside the labyrinth I saw a colorful castle done in an eastern-European orthodox cathedral style. Off to the left, also inside the labyrinth, rose a mound covered in colored grasses, capped by a huge image of the red face and wide white smile of the Cheshire Cat. There were water fountains in the labyrinth shooting gobs of water through the air in arcs, apparently meant to represent some sort of menacing trap for the lost labyrinth explorer. It looked like something that would be a lot of fun for a family or a group of people who could laugh with each other at the frustrations and tricks of the labyrinth. Though later I regretted not at least peeking in for a closer look, I walked away from the labyrinth and continued my way through Fantasyland.

At 7:24 p.m., I passed by Toad Hall Restaurant and it was closed. The hours for the restaurant were 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and it is open from Wednesday through Monday. I noted down the menu for future reference:

Menu of Toad Hall Restaurant:

- Fish and chips simple (1 fish filet and fries) - 5.05 E

- Fish & chips double (2 fish filets and fries) - 6.25 E

- Sandwich roastbeef froid, frites (cold roast beef sandwich and fries) - 5.80 E

- Quiche aux lardons et fromage, frites (cheese and bacon quiche with fries) - 4.75 E

- Nuggets de legumes (vegetable nuggets)

6 pieces - 3.35 E

9 pieces - 4.15 E

- Salade reine de coeur (ham, cheddar, egg and tomato salad) - 3.85 E

- Frites (French Fries) normal portion - 1.85 E

- Frites (French Fries) large portion - 2.45 E

- Menu fish "Chef Mickey" (fish & chips simple, fruit tart, soda) - 9.00 E

- Menu quiche "Chef Mickey" (quiche, fries, chocolate cake, soda) - 9.00 E

- Menu Mister Toad (fish & chips double, brignet fourre, soda or beer) - 9.80 E

- Child dinner (4 fish nuggets or 1 hot dog, fries, soda, yogurt and a surprise) - 5.00 E

- Filled doughnut - 2.00 E

- Fruit tart - 2.35 E

- Chocolate cake - 2.75 E

- Ice cream - 2.50 E

- Soda pop - small 2.00 E, medium 2.60 E, large 3.40 E

- Water - 1.85 E

As I had just over one half hour before the park closed, I picked up my pace and headed over to Adventureland for one more ride on Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril at 7:31 p.m. After that, I walked through Frontierland, just because it's fun to walk through. All of those Old West buildings bring out the boy in me. Disney has done a great job on Frontierland in Disneyland Paris.

As the park was about to close, Frontierland was starting to get quiet.

After taking in my last sights from Frontierland, I headed to Main Street U.S.A. to shop and to buy all of the things I had noticed earlier and wanted to purchase but left for later to keep things light. I arrived in Main Street U.S.A. at 7:42 p.m.

The first place I headed was the Emporium. I quickly bought 2 oversized postcards of Sleeping Beauty Castle (and shaped like the castle) for 3.04 Euros ($2.80 U.S., $4.42 Canadian), then an English/French version of the Official Park Souvenir Guide for 7.47 Euros ($6.87 U.S., $10.86 Canadian). I rushed through most of the rest of the Emporium, noticing many neat things to buy but realizing I shouldn't break the bank or buy so much that it wouldn't fit into my luggage for the flight back to Canada. I crossed over Main Street to the candy store called "Boardwalk Candy Palace", where at 7:55 p.m. I bought three rolls of wafer-shaped sugar candy (similar to candy "Love Hearts" in North America) for 2.28 Euros ($2.10 U.S., $3.31 Canadian).

I remembered the hotel postcards I had seen on sale in the Emporium, so I crossed back over to the Emporium. I found the postcards of the hotels and bought one of each, plus an extra one from Newport Beach, the one I was staying at, in case I had a chance to send one from my hotel before I left. The cost of the 7 postcards was 3.22 Euros ($2.96 U.S., $4.68 Canadian).

The time was 8:00 p.m. and it was closing time for the park. At that moment I walked out of the Emporium and looked up at the Disneyland Railroad train stopped for the day in the Main Street Station. It was too late to ride it.

I noticed that the shops along Main Street were remaining open after the 8:00 close of the park, but since I knew all of the rides would be stopped and that I had shopped plenty, I headed out. It had been a great and enjoyable day at Disneyland Park Paris. What a ball of fun!!! To keep my memories fresh, on my way out I took a good look around the town square at the beginning of Main Street. At 8:11 p.m., I exited Disneyland Park through the turnstiles under the Disneyland Hotel.

But the night was still young, and I wanted to see what the Disney Village had to offer, get some dinner, and tour the Disney hotels.

DISNEY VILLAGE

I walked through the gates to the Disney Village at 8:15 p.m. and decided to take a look around. I had passed through very quickly earlier in the day in my rush to enter Disneyland Park. The Disney Village is a smaller, more compact version of Downtown Disney in Walt Disney World, but what it lacks in land space it makes up for in altitude and large icons. Every building in the Village has a second floor, even if it is just a façade. Huge posters announce the coming of the new Star Wars movie. The oversized replica heads of Wild Bill and his American Indian counterpart top the entrance to Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. In the middle of it all, a larger than life statue of a lithe Elvis in a black bodysuit dips a girl in a pink skirt up on an elevated rock n' roll pedestal.

Disney Village has a fun atmosphere and some good shopping. It is not as extensive as Downtown Disney in Walt Disney World in Florida, but Disney Village is worth a look and adds something positive to the Disneyland Paris experience.

What I really wanted to see was the Wild West store, called "Buffalo Trading Company" in Disney Village. While I was never a big fan of the Wild West as a young boy, for some reason as an adult I appreciate the differences presented by time and geography between urban life in 2002 and the more wide-open life of the Wild West. Buffalo Trading Company was full of 'coon skin caps, cowboy boots, and a wide selection of six shooters. In a tip toward the modern, you could even buy authentic, used license plates from several American states in the southwest. I loved the store, but what I was really looking for was a t-shirt I could wear with "Frontierland" on it, or some such Wild West style. There were other things that I liked, including one particular six shooter that had a great shoot sound when you pulled the trigger, and a Davy Crocket costume made for eight year olds that I could have bought for my daughter. But I didn't have as much use for the six-shooter as I initially imagined, and it will be seven years before my daughter could use the costume, so I passed.

Next up was the Disney Store, and it was full of lots of great stuff. Oh, to have an unlimited wallet and unlimited luggage space. It was 8:18 pm. I looked around for a few minutes, then headed out to see what else I could see. There were several restaurants of varying themes, and "Billy Bob's Country Western Saloon" looked interesting, but too busy for me.

After such a great day, I still had time to visit all of the Disneyland Paris hotels. I decided to head out of Disney Village to experience them. On my way out, I walked through the Rainforest Café. The entrance to the Café was less elaborate than either of the two in Walt Disney World in Florida, but the inside was very similar. At 8:28 pm, I took a photo of the entrance to the Café.

TOUR OF THE DISNEY HOTELS

I left Disney Village at 8:29 p.m. and walked out to my left towards some of the Disney hotels.

Hotel New York

On my way to see Sequoia Lodge and Hotel Cheyenne, I stopped in front of Hotel New York because the vista of the lake is nice from there. There was a rink in front of the hotel, used as an ice rink in the winter and a scooter zone in warm weather (several people were zooming around on scooter and tricycles). It was 8:38 p.m.

I am not a fan of the look of the Hotel New York. It is too boxy and the mix of earth tones just doesn't feel like New York.

Looking out from the vista in from of the Hotel New York toward the lake I could see the Newport Beach Hotel at the opposite end and the Sequoia Lodge off to the left. It was wonderful to be able to take in the view of two great looking hotels from one vista. I took several photos.

The hotels in Disneyland Paris (with the exception of Camp Davy) are all within walking distance of each other and of the parks. It takes a bit of trial and error to figure it all out, but after that it is straightforward and things seem very close and convenient.

Sequoia Lodge

After spending a few minutes taking in the view, I walked away from the vista in front of Hotel New York. As I reached the corner of the lake, I turned right toward the Sequoia Lodge. I walked over a little bridge and saw a small river to my left. The slow moving river was bracketed on each riverbank by flowers and trees. I walked along until I came to the Sequoia Lodge. As I got closer, it seemed immense. Although it was not as beautiful as the Wilderness Lodge in Walt Disney World, the Sequoia Lodge was attractive and had that woodsy, mountain lodge feel about it. There is a large, almost oval, flat lawn in front of the Lodge, with a six big trees in the middle. There is a pathway on each side of the lawn that leads to the Lodge entrance. The outer edge of each pathway is lined with trees. As I approached, I noticed numerous children chasing each other across the lawn and into secret passages between the trees bordering the paths.

I walked into the Sequoia Lodge at 8:43 p.m., and immediately noticed that it did not have the same awe-inspiring lobby as the Wilderness Lodge. But it was pleasant. After I entered, I noticed a restaurant to my right called Hunter's Grill. To my left, opposite Hunter's Grill, is another restaurant called Beaver Creek. I examined the menu at Beaver Creek, and found several interesting selections. The most interesting to me was the "Duo Grizzly", which was two cuts of steak (Sirloin and grilled filet), french fries, green beans in butter and baked tomato. I was starting to get hungry, but I wanted to visit Hotel Cheyenne before it got completely dark.

Menu for Hunter's Grill Restaurant in the Sequoia Lodge:

- Ranger's Rotisserie - 26.00 E

Yosemite salad (salad of confit of chicken gizzard, poached egg and endive)

Roast chicken thigh marinated in spices

Herb sausage, filet of pork with mild spices

Roast rumpsteak with fine salt (garnished with corn cob)

- Tastes of the Sierra (vegetarian menu) - 26.00 E

Endive salad with croutons and poached egg

Crunchy vegetables

Roast pineapple with maple syrup

Jalapeno with cheddar cheese

Grand Canyon special (vegetable pancake, mushrooms, tomato, rice, corn cobs, french beans)

- Coming Up the River - 26.00 E

Endive salad with croutons and poached egg

Crunchy vegetables

Roast pineapple with maple syrup

Jalapeno with cheddar cheese

Grand prawn in olive oil and grilled escalope of salmon

Tomato, sauce of butter, vinegar and shallots

- All three dinner selections come with a choice of one of the following desserts:

pancake with maple syrup and orange

rich pear and walnut tart

iced yellow stone cup

coconut and mango vacherin with red fruit coulis

Menu for Beaver Creek Restaurant (open 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.) in the Sequoia Lodge:

"Getting There"

- Choice from the starters buffet (if followed by main meal) - 8.00 E

- Starters buffet (alone) - 12.95 E

- Cream of tomato soup - 4.30 E

- Sequoia salad (salmon, French beans, tomatoes, lettuce, crusts) - 5.50 E

"The Big Dish"

- Ranger's (pork, lamb cutlet, chicken thigh, confit of duck, sautéed potatoes with mushrooms and corn cob - 18.25 E

- Cedar Grove (Half a roast chicken, sautéed potatoes with mushrooms, roast tomato and pineapple gratin) - 13.25 E

- Three Rivers (Spare rib of pork, barbecue sauce, coleslaw, french fries, roasted pineapple with maple syrup and corn cob) - 14.95 E

- Big Canyon (Vegetable pancake, roasted pineapple, french beans, tomato, corn cob, rice, mushrooms) - 12.50 E

"The Trappers"

- The Grizzly Bear Dou (Sirloin steak and grilled filet of beef, french fries and french beans, tomato) - 22.20 E

- Extra large brochette of grilled skewer lamb with stuffed baked potato and mushroom garnish - 17.50 E

- General Sherman giant burger (cheese or bacon) with potatoes, fried onion rings and red kidney beans - 13.50 E

- Roast Salmon with mild spices, wild rice and courgettes - 13.50 E

- Grilled entrecote with french fries and french beans - 15.00 E

- Roast duck fillet with maple syrup, vegetable stew, sauteed potatoes and mushrooms - 15.00 E

- Gratin of macaroni with ham, tomato and cheese - 12.00 E

"Discovery Menu" (1 starter + 1 main dish + 1 dessert) - 20.00 E

Drinks:

Vittel (bottled water) - 3.40 E

Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Light, Fanta, Sprite - 3.10 E

Wines - 15.50 to 24.00 E

I left the Sequoia Lodge at 8:54 p.m. I walked back across the bridge over the small river, then turned right on the path mark for Hotel Cheyenne and Hotel Santa Fe (had I turned left I would have been heading back toward the New York Hotel and the Disney Village). The walkway to Hotel Cheyenne was wide and paved white, with trees and flowering bushes on each side. The trees on the right side of the walkway were just sparse enough to have a decent view of the river, the flowers, and the romantic lantern lights of the Sequoia Lodge on the other side of the river. The sun was just starting to set, so the light was beginning to sharpen and tinge with orange.

On my way along the path, I noticed a bridge over the river leading to Hotel Santa Fe. I was not as interested in this hotel so I did not cross the bridge. I would have to be content with the postcard of Hotel Santa Fe that I had bought in the park. With the more interesting Hotel Cheyenne to visit and the time passing quickly, I kept on walking past Hotel Santa Fe.

Hotel Cheyenne

The walk from the Sequoia Lodge to Hotel Cheyenne took about six minutes. As I arrived in the area, I decided not to try to find a grand entrance to Cheyenne. Instead, like a Wild West stranger approaching a town, I just ducked in between the first buildings I encountered, and decided to wander.

The long streets of Hotel Cheyenne were deserted. I looked around for tumbleweeds, but they must have all tumbled away. The buildings in Hotel Cheyenne are just what I would imagine in the Old West in America. Well, I am sure the Disney buildings are somewhat better kept, but still, the design and construction made it feel quite authentic. The buildings were painted soft, almost pastel colors of light blue, faded mauve and yellow.

Above the two story Old West buildings, the sky was wide open. There was a town square with a white picket fence.

Hotel Cheyenne didn't appear to be a hotel at all. It felt like town in Wyoming from a hundred and twenty years ago. A very, very well kept town from Wyoming from a hundred and twenty years ago, but that nonetheless. A few buildings had names painted on them in large, faint letters, like "Doc Holiday", "Running Bear", and "Wyatt Earp".

I stood in an intersection, and then I walked down the longest street I could see. Eventually I came to the center of town. There were tables outside full of people eating dinner from the food court nearby. Lanterns lit up the darkening evening. A stagecoach pulled up and two cowboys jumped off. The atmosphere at the hotel was perfect.

I saw a sign for the General Store and I went in. It was full of neat stuff, and different from what was available anywhere in Walt Disney World in Florida. As I shopped, Goofy came in, dressed in cowboy attire. He hammed it up with a few guests.

I bought a Disneyland Paris T-shirt for 10.52 Euros ($9.68 U.S., $15.29 Canadian). It is a great T-shirt, sort of a medium green with "Disneyland Paris" on the front along with Cowboy Mickey Mouse spinning his lasso in the air. The price was a bargain. Great $10 T-shirts are just not available in the U.S.A. parks. After buying the T-shirt, I spied a Disneyland Paris picture viewer for $4.60 Euros ($4.23 U.S., $6.69 Canadian). It had a bunch of photos from Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park, so I bought it, at 9:20 p.m.

After combing the store for neat stuff, I left to check out the Hotel Cheyenne food court, called the Chuckwagon Cafe. The food court is on the same street as the General Store, about twenty feet down. I noticed a large number of tables outside the food court, and most of them were taken. At 9:22 p.m. I entered the food court. It was a pleasant enough food court and kept with the Wild West theme, but was not as large or attractive as the food court in Dixie Landings in Walt Disney World (another "moderate" class hotel). There was a good crowd in the food court, lots of hustle and bustle and clinking of cutlery.

The following is a partial menu from the food court at Hotel Cheyenne:

Far West Platter (quarter chicken, four bone piece of pork rib, half a corn cob, four mini potatoes and a slop of beans) - 12.20 Euros ($11.21 U.S./$17.73 Canadian)

BBQ Half Chicken (half chicken, half a corn cob, four mini potatoes and a slop of beans) - 10.50 Euros ($9.65 U.S., $15.26 Canadian)

The items for sale in the food court were normally right up my alley, but having been to Dixie Landings only a month before and having eaten the chicken and rib combo at their food court several times, I wanted something different. I decided to head back to the Sequoia Lodge and eat there.

At 9:27 p.m. I took some last video of Hotel Cheyenne. It was dusk, and the area was quiet and deserted. Birds chirped in the distance. Perfect.

The walk from Hotel Cheyenne back to the Sequoia Lodge was under a darker sky than the walk over. I noticed a few flies as I walked among the trees, but not many. The temperature had dropped a little, but was still comfortable.

DINNER AT BEAVER CREEK IN THE SEQUOIA LODGE

I arrived at the Sequoia Lodge at 9:32 p.m. I took another look at the menus of Hunter's Grill and the Beaver Creek Restaurant. I had the "Grizzly Dou" in mind ever since I noticed it earlier in the evening, so I ended up opting for Beaver Creek.

I walked over to the girl at the podium in front of Beaver Creek. I said, "Hello, would you have a table for one?".

"One? No, sorry...just joking! I'm sure we can manage a table for one. You must be lonely." She laughed a little bit, and seemed pleasant.

She took me to my table and asked me where I'm from. When I told her, she said that she would like to move to Canada, and is trying to learn English.

The restaurant had a good number of people in it but it was by no means full. I had a table that was one of many in a long line against a wall. The waiter came over to my table shortly after I sat down, and since I knew what I wanted I ordered right away. I ordered the Grizzly Duo and an orange pop.

As soon as the waiter left, I got up and headed for the washroom off to my left. It had been a long day and I wanted to wash my face. The washroom was clean but unremarkable, and of average size.

Shortly after I arrived back at my table, the waiter arrived with my orange pop and a basket of buns. I was starving and the buns looked delicious, so even though I knew my main course would be filling, I ate two buns with butter. There were three buns remaining in the basket, so I wrapped them up and put them in one of my shopping bags so I would have some eats for the train the next morning.

I did some people watching as I waited for my meal, and I noticed a long salad bar. I only had to wait a few minutes between the time I returned from the washroom and the time my dinner arrived.

The food on the plate looked amazing to my hungry eyes and tummy. The thick french fries were a light golden color. I started in on the filet steak. It looked well done but not overdone, and it was wonderful. Then I nibbled on a french fry, and it was one of the best I have ever eaten, tasty but not too greasy. I tried the other steak, the sirloin, and though not quite as delicious as the filet, it was fantastic and done just the way I like it. I regretted being full when it was done because I wanted to keep eating the wonderful food. It turned out I had made a great choice in this restaurant.

I paid the waiter with my Visa card (I used a credit card throughout Disneyland Paris Resort), and left the restaurant at about 10:20 p.m.

I wandered around the Sequoia Lodge for a few minutes. The hallways had subdued lighting, which added to the cozy feeling. I stopped in the Northwest Passage boutique to browse.

I left the Sequoia Lodge and began the walk to the Newport Bay Club. My day at the Disneyland Paris Resort was ending. The sky was dark, and the water in the lake reflected a bit of the moon. It was quiet. I noticed a couple cozying up down near the water. It was definitely a romantic night in a romantic setting.

I entered the Newport Bay Club Hotel, but before turning in, I spent about ten minutes in the Bay Boutique. There were some items for sale with a nautical theme.

I returned to my room, washed up, and watched a bit of what was available on television. I especially enjoyed watching the Disneyland Paris Resort channel, which gave me a glimpse of the Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show that was not playing the evening of my stay. It looked like a lot of fun.

I turned off the television, and I fell asleep.

DEPARTING DISNEYLAND PARIS

I woke up at 5:00 a.m. on the morning of Wednesday, May 16, 2002. I got up and packed my things, had a shower and dressed for the trip back to Holland. I had requested express checkout, so that was taken care of. I took one last look at my hotel room, and began the long journey.

The lobby of the Newport Bay Hotel was completely deserted as I left. At 5:56 a.m., I exited the doors of the hotel, and said goodbye to it. When I make a final departure from a Disney hotel, one of my traditions to say goodbye to the hotel. The weather was very cool and although the sun had just risen, the light was not yet bright. Birds were chirping and the sky was cloudy. I could see no other people around the lake between the hotels. It was very peaceful. I love early morning at Disney.

I arrived at Disney Village and crossed through it to get to the train station. I went down to the platform and waited about 15 minutes for a train. The train arrived, I got on, and departed Marne-La-Vallee-Chessy station. Just to make sure I was on a train bound all the way to Paris, I asked another passenger if this was the train to Paris and he nodded yes.

At about 7:00 a.m. I arrived in Paris, and changed trains to get to Paris Nord Station. I got to Paris Nord at about a quarter after seven, missing the 6:55 a.m. direct train (train number 9309) to Holland. I kicked myself a bit for not waking up a half hour earlier than I did, because the 6:55 a.m. train had no transfer in Brussels, and took only three and a half hours, arriving in Den Haag in Holland at 10:27 a.m. The 7:55 a.m. train (no. 9313) left 45 minutes after I arrived in Paris, had a stop and change of trains in Brussels, and took four hours to get to Den Haag in Holland, arriving at 11:57 a.m.

I bought a ticket for the 7:55 train, and the cost was 84.60 Euros ($78 U.S., $123 Canadian).

While waiting for the train, I decided that I might as well walk out of the train station to at least get a glimpse of the streets of Paris. It looked just like all of those newsreels from the occupation and subsequent liberation during the Second World War. It was full of history.

The sidewalk was a little smelly.

The time came to get on my train, so I found my seat. The train left, and arrived in Brussels at 9:20 a.m. I got off and found the transfer point for the next train. I waited twenty-six minutes, then the train to Den Haag arrived. The train from Brussels to Den Haag was not a Thalys train, and not nearly as nice. Once again I wished I had woken up early enough for the direct Thalys train. At a train station about a half hour short of my final destination a man needing anti-perspirant decided to sit beside me. At least it was only a half hour.

I arrived in Den Haag, Holland at 11:57 a.m., and got off the train. Using an automated ticket dispenser in the Den Haag station, I bought tickets costing 1.90 Euros for the local train back to Delft. Only problem was that Delft was not really my destination! For months I had heard my wife speak of "Delft" being where her friend lived, but really her friend lived in an outlying suburb called Rijwick. So, I took the train to Delft, but when the train got there it looked nothing like the station I had originally left from! I stayed on the train and the next stop was another stop with Delft in its name, but it was a tiny outdoor stop, not the destination I was looking for. I was lost. I got off the train anyway, not wanting to stay on a train headed for Rotterdam. This was a mistake because my train was not a regular stop for the commuter trains, and only stopped at my stop about every half hour. And, I had just missed a train by a minute or so. I was growing very frustrated. Finally the train back to Den Haag arrived. I got on and traveled one stop to the main Delft stop, which was still not the right stop. I got off and called my wife's friend, who explained some geography to me. I decided to take a taxi to Rijiwik because it was getting late (it was 1:00 p.m.) and the wedding would be happening in a couple of hours. The taxi cost almost $40 Canadian dollars!

At least I was finally back where I was supposed to be. The adventure to the Disneyland Paris Resort had concluded, and the rest of my stay in Holland went well.

Side-story about our flight home

There would be one more adventure on the trip from Holland back to Canada, when the British Midland Airways representative asked how many pieces of luggage I wanted checked, and I said four, but she for some idiotic reason checked five (she included our baby stroller). I didn't notice this because the stroller was not put on the conveyor belt like the rest of the checked luggage, and we dropped the stroller off as usual at the gate. But little did we know the stroller had been tagged with a code to be checked! So the baby stroller was checked all the way to our final destination in Canada. We had a three-hour stop in London's Heathrow and no stroller! This made my wife very mad, so she insisted (despite my opinion to the contrary) that we set out on a quest to get the stroller back. It ended up being a three-hour lost cause. Despite all the rushing around to get the airlines to get the stroller for us, including clearing British Customs for a half-hour visit (the place the airlines told us to go get the stroller necessitated a clearing of Customs to get to the luggage area, and you should have seen the Customs guy when he asked me how long we would be in Great Britain and I said ten minutes), we never ended up getting the stroller until our final destination in Canada.

The desperate search to get the stroller made us feel rushed and tired, made us miss the opportunity to have a sit down meal in the airport, and nearly made us miss our connection. Today, we can laugh about it, and it is a good story.

CONCLUSION

My trip to the Disneyland Paris Resort was a grand adventure, and a lot of fun! I am so glad that I had a chance to visit. Disneyland Park Paris hits a lot of high notes, and gets an A+ from me. The Disney hotels get a B+ overall, except for Hotel Cheyenne, which gets an A+ for theme and fun. I highly recommend the Disneyland Paris Resort to everyone. If you can get a good rate on airfare, a trip to Disneyland Paris Resort is very affordable, and worth a stay of about five days. Of course, Walt Disney World in Florida is still my favorite place on earth.

"LOWLIGHTS":

  • The difficulty in finding a full-service restaurant open for dinner in Disneyland Park. The restaurants that serve more than just fast food inside Disneyland Park are open on a rotating schedule [in May, at least], so on any given day several could be closed. Hint: to get around this, eat in Disney Village or one of the Disney hotels, if you have time.
  • Disneyland Paris Resort has no monorail, and I love Disney monorails. However, this lowlight is alleviated by the ability to walk from all but one of the hotels to the parks.

THINGS I MISSED:

  • Missing the chance to ride Peter Pan so I could compare it to the ride in Florida. Why didn't I just get a FASTPASS early on!
  • I didn't get to the Davy Crockett Ranch because it was beyond walking distance from where I was, and that is the only Disneyland Paris Resort hotel with no bus service.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Hotel Cheyenne. Walt Disney World in Florida should build its own Hotel Cheyenne. Though I could not get a room there, I was so taken by Hotel Cheyenne in the Disneyland Paris Resort that I would like to stay at a hotel like it often. In Walt Disney World in Florida, it would be a "moderate" level resort, but the look and feel is so unique and fun. Children would love to be little cowboys and cowgirls at a Hotel Cheyenne in Walt Disney World, and adults probably would, too! And it would be a great place for Woody and Jessie from Toy Story to hang out. Message to Disney: build a Hotel Cheyenne in Florida!
  • The large size of Disneyland Park in Paris allows for a roomier layout and more elaborate ride queues than in the Magic Kingdom in Florida.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: very, very well done, and better than the version in Florida
  • Phantom Manor: like many attractions in Disneyland Park in Paris, it is a fresh and distinct take on a familiar theme.
  • Sleeping Beauty Castle: the ability to walk up to the second level of the castle to look off its balconies, and to walk down to the basement to visit the Dragon were great.
  • Beaver Creek Restaurant in the Sequoia Lodge. The food was delicious.
  • The "Buffalo Trading Company" in Disney Village. There were lots of neat things to buy with a Wild West theme, from cowboy clothes to great toy six-shooters. They even had authentic used license plates from states like Arizona and Wyoming.
  • The General Store in Hotel Cheyenne. It is moderate in size but has a few neat things.
  • The shopping throughout the Disneyland Paris Resort was fun because there were a lot of items not available in the U.S. parks
  • Line ups were very, very short, except at Peter Pan (note the short line ups could be due to the time of year and day of the week of my visit).
  • The prices in the Disneyland Paris Resort were very reasonable, except on food. Admission prices to the parks were 35% cheaper than at Walt Disney World in Florida, and hotel prices were about 20% cheaper. So for the most part, Disneyland Paris is a bargain. The food, though, was priced about the same (very high).
  • The ability to walk to the parks from every hotel (except Davy Crockett Ranch) is a big plus, and offsets the lack of a monorail and the wonder that goes with it.

HINTS AND TIPS:

  • If you want to go on the Peter Pan ride, get a Fastpass. It was the only ride in the park that had long lines all day.
  • If you want to be close to the parks, stay in the Disneyland Hotel, which is right at the entrance of Disneyland Park. However, it is the most expensive hotel in the Disneyland Paris Resort, by far.
  • The Sequoia Hotel is less expensive than the Disneyland Hotel, but is the closest aesthetically pleasing hotel to the parks (the New York Hotel is closer, but it just looks like an office building). Note though that all hotels except the Davy Crockett Ranch are within walking distance of the parks.
  • The furthest hotel from the parks that is still within walking distance is the Newport Bay Club Hotel. It is an attractive hotel, sort of like the Yacht Club in Florida but not quite as nice.
  • After the parks close, visit all of the Disney hotels within walking distance of the parks (Disneyland Hotel, New York Hotel, Sequoia Lodge, Newport Bay Club, Hotel Cheyenne, and Hotel Santa Fe). There are a good variety of restaurants at the hotels, and the gift shops are worth the visit.
  • If there is no line, buy your attraction tickets from the hotel concierge desk.
  • Hotel Cheyenne looks like the most fun place to stay. Note that all of its rooms contain a bunk bed plus one double bed.
  • The Disney hotels are so close together that a guest at one of the hotels can easily eat at other hotels just by walking over.

Thanks for reading.

Jody Grantham

jodypublic@yahoo.com


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