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Oo la la! A look at Disney in France
Disneyland Paris Trip Report-- September 2000

This trip report was provided to Mouseplanet through the courtesy of Linda and Randall Sam. We'd like to thank them for providing it.

My husband Randall and I are Disneyland Annual Passholders from San Francisco, California. We visited Disneyland Paris (DLP) for two days on September 18th and 19th and we stayed on property at the Hotel New York. This was our second visit to DLP, we went in September 1997 during our honeymoon (we stayed at the Newport Bay Club). We love DLP so much, that we are going to try to visit Disneyland Anaheim a little less often to save some money, so that we can go to DLP more. (We’ll see how long this lasts, we usually go to DL around 4 or 5 times a year). This time we brought our good friends Pauline and Garrett Choy with us to join in on the fun.

Before going to DLP, we spent four nights in Paris. I just want to let everyone know how easy and cost effective it is to get to DLP from Paris, whether it is for just a day trip or for a couple nights like us. We manage to haul all of our luggage with us to the Metro station and transferred to the RER train station. The train stations that we visited were relatively clean and safe. Just a little warning here…the Metro/RER stations and Paris, in general, are not exactly wheelchair accessible. We didn’t notice any elevators or ramps of any kind in the station, but we did notice a lot of stairs and escalators. So, if you have the suitcases with the wheels…it’s not going to help much in the stations.

We took the RER "A" train from the Charles de Gaulle Etoile station (the one right under the Arc de Triomphe) to the Marne la Vallee station (DLP). The RER is train system in Paris that goes out to the suburbs…very similar to BART in the SF Bay Area. The one way ticket was only 39 Francs, which was only about $5 ($1 = 7.63 ff).

The beauty of this half an hour train ride is that when you get out of the station at Marne la Vallee, you are right at the DLP front gates! Well, almost…you are right at the Disney Village…if you turn left you can go through the Village where there are a bunch of shops and restaurants and if you keep walking through the Village, you will come upon the hotels.

The hotels are only about a 5 to 10 minute walk from the station, or you can take the free Disney shuttles to the hotels. If you turn right when you get out of the station, you will hit the Disneyland Paris Hotel (the flagship hotel) and the park.

We spent two nights at the Hotel New York, about $150 a night, which includes continental breakfast buffet. It is the second closest hotel to the park.

The closest is the Disneyland Paris Hotel, which sits on top of the main entrance to the park…but it’s also at least $300 a night. Michael Graves, the famous architect that also designed the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin hotels and who has a line of home furnishings at Target, designed the Hotel New York.

The theming of the Hotel New York is a very similar to that of the Swan & Dolphin (but not nearly as grand), with an Art Deco New York/Big Apple scheme. The standard room is very comfortable, firm beds, plush comforter, and with double sinks and a telephone in the really big bathroom.

The only complaint that I have is that the ledge on the bathtub is VERY tall, so tall that you practically need a step stool to get in and out. I think the whole bathtub must have been on a platform. I personally am petite, so this was a big problem. I think I almost slipped and killed myself a couple of times. The big highlight of our stay at the Hotel New York was when we were checking in. At the front desk they have free really good dark chocolate Disney gold coins and apples (get it, the Big Apple?). Anyway, I was at the front desk when I felt a tapping on my shoulder…I turned around, and it was Mickey!

We decided to go into the park for 2 days so that we would have time to ride all of the attractions and catch all of the parades and shows. The price for the two-day admission for one adult was 425 francs, and with our Magic Kingdom Card discount, it was only 385 francs (about $50 US for two days). It’s really amazing, considering that a one-day passport to Disneyland is already $43.

DLP is really a beautiful park. The architecture and the landscaping are truly spectacular. Everything seems so grand…so detailed…so cleverly themed. You can tell that they really spent money and took more care in building this park. It’s kind of strange, the park feels very small, almost intimate, but in reality, it’s bigger than Disneyland. I think Walt would have been proud!

I won’t say too much about the attractions, since the previous trip report by Morrigoon did such an excellent job (with great pictures, too!) describing them. The only thing I really have to add is to go to DLP just to ride their Space Mountain. It is truly the bomb! I would have to say that this is the most awesome ride I have ever been on in my life. For those of you who have been to Disney MGM Studios in WDW, it is similar to the Rock and Roll Rollercoaster …except that the theming is much more elaborate…but the ride is physically more jarring. Read Morrigoon’s trip report for info on Phantom Manor, Pirates, Big Thunder Mountain and Indiana Jones.

Other items…

I would have to say that the Entertainment department at DLP really knows what they are doing and they must also have a much bigger budget to work with than our parks in the U.S. We saw the Illuminations Parade, which celebrates countries from around the world. There were a ton of huge floats featuring a main Disney character themed to a different country. Along with each of the floats, there were several dancers in very nice costumes. They actually had choreography too! What a concept! This parade was really substantial…quite long. The music accompanying the parade was also very catchy…almost infectious…the kind that you can’t get rid of from your head! (Not like that somber Pomp & Circumstance music in Disneyland’s 45th Anniversary Parade). Yes, I bought the parade CD (I love it and listen to it all the time)…and the bean bags, too!

We also saw the Tarzan Encounters and Mulan shows. The set for the Tarzan show was very lush…vines, foliage everywhere…very nice theming. Unlike the Tarzan Rocks show in Animal Kingdom, Tarzan actually had a pretty decent role in this production. There were tons of people (portraying animals) in the cast. Most of the show was just amazing acrobatics on the ground and in the air on those hanging ropes. The music was at normal pleasant listening level, unlike Tarzan Rocks in AK where it was just way too loud and overwhelming, and actually quite painful to sit through.

The Mulan show featured many Chinese acrobats performing some awesome stunts. The show told the whole entire story of Mulan, without dialogue and only set to instrumental music. I believe the show must have been about a half an hour long. Although, there was no narration, I thought that they conveyed the story very effectively, and it was very entertaining. But, then again, I already know the story. Our friends, the Choys, had not seen Mulan, though, and they were pretty much able to follow along. It’s actually almost scary to watch them do some of the stuff that they do. Again, no expensive was spared here!

Some miscellaneous observations:

DLP is really a sad place if you are a pin trader. Pin trading is non-existent. Pin purchasing is really sad, too! I managed to get only two pins that were unique to the park…a DLP Space Mountain and DLP Castle pin.

DLP has some pretty good food, French food too. We ate at the Plaza Gardens. I had the smoked salmon and an assorted French smelly moldy cheese platter (I love that stuff!). I think they have smoked salmon everywhere. I had the smoked salmon pizza too at the Bella Notte Pizzeria. Wine is served inside the Park. A word of caution, there is cigarette smoking everywhere…including the restaurants.

In terms of candy, it seemed like the big thing over there were these big colorful marshmallow things. They were individual marshmallows wrapped up in pretty cellophane in a bouquet, skewered on a stick, wrapped individually in boxes…these marshmallow things were everywhere!

I think the Disney Stores in the U.S. maybe should take a cue from the merchandise available at DLP. It seems that the apparel is much more fashionable and the Disney characters and logos are much subtler than what we have in the U.S. I know that the Disney Stores have been having problems lately, and maybe the adult clothing is too loud and doesn’t have the appeal that it use to. I personally wear Mickey clothing quite a bit, and am not afraid to display my affection for the Mouse. But, I think if the Disney Stores want to appeal to the masses, more fashionable and subtle may be the way to go. When we were there in September, they had a lot of really nice winter Disney clothing, including down jackets, parkas, leather and suede gloves, hats, and sweaters. They also had some very pretty Disney scarves (and reasonably priced too), something that a woman could wear with a dress or suit to work. Some of the scarves had the big bold Mickey prints, others were very subtle and more tasteful. However, I do have a complaint about the t-shirts. Many of the t-shirts had very cool designs on them, but it was one of those iron-on transfer types of t-shirts and not silk-screened. After a few washings, the design on the front will probably get hard and crack! They did not seem to offer any shirts with embroidery.

I think that’s all for now. I’m going to try to go back to DLP when the Studios open in 2002.


Linda Lau Sam may be reached at

princessminniemouse@yahoo.com

 

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