I usually don’t read or write trip reports. But, having been spoiled by all the info available for DL and WDW, I still had many unanswered questions when we went to DLP, so maybe this will help enlighten the next guy. For this, DLP will refer to the resort as a whole, PDL is Parc Disneyland, and DL is Walt’s original Magic Kingdom. I’ll also give some reflections of our day at Futuroscope Parc.
We were at DLP Sunday July 22 from 3PM-close, Monday July 23 all day and Tuesday, July 24 until 5PM. After getting our room at the Hotel Elysee Val d’Europe, we went to get lunch at the big mall. The sign said open, but the locked doors said otherwise. We took the RER to DLP, and decided to break the “no theme park pizza” rule in Studio one in the hopes that the French might do one OK; hopes dashed. We were still able to see the last Animagique of the day (very well done; presumeably the lights towards the audience are to keep your pupils narrow and not see the puppeteers), then saw the parade afterwards since it blocked us from doing anything else. A bit short, but I’m not much for the day parades anyway. Without any real waits we then took the tram tour (Yawn-wonder if that scorched truck is going to burn? Who cares about a replica Venus de Milo when the real one is 40 minutes away?), saw Armegeddon (good for what it is; better than Backdraft) and rode the RnRC twice, preferring it to the MGM version.
The boy’s headache meant going slow until the pill from first aid kicked in, and we entered PDL to be faced with another parade, but the arcade got us past that. Considered the RR, but the platform looked crowded. Noted that the posted wait for BTMRR was only 40 minutes, but our only real objective was seeing Fantillusion and Wishes. After the boy was better, we saw, again with no waits, PM, DLRR, the maze, Casey Jr. and Storybookland. The latter aren’t on my favorites list, but I preferred both to DL’s. I’ve now seen 3 very different versions of the Haunted Mansion, and I may prefer one over another on any given day, but they’re all great!
It should be noted that Fantasyland closes completely at 10PM despite a park closure of 11. I also noted some Discoveryland rides also closed at 10; definitely Autopia and I think even SMM2 and HISTA(?). I’d heard of the shoving to the front that can occur with parades here, but we just sat on a bench near IASW until it started, then strolled to the rope. The practice of sitting if you’re curbside has not caught on here. Again, Fantillusion seemed short, though the soundtrack was preferable to Spectros, but still can’t touch Baroque Hoedown. The 3 of us are still at a complete loss to explain the unilluminated, dark-hooded “bring out your dead" guys. We planned to follow the parade to a Candleabration viewing spot, but instead were sent through the back path to Discoveryland. We viewed it from the side after a ride on Buzz. Couldn’t see the stage, but didn’t care. I love fireworks, and knew that local regs meant fewer than in the US, but it was surprising that there were no arial shells at all. It was good, and the castle was used to great effect, but once was enough for us with the nighttime spectaculars.
We suddenly realized that, having come by RER, we didn’t know where to get the hotel shuttle. There was no sign for Hotel Elysee, even though they have Disney packages there, so here’s a tip if you’re in the same situation. It’s bus #50.
Few joined us for early entry Monday. Sure, a bit of rain, but I never felt compelled to use an umbrella or poncho. Easily rode PP (twice), Pinochio, SMM2 (twice) with no waits, and about a 2 minute wait for Buzz (999,999!!! And I’m sure I’d have gotten that even if we didn’t break down by a triangle). The unmarked target on the first Zurg’s chest seems to be in place, too. Also thouroughly explored the castle, which is simply spectacular. Arriving at the WDS 10 mminutes before opening, we found everyone, and they were all going to ride Crush. Ducked through the eatery to slip out the side door….plan anticipated and thwarted. It did get us placed better though, and we only waited about 15-20 minutes. It’s a keeper, but not building 2 tracks was a crucial error. This should stay popular quite awhile, and it’s a really low capacity. Posted waits quickly rose to 90 minutes. Stunt show performers get even more of my respect in the rain; those pads on the walls are really a good idea. Much cooler than MGM; more ‘sploshuns would’ve helped keep us warm.
Between the wife wanting more rest and finding a ticket on the ground, we could get 4 FPs at once. We rode Indy twice and had 4 rides on BTMRR (as always, better after dark). Even got a bonus trip when exiting and a CM asked if we wanted the 2 empty spots on the train about to dispatch (why yes we do, thank you very much). No waits for POTC, PM (twice), Snow White or iasw. First non-Xmas float for me since 1969. Had headphones with the Grateful Dead singing Eyes of the World (Eyes of the small world?) in order to maintain sanity. They still got me by playing that song relentlessly by Fantasia Gelato the next day. Only real wait of 20 minutes was for the single Keel boat just before it closed at 6. Slipped out the arcade during Fantillusion.
Straight to WDS 20 min before opening Tuesday, and we were at the head of the Crush “crush” and were on the 4th turtle. Waited a couple of cycles for Cars, rode RnRC and were quite impressed by Cinemagique. We left for PDL until it was time to get ready for Eurostar. This reminded us of why we take breaks at this time, but it was less crowded than the US parks. Did wait ˝ hour at POTC, but only 10 min at STours. Took it slow, saw the Tarzan show and had decent ribs. After a last FP use on BTMRR, we made our way to the train station.
The reputation of detail and beauty here is well deserved. Though I’ll always be partial to DL, many attractions here were better than US counterparts, including RnRC, BTMRR, PP, Blanche Niege, CJr/SBL and the Chateau. POTC was really good as well. Never encountered the notorious shoving and line cutting, except…….who.... me? Apparently. FPs were collected at the queue entry, and the lines usually stay separate from stand-by. But they merge at Indy, and a woman and her children got betwixt the boy and me. When I asked to join him-directly in front of her-she smarmily said to her brood “this man wants to jump the queue”. Lady, you don’t want to know what I wanted to jump right then. There is some 15th merchandise, but I was surprised to have to really search for an adult T-shirt. The most surprising things for sale were thongs and cigarette lighters. The most surprising sights were soldiers with machine guns on Disney property, and blanket spreading peddlers there. Obviously the city of Paris is an “illuminated miniature replica Eiffel Tower” based economy, but I didn't know it extended this far.
Pins are much less emphasised. I likely have fewer than 20, but got 3 discount DL50th pins on a lark before we left. I was looking at CM lanyards, and saw mostly generic characters. Got a monorail pin from a guy on Main St. that didn’t know the word monorail. Then the guy at the BTMRR photo viewing said he couldn’t let me see his because I didn’t have the official pin trading lanyard. Sigh! The young lady at the purchase booth had nothing of interest either, but did mention she had been to California. During our next ride I decided to trade for her Donald in the hopes it might mean something to her, and she couldn’t believe I let her pick the pin herself. She was ecstatic, bragging to her friend, so I said “I have another one”, and got her Mickey. Don’t care about either, but at least I could spread a little cheer, or make someone’s day, or..oh alright…spread a little pixie dust. There, I said it. Traded Mickey to a “pirate” for Buzz. All the coolest CMs are put into pirate costumes. My son had several duels after buying his souvenier guns.
On Friday July 20 we took a day trip from Paris to Futuroscope via high speed TGV; this form of travel is very agreeable to me. Few of us left the train to use the park’s back gate, and we found that it’s 15 more minutes until any thing opens, so the wife wanted some tea. The park is clean, spacious and attractive, with unique architecture housing mostly film-based attractions of Imax, 3d and/or simulators. Another section of the park is rides and play structures for kids; some carrying additional fees. There are also large sections of gardens, or simply space, with numerous sculptures on the grounds.
Dances with Robots is a ride with robot arms containing 2 seats each moving in sync with a variety of songs. There are 3 levels of intensity; we went for the highest and report no motion sickness. The tea-tour meant waiting through 4 cycles to get on, but that was the only wait of the day. We got an English map and free translation headsets upon entry (leaving an ID was required), but only had all 3 work once. Turning them around so the sensors faced out (Hey, it’s dark at the picture show) got 2/3 working, but we eventually had to make a trade on one. Not everything had translations, but many didn’t need it with no more than a line or 2 of dialog to begin with. Here are some impressions.
Dynamic Vienne + Added Effects(sim): A guy gets help from a magical sneezing tree. Of course they spray the audience; what a silly question. When it starts with an adult male wearing only boxers, you know you ain’t at Disney. 21 minutes
Deep Sea 3D(Imax 3D): Impressive underwater footage with only a few “gotcha” moments. Plus hear Jack Sparrow speaking French. 25 minutes
Best of Dynamic Cinema(sim): Standard theater with moving seats. Three 5 minute films alternate; we saw “Street Luge”. Better than most of this type.
Virtual Worlds(3D): Two different films of about 30 minutes, we saw “Cyberworld”. Translators didn’t work, but we could mostly follow. Incredibly rich computer animation.
Destination Cosmos(3D): A planetarium-type theater with Hubble footage. You will feel smaller than you’ve ever felt after this one. 25 minutes
Mystery of the Nile (Imax): Didn’t see it here, but have elsewhere. Great footage and story. 25 minutes
Race for Atlantis (Imax, 3D, sim): Sounds good, but not impressed if it’s the same one that used to be at Caesers Palace. 5 minutes
Travellers by Air & Sea (Double Imax): The Star! Imagine a helicopter with a camera facing forward, and another facing below. Imagine an Imax screen before you, and one below a transparent floor. Then add some simply stunning photography including hundreds of dolphins or thousands of flamingos in the same shot. Want a new film for Soarin’? Edit this down to 5 minutes. Saw it twice. 16 minutes
You’d need 2 days to see everything here; time we couldn’t spare on a first visit to Paris. The train meant missing Forest of Dreams, their nighttime “Futuristic French Fantasmic”, but it’s on the DVD they sell and looks pretty imagineative. Better than Wishes according to the boy. The people that would most benefit from an AP are locals with kids; see a couple of fims then let ‘em play. The boy’s at the upper limit of the target age for those things, but he had a lot of fun. We enjoyed our day here, despite fatigue from spending 9PM-midnight getting to the top of the Eiffel Tower the previous night. It was also cool to see the French take on a theme park (chaise lounges-what a concept).
This is already really long, but briefly here were some other highlights; elaborations upon request.
Amsterdam: Bicycle riding (insanity that works), Vondelpark, Dutch Water Works hash, Anne Frank House (most emotionally moving place I’ve ever visited).
North Sea Jazz Festival: It’s indoors, and one hall achieved gridlock by 9:30 (way worse than getting from the hub to Fantasmic after the fireworks at DL) but Wynton and the Lincoln City Center Orchestra were amazing.
Brussels: chocolate, frites with mayo (I’m as surprised as anyone).
Paris: Catacombs, view from Notre Dame, Versaille, Tour d’Eiffel, mousse, Louvre, Pompidou Center, l'Arc de Triomph.
London: Spamalot, Beefeater tour and jewels at Tower of London, full English breakfast (look out arteries!), Harrods toy department and food halls, London Eye.
Thanks to anyone that made it this far. I’ll get some photos up when this monitor has been replaced and I can view them properly.