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Europalooza Trip Report Part 7: much magique at Disneyland Paris

on March 24, 2019

After finding our way back from the suburbs of Paris and into our hotel, we prepped for the all-important next day: Disneyland Paris!  I felt as prepared as I could be…the day was planned, the tickets were bought and printed and stuck into my day bag, the credit card was well-rested (lol), the official Disneyland Paris app was downloaded, and most importantly, I was happy and excited, and my crew were, too.  Warning: this is a photo-heavy post!  First up: waking up on time to get on the train and to the Disneyland Park gates before the official opening. My official itinerary listing read as follows:

(bfast on train) Leave hotel 7:20a, walk to Port de Vicennes metro stop 7:25a, travel to Nation metro stop 7:30a, walk to RER-A Nation stop 7:35a, travel to Marne de Vallee-Chessy 8:10a, arrive turnstiles @ DLPark 8:15a.

So we set alarms for 6:40 or so, having showered the night before.  I popped up like a spring, and everyone else got up like normal people.  Matching shirts on, we grabbed the breakfast items we had purchased in advance, quadruple-checked that I had the tickets, and headed out, VERY well bundled up.  This was by far the coldest day we had on our trip.  The high this day was 32°F!  Remember the layers I had purchased and packed?  They were very necessary and appreciated.

We made our way in the darkness out to the Metro stop, and our trip went pretty much like clockwork.  It was a longer walk than I expected from the train to the turnstiles, but soon enough, we saw this!

dpark entrance1

It was still only 8:20a, so I took the quick opportunity for a slightly blurry solo shot.

dpark entrance2

You can see behind me that people were arriving, but it was not super crowded- yet!  As we made our way as far forward as possible, we could feel the crowd building behind us.  We were about 6 rows of people back from the turnstiles, which are located in that covered area lit by yellow lights above my head in this picture.  By the time the Park officially opened at 9, the crowd extended well past the sign and filled most of the plaza.  If you are curious, that building above the sign is not actually “Park”- it’s the Disneyland Hotel.  Can’t get closer to the Park than that!  Also, it would have used up my whole trip budget to stay there, never mind fly there, so, no, I did not seriously consider it.  I will admit to wondering if the lottery ticket I purchased while in North Carolina would bear fruit and warrant a change in plans, but alas, it was not to be.

So, after waiting for a bit while people-watching (some people were just buying tickets when they got there, and exclaiming over the prices- hello? a little research!), finally, the Cast Members started the countdown (in French), and the Park was officially open!

We walked down Main Street, USA, toward the glittering Castle.

dl paris castle

This is a pic from the Disney Parks blog, who are better photographers than me.  It was daytime at our first glimpse, but an overcast and foggy day, so this is essentially what we saw.  Beautiful!

 

I cried all the way up the street.  After all the saving, budgeting, planning, and travel, it was finally happening!  My family let me have my moment, and then we headed to Frontierland to start our day on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.  We ran into a problem here- the ride was down, with no estimated startup time.  We waited in the line for a few minutes, but decided to just come back later.  We wanted to be in this Park for only an hour, then head over to the Walt Disney Studios before coming back to Disneyland Park for the day.  So decided to move on to our next step and quickly split up.  The reason we needed to split was because DD and I were heading to Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain for some thrills, and the boys were headed to Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast for some slightly milder fun.  We made plans to meet up at the exit to Buzz.

DD and I excitedly walked over to Discoveryland and walked into the standby line…and kept walking and walking until we got on the ride!  There was barely time to appreciate all the X-wing blueprints and other themed visuals decorating the ride queue.  I suddenly got very nervous after getting into the ride vehicle and getting strapped in.  Not sure what happened to me- I even thought about asking to get off!  DD pointed out the 10-year-olds waiting to ride, and said that I could be as brave as them.  Good point.  Anyway, before I knew it, it was too late to do anything but scream in delight.  This ride is AWESOME.

dl sp mtn

I loved it.  We had gone through and on so fast that we considered going on again, but decided to take any extra time to try new things and not repeat.  We made our way to Buzz to wait for the boys, stopping to buy DD some sparkly purple ears along the way.  You can see them in the top corner of this picture, actually.  They were very helpful all day, as I could always see her, even in crowded areas.

After about 10 minutes, the boys emerged from Buzz, having ridden twice!  Since my husband doesn’t consider the photographic needs of this blog (hahaha), here is a stock photo.

L5-4Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin MRA Oct. 1998

Having conquered Space Mountain and defeated Emperor Zurg, we headed out to the Walt Disney Studios.  It was exactly 10am.

DL studios

They had an “Earful” Tower at the entrance to the Studios.

Easily walking across the plaza and making our way into the Park, we immediately had a choice to make.  The official app told us that both Ratatouille: The Adventure and Crush’s Coaster had 45min+ standby times.  Crush doesn’t use FastPass at all, and Ratatouille does, but the return time was at 1:45p.  We had lunch reservations at Disneyland Park at 2, so that wouldn’t work, even if we ate fast.  We did a family huddle, and each gave a reason to choose a particular ride.  In the end, DD’s logic that we HAD to ride Ratatouille while we were physically in PARIS, and DH’s hesitation at how DS’s motion sickness might react to the “spinniness” of Crush meant we walked by Crush’s already very long line and got into Remy’s outdoor line….

where we experienced an extremely COLD and windy wait of over 1 hour.  We had flashbacks to Heathrow.  We played games to distract ourselves.  We talked about everything we could.  We took silly pics.

dl rata ride

Ew, haggis snacks.

Finally, after I thought I would lose my toes to frostbite, we moved into the indoor portion of the queue.  It was only like, 5 degrees warmer in there.  But we were out of the wind.  Eventually, after I sprouted a few more gray hairs, we got loaded into the ride vehicle and were off!  This ride was very enjoyable.  However, it is quite intense and ultimately, a little too short.  My humble opinion is that it would be perfect with less intensity/fewer fast turns, and a longer ride time.  But, they don’t pay me the big bucks to decide that kind of stuff, so off the ride and into the gift shop we went.  I got DS some gloves here, because he had snow mitten-type things and he really wanted “fingers.” They are really nice and we just used them in NY as well.  Well worth the €14.99.  I also got a reusable bag and began to scope out the magnets.  I saw one I liked and kept in mind.  DD got some stuff.  We lingered here for a bit, to stay out of the cold, mostly.

We left several Euros lighter, and walked past Toy Story Land.

dl buzz statue

No time to stop.  Toy Story Land is now available at Walt Disney World in Florida, so we’ll catch it there.  We were on our way to the next showing of Mickey’s Christmas Big Band Show.  We arrived in the covered waiting area less than 10 minutes before the next show, which was perfect timing.

dl big band

Another Disney Parks blog pic, as no photos were allowed in the theatre.

In this show, Mickey Mouse tap dances AND plays the drums.  It was a really high-quality, Broadway-style spectacular. They danced and sang full-out for over 40 minutes, with several costume changes.  I’d recommend it to anyone visiting the Park.  I was super impressed!  And we were nice and warm, always a bonus on this day.

After the show, we checked the app re: Crush’s Coaster.  The ride had actually gone down while we were in the Ratatouille queue, and the wait was now 1hr+.  We had made the right decision in the end, and would miss Crush on this trip since it was time to head back to Disneyland Park for lunch.  Oh well, a reason to go back and visit again 🙂

Another walk across the plaza later, and we had re-entered Main Street, USA.  It was time to see if the dining reservation I had made on the Dutch Disneyland Paris site for Walt’s- An American Restaurant was valid.  I watched as 2 families requested seating and were told that the restaurant was fully booked.  I approached the podium with my reservation number, and …SUCCESS!  We were taken up the stairs and into a cozy table near a fireplace and one table away from the windows facing Main Street.  The server brought the regular menus and some special Celebration menus (from Mickey’s 90th birthday being celebrated at all the Disney Parks in the world).

dl menus

DH and I chose from Walt’s Menu at €39.99 per person, which included a starter and main course.  DD chose a fancy cheeseburger from the Meats menu, and DS had a Child’s menu.  I loved the atmosphere in the restaurant, unusually so for me because I dislike fuss, and this had some lace doily-ness to it.  I was really drawn to all the historical pictures of Walt and the planning/building of the Parks.  Very nicely done, in my opinion.  The pace of the meal was relaxed- DD even fell asleep on the table after eating her main course!

I was nowhere near tired, as between courses, I heard the parade coming down Main Street and took the opportunity to look out the nearby window while the table was unoccupied.  And I saw SNOW coming down on Main Street!  Snow not provided by Mother Nature, but by Disney Entertainment 🙂

Here’s my opinion on the food: I hated the Starter salad I got, but have never tasted more delicious gnocchi than in my Main Course.  I even ate the cooked carrots, and there are few things I hate more than cooked carrots.  DD ate her burger and fries without incident, and DH also liked his food, but didn’t rave about it.  DS didn’t enjoy much of his meal, but did like the cute chocolate cake dessert:

dl walt dessert

Overall, an expensive meal, but one full of atmosphere, magical snow, and central heating, lol.  It was 3:15pm.  Bellies filled, we headed out to continue our fun.  The app told us that Big Thunder had a long wait, but Pirates of the Caribbean in Adventureland was at <30 min.  Knowing that it is a fast-loading ride, we got in the queue and were soon loading into a boat.  This ride is longer and has a more intense drop than its USA cousins.  It was really great!  DD commemorated her ride with a photo:

dl pirates

We headed toward Fantasyland at this point.  I had designs on Alice’s Curious Labyrinth since it’s a Paris-exclusive but no one else wanted to walk through it.  At this point I headed to Le Pays des Contes de Fees, which is “a peaceful cruise through Storybook Land.”  Having missed its inspiration, Storybook Land Canal Boats at Disneyland in California when I was there with DD in 2009, I was looking forward to this.  Unfortunately, it closes based on light levels, and it closed earlier than I thought it would because of the overcast day.

No worries, because we got a two-fer.  The line for it’s a small world was very manageable, and we even managed to see the end of the Enchanted Christmas Parade as it went by the ride.

dl small world

After joining the happiest cruise that ever sailed around the world, we headed back up towards the Castle, or Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant.  

We had an appointment with a dragon.  La Tanière du Dragon is a walk-through attraction that gives you a glimpse at Maleficent in dragon form, who lives below the Castle.  First, you have to find the entrance.  We walked around for a bit before seeing the correct sign.  The dragon’s eyes are eerie-looking, and her chains look like they have seen better days- DS got a little nervous!  I explained about Disney being deliberate about every detail, and that they were meant to look like that.  The moment quickly passed, but I did recognize it as a sign that DS was getting tired.  It was about 6:30p.  I began to rethink our plan to stay until after the Park closed/the fireworks, which was 10p.

We decided it was time to do some shopping on Main Street and get a quick dinner.  First, I had to find something my sister had asked me to get her: a Disneyland Paris drinking glass.  I found the glass shop and DD helped me pick something out.  The box they gave me was pretty big, since they packed the glass well to keep it from breaking.  As soon as they handed it to me, I started thinking about how to get this glass from France to Spain and then back to the US without it breaking!  Spoiler alert: it made it just fine 🙂

I took this opportunity to look at all the magnets I could find, and ironically, settled on the same one I had seen at the Ratatouille shop in the morning.  Mostly because many of the magnets were styles I didn’t like, or only had Disneyland Park on them- none had the Walt Disney Studios Park on them, or even the logo.  I wound up with this, whose colors I really liked:

dl magnet

The colors are kind of metallic and shiny, which you can’t see in this pic of it I found online.

I also found a picture frame that worked portrait-style, since we had taken a group photo in the matching shirts at Walt’s and I wanted that to be in the frame.  DS got a fun fat pen with lots of characters on it.  DH took this nice photo of us with the Main Street Christmas tree in the background.

dl main street

Time to eat, and our stomachs led us to Casey’s Corner, where we shared some hot dogs and chicken nuggets.  Energy restored, we made a plan for the few hours we had left.  DD wanted to go on Indiana Jones et le Tempe du Pèril since the app had it at a 15-minute wait.  DS was too short for it, and DH doesn’t like thrill rides, so we split up again.  We made plans to meet up at Big Thunder, where we would ride no matter how long the wait.  It was looking good, as the Park was getting much less crowded.

DD and I made our way to the very back part of Adventureland, passing some really empty areas of the still-foggy Park. Once again, we walked right through the ride queue and before I knew it, we were loaded into the ride vehicle.  And once again, I got pretty nervous.  I hadn’t really planned on riding this ride, so I wasn’t prepared for it, nor could I see the ride track in the darkness.  Oh well, we took off and I screamed my head off.  So fun!  My voice was basically gone at this point, after the cold, the fog, and the screaming.

dl sign

No disco dancing!

The boys had headed back to see the dragon again, and then rode Le Carrousel de Lancelot, which DS loved.  We met up at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad as planned, with a wait time of 30 minutes listed for standby.  We all got in the line and excitedly told each other about our respective rides.  DH and I stood to the side as the kids chatted, and decided that this ride would be our farewell to the Park.  We hoped to avoid the crowds leaving the Park to take the train back to Paris, we were both tired of being cold, and we knew they would both enjoy this ride a lot- it could be the perfect end to the day.

And boy, did we love this ride!  It it the best version of Big Thunder I have ridden, having been on the Walt Disney World and Disneyland versions.  The fog made it even better, adding a mysterious edge to the ride, not to mention allowing for tantalizing quick glimpses of the glittering Castle.

After our grand finale, we walked out of the Park, and made a stop at the big World of Disney store in Disney Village, their Disney Springs-like area.  After a very quick purchase of some candy, we headed to the near-empty train station and made our way back to the hotel.  It had been a truly magical day 🙂

dl wand

I love this picture of Mickey’s hand holding a wand in the fog that we got as we left the Park.


One response to “Europalooza Trip Report Part 7: much magique at Disneyland Paris

  1. Gina I Valle says:

    great way to details. It was like I was there with you guys. Super fun!!!!

    Like

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