Christina Pitman -- February 1999 -- Disneyland Paris (SL, HNY)
February 12-15, 1999
OK, this is my first trip report so please be gentle. I have been to WDW about thirty times but have only stayed at Shades of Green. Here it goes.. Husband, Chris, and I packed up the car and hit the autobahn around 0830. We made very good time, when we get stationed in the states again we are going to get a lot of tickets!
Arrived at the resort around 1200. We had booked a weekend package off of the website for the Sequoia Lodge. We added a night at the Hotel New York for Valentine's Day. We had planned to go to Paris on Monday before driving back to Mannheim but due to car trouble, more on that later, we just hung out at the hotel and the Esso station and then left. Anyways, I digress, we arrived at the hotel and our room was ready so we headed there to unload. What a view! We were in the main building on the corner. The room was kinda small compared for a moderate resort, IMHO. There was very little room around the king size bed. The balcony was huge and we had a lovely view of the little lake and the Disney Village. The hotel was wonderfully decorated with the "mountain lodge" feel. There were two resteraunts and a beautiful bar with lots of tables and chairs/couches in different little seating areas. (There is a better way to describe it but my english skills diminish as the hours pass, it' late.) The bar also had a huge open fireplace in the middle. We spent an hour there just talking and people watching. There are also games on some of the tables. We decided to head off the the Disney Village.
We went to the Disney Village in search of food. Pickings were slim. I think this area is being expanded. There are a few restaurants, the Buffalo Bill Dinner show, a movie theater, and one night club. There are a few shops as well but after the Downtown Disney area, this looked a little sparse. They are building a Rainforest Cafe but it won't be open for a while. We ate at Annette's Diner. We had excellent hamburgers and very quick service. We walked around a bit longer than headed back to the hotel. SL is about a 5 minute walk to the village and about 10 to the park. (Caution- I walk very quickly and so does Chris so it might take you a little longer). We thought about strolling around the other hotels around the little lake but it was FREEZING! I was sooo cold. I am a native Floridian, give me sun or give me death. In retrospect, it wasn't so bad because Saturday was even colder! We had a drink back at the hotel and then went for a swim. The pool area is very nice and warm. Unfortunately, you have to walk outside to get to it. Not so bad on the way there but on the way back I think I froze off some very important things. I'll leave it at that. It is also good to know that Europeans are not self concious at all about changing in the locker room. I was aware of that from living here a year but if you aren't, you could be surprised. Once the park closed, the pool became really crowded so we headed to change and eat a late dinner. We ate at the Beaver Creek Tavern restaurant in the hotel.
The Beaver Creek Restaurant was nice. Very quick service and excellent food. It would have been perfect if it wasn't so LOUD!!!!!!!! The noise level was deafening. Not just the large amount of children but everything. Our waiter had to practically yell to be heard. I was just telling, or more to the point screaming, to my husband that I couldn't believe that it was this loud when the unbelievable happened. It actually got louder! They play a song when one of the guests celebrates a birthday. You can orfer a really nice cake with a castle and sparklers on it. The staff comes to your table in a little parade that is accompanied by the loudest most obnoxious birthday song I have ever heard! I thought it was cute the first time. It was tolerable the second time. By the third time in less than ten minutes, I contemplated dropping to the floor, covering my ears and rocking back and forth chanting "Make the bad man stop". If I thought it would have stopped it, I might have. We were out of there in twenty minutes. I inhaled some delicious salmon. I think it was delicious. This might be a lot of fun for children but a couple on a romantic weekend away might want to eat elsewhere. : ) After a few more drinks and a few killer games of air hockey in the arcade (I won 5 out of 6 : ) ) we crashed for the night and prepared to rise very early for breakfast and a day at the park. (Join me for part four- The day the earth froze! Coming soon! )
We arose bright and painfully early to get to the park before it opened. We had a quick continental breakfast. Nothing spectacular, standard fare. We decided to forgo the ten minute bus ride and any wait for the bus so we walked to the park. It took about ten minutes. Halfway there we realized that we were going to freeze! We prayed that it would warm up soon. We were about #5 in line st the turnstiles and had time to peruse the shops before the rope drop. As a veteran WDWer, seeing something so familiar but different was wierd to sat the least. I did fall in love with the castle. It is very unusual and very pretty. The inside is wonderful. I LOVE WDW's MK but the castle here is nicer on the inside. I just wish it wasn't pink! We decided to head to Phantom Manor. I know people like this better than HM at WDW but I did not. I like HM for it's humor. PM is more spooky. Nice for some but not me. I was very disappointed. Onto Pirate's of th Carribean. Again, I pledge my love for the MK and all within it but... I like this PoC better. It is longer and there are two drops. There is a wonderful restaurant inside that you float by. Many people feel the need to yell Bon Appetit to the diners. We left PoC to go on BTMR but it was closed. So we backtracked to Fantasyland through the Adventure Isle area.
There is a series of little caves in Adventure Isle and a large rock form called Skull Rock. It has water cascading all around it. There were large icicles on the rocks and the breeze was blowing freezing water on us so we hurried along. We did stop on the way at a little shop to buy me a scarf and Chris a hat. Did I mention that it was really cold and windy? Fantasy land was nice. We hopped on Peter Pan's Flight with little waiting. I like this better than WDW too. There is a beautiful starry night effect that makes this ride. We had to backtrack again to make our lunch res. at Blue Lagoon, the restaurant in PoC. It was warm inside so we would have stayed and eaten anything but luckily the food was excellent. The calamari was a little weird. It was OK but I wouldn't get it again. Chris and I both loved what we ate and I had an amazing Coconut Creme Brulee that rivals the one at Fountainview in EPCOT. I could have eaten that all day. It was divine! Well, after prolonging the inevitable, we headed back out into the tundra. OK, maybe it wasn't quite that cold but it was darn close. We headed to Discoveryland after lunch. We checked out Le Visionarium, which is the DLP's Timekeeper. They do provise English language headphones but without Robin Williams and Rhea Perleman, it just doesn't do anything for me. There are a few changes to the film and some added footage but without the more humorous commentary, it got old quickly.
We went to see the Mulan show at the Videopolis but even thirty minutes before the show, there were no seats. We ended up arriving at the beginning of that show and waiting to see the one after it! It was well worth the wait. The show is based on the film and features amazing Chinese acrobats. The show is actually kinda long but mesmerizing from beginning to end. After the show, we headed out to Space Mountain. I am barely able to ride the one at MK so I bowed out and Chris rode it. He loved it! They use a catapult style take off that pinned him to his seat. Add to that a few inversions and you have a great ride. I was hoping there was a People Mover but I was disappointed. I love that ride. Oh well. There was an Astro Orbiter but being on ground level made it seem like Dumbo with different scenery so we skipped it. They are opening a Honey, I Shrunk the Audience at the end of this month. I am curious to see how they will cross the language barrier. Back into Fantasyland we went. Chris indulged me with a trip on It's a Small World. His feelings about the MK version are not shiny or happy. Actually, he made reference to using it for a shooting gallery. He did ride this one just for me. It was nice. The quality inside seemed nicer but the outside wasn't as nice. Maybe I was just cold. The teacups were fun. Everytime we ride this, I feel sick but I keep getting back on. I don't know why. The only difference between this and WDW is that there is no teapot and mouse in the middle.
After checking out Snow White and Aladdin's Passage, a very dull walk through attraction, we found out BTMR was open so off we went. This is so much better in the dark! It begins on one side of the lake (?) and goes underground to an island where most of the ride takes place. It is a great ride and we managed to get in the very back, our favorite spot. It jolted us a bit but it was great. We did however discover that we were even colder by the time we got off so we decided to forgo the parade and head for the hotel. We grabbed a quick bite and headed to SL just as the parade started. At the hotel, we tried to thaw out and crashed in front of the TV. Soon sleep overcame us. Our second day in the park was just around the corner.
Sunday AM. Chris and I rose early to check out of the SL as we were headed to Hotel New York for our last night, Valentine's Day. We grabbed a quick breakfast and packed up our stuff. On our way to drop off the keys (I love express check out) I ran into a few of the Country Jamboree Bears. Odd, because they don't have that attraction in DLP. It was nice to see them but they were standing in the hallway right before you get to the reception area. Small traffic jam. Chris was going to pull the car around so I waited patiently. And I waited. We didn't park that far away, but still I waited. Then, he walked in. Never a good sign. Our car apparently liked the cold even less than we did. The battery was dead. We went to reception and they made a phone call and our car was jump started free of charge (no pun intended). We drove around a bit but were anxious to head to the park so we just parked it at the New York and decided to get a jump start again tomorrow. We were going to go into Paris on the RER train on Monday but with the car doing weird things we decided to skip Paris and drive back in the daytime the next day. We are only about 4 and half hours from Paris and we have a year left before we go back to the states. Plenty of time. We checked in but our room was not ready (it was about 9 AM). We headed to the park dressed a little warmer this time. Actually, we resembled the Michelin Tire man. I was wearing sweatpants under my jeans and three shirts. Chris was wearing pretty much every thing he brought. We weren't cold though!
Having spent the day before in the park we weren't in a hurry. We spent some time shopping and watching the glass blower. Then, we decided to check out the Fantasyland attractions we missed earlier. Alice's Curious Labyrinth is great! There is no line and once you are inside, you could easily spend 15-20 minutes walking around. There is a castle towards the back that offers a great view. The Pinocchio ride is nice. Nothing spectacular but I'm sure kids like it. There is a neat effect with the fairy at the end that makes it worth checking out at least once. It was warming up so we hopped on the train. Three sides of each car are enclosed which made it a little warmer. It was nice. The Grand Canyon Diorama is odd. It isn't very well done and seems out of place. There seems to be a predominate theme of Old West America throughout the park. The sterotypical american cowboy thing. It's kinda amusing. Lunch time was quickly approaching so we got off and headed for Walt's Restaurant on Main Street. Each room is themed to the lands. We were in the Frontieland room. Antique books about the west and some interesting pictures. There were two windows that looked onto Main Street. The atmosphere was wonderful. The food was a little pricey but excellent. Everywhere we went, the CM's spoke English and all the restaurants provided english menus. We were able to watch the Mulan Mini-parade from the windows. It had most of the performers from the Mulan show and a few small floats. It was nice.
After lunch we checked out the inside of the castle. The story of sleeping beauty is told in a series of beautiful stained glass windows. There is also a small balcony at the back that has a nice view. I love Cinderella's castle in MK but this castle is gorgeous! I don't know if I could choose one over the other because they are very different. We decided to head to the hotel and check in and relax a little. The room was HUGE! We were on a corner again and this time we had a view of the park. We could see SM and the castle. It was very nice. We vegged for a while and then headed to the park again. Chris wanted to check out the Indiana Jones' and the Temple du Peril. So I hung out while he did that. We rode PoC twice more. We really liked that ride! We wandered aimlessly for a while people watching. Rode Peter Pan again. We decided to shop a little more and then camp out on Main street for the Main Street Electrical Parade. I have so many memories of seeing this when I was little with my family. Sitting on my Dad's shoulders and watching in amazement. After getting the obligatory Mickey Mouse balloon, we camped out. It got crowded very quickly! I have the MSEP music on CD and it was so wierd to hear the beginning in French! The parade was great even though I think this version is shorter. It seemed to be over way too fast. We left the park after shopping just a little more and headed to the hotel.
Well, after Chris and I got back to the Hotel New York, we ordered two Empire State burgers from room service. They were HUGE! I couldn't get my mouth around them and I have a big mouth! We were exhausted and crashed very quickly.
Day 4 / Departure
Next morning, we took our time and went to eat breakfast. Shopped one last time at Disney Village and then at the hotel. We ate an early lunch at the diner there and headed home.
Our trip was interesting. We found the only place on Disney property where you need to be able to speak and understand French. The ESSO station where our car died. It was interesting and we ended up getting a $100 jumpstart. If we had still been at the hotel, it would have been free but we needed gas. Oh well. The trip was fun and we will definately go again before we head to the states. The only things I really missed from the MK were the people mover and fireworks over the castle. I am anxiously waiting to go to WDW again but this helped feed my addiction for awhile! Sorry again for the marathon trip report! I can't stop talking about Disney!