3 Jan 2008

Disneyland Paris 25th December Day 2

We certainly get a full nights deep sleep in our room, free from any corridor or adjoining room noise which is a plus. What I am not so keen on is the sparsity of this room which is large but very empty, there is very little decoration or furnishing. The laundry is thin and rather limited, no face flannels are provided at all. There is a safe which is great but the lack of basics such as a kettle or any tea and coffee making facilities does make you wonder why on earth this is regarded on some web sites as a higher starred facility than some of its competitors. To be honest it was not be our first choice and the initial plan this year had been to return to WDW Florida for Christmas, however with news of ToT opening early we just could not resist and had to take what was available in the resort. Breakfast is basic and rather unappealing though the restaurant staff are extremely friendly and courteous it must be said. We take the hotel bus after a small breakfast across to the MK and enter the bag check. Masses of people are congregating around this area in some confusion as they are turned away for not having the correct Annual Pass or Disney Hotel ID to gain Early Admission. Once inside the park we head under the railway station and walk slowly up Main Street in the cool morning air. As we approach the castle the early morning orange sunlight is darting in and out of the clouds creating fantastic strokes of light and shadow on the buildings, a most magical effect that's difficult to capture on camera but highlights beautifully the new gold detail which has been added for the 15th anniversary.

Then we pass under the Parisian MK Castle, always special and unique with its dungeons (and the guest that lurks within) and galleries for guests to explore. The first ride we walk on to with no queue whatsoever is Snow White's house of horrors as I fondly call it. We love this ride for rather odd reasons, I think there's something fantastic in the storytelling of the Imagineers design that take you from the sublime fairytale opening to the dark horrors to come. The forest scene is a classic vintage dark ride experience. We share the car with a Mother and her young daughter who leaves the ride rather unsuitably traumatised for her first morning in Fantasyland, oh dear, hope she recovers quickly. Next its time for Peter Pan: another walk on and another classic ride first developed by Walt for Anaheim in 1955. It has changed a lot since then (most noticeably the fact that Peter Pan now appears in some form in the ride) and a lot of touches now differentiate each version in each park. Amazingly despite its age and roots this ride is proof positive that a classic will endure; just check out the queue times later in the day.

Next its time for (hold your breath) a spin on the carousel, in all the years of visiting Disneylands and Worlds this is actually the first time we have actually been on this old piece of nostalgia, but once again its another Christmas Day morning walk on as are the tea cups. After a quick ride on Pinocchio (no queue again) I then force Jackie to go and climb up inside the balcony of the castle and appear outside to wave for a picture before we head back to the hub and across to Videopolis in search of a warm drink. Unfortunately everything is still shut so we head back to the hub just in time for the rope drop, the trouble is we're on the wrong side of the rope drop. Feeling like Moses trying to part the red sea we head towards Frontierland, two lonesome figures heading west against a sea of charging Discoveryland fans.

We cross sides, passing the Indian village before entering Frontierland, there's no sign of Pocahontas in the camp this morning, hardly surprising though, I estimate the temperature to be just above zero. The lake itself is actually frozen, the Mark Twain paddle cruiser appears crunching its way forward as it cuts a path through the water like some Ice breaking vessel negotiating the Northwest Passage. The Keel boats are also out which we have never seen before; these boats were retired sometime ago as a cost cutting exercise so its great to see them back. Also waiting at the other side of the lake is the Molly Brown, the second paddle steamer, however she uses a central driving paddle instead of the more traditional rear system of the Mark Twain. On reaching BTM we grab a fastpass to return in an hour or so and set off across to POC.

One of our favourite POC rides it has the length and structure of Anaheim, all be it in a slightly different order, yet lacking the utter ludicrous "half the rides missing" experience that Florida "treats" you with. In fact it certainly has a much better themed queueing area than both those parks. However Anaheim still wins by having the proper space and scale in the out at sea section, in Paris, as in Florida, this set seems just slightly too small and cramped. Then its time to pick up our slot for BTM. I think its pretty universally accepted already even by the imagineers themselves that this is a special version of BTM, sitting on an island in the middle of the lake yet boarded as usual on the mainland, the trains first rush off through pitch black tunnels under the lake before emerging onto the island itself. The only thing that is missing is the theming of the ghost town which exists in Anaheim in the final braking section though this is recreated in Paris and given a total twist in Phantom Manor when you descend into the catacombs. And its to Phantom Manor we head too next, first picking up another FP for BTM which should just fit in nicely before lunch. despite a visible queue its pretty much straight onto this efficient loader.

Before taking our second BTM ride we refresh and reheat a little with a cup of tea from the Fuente del Oro Restaurante. I do wish the Americans and the French will join the civilised world one day and realise that tea is not a cup of hot water with a tea bag on the side, and what gives with the hot milk :) Refreshed and warmed it's soon time though to take that next BTM ride, we should just fit it in before lunch at the Blue Lagoon. One thing I wish they would sort out here is the roof of the BTM building that is below the queue area of the fastpass line. Its always constantly littered every time we visit, surely it could be added to a night time cleaning schedule. BTM ridden again, and my hands blue from waving them in the air but forgetting to wear gloves (DOH) we head back over to Adventureland passing La Cabane des Robinson and Adventure Isle on the way.

The entrance to the Blue Lagoon is tucked away in the corner of the fort that creates the facade of the entrance to the POC. The theming and landscaping in this area is superb, for instance we can hear as we walked to this location the roar of the ride from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril, but the lush landscaping keeps it out of sight and you realise there's still a whole area of the park yet to be explored. Like in Anaheim the restaurant itself is actually inside part of the ride, and is highly themed and extremely atmospheric. A major plus here though is the food is superb as is the wine. Its tropically warm as well which is nice and glorious amounts of shellfish, seafood and fine wines are consumed over a long relaxing lunch. The afternoon is then spent watching the shows starting with a rather surreal multi language experience involving a rather bemused looking Pooh and Friends at the Fantasy Festival Stage. Then its straight to the Videopolis theatre for the superb production Of Lion King, which I'm startled to find was choreographed by Strictlys very own darling, Craig Revel Horwood. A more straight theatre adaptation than the Florida and HK versions, this has masses of quality oozing from it. The production values are superb with better lighting and effects than even the West End version had. What is not up to scratch though is the sound which is unfortunately muffled and out of phase at times.

Its impossible to resist but with a parade time approaching we once again just have to take advantage and head over to the Studios, first refreshing in the Studio1 with more cups of hot water and tea bags. ToT has litttle queue again though crush is out of the question with times approaching 120mins. We ride the ToT repeatedly before making our way around to the Aerosmith RnR Coaster. The contrast as you enter this area of the Studios, which has not yet been touched by the new theming is quite startling; fingers crossed it changes soon. A little retail therapy then takes place, Jackie treating herself to a beautiful new watch, then its time to make our way to the Disneyland Hotel again for Christmas Dinner at the California Grill. Keep watching for the reviews.

1 comment:

Rayn said...

Thanks Dan.... I can't wait to hear the rest, your report is detailed as ever

photos are great again....!!!!

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