Y'all may remember me from a few weeks back, asking my aggressively newbie questions; and here I am, a few weeks after my trip, recounting my adventures. I took upwards of two thousand pictures on my four day jaunt, so be prepared for some slow loading times, in addition to dozens of pictures, I've decided to be somewhat long-winded, so beware... and here we go!
Yep, just me, a nineteen-year-old university student in England who is a veteran of both stateside Disney parks, and who has since made it a goal to visit all of the Disney parks worldwide. This was my first solo trip to a park, and my first solo vacation, really, so it felt very different; but I consider myself an outgoing, self-reliant person, so to me, it was an adventure.
I departed Sunday 28 November. At the hellish hour of 4.30 AM. Well, I awoke at that hour. Which didn't feel so great after waiting for my housemate to return until one in the morning with the Euros I was going to buy off of her. No matter, I was really too excited to sleep anyway, taxi at 5 AM, to Heathrow Airport to await my 8 AM flight to Charles de Gaulle. I wasn't checking any luggage, so I breezed through the airport and was seated at the gate by 5.30. Two and a half hours of reading for me. (Alias Grace, by Margaret Atwood, if anyone cares. It was really good). For about the first hour and a half, I was the only person waiting, I got a bit nervous that I was in the wrong area, but nope, I checked the board again, I was at the proper gate. An AirFrance employee came around and informed me that because the flight was so small, they would gate-check my second carry-on (a small rolling suitcase) and I would be able to pick it up on the tarmac. Slightly put-off by his talking about being able to leave it on the tarmac, I smiled and let him tag my bag.
We started boarding early, and to my surprise it was such a small plane that we did actually walk across the tarmac to board. Just like I imagine flying used to be like, we paraded across the tarmac, left our bags, and then marched up a fold-out staircase. The Sunday morning flight was practically empty, and we each had a whole row of seats to ourselves. It was a lovely, pleasant flight, taken up with me reading the very few English captions that the AirFrance magazine included and enjoying the delicious pan au chocolat offered to me by the stewardess.
And then before I knew it, I was in France. And I was adding a third country to the list of my world travels.
I found the bus transportation fairly easily, though I did spend two minutes waiting in a queue that I didn't need to (what can I say, the Brit in me loves to queue). I found the desk shortly after, the man spoke rapidly in French at me, I panicked for a moment, and squeaked out a sorry 'Sorry'. He said something unintelligible and pointed me to the clearly-marked Disneyland bus outside the sliding glass doors. I grinned and dashed off, not entirely pleased with my own reaction to my first non-English encounter.
I boarded the bus (which felt oddly like I had hopped aboard Magical Express in Orlando) and then I was truly on my way.
It took me a good ten minutes to realise we were now driving on the opposite side of the road. About forty minutes later we arrived on Disney property, and I tried to contain my excitement, we stopped at the Sequoia Lodge first, and I couldn't help but think it looked like a cheap Wilderness Lodge and then we arrived at my home for the next three nights:
My initial thought when we turned into the drive and I got the full vista was, "Oh, where's Clint Eastwood?' and then, 'Oh, this is so much better than an All-Star'.
We were dropped off right outside Reception, and I got helped right away, with nary a queue in sight, by the first in a long line of amazing, lovely, bilingual, generally very good looking French cast members. And lucky me, my room was ready (at 10 in the morning! before a 3 o'clock check in! now this is good service.)
I was put in Building 51, which was pretty much adjacent to La Cantina (where breakfast was served). Score.
Here's my room, it's pretty standard, but it felt like heaven to have a hotel room all to myself; I could sleep on either bed, shower with the door open, watch whatever I want on television, walk around naked if I want to. Never before had I looked forward to having my own house.
And the view outside of my window:
I absolutely adored the theme of the resort, because I love Route 66 kitsch, it was so fun, and it was even more festive due to the impending holidays. I unpacked the little I had brought for my four days, and then, eager beaver that I am, I suited up in a half dozen layers, and I was off and on my way to the parks, less than four hours from when I had been in foggy England.
Here's an idea of how close I was to the main lobby, when I stepped out of my building, this is what I could see:
I stopped on my way through the building to take a peek at where I would be eating breakfast the next day:
Then I found my way to the bus stop.
Here is where I'll stop and sing the praises of the Disneyland Paris bus system. I never waited more than five minutes for a bus. The double long accordion buses were so so good. No one was ever left angry at the stop, because they could all fit on the bus. Plus, the simple cycle of the system made confusion impossible.
Waiting for the bus I had my first Walt-spotting on a new continent:
Also, remember what this looks like, as it's not going to look quite like this tomorrow:
You can also see the bus that I got on coming up in that photo.
We disembarked outside of the railway station, marched steadfastly past the Disney Village without a second look, my eyes were on the prize, Disneyland Parc.
But first, obligatory French flag picture:
BIEVENUE DISNEYLAND. SUCCESSSSSS.
I was quietly in awe at the beauty of the place, the gardens, the fountains, the bridges, the gazebos. I shot into OHMYGODI'MATDISNEYLANDPARIS mode rather quickly, which manifested itself as taking pictures of anything and everything. It felt sort of odd that I had no one to freak out with, but I was having my own moment that I was glad no one could interrupt.
I followed the stream of people under that fantasy of a hotel, and I walked directly under the sign
wanting to feel the full weight of the thing.
I slid my ticket through and then I was in Disneyland. GAHHH.
My heart started to beat fast as I emerged from under the Disneyland Hotel, and it truly started started to thump as I ducked under train station.
I tortured myself, delaying my Castle gratification by taking photos around town square
And then the moment. I rounded the enormous Christmas tree in Town Square and laid my eyes on it
The most picturesque fairytale castle I had ever seen. I would be lying if I said I didn't cry a little bit.
The rest of my first day in my next post.