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February 2009 Archives

February 3, 2009

Disneyland Paris Main Street - Part 2 - Town Square

Town Square is the first area you come to when entering Main Street U.S.A.. Here you'll find a number of "public" buildings like the Train Station, City Hall, and the Transportation Company. The following picture was taken from the second story of the Train Station.


Disneyland Paris Town Square


When the original Disneyland was being built in California, a bandstand/gazebo was constructed and placed in the center of Town Square. Soon after, Walt decided that it blocked the view of Sleeping Beauty Castle when looking down Main Street from the Train Station. Before the park ever opened to the public, the bandstand was relocated to another part of the park.

When the Imagineers were designing Disneyland Paris, they decided to give this idea another go-round and a bandstand was built in the middle of Town Square. They must have been satisfied with the results as another bandstand was built at Hong Kong Disneyland. I guess the latter-day Imagineers don't share Walt's concern about views being blocked. And I have to agree. I think the bandstands look great. The first picture is of Hong Kong and the second of Paris.


Hong Kong Disneyland Bandstand

Disneyland Paris Bandstand


City Hall sits in the same location at all five Magic Kingdom's. Here guests can make dining reservations, pick up guide maps, and have all their questions answered.


Disneyland Paris City Hall

Disneyland Paris City Hall


An interesting item can be found in the lobby of City Hall. The cast members of Tokyo Disneyland sent the cast members of Disneyland Paris a beautiful plaque of "congratulations" (written in three languages) when the Paris park opened.

Plaque from Tokyo Disneyland Cast Members


You won't find a Fire Station next to City Hall, but instead a shop, the Story Book Store.


Disneyland Paris Story Book Store


Next to the Story Book Store is a unique structure for a Disney Main Street, a boarding house. To my knowledge, it's the only "house" on any of the five Main Streets around the world. Note, this structure is only a façade and you cannot enter the building.


Disneyland Paris Boarding House


This next photo continues our circle around Town Square. In the center of the picture you can see a long shot of the boarding house. To the right of the boarding house is the Liberty Arcade (out of sight). I'll be discussing the Liberty Arcade in greater detail later in this blog.


Disneyland Paris Town Square


This next building might look familiar to you. It's a copy of Disney World's Emporium. But even though the exteriors are the same, the interiors are somewhat different. If you look closely at the ceiling in the interior shot, you can see a mechanical device used by old department stores to send messages and small items to various locales around the building.


Disneyland Paris Emporium

Disneyland Paris Emporium


Across the street and opposite the Emporium is the Kodak Film & Camera Shop.


Disneyland Paris Kodak Film and Camera Shop


Continuing our circle, we find a few more shops and the Discovery Arcade.


Disneyland Paris Town Square

Disneyland Paris Town Square


Main Street at Disneyland Paris has a unique feature, two arcades (long, enclosed walkways) that run behind the shops and restaurants.
The Liberty Arcade on the left and the Discovery Arcade on the right offer backdoor access to every merchant on the street. This is a wonderful attribute. On inclement days or when a parade is running, it's nice to have an alternate way of getting from one end of Main Street to the other.


Disneyland Paris Town Square Arcades

Disneyland Paris Town Square Arcades


Original plans called for a glass and metal roof to be built over Main Street to protect guests from the weather. This structure would be similar to the one over World Bazaar at Tokyo Disneyland. But this covering curtails other activities such as the vehicles, parades, and firework viewing. Eventually it was decided to build the arcades instead.

As we continue our circle around Town Square, we come to more shops.


Disneyland Paris Town Square


Next to the shops is the Main Street Transportation Company. The horse-drawn street cars enter and exit Main Street through this building.


Disneyland Paris Main Street Transportation Company

Disneyland Paris Main Street Transportation Company

Disneyland Paris Main Street Transportation Company

Although I don't have a picture showing this, if you look at the Transportation Company building "straight on" its silhouette bears a striking resemblance to Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland, California.

The street cars are enclosed to provide better protection from the cold Parisian winters. Two benches, running along both sides of the car provide seating.


Disneyland Paris Street Cars


Another unique feature of this Town Square is the plaza area is divided into two sections and the street car passes between them.


Disneyland Paris Street Cars


That's it for Town Square. My next blog will cover the rest of Main Street.

February 6, 2009

Disneyland Paris - Main Street Part 3

Main Street Part 3

In my last blog I discussed the Town Square section of Main Street. Today I'm going to talk about the rest of this Victorian thoroughfare. However, I'm not going to describe things in any particular order. I'm just going to pick some points of interest that appeal to me.

Let's start with the street itself. It's paved with brick, not asphalt or cement. This adds a lot of authentic charm to this roadway.


Disneyland Paris Main Street


Besides the horse drawn streetcars, you will also find other means of transportation to travel between Town Square and The Hub.


Disneyland Paris Main Street Limousine

Disneyland Paris Main Street

Disneyland Paris Main Street


Another unique feature about Disneyland Paris is its gas station, Main Street Motors. Notice the pump on the sidewalk.


Disneyland Paris Main Street Main Street Motors

Disneyland Paris Main Street Main Street Motors


Take a look at the Kitty Hawk Bicycle Shop and the sign in the door.


Disneyland Paris Main Street Kitty Hawk Bicycle Shop

Disneyland Paris Main Street Kitty Hawk Bicycle Shop


Flower Street (the street that crosses Main Street) is busy with activity. The Liberty and Discovery Arcades both have direct access onto Flower Street.


Disneyland Paris Main Street

Disneyland Paris Main Street


Directly inside Liberty Court (the mid-town entrance to the Liberty Arcade) you'll find a tribute to the Statue of Liberty. Behind the curtain is a tableau depicting the French giving America this magnificent gift.


Disneyland Paris Main Street

Disneyland Paris Main Street

Disneyland Paris Main Street


Also on the west side of Flower Street is the Dapper Dan's Hair Cuts shop. As you might expect, not only can you get a trim, but you can be serenaded by this quartet at the same time.


Disneyland Paris Main Street Dapper Dan's Hair Cuts

Disneyland Paris Main Street Dapper Dan's Hair Cuts


In the mood for a sandwich? Try the Market House Delicatessen. Seating is available both inside and along the east side of Flower Street.


Disneyland Paris Main Street Market House Delicatessen

Disneyland Paris Main Street Market House Delicatessen

Disneyland Paris Main Street Market House Delicatessen

Disneyland Paris Main Street Market House Delicatessen


If you want a more upscale meal, try Walt's. This is a fashionable restaurant located on the corner of Main and Flower Streets. The lobby is on the ground floor and the restaurant is on the second. Many of the tables have wonderful views of the streets below.


Disneyland Paris Main Street Walt's

Disneyland Paris Main Street Walt's

Disneyland Paris Main Street Walt's


I was looking forward to trying Walt's in 2005 as I missed it in 1993. But I have to admit, I was somewhat disappointed. To begin with, I was seated in a cramped room with four tables where there should have only been three. The picture below is of one of their larger dining rooms. I can't say that there was anything terribly wrong with my meal, but nothing was exceedingly right about it, either. Both the service and food were adequate, but nothing more. I like to believe that I dined there on an off night and in reality, it's better than my experience would indicate. I do plan on giving it another try on my next trip to Disneyland Paris.


Disneyland Paris Main Street Walt's

Disneyland Paris Main Street Walt's


The next several shots are of a few of the various buildings found on Main Street.


Disneyland Paris Main Street

Disneyland Paris Main Street

Disneyland Paris Main Street


Just like every other Disney Main Street, the names of special people can be found on the second story windows.


Disneyland Paris Main Street


Besides having his name on a window, Walt's father Elias also has a "Contractor's Signature" marker imbedded in the sidewalk. Elias worked briefly as a construction worker for the 1892 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The date 1901 was the year Walt was born.


Elias Disney


Here are a few interior photos from several of the shops. I have absolutely no idea what exterior building they are associated with.


Disneyland Paris Main Street

Disneyland Paris Main Street

Disneyland Paris Main Street

Disneyland Paris Main Street

Disneyland Paris Main Street


I said in an earlier blog that Disneyland Paris has a charm and intimacy that is missing from the Magic Kingdom in Florida. Much of this can be attributed to the detailed woodwork and gingerbread found on the Main Street buildings and their elaborate interiors. They are far more ornate than at any other park. But this super attention to detail comes at a price - literally a price.

It is very costly to maintain these buildings, something I'm not sure Disney bargained for when they designed this beautiful park. I saw a number of instances where wood was rotting and paint was peeling - nothing outrageous, but noticeable, none the less.

In my next blog I will discuss The Hub and Sleeping Beauty Castle.

February 9, 2009

Disneyland Paris - The Hub and Sleeping Beauty Castle

One thing that's a little different about the Disneyland Paris' Hub is the lands that radiate from it are set further back than at other Magic Kingdoms. In other words, Frontierland, Adventureland, and Discoveryland really aren't all that visible from The Hub. This allows the area to maintain its Victorian theming without contrasting architectures intruding into the space.

This shot of The Hub was taken from the castle, looking back toward Main Street.


Disneyland Paris Hub


The Hub is the northern terminus for all Main Street traffic. The one-way trips start and end here.


Disneyland Paris Hub

Disneyland Paris Hub

Disneyland Paris Hub


Mickey has it easy at Disneyland Paris. Here we see him being chauffeured to a Meet-&-Greet. (Maybe he's tired after the long flight from Orlando.)


Disneyland Paris Hub


Just like its American counterparts, Disneyland Paris has an Information Board. Here you can find the wait times for attractions, see which rides are closed for rehab, and determine show and parade times.


Disneyland Paris Hub Information Board


For a bite to eat, try the Plaza Gardens restaurant. This elaborately decorated Victorian eatery serves meals buffeteria-style.

Those of you familiar with the Plaza Inn at Disneyland, Californian will get a creepy sense of déjà vu as the two locales are very similar.


Disneyland Paris Hub Plaza Gardens

Disneyland Paris Hub Plaza Gardens


The Hub is also a good place to buy balloons.


Disneyland Paris Hub


"Le Chateau de la Belle au Bois Dormant" or "Sleeping Beauty Castle"


Disneyland Paris Sleeping Beauty Castle


When the Imagineers began their plans for Sleeping Beauty Castle, they were keenly aware that the surrounding countryside was full of "genuine" castles. They realized that Europeans could easily be blasé with their design unless they came up with something truly magical. And that they did. Paris' Sleeping Beauty Castle is arguably the most beautiful of any of the Disney structures. It's absolutely stunning and can transform even the most cynical adult back to childhood.


Disneyland Paris Sleeping Beauty Castle

Disneyland Paris Sleeping Beauty Castle

Disneyland Paris Sleeping Beauty Castle

Disneyland Paris Sleeping Beauty Castle

Disneyland Paris Sleeping Beauty Castle

Disneyland Paris Sleeping Beauty Castle


But Sleeping Beauty Castle is more than just a stand-alone structure. Elaborate walkways, gardens, waterfalls, and a wishing well flank its sides.


Disneyland Paris Sleeping Beauty Castle

Disneyland Paris Sleeping Beauty Castle

Disneyland Paris Sleeping Beauty Castle

Disneyland Paris Sleeping Beauty Castle

Disneyland Paris Sleeping Beauty Castle

Disneyland Paris Sleeping Beauty Castle


Deep beneath the castle in the dungeon guests can find an unusual sight -- "La Taniere du Dragon" or "The Den of the Dragon." This is the home of Maleficent, now permanently transformed into a dragon and chained in captivity for all eternity. She sleeps much of the time, but occasionally wakes, belches smoke and growls at the curious onlookers.


Disneyland Paris Sleeping Beauty Castle

Disneyland Paris Sleeping Beauty Castle

Shorty after Disneyland in California opened in 1955, guests started to ask, "What's inside the castle." The answer, nothing.

In order to appease his audience, Walt ordered his Imagineers to come up with something. Since this space was very cramped, this was no small assignment. In the end, they designed the "Sleeping Beauty Walkthrough." This was a simple "walk-thru" attraction where the story of the young princess unfolds before you in a series of simple tableaus. (BTW, this attraction just recently reopened after an extensive rehab.)

At Disneyland Paris, the story of Sleeping Beauty is also told within the castle. But since this castle is substantially larger than California's, the tableaus are far more elaborate and the experience far more intoxicating. Here are just a few of the scenes.


Disneyland Paris Sleeping Beauty Castle

Disneyland Paris Sleeping Beauty Castle

Disneyland Paris Sleeping Beauty Castle

Disneyland Paris Sleeping Beauty Castle

Disneyland Paris Sleeping Beauty Castle

Disneyland Paris Sleeping Beauty Castle


The stained-glass window (pictured below) gradually changes from a rose to doves and back again. Because of space constraints, I had to recreate it as an "instant" change.


Disneyland Paris Sleeping Beauty Castle

Disneyland Paris Sleeping Beauty Castle


You exit the Gallery of Sleeping Beauty on the second floor where you're free to discover more of the castle's beauty. Here's a picture of me videotaping and a concerned owl watching me.


Disneyland Paris Sleeping Beauty Castle

Disneyland Paris Sleeping Beauty Castle


When the Imagineers were designing the Magic Kingdom in Florida, they had a great idea. Why not put a stage in front of the castle. This would make the perfect backdrop for any performance. They liked the idea so much that they enhanced this design at Tokyo Disneyland. Here they made the stage bigger and added removable benches in an enlarged Hub. There was only one problem with this idea, whenever a show is in progress, the pathways to and through the castle must be closed down. Bummer.

At Disneyland Paris they corrected this little problem. By placing the stage off to the side, the castle is still perfectly situated as a backdrop, but it doesn't interfere with the pathways leading to Sleeping Beauty Castle. If you compared this location to the Magic Kingdom in Florida, the stage would be located in the Rose Garden.


Disneyland Paris Sleeping Beauty Castle


In my next blog I'll be discussing Frontierland.

February 12, 2009

Disneyland Paris - Frontierland – Part 1 – Thunder Mesa

Frontierland - Part 1 - Thunder Mesa

Moving clockwise from the end of Main Street, Frontierland is the first land you come to. You enter the Wild West by walking through Fort Comstock. But before you do, be sure to check out the Native American encampment just outside its gates. A nearby babbling brook and a canopy of trees help you believe you're deep in the American wilderness.


Disneyland Paris Frontierland

Disneyland Paris Frontierland


Once you've passed under the Frontierland sign, you're in the middle of a large fort. In concept, this stronghold is similar to Fort Langhorn on Tom Sawyer Island at Disney World, but this Parisian version is far more elaborate.


Disneyland Paris Frontierland Fort Comstock

Disneyland Paris Frontierland Fort Comstock


Fort Comstock has an attraction, of sorts, within its walls. Called "Legends of the Wild West," this walk through begins at one end of the fort and takes guests on a journey past a stockade, supply hut, office, barracks, rifle loft and more. A number of these rooms feature tableaus depicting characters from frontier America. Signs printed in both French and English describe the various scenes.


Disneyland Paris Frontierland Legends of the West

Disneyland Paris Frontierland Legends of the West

Disneyland Paris Frontierland Legends of the West


I'm not sure if this next gentleman is Davy Crockett, but whoever he is, he's not nearly as good with a gun and a mirror as he thinks he is.


Disneyland Paris Frontierland Legends of the West


When you exit Fort Comstock, you're in the mining town of Thunder Mesa at the height of the gold rush.


Disneyland Paris Frontierland Thunder Mesa

Disneyland Paris Frontierland Thunder Mesa


Faded paint, clapboard siding, boardwalks, and hitching posts are the norm in this bustling little town. Most of these buildings are filled with shops and restaurants.


Disneyland Paris Frontierland Thunder Mesa

Disneyland Paris Frontierland Thunder Mesa

Disneyland Paris Frontierland Thunder Mesa

Disneyland Paris Frontierland Thunder Mesa


Legend has it that Diamond Lil found a gold nugget the size of a loaf of bread on Big Thunder Mountain. With her windfall she built the Lucky Nugget Saloon. Combining western and Victorian architecture, this establishment is reminiscent of a bar you might have found in San Francisco's Barbary Coast in the 1880's.

Comedians, can-can girls, and Disney characters are all part of the show here. Reservations are suggested for this buffet meal.


Disneyland Paris Frontierland Thunder Mesa Golden Nugget Saloon

Disneyland Paris Frontierland Thunder Mesa Golden Nugget Saloon

Disneyland Paris Frontierland Thunder Mesa Golden Nugget Saloon

Disneyland Paris Frontierland Thunder Mesa Golden Nugget Saloon

Disneyland Paris Frontierland Thunder Mesa Golden Nugget Saloon


The Silver Spur Steakhouse is intended for the well-to-do cowboy. Modeled after a Western-style gentlemen's club, this table service restaurant exudes old-time elegance. A number of grilled meats are prepared in a show kitchen while you enjoy a beer or a glass of wine. Reservations are suggested.


Disneyland Paris Frontierland Silver Spur Steakhouse

Disneyland Paris Frontierland Silver Spur Steakhouse

Disneyland Paris Frontierland Silver Spur Steakhouse


Over 70 animated targets are on tap at the Rustler Roundup Shootin' Gallery. Rifles that fire infra-red shots bring these comic effects to life. Note, this attraction is not included in your admission price and a small fee is required to play.


Disneyland Paris Frontierland Rustler Roundup Shootin' Gallery

Disneyland Paris Frontierland Rustler Roundup Shootin' Gallery


To add realism to this mining town, a number of props and signs are scattered around the area.


Disneyland Paris Frontierland

Disneyland Paris Frontierland

Disneyland Paris Frontierland

Disneyland Paris Frontierland

Disneyland Paris Frontierland


As you venture toward the end of town, Thunder Mesa changes from clapboard to adobe. A strong Mexican influence is noticed everywhere.

The building below is the Fuente del Oro Restaurante. As you might expect, Mexican specialties are served at this counter service restaurant. Guests can either dine indoors or on the lovely patio with views of the Big Thunder Mountain loading area.


Disneyland Paris Frontierland Fuene del Oro Restaurante

Disneyland Paris Frontierland Fuene del Oro Restaurante

Disneyland Paris Frontierland Fuene del Oro Restaurante

Disneyland Paris Frontierland Fuene del Oro Restaurante


I mentioned in another blog that the transition between lands at Disneyland Paris is practically seamless. The picture below shows us moving away from the Mexican section of Frontierland and its adobe walls. Just around the corner you come to the African section of Adventureland and its clay brick construction. The change in environment is so gradual that you're not even aware you've changed "continents."


Disneyland Paris Frontierland


In my next blog I'll be discussing the outskirts of Frontierland.


VIP Tour at Walt Disney World

My friend Linda Mac and I were invited to participate in a training session intended to help VIP Tour Guides learn the ropes. Before these knowledgeable cast members can escort paying guests through the various parks, they must first practice on a test audience. We were lucky enough to be a part of this two hour session and be "guinea pigs" on a Magic Kingdom tour.

For the most part, VIP tours are intended for first-time visitors who wish to have a Disney expert accompany them through the various parks and customize the experience to their specific needs. Prices range from $175 to $315 per hour with a six hour minimum. The price differential is determined by whether or not you're staying at a Disney resort, the time of year you visit, and the level of service you request. Tour groups can be from one individual to a maximum of ten. Park admission is not included in this price.

Since I'm probably as knowledgeable as any of these tour guides when it comes to Disney theme parks, there was little our guide could tell me that I didn't already know. So, I spent much of the training session asking our guide questions about VIP Tours so I could share the information with you. Here's what I learned.

A VIP Tour can be reserved 180 days in advance. At that time, you'll discuss what you're looking for in a tour and arrange for reservations at your favorite restaurants. If you wish to wait and book a tour after you arrive, you can. But you run the risk that no tour guide or restaurant reservations will be available.

You meet up with your tour guide at whatever location you desire. If you want to be escorted from your hotel, that can be arranged. But probably, you'll meet at Guest Relations at the park of your choice. At that time, you'll commence with introductions. I was surprised at how quickly our guide learned everyone's name and used it throughout the day. I can see that after just a short time, your guide would become part of the family. Each member of your party will be given a business card with the tour guide's pager number printed on it in case someone gets separated from the group.

The VIP Tours do not utilize the new wireless headphones that are being used on other tours. Although wonderful when traveling in a big group, the VIP Tour is a more intimate experience and a headphone would detract from this.

Next you will be asked if there are any attractions that you absolutely must experience so that your guide can plan the day accordingly. Often, families with small children will want to make Fantasyland a priority while those with teenagers will want to experience all of the thrill rides.

VIP Tour guides must work in other areas of Guest Relations before transferring into this position. Then they must take a two week training course to familiarize themselves with EVERYTHING at Walt Disney World. It's Disney's intention to cast knowledgeable people into this role. Once the tour begins, it's their job to maximize your time and enhance your experience. They know the shortest route between "A" and "B" from just about anywhere. They know the best places to watch the parades. They know the show times so you won't be caught in line five minutes before a performance starts. And they know how the crowds ebb and flow so they can avoid bottlenecks.

On my particular tour, we all said we wanted to ride on the Jungle Cruise. When we reached the attraction, our guide got us into line and gave us instructions on where to meet him at its conclusion. Later we discovered that while we were enjoying the African Elephant Bathing Pool, our guide had raced across the park and secured Fast Passes for Space Mountain.

These tours do not offer "back door" entrance onto the rides. You must stand in line like everyone else. But your tour guide knows the best order in which to experience them with as little wait as possible.

For an extra $100 per hour, you can order the "Premium" package. This gives your group unlimited Fast Pass admission. At any attraction that uses Fast Pass, your tour guide can flash their "magic" card and admit your group into this line - as many times as you like. So if you're a Space Mountain junky, you can re-queue over and over again in the Fast Pass line. This even applies to attractions that aren't utilizing Fast Pass on a particular day.

It's your decision whether or not the tour guides eat with you. Their feelings won't be hurt if you need some private time without them. If you do decide to include them, Disney picks up the tab for their portion of the meal.

Our tour guide told us that if it's your desire to see Illuminations at Epcot, Fantasmic at the Studio, and Wishes at the Magic Kingdom, all in ONE night. Disney can arrange this. Of course, this is dependent on the times of all three shows being spaced accordingly. But the point of the story is this, if you're willing to pay, Disney is willing to accommodate.

Is it worth the money? Not to me it isn't. But like I said at the beginning of this blog, I know my Disney theme parks. In fact, I shared more trivia with our guide than he did with us. But that's just me.

Is this service worth it to the average guest? Only if the average guest is rich. The cheapest day would cost $1,050 for six hours - not including admission. I experienced this tour in February when the park is typically slow. We were literally walking onto all of the attractions with no lines. A guest would hardly need to pay someone else to help them cut corners when there are no corners to cut. The tour would only make sense if the parks were busy.

If you're a first-time visitor to Disney World, I would suggest reading the Allears.net website and newsletters (blatant plug) before your visit. We provide a wealth of information - for free. If you're a regular reader of our site, you know a constant theme of ours is to learn as much as you can about Disney World before arriving. You simply cannot show up at the gates unprepared. If you do, you'll miss a lot. But if you don't have the time or desire to "study" before a vacation, a VIP Tour might be the answer.

Okay, what if you are rich; is it worth it? Maybe. I have to admit, if I could have afforded a private tour on my first trip to Tokyo DisneySea, it would have been nice. Disney parks are so full of interesting facts and bits of trivia, that a private guide would be fun to have around and fill my brain with this information. But unless you've got money to burn, I'd have a hard time recommending this tour. After experiencing a two-hour session, I decided that I could hire myself out at half the price and offer an excellent tour. Just kidding.

If you are interested in booking, call 407-560-4033.

February 13, 2009

Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It!

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In keeping with this year's new "Celebrate Today" theme, the Magic Kingdom kicks off a new show/parade on February 13 titled "Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It!" This high energy event starts near the Fire Station on Main Street and moves its way up to The Hub. Five brightly colored floats adorned with your favorite characters and dozens of dancers enthusiastically sing and dance while encouraging those lining the street to get involved. Even the "crowd control" cast members clap their hands and promote a festive atmosphere.


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When the procession reaches The Hub, it encircles this area and comes to a stop. It's then that the merriment really begins. A DJ on the first float introduces the featured characters on the other four floats. In turn, each pops up from a gift-wrapped present and says a few words. When the introductions are over, a number of dancers and characters take to the street and party up a storm.


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Eventually, the audience is invited to join in the fun and encouraged to come out into the street and kick up their heels. At first the crowd is hesitant, but by the time the conga line begins, the street is full of dancing fools.


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The "dance party" takes between 10-15 minutes. When it's done, the procession moves back down Main Street and disappears backstage. Although a good time can be had by watching the parade along Main Street, the real fun takes place at The Hub. And if you're goal is to see the characters, the 3 o'clock parade is a better bet. But if you like to dance and party, this show is for you. Check your information guide for times.

February 15, 2009

Disneyland Paris - Frontierland – Part 2 – The Outskirts of Town

Frontierland can be divided into two sections, the town of Thunder Mesa, and the more rural, backwoods section. In my previous blog I discussed Thunder Mesa. Here I will talk about the outskirts of town.

Let's start with the Pocahontas Indian Village. This is a children's play area with a Native American theme. Kids can enjoy slides, swings, and other contraptions while their parents take a breather on one of the benches.

In the early years of EuroDisneyland, canoes plied the Rivers of the Far West and this was the loading area. When the canoes were retired, this section of Frontierland was transformed into a playground.


Disneyland Paris Frontierland Pocahontas Indian Village

Disneyland Paris Frontierland Pocahontas Indian Village

Disneyland Paris Frontierland Pocahontas Indian Village


Nearby you'll find the Pueblo Trading Post. This is primarily a children's shop selling western themed goods and Winnie the Pooh merchandise.


Disneyland Paris Frontierland Pueblo Trading Post

Disneyland Paris Frontierland Pueblo Trading Post


Remember the Keel Boats? Well, they're still sailing at Disneyland Paris, if only seasonally. The attraction is called the "River Rogue Keelboats" and they cruise the Rivers of the Far West in two boats, the Coyote or Raccoon. I'll be discussing the sights along the Rivers of the Far West in my next blog.


Disneyland Paris Frontierland River Rogue Keelboats

Disneyland Paris Frontierland River Rogue Keelboats

Disneyland Paris Frontierland River Rogue Keelboats

Disneyland Paris Frontierland River Rogue Keelboats


Cottonwood Creek Ranch can be found at the far end of Frontierland. Like all ranches and farms of the era, a big red barn was essential, and in this version we find the Cowboy Cookout Barbeque. This counter service restaurant serves barbecued chicken, ribs, and hamburgers. Live country music can be heard here and many of the performers are from America.


Disneyland Paris Frontierland Cowboy Cookout Barbeque

Disneyland Paris Frontierland Cowboy Cookout Barbeque

Disneyland Paris Frontierland Cowboy Cookout Barbeque

Disneyland Paris Frontierland Cowboy Cookout Barbeque


What ranch would be complete without a windmill?


Disneyland Paris Frontierland


In 2005, kids could enjoy a petting farm called Critter Corral. But I understand this area has been closed and a new attraction, Woody's Roundup Village has opened.


Disneyland Paris Frontierland

Disneyland Paris Frontierland


The Frontierland Train Depot can be found at the far end of Frontierland. This station is almost an exact copy of the original Frontierland Station at Disneyland California which was retired in 1966 to make room for the New Orleans Station.


Disneyland Paris Frontierland Train Depot

Disneyland Paris Frontierland Train Depot


Also located in the backcountry of Frontierland is the Chaparral Theater. When I was here in 2005, "The Tarzan Encounter" was playing (and I believe it still is). This is a 30-minute, high energy show chronicling the tale of Tarzan with songs and acrobatics.

I know what you're thinking, what does Tarzan have to do with the Old West? Beats me. It makes as much since as Tarzan and Nemo performing in Dinoland U.S.A. at the Animal Kingdom. When EuroDisneyland opened, "Pocahontas: Le Spectacle" was showing at the Chaparral Theater. This makes a lot more sense.

This theater also plays host to Mickey's Winter Wonderland during the holidays.

Note, seating is on hard wooden benches with no backs.


Disneyland Paris Frontierland Chaparral Theater


In my next blog I will be discussing Big Thunder Mountain, and the riverboats.

February 18, 2009

Disneyland Paris - Frontierland – Part 3 – Big Thunder Mountain and the Riverboats

Big Thunder Mountain


Disneyland Paris Big Thunder Mountain

Disneyland Paris Big Thunder Mountain


As with all Disney attractions, your journey on Big Thunder Mountain starts with the queue - and in this case, a very detailed queue. The line twists and turns around rusting mining equipment, amusing signs, and dilapidated buildings. Periodically, a mine train rolls by.


Disneyland Paris Big Thunder Mountain

Disneyland Paris Big Thunder Mountain

Disneyland Paris Big Thunder Mountain

Disneyland Paris Big Thunder Mountain


Eventually you reach the boarding area and your train arrives.


Disneyland Paris Big Thunder Mountain


Big Thunder Mountain is located on an island in the middle of the Rivers of the Far West. To reach it, your train descends into a deep tunnel that travels beneath the water. The track safety devices within the tunnel create a loud clacking sound - a VERY LOUD CLACKING SOUND. I cover my ears. Once you make it to the other side, hang onto your hats for the wildest ride in the wilderness.


Disneyland Paris Big Thunder Mountain


The sights and sounds on Big Thunder Mountain are similar to its American cousins. You see stalactites and stalagmites, old mining equipment, bats, and possum hanging from a branch. In the Paris version, the earthquake scene has been replaced with a dynamite explosion. Also, the track layout in Paris is completely different than its Florida or California counterparts, making this a new experience for those of us familiar with the Disney World and Disneyland renderings.

The "story" behind Big Thunder Mesa is also very similar to the American versions of this ride. Gold was discovered and overnight the mining town of Thunder Mesa sprang up. But the mountain was cursed and calamity eventually befell the miners and the trains.


Disneyland Paris Big Thunder Mountain

Disneyland Paris Big Thunder Mountain

Disneyland Paris Big Thunder Mountain

Disneyland Paris Big Thunder Mountain

Disneyland Paris Big Thunder Mountain


Thunder Mesa Riverboat Landing


Disneyland Paris Thunder Mesa Riverboat Landing


Disneyland Paris doesn't have just one riverboat, it has two, the Mark Twain, which is a copy of the ship at Disneyland, California, and the Molly Brown, which was named after the famous wife of J. J. Brown, a successful Leadville, Colorado miner. Both ships travel the Rivers of the Far West and circle Big Thunder Mountain and Wilderness Island in about 15 minutes. The dock for the riverboats is directly across the street from the Silver Spur Steakhouse.


Disneyland Paris Riverboats


Here are a few pictures of the Mark Twain.


Disneyland Paris Mark Twain Riverboat

Disneyland Paris Mark Twain Riverboat


Here are a few pictures of the Molly Brown.
Notice that it is a side-wheeler.


Disneyland Paris Molly Brown Riverboat

Disneyland Paris Molly Brown Riverboat

Disneyland Paris Molly Brown Riverboat


As are journey begins, one of the first sights we see is the back side of the Rustler Roundup Shootin' Gallery.

Disneyland Paris Riverboat - Rustler Roundup Shootin Gallery


Next we see some mining equipment near the loading area of Big Thunder Mountain.


Disneyland Paris Riverboat Big Thunder Mountain


The following picture is of the river-pirates' hideout and the loading dock for the River Rogue Keelboats.

Disneyland Paris Riverboat  River Rogue Keelboats


The next sight should look familiar to you fans of the Liberty Belle at the Magic Kingdom in Florida.


Disneyland Paris Riverboat


Of course, no river cruise would be complete without spotting some wildlife along the banks.


Disneyland Paris Riverboat


You might even see a steam train chugging through the wilderness.


Disneyland Paris Riverboat


Unusual rock formations can also be seen. Note, the riverboats go around, not under, this rock bridge.


Disneyland Paris Riverboat

Disneyland Paris Riverboat


Mud pots bubble and geysers erupt as you pass by. Look closely and you might see the remains of a dinosaur.


Disneyland Paris Riverboat


As you return to civilization, you pass by an old cemetery and Phantom Manor.


Disneyland Paris Riverboat


In my next blog I'll be discussing Phantom Manor.

February 21, 2009

Disneyland Paris - Frontierland – Part 4 – Phantom Manor

Phantom Manor Disneyland Paris


Phantom Manor is Disneyland Paris' version of the Haunted Mansion. It is neither better than nor inferior to its cousins around the world. It's simply different. And these differences make it very intriguing for those of us familiar with the original version.


Phantom Manor Disneyland Paris

Phantom Manor Disneyland Paris


Phantom Manor has a more complete storyline than the Haunted Mansion. It goes something like this.

Henry Ravenswood made his fortune in the Big Thunder Mountain gold rush. With his money he built an elegant Victorian manor high atop a hill, overlooking the town and mine that made him rich.

Ravenswood was very possessive of his only child, Melanie. When Melanie became engaged to a local miner, Ravenswood swore he would stop the wedding at all costs. But before he could enact his plan, an earthquake struck Thunder Mesa and Henry and his wife Martha were killed. Melanie survived.

Locals believe that the Phantom, who now inhabits the house, is actually the dead Henry Ravenswood and he killed his daughter's intended from beyond the grave. You can see the groom's dead body hanging in the "stretch room." After the death of her fiancé, Melanie wandered the manor, dressed in her wedding gown, for the rest of her life and after.


Phantom Manor Disneyland Paris


I've read several possibilities as to what building Phantom Manor was modeled after. One prospect is the cartoon house in the Charles Addams drawings.


Charles Addams House


Or the Edward Hooper painting, House by the Railroad.


Edward Hopper House by the Railroad


Maybe the Fourth Ward School House in Virginia City, Nevada.


Fourth Ward School House Virginia City


But I think it looks most like the Psycho House, which also sits high atop a hill. What do you think?


Bates Motel


Ravenswood Manor, now Phantom Manor, was built in the better part of town. Its entrance is near the Silver Spur Steakhouse, which was a fine gentlemen's club. You enter the estate at the bottom of the hill and pass through an iron gate. Here you see me with two of the staff in 1993.


Jack at Phantom Manor Disneyland Paris


As you ascend the hill, you pass by a lovely gazebo. The table inside is set for tea and you can hear the faint sounds of a music box playing from within.


 Gazebo Phantom Manor Disneyland Paris


You continue your way up the hill and through the gardens, eventually reaching the porch and front door. From here you get a sweeping view of Thunder Mesa and Big Thunder Mountain.


Phantom Manor View From Porch


You then enter an anteroom before proceeding to one of the stretch rooms. Here we see three pictures of Melanie and another of her and her bridegroom.


Phantom Manor Disneyland Paris

Phantom Manor Disneyland Paris


When you exit the stretch room, you're in a hallway/picture gallery. This floor plan is reminiscent of Disneyland, California. At the end of the hallway you can see a beautiful picture of Melanie dressed for her special day. .


Phantom Manor Disneyland Paris

Phantom Manor Disneyland Paris


The loading area has a backdrop unique to Paris. Instead of a wall behind the DoomBuggies you see a sweeping staircase.


Sweeping Staircase Phantom Manor Disneyland Paris


The song "Grim Grinning Ghosts" has been re-orchestrated and has a more formal and sometimes foreboding air about it.

Here's an interesting bit of trivia. The ballroom dancers in the California, Florida, and Japan Mansions are all positioned incorrectly. The gentlemen have their right hand extended and their left hand around the ladies' waists. This is backwards. In Paris, the Imagineers corrected this mistake. There is a reason for this oversight, but I'd have to give away Disney secrets to explain the whys and wherefores.

With minor differences, most of Phantom Manor is similar to the Haunted Mansion until you get to the attic. Here we see Melanie crying before a mirror. In the distance we can hear a maniacal laughter. As we continue onward, we come face-to-face with the Phantom.


Phantom Manor Disneyland Paris

Phantom Manor Disneyland Paris


As you descend from the attic you pass some macabre scenes of coffins and skeletons. In my opinion, this section of the Manor is scarier than anything in the American Mansions.


Phantom Manor Disneyland Paris


Most of what was the graveyard section in the Haunted Mansion has been transformed into a western "ghost" town in Phantom Manor. Here, the local residents greet you as you pass by.


Ghost Town in Phantom Manor Disneyland Paris

Ghost Town in Phantom Manor Disneyland Paris

Ghost Town in Phantom Manor Disneyland Paris

Ghost Town in Phantom Manor Disneyland Paris


The scene with the Hitchhiking Ghosts has been replaced with a floating skeleton pointing the way out.


Floating Skeleton in Phantom Manor Disneyland Paris


Next to Phantom Manor is a decaying graveyard with obvious signs of damage from the earthquake. You can walk through this area and examine many of the headstones and crypts. The epitaphs here are slightly more sophisticated than their sillier counterparts in Florida and California.


Phantom Manor Grave Yard Disneyland Paris

Phantom Manor Disneyland Paris

Phantom Manor Disneyland Paris


Phantom Manor is every bit the classic attraction as the Haunted Mansion. I can guarantee that you'll want to hop right back on and ride it again and again.


Next stop, Adventureland.

February 22, 2009

Everest Temple

This is a blog that almost didn't happen. I made an assumption (I know, a dumb thing to do), that what was obvious to me was obvious to everyone else. But when I would mention this upcoming fact to others, they had no idea what I was talking about. So I finally realized that I should share this interesting bit of Disney trivia with the world.

In the Animal Kingdom we find Expedition Everest sitting majestically on the shores of Discovery River. Across the river is a shrine built to pay homage to the mountains and the Yeti.


Everest Temple in Animal Kingdom


If you examine the shrine carefully, you can see all sorts of details. Offerings such and fruits and carved animals, incense burners, and chalices are all on hand.


Everest Temple in Animal Kingdom


But the real magic of this shrine is in its shape. (Okay, here comes the good part.) If you stand back and position your line-of-sight so that the shrine is situated directly in front of the Himalayans, the temple exactly silhouettes the peaks in the distance.


Everest Temple in Animal Kingdom


Cool, huh?

By the way" Did you know that the tallest peak in this recreation of the Himalayans is not actually Everest? Everest is the mountain on the right.


Everest Temple in Animal Kingdom


It was the Imagineers desire to create a mountain "range" and decided to put Everest further back to add to the illusion of distance and majesty. And in reality, there is another range of mountains in front of Everest. So it would be correct to see other peaks in the foreground.

----------------------------

One of my readers, Rob, shared the following information with me:

The tallest visible peak is the "Forbidden Mountain" (hence the "Legend of the Forbidden Mountain" subtitle in the ride's name), which is guarded by the Yeti. Also note that the tallest peak of the shrine (that matches up with Forbidden Mountain) is the one with the Yeti figure inside.

February 24, 2009

Caribbean Beach Resort – Pirate Room

I recently spent the night at the Caribbean Beach Resort in one of the new pirate themed rooms. In this blog, I'll be discussing the overall resort and describe this new experience in Disney accommodations.

When Michael Eisner was hired by shareholders Sid Bass and Roy E. Disney in 1984, he was given the directive to develop the Disney World property. One of the first things he did was order two new resorts be built, the deluxe Grand Floridian and the first moderately priced Disney hotel, the Caribbean Beach Resort.

Located south of Epcot, the Caribbean Beach Resort is comprised of 33 guest houses clustered together in villages. Each village represents a distinct Caribbean style inspired by and named after the Caribbean islands of Trinidad, Martinique, Barbados, Aruba, and Jamaica. Each two-story building has sixty-four, 300 square foot rooms. Each room has two double beds and can sleep four.

The first stop for guests when arriving at the Caribbean Beach Resort is the Custom House. This is where everyone checks in and receives a slew of interesting paperwork describing the resort and the rest of Walt Disney World. At this time, you'll be given your room keys and directions to your room. If you arrive before your room is ready, you'll be given a phone number to call to check on status.


CBR%20Custom%20House%2001.jpg

CBR%20Custom%20House%2002.jpg

CBR%20Custom%20House%2003.jpg


The heart of activity at the Caribbean Beach Resort is Old Port Royale Centertown.


CBR%20Old%20Port%20Royale%2001.jpg


Shopping is available here at Calypso Trading Post. A large collection of Disney merchandise is on hand as are other tropical gifts. Adding to the already strong West Indies décor, pirate theming has been added.


CBR%20Calypso%20Trading%20Post%2001.jpg

CBR%20Calypso%20Trading%20Post%2002.jpg


One of the truly unique items for sale here is a coconut, ready to be mailed to friends and family back home. This is the genuine article already stamped for delivery to anywhere in the U.S.. All you have to do is add the address.


CBR%20Calypso%20Trading%20Post%2003.jpg


Old Port Royale Centertown is also where you can grab a bite to eat. For counter service meals, try the Market Street Food Court. This festive avenue features a number of stalls selling everything from donuts to pizza to pan seared salmon. Seating is provided in one large and several smaller areas. Brightly colored walls and overhead fans help you believe you're in a tropical locale.


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CBR%20Old%20Port%20Royale%2003.jpg

CBR%20Old%20Port%20Royale%2004.jpg

CBR%20Old%20Port%20Royale%2005.jpg


If you're in the mood for a slower paced supper, try Shutters. This table service restaurant is located at the far end of Market Street and offers a nice relaxing atmosphere in one of its several small dining rooms.


CBR%20Shutter%2001.jpg

CBR%20Shutter%2002.jpg

CBR%20Shutter%2003.jpg


Just outside of Old Port Royale Centertown is a pleasant area where you can sit and enjoy a cocktail from Banana Cabana.


CBR%20Old%20Port%20Royale%2006.jpg

CBR%20Old%20Port%20Royale%2007.jpg


In the mood for some boating, then head for the Barefoot Bay Marina. Here you can rent a Sea Raycer for a zippy ride or a pontoon boat for a more relaxed experience. The pontoon boats, now decked out with a pirate theme, are especially nice for groups. Have your lunch packaged "to go" at the Market Street Food Court and enjoy a meal out on the water.


CBR%20Marina%2001.jpg

CBR%20Marina%2002.jpg

CBR%20Marina%2003.jpg


Also scattered around this 45 acre lake are a number of white sandy beaches. This is the perfect spot to work on your tan (don't forget the sunscreen) or read that best-seller everyone has been talking about. Beach chairs and hammocks are waiting for you.


CBR%20Beaches%2001.jpg

CBR%20Beaches%2002.jpg

CBR%20Beaches%2003.jpg


The swimming pool at the Caribbean Beach Resort was completely remodeled a couple of years ago. It now looks like a Spanish fortress guarding some far off tropical harbor. The pool also offers "zero-entrance" for easier access into the water. A separate area for the younger set is nearby. A mock shipwreck and slide is the centerpiece of this play area.


CBR%20Main%20Pool%2001.jpg

CBR%20Main%20Pool%2002.jpg

CBR%20Main%20Pool%2003.jpg

CBR%20Main%20Pool%2004.jpg

CBR%20Children%27s%20Pool.jpg


Each village has its own "quiet" pool. Although children are welcome, the area is sedate and meant for relaxing more than splashing. Also nearby each quiet pool is a laundry facility. This way you can sun and swim while taking care of this far from exciting chore.


CBR%20Quiet%20Pool%2001.jpg

CBR%20Quiet%20Pool%2002.jpg

CBR%20Laundry%20Room%2001.jpg


Each village has its own bus stop. It's here that you catch a motor coach to the various theme parks or Downtown Disney. The maximum wait should be no more than 20 minutes - less during busy times.


CBR%20Bus%20Stop%2001.jpg


The Caribbean Beach Resort is large. So large that it has its own internal bus that continually circles the resort, stopping at each village and Old Port Royale Centertown. One complaint I've heard about this resort is that the Market Street Food Court is too far away from a number of the villages. If you find that's the case for your family, catching this bus might be the answer.

Here are some general pictures of the resort.


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CBR%20General%20Pictures%2004.jpg

CBR%20General%20Pictures%2005.jpg

CBR%20General%20Pictures%2006.jpg


All of the rooms at the Caribbean Beach Resort are completely non-smoking, but a number of pleasant spots have been created for those of you who wish to light up.


CBR%20General%20Pictures%2007.jpg


I booked this most recent trip just so I could stay in one of the new "Pirate" rooms. In case you haven't heard, Disney is redecorating a number of the rooms here with a pirate motif. Take a look and see what you think.


Pirate%20Room%2000.jpg

Pirate%20Room%2003.jpg

Pirate%20Room%2002.jpg

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Pirate%20Room%2004a.jpg

Pirate%20Room%2010.jpg

Pirate%20Room%2007.jpg


An artist's rendering of one of the new scenes added to the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction hangs on the wall.


Pirate%20Room%2008%20Wall%20Picture.jpg


One thing I like is Disney has added a curtain between the lavatory and bedroom. The last time I stayed at a moderately priced Disney resort this was not offered. Now a family can have a little more privacy.


Pirate%20Room%2011%20Bathroom%20Partition.jpg

Pirate%20Room%2011a%20Bathroom%20Partition.jpg


The bedspread design features gold coins and gem stones. The carpet looks like peg-and-groove planking.


Pirate%20Room%2006%20Bedspread.jpg

Pirate%20Room%2005%20Carpet.jpg


The refrigerator is housed in a wooden chest and extra pillows are available in a trunk.


Pirate%20Room%2009%20Fridge.jpg

Pirate%20Room%20Pillow%20Storage%2001.jpg


The vanity area is adequate with two sinks and an open closet. Six bath towels were on hand upon arriving. A tiny, key-locking safe, an iron, and ironing board are also available.


Pirate%20Room%2012%20Bathroom.jpg

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The shower curtain features sailing ships and the Flying Dutchman is etched into the shower wall.


CBR%20Pirate%20Room%20Shower%20Curtain%2001.jpg

Pirate%20Room%2016%20Shower%20Wall.jpg


Last year I wrote a review about the Contemporary Resort. In it, I complained that the Mickey branding had all but been removed from the toiletries. I'm happy to report Mickey is back. But note, the plastic wrapping on the soap is so strong, I needed to use my car keys to break it open.


Pirate%20Room%2017%20Soap%20and%20Shampoo.jpg


I did enjoy the new pirate theme. It's not too heavy handed, nor is it childlike. I feel Disney created a nice balance that both children and adults can enjoy. But I also must point out a few negatives.

First, if you can only sleep in a pitch-dark room, do not stay at the Caribbean Beach Resort. The way the drapes hang from the curtain rod, it is impossible to cover the windows completely. The windows do have plastic blinds, but light still leaks in. My room was only semi-dark and there was nothing I could do about it.


Pirate%20Room%20Light%20Leak%2002.jpg


Also offered is a high-speed internet connection. But it is located on the nightstand between the two beds. That's perfect if you wish to recline while working. But if you're like me, I prefer to sit at the room's table. The internet cable will reach that far, but just barely. It was very taut. If anyone were to walk between the table and bed, they will run into the cord and pull your laptop to the floor.

The pirate rooms are a lot of fun, and I would recommend them to anyone with children. But there is an extra charge to stay in one of these fanciful rooms. Check the fact sheet for the Caribbean Beach Resort on Allears.net for current prices.

----------------------------------

After posting this blog, Allears.net received the following from Jenny Trahan:

We just returned from Caribbean Beach Resort and stayed in a new refurbished Pirates-themed room. Our Mousekeeping supervisor told us that the nightstands, dresser and refrigerator cubby (as pictured in your newly posted photographs) are temporary and that the new furniture has not yet arrived. They will be replaced with items that resemble barrels. No word on when the new furniture will be there.

February 25, 2009

Disneyland Paris - Adventureland – Part 1 – General Area

Just like Frontierland, Adventureland is set back from The Hub. Because of this, it is much less intrusive in this otherwise Victorian area.


Adventureland Disneyland Paris

Adventureland Disneyland Paris


I've also mentioned that the transition between lands is remarkably seamless at Disneyland Paris. Here is a picture taken from Fantasyland, looking through a portal to Adventureland. If you study the photo carefully, you can see that this portal is a covered walkway with a different architectural style on each side - Tudor on the Fantasyland side and a sandstone-look on the Adventureland side.


Adventureland Disneyland Paris


Returning to The Hub we move closer to the primary Adventureland entrance. Like the other Adventurelands around the world, this version is a collection of far-off exotic lands. Here you'll find romanticized adaptations of the Middle East, the West Indies, Africa, Southeast Asia, and a make-believe land called Adventure Isle.

On the other side of this arch we enter Aladdin's home town, Agrabah. Here in the Adventureland Bazaar we find busy shops and a tasty restaurant.


Adventureland Bazaar Disneyland Paris

Adventureland Bazaar Disneyland Paris

Adventureland Bazaar Disneyland Paris

Adventureland Bazaar Disneyland Paris

Adventureland Bazaar Disneyland Paris

Adventureland Bazaar Disneyland Paris

Adventureland Bazaar Disneyland Paris

Adventureland Bazaar Disneyland Paris


Agrabah Café can be found within the Arabian Bazaar.
This buffet-style restaurant serves Mediterranean and Asian delights. There are a number of small, adjoining dining rooms, each with a mysterious, faraway feel and an outdoor courtyard for al fresco meals. This restaurant is open seasonally.


Agrabah Café  Adventureland Disneyland Paris

Agrabah Café  Adventureland Disneyland Paris

Agrabah Café  Adventureland Disneyland Paris

Agrabah Café  Adventureland Disneyland Paris


Near the entrance of Adventureland and Agrabah you'll find "Le Passagé Enchant' d' Aladdin."


Le Passagé Enchant' d' Aladdin Adventureland Disneyland Paris


This is a walk-through attraction that tells the story of Aladdin and his magic lamp. A series of minimally animated tableaus and storybook passages recreate Disney's animated classic in this charming attraction. Definitely low-tech, but very enduring.


Le Passagé Enchant' d' Aladdin Adventureland Disneyland Paris

Le Passagé Enchant' d' Aladdin Adventureland Disneyland Paris

Le Passagé Enchant' d' Aladdin Adventureland Disneyland Paris

Le Passagé Enchant' d' Aladdin Adventureland Disneyland Paris

Le Passagé Enchant' d' Aladdin Adventureland Disneyland Paris


As we journey deeper into Adventureland, the Middle Eastern architecture of Agrabah transforms into Timon and Pumba's Africa.


Timon and Pumba's Africa in Adventureland Disneyland Paris

Timon and Pumba's Africa in Adventureland Disneyland Paris


The Restaurant Hakuna Matata has a few references to "The Lion King" but overall, this eatery is more about the exotic locale than our animated friends. This is a counter service restaurant serving African inspired dishes.


Timon and Pumba's Africa in Adventureland Disneyland Paris

Timon and Pumba's Africa in Adventureland Disneyland Paris

Timon and Pumba's Africa in Adventureland Disneyland Paris

When the Imagineers were designing Disneyland Paris, they labored under the opinion that Europeans would prefer to linger over a meal at a table service restaurant rather than grabbing a quick bite to eat at a snack bar. But they were wrong. It turned out that most Europeans, like their American and Japanese counterparts, were more interested in experiencing the attractions than spending an hour or more eating.

Before there was Colonel Hathi's Pizza Outpost, there was the Explorer's Club. This was an elegant, table service restaurant located in a Colonial building found in some remote locale. Audioanimatronic birds and animals entertained guests as they enjoyed their meal. But due to a lack of need, this restaurant was eventually closed and converted to its present day, counter service incarnation serving pizza and pasta.


Colonel Hathi's Pizza Outpost in Adventureland Disneyland Paris

Colonel Hathi's Pizza Outpost in Adventureland Disneyland Paris


Today, audioanimatronic birds still sit high above the dining room in a large tree. They move and sing and tweet, while watching the guests below enjoy their meals. And when you think about it, it makes you very happy that these birds are mechanical and not real!

Colonel Hathi's Pizza Outpost in Adventureland Disneyland Paris


In my next blog I'll talk about Adventure Isle.


February 27, 2009

Cool Wash – Epcot

I recently wrote about the Everest Shrine at the Animal Kingdom. In it, I pointed out how the shrine is the same shape as the mountains in the background. I thought everyone was aware of this little bit of trivia, but I found that many of you had no idea and were happy that I had pointed it out. Well, I have another bit of trivia that I assumed that everyone knew, but now I'm discovering might not be the case.

Off to the side of Test Track at Epcot you'll find Cool Wash. Designed to look like a car wash, this structure sprays a fine mist on hot guests during the summer and often sells slushy Coke products to cool you down.


Cool Wash Near Test Track in Epcot


But have you ever paid any attention to the intermittent spinning of the two cleaning brushes? When in motion, they take on the shape of a Coke bottle.


Cool Wash Brushes


Cool, huh!

February 28, 2009

Disneyland Paris - Adventureland – Part 2 – Adventure Isle

Disneyland Paris does not have a Tom Sawyer Island. It was decided that most Europeans were not familiar enough with Mark Twain's writings to design an entire attraction around his stories.

Instead, the Imagineers came up with Adventure Isle. Here, pirates and castaways are used as a backdrop for this colorful environment. This is a wonderful place to play and explore.


Disneyland Paris Adventure Isle

Disneyland Paris Adventure Isle


You can reach Adventure Isle by one of four bridges.


Disneyland Paris Adventure Isle

Disneyland Paris Adventure Isle


When Disneyland opened in 1955, it featured a wonderful restaurant/play area - the "Jolly Roger" (Captain Hook's ship). And in 1960, "Skull Rock" was added. The Jolly Roger was a counter service restaurant sponsored by Chicken of the Sea. Not surprisingly, it served tuna sandwiches, clam chowder, and other goodies. Cast members affectionately called the ship the "Tuna Boat." Besides providing food, kids could climb aboard the ship and pretend to be Peter Pan, Wendy, and Captain Hook. A wonderful dining area was nestled among the boulders and waterfalls of Skull Rock.

In the early '80's, Fantasyland underwent a major rehab and the Tuna Boat and Skull Rock were razed. The "new" Fantasyland is a vast improvement over the original, but many still look back nostalgically at this visually appealing restaurant and play area. Below is an early Disneyland postcard of the Chicken of the Sea and Skull Rock.


Disneyland Postcard of Jolly Roger and Skull Rock


But all is not lost. Captain Hook's ship and Skull Rock have risen from the ashes and can be found on Adventure Isle. Like its predecessor, this vessel serves as a counter service restaurant called Captain Hook's Galley. On the docked side of the ship the gun turrets open up to create service windows. The offerings here are hot dogs, fries, and drinks. The deck of the ship is also open for kids to explore.


Disneyland Paris Captain Hook's ship and Skull Rock

Disneyland Paris Captain Hook's ship and Skull Rock


Deep within Skull Rock you'll find Ben Gunn's Cave. (Ben Gunn was a character in Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island.") This labyrinth of passageways is far more extensive and elaborately decorated than those found on any of the Tom Sawyer Islands. You can "almost" get lost down here.


Disneyland Paris, Skull Rock Ben Gunn's Cave

Disneyland Paris, Skull Rock Ben Gunn's Cave


This next picture was taken looking out of the mouth of Skull Rock.


Disneyland Paris, Skull Rock


From the mouth of evil we venture deeper and deeper into the bowels of the earth.


Disneyland Paris, Skull Rock Ben Gunn's Cave


Hidden within the cave we find another skull etched into the stone.


Disneyland Paris, Skull Rock Ben Gunn's Cave


Above ground is a peak called Spyglass Hill. Near the top is a lookout platform with a pirate canon aimed at a partially sunken vessel below. The view is great from up here. When it comes time to "escape" from the pirates, there is a suspension bridge that crosses high above the bay and the submerged ship.

If you're afraid of heights, you might want to turn back and skip this bridge as it is higher than any found on the Tom Sawyer Island counterparts. It also bounces a lot, which could add to your discomfort. But for the hearty buccaneer, this bridge is a lot of fun.


Disneyland Paris, Skull Rock

Disneyland Paris, Skull Rock


At water level, an unsteady barrel bridge crosses over the sunken ship. You can't board this soggy vessel, but there is still some good exploring to be had in this area.


Disneyland Paris, Skull Rock

Disneyland Paris, Skull Rock

Disneyland Paris, Skull Rock


Watch out for crocodiles on this sandy beach.


Disneyland Paris, Skull Rock


At the opposite end of the island from Skull Rock is "La Cabane Des Robinson." We know it better as the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse.


Disneyland Paris Swiss Family Robinson Tree House


This tree is remarkably similar to its Disney World and Tokyo cousins. You start at the tree's base and climb a whole lot of stairs to view the home of the castaways.


Disneyland Paris Swiss Family Robinson Tree House

Disneyland Paris Swiss Family Robinson Tree House

Disneyland Paris Swiss Family Robinson Tree House

Disneyland Paris Swiss Family Robinson Tree House


Entangled within the roots of the tree is another series of caves. "Le Ventre de la Terre" is the name of this cavern which translates into "The Belly of the Earth." Although not quite as extensive as Ben Gunn's cave, there are still a number of chambers to explore. If you're lucky, you might even find where the pirate treasure is hidden.


Disneyland Paris Swiss Family Robinson Tree House Le Ventre de la Terre

Disneyland Paris Swiss Family Robinson Tree House Le Ventre de la Terre

Disneyland Paris Swiss Family Robinson Tree House Le Ventre de la Terre


Pirate's Beach is located near the base of the treehouse. This is a children's amusement area with a number of slides, rope ladders, and other fun stuff for kids to climb and play on.


Disneyland Paris Swiss Family Robinson Tree House Pirate's Beach

Disneyland Paris Swiss Family Robinson Tree House


I like Adventure Isle a lot. In my opinion, it's much more enjoyable than any of the Tom Sawyer Islands - and easier to get to. It's a great spot for kids and adults alike.

In my next blog I will discuss Pirates of the Caribbean and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril.

Return to Blog Central

About February 2009

This page contains all entries posted to The “World” According to Jack in February 2009. They are listed from oldest to newest.

January 2009 is the previous archive.

March 2009 is the next archive.

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