Saskia Linders -- April 2004 -- Disneyland Paris (SL, Offsite)
Actually we planned a short skiing trip to southern France for the last week of May 2004. Unfortunately Bart had to give a presentation during that week and we had to cancel this trip. So, what to do then? Next opportunity to spend a little vacation together would be in April, too late for a skiing trip (or did I just want it to be to late??).
We both love Disneyland Paris and decided to go back again after having been there already during the last week of November 2003. Our friends and family were a little bit shocked, they asked us if we were out of our minds to go back again. Well I donít blame them, theyíve never been there (grr, did they have to be so honest? I really started to feel guilty for spending so much money for only four days of fun.).
Checking out the prices on Internet we found a great deal: ďStay 2 nights and get one for freeĒ. I love that. The Seqouia Lodge offers Lodge rooms at a cheaper rate because these rooms are not located in the main building. Weíve stayed in the main building for two times already and we didnít mind to make reservations for a room in one of the Lodges this time. So we decided to get a Lodge room with King-size bed. We booked our three nights, four days package and paid the price for only two nights (502,00 Euro, insurance included). Yippee, we saved money and we thought it a good idea to spend it on an additional night at another hotel. The Holiday Inn at DLP offered a special rate, 85,50 Euro, for one night (no breakfast included). We thought it a good deal and made the reservation.
Our own car is a little bit old to be reliable, so we rented a car for only 274,00 Euro (April 19/25, 2004, every possible insurance included).
APRIL 19th, DAY BEFORE TRIP
Today Bart got home at 10.00 a.m. after working all night. I made him sleep in the living room so I was able to clean the rest of our apartment and to pack our bags. At 3.00 p.m. Bart was awake and we picked up our rental car (Ford Fiesta) and went to the supermarket to get some candy and a few bottles of coke (weíre Dutch enough to save money on our drinks). In the evening we phoned Bartís dad with some last minute instructions for taking care of our cats and thatís it. We were ready to go!
APRIL 20th, DAY ONE
Today we got up early and were ready to go at 5.45 a.m. After an uneventful ride we arrived at the Seqoia Lodge hotel at 10.15 a.m. Check inn went quickly and very much to our surprise we were upgraded to a Montana room (in the main building) on the first floor. After getting our bags out of our car we went to our room. I love the rooms at seqouia Lodge, but I must admit that the hotel is showing itís age. Our closet missed one drawer, the wood was peeling off the bathtub and three light bulbs were missing, but this wasnít as bad as it sounds, our room was still looking very nice and cozy. The room also had two double beds. We booked a room with king-size bed, but this didnít bother us at all, we didnít want to complain about getting two double beds after getting an upgrade. We were too happy to be back again. After unpacking our bags and filling two bottles with coke/diet coke, we headed straight to the parks.
Itís only a short walk from this hotel (12 minutes) and at 11.00 a.m. we were finally there. Our first stop was at city hall to make dinner reservations at Hunterís grill for 8.30 p.m. we also liked the idea of getting a guided tour and were able to get a reservation for 2.30 p.m.. Both of us wanted this trip to be without rushing, so we walked slowly through Mainstreet towards Frontierland enjoying the nice weather. In Frontierland we decided to do the Haunted Mansion which had no waiting time at all. After that we got in line for Big Thunder Mountain (only a 10-minute wait). Coming out of Big Thunder we felt a little tired and just made a stroll through every land of the park. Back at Mainstreet we got on the railroad train to get around the park (I guess we must have been really tired, because normally we wouldnít have been so dull).
At 2.20 p.m. we arrived at city hall for our guided tour.
The guided tour was really nice, but I wouldnít do it again, especially not for 15,00 Euro p.p.. At the end of the tour we got to watch the parade from a specially preserved area. I felt rather had to be sitting there in that secured area while all the other people were standing in lines. Yes, I know itís supposed to make me feel special, but I felt more like a moron who had to be kept apart. Many people started laughing about us sitting there on that bench treated like royalty. I even heard one woman saying that we didnít look famous at all. At that point I found myself giggling like teenagers do when they feel uncomfortable and I seriously started doubting my sanity. Bart even started laughing out loud and I was sure they would have sent us to some kind of institution if they could. How could we be so unthankful? Anyway, we were happy when there came other people to join us there and yes, it was nice to have such a good spot to watch the parade. Our guide gave us both a special ďguided tourĒ pin and that was the end of our tour.
By then it was time to get something to eat and we decided to share a hot dog (4,00 Euro). Bart thought we had seen enough of the park for today and he wanted to go for a swim. We walked out of the park by 4.50 p.m. and jumped into the pool at 5.15 p.m. (thatís the convenience of staying on-property). We were back in our room at 6.25 p.m.. Now it was time for one of my favorite parts of staying in a hotel: taking a bath!! At home we only have a shower and I just love to soak in the water, reading a book. Bart watched TV and after my bath I joined him. We both must have fallen asleep because Goofyís wake up call woke us up at 8 oíclock. I must admit that I wasnít the smart one who ordered this wake up call and Iím positively sure that if it would had been up to me we would have slept through all night. Letís face it Bart is the clever one, but Iím glad he thought of it.
Dinner at Hunterís Grill was really nice, but not as good as two years ago. Now everything was pre-made (salad and desert, the meat of the grill doesnít count), and our waitress wasnít looking happy at all. We both had ordered ďThe Rangerís RotisserieĒ containing Salad, 4 pieces of meat from the Grill, pineapple from the grill, sweetcorn, roast potatoes and a choice of deserts. Bart chose a fruit cocktail for desert and I had a pancake with apple and cinnamon ice cream. Besides that we ordered a bottle of red wine and a bottle of water (S. Pellegrino). We had to pay 75,00 Euro (or something like that). We tipped the waitress and went straight of to bed.
APRIL 21st, DAY TWO
Howdy pal, sorry to bother you, but do you know what time it is? Itís time to wake up, to rise and shine! Yes Goofy weíll get ready but not yet at 07.30 a.m. which moron ordered this wake up call? O, yes I believe it was I, sorry Bart.
Waking up again at 08.00 a.m. we decided it was really time to get up now. We were ready for breakfast at 08.30 a.m.. The waiter showed us our seats and we helped ourselves at the buffet. After breakfast we made dinner reservations at Parkside Dinner for 08.30 p.m.. Then we walked to the parks and decided to go to the Studios first. I love Animagique and we got on the 10.30 show. Walking out of this show the sun was shining very brightly and it wouldnít stop doing so all day. This was our first time in the park we didnít have to wear four 4 layers of clothes to keep warm and we loved it.
The Studios Park is not as detailed as the Disneyland Park, but personally we think it doesnít get the credits it deserves. The park actually has some great rides. This morning we road the Rock Ďn Roll Coaster twice, then did the Studio Tram tour and after that we walked on the Moteurs Action Stunt Show Spectacular. By then it was already 02.00 p.m. and we decided to go to the Disneyland Park to spend the afternoon. Back at the Disneyland Park we used our fastpass to ride Big Thunder Mountain and we watched the new Peter Pan to the Rescue show (well I think kids love it although we werenít exited at all). At 3.50 p.m. we went to the Cowboy Cookout Barbecue in Frontierland to order one double cheeseburger menu (cheeseburger fries and some kind a chocolate desert) for 11,00 Euro. We shared the menu and rode Big Thunder Mountain once more before going back to the hotel for a swim.
At 05.00 p.m. exactly we were bubbling in the hot tub. Bart had burned his face (and his head, heís starting to get bold) and wasnít in such a good mood. He wanted to take a nap and within 20 minutes we were back in our hotel room. Well, I took a bath again and Bart watched a movie on the Disney channel.
At 08.15 p.m. we walked over to Hotel New York for our dinner reservation at Parkside Dinner. This was the first time we had dinner here, but Iím sure weíll get back every next visit to DLP. Okay, it didnít look exactly as we expected, but the plain art deco atmosphere was just right. Our waiter was very good and very funny, we really liked that man (Rabbah was his name). Of course we ordered a bottle of wine (hey itís France and itís our only vacation for this year) and a bottle of water (S. Pellegrino again). Bart decided to order the Big Apple, which actually means grilled rib eye steak with fried onions and fries (16,00 Euro). I ordered the Rockefeller Chicken Burger meaning fried chicken breast fillets, iceberg lettuce, pineapple, a tomato and tartar sauce altogether building a truly giant burger and fries (14,00 Euro). The food was very good and I ate everything till the last crumb. Looking around I saw that all the other people who had ordered this Chicken burger just couldnít finish it at all. It just was too much for them. Well Iím really not fat, but at that point I saw the resemblance between a cow and me very clearly, I guess itís the fresh air (ahum). Much to my surprise Darkwing Duck walked into the restaurant. Yippee, now Iíve got my character dinner anyway. Itís the only thing Disney Bart doesnít want to do until weíll have kids, perhaps you can imagine the discussion weíve had about this. I think Disney is based upon these characters and I just refuse to accept that Mickey is just a suit and a mask with a girl in it, for me itís Mickey mouse. Bart just doesnít think so at all and much to his dislike I waved at Darkwing Duck and said, hey Darkwing Duck nice to see you. Okay, perhaps I was the first person who had noticed him, but at that moment all kids and adults (you see Iím not the only mad person around) started waving at him too. Darkwing took his time to visit every table and then went on his way to the Manhattan restaurant. I really like such things, but it also shows that at Disney youíll get what you pay for. Hotel New York is a deluxe resort hotel and at our moderate hotel Seqouia Lodge this would never have happened. We ordered some coffee and then it was time to go back to our own hotel.
It was such a great evening, we decided to walk among the other resort hotels. We could see some far away lightning and sat down to watch it for a little while. At these moments we wonder why we never make time to do such things at home, it was so nice to sit down and relax.
Although it was a little late for making a phone call, we decided to wake up Bartís parents by calling them to ask how our cats were doing. His parents loved to hear we were having a nice time, even at 11.30 p.m. and we loved to hear our cats were doing just fine. My own family will be happy to hear I decided not to call them, they also love to hear how weíre doing, but just not at this time. After this call we plaid some air hockey at the games room and went to bed at 12.10 p.m..
APRIL 22nd, DAY THREE
Goofy woke us up again and we were having breakfast at 09.15 a.m.. After breakfast we made dinner reservations at the Beaver Creek tavern for 8.30 p.m.. Today it was raining, but we were prepared for it. Bart put on his raincoat and I put on my new sailing jacket. By 10.30 a.m. we arrived at the Parks. Discoveryland was not crowded at all and we went in line for Space Mountain (10-minute wait). Standing in this line I suddenly got very wet. My sailing jacket was leaking heavily. Darn, I hate that. This wasnít fun at all and I wanted to go back to the hotel to get my clothes changed. Bart didnít want to stay behind at the parks and together we walked back to the hotel. Within 20 minutes I was ready again, wearing my yellow Disney rain cape.
Back at the parks it stopped raining and although the sun didnít shine today it didnít start raining again neither. At that time we decided to make faspass rides only. First stop was Space Mountain, got our fastpass tickets, went to Star Tours, got our fastpass tickets and so on. At the end of our walk we had fastpasses for Space Mountain, Star Tours, Big Thunder Mountain, Indiana Jones and Peter Pan. Each time before we rode a ride we took a new fastpass for it. At 03.00 p.m. we had ridden every fastpass ride as much as we liked (Space Mountain even 5 times). Having had enough rides we went to the Tarzan Encounter show. These acrobats gave a great performance.
The Studios were our next stop. There was no waiting time at Rockín Roll coaster and we ended up riding it three times. At 05.00 p.m. we shared a chili hot dog with nachos at the Backlot Express (I think it was 8,50 Euro). Then we rode the Studio Tram Tour and after that we took a bus to the hotel. There we took a swim and a bath and watched the Lion King movie from our bed (this is life!).
Dinner at Beaver Creek was as usual, nice food. We both ordered the giant burger with fries (15,00 Euro) and again a bottle of wine and water. Dinner was very nice and after dinner we decided to play two more games of air hockey. This game we always played together when we started dating (being 16 years old) and I guess thatís why we still like it so much. After these games I liked to sit down for a while at the fireplace, having a drink and Bart wanted to go to Hurricanes at the Disney Village. But we both didnít get what we wanted. All seats near the fireplace were taken and Disney Village turned out to be deserted and an empty Disco is no fun at all. So we checked out the shops at Disney Village and walked back to the hotel to go to bed.
This night I felt really sick. My stomach made me aware of the fact that I had been eating to many burgers. At 03.00 a.m. I felt so terribly bad, I decided to wake up Bart to ask him what to do. Bad decision, I forgot rule number one behind the success of our relation, never wake Bart up in the middle of the night unless youíre sure youíre dying (and then you have to be really sure of it, not just wondering if you are dying). I told him I was feeling sick and asked him what to do about it. Until then I thought it would be one of the few favors of having a doctor as life partner, to be able to ask him what to do when youíre feeling sick. Well I suppose that was an illusion. He told me the best way of getting better was to go to sleep. Duh, I could have figured that out myself. Problem was I couldnít sleep. He went to the bathroom to get me a glass of water and a painkiller and fell asleep again the moment his head touched the pillow. He even started snoring! Now I wasnít only feeling sick, but I had to listen to his noise too. Looking out of the window I saw how the restaurants were being cleaned. I felt sorry for the people who had to work all night and was wondering if they had to do this every night. During my study I earned some money during the weekends, working at many different hotels. In the morning I was a maid and in the evening I washed the dishes in the kitchen. None of these hotels had to clean their restaurants at night and I was astonished to see so many activities. Looking out of the window I finally fell asleep.
APRIL 23rd DAY FOUR
Today I still didnít feel well, but we had to pack our bags, to check inn at the Holiday Inn for our last nightís stay. Before we came in action we had breakfast at 09.15 a.m.. After breakfast we packed our bags, checked out and drove over to the Holiday Inn. At 10.30 a.m. we were standing in line to check inn. We knew it was early (check inn time actually being 02.00 p.m.) but we just didnít want to lose any time. Our room wasnít ready yet, but we were offered an upgrade to an executive room for only 20,00 Euro extra. We decided to take the upgrade and went to our third floor executive room. The Holiday Inn is concerned a deluxe category hotel and it truly is. Everything was posh and luxurious about it. Iím sure a standard room or a family room here is up to standards, but our executive room tuned out to be far beyond that. Wow! We had a very large room with a king-sized bed and a sitting room. The bathroom was also very posh and clean. Everything was brand new and we even had a pillow menu. We were really pleased at that time. One note: I think the circus theme of this hotel is done very well, but I missed the Disney feeling (this is an official on-site Disney hotel). Anyhow, we got in our car and drove to the official parking lot of the theme Parks (free parking for hotel guests) and arrived at the Parks ad 11.15 a.m.. At home we decided to make the last evening a special one by having dinner at the California Grill. But I still wasnít feeling well enough to even think about dinner and Bart promised weíd come back for California Grill another time (hey, this is a nice idea), so we made no dinner reservations at all.
Today we had a very lazy day. The sun was shining very brightly and I found a nice spot to sit down to enjoy the sun. Weíve been sitting there for 45 minutes. After that Bart wanted to ride Space Mountain. After Space Mountain we took the train at the Dicoveryland station and looped around the park getting of at Mainstreet to go to the Studios from there.
At the studios we did the Art of Disney animation tour and rode Rockín Roll coaster twice. After that we sat down to people watch for a while. We both enjoy looking at all the children in the parks. We think itís lovely to see the girls wearing princess dresses. Also itís fun to see the boys pretending to be a pirate or a cowboy. At those moments weíre sure we want to have many kids of our own one-day.
We took a last ride at the Studio Tram Tour and said this park farewell to go back to the Disneyland Park. There we took a last ride at Big Thunder Mountain, rode Pirates of the Caribbean, watched the parade and visited the Tarzan show one more time. At 05.25 p.m. we decided to try to share a pizza at Colonel Hathiís Pizza outpost. We ordered a pizza (09.00 Euro) and got a place under the verandah (because Bart had serious sunburn by now). The pizza was nice, but my stomach didnít think so. There was going on a big fight down there. We sat there till 06.00 p.m. and then decided to go back to the hotel to go swimming.
At the hotel we found out the swimming pool had cubicles and free towels. Thatís much better than at Seqoia Lodge. The pool was nice and we stayed there for a while enjoying our last full day of vacation. When we got back at our room Bart opened the door to find out there had anyone been in our room and started to look if everything was still there. Looking at the room myself I was exited we had gotten turn down service (closed curtains, the bed ready to jump in, TV on etc.), this was the first time in my life I had been at a place so luxurious having paid for it myself! It was so much fun to see Bart wondering who had been so rude to use our room that I didnít say anything for a while. This was real fun. At the time he wanted to call the reception I thought it time to tell it had been turn down service. The poor guy even didnít know there existed something like turn down service. We started laughing of the two of us being in such a luxurious hotel. We even took pictures of it. Please donít think of us as stupid Dutch people. At home we donít live in a cage and both our families took us on many great vacations, but it was the first time after both our studies we could afford this kind a luxury ourselves. Itís a terribly good feeling I can assure you.
At 09.15 p.m. I felt well enough to have a little dinner. Of course the restaurant here was big fun too. Again we ordered some wine and water (even Jesus had these drinks ages ago, so it canít be too bad) and the waiter told there was only a buffet for this evening (25,00 Euro p.p.). The buffet offered many fruits and vegetables so my stomach didnít complain at all. It was nice to spend our last evening at this place having such a nice dinner.
After dinner we walked around the garden of the hotel and then went back to our room.
APRIL 24th DAY 5
We knew breakfast wasnít included and we just donít eat enough in the morning to pay 14,00 Euro p.p.. We had bought some nice cookies at the park to have for breakfast today. So we made some cocoa and tea in our room and watched TV eating our little breakfast in our own sitting room. In Holland there was a royal wedding today and we were surprised to be able to watch it here in France. A royal wedding sounds great, but after an hour we had seen enough and decided to go for a short swim. The swimming pool was deserted so we had all the space to ourselves. At 11.00 a.m. we got out of the water, to be able to leave our room before check out time at noon.
Check out went very easy and we hit the road at 11.45 a.m.. The weather was great and we decided to go shopping at Val dí Europe before driving home. Bart bought two vests and I bought a sweater and a T-shirt. Before going back to our car we bought some groceries at the supermarket. And that was it. Now we were really driving home at 2.30 p.m.. The ride back was lovely, because the sun seemed to lighten up the whole country. At 5.15 p.m. we were back home to find out the cats were doing very fine.
It had been one of our best vacations till now. I hope thatíll change next year, because then weíve planned a trip to Florida and Walt Disney World for two weeks (February or November 2005)!!!!!
FINAL TIPS AND THOUGHTS
The whole trip had cost us 950,00 Euro (thatís almost the same amount, as one of us would have paid to fly to and stay at Walt Disney World for two weeks!), but being our only vacation this year we didnít mind it a bit. It was great to visit the Parks in April. The weather was lovely and the crowds were not bad at all. We loved to stay on-property again. Itís so convenient.