Disneyland Paris: July 2012
Monday, 16th July
I don't think I've ever gone on a trip to Disneyland Paris feeling so decidedly, well, unDisney. My dad had been seriously ill, which I suppose didn't help my mood but I was just not feeling in the Disney spirit. On the plus side, I ended up with a seat to myself on the Eurostar!
Upon arrival, I decided to kill time before check-in by getting some lunch and decided on Annette's Diner in Disney Village. I've had takeout from there before but had never actually eaten in the restaurant. The restaurant was busy, service was slow and my (relatively) gloomy mood wasn't helped when the waitress finally arrived with my drink - and promptly spilled it over the table! Good food when it finally arrived though!
I had a quick wander around the new World of Disney Store, which had opened a few days previously - this was my first opportunity to check out the merchandise for the 20th Anniversary and to try and decide what on earth I was going to buy! Then I went to check in at the Hotel New York.
This was my second time staying at the New York and I think it may just be my favourite Disneyland Paris hotel. Not that I was in my room enough for the view to matter, but I could actually see Space Mountain and the Castle.
Then it was finally time to head to Disneyland Park to check out the 20th Anniversary celebrations!
It immediately became apparent that the park was very, very busy. I've been in July a couple of times before but hadn't found it too bad. Fortunately, my focus was on photography as opposed to rides as the queues were long for pretty much everything. However, I did want to check out two of the newest attractions at the park - the Princess Pavilion and Meet Mickey Mouse. The queue for the latter was only around 30 minutes so I headed there. The former Fantasyland Festival Theater has been transformed into an impressive Meet & Greet area - the actual room where you meet Mickey is very similar to that at Walt Disney World's Town Square Theater.
The last time I visited Disneyland Paris, the castle was undergoing a makeover (nearly finished by the time I left but still missing a turret and some paint!) and Captain Hook's Pirate Ship was about to have a long-overdue refurb. Both now looked stunning.
The weather in the UK and France had been pretty wet and gloomy in the run up to my trip but as can be seen from these photos, it was lovely now and I had blue skies for my entire holiday.
Parades are one of my favourite things at the Disney Parks so I was excited to see Disney Magic on Parade! To be honest, however, it was a little underwhelming, with most of the floats remaining from Disney's Once Upon A Dream Parade. And I can't say I liked the final float at all.
The new opening float.
Cinderella, Aurora, Snow White and their princes now enter in carriages.
Now back to those familiar floats, albeit with a different line-up of Disney Royalty (farewell Aladdin, Jasmine, Belle & Beast)!
The final, in my opinion, garish float. There has been a certain amount of discontent in the Disney fan community at Duffy being included here!
As I'd watched the parade by "it's a small world" I decided to head over to the Princess Pavilion in the hope the queue would be quieter whilst people were watching the parade. Character photos aside, I wanted to see those wonderful Disney details inside the building.
At the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World, three princess are in a line and you get to meet each one. You also know in advance who you're going to see - and whether you want to stay in line! Whilst I have read reports of some people getting photos with two princesses, my experience was this: when you reach the head of the queue, the Cast Member sends you left or right. Until you turn the corner you don't know which princess will be waiting for you. And you just get to see the one.
A wander around a sunny Discoveryland.
Then onto Frontierland, possibly my favourite land to photograph.
Then it was time to wait for Fantillusion. The parade didn't start until 10.00pm but, as you can see, it still wasn't fully dark.
Finally, at around 11pm, it was time for Disney Dreams, the centrepiece of the 20th Anniversary celebrations.
Tuesday, 17th July
An early breakfast at the hotel before heading off for EMH at Disneyland Park.
Peter Pan's Flight was closed so off to that other popular Fantasyland attraction - and the first ride of my trip!
Whilst it had only been in place for a few weeks, the Mad Tea Party photo location had already disappeared by the time of my visit last May but it's back again.
I'd bought a (very) cheap fisheye lens and had great fun trying that out. The quality of the photos isn't the greatest, but it gave me an idea of the different shots I'd be able to take and I've now invested in a more expensive lens and can't wait to try it out in November.
Obviously Duffy had a new outfit for the 20th Anniversary celebrations!
Waiting for "it's a small world". Clearly I was doing all the hardcore rides first!
The perfectly themed control room for Disney Dreams! blends right in to Main Street USA.
Another year, another makeover! The 20th Anniversary Train.
Wandering around Adventureland.
I'd made a reservation for lunch at Walts, one of the restaurants offering a meal package which gave you access to a reserved area to watch Dreams. Not really necessary (I'd found a good spot at relatively short notice the day before) but I'd planned on visiting the restaurant anyway.
Heading back to the hotel via Disney Village.
The World of Disney Store
20th Anniversary merchandise.
Outside Annette's Diner.
A selection of the 20th Anniversary Park Tickets.
PanoraMagique - grounded but still a great photo opportunity!
The newly remodelled Disney Fashion boutique.
Back to Disneyland Park in time for the parade.
As the day before, decided to chance the Princess Pavilion whilst the parade carried on down Main Street.
Sir Mickey's Boutique in Fantasyland.
I don't usually have much luck spotting Captain Jack but saw him a few times this trip.
Whilst I enjoy watching the parades near "it's a small world" (as it's much quieter there) I decided to brave Main Street for Fantillusion in the hope of seeing one of the stops - better yet, maybe catching a glimpse of the dragon.
I think this may be my all-time favourite float.
And as luck would have it...
Didn't have the easiest time fighting through the crowd on Main Street to get to the reserved area for Dreams! I have mixed feelings as to whether it was worth it - the view is central but, of course, at the mercy of tall people (or children sat on shoulders) in front of you. On the other hand, at least on this night, the reserved area wasn't crowded so you had room to move about.
Wednesday, 18th July
And...(relative) disaster. I'd set my alarm clock for about 6.30, as usual ready to beat the breakfast crowds. When I looked at the clock it was 8am...so, no breakfast and a rush to enjoy the peace of Extra Magic Hours at the park.
A wander around playing with my fish-eye lens.
An early lunch at Restaurant Hakuna Matata before heading off to see Tarzan.
First time seeing Tarzan since 2002.
I knew I wanted to see the show again to video it and whilst I'd planned on going back the next time, by the time I got out the theatre it was nearly time for the next show to start anyway, so figured I'd go straight back and watch it again!
First visit of my trip to Walt Disney Studios Park. I decided to go and see Cinemagique, which I haven't seen the park opened. A few seconds after the curtain lifted, we were told to exit the building. Maybe next time...
Still insanely long queues for Crush's Coaster.
Every time I see photos of the Partners statues in the US parks, I wish that the Paris version was similarly placed in front of the castle - likewise, the lovely bronze statues (maybe they'd be kept cleaner if they were in a more prominent position). I guess Paris visitors get to have a unique shot of Partners, with the Hollywood Hills in the background, but still...
Next up, Disney Stars'n'Cars, which has ditched the "show" and is now simply a parade. No great loss there in my opinion.
Back to Fantasyland for the parade.
Jack Sparrow sneaking through Fantasyland!
I'd decided to ditch Fantillusion and Dreams! that night for a visit to the bar instead!
20th Anniversary merchandise in the Hotel's boutique.
Thursday, 19th July
Fortunately, I woke up on time - the day's first problem came when I was heading to checkout and the lift refused to let anyone out on the ground floor!
Didn't make it to the Earl of Sandwich. Maybe next time...
Decided to risk Space Mountain but soon regretted it. I used to love this ride and one time my sister and I stayed on it for five rides in a row but it's just so uncomfortable now. No such problems with Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast!
Another sighting of Captain Jack!
Can't actually remember when I last went on the Indiana Jones ride. It's been a long time!
A quick wander around the Labyrinth but it was pretty busy and I couldn't face trying to work my way all the way to the centre! It is one of my favourite attractions to photograph though.
Time for the anniversary train again! By this point, I knew where the characters headed off to once they disembarked and managed to get a shot of Mickey.
One of those little details that are so easy to miss!
I spent my first couple of days debating whether or not to have lunch at Auberge de Cendrillon. It's one of the few restaurants I've never been inside and I wanted to experience it at least once. However, it is very expensive - a set menu coming to around €70 (I realised afterwards that I'd paid €5 for a glass of Sprite!). In the end, I decided to go for it (although when I got to the restaurant, my reservation had actually been made for the following day - thankfully, not a problem).
Was it worth it? Just about. The food was good, although small portions and little choice. The restaurant itself is lovely - I was sat in an end room, which was probably a lot quieter but you did feel as though you were missing out as you heard the activity coming from the main room. I was trying to make those small portions last until at least ONE character made an appearance in our room!
Finally, Suzy! Who arrived just as most of the children had rushed off into the main room to see what was going on. Perla also put in an appearance.
Cost aside, I guess my only real regret is not being able to see more of the restaurant. Maybe I'll be tempted to go again...
Wandering back through Fantasyland, I came across the queue for Rapunzel. It didn't look too bad - although a cast member told someone it would probably be about an hour. It was my last day and I had nothing else I absolutely had to do, so I got in the queue.
I think these were taken about two hours later...
A final walk through Frontierland.
A quick stop at the Studios to buy a 20th Anniversary tea-towel! A strange choice, perhaps, but whereas the mugs etc only had a small selection of the wonderful vintage designs on them, the tea-towels had the lot!
Sadly, I arrived just as Chip & Dale were leaving.
I still had some time before checking in for the Eurostar so headed to the Disneyland Hotel for a drink. As it happened, there were a host of characters in the reception area - a great way to finish my trip.
This shot of Donald took an age to get. Just because you don't have a child with you, it doesn't mean you're not actually waiting to take a photo.
It's never so bad leaving when you've already got your next trip planned! I'll be back (and staying at the Disneyland Hotel) in time for the start of the Christmas season in November.