31 Dec 2007

Disneyland Paris 24th Dec Day 1

Early morning Christmas Eve and we're driving down deserted motorways towards Liverpool to catch the first flight to Paris. After parking and checking in we hardly have time for a cup of tea before we are being called (by name) to the gate. Soon we are climbing into the dawn at 32,000ft heading south for the one hour hop to Paris. I always draw breath when landing at Charles de Gaulle; does such a beautiful city deserve one of the ugliest airports on earth. Before we know it the plane is taxiing up to a monstrous concrete silo that apparently has a double life as a terminal building.

After a swift debarking into the freezing air we make our way over to the TGV terminal and buy tickets. The ticket office is housed in what looks like a concrete car park, not even a coat of emulsion to hide the depressing skeleton of the building, I really feel for the poor souls who have to work in this environment.

However the TGV whisks us in ten minutes flat to the Transport Hub of Disneyland Paris where we board a bus to our hotel. Its too early to check in and its not worth bothering to anyway as a line stretches from the Vienna Dream Castle Hotel's desk practically back to the entrance so after dropping the bags with the concierge we head back towards the park, we have a lunch appointment at Inventions.

We arrive back at the transport hub and head over to the bag search area, (Now where is the No bags entrance DLP). What a fantastic site it is to see the ToT in all its glory stretching up into the sky from the Studios as we approach the parks. Last time we were here it was an incomplete grey concrete monolith slowly reaching up in anticipation (A little like the terminal buildings at the airport only the Tower was cleaner). For us it's straight into the Disneyland Hotel for our reservation at Inventions and settle down to the once again exquisite buffet. Its so nice to sit here relaxed with fine wine watching the train pull into Main Street Station whilst enjoying everything this buffet has to offer, and lets face it there's not much it does not have to offer. Superb, and a full review will of course follow.

After lunch we head back through the lobby of the hotel and set off to get our Dream Annual Passes. Once purchased from the guest relations booth we are given a temporary access tkt and told to visit the AP center in the park before 7pm. As soon as we enter the park and hit the town square a trolley enters and Jackie takes time to make a new friend though looking at the photo again neither seems sure of the other...

The Park itself is looking in tip top condition, just as it should for a 15th anniversary with all the repaints on main street now completed; our last two trips last year involved careful camera work to miss out the false facades that had been placed over the scaffolding as the refurbishment took place. We have been lucky enough this year to visit the MKs of Florida, California and Paris and despite the chill today and the fact I only entered the gates 2 minutes ago, I remain convinced once again that this is the most beautiful of the MKs in terms of design and aesthetics.

We make our way into Discoveryland and grab a fastpass for Space Mountain which surprisingly, despite the time of day has a slot available in an hour or so. Based on last year's experience (lets just say it took a long time) this should give us time to get our AP sorted out, however we are dealt with efficiently in the AP office and are in and out quite quickly; so we have a ride on Star Tours which has a small queue before using our FP on SM.It's nice to see the steams working fully, it looks very effective especially in the cold but the piston action of the launch cannon appears to have given up. Space Mountain is , how can I put this politely: great but as rough as ever. Once will be enough this trip I think.

As darkness begins to fall upon the park and preparations begin for the parade we decide to dash over and take our first look at the new additions to the Studios. A lot has changed since our last visit and we cannot wait to see it. The first major change you encounter is the placemaking and themeing as you exit Studio 1. Previously you exited onto what looked like an average main road, a barren piece of tarmac surrounded by the attractions. In a time of tight budgets it was the best thing the imagineers came up with, the excuse given was always that this is in reality what a studio looks like, but it always felt wrong, was rather uninspiring to look at and felt totally lacking in Disney quality. Now the transformation has begun. Hollywood architectural buildings and facades have grown out of the ground in front of the new ToT along with palm trees and new lighting. To the right a new land is materialising "Toon Studio" with another major ride and a some Pixar inspired theming.

By a stroke of luck we seem to have arrived just at a perfect time. A lot of the crowds are heading back to the MK for the parade and there's only a 5min wait time for ToT. Having only just ridden the Californian version a few weeks ago there's not much to add as its the same ride here, known in certain circles as "bad tower" for its lack of the forward driving section and its odd corridor to nowhere between the lift doors. But that's being very picky. its still a fantastic E+ ticket ride the park should be proud of and my goodness, this has a view at night from the top that surpasses all the other towers without any doubt. They should also be proud of Crush, we managed by some amazing good fortune to walk up to this amazingly popular ride just as its reopening after technical difficulties and therefore avoid the usual 100min queues this ride can generate once the Studios has been open a few minutes. Its an odd ride in the trilogy of Nemo rides we have ridden this year. It has less storytelling aspects to it at the beginning, but good grief, once it hits the current section, we both found ourselves dropping and spinning with no recollection as to which way was up or down. In three words Fan tas tic. After a spin on the new Cars Race Rally which is also beautifully themed and then another drop on the ToT we head back to the hotel, pick up our bags and finally check in and get some sleep. Got to make that early entry tomorrow.


Susan said...

Dan, Another good read. You make it seem simultaneously 1) that I have seen and done all of this and 2) that I NEED to see and do all if this. Loved the mirror picture of the suspicious Jackie and the trolly horse. Thanks, Susan

martin said...

Excellent detailed report as usual. Look forward to reading more.

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