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March 2009 Archives

March 2, 2009

Downtown Disney Stage

The other day I received a comment from someone telling me that they had recently eaten at Wolfgang Puck Express at Downtown Disney. After reading their positive review, I thought to myself, “I haven’t eaten there in a long time.” So today, that was my destination for lunch.

When I arrived at the parking lot, I saw a group of high school students, dressed in choir robes, leaving the area. Then I remembered, the stage at the Marketplace was undergoing a complete makeover and I wondered if it had been completed. Sure enough, as I rounded the corner of the World of Disney shop, I could see construction was done and this new performing area was already playing host to several groups.


Downtown Disney Stage

Downtown Disney Stage

Downtown Disney Stage

Downtown Disney Stage

Downtown Disney Stage


The new stage is a vast improvement over its predecessor. First, the performing area is covered, something I’m sure the entertainers appreciate. In addition, a much improved lighting and sound system has been added. It is now much easier to hear the groups sing. And I’m sure the nighttime shows will be enhanced as well with colorful lights.

The group you see performing here is the Heritage High School, “Heritage Singers.”

Disney frequently invites high schools from all over the country to perform at this venue and others around property. It’s very possible that one of these groups might kick off the 3 o’clock parade at the Magic Kingdom later in the day. For the most part, the audience is made up of friends and family of the group. But these performances offer a nice break from shopping and are enjoyable to all. Not to mention, these kids are thrilled to be performing at Walt Disney World and they put their hearts into the performance.

By the way, lunch at Wolfgang Puck Express was good too.

March 3, 2009

Disneyland Paris - Adventureland – Part 3 – Indiana Jones and Pirates of the Caribbean

In the furthest reaches of Adventureland, intrepid explores can discover “Indiana Jones et le Temple du Péril.” Here you’ll find an abandoned temple decaying in the jungle.


Disneyland Paris Adventureland Indiana Jones et le Temple du Péril


As you near the temple, a stone lion can be seen guarding the entrance. Continuing further into the underbrush, you pass the base camp used by the archeologists who are exploring the ruins.


Disneyland Paris Adventureland Indiana Jones et le Temple du Péril

Disneyland Paris Adventureland Indiana Jones et le Temple du Péril

Disneyland Paris Adventureland Indiana Jones et le Temple du Péril


Eventually you come to a large staircase guarded by a menacing cobra.


Disneyland Paris Adventureland Indiana Jones et le Temple du Péril


Your trek continues beneath scaffolding and around stone artifacts until eventually you reach the loading area and board an old mine car.


Disneyland Paris Adventureland Indiana Jones et le Temple du Péril


From then on, hold on tight for a very rough and wild ride around and through the ancient ruins. Along the way your car will make a 360° loop. This is a hair-raising experience and not for the faint of heart.


Disneyland Paris Adventureland Indiana Jones et le Temple du Péril

Disneyland Paris Adventureland Indiana Jones et le Temple du Péril

Disneyland Paris Adventureland Indiana Jones et le Temple du Péril

Disneyland Paris Adventureland Indiana Jones et le Temple du Péril


“Indiana Jones et le Temple du Péril” opened in July 1993. At the time, the only other thrill ride at Disneyland Paris was Big Thunder Mountain and the park desperately needed another roller coaster. But money was tight as the resort was losing money. The solution, buy an “off-the-shelf” coaster and spiff it up with some Disney-inspired theming and a storyline.

The Imagineers did a decent job, but this isn’t one of Disney’s best attractions. In my opinion, only teenagers and avid roller coaster fans will get any real enjoyment out of this quick ride (about a minute and a half). It’s just too rough for the average visitor and it doesn’t provide enough Disney magic.

In order to breathe new life into this attraction, it was shut down and retooled in late 1999. In April 2000, it reopened with the cars running backwards, adding a new excitement level to the experience. In November 2004, the cars were once again reversed and currently run forward.

This attraction is extremely similar to Tokyo DisneySea’s Raging Spirits. However in Tokyo, the seats and restraints are padded so extensively that you’re practically pinned to your seat.


Disneyland Paris Adventureland Pirates of the Caribbean


The “Pirates of the Caribbean” attraction is located across the bay from Captain Hook’s Jolly Roger and Skull Rock. The Imagineers kept the two pirate-themed attractions of Adventureland in close proximity. Also near “Pirates of the Caribbean” is an entrance into Fantasyland. The first attraction you come to when taking this path is “Peter Pan’s Flight,” adding a third pirate-based attraction into the general vicinity. Once again, the transition from one area to another is practically seamless.


Disneyland Paris Adventureland Pirates of the Caribbean


The setting for “Pirates of the Caribbean” is a Spanish Colonial fortress somewhere in the West Indies.


Disneyland Paris Adventureland Pirates of the Caribbean

Disneyland Paris Adventureland Pirates of the Caribbean


To reach the attraction you walk under the mast of an old ship and proceed along a lush path, shaded by palms and outstretched canvas sails


Disneyland Paris Adventureland Pirates of the Caribbean

Disneyland Paris Adventureland Pirates of the Caribbean


After boarding your craft you set sail and pass the romantic Blue Lagoon Restaurant. Soon after, your boat turns and aims toward a flooded fortress. A winch grabs hold of your craft and you’re hauled up a cargo ramp. Once inside the citadel, you sail through a number of chambers where you can see a fierce pirate battle being raged. As your journey continues, you pass by some traditional “Pirates of the Caribbean” scenes such as the Bride Auction and Burning Town. But there are also some new things to see like a swinging buccaneer and sword fight. These new sights and a different track layout help make this feel like a brand new ride to those of us familiar with the U.S. and Tokyo versions.


Disneyland Paris Adventureland Pirates of the Caribbean

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Eventually, you ride a waterfall down into a murky place where pirates live out eternity as skeletons. These scenes are right out of Disneyland, California.


Disneyland Paris Adventureland Pirates of the Caribbean

Disneyland Paris Adventureland Pirates of the Caribbean


Eventually you return safely home and disembark from your harrowing adventure.

I like this version of “Pirates of the Caribbean” a lot. In fact, I’d have to rank it as my favorite of the four world-wide versions. The first time I rode “Pirates” at Disneyland, California it didn’t make sense to me seeing the skeletons at the beginning of the attraction. It seems far more logical to see the dead pirates appear after the big battle scene.

I like that at Disneyland Paris you ride “up” the cargo ramp at the beginning of the ride and save the “splash down” for a finale. Also, this version of “Pirates” is a “complete” attraction and not scaled down as is the one in Florida.

Like so many other attractions, you exit “Pirates of the Caribbean” through a shop. No big surprise there. When you emerge, you’re in a town square built beneath the fort’s protection.


Disneyland Paris Pirates of the Caribbean

Disneyland Paris Pirates of the Caribbean

Disneyland Paris Pirates of the Caribbean


Nearby you can find the entrance to the Blue Lagoon Restaurant. This dining establishment is located within the “Pirates of the Caribbean” attraction. From your table you can watch the boats sail by as they begin their perilous journey to adventure.

The Blue Lagoon Restaurant is similar in concept to the Blue Bayou Restaurants found in Tokyo and California. But in those locations you dine on the patio of a New Orleans plantation. At the Blue Lagoon you eat outside of a tropical village. Thatched roofs, waterfalls, and palm trees blend to create a romantic setting. In the distance you can see fireflies flittering in the night. This is the perfect spot to enjoy a fine meal and relax for a while.


Disneyland Paris Blue Lagoon Restaurant Adventureland

Disneyland Paris Blue Lagoon Restaurant Adventureland


The Blue Lagoon Restaurant is divided into several sections. The tables in the back are terraced to afford better views of the boats sailing by. But the best seats are waterside and it’s always worth asking if you can wait for one to open up.


Disneyland Paris Blue Lagoon Restaurant Adventureland


As you might expect, seafood is the specialty here, but other choices are available. And since alcohol is served at Disneyland Paris, you can enjoy a nice glass of wine with your meal.

Well, that’s it for Adventureland. Next stop, Fantasyland.


March 6, 2009

Disneyland Paris - Fantasyland – Part 1 – Castle Courtyard and Carousel

When I visit a Disney park, it’s not always necessary for me to ride on an attraction. Sometimes, simply being immersed in the wonderful atmosphere is pleasure enough. And for me, Fantasyland at Disneyland Paris is near the top of the list when it comes to ambiance. It is truly a magical place that allows you to do absolutely nothing and still enjoy the experience.

Even though “Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant” (Sleeping Beauty Castle) is technically a part of Fantasyland, I discussed it in detail in my blog about The Hub. However, I didn’t present any pictures of the back side of the castle. Here are two.


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland

Disneyland Paris Fantasyland


After passing through the castle you enter a beautiful courtyard. Here you’re surrounded by covered walkways and charming shops. In the middle of the courtyard is a raised area bordered by a low granite wall. Inside this enclosed area is a stone and anvil with the sword Excalibur embedded deep within it.


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland


Here is a picture of me taken in 1993 trying to become the King of England.


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Excalibur Sword


Perhaps I needed Merlin’s assistance to become a Royal.


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Merlin


Here are a couple of pictures of the courtyard taken from the balcony of Sleeping Beauty Castle.


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland

Disneyland Paris Fantasyland


Within one of the courtyard shops you’ll find the Seven Dwarf’s cottage and some of Snow White’s animal friends.


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Seven Dwarf’s cottage

Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Seven Dwarf’s cottage


One of the most delightful restaurants of Disneyland Paris can also be found near the courtyard. Called the “Auberge de Cendrillon” (Inn of Cinderella), this elegant eatery offers an all-you-can-eat buffet featuring classic French countryside cuisine. I have no pictures of the restaurant’s interior, but the outside is stunning. Here you dine in the small courtyard of a French château. In the corner, Cinderella’s coach awaits.


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Auberge de Cendrillon

Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Auberge de Cendrillon

Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Auberge de Cendrillon

Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Auberge de Cendrillon


The pictures below are of the La Menagerie du Royaume (The Menagerie of the Kingdom) and Sir Mickey’s. As you can see, the exterior of the “Menagerie” is shaped like a carrousel. In the interior, you’ll find Sir Goofy astride his steed.

Both of these shops sell Fantasyland and storybook merchandise. These include plush toys, books, and souvenirs. Notice the beanstalk Mickey climbed to reach the giant.


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland

Disneyland Paris Fantasyland


“Le Carrousel de Lancelot” is the first attraction you encounter when entering Fantasyland. Unlike other Disney carrousels, where all the horses are painted white, Lancelot’s Carrousel features an array of colors. Shades of black, brown, tan, and grey can all be found. The sixteen steeds on the outer ring are adorned in elaborate armor worthy of a jousting knight. This is also the first Disney carrousel to have two chariots for guests who are unable to climb aboard a mount.


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Le Carrousel de Lancelot

Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Le Carrousel de Lancelot

Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Le Carrousel de Lancelot

Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Le Carrousel de Lancelot


Here is a picture of me taken in 2003.


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Le Carrousel de Lancelot


This is a picture of one of the carrousel’s canopy panels. It’s a little more graphic than we’re used to at the California or Florida parks.


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Le Carrousel de Lancelot


In my next blog I’ll discuss the three “dark” rides of Fantasyland.


March 7, 2009

Mr. Toad and the Haunted Mansion

After publishing my Everest Shrine and Cool Wash blogs, I received a number of requests for similar bits of information. It seems you all love this type of Disney trivia. I’m not sure I can deliver, but I’ll do my best. This next item isn’t so much a “hidden but obvious” detail. It’s just sort of a “hidden” detail.

When the Mr. Toad attraction closed to make room for the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, the Imagineers wanted to give J. Thaddeus a proper burial. They thought, “What better place than the pet cemetery perched on the hill next to the exit of the Haunted Mansion.” (If I had to guess, I bet many of you didn’t even know there was a pet cemetery here.)


Mr.%20Toad%20HM%20Blog%2001.jpg

Mr.%20Toad%20HM%20Blog%2002.jpg


Anyway, if you look all the way to the back left corner of the burial ground you can see a grave marker in the shape of this famous croaker.


Mr.%20Toad%20HM%20Blog%2003.jpg


While we’re in the general area, let’s take a look at the benches that line this brick wall. These seats are unique to the Haunted Mansion and if you look closely, you can see menacing hound’s heads on the arms and legs. Look even closer and you can see that their eyes are red. Spooky.


Mr.%20Toad%20HM%20Blog%2004.jpg

Mr.%20Toad%20HM%20Blog%2005.jpg

Mr.%20Toad%20HM%20Blog%2006.jpg


Legend has it that a number of years ago, a teenage girl was sitting on one of these benches painting her fingernails. She noticed the hounds and decided to paint their eyes red, the color of the polish she was using. Months later, when it came time for the benches to be repainted, the Imagineers liked the red eyes and decided to keep them.

Now I want to tell you, this is a legend. I have absolutely no proof to back up this story. Also, I’m not giving anyone permission to deface Disney property. But it does make for a good tale.

And now for the sad news… While talking with a Haunted Mansion cast member I was informed that these benches are being retired. In fact, two have already been removed and it’s only a matter of time before the others are gone too.

March 9, 2009

Disneyland Paris - Fantasyland – Part 2 – The Dark Rides

The Imagineers did an excellent job when designing Fantasyland. They took the charming aspects found in Disneyland, California and expanded them into a larger space without losing any of its appeal. Now, instead of having a small village, you have a lush countryside. A meandering stream runs through the area and unifies the space. Manicured gardens line its banks and the abundance of greenery has a calming effect on what could have been a frenetic place.

I was so impressed with the beauty of Fantasyland that I took a number of pictures of nothing in particular. The following photos aren’t of any specific attraction; they are of the general area. Take a look for yourself and see of you don’t agree that this is by far the most beautiful of all the Fantasylands.


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland

Disneyland Paris Fantasyland

Disneyland Paris Fantasyland

Disneyland Paris Fantasyland

Disneyland Paris Fantasyland

Disneyland Paris Fantasyland


A “dark ride” is defined as an indoor attraction that uses special lighting to highlight various scenes and sights along the vehicle and passenger’s journey. Although the scenes may be dimly lit and use black lights, they can also be brightly illuminated.

Most people can easily relate that carnival-type attractions such as “Snow White” and “Peter Pan” are dark rides. But “it’s a small world” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” also fall into this category.

Fantasyland has four “dark” rides, Blanche-Neige et les Sept Nains (Snow-White and the Seven Dwarfs), Les Voyages de Pinocchio (Pinocchio’s Fantastic Journey), Peter Pan’s Flight, and “it’s a small world.” In this blog I’ll be discussing the first three.

Snow-White and the Seven Dwarfs (Blanche-Neige et les Sept Nains)


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Snow-White and the Seven Dwarfs


This attraction has more similarities to its California cousin than to Florida’s. To begin with, the exteriors are almost identical. The ride is housed in a Black Forrest type castle. From the second story window we can see the Evil Queen peeking out sinisterly at the guests below.


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Snow-White and the Seven Dwarfs


Along the inside queue you pass a portion of the Evil Queen’s dungeon and can see her potion for poison apples.


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Snow-White and the Seven Dwarfs


Although the word “Scary” is not in the attraction’s name, this is virtually the same ride that you experience in Florida and California. So, if your little ones are frightened in the U.S. they’ll be frightened in Paris.


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Snow-White and the Seven Dwarfs

Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Snow-White and the Seven Dwarfs


Of course, like all Disney movies and attractions, a happy ending is in store.


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Snow-White and the Seven Dwarfs


Pinocchio’s Fantastic Journey

The French name for this attraction is “Les Voyages de Pinocchio” which translates into “The Voyages of Pinocchio.” However, the English guide maps call this attraction “Pinocchio’s Fantastic Journey” -- which is interesting because the California and Tokyo versions of this ride call it “Pinocchio’s DARING Journey.” Go figure.


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland  Pinocchio’s Fantastic Journey


The exterior of this attraction is also very similar to California’s, however the indoor queue is larger.


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland  Pinocchio’s Fantastic Journey


Other than that, this ride is almost identical to its overseas cousins. Pinocchio is lured by the cunning Honest John and Gideon to join Stromboli's puppet show. He escapes to Pleasure Island and is partially turned into a donkey. With the help of Pinocchio’s conscience, Jiminy Cricket, he locates Geppetto and saves him from Monstro. In the end, the Blue Fairy turns Pinocchio into a real boy. Like all Disney dark rides, it helps a lot if you know the story before experiencing the attraction.


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland  Pinocchio’s Fantastic Journey


Just outside Pinocchio’s Fantastic Journey you’ll find Stromboli's wagon. It serves as a concessions cart and sells snack foods.


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Stromboli's Wagon


Next door to Pinocchio’s Fantastic Journey is Au Chalet de la Marionnette (literal translation: With the Country Cottage of the Puppet). This is a counter service restaurant that serves hamburgers, chicken, and salads. Its atmosphere is very similar to the Village Haus Restaurant in California and the Pinocchio Village Haus in Florida. Indoor and outdoor seating is available. There is also access to this restaurant via Adventureland.


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Au Chalet de la Marionnette

Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Au Chalet de la Marionnette


Peter Pan’s Flight


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Peter Pan's Flight


Across the river from Au Chalet de la Marionnette we find Peter Pan’s Flight and a trip to Neverland. Just like its U.S. and Japanese cousins, this ride is a perennial favorite. This is the only attraction in Fantasyland that uses Fastpass and it is strongly suggested that you take advantage of it.

The exterior of Peter Pan’s Flight is reminiscent of the California version, but on a larger scale. English Tudor is the architectural style used to set the mood before your flight to Neverland.


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Peter Pan's Flight

Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Peter Pan's Flight

Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Peter Pan's Flight


All of the Peter Pan attractions worldwide are very similar. You start your journey in the nursery of the Darling home then fly above the skies of London. Then it’s off to Neverland to meet mermaids, Indians, Mr. Smee and Captain Hook.

An interesting note, the ride vehicles in Paris hold four guests (in a front and back seat) instead of two as they do in Florida, California, and Japan. This helps with ride capacity, but you should still Fastpass this attraction.


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Peter Pan's Flightpg

Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Peter Pan's Flight


Toad Hall Restaurant

Just around the corner from Peter Pan we find the country mansion of Mr. Toad. This stately manor houses a counter service restaurant. As you might guess, Fish & Chips are the featured menu item here.


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Toad Hall Restaurant

Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Toad Hall Restaurant

Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Toad Hall Restaurant


This is a fun place to eat. The theming is exceptional and everywhere you look you can find references to the egotistical Mr. Toad. Even the wallpaper pays homage to this crazy character. Since this restaurant is at the back of Disneyland Paris, it is often less crowded than other eateries.


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Toad Hall Restaurant

Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Toad Hall Restaurant

Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Toad Hall Restaurant

Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Toad Hall Restaurant

Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Toad Hall Restaurant


In my next blog I’ll discuss Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups, and Alice’s Curious Labyrinth.

March 11, 2009

Tinker Bell’s Fairy Treasures

This next Disney detail is aimed more at the little ones – or at least the parents of little ones.

Check out Tinker Bell’s Fairy Treasures shop in Fantasyland of the Magic Kingdom.


Tinker Bell’s Fairy Treasures shop


On the sales counter near the entrance is a bell. Children are encouraged to ring this bell and loudly call out Tinkerbell’s name.


Tinker Bell’s Fairy Treasures shop


When they do, a tinkling sound can be heard and tiny lights dance in the overhead plants and flowers. (My camera didn’t capture the lights.)


Tinker Bell’s Fairy Treasures shop


A moment later, Tinkerbell flies into view within a storage cabinet located behind the counter. Her appearance is brief, but it brings excitement to children.


Tinker Bell’s Fairy Treasures shop

Tinker Bell’s Fairy Treasures shop


This isn’t one of Disney’s most elaborate effects or shows, but it’s cute. And I’m sure the younger set will believe in fairies after seeing Tink appear.

Remember - you can see Tinker Bell and other fairies in Pixie Hallow in the Magic Kingdom.

March 12, 2009

Disneyland Paris - Fantasyland – Part 3 – Dumbo, Tea Cups, and Alice’s Curious Labyrinth

Dumbo the Flying Elephant


Disneyland Paris Dumbo the Flying Elephant


Dumbo is a timeless classic. Both the movie and the attraction have been delighting children and adults for years. And the Dumbo attraction at Disneyland Paris is perhaps the most delightful of them all.

Much of the beauty of this ride can be attributed to its location. It sits on the banks of a picturesque stream, surrounded by flowers. Also, one side of the ride is flanked by an impressive waterfall.


Disneyland Paris Dumbo the Flying Elephant

Disneyland Paris Dumbo the Flying Elephant


Dumbo also loads and flies over an intricate fountain. This water feature is similar to the Dumbo attractions at California and Hong Kong.


Disneyland Paris Dumbo the Flying Elephant


Below is a picture of me videotaping the Paris park.


Disneyland Paris Dumbo the Flying Elephant - Jack Videotaping


Here is an interesting bit of trivia. Timothy the Mouse holds a whip at Tokyo and California. In Florida, Hong Kong, and Paris he holds Dumbo’s magic feather.


Timothy Mouse Dumbo the Flying Elephant


Like its overseas cousins, this is a very popular ride. If you have children who simply must ride on Dumbo, it’s a good idea to make this one of your first stops in the morning.

Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups

This is another classic attraction that makes an appearance at all five Magic Kingdom-type parks. But once again, I think the Paris version is the most attractive.


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups


The beauty of this attraction is two fold. First, it sits on the banks of the same stream as Dumbo. It is also surrounded by manicured lawns and wonderful landscaping. But the structure itself is where the real beauty comes from. A delicate roof of tinted glass covers the riders below. This canopy provides protection from the elements, but also lets the sun shine in for a brighter experience than that found at Walt Disney World.


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups


But no matter how beautiful the Imagineers designed this attraction, the experience is the same. Spin and puke.


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups


Alice’s Curious Labyrinth


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Alice’s Curious Labyrinth


This attraction is unique to Disneyland Paris. The experience here allows you to take on the role of Alice and venture into Wonderland. You travel through a hedge-maze that is relatively easy to navigate. There are a few dead-ends, but for the most part, it’s difficult to get lost. Along your journey you see a variety of characters from Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland” movie.


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Alice’s Curious Labyrinth


Some of the characters are minimally animated. Others emit sounds or talk.


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Alice’s Curious Labyrinth

Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Alice’s Curious Labyrinth White Rabbit

Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Alice’s Curious Labyrinth Cheshire Cat

Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Alice’s Curious Labyrinth


The Caucus Race is represented in all its confusion as your path spirals inward, then out again. All the while, music from the movie can be heard.


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Alice’s Curious Labyrinth

Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Alice’s Curious Labyrinth Cheshire Cat


Eventually you reach the realm of the Queen of Hearts.


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Alice’s Curious Labyrinth Queen of Hearts


The Queen makes several appearances along the way yelling “Off with their heads” in French. She pops up from behind walls and bushes, but only the most timid child would find this frightening.


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Alice’s Curious Labyrinth Queen of Hearts


Her minions are also on hand to add merriment to the day.


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Alice’s Curious Labyrinth


Eventually you reach the royal castle. Look up and you can see the King of Hearts looking out on the confusion below. If you want to pay him a visit, feel free. There is a stairway inside the castle to the upper levels. From the top, a great view of Fantasyland can be had. Note, it gets VERY crowded inside this small structure.


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Alice’s Curious Labyrinth King of Hearts

Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Alice’s Curious Labyrinth King of Hearts

Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Alice’s Curious Labyrinth


It takes about 20 minutes to make your way through the entire labyrinth. Even though it’s basically a one-way path, there is a lot of back-tracking taking place as everyone is trying to get a picture of this and that.

I really like this attraction. It’s simple, but delightful. I think this would be a nice fit at Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World. It could be placed were the old 20,000 Leagues attraction was located – and it would be relatively inexpensive compared to other options.

The Old Mill (Les Pirouettes du Vieux Moulin - Turning of the Old Mill)

This attraction is based on Disney’s Academy Award winning short “The Old Mill.” This is a simple Ferris wheel where guests ride in buckets and are afforded nice views of Fantasyland. Due to its low capacity, it was permanently closed in 2002. A snack bar is located within the main structure.


Disneyland Paris The Old Mill

Disneyland Paris The Old Mill

Disneyland Paris The Old Mill


In my next blog I’ll be discussing Casey Jr. and Le Pays des Contes de Fées.

March 13, 2009

Nostalgia – Ticket Books and Transportation

I’ve had a number of requests to post more pictures of the early years of Walt Disney World. Unfortunately, I’ve already blogged any that show a difference between then and now. So last night I dug through some of the Disneyana I’ve collected over the years. I’m hoping these scraps might help appease the voracious appetite you all have for things Disney.

As many of you know, I worked at Disneyland from 1971 to 1980. During this time, cast members were given lots of free tickets to Disneyland and Walt Disney World. This first ticket is one such item. In the early years, transportation from the TTC to the Magic Kingdom was not free. It required a separate ticket. If you notice, the price was $1.50. Also notice, "Motor Trams" were one of the options.


Transportation


Attached to this Transportation ticket was an admission ticket to the Magic Kingdom. It has no date printed on it, so I can’t pinpoint a time, but the cost of entry was $2.25.


Transportation


I know your first thought is this is incredibly cheap. But you have to remember, all this ticket did was grant you admission into the park. If you wanted to ride on something, you needed an A thru E ticket. Unfortunately, I don’t have any of these tickets for Disney World, but I do have a complementary ticket book that contained five multi-use tickets.


Ticket Book

Ticket Book.jpg


These tickets were not designated A thru E. Each ticket was good on ANY attraction in the Magic Kingdom. In other words, all of them were “E” tickets. Believe me, this was like gold back in the early years.


Ticket Book


On the inside, back cover of the ticket book was a list of all the rides and attractions of the day.


Ticket Book


This next bit of memorabilia centers around bus transportation. Dated 1989, this handout informed guests how to read the color coded pennants displayed on the front of each bus. Each destination had its own color or design. This was a complicated system that thankfully, didn’t last too long.


Transportation

Transportation


In later years, Disney started handing out elaborate sheets with a grid. First you would determine your current location from the left side of the sheet. Then you would search for your ultimate destination across the top of the page. Where the two lines intersected gave you what modes of transportation were needed to get you there. Once again, this sheet does not have a date on it, but on the reverse side it notes the Coronado Springs as a future project, opening in 1997. So I’m guessing this was 1995 or 1996.


Transportation


Sorry, in order to fit this into the webpage, I had to shrink it beyond readability. The actual size was 15”x11”. But I think you can get the idea of its use.

For a very comprehensive Step Back in Time regarding Walt Disney World tickets, see Jack Marshall's Ticket History pages on AllEars!

March 15, 2009

Disneyland Paris - Fantasyland – Part 4 – Le Pays des Contes de Fées (Land of the Fairytales) & Casey Jr. – le Petit Train du Cirque (The Small Train of the Circus)

Both “Le Pays des Contes de Fées” and “Casey Jr.” are located outside the perimeter of the Disneyland Railroad. To reach these attractions you must pass under a trestle.


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Casey Jr. Entrance


Le Pays des Contes de Fées (Land of the Fairytales)


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Land of the Fairytales


This ride is an updated version of "Storybook Land Canal Boats” found at Disneyland in California. You board European-style canal boats and enter the land of make-believe. Your journey takes you past the homes of some of your favorite fairytale characters in one of the most charming of any Disney attractions.


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Land of the Fairytales

Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Land of the Fairytalesjpg


Unlike Disneyland, where all of the boats run independently, these vessels are tethered to one another underwater with a chain. You load and unload the boats from a revolving turn-table in the same manner as you do on Kali River Rapids in the Animal Kingdom. Also different from Disneyland is the lack of a tour guide to explain the sights along your journey. Here, each character’s residence is clearly marked and appropriate music plays in the background.


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Land of the Fairytales

Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Land of the Fairytales


After loading, you sail under a bridge used by Casey Jr. and your voyage begins.


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Land of the Fairytales

Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Land of the Fairytales


The following pictures are in the order that you would experience them if actually on the attraction. I have included many, but not all of the vignettes. Here we have the Dwarf’s cottage from Snow White.

Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Land of the Fairytales Dwarfs Cottage from Snow White


I do not know why the witch’s cottage from Hansel and Gretel is included on this attraction. I could only find two references between the story and Disney. First, there was a Silly Symphonies released in 1932 titled “Babes in the Woods.” It featured two children who could or could not be Hansel and Gretel, but the story is significantly different than the one I knew as a kid. Also, the witch’s house in the movie does not match the house in the attraction.

The other reference was a Tim Burton short released in 1982. This was an animated/live action film that was only shown on the Disney Channel once. I find it hard to believe that this obscure feature would qualify for a spot in this attraction.


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Land of the Fairytales Hansel and Gretel


Next we find Prince Eric’s ship and castle from “The Little Mermaid.”


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Land of the Fairytales Prince Eric's Ship and Castle Little Mermaid


Here we find intrepid Peter looking for the wolf. (The wolf can't be seen in this picture, but he's hiding behind the next tree.)


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Land of the Fairytales Peter and the Wolf


Bald Mountain and Chernabog can also be seen along the way.


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Land of the Fairytales Bald Mountain and Chernabog


On the Disneyland version of this ride, your voyage begins by sailing through Monstro’s mouth. On this attraction, Monstro is missing, but instead you sail through Aladdin’s Cave of Wonders halfway through your journey.


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Land of the Fairytales Aladdin's Cave of Wonders


The next picture is of the Emerald City of Oz. If you’re perplexed as to why an MGM movie is represented here, you have to remember that Disney made a sequel to the “Wizard of Oz” called “Return to Oz” in 1985. I’m not quite sure why the Imagineers chose to include this vignette as the movie was pretty much considered to be a flop.


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Land of the Fairytales Emerald City of Oz


Below is of the town square in Belle’s village. The Beast’s Castle is located nearby and is the centerpiece of the attraction.


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Land of the Fairytales Belle's Village

Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Land of the Fairytales Beast's Castle


This is a charming ride and can be enjoyed by all ages. The voyage takes approximately ten minutes.

Casey Jr. – le Petit Train du Cirque (The Small Train of the Circus)


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Casey Jr.


In case you’ve forgotten, Casey Jr. is the circus train that transports animals in Disney’s “Dumbo” movie.

Like the “Le Pays des Contes de Fées,” the Casey Jr. attraction is also an updated version of its Disneyland, California cousin. The big difference here is the track. In California, the ride uses traditional steel rails and wooden ties and the train chugs along at an unhurried speed.

In Paris, the track is tubular steel. This turns the train into a roller coaster of sorts. Although not as thrilling as Goofy’s Barnstormer or Gadget’s Go-Coaster, this train does run at a reasonable clip in and around the sights of “Le Pays des Contes de Fées” (Land of the Fairytales).

All passengers ride in various train cars that resemble circus animal cages. As this is a “petite” train, the seating can be tight.

As the ride begins and you head for the first bridge you can hear Casey Jr. puffing, “I think I can. I think I can.”


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Casey Jr.

Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Casey Jr


For the next two and a half minutes you travel around the Land of the Fairytales. You are able to catch quick glimpses of the sights below, but to truly enjoy their beauty and intricacy, you need to take the boat trip.


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Casey Jr

Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Casey Jr


Many would classify this as a “Kiddy Coaster,” but I think any adult with a Disney heart will find it entertaining.

In my last blog, I said that I thought “Alice’s Curious Labyrinth” would fit nicely into the area once occupied by the 20,000 Leagues attraction at Disney World. I think “Casey Jr.” and “Le Pays des Contes de Fées” should also be considered for this spot.

My next blog will discuss “it’s a small world.”

March 16, 2009

Muppet*Vision 3-D Trivia

My next bit of theme park trivia involves the Muppet*Vision 3-D attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios.


Muppet*Vision 3-D


The moment you enter the building, look to your right. You will see a ticket window.


Muppet*Vision 3-D


Hanging in the window is a sign that says “Back in 5 minutes key is under mat.”


Muppet*Vision 3-D


Walk around the turnstile and look for a mat (the turnstile hides it). If you lift the mat up, sure enough, you’ll find a key – just like the sign says.


Muppet*Vision 3-D


When you enter the preshow area, take a look around. This area is full of gags and jokes. I know that this attraction has one of the best pre-shows at Disney World, but you’ve seen it before. Investigate a little. You’ll be glad you did.

One of the all time best jokes is hanging from the ceiling of this room.


Muppet*Vision 3-D


What is that? You ask.

It looks like some kind of webbing holding, could it be gelatin?

No, it’s not webbing, it’s a net holding cubes of gelatin.

But what kind of gelatin? Possibly a name brand, like Jello.

So we have a net holding Jello.

A net holding Jello.

No… That's not right... How about,

A net full of Jello.

A net full of Jello.

If you still haven’t got the joke, say it out loud.

A net full of Jello.

If you still don’t get it, scroll down.


Muppet*Vision 3-D

Annette Funicello

March 19, 2009

Disneyland Paris - Fantasyland – Part 5 – “it’s a small world”

Like so many other attractions at Disneyland Paris, I think their version of “it’s a small world” is superior to all the rest.


Disneyland Paris it's a small world


Let’s start with the exterior of the attraction. The first IASW (“it’s a small world”) was in California. (Yes, I know, it was actually at the New York World’s Fair, but I’m skipping that.) This attraction has a sweeping exterior, wonderful topiary, and the Disneyland Railroad actually passes in front of the main building.


Disneyland Paris it's a small world

Disneyland Paris it's a small world


The exterior of IASW at Walt Disney World is basically unremarkable. Apart from its signage, there’s nothing about it to distinguish it from any other “dark” ride in Fantasyland. I will give the Imagineers a lot of credit. They did an outstanding job of reinventing the loading area a few years back. But it’s still has the least attractive exterior of the five versions of this ride.


Walt Disney World it's a small world

Walt Disney World it's a small world


IASW in Tokyo has a nice exterior. But the entrance and inside loading area leave a lot to be desired.


Tokyo Disneyland its a small world

Tokyo Disneyland its a small world


Hong Kong’s IASW has a decent exterior, but not as grand as California or Paris. The Loading area is nice, but nothing to take your breath away.


Hong Kong Disneyland its a small world

Hong Kong Disneyland its a small world


IASW at Disneyland Paris is closest in concept to California’s. It has a sweeping exterior, topiary, fountains, and the Disneyland Railroad passes by. I also prefer the pastel paint job, but I know many favor the original white and gold color scheme.


Disneyland Paris it's a small world

Disneyland Paris it's a small world

Disneyland Paris it's a small world

Disneyland Paris it's a small world

Disneyland Paris it's a small world

Disneyland Paris it's a small world


In reality, it would be difficult to say that the exterior of Paris is any better than California. Personally, I think it is, but for argument sake, I’ll call it a draw. But that’s not the only criteria on which I rank the French version of IASW as my favorite. The interior is definitely better than all the rest.

Your journey starts outside, under a covered loading area – and you stay protected from the elements throughout the entire attraction.


Disneyland Paris it's a small world

Disneyland Paris it's a small world

Disneyland Paris it's a small world


As you enter the show-building, you travel through a long tunnel. This is necessary as the Disneyland Railroad runs above this area. Along the way you see stylized travel posters from locations all around the world.


Disneyland Paris it's a small world


Q. So what makes the interior of this IASW better than all the rest?

A. The staging.

The same, simple dolls with minimal movement are all present. Nothing about these cute boys and girls and animals has changed. But the settings in which they reside have. All of the backgrounds are more elaborate. Most of these sets are still two-dimensional, but there are layers upon layers of cut-outs and colors. There are also more bridges and overcrossings to sail beneath.


Disneyland Paris it's a small world

Disneyland Paris it's a small world

Disneyland Paris it's a small world

Disneyland Paris it's a small world


Paris’ IASW was also the first to add scenes of Canada and the U.S.


Disneyland Paris it's a small world

Disneyland Paris it's a small world

Disneyland Paris it's a small world

Disneyland Paris it's a small world

Disneyland Paris it's a small world

Disneyland Paris it's a small world


Here is a picture of me wearing a cast member’s hat.


Disneyland Paris it's a small world


There is a cute walk-thru post-show near the exit of IASW. In this area, small TV screens are housed within various world landmarks and offer views of cartoon children communicating with one another. Basically, this is a commercial for France Telecom which sponsors the attraction. But since the theming is consistent with the ride and the videos are entertaining, it doesn’t smack of commercialism.


Disneyland Paris it's a small world

Disneyland Paris it's a small world

Disneyland Paris it's a small world

Disneyland Paris it's a small world


Across the way from IASW is “Pizzeria Bella Notte.” This is a counter service restaurant inspired by the classic animated movie “Lady and the Tramp.” The menu here offers pizza, pasta, and salads.


Disneyland Paris Pizzeria Bella Notte

Disneyland Paris Pizzeria Bella Notte


Sitting outdoors is pleasant when the weather is nice and a number of tables offer nice views of the parade which passes nearby.


Disneyland Paris Pizzeria Bella Notte

Disneyland Paris Pizzeria Bella Notte


Indoor seating is also quite pleasing and features an Italian theme. Be sure to look for Tony and Joe carved into two of the columns.


Disneyland Paris Pizzeria Bella Notte


When the Mary Blair mural in Tomorrowland at Disneyland, California was removed, some of the broken pieces of tile were saved and have been imbedded in the walls here at “Pizzeria Bella Notte.”

Also in this area is an entrance/exit to/from Fantasyland via The Hub.


Disneyland Paris Fantasyland Entrance


That completes my description of Fantasyland. Next stop, Discoveryland.

TREN-D – Downtown Disney Marketplace

A new store opened today (March 19, 2009) at Downtown Disney, Marketplace. Replacing Summer Sands, TREN-D is a stylish shop that caters to the young-at-heart woman.


Trend at Downtown Disney

Trend at Downtown Disney


Everything from handbags to jeans to blouses to jewelry is for sale here. Much of it is Disney branded, but not all. And Minnie seems to be the character of choice on much of the merchandise.


Trend at Downtown Disney

Trend at Downtown Disney

Trend at Downtown Disney

Trend at Downtown Disney


I thought a lot of couples might be able to relate to this shirt.


Trend at Downtown Disney


Here is a picture of the dressing rooms.


Trend at Downtown Disney


But this shop has more going for it than just the merchandise. The Imagineers went to great lengths to create an imaginative and fun place that husbands and fathers can enjoy while their wives and daughters browse and buy. And if not, Team Mickey is right next door.


Trend at Downtown Disney

Trend at Downtown Disney

Trend at Downtown Disney

Trend at Downtown Disney


Here are two pictures of the ceiling area.


Trend at Downtown Disney

Trend at Downtown Disney


Also new at the Marketplace is a remodeled Guest Relations counter.
It now sports an “Arts & Crafts” style of architecture that is extremely reminiscent of the Grand Californian Hotel at the Disneyland Resort in California. I’m not exactly sure why this design was chosen as it blends with nothing else in the area. But by itself, it looks nice.


Downtown Disney Guest Relations


Construction walls are also up in a portion of Pleasure Island where the new dining establishment is going.

Construction

March 21, 2009

Disneyland Paris - Discoveryland – Part 1 – Entrance, Le Visionarium, and Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast

When I was a kid, Tomorrowland at Disneyland, California was my favorite land. For me, Walt’s vision of the future was fantastic. Space-aged architecture and vast amounts of concrete created an exciting world for an impressionable mind.

In the early years, I could pilot a flying saucer, ride in a monorail, and visit the House of the Future. As Disneyland grew and changed I could blast off to the moon and then Mars or be shrunk to the size of an atom. For a young teenager, this was cool stuff. But as I grew older, my tastes changed and I started to appreciate the less sterile, and more graceful charms of New Orleans Square or the rustic characteristics of Frontierland.

Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed the attractions Tomorrowland had to offer. But this was no longer a place I wanted to “hang out.” Tomorrowland was “cold.”

One of the continual problems Disney has faced over the years is that Tomorrowland keeps becoming Todayland. Technology changes so rapidly that it was/is a constant battle to keep the realm of the future futuristic.

When the Imagineers started to design Disneyland Paris, this problem was forefront in their minds. How do you design a Tomorrowland that won’t need to be ripped out and reconstructed every ten or fifteen years?

The answer to their problem… don’t build Tomorrowland. Instead, build Discoveryland. This would be a vision of the future as seen through the eyes of such visionaries as Leonardo da Vinci, Jules Verne, and H.G. Wells. In other words, what the men of the past thought the 20th and 21st century would look like.

The architecture in Discoveryland is stunning, imaginative, and warm. Giant pavilions built with Iron girders, an airship, a submarine, and a massive cannon populate the area. And a vibrant color palate brings life to everything. This is a place that as an adult, I feel very comfortable. I like to “hang out” in Discoveryland.

The Imagineers have tried to retrofit Disneyland, California and the Magic Kingdom in Florida with this Discoveryland theming. They have had modest success, but neither comes close to the wonderful atmosphere achieved in Paris.

Like Frontierland and Adventureland, Discoveryland is set back from The Hub. An intricate armillary sphere marks the land’s beginning and volcanic rocks thrusting from the earth point inward toward the “future.”


Disneyland Paris Discoveryland

Disneyland Paris Discoveryland

Disneyland Paris Discoveryland


Once you enter Discoveryland, a park-like memorial sets the mood for the adventures to come. On a plaque, the following phrase is engraved:

Tout ce qui est dans la limite du possible doit etre et sera accompli.

Which translates:

All that is within the limit of possibility must be and will be accomplished.


Disneyland Paris Discoveryland


At all Disney parks, attractions are constantly being updated or replaced completely and Disneyland Paris is no exception.

“Le Visionarium” in Discoveryland was an opening day attraction. This 360-degree movie was filmed for Disneyland Paris and was later adapted for the Magic Kingdom in Florida and Tokyo Disneyland. We know this attraction better as “The Timekeeper” (or “From Time to Time” as it was originally titled in the U.S.)


Disneyland Paris Discoveryland Le Visionarium


“Le Visionarium” was narrated by an audioanimatronic robot named The Timekeeper. With the help of his assistant 9-Eye and his time machine, we were spirited all over Europe from the age of the dinosaurs to the year 2189. The European version featured a hot-air balloon ride over Red Square in Moscow. This was cut from the American version and a flight over Manhattan was substituted.


Disneyland Paris Discoveryland Le Visionarium

Disneyland Paris Discoveryland Le Visionarium


“Le Visionarium” (and The Timekeeper) has closed in all three parks. In Florida it was replaced by “Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor” and in Tokyo it was been replaced by “Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters.” In Paris, it was replaced by “Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast.”

Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast

This attraction was still under construction on my last visit to Disneyland Paris. But thanks to my friend TDLFAN, I have a few pictures to share with you. Like its overseas cousins, this is a “dark” ride shooting gallery where you use laser guns to hit various targets and rack up points.


Disneyland Paris Discoveryland Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast


The California, Tokyo, and Hong Kong versions of this ride are practically identical. TDLFAN tells me that the Paris version is same as the other three. Florida, being the first incarnation of this ride, has a different track layout. Also, in Florida the laser guns are attached directly to the ride vehicle. In the other four parks the laser gun is attached to the vehicle via a cable. This allows for much better control and aiming.

This is a great ride that all ages can enjoy. Fastpass is available for this attraction.


Disneyland Paris Discoveryland Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast

Disneyland Paris Discoveryland Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast


There is a cute shop near the entrance of Discoveryland called Constellations. For the most part, this is just another souvenir shop selling appropriately themed merchandise. But what makes this shop special for me is the decorative ceiling.


Disneyland Paris Discoveryland Constellations

Disneyland Paris Discoveryland Constellations

Disneyland Paris Discoveryland Constellations


In my next blog I’ll be discussing Orbitron and Videopolis.

March 22, 2009

Animal Kingdom - Pwani View Guest House

This next detail isn’t earth-shattering or awe-inspiring. It’s just an example of how many details abound at Walt Disney World if you take the time to look for them.

Located on the backside of Tusker House (near the new entrance), you can see the “Pwani View Guest House.” There are tables in this area and it is a wonderful spot to enjoy a meal alfresco. While dining, you can hear noises coming from the second story balcony. Pots and pans clank as someone is preparing a meal up there.


Pwani View Guest House Animal Kingdom


If you look closely at the hotel name, you can see that there are letters underneath the words Pwani and House. These letters were whitewashed and painted over by the new owners of the establishment when they bought the inn and renamed it. The previous name of this hostelry was “Safari View Guest Lodge.” However, the “I” didn’t need to be whitewashed as it could be reused at the end of Pwani.


Pwani View Guest House Animal Kingdom


Now this is a nice little bit of detailing, but by itself, isn’t worth note. But there is more.

If you check out the seating area for the Dawa Bar, you’ll find there is a sign attached to the structure advertising the inn.


Pwani View Guest House Animal Kingdom


If you study it carefully, you can see that the wood had been carved out where it once said Safari and Lodge and replaced with Pwani and House.


Pwani View Guest House Animal Kingdom


It seems the new owners didn’t want any confusion when they renamed their establishment.

Epcot Flower & Garden Festival 2009 – Part 1

The 2009 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival officially opened on Wednesday, March 18 (and runs through May 31). I wasn’t there on opening day as I usually am, but I had a good excuse. This year, Epcot held a special press event for a number of the Disney web sites like Allears.net – and I was invited! Cool.

I’m going to try to chronicle my day, but with an emphasis on the Festival and not on my adventures, but there will be some overlap.

The theme of this year’s event is “Celebrate Springtime,” which fits in nicely with the resort’s “What will you celebrate?” slogan. This theme is generic enough that it allows for a lot of leeway when designing the different gardens and displays.

When entering the park, you first encounter the “Cinderellabration” garden. Here you’ll find Princess Arora and Prince Phillip engaged in a beautiful waltz. Also in this area are Belle and the Beast, Snow While and the dwarfs, and Cinderella’s coach.


2009 Flower Garden Festival at Epcot

2009 Flower Garden Festival at Epcot

2009 Flower Garden Festival at Epcot

2009 Flower Garden Festival at Epcot

2009 Flower Garden Festival at Epcot


The two walkways that flank each side of Spaceship Earth have been lined with the Flower Towers.


2009 Flower Garden Festival at Epcot


Once in Innoventions Plaza, Sorcerer Mickey and his brooms create a wonderful picture spot. Off to each side you can find the ostridges from the “Dance of the Hours” segment of Fantasia.


2009 Flower Garden Festival at Epcot

2009 Flower Garden Festival at Epcot


In the nearby planters the Fantasia theme is continued with hippos and an elephant, also from the Dance of the Hours segment.


2009 Flower Garden Festival at Epcot

2009 Flower Garden Festival at Epcot


In the Future World East section of the park you can find prankster Stitch.


2009 Flower Garden Festival at Epcot


Near the south exit to Mouse Gear is a wonderful sand sculpture promoting Disneynature EARTH.


2009 Flower Garden Festival at Epcot


The following is a quote from a nearby sign:

What is Disneynature? Disneynature is The Walt Disney Studios’ film label dedicated to working with leading filmmakers to produce one cutting-edge theatrical release each year, celebrating the wonders of the world in which we live. In 1948, Walt Disney created the Oscar©-winning True-Life Adventure series, which produced landmark wildlife documentaries that taught an entire generation about the beauty and fragility of the world. As Walt Disney said of the series, “Nature writes the screenplays.” Our journey into these true-life adventures continues with the first film in the Disneynature series, EARTH, starting in theatres on Earth day, April 22, 2009.


Disneynature Earth


Also in this general vicinity is a wonderful spot for kids. Disney provides a small plastic pot that children are encouraged to color and design. When they have completed their creation, they are given a packet of Fairy Dust Impatiens seeds and instructions on how to plant and care for their flowers once they get home.


2009 Flower Garden Festival at Epcot

2009 Flower Garden Festival at Epcot


Around the corner is Minnie’s Magnificent Butterfly Garden. Hundreds of these delicate creatures fly about and pose for some stunning pictures. Also in this pavilion are several signs that compare butterflies to the animals featured in Disneynature’s upcoming movie “EARTH.”


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New this year for the Flower & Garden Festival is Pixie Hollow. The opening of this enchanting area was one of the events I was invited to attend as a member of the Allears team.


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The festivities began with Mother Nature and Mr. Green Thumb welcoming us to Pixie Hollow.


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Soon after, five fairies from the Disney movie “Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure” arrived on stage.

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After some impish mischief and coquettish poses, some additional fairies joined in the merriment and were officially sworn in as residents of Pixie Hollow.


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2009%20Flower%20%26%20Garden%2012a.jpg


Each day at 2pm, all Fairies and Princesses are invited to this wonderful spot to show off their costumes and be a part of a daily celebration.

Also on hand was the new Epcot VP, Dan Cockerell (left) and the director and producer Klay Hall (right) and Sean Lurie (middle) of “Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure.”


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After some welcoming speeches, we were invited to experience Pixie Hollow for ourselves.


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I have to admit, I have not seen this movie so I can’t offer any opinions as to this recreation’s resemblance to that in the film. However, my good friend Anita Answer was visiting Epcot that day and her daughter, Mini-Answer told me that Disney did a great job of creating a magical place for your little fairies.

After leaving Pixie Hollow we headed over to the Odyssey Restaurant for a special buffet luncheon. I was fortunate enough to be seated next to Dan Cockerell and was treated to a delightful conversation with this Disney exec. I found out that he started his Disney career working in the Epcot parking lot directing bewildered tourists. And as his career progressed, he was fortunate enough to be part of the opening team for EuroDisneyland. He’s been in his current position as Epcot VP for almost three weeks.

After lunch we were all given a chance to have our pictures taken with the fairies.


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Leaving the Odyssey Restaurant I headed over to the Rose Garden and checked out the “Let’s Get Moving” display. This area is designed for kids and has a number of play structures for them to enjoy. Also in this area is a video display sponsored by the DIY Network.


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Of course, no Flower and Garden Festival would be complete without the tapestry of flowers.


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This concludes part one. Stay tuned for part two.

March 23, 2009

Epcot Flower & Garden Festival 2009 – Part 2

The first topiaries you’ll encounter when leaving Future World for World Showcase are Mrs. Pots, Chip, Cogsworth, and Lumiere from “Beauty and the Beast.” I have to admit, Anita Answer and I were both somewhat perplexed by Chips lips. It looks like he borrowed a pair of Mrs. Potato Head’s. Hmmmm.


2009 Flower and Garden Festival - Beauty and the Beast Characters


In keeping with the “Celebrate Springtime” theme, we find characters from the Lion King rejoicing in Simba’s birth at the entrance to World Showcase.


2009 Flower and Garden Festival Lion King

2009 Flower and Garden Festival Lion King

2009 Flower and Garden Festival Lion


This year, the traditional arch that guests are accustomed to seeing in this area, is missing. According to Eric Darden, Horticulture Manager of Epcot's International Flower and Garden Festival, Disney tries to rotate and change certain features of the event each year to keep things fresh and new. He told me that a particular design or topiary is used for 2-4 years before it is retired or reworked.

A number of shopping venues are available around World Showcase and feature both Disney and non-Disney merchandise with a gardening theme. Two favorites are the Mickey gnomes and the do-it-yourself Mickey topiary.


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I’m going to start in Canada and circle the World Showcase Lagoon. The first characters we find are Bambi, Thumper, and Flower.


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Even though they’re always beautiful and difficult to improve upon, don’t forget to take a stroll through Victoria Gardens.


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In the United Kingdom Twinings Tea has a number of teacups filled with various kinds of foliage.

Guided tours through the tea garden are presented on Monday thru Thursdays at 3:30 and 6:30 and Friday and Saturdays at 2:30, 3:30, 5:00, and 6:30. You can sign up at the Tea Caddy to learn the history and art of tea blending.


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The France Pavilion features a number of topiary in the shape of perfume bottles.


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Also in this area is the Fragrance Garden. The Guerlain Company sponsors this exhibit which allows guest to learn about the connection between plants and fragrances. A Guerlain representative conducts 20-minute informative tours of this area daily at 2, 4, and 6pm.

Ten different Guerlain fragrances can be sampled at the Lift & Sniff kiosks in this garden. An informative sign helps you understand the odor’s complex blending.


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Located between the France and Morocco Pavilions is the Nature Conservancy display. While your kids enjoy themselves in the nearby playground, you can learn how to create an environmentally friendly garden in your own backyard.


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In Morocco you can see topiary Aladdin flying on his carpet.


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A perennial favorite are the bonsai trees found in the Japan Pavilion. But don’t forget, besides the obvious collection near the tori gate, there are additional treasures behind the pagoda.


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I’m going to skip the American Pavilion for the time being.

In the Italy Pavilion you can find a large array of container plants. According to Epcot Horticulturalist, Eric Darden, all of the container plants throughout the park must be watered by hand – a task that takes endless hours. Also, his staff plans for a 70% - 100% replacement of all bedding and container plants during the festival.


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The other highlight at the Italy Pavilion is the Lady and the Tramp topiary. Who could resist getting their picture taken in front of this romantic spot?


2009%20Flower%20%26%20Garden%20-%20Italy%202.jpg


The Germany Pavilion did not have any special landscaping this year, so I’ll share a bit of trivia with you. The large LBG train layout next to Germany was once a part of the Flower & Garden Festival. Each year this elaborate layout was assembled just for the event. But due to its popularity, and the expense involved with its construction and deconstruction, it was decided to make it a permanent part of the Germany Pavilion.


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Between Germany and Refreshment Outpost is the Pirate Adventure Zone.


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This is another beautifully landscaped area designed especially for the kids. Captain Hook, treasure chests, and a rickety boat are on hand for them to explore.


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2009%20Flower%20%26%20Garden%20-%20Pirate%20Zone%203.jpg

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2009%20Flower%20%26%20Garden%20-%20Pirate%20Zone%205.jpg


A ferocious dragon and a decorative cow are on exhibit at the China Pavilion.


2009%20Flower%20%26%20Garden%20-%20China%201.jpg

2009%20Flower%20%26%20Garden%20-%20China%202.jpg


Over twenty trolls have escaped from the Puffin’s Roost and are hiding in the Norway Garden waiting for you to find them.


2009%20Flower%20%26%20Garden%20-%20Norway.jpg


The Mexico Pavilion did not offer any additional landscaping for this year’s event.

As part of the press event, I was invited to attend a reception on the third floor of the American Adventure.


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This area was once a corporate lounge for American Express when it sponsored this attraction. It is now used for special events and parties.

As we stepped off of the elevator and into the lounge, we were offered white sangria cocktails adorned with flowers. Appetizers of cheese, fruit, eggrolls and crab-cakes were beautifully displayed on a table in the lounge. In the two corners of the dining area, chefs were waiting to dish up various pastas or carve slices of prime rib and turkey.


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2009%20Flower%20%26%20Garden%20-%20American%20Adventure%202.jpg


For dessert we dined on chocolate flower pots with Oreo dirt and gummy-worms. How appropriate for the Flower & Garden Festival.


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Dan Cockerell, Epcot VP spoke briefly then turned the microphone over to Eric Darden who explain what goes into creating the Flower & Garden Festival each year.

Here is a photo I was excited to be given the opportunity to take – a picture of Spaceship Earth taken from the third floor of the American Pavilion.


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At 4:45 we were escorted to the American Gardens Theatre for reserved seating to see the Davy Jones concert as part of the Flower Power concert series that takes place during the event.


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Davy put on a great show. Although only 35 minutes in length, he packed a lot of memorable tunes into this concert. Most of the audience was made up of my generation – those old enough to remember seeing the Monkees’ TV show when it first aired. A number of fans brought old record albums for Davy to sign. And even though he picked up several of them and showed them to the audience, he did not sign any as there simply wasn’t time during this abridged concert.

For a 63 year old, Davy still can shake it and move it. Although he made numerous jokes about his age, there was no sign of him slowing down. And since the audience had memorized all of his songs when they were teenagers, much of the gang sang along with Davy, which he didn’t seem to mind and even encouraged at one point.

When ending the concert, Davy let everyone know that he’s putting on three shows a day with different numbers in each. He encouraged everyone to come back for a later performance – which I’m sure many did.

After the concert, I was tired and decided to call it quits for the day. When I got home I downloaded the 470 pictures I had taken and started to whittle them down to the few I will share with you.

Unlike the Food & Wine Festival, which cost extra if you wish to enjoy its benefits, the Flower & Garden Festival costs nothing more than your price of admission. It’s a wonderfully beautiful event that everyone can enjoy and marvel at. I would highly recommend planning your next trip to Disney World around this occasion. I realize that Spring Break coincides with much of this event, but if you’re into gardening, you won’t be disappointed.

March 25, 2009

Disneyland Paris - Discoveryland – Part 2 – Orbitron and Videopolis

One of the first attractions you see when entering Discoveryland is “Orbitron - Machines Volantes” (Flying Machines). This is a simple, yet visually appealing attraction.


Disneyland Paris Orbitron

Disneyland Paris Orbitron

Disneyland Paris Orbitron


Twelve 2-passenger rocket ships circle a stylized orrery. (An orrery is a mechanical apparatus that displays the relative positions and motions of the moon and the planets as they orbit the sun.) The ride lasts about two minutes and you control the up and down movement of your rocket by using a small lever on the front panel of the cockpit.

In reality, this is nothing more than a carnival attraction, but the ornate theming turns an ordinary ride into an adventure.


Disneyland Paris Orbitron

Disneyland Paris Orbitron


Videopolis


Disneyland Paris Videopolis


The Videopolis building is modeled to be a large airship hanger. The craft docked here is the Hyperion.


Disneyland Paris Videopolis

Disneyland Paris Videopolis

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For you movie buffs, Disney released a film in 1974 titled “The Island at the Top of the World.” The movie starred Donald Sinden as Sir Anthony Ross who hires Professor Ivarsson, played by David Hartman, to help him locate his missing son somewhere in the arctic. The airship Hyperion was their means of transportation to this remote area. The movie was a box office failure.

An interesting bit of trivia… In the early years, the Disney Company had a studio on Hyperion Ave. in Los Angeles. Also, Disney has a publishing company that operates under the name Hyperion.

In the mid-1970’s, a new land was planned for Disneyland in California called Discovery Bay. This future area was to represent San Francisco immediately after the gold rush. If you look at the artist rendering of the land (below), you can see the Hyperion docked in a large hanger. You can also see the Nautilus from “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.”


Discovery Bay Disneyland California Artist Rendering


For a number of reasons, one being that “The Island at the Top of the World” was a flop, this land never materialized. But the idea was not completely forgotten. As we can see, the Hyperion airship rose from the ashes and the Nautilus also lives elsewhere in Discoveryland.

The Videopolis building houses both a counter service restaurant and a theater. The restaurant is called Café Hyperion and serves hamburgers, sandwiches, and salads.


Disneyland Paris Videopolis Cafe Hyperion


This interesting vehicle is a topping bar for your burgers and sandwiches. The funny looking machine is a beverage dispenser.


Disneyland Paris Videopolis Cafe Hyperion

Disneyland Paris Videopolis Cafe Hyperion


The Videopolis Theatre has a separate entrance from the food facility.


Disneyland Paris Videopolis Theatre


The productions here are first rate, Broadway-type shows. They could be compared to the “Beauty and the Beast” show at Disney's Hollywood Studios or the “Festival of the Lion King” at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Coincidentally, “The Legend of the Lion King” is currently playing at the Hyperion. However, the shows are completely different.

The theatre is large and non-dining guests are seated in the front section of the auditorium. Guests with meals are seated in the back half of the theatre at long tables.


Disneyland Paris Videopolis Theatre


Like any Disney theatrical show, it’s a good idea to arrive at least 30 minutes before the performance for the best seats. The presentations are offered in either English or French. Check the schedule for appropriate times.


Disneyland Paris Videopolis Theatre


In my next blog I’ll discuss Space Mountain: Mission 2 and Les Mystéres du Nautilus.

March 27, 2009

Disneyland Paris - Discoveryland – Part 3 – Space Mountain: Mission 2 and Les Mystéres du Nautilus

Space Mountain: Mission 2


Disneyland Paris Space Mountain


Once again, I have to say that Disneyland Paris takes first prize when comparing one of its attractions to its overseas cousins. Space Mountain is easily the most beautiful of the five futuristic peaks and it definitely offers the most thrilling ride.


Disneyland Paris Space Mountain

Disneyland Paris Space Mountain


This attraction was inspired by Jules Verne's book "From the Earth to the Moon.” In the story, a Frenchman and two Americans build a large cannon (named Columbiad) and blast themselves to the moon in a projectile-type spacecraft. Disney took this idea and built their own cannon on the side of Space Mountain from which rocket-trains are launched into inky darkness.


Disneyland Paris Space Mountain


Unlike the other four Space Mountains, which are all painted white, this rendering continues the Discoveryland theme. Jewel tones accent a structure which looks like a complicated machine riddled with riveted girders, iron trusses, gears, dials, and ominous antenna. At night, this structure is especially compelling.


Disneyland Paris Space Mountain


This is also the only Space Mountain in which you can walk around the entire building. In fact, the Disneyland Railroad, Star Tours, and Honey, I Shrunk the Audience are all located behind Space Mountain.

The queue begins outdoors and progresses along the side of the building. Eventually you enter the structure and a number of sights and sounds are on tap as you progress toward the loading area.


Disneyland Paris Space Mountain

Disneyland Paris Space Mountain


Paris’ Space Mountain has two loading platforms, similar to Big Thunder Mountain at the Magic Kingdom in Florida. Once you’re securely restrained in your seat, your rocket-train pulls out of the station and advances toward the cannon.


Disneyland Paris Space Mountain

Disneyland Paris Space Mountain


Once “loaded” into the Columbiad, a countdown proceeds (in French). At launch time the outside of the cannon cocks itself, there is a blast of steam, then you are propelled at 42MPH to the top of Space Mountain and your adventure begins.


Disneyland Paris Space Mountain


This coaster reaches a top speed of 43.5MPH and there are two inversions (sidewinder and corkscrew) and an overbanked turn. Synchronized music is piped to each seat (similar to Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster at Disney’s Hollywood Studios) which adds a nice effect. Along the way you pass planets, meteors, and an explosion or two. This is an intense ride and not for those with a weak stomach.

Of course, your photo is snapped during the ride and is for sale at the exit. Here is a picture of me and my friend Donald.


Disneyland Paris Space Mountain


Les Mystéres du Nautilus

When Walt was building Disneyland, money was extremely tight and Tomorrowland was being neglected. To remedy the situation, a last minute addition to this area was made by using the props and sets from the “20,000 Leagues under the Sea” movie (which opened in 1954) to create a walk-through exhibit. The results were somewhat cheesy, but hey, it was the 1950’s and expectations were lower then when it came to theme parks.


Disneyland 20,000 Leagues under the Sea walk through


Here’s a bit of trivia for you. The organ that Captain Nemo played in the movie and then was seen in the 20,000 Leagues exhibit (below) was eventually relocated to Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion Ballroom scene in 1969.


Disneyland Paris Nautilus


When the Imagineers were designing Disneyland Paris, they remembered the 20,000 Leagues exhibit at Disneyland and decided to recreate the attraction – but this time do it right. For starters, they built a full-sized Nautilus submarine and anchored it in Discovery Lagoon next to Space Mountain.


Disneyland Paris Nautilus


Located along the lagoon’s railing is a plaque with a blueprint of the Nautilus and some facts and figures.


Disneyland Paris Nautilus


Guests may board the submarine via a nearby, circular-shaped terminal topped with a fascinating lighthouse.


Disneyland Paris Nautilus


After descending a spiral staircase, you walk through a long, dimly lit corridor to reach the Nautilus.


Disneyland Paris Nautilus


One of the first sights you see is Nemo’s storage locker filled with the treasure he’s plundered from various ships sank by the Nautilus. If you look carefully, you can also see the guitar Ned Land (Kirk Douglas) carved out of ivory and a turtle shell.


Disneyland Paris Nautilus Nemo's Storage Locker

Your tour of the Nautilus continues through an array of compartments. Nemo’s quarters, the engine room, and diving chamber are all on hand.


Disneyland Paris Nautilus

Disneyland Paris Nautilus


In the navigation room, a map of Vulcania is on display.


Disneyland Paris Nautilus

Disneyland Paris Nautilus


The climax of the tour is the Grand Salon. On both sides of the chamber, large circular viewing portals can be seen. The protective covering on one of these portals occasionally opens up to reveal a giant squid. A few moments later, electrical charges are fired to frighten the creature away. The portal’s covering then closes and things return to normal. If you look at the picture below and compare it to the Disneyland picture of the Grand Salon (above), you can see a definite similarity.


Disneyland Paris Nautilus

Nemo’s pipe organ sits prominently at the end of the room. The maniacal captain’s face periodically appears in the mirror then fades into nothingness.


Disneyland Paris Nautilus

This is a walk-through attraction that takes approximately ten minutes to complete. It’s not the most thrilling attraction at Disneyland Paris, but I like it. The detailing, as always, is magnificent and one can really get lost in the moment.

Disney magic never fails to amaze me. I have know idea how the Imagineers could fit all of those compartments into the ship anchored in Discovery Lagoon (wink, wink).

On a side note… When I visited Tokyo DisneySea, I was excited to learn that the Nautilus was also found at this park and is anchored at Mysterious Island (below). However, my excitement turned to disappointment when I found out this is nothing more than a “photo op.” There is no “below decks” tour of this craft.


Tokyo DisneySea Nautilus

Tokyo DisneySea Nautilus


My next blog will finish Discoveryland with descriptions of Star Tours, Honey, I Shrunk the Audience, and Autopia.


March 30, 2009

Disneyland Paris - Discoveryland – Part 4 – Star Tours, Honey, I Shrunk the Audience, and Autopia

Star Tours


Disneyland Paris Star Tours


Star Tours is the one attraction in Discoveryland that deviates from the overall theme of the area. Instead of looking like the future as seen through the eyes of early visionaries, this ride’s exterior features architecture more in line with a 20th century view of the future. Or maybe in the case of Star Tours, “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” But for some reason, this departure in architectural design seems to blend seamlessly with its surroundings.

The exterior of the attraction is marked by an X-Wing fighter. This is a cool picture spot.


Disneyland Paris Star Tours X-Wing fighter


Also outside of the attraction is a shop called Star Traders. Imagine that.


Disneyland Paris Star Tours Star Traders Store


There isn’t a lot I can tell you about this ride that you probably don’t already know. It’s the same movie and experience as in Florida, California, and Tokyo. Even the queue is remarkably similar to all the rest.


Disneyland Paris Star Tours


You exit the attraction through a video arcade called L'Astroport Services Interstellaires.


Disneyland Paris Star Tours L'Astroport Services Interstellaires


Since I don’t have much to share with you about this attraction, I’ll give you a little bit of trivia.

When Disney replaces an older ride with a new attraction, they try to leave some sort of legacy behind. In other words, gone, but not forgotten. For example, in the Winnie the Pooh attraction at Walt Disney World, there is a picture of Mr. Toad handing over the deed to the property to Owl. And at Mission: Space in Epcot, the old Horizon logo can be seen on the rotating space station in the queue area.

Star Tours was first built at Disneyland, California. It replaced Adventures Thru Inner Space. To pay homage to the earlier attraction, the Mighty Microscope (below) from Adventures Thru Inner Space was used in the Star Tours movie.


Adventures Thru Inner Space Mighty Microscope Disneyland


Here’s what to look for:

As you begin your Star Tours adventure, you unexpectedly take a wrong turn. Then your vehicle drops off the edge of a platform and plunges downward. As Captain Rex regains control of the craft, he pulls you out of your freefall. At that moment, if you look to the right-hand side of the screen, you can see the Mighty Microscope. You must look quickly, but once you know what you’re looking for, there is no mistaking it.

Disneyland Paris Star Tours Mighty Microscope


Honey, I Shrunk the Audience – Cherie, J’ai Retreci le Public

Like Star Tours, this attraction is located behind Space Mountain. Out front is a large sign. On one side it says “Honey, I Shrunk the Audience” in large letters and “Cherie, J’ai Retreci le Public” underneath in smaller letters. On the opposite side of the sign, the English and French titles are reversed.


Disneyland Paris Honey I Shrunk the Audience

Disneyland Paris Honey I Shrunk the Audience


Also outside of the attraction is a topiary in the shape of the “Inventor of the Year” award.


Disneyland Paris Honey I Shrunk the Audience Topiary


The actual entrance to the “Honey, I Shrunk the Audience” theater is located underneath the Disneyland Railroad tracks.


Disneyland Paris Honey I Shrunk the Audience

Disneyland Paris Honey I Shrunk the Audience


Like Star Tours, there isn’t a lot I can tell you about this attraction that you don’t already know. It’s the exact same show as seen in the other Disney parks.

The awards ceremony is presented in either English or French depending on the time of day. Check the schedule for more information. If you do show up when French is the language du jour, there are headphones available that offer a number of different languages, including English.

When Disneyland Paris opened, Captain EO played in this theater. It closed in August 1997.

Autopia

The architecture of the Autopia attraction is a cross between Jules Verne and retro 1950’s.


Disneyland Paris Autopia

Disneyland Paris Autopia


The attraction is similar to its California and Hong Kong cousins in that you drive on a “futuristic” highway and enjoy the sights along the way. Florida and Tokyo both offer a race-car theme with little to see along the journey.

You drive in sporty little gas-powered vehicles. The cars hold two passengers and the trip takes about four minutes to complete.


Disneyland Paris Autopia


Here’s a picture of me taking a Sunday drive.


Disneyland Paris Autopia


The next picture shows the two loading areas. The left side is closed but if you look closely, you can see people standing in line on the right side. A number of good pictures can be taken while in the queue.


Disneyland Paris Autopia


What distinguishes the Paris, Hong Kong, and California versions of this ride from Florida and Tokyo are the sights along the road. In Paris, you pass by a futuristic city and a number of retro-billboards.


Disneyland Paris Autopia

Disneyland Paris Autopia


The following billboard actually advertises a real place. The Rocket Café is located near Honey, I Shrunk the Audience and serves salads, snacks, and drinks.


Disneyland Paris Autopia

Disneyland Paris Autopia


Well, that’s it for Discoveryland and Disneyland Paris. Next stop, the Walt Disney Studios.

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About March 2009

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

February 2009 is the previous archive.

April 2009 is the next archive.

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