Disneyland Paris: 2011
Monday, May 9th
Sometimes, familiarity can work against you! The last few times I'd been to Disneyland Paris I'd been able to check straight in to my resort hotel. As I wanted to sort a few things out before heading to the parks, I foolishly skipped the Disney Express Luggage Service and headed straight to the Sequoia Lodge (which was largely hidden under scaffolding). Except this time, my room wasn't ready. I won't make the same mistake next time. However, it's easy enough to pass time at Disney and I headed off for a flight on Panoramagique.
I was a little bit worried what state Disneyland Park would be in - many of the attractions and buildings were in the midst of being refurbished for the 20th Anniversary and, in particular, I wasn't sure how much of Sleeping Beauty Castle would actually be visible! As it happened, by the time I left the worst was a couple of missing turrets which were being repainted.
By the time I actually made it to the Park, there wasn't long to go until the parade. Disney's Once Upon A Dream Parade has been running since the 15th Anniversary in 2007. It's a wonderful parade, with some incredible floats but I have to admit, I'm ready for something new. Of course this didn't stop me taking dozens of photos of floats and characters I already have dozens of photos of!
Spot the unpainted turret on the castle!
The new Central Plaza show for the Magical Moments Festival was "Mickey's Magical Celebration", which caused some controversy because it was all in French. I doubt it made that much difference to anyone's understanding of the "story". Mickey frolics with the Genie, Fairy Godmother and Merlin before the princesses and escorts arrive, centre stage being given to new arrivals Rapunzel and Flynn Rider.
Tuesday, May 10th
Early magic hours means the chance to enjoy Fantasyland and Discoveryland before the main crowds arrive. This is your opportunity to ride Dumbo and Peter Pan's Flight without queuing for ages!
In my desperate (and pretty much failed) attempt to get a couple of decent photos on Peter Pan's Flight, I think I once went on it three times in a row (maybe it was just twice!) without queuing!
No need to worry about high scores on Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast! I just take photos.
Phantom Manor: Always one of my favourite attractions, although I've yet to spot the phantom in the window. And you do just want the bride to shut up by the end of the ride! For more about the attraction, visit Ravenswood Manor. When I took the Keys to the Kingdom tour at the Magic Kingdom, I was told that there isn't a story behind the ride. I think many fans would disagree!
Another new show: Following the Leader with Peter Pan. Sadly lacking in Tinker Bell, but a fun little show anyway. Not sure about the Face Character versions of Hook and Smee, though.
Another new feature: Disney Dance Express. I was hoping this would be similar to the Magic Kingdom's Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It! Street Party, which has so much energy and I really enjoyed. But...it wasn't. The train stops and the characters get off and dance with cast members. Viewing was relatively restricted as the show took place in one part of the Plaza, compared to Move It! which has takes over the whole thing! It's fun, and I'm sure younger guests (those who could see) loved it, but I was a bit disappointed and only bothered watching it once.
Still no Jack Sparrow in the French version of Pirates. And still no happy ending, either!
One of my favourite things at Disneyland Paris: the dragon under Sleeping Beauty Castle! I do wonder how many guests don't even realise it's there.
Parade time again! Stops had been introduced which meant I actually managed to get some decent photos of the Princesses.
Love this Tiana!
Next up: some boat rides!
Rapunzel's Tower is a new addition to Storybook Land.
I stopped to watch Mickey's Magical Celebration again as the sun had been in my eyes the whole time the previous day and I'd only managed to get a couple of decent photos.
Again, not 100% sure about the Face Character Genie!
Always love seeing Sorcerer Mickey!
Note the scaffolding!
That evening I went to see Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. I haven't seen it in years and certainly not since they added "...with Mickey and Friends!" Whilst it's great entertainment, it is expensive and my memories of the food were far from flattering. But I really enjoyed it and the food was a lot better than I was expecting.
Was it necessary to include Mickey & Co in the show? No. But they only play a minimal role and I don't think they spoil the overall effect. But then, I'm a sucker for seeing the characters in different costumes anyway so of course I didn't mind!
One thing I would say, is that I paid for a seat in the more expensive area, which was lower to the ground and I think I might have actually had a better view higher up, as the fencing obscured some of the stage area.
Wednesday, May 11th
Quick visit to Disneyland Park during EMH before heading over to Walt Disney Studios Park.
Off to the Studios. I know it makes sense to have the Partners statue set against a Hollywood backdrop but I still feel jealous when I see photos of its counterparts in other parks with the castle in the background.
I remember the first time I saw Tower of Terror looming over the MGM Studios (as was) in Florida and basically thinking, no fricking way am I getting on that thing. Of course I did and it's one of my favourite attractions. The Disneyland Paris version lacks some of the special effects but it does have one thing - an amazing view when those elevator doors open!
Goofy, checking out the ride requirements.
Another show I hadn't seen in a number of years (and indeed, only once before) was Moteurs...Action! Stunt Show Spectacular. A new twist had been added...Lightning McQueen, who makes a brief cameo alongside a villain car whose name (if given) escapes me.
Next up...Disney's Stars'n'Cars which, I realised afterwards, I really don't like very much as a show. It's a great opportunity to get photos of a multitude of characters, and the cars themselves are wonderful, but the show falls a bit flat for me. Maybe I'd prefer it if it featured Disney music as opposed to, for example, Snow White dancing to "Pretty Woman". But honestly, it would work just as well as a parade - ditch the show part altogether!
Didn't do any of the rides in Toy Story Playland this time around - I still need to try Toy Soldier Parachute Drop but it was down at the time.
And so, back to Disneyland Park in time for the parade!
I was excited to see Maleficent on the Dreams of Power float - the character had been missing for a long while after the cast member fell from the float.
The Resort has installed numerous security checks which can lead to a real jam of guests trying to leave/enter different areas. I decided to leave the park early to avoid the backlog at the entrance to Disney Village and grabbed a bite to eat at Planet Hollywood before heading back to the hotel for a rest. The day before, my plan had been even more cunning - hide out in the Fantasia Bar at the Disneyland Hotel with a cocktail until the crowds had cleared!
After a while, I headed out to take some photos of the hotels. This is one of the wonderful things about Disneyland Paris. Of course it has less to see than Walt Disney World but everything is so close together. You can tour all the main resort hotels in no time at all - and on foot!
The Santa Fe is slowly being taken over by Cars.
I'll always have a soft spot for the Hotel Cheyenne, as it was the first Disney hotel I stayed at.
The Legends Europe bronze .
Back to the Sequoia.
Thursday, 12th May
Last day and still really lucky with the weather.
Disney's Hotel New York.
More scaffolding had been removed from the Castle. Just a shame about those unpainted/missing turrets.
I used to love Space Mountain (one time, my sister and I stayed in on five rides in a row) but the last few times I've ridden it have been ridiculously uncomfortable so I didn't even bother this time around. Still spent a lot of time photographing it though!
Braving Alice's Curious Labyrinth! Love the theming, hate trying to get round it!
OK, one more brief peek at Disney Dance Express but only to snap a few more photos.
I'd been making sure to keep back enough money for a nice lunch at the Silver Spur Steakhouse and...it was closed. Still, Walts proved to be a pretty good backup!
I'd only eaten there once before, for a character breakfast. But I'll be back!
Then I did something I've never done before. Actually got in a queue to take a photo of a character. There was this wonderful Tangled photo location in Fantasyland and I decided I had to get a photo of Rapunzel with the model Pascal which formed part of it. The line didn't look too bad but I ended up waiting, probably, over an hour. Flynn Rider entertained the line when Rapunzel went on a break.
I made, for me, a huge decision and decided to skip the parade and instead headed to Frontierland, Phantom Manor and then a trip on the newly refurbished Molly Brown.
Wandered through Adventureland and finally got a photo of Captain Jack Sparrow!
One final Disney meal, in Au Chalet de la Marionnette.
Farewell to the dragon!
Another trip over...time to head for the Eurostar.