Peter Schouten -- June 1998 -- Disneyland Paris (HSF)
June 5-6 1998
So maybe the trip was uncalled for, since I once said to myself I should stick to once a year, and I had been to DLP last February. Dislocating the arm of that clown most certainly was uncalled for, but in the end I did have a trip unlike the 8 previous trips.
It wasnt really a trip to DLP to begin with. My boss wanted me to go to Brussels to stick a floppy in a computer and press enter. Apparently there were people in the company who had experience with sticking a floppy in a computer, and there were people known to have pressed enter on occasion, but for this combined action they called in the special troops, me.
So I asked myself, why shouldnt I continue this journey heading DLP in high season on a weekend in June with only 1 person occupying a 4 person room? Now of course nobody answered me, but my credit card receipt did provide an answer afterwards.
At 6:38 am I said goodbye to my friends in the IRC Sandnet room #RADP-friends and took the international train to Brussels, which was just a boring ride. Next to lanes and squares the city of Brussels also consists of streets called mountains (or hills), and not unlike Julie Andrews I had to "Climb Every Mountain" before I reached my first destination: a Mac-computer with Windows 95 running in a shell, and a misconfigured azerty-keyboard (anyone ever tried to pkunwip a file? I kept misspelling on this keyboard). I used the afternoon to see the usual landmarks, and on my way I bought a Belgian Mickey & Minnie phonecard.
At 7:40 pm I took the high speed Thalys train from Brussels to Paris. These days certain trains stop directly in front of the park, but unfortunately there werent tickets available for these lines. In the metro station I chatted with a dutch group that was about to take the wrong subway, and I noticed that being alone lets you converse more with people next to you in waiting lines, dinner shows and attractions.
My first surprise came at the reception of the Hotel Santa Fe (only Santa Fe and New York had vacant rooms, and New York really was too expensive for me on my own). With a heavy accent the cast member told me I couldnt have breakfast before 10:30. At first I thought he was mistaken, and meant to tell me that breakfast was served from 7:00 till 10:30, but he wasnt. You have to reserve your breakfast these days, and the hotel restaurant was reserved full. To make up for this inconvenience they give you a coupon for breakfast in the park at either the Cowboy Cookout or the Lucky Nugget. Since both these restaurant are in Frontierland it was also clear which land would be open for early entry.
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Will I get the same story on Sunday? I asked him. "Oh, you want to reserve for Sunday immediately, thats possible." As early as possible, I asked him. He brought with him a wooden case with plastic cards. "How early do you want? 8:30, 8:45, 9:00?" Looking at the case I saw cards with 7:00 on them, so it seemed obvious I wanted that one.
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I went to my room, and since it was dark I didnt noticed that the building, and the buildings next to it, were being repainted. One of them had a bright red primary paint, and mine was just a block of concrete with some white stripes on it. I watched some german TV-show and went to bed. After a few moments I did wonder where that loud humming sound came from. It derived from behind the loose board in the ceiling where the fire extinguisher is located, and upon discovering this I cut my finger. I went into the bathroom to clean the wound and saw that the tiles of the bath were loose as well. I set my wake-up call at 7 am and called it a day.
My coupon was valid for the Cowboy Cookout at 8:30, so when I woke up I had time to investigate this new breakfast policy. I went into the restaurant and the French lady asked me whether or not I had a red card like the one she showed me. The red cards were like the white card I had for Sunday, but there was no time indicated. I told her I didnt have a red card and she said: "That ok, you can go in". Since they let you have your breakfast in peace, fully booked means that half the restaurant is empty, so there was no problem whatsoever.
My third surprise was the breakfast itself. The standard continental breakfast was expanded with cheese, ham etc. and a bowl of cereal. It was the biggest breakfast I had had in years, and I couldnt even finish it (sorry, mom). I took the shuttle bus to the park and went straight to Big Thunder Mountain. Since most people were at breakfast "quiet" doesnt begin to describe the waiting area. It was a nice ride and "please remain seated until the train has come to a complete stop" got a new meaning when we did remain seated for a second and third time.
I went back to Central Plaza and queued up for Discoveryland to ride Space Mountain when it would open. Next to me in line was a dutch couple who wanted to know what the not-to-be-missed attractions were, since this Saturday was their only day in the park. Since they had seen BTMRR and HM allready I told them to remember to visit Pirates of the Caribbean and skip the rest of Adventureland to have the day in Discoveryland and Fantasyland.
The day became hotter and hotter and I filled my day with inside attractions and attractions with water. I also became close friends with Coca Cola Light (aka Diet Coke), which as some of you know is absolutely not my brand. I bought two new gobelets (plastic drink cups) for my collection and retired at 3:30 pm to my room to rest a bit before the Buffalo Bill dinner show, where the dutch party next me was a lot of fun. Before the show I visited the ESSO tank station to get me some large bottles of Coke (sold out at the trading post, that sells them for FF 11, while the tank station charges FF 13,50 for the same bottles, so Disney isnt that expensive on this particular item).
Now they didnt take credit card below FF 50 and I havent had cash in ages, so I needed to get more bottles than I needed, which have been floating in cold water in the bathroom while I was at the dinner show (the ribbon on the cowboy heads you get changed typeface, so I can continue collecting them).
Leaving the dinner show I was confronted with a hurd of soccer players. In the Disney Village the theme "Music and Football" was introduced for the upcoming world championship soccer in France. I looked for a way to escape them, and found it in a black-coat castmember with a questionnaire in his hand. He wanted to know how I felt about the Disney Village Entertainment Centre, and whether or not I felt for their idea to replace the Buffalo Bill Show with some other stage show, or what was missing in the Village. He thanked me for being the first to take the initiative to fill in the questionnaire and I headed for the Newport Bay Club Convention Centre, which I wasnt able to visit last February.
The Convention Centre can be reached through a hall, where in my memory used to be a blind wall. Memories of famous scenes from "The Shining" came in my head while walking the long halls, where from every corner a soccer player could appear. Usually they said nothing, unless they came from the Netherlands and they yelled "Hup, Holland, Hup" to me. I searched my clothes for marks that said "this guy is dutch", but apart from my RADP-badge stating "FilmInfo" I couldnt find a thing. Now, this really shouldnt have surprised me, because I usually recognize a dutch castmember from three miles away, but it was a little odd anyway.
Endless halls in the Convention Centre, where also a projection meeting of Buena Vista Home Video was, but since it was after 9 pm it allready finished. Finally I reached a large dinner room, the hornets nest of soccer players. Adidas had a big meeting with lots of kids, and drinks were all paid for. A fabulous new attraction that wasnt listed in the guest guide :-)
Returning to my hotel room in building 57 I visited building 33, for that is the building with an ice machine, and I filled my gobelets with ice cubes to get through the hot night. "Wie bitte?" was on TV and after that I fell asleep.
Breakfast the next day was a rerun episode, although I didnt take cereal so I could finish it this time. Queuing up for the castle, Mickey came by in a yellow car to greet the children behind the ropes, some pictures, some autographs and a lot of smiling faces. The moment he left it started to rain. After the shortest line for Peter Pans flight since 1993 I went to Pirates of the Caribbean. Now the waiting area for PoC was absolutely desolate this early. The castmember had nothing to do, and started to walk up to the beginning of the waiting area. He didnt notice me until after I "boo"d him from behind the wooden pole. I know
they warn about Pirates in these parts, but they should warn about me too, especially when clowns are concerned. I rode Pirates twice too, the second time joined by another family, and after that the crowds started showing up.
I never boarded Hooks gallion before, so I did that and started exploring the caves to see if they could hide a Splash Mountain upthere. The high bridge was under construction, so I couldnt get everywhere but it was nice exploring anyway. Its a small world had a new dutch castmember who was very nice, and so was the pizza at Bella Notte.
At 3 pm the Disney parade started. I allready bought the CD with the catchy tune and sat on the curb next to a Belgian family who made me realize that on the current map in the park guide, the toilet next to Haunted Mansion in Frontierland, could easily be mistaken for another toilet in Mainstreet. Large new floats were added to the parade and I took photos of em all (at least I tried, but I didnt have a working flash, so well see about that). In the new Dumbo float were some clowns. One of them, with a costume larger than little old me, decided to leave the route of the parade and take a detour over the sidewalk by the Main Street Station, pushing some guests, including me, to the side. Now I dont know if this is part of regular Spiel, but I told him in a universal language that I didnt enjoy being pushed around by a clown. He scoffed at me in French, but unfortunately I dont understand french at 3:38 pm and he walked on to join the parade.
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After retrieving my luggage and filling in a feedback form I returned to the high speed train, which left the station and spent half an hour watching the planes go by at Charles de Gaulle Airport. Now I had only 20 minutes to transfer trains in Brussels, and the next train left 1 hour later, because the schedule on Sunday just is that way. Luckily the trains in the Netherlands run smoother, so the delay was limited to 20 minutes. Tired I got into my bed after downloading 26 E-mails and a call from my boss woke me up at 9:30 am.
DLP Trip #9 - Processed succesfully.
Peter Schouten (FDC Timekeeper/FilmInfo)