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Saturday, 18 November 2006

EuroDisney - November 2006


Wednesday, 15 November - Welcome to EuroDisney...
One day until I turn 40.


Today was the day I received my best birthday present ever: four days in the Happiest Place on Earth (no, not the Playboy Mansion) - EuroDisney, thanks to my beloved Rachel. We arrived in Paris, France, at 1.30pm, having travelled up to London Waterloo International Railway Station in the morning commute (I just don't know how people can do that every day!), then caught the connecting EuroStar service through the Chunnel - which was fast, smooth and not too crowded.
Rachel and I got to the Park by 2pm; our bags having been checked in at the station and shipped direct to our hotel for collection on our arrival there. It took a while to adjust to the fact that everyone was speaking French, but eventually I found myself murdering their language at every opportunity with my pidgen-speak!


We wandered aimlessly around beautiful Main Street, Frontierland and parts of Adventureland and had a pizza for lunch, then went to our cowboy-themed hotel (Cheyenne), checked in, made reservations for dinner in their restaurant tomorrow (my birthday!), looked over our room and then headed back to Disney Village - an area of shops and restuarants outside the two parks (Disneyland Park & Disney Studios).

Dinner was had at King Ludwig's Castle (research for my tower project!) - a brilliant mock-mediaeval dining hall where I devoured Weisswurtz for starters (a pair of small, albino saveloy!) and Oktoberfest chicken & chips for the main course. Rachel had the chicken as well, followed by apple stroodel.

My stomach started to play up after I went on the driving games at the nearby video arcade, so we went back to the hotel for a bath and some much needed sleep.

Thursday, 16 November - Gepetto's Busy Hands ...

MY 40TH BIRTHDAY!!!!

Eventually crawled out of bed at 8am and opened my last presents from Rachel, then we took the free bus to the park (literally a couple of minutes away) for our "character breakfast". This was awesome and turned out to be one of, if not the, highlights of the holiday for both of us. Rachel met Mickey Mouse, which she was very excited about, and we both met Goofy, Chip & Dale, Pinnochio (who got Rachel in a choke hold!) and a very frisky Gepetto (who was rather "over friendly" with his tickling and hair stroking!).

In the Park proper we queued to have our picture taken with Winnie The Pooh (one of our heroes), then went on a few awesome rides - Peter Pan, Pinnochio and Snow White - which were all quite gentle (although the bars across my stomach caused me some discomfort when the carriages we were in lurched forward), then got some free tickets to see the Legend of The Lion King show. However, next we took in the "Honey I Shrunk The Audience" 3D show on a whim. It was very clever and funny, but the shocks and shaking floor made me feel sick, so we caught the train back to Main Street and went back to the hotel for a nap.

We were back in the Park by 5pm, in the dark and the rain, and wandered in and out of the shops of Main Street before I led Rachel into the Western Fort in Frontierland where I almost died slipping down the wet steps from the top of the parapet! Word of advice: avoid wooden forts in the dark and rain ... and certainly don't walk backwards when getting into position for photographs...

The rain got heavier as we took our places for the Fantallusion Parade, which was all lights and such, and was very beautiful and moving - the stuff of fairy tales. One of the most unique and visually appealling events of the holiday.

By this stage I was getting very tired and hungry and almost passed out from fatigue before we made it back to the hotel for a 30 minute snooze. Then it was off to the Chuck Wagon - the hotel's BBQ "restaurant" ... which was more akin to a free-for-all, anarchic school dining room. The so-called reservation was pointless, but it was a laugh, so we didn't care.

Back to the room by 10pm, thoroughly exhausted and a year older!


Friday, 17 November - Day of The Parades ...

Breakfast at The Chuck Wagon was a minor nightmare, but not as bad as last night's dinner, and we saw Pluto and Minnie Mouse in the hotel foyer - so that made up for it!

Bus to Walt Disney Studios. First stop: Cinemagique - an excellent interactive cinema show, starring Martin Short, Julie Delpy and a host of other well-known faces (we got rained on in the cinema and splashed when the Titanic hit the iceberg!), that saw Martin Short's character stepping in and out of the screen ... while hunting for his lost luggage. Excellent!

Then we went on the "Behind The Scenes" tour, which was a bit rubbish - no disrespect, but Rachel didn't pay all this money so we could look round a display of crappy kid's art. Sorry, Walt, your people dropped the ball on this one, but they made up for it with the high speed, high octane, high volume stunt show which followed and then the cinema parade, which, as with all Disney parades, was very good and a great chance to see the characters we all know and love "in the flesh".

In the Magic of Animation section - which somehow we managed to do backwards - we made our own zoetrope and put our voices on an Aladdin cartoon, which was very cool, then saw a couple of film shows. The first was a sweet compilation of Disney 'best bits', for the second an animator talked us through the creation of the dragon in Mulan. This was rather chaotic as it was delivered in several languages simultaneously (the headphones not quite blocking out the voice of the presenter in the auditorium).

We then brought a Roo-headed Pez dispenser and went out to the Disney Village for lunch in the Rainforest Cafe. Without a doubt the best meal we had during our stay and the best themed restaurant - elephants, monkeys and lizards ... oh, my!

Back to the Park for the Christmas Parade which, in Rachel's words, was "fantastique!" We both took loads of pictures during this one and then went for a stroll around Adventure Isle, and in the caves, until it got very dark and we made our back over a rickety bridge to see the lighting up ceremony for Sleeping Beauty's castle before going back to the hotel for a rest ... although that wasn't the end of our day!

Friday, 17 November - Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show ...

Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show is one of the most heavily advertised - and expensive - events at EuroDisney, but, boy, was it worth it!

We were shown into an arena with tiered seating (Rachel and I rode up in the lift because of the "power of the stick" - my disability having previously got us priority seating at Cinemagique and the stunt show - although it did come out in the kitchens!) and our food was brought round as we sat and watched the live action show.


The lighting was such that you couldn't really make out what you were eating, but basically it was the usual BBQ chilli beans, potatoes, slabs of meat and sausages, followed by ice cream and apple crumble.

But the main attraction of the show on the sawdust floor - from the phoney trick shooting of Annie Oakley to the herding of real buffalo (which I thought were an endangered spieces), horse races and mock cowboy and Indian fights, building up to a stagecoach hijacking - this was pure Hollywood Wild West all the way ... and I loved it (even if I felt a bit uncomfortable about the circus-like nature of some of the animal acts - altough they were clearly well cared for and in no danger).

Yeehah! And we got complimentary cowboy hats (which were waved vigorously during the show to cries of "yeeeeehahhhhh" and clanging cutlery!)


Saturday, 18 November - It's A Small World After All ...

Au revoir, Disney!

Our last day at the Parks. We slept in - as we couldn't face the mayhem of breakfast at the Chuck Wagon and knew we had a long day ahead of us, and an emotional farewell to this incredible place. We checked in our luggage at the hotel, so that it would be at the railway station when we had to catch our train, then took the bus to the Park for the final time.

Being a Saturday, we suddenly realised how spoilt we had been the previous days when we could just get on rides without queuing or get our photos taken with characters without being trampled by hordes of children and their short-tempered parents. Weekends at Disney are a claustrophobe's nightmare and I found it very bewildering quite quickly. We had a check list of things to do, but dropped some immediately when we saw the crowds.

Breakfast was taken at the Hyperion Cafe, where the airship from the Island At The Top Of The World stands proudly overhead and you can watch the Lion King show (which we'd missed a few days earlier). Then we queued for about 20 minutes for the It's A Small World ride, which is the epitome of cuteness, but still very enjoyable (even though I am convinced that the glass-eyed dolls come alive at night and devour any interlopers hanging around in the park).

After that, with the time ticking away, we found Mickey's Winter Wonderland, a great live show with Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Chip & Dale and some others enjoying the "snow", skating, ice fishing etc and still finding the time for several jolly old singalongs.

We left the Park regretfully as it was starting to get dark and grabbed a quick meal in Planet Hollywood, in the village, having given our tickets to a pair of young French girls who seemed delighted that would be able to enjoy a couple of free hours of Disney magic.

Our Planet Hollywood meal was strange in that we were seated next to a "private area" where a visiting country & western band - Burrito Deluxe - were preparing for a concert in the village later that evening, with their friends and families. To be frank, they looked more Darby & Joan than rock'n'roll, but it was another brush with fame - so who were we to mock?

Finally we had to drag ourselves back to the train station and a tedious train journey back, which was nowhere near as relaxing and enjoyable as the journey there.

EuroDisney was great - if you put aside your typical English cynicism and can look past the fact that every other building is a retail outlet and every restaurant has its own shop as well - it's just wholesome, clean, family fun ... and you don't have to buy toys at every stall (although I would've if I could have afforded to and had been able to carry it all home) nor any of the well-made clothing (which again I had my eye on, but couldn't really afford). EuroDisney is about atmosphere and entertainment; an antidote to mundane reality - and what's wrong with a bit of that every now and again?



Hopefully we'll go back next year :-)

Shangi-Chi (2021) + Venom 2 (2021) + Eternals (2021) + The Batman (2022)


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