We have contracted Mouse Flu
Trip Start Sep 23, 2009
12Trip End Oct 04, 2009
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We were allowed in a little early to stroll down Main Street and take some pictures.
While there, Mickey was driven down the street in his cartoon mobile!
We also noticed that they have names in the windows on main street just like back home which made us very happy.
We also saw that even more Halloween decorations were added since Monday. They start their official Halloween celebrations on Friday.
Since we started with Space Mountain on Monday, today we started with Harmony's favorite, Dumbo. Yes, Mike was appalled that we would make the mad morning dash to a freaking ride like Dumbo. However, it makes Harmony happy so we did it. We were having so much fun the photo got blurred in excitement!
In Fantasyland, they have a restaurant called Toad Hall that looks just like the old Mr Toads Wild Ride building! Note the warning on the sign.
Later we decided to ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad since we did not ride it on Monday. When you first see the ride, you notice the entire ride is on an island with absolutely no land connecting to it at all (that is why it is an island, not a peninsula Mark).
Well, behind the paddle boat in that picture is the actual loading/unloading area for the ride. You board your train and then actually go under water to start your ascent on the island! At the end of the ride, you shoot back under water to come back up into the load station on the mainland. How cool is that? Here are some shots from the ride:
Also, here is a quick video from the ride to show you it is just as fun as the American version. They even have the same English voice track that says "Howdy folks, hold on to them hats and glasses cause this here is the wildest ride in the wilderness!"
We had to go on Phantom Manor again because it was just that awesome. We noticed they added a few more decorations so we took another shot:
We also rode the Molly Brown paddle boat (the Mark Twain was in dry dock for repairs). Here is a shot of Harmony in the parlor of the ship:
In the middle of the day, we decided to lay down on the stone benches outside of the castle and listen to Disney music. It was very relaxing (except for the smoke everywhere, more on that later). Harmony got a chance to see Cinderella too!
Here is a nice shot of Harmony under one of the turrets.
On Monday we passed right by this but today Mike noticed what this little snack shack really was. It is The Old Mill! It looks just like it too! Most of you will have no idea what that means but it is actually the title of one of Walt's first Silly Symphony cartoons in 1937. It's the one he built the multi plane camera for that you saw Mike in front of in yesterday's blog from the studios. Very cool to see it recreated in person like this. If any of you want to know if you have every seen this cartoon or not, check it out here:
Here is the picture:
Of course, we had to ride the tea cups for Harmony. Their version has a roof over it because of the frequent rain they get. Rumor has it Disney World will be getting this roof as part of the massive Fantasyland expansion/refurbishment.
Then, we happened to be in the exact right place at the right time. We heard an announcement that Aurora was coming to her courtyard very soon so Harmony and I grabbed a spot where we thought she would come. Boy were we right! All of her escorts, her prince, and Aurora herself came right in front of us and performed the whole show right there! Harmony loved it!
Here is a video clip from the show:
And here is a picture of the real prince and princess of the castle:
Later we hit Star Tours. Same exact ride as Florida, only in French. To sound like a broken record, it is very strange to here C-3PO speaking French. You have to turn your head sideways to view the video.
Here is a shot from the exit area of the ride. Very cool!
We hit Buzz Lightyear again because we love hearing Buzz speak French. Here is a shot of the Master Blaster!
One extremely unique and amazing feature of Disneyland Paris is that they have two covered walkways on either side of main street behind the shops! The shops have their own unique store fronts on this side and the walkways themselves are heavily themed. The walkways are known as arcades. On one side is the Discoveryland Arcade which is themed after discovery and invention with many displays relating to Jules Verne, DaVinci, etc. Here is Mike in this arcade:
And here is Harmony in a little ice cream parlor in this arcade:
The other arcade is known as Liberty Arcade and is themed after the Statue of Liberty and has many displays showing the gift of the statue from France to America. Think about how awesome these arcades are in a rain storm. You have shopping, dining, and restrooms all within reach without going outside. Even more awesome are these avenues when there is a parade on Main Street like there was for us today. We used these passage ways which were empty and allowed us to shop and stroll behind the madness on Main Street during the parade. So awesome!
Here is a quick very poor quality video of Pirates just to show the Auctioneer speaking in French:
Here is a video of the dragon under the castle we spoke about on Monday. Poor quality again because it was so dark and this is taken with the digital camera.
Here is a video message Harmony would like to give to her family. It was shot right before the Aurora show in front of the castle. Sorry, but you need to turn your head 90 degrees counterclockwise to view it.
Here is a parting shot of Harmony saying goodbye to the magic.
Lastly, here is a view from our room on our last night taken a couple of hours ago. Note the para glider in the sky!
Here are three videos of Phantom Manor we shot to try and capture how creepy the ride really is:
OK, time for a summary and final impressions. Harmony and I had a wonderful time at The Disneyland Paris Resort. We were not disappointed in the least. Let's get the negatives out of the way first. Harmony and I have always believed that the one thing that makes Disney World and Disneyland CA so perfect is actually the 60,000+ cast members. They turn something amazing into something magical as many of you know already. Those cast members go well above and beyond their job to make your day as magical as possible. They treat every guest as if it were their first and last time in the park and do everything in their power to leave you with amazing memories. They can't have a bad day, because that may reflect on the guest that saved all of his/her life to visit the parks just one time. In fact, they can't even have a bad hour because that could affect hundreds or thousands of guests negatively.
We can describe the cast members in Disneyland Paris as simply polite. Certainly they are friendly and smile to almost every guest but that is pretty much it. They do their job and nothing much more. They even horse around and break character in front of guests. We would describe them as more of a "would you like fries with that?" employee rather than a "let me make your day the most magical day possible" cast member. There is nothing wrong with this at all but it severely reduces the magic that you would expect from a Disney park. Luckily the actual attractions, music, theming, etc more than make up for it.
Now, the other factor that makes Disney World and Disneyland so magical never even crossed our minds in a million years. It's the guests. I know, can you believe it? Let us explain. At least 95% of the guests in the America parks appreciate what they are taking part in. Many of them are in awe of the detail of the parks, appreciate the over the top cast members, and, most importantly, pay nothing but respect to their surroundings and the general rules/culture of the park. Unfortunately, the guests out here do not behave in the same manner and you would be surprised how much that affects your own experience when in the parks.
Let's start with the worst offender......smoking. Wow...... Yes, we know every single European smokes including the infants in the maternity ward but holy crap! These people are chain smoking psychos! Some of you reading this blog are smokers. We consider you to be polite smokers and, therefore, you would not fall into this category of people out here. Believe it or not, Disney does not allow smoking in restaurants, shops, attraction queues, or even in any of the main thoroughfares of the park itself. They actually have designated smoking areas all over the parks just like Orlando does. Well, we think they did this because they had to. Nobody smoked in those areas. Ironically, those were the few areas you could go to in order to get away from the smoke. Can you believe that? These people smoked everywhere, including lines for attractions, even lines (queues) that were inside! It was horrible. Every single time you come out of an attraction with a group of people, 75% of that group would light up within 2-3 seconds of hitting the sunlight. Seriously, it was like these people were vampires and the only way they were protected from the sun would be to smoke! They simply throw their cigarette butts all over the park, even though every single trash can has a special butt receptacle. So many areas are covered with no smoking signs but that was clearly a waste of Disney's money. Since the weather was beautiful, you would think we would want to eat outside at the tables in the nice sun right? No! Every person at every table outside is always smoking. You would seriously see babies in carriages just surrounded by clouds of smoke from their parents, relatives, distant cousins, and siblings. OK, you get the point, pretty sucky.
Second offender, personal space. Yep, it does not exist. Next time you go to Disneyland Paris and see a "short" line and are getting ready to jump in because the wait will be short, don't do it! That line has the same amount of people as a line in Florida three times longer! These people are on top of each other! You take a step forward in line, the person behind you takes 2 steps forward to be literally on top of you. This goes on with every step. You give all the usual American signals to let them know to back off but they are oblivious. This is just totally normal to them. Harmony and I came up with some creative ways to piss them off but it did get very annoying. However, there was one huge positive to this dilemma. It allowed us to save a great deal on our food budget since we frequently lost our appetites by having these Cro-Magnon anti-hygienic apes hovering within eyelash distance of us. You will see how we defend against this in a future Paris post as we will be bringing this tactic with us there tomorrow.
Lastly, many Europeans are very rude in these parks. It's unfortunate but true. We consider rude to be a guy that answers and talks loudly on the phone in the middle of a show, someone who screams for attention in any pre-show for any attraction (these are adults not to mention), people who simply walk right in front of you in line, etc. They also think it is cool to just throw trash on the ground literally 5 feet away from the trashcan or actually write graffiti on walls using pen in the queues in Fantasyland. We won't go into details but the rudeness factor here is definitely much much higher than American parks. We didn't encounter this in the city of London though. We will see about Paris.
Now, believe it or not, after reading all of that above, you may be shocked to find out that we would go back in a heart beat. The Disney overall magic still outweighs all of the negatives. They do an excellent job in keeping the parks clean, well painted, and running smoothly. So much of the Disney magic is still there. They clearly take great care in the history of the Disney company given they have so many nods to little secrets of Disney past and present. The attention to detail is amazing and many times the theming out here is better than in the America parks. These two parks were excellent and we would be excited to come back to them in 5 years or so to see the additional expansions and improvements.
We hope you enjoyed traveling to Disneyland Paris with us.
Wish us luck on our journey to the center of Paris tomorrow!
-Mike and Harmony