So, I am a Southern California native, and the only Disney parks that I had experienced before this trip were the original Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. Taking a trip to see my family in Europe, including an aunt and cousins living in Paris, I told them that I had to see Disneyland Paris (they had weaseled out of it the last time, and I wasn't going to let that happen again-and in fact, they tried).
That part of my family has never really understood my love of Disney and its theme parks. Every time they come to visit me at home, they want to go to any theme park other than Disney's...which I could never understand. Universal hardly has any rides (as it is a working movie studio and has limited room to expand), yet every year they come they want to get an Annual Pass to use for the month they spend with us. My cousins want to go to Six Flags, which is the most uncomfortable theme park to trek through in the sweltering August heat (and, not to mention, has very limited themeing). We did Knott's Berry Farm many years ago, but we had such a bad time that they never wanted to go back.
Anyhow, my oldest of my two male cousins was good to us and paid for our Disneyland Paris tickets (my mother's, my boyfriend's, and mine). He found a special deal to pre-order the tickets for June 6th, a Monday. Rock n' Roller Coaster would be closed, which I was bummed about, but the previous weekend would be a holiday weekend and my cousin felt that the crowds would be too terrible, so I agreed to it. At least we could go before Space Mountain would go down for its refurb (boy, would I regret that later...).
I wanted to go to the park at opening, but the Parisians took longer than anticipated (I had to wake some of them up) and we made it to the parks at 11:45 am.
Since my cousin talked about how they had tried to get on Crush's Coaster several times already and that it always broke down while they were in line, I felt it was best if we went to the Studio Park and tried to do that first. The projected time outside stated 45 minutes, but we got on in about 25-30 instead (wonder why there is such a discrepancy?). Anyhow, the ride was fantastic! I had never been on such a unique ride system before. Part dark ride and part coaster, I found it pretty cool, and the ride was nice and smooth. We all came off with smiles on our faces.
My older cousin seemed to want to ride Tower of Terror. It wasn't a priority on my list, as I knew theirs was essentially the same as DCA's (and the ride kinda freaks me out), but I wanted him to have a good time and we went (while my mother and aunt stayed outside and did some shopping). The queue inside felt bigger and perhaps a bit more detailed, but I could be completely off on that one since I don't ride it in Anaheim very much. They did seem to have a higher capacity.
After that, we went over to the main park. We knew that lines were very short, so we at least wouldn't have to wait very long for anything (but we were still somewhat stressed for time, as we needed to physically make it over to other attractions). The queue area to purchase tickets, through Main Street and up to the castle looked fabulous. I was impressed at how neat and clean everything looked, and it was nice to have that extra space. Main Street was bigger, but it looked to me as though it was only the sidewalks that were bigger than home.
The first land we went to was Discoveryland, as Space Mountain seemed like the next best thing to do. I admired the Jules Verne look - much better in its delivery here than the one back at home. Unfortunately, this was where my trip went sour. I have never been on such a violent ride in my life...my head was a ping-pong ball between the padding on the sides and back of my head. As hard as I tried, I couldn't find a comfortable position and I did not have the strength to push against the forces throwing me around. I had a massive headache and felt somewhat sick after leaving that ride - I have vowed never to get back on that thing again.
My family chose this to be the time that we ate lunch, and my cousin headed straight for a "quick-service" location in Discoveryland that had burgers. I gently mentioned to everyone while in line (which moved at a snail's pace) that I had been warned here on MiceChat to avoid Discoveryland eateries like the plague, but my family insisted that all the quick-service locations were the same. While in line, my mother couldn't take it anymore - she was still so sick from Space Mountain, she couldn't stand the smell in there or the thought of eating anything. And honestly, I should have left with her (and maybe found something else to eat on my own). I have never gotten sick from a chicken sandwich until that day. If I thought I was sick before eating, I definitely was after that meal. Quite awful. No one was happy with their food.
I suggested to see Nautilus next. The themeing was very nice here, and I think that if DLP had done well in the beginning, that attraction would have been an amazing submarine ride. The giant squid effect was, of course, my favorite thing here. After that, we went to Star Tours. We haven't experienced the updated version yet (doing it this weekend!). My boyfriend and I wanted one last attempted trip to the moon of Endor. While I mostly disliked hearing French voices throughout the park for certain characters, I thought the robots were super cute speaking in French. And it was nice to hear that it was still Anthony Daniels voicing 3PO in French.
We left Discoveryland and we headed towards the castle. My cousin insisted that the dragon section was closed, to which I told him he was a liar (and I was relieved to see that he was). The castle was stunning - even with the scaffolding around certain areas, I still loved it. Maleficent did not disappoint - I was astounded at how close she was. I knew she would be magnificent, but words still cannot describe being there in person.
After that, we went to Adventureland. I really admired the look of this area - while Anaheim has more of a Polynesian theme, here I was reminded more of a jungle in India. I was thrilled to see and hear bits from The Jungle Book - they actually had Bagheera and Kaa merchandise! I only wish I could have seen a baby elephant plushie We went on Indiana Jones, which essentially gave me the same discomfort as Space Mountain, albeit a little less extreme. Walking around, I began to notice the stench of sewage...now, it's not like I didn't smell those same smells around other parts of Paris, but I had expected that Disney would have built a cleaner/more updated sewage system so that guests would not have to smell pee and diarrhea so much. Gross. I did my best to overlook the amount of graffiti that was there, and the rotting of so many things around the park...but combine that with nasty smells everywhere, and you have one unhappy Disneylander.
Pirates of the Caribbean was interesting. I did not like the fact that it was backwards and the look of the AA's (I felt they were too plasticine), but the area outside, the queue, and the lush environments at the beginning of the attraction were amazing.
We headed to Frontierland as our day was steadily coming to an end. We got in line for Big Thunder, which was projected at 45 minutes (and true I would say). It was the only long line in the park. I enjoyed this version very much-similar to the one back at home, but with more room and an island, it was pretty cool. After that, we went to Phantom Manor...I don't know what it was, but most of the staging (I felt this a lot in Pirates actually, too) was too close for me. I felt like the reveal of the Phantom could have been grander, and the corpses just did not do it for me. But the storyline was very interesting.
Finally, we rushed through Alice's Curious Labyrinth...which was okay. I guess I had hoped it would have been thicker and more green, but I realize that it was built with children in mind so it makes sense I guess.
We spent the rest of the time we had in the shops, which had some nice items. I don't know why people here have said that their merchandise is essentially the same as in the US - I don't think I saw anything that I actually recognized. I didn't get much, but I got a tank top that has a Paris skyline with several Paris monuments (which includes Sleeping Beauty Castle) and a Nala plushie (it is specific to overseas parks and is SUPER cute!). My mom grabbed a cookie on Main Street and that was quite awful. The park closed at 7 pm, which I thought was really way too early. The park wasn't tremendously crowded, but I had read that it would close at 9 pm...so naturally I was kinda disappointed. I wasn't tremendously fond of the park at that point, but it just wasn't enough time.
My family hopped on the train back home while my boyfriend and I stayed a bit longer and went to Disney Village. We were going to eat at Earl of Sandwich, but when we got to the register (and by the way, everyone from the parks had piled into the Village so it was very crowded) the cashier didn't seem to figure out how to take my boyfriend's Mastercard or my Visa (um...what?). We were pretty upset. I mean, what chain (and we knew it was a chain) does not take Visa or Mastercard? We think she just didn't keep her cool when she had an issue with the card reader and was too lazy to get someone to help her. Needless to say, we were disappointed, and we wandered the area for a long time trying to decide where to eat. We finally settled on the "New York" eatery, where we ordered sandwiches (pre-packaged) that reminded us of ones we would have gotten at a school cafeteria or made from home-after those awful chicken sandwiches, they were a godsend. We checked out the main Disney store there, and then we went home.
Overall, I would say that while WDI had many benefits at laying the foundation for a gorgeous park...unfortunately, due to so many complications the park has run into, it is in a great state of disrepair. It is a victim of several bad decisions. There are a few diamonds in the rough there, but the park needs some serious TLC. Coming from So Cal, seeing the state of this Disney Resort broke my heart. Many of Disneyland Paris' more recent history mirrors that of Disneyland Anaheim's troubled past, and I'm seriously hoping that the 20th anniversary of the park will kick management's butt into overdrive to fix things. Unfortunately, I think a lot of it is a little too late, and a lot of the work that needs to be done is extreme.
Disney needs to leave the Studio park alone for a while. It is not amazing by any means, but it has a few good attractions and has obviously gotten the most recent treatment. Seeing Captain Hook's ship was probably the most disheartening - I have never seen anything so rotted before. I had wanted to explore the Skull Rock area, but it stank so bad that no one wanted to go near the area.
I really hope the Ratatouille attractions gets built, but it is for the Studio park. I hope Star Tours gets updated,as the attraction really looked aged. I think it would be wonderful if Adventureland got a Jungle Book/Jungle Cruise hybrid. Space Mountain and Indiana Jones need serious help...it is painful to ride and it now makes sense why they didn't have a line at all. No one wants (or should) be subjugated to that kind of abuse. I have been on "extreme" rides at Six Flags, and none of them have felt remotely as painful as that. The track needs to be smoother and the headrest idea needs to be re-thought. It would be lovely if The Little Mermaid found its way over to the park, too, as that was originally planned for Paris in the first place. And perhaps, most importantly...for goodness sake, it's Paris! Even a quick-service location should have good food. You shouldn't have to pay at least 25 euros to eat something decent at the park. That is a crime to guests.
If the resort gets a decent overhaul, I will be back...in the meantime, I'm really not in a hurry.
Pics coming soon!