« July 2016 | Main | September 2016 »

August 2016 Archives

August 8, 2016

Upcoming series will take readers to Disneyland Paris

chuck-schmidt.jpg

chessy.jpg
The entrance to the Marne-la-Vallee/Chessy train station outside of Disneyland Paris.

It seems everywhere you turn, there's Paris.

Watch just about any television channel and inevitably, there will be a commercial -- be it for a high-end automobile, an expensive fragrance or a popular travel website -- with The City of Lights serving as a beautiful, beckoning backdrop.

Walk through many retail stores and you'll see the Eiffel Tower or the Champs Elysee prominently displayed on photos, T-shirts or knickknacks. And how many movies have been set in Paris over the years? Answer: Too many to count.

Paris, perhaps more than any other city in the world, is THE place where people aspire to visit. It's no wonder that, in the late 1980s, when the Walt Disney Company was exploring sites to place a European theme park, Paris was high on the list.

Disneyland Paris [then known as Euro Disneyland] opened on April 12, 1992. The resort, which now includes two theme parks, a variety of themed hotels and The Disney Village shopping district, is located about 20 miles east of the heart of Paris, in the quaint village of Marne-la-Vallee.

After a shaky first few years, Disneyland Paris hit its stride in the late 1990s and has been Europe's No. 1 travel destination since. The resort welcomed 14.8 million guests in 2015.

Jay Rasulo, the Disney's former CFO and Parks & Resorts Chairman, was a key figure in reversing the resort's flagging fortunes when he was named executive vice president of Euro Disney S.C.A. in 1998. When Jay arrived, he and his team quickly surmised that Disneyland Paris was just too American for European tastes.

"There was never anything wrong with the product that we opened in Paris," he told me several years ago. "It's an absolutely beautiful park, one of the most beautiful in the world. But what we probably didn't understand very well was that ... Disneyland Paris is an incredibly diverse environment and very different from the American environment.

"I was really determined to reverse that and to really embrace that," Jay added. "Instead of fighting it and trying to fit the American model, it was really about embracing the European model."

dlp1.jpg
Disneyland Paris [then known as Euro Disneyland] under construction in 1991. [Associated Press photo]

Jay and his team came to the realization that European guests devoted more time to meals, wanted wine with those meals, enjoyed more outdoor seating options and had different preferences when it came to hotels. When a second park, The Walt Disney Studios, was added to the resort in 2002, "we tried to evolve the product as we went along," Jay added. "It was really an effort to make visitors of Disneyland Paris feel like this was made for them, not made for an American audience."

The entire Disneyland Paris complex was designed in such a way as to make it convenient for guests to arrive, enjoy the resort, then depart. There is a transportation hub near the entrance of the resort where buses, taxis and trains all converge, and from that entrance, it's a short walk to the Disney Village, the Walt Disney Studios and Disneyland Park.

Disney buses, known as the Magical Shuttle, take guests to and from the seven on-property resorts [Disneyland Hotel, Disney's Hotel New York, Disney's Newport Bay Club, Disney's Sequoia Lodge, Disney's Hotel Cheyenne, Disney's Hotel Santa Fe and Disney's Davy Crockett Ranch] to the transit hub. In addition, there is public bus service, as well as bus transportation provided by nearby hotels that have partnered with Disneyland Paris.

The train station, known as Marne-la-Vallee/Chessy, is a clean, modern building serving a number of popular lines, including the RER [a local service which most folks utilize to travel into the heart of Paris], the TGV trains [a high-speed train which links Charles deGaulle and Marne-la-Vallee/Chessy in less than 15 minutes, as well as the Eurostar, which enables guests from England to travel through the Channel Tunnel to Disneyland Paris in just a few hours.

All arriving guests are funneled toward a centrally located checkpoint before entering either park or the Disney Village. Here, guests' bags are processed as if you were going through airport security, with agents employing an X-ray machine before going through your bags visually. [Indeed, security throughout the resort has been ramped up even further after the attacks in Paris last November and the attack in Nice in July].

Once through security, guests can fan out in three directions: To the right, is the Disney Village, similar in theme [though much smaller] to Disney Springs in Walt Disney World or the Downtown Disney District in Disneyland. The Disney Village features Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, which is an extremely popular dinner/live entertainment experience; a cinema complex; restaurants; shops, bars and cafes.

In the left of the Disneyland Paris entrance complex is the Walt Disney Studios, which is home to some unique attractions and some Disney park staples. Although the park has seen a number of additions in recent years and is quite enjoyable, you'll be hard-pressed to spend an entire day in the Studios.

paris3.jpg
Lush gardens and topiaries greet guests as they walk toward the entrance of Disneyland Paris. That's the Disneyland Hotel, which also serves as the park's entrance, in the distance. [Lenny Myrhol]

Finally, there is Disneyland Park, where guests are greeted by the stunning gardens, topiaries and the Disneyland Hotel at the entrance. In fact, guests walk under the hotel to reach the turnstiles at the main entry point. Once through the turnstiles, there's a small courtyard leading guests to the Disneyland Paris train station. Once you walk under the elevated station, you enter Town Square, with the stunning pink-hued Chateau de la Belle au Bois Dormant [Sleeping Beauty Castle] at the far end of Main Street U.S.A.

My wife Janet and I visited Disneyland Paris last September with our friends Gail and Julian Robinson. During the coming weeks, we'll go into detail on our visit, sharing our thoughts and impressions on the Disney Village, the Walt Disney Studios and Disneyland Park.

For AllEars.Net readers who will be taking part in the inaugural Disneyland Paris Half Marathon in late September, be advised that the roadways surrounding Disneyland Paris are pancake flat. The daytime high temperatures in late September are generally in the 60s. One caveat, though: It rained quite frequently during our visit last year.

One other note: For whatever reason, cast members at Disneyland Paris have gotten a bad rap over the years for being grumpy and aloof. Don't believe it. Every cast member we interacted with was friendly, courteous and extremely helpful. And all of them speak English.

August 15, 2016

Florida Coaster Challenge

jeremiah1.jpg
By Guest Blogger, Jeremiah Good

On Tuesday August 16, 2016, SeaWorld Parks & Resorts Orlando have put together the #CoasterCrusade to celebrate National Coaster Day.

Early that morning some of us "brave souls" will meet at SeaWorld Orlando to experience that park's 5 coasters including the newest, fastest, and tallest coaster in Orlando, Mako.

manta.png

Once we have completed riding those 5 coasters we board a bus bound for Busch Gardens Tampa.

At Busch Gardens, the challenge continues with 8 coasters ranging from SheiKra all the way to the newest family coaster Cobra's Curse.

sheikra.jpg
cobra.png

Now for a lot of folks 13 coasters in one day may be 13 too many, for me is it just the start!

Once I get back from Busch Gardens Tampa, around 6pm, I plan to continue the coaster challenge to include both Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando.

My plan is to head to Universal Studios Orlando Resort and ride the 8 coasters between the 2 parks, including the newly reopened Hulk. Then I will head to Walt Disney World.

hulk.jpg
mummy.jpg

Last but not least, time for Walt Disney World! I will start at Disney's Hollywood Studios with the Rock 'N' Roller Coaster.

rock-n-roller-coaster-sign.jpg

Off to Disney's Animal Kingdom for Primeval Whirl along with Expedition: Everest.

ak_ee88.jpg


To cap off the night I will be then travel to the Magic Kingdom to tackle Goofy's Barnstormer, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and the one that started it all Space Mountain. ( Big Thunder Mountain is closed for rehab).

Tomorrowland-0115.jpg

IF I am able to pull this all off I will have ridden 27 coasters in the span of a day, I am sure that is far from a world record but it will be a record for me!

I invite you to follow along with my adventure via my Twitter @jeremiahgood and @allearsnet). I will be using hashtag #AllEars #CoasterCrusade and #FLCoasterChallenge also be on the look out for a full wrap up coming to AllEars.net in the near future.

Wish me luck!

August 22, 2016

Disney Village in Disneyland Paris offers guests a rootin', tootin' good time

chuck-schmidt.jpg

vill1.jpg
The Disney Village in Disneyland Paris is a scaled down, but no less enjoyable entertainment venue based on similar shopping districts in Disneyland and Walt Disney World. [Disneyland Paris]

Europeans, in general, and the French, in particular, seem obsessed with America's rootin', tootin' cowboy past.

There are signs of America's Wild West days sprinkled throughout Disneyland Paris ... Big Thunder Mountain is set in a western town in the United States during the late 1800s; the closing scenes in Phantom Manor [DLP's version of the Haunted Mansion] offer some rather ghostly characters, including six-gun touting skeletons ... while the essence of a traditional Western dance hall is still embodied in The Golden Horseshoe in Frontierland.

And then there's Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, perhaps the centerpiece of the Disney Village shopping and entertainment district in Disneyland Paris.

euro19.jpg
The entrance to Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. Cowboy Mickey points the way as he hangs from the side of the building, upper left. [Julian Robinson]

Located between The World of Disney retail store and Annette's Diner, the venue that houses the Wild West Show's arena is deceptively large. As you might expect, the entrance is themed to appear as if you're walking into an 1880s saloon, with plenty of wood accents. It's surprising how quickly you get over the smell of live animals just a few minutes after you enter.

About 15 minutes prior to entering the arena, there's a lively pre-show featuring cowboy-themed songs and a chaps-clad Goofy.

The main show space is shaped like a hockey arena, with one big difference: There's dirt instead of ice. You are seated on a wooden bench with a long table bolted in front of you.

Europeans' fascination with America's Wild West culture can be traced back to the 1880s, when fabled American cowboy and showman William [Buffalo Bill] Cody took his traveling Western-themed show [known as Buffalo Bill's Wild West] to Europe and toured extensively for several years.

euro18.jpg
Mickey, Minnie, Chip and Dale ride out onto centerstage during a segment of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. [Julian Robinson]

In May of 1889, Buffalo Bill's Wild West played at the Exposition Universelle in Paris [the big news of the day was the opening of the Eiffel Tower] and later that year, they performed in Rome, where the Wild West troupe was received by Pope Leo XIII. Buffalo Bill was reportedly disappointed when he couldn't perform for the pope in the run-down Colosseum. The 1889 tour also visited Spain and Germany and obviously left a deep and lasting impression on countless Europeans.

The present-day reincarnation of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, which lasts 90 minutes, features trick riding, roping, target shooting, stunts, rodeo games, horses, bison and cattle, as well as appearances by Little Annie Oakley, plenty of cowboys and Native Americans, Buffalo Bill himself and, of course, Mickey, Minnie and friends.

During the show, you're served a family-style Tex-Mex meal – cornbread, chili, roasted chicken, ribs, sausage, potato wedges, beer, wine, soda and desert.

The show is unique to a Disney resort and definitely worth checking out during a visit to Disneyland Paris. Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show is held Fridays through Tuesdays at 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. Tickets cost 76.90 euros adults, 61.90 euros children for 1st Category Seating, while 2nd Category seating costs 61.90 euros adults and 46.90 euros children.

euro10.jpg
Mickey and Minnie join Buffalo Bill and Little Annie Oakley during the show. [Julian Robinson]

If the Wild West isn't your thing, there are plenty of familiar venues and attractions located in the Disney Village that should pique your interest. For one, there's the colorful PanorMagique [known as Characters in Flight in Florida] balloon ride. For another, there's an Earl of Sandwich location [unlike its Disney Springs counterpart, there's seating available on a second floor], with a menu that's similar to the Earl of Sandwich locations on other Disney properties.

Curiously, there is a Disney Store AND a World of Disney located in Disneyland Paris' Disney Village. It would seem that competition between its two biggest retail franchises doesn't bother the folks at Disney.

The Disney Store is unlike anything you've ever seen in the United States. Hanging from the ceiling are a variety of flying craft - a model of Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis plane, as well as a flying saucer with Mickey serving as a space age pilot.

Both the Disney Store and the World of Disney offer a wide variety of Disney merchandise, most with a decidedly Parisian flare.

Much like Disney Springs and the Downtown Disney District in Disneyland, there are a number of Streetmosphere performers entertaining guests as they stroll through the complex.

And, in keeping with Disneyland Paris' Western fetish, there's Billy Bob's Country Western Saloon in the Disney Village. Billy Bob's features a dance floor, a wide range of music [including live performances] and a Tex-Mex snack menu with nachos, ribs, chili and chicken wings.

Also included in the Disney Village lineup is a LEGO Store, Starbucks, Planet Hollywood, a steakhouse [appropriately named the Silver Spur], a New York-style sandwich shop and Rainforest Cafe. In addition, there's a 15-screen cinema featuring an IMAX theater, located next door to Buffalo Bill entrance.

Although The Disney Village is smaller than similar venues in Walt Disney World and Disneyland, it's a great place to relax, walk around, grab a bite to eat or be entertained ... all with a rootin', tootin' flare.

Next: The Walt Disney Studios

Disney PinQuest: A Pin Collecting Scavenger Hunt at Disneyland Park

pinquest1.jpg

by

Danielle Marshall
AllEars.Net Guest Blogger

Whether you are an experienced enthusiast or curious beginner, Disney pin collecting is an activity that can be enjoyed by the whole family both in and out of the park. With the exception of very young Mouseketeers, I observed collectors of all ages enjoying Disneyland’s newest pin collecting adventure, Disney PinQuest.

As an inexperienced pin collector, and owner of fewer than a dozen Disney pins, I was interested to learn more about the pin collecting excitement that had emerged among Disney fans on websites and blogs. After completing some preliminary research I decided to dedicate some time in Disneyland Park to pin collecting.

With an optimistic outlook, I entered Disneyland Park the morning of the new Disney PinQuest release and quickly made my way down Main Street U.S.A. to 20th Century Music Company, one of many shops where pins may be purchased and traded. When I arrived, there were already several guests in line waiting to purchase the Limited Release Disneyland Park Disney PinQuest starter kit.

A "Pin Specialist" was explaining to a collector, wearing what appeared to be an armored vest covered with shiny Disney pins, that the entire set of seven pins could be purchased immediately for about $85, or purchased separately from "NavigatEARS" at six different destinations throughout the park. I chose to "earn" my pins by completing the scavenger hunt and am glad I did.

pinquest2.jpg

The starter kit included a lanyard, Decoder Medal, a PinQuest map, and pouch to store the map and Clue Cards when not in use. Feeling completely under-qualified, I disclosed my lack of knowledge to Disney Pin Specialist Theresa, who generously offered her time and expertise to help me get started. After a brief introduction to pin collecting and a tour of the pins available in the shop, she gave me my first Disney PinQuest Clue Card.

pinquest4.jpg

She kindly demonstrated how to use it to collect a Clue Pin from a NavigatEAR and encouraged me to continue on quickly to avoid longer lines later in the day. Each of the six Clue Cards available for purchase (the idea being you purchase the Clue Card and “receive” the Clue Pin as a reward) identifies a destination in the park and question that requires participants to seek out an object or image and respond to a multiple-choice question. The questions weren’t difficult to answer, but it is unlikely you would be able to respond correctly without having done the research. Thankfully you don’t have to choose the correct answer to earn your Clue Pin, have your map stamped, and purchase your next Clue Card. In fact, Cast Members were offering help to anyone who needed it.

Each Clue Pin is needed to locate the next destination on the map. After correctly aligning the points, with the Clue Pin beneath the Medal Decoder, I was able to use the coordinates to reveal the next destination on the map. With a new Clue Card in hand, I continued on with my quest. After successfully completing the Disney PinQuest, you have the option of purchasing the Limited Release Official Disney QuestEAR pin, featuring Mickey Mouse. You will likely want to proudly display, as many guests were, your new pins on the included lanyard or another of your choice -- there are many different designs and styles available throughout the park.

pinquest3.jpg

Including a stop at the Mint Julep Bar for some Mickey-shaped beignets, and a quick ride on the Matterhorn, the entire PinQuest took just under two hours to complete. I didn’t keep track of the length of time I spent discussing pin collecting and trading with Cast Members and other participants, but I doubt it added more than about 20 minutes to my overall time. I spoke with a couple sharing a Dole Whip, who explained they were in no rush, and were completing the PinQuest between attractions and meals. The time it takes to complete the PinQuest will vary and depends on how busy the park is and the individual QuestEAR’s pace.

Warning: you may become a victim of Disney merchandising and experience some unplanned spending, as the quest takes you into retail shops throughout the park. I ended up with a Disneyland 60th Anniversary beach towel and Cheshire Cat lanyard medal that I simply couldn’t live without.

Aside from the occasional feeling of guilt for enjoying the Disney PinQuest without my 9-year old Disney fan, I had a great time learning about pin collecting from Disney Cast Members and fans. Before participating, I knew very little about Disney pins and had decided not to begin building another Disney collection. For better or worse, I now have another Disney interest to pursue.

As I was leaving the park that day, I noticed another Disney pin enthusiast wearing a personalized Disney pin carrying case and a denim jacket covered with pins. When I asked him if he had completed the new PinQuest he replied, "They don’t call me a 'Pin Shark' around here for nothing," and then confidently flashed his newly acquired pins.

Note: Disney PinQuest is also offered at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida

August 28, 2016

The Mousy Mindboggler - August 2016

Riddle

THE MOUSY MINDBOGGLER

If you subscribe to the AllEars® Weekly Newsletter, you'll know that we run a little game called the Mousy Mindboggler. Sometimes it's a word game, sometimes it's a riddle, sometimes it's some other brain-teasing challenge -- but it's always fun!

Once each month, in the AllEars® newsletter, our friend James Dezern (known as "dzneynut" around several Disney discussion forums) supplies us with a puzzle of his own design.

Every month, James also Shares the Magic in another way -- by posting an all-new puzzle here in this AllEars.Net Guest Blog. The subject of the puzzle will vary, and James will award the winner of the challenge a collectible Disney pin!

This month, James writes:

Here is the solution to the last crossword puzzle.

http://allears.net/ae/mb072616-key.pdf

We received 69 correct responses, all of you knowing that the working name for the UNICEF Exhibit, one of the four attractions planned for the New York World’s Fair, was the “Pepsi Cola Exhibit.” After Disney took control of the project, which Pepsi was unhappy with, the concept was changed to a boat ride system and the name changed to “Children of the World.” After the World’s Fair was over, the attraction was moved to Disneyland in 1966, but Pepsi’s sponsorship was dropped in favor of Bank of America. Pepsi-Cola had sponsored several attractions and restaurants since 1955, but by 1990 those were gone.

The winner of a Goofy pin, randomly drawn from the correct responses, was Rich M. of Philadelphia, PA.

If you missed it, that’s OK, because here’s another chance.

http://allears.net/ae/mb082616.pdf

This month we continue with the special crossword puzzle series, concentrating on Disney History. The subject of this month’s puzzle is “This Month in Disney History - August.” All of these events happened sometime during the month of August. Please note, for this puzzle ALL of the clues are used.

The object is, as always, to have fun, but if you'd like a chance to win a Disney collectible pin, send me the answer IN THE SUBJECT LINE OF AN EMAIL addressed to dzneynut.puzzle@gmail.com.

Send your entries no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on September 25, 2016. All correct answers will be entered into a random drawing, and the winner will be awarded a Disney pin. The answers and drawing winner will be posted in this Guest Blog in late September.

As always, any feedback on the puzzle format or topics would be appreciated! Drop me a line at dzneynut.puzzle@gmail.com.

Thanks!

Return to Blog Central

About August 2016

This page contains all entries posted to All Ears® Guest Blog in August 2016. They are listed from oldest to newest.

July 2016 is the previous archive.

September 2016 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.