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December 4, 2012

Visit Disneyland - Part Two

Jack Spence Masthead


Welcome to Part Two of my "Visit Disneyland" blog. Yesterday I briefly discussed Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. Today I'm going to cover the three Disney hotels located in Anaheim.

When people are planning a trip to WDW they often ask me where to stay. My answer is always the same. Stay at a Disney hotel if at all possible. I don't care if it's a deluxe, moderate, or budget resort. Just stay on property. That way you will be surrounded by the magic 24/7 and be eligible for Disney perks - like Extra Magic Hours. My advice is the same for the Disneyland Resort - if you can afford it. You see, all three hotels here fall into the deluxe category with prices to match. Let's first discuss Disney's Grand Californian, the flagship hotel of the three (and the most expensive).


Disney's Grand Californian

Disney's Grand Californian


If you like the Wilderness Lodge at WDW, you will like the Grand Californian at the Disneyland Resort. Designed in the early 20th century Arts and Crafts style of architecture, this hotel showcases the elements of nature with hand-crafted stone and woodwork that blend with rustic charm and elegant design. The lobby is especially majestic and welcoming.


Grand Californian Lobby


This hotel opened in 2001 as part of a major expansion to the Disneyland Resort that also included Disney California Adventure and Downtown Disney. The Grand Californian has 1,019 rooms of which 48 are Disney Vacation Club 2-bedroom units that can be split into 1-bedroom and studio accommodations. The Grand Californian also has its own private entrance into Disney California Adventure and is literally part of the Downtown Disney complex with many rooms overlooking this shopping district.


DCA Private Entrance

Grand Californian Downtown Disney


People often ask me to name my favorite WDW restaurant. I always answer Flying Fish and Citricos. Well in my opinion, Napa Rose at the Grand Californian has both of these beat. Besides providing top-notch service and excellent cuisine, Napa Rose offers an unsurpassed selection of wine. The chef, Andrew Sutten, was hired away from the Auberge du Soleil resort in Napa Valley to create an all new experience at this restaurant's inception and he continues to work his magic to this day. Over the years, Napa Rose has won numerous awards. For example, in the 2008 Zagat Los Angeles/Southern California Restaurants Guide, Napa Rose scored 27 points in food and service and 26 for decor (both out of a possible 30) giving it the highest score in the region

The décor of Napa Rose continues the Craftsman style of architecture and offers a beautiful dining room and an exhibition kitchen-view counter. One wall of the restaurant features floor to ceiling windows that overlook Grizzly Peak at Disney California Adventure. I can't recommend this restaurant enough for those of you who truly enjoy an elegant evening.

The Grand Californian is the one Disneyland Resort hotel that is truly comparable to the hotels found at WDW. It has a definite theme inside and out that captures the imagination. This is a first class establishment.


Napa Rose


Let's next take a look at the Disneyland Hotel. Located at the west end of Downtown Disney, this hotel features three high-rise towers. Originally built, owned, and operated by the Wrather Corporation, this resort is now under the Disney umbrella (since 1988) and has received a number of makeovers over the decades. During the last three years, the hotel underwent another refurbishment and today it offers sophisticated accommodations with Disney whimsy thrown in where ever possible.


Disneyland Hotel

Disneyland Hotel

Disneyland Hotel


Part of the playfulness of this resort can be found at the newly constructed pool. The water slides have been cleverly designed to pass through replicas of the original Disneyland monorails while a facsimile of the original Disneyland sign towers overhead.


Disneyland Hotel Swimming Pool


More whimsy can be found at Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar. As the name implies, this watering hole is themed after the Jungle Cruise and the Tiki Room - and is a lot of fun.


Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar

Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar

Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar

Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar


The concoctions presented here are good for a few laughs. Take a look at some of the offerings listed on the drink menu.

Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Rum: Welcome to our tropical hideaway, you lucky people you! If you have one of these starting right away you may be ordering two.

Mosquito Mojito: Trading of the ingredients of this refreshing antidote for malaria didn't cost Sam an arm and a leg. But it did cost him a mint.

Hippopotomai-Tai: Dare to enter this hippo pool with.. Bang! Bang! Two shots of rum! Don't worry this drink is only dangerous when you start to wiggle your ears!

Although Imagineer Joe Rohde was not responsible for the design of Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar, he has been immortalized here in the form of an African mask. In addition, Disney World's Little Orange Bird can be seen perched on an overhead shelf.


Joe Rohde

Little Orange Bird


For you beef lovers, the Disneyland Hotel also offers a first class restaurant. Steakhouse 55 is an outstanding eatery that ranks high on the Zagat scale. In 2012 it received a score of 25 for food, 24 for décor, and 26 for service (out of a possible 30).


Steakhouse 55

Steakhouse 55


The last hotel I'm going to discuss is Paradise Pier. This hostelry is the least expensive of the three and located the furthest from Downtown Disney and the theme parks. But that doesn't mean it's not worthy of your consideration.


Paradise Pier Hotel

Paradise Pier Hotel


This 15-story hotel was built by a Japanese concern and opened in 1984. It was originally named Emerald of Anaheim. (The hotel has a 13th floor as the Japanese aren't superstitious about such things.) The name was later changed to the Pan Pacific Hotel in 1989. In December 1995, Disney purchased the hotel and changed its name to Disneyland Pacific Hotel. In 2001, the hotel was renamed again to Paradise Pier to coincide with the Paradise Pier section of their new park, Disney California Adventure. The exterior of the hotel was also altered to give it a "Coney Island" appearance to help it blend in with the section of the park it overlooked.


Paradise Pier Hotel


Of the three Disney hotels, this one has the least "Disney" feel about it. The Imagineers have tried to infuse magic into this resort, but it really can't compare to the Disneyland Hotel or Disney's Grand Californian. However, that doesn't mean you shouldn't consider staying here.


Goofy in the Lobby


Although the walk to the theme parks and Downtown Disney is a little further, it offers the most reasonable prices along with Extra Magic Hours, a real perk when visiting Disney California Adventure and Cars Land these days. In addition, the rooms on the east side of the building offer spectacular views of DCA. Note, these next two pictures were taken before DCA was remodeled but it will give you an idea of what's in store for you here.


DCA from Paradise Pier

DCA from Paradise Pier


I have not begun to cover all of the amenities offered at the Grand Californian, Disneyland Hotel, or Paradise Pier. Each resort would require an entire blog. However, all of these hotels offer great service and first class accommodations. The beds are comfortable, the pillows are big, soft, and many (unlike WDW), the towels are large and fluffy, and the toilet paper is quality.

All three hotels have swimming pools, shops, and multiple eateries. In addition, they all offer character meals so your children can have some one-on-one time with their favorite Disney friends.

Another good thing about these three hotels is that they're Stacy-free. When watching the Disney Resort channel on your hotel room TV, there is no annoying Stacy counting down the "must see" attractions. Instead, you get a simple voiceover by a pleasant sounding gentleman, calmly explaining all there is to do and see at the Disneyland Resort. This alone should make you want to book a trip to Anaheim.

For those of you who can't afford a Disney hotel, there are around a hundred hotels and motels in the Disney area available in all price ranges. Most offer frequent bus service to and from the parks. In fact, in order to accommodate all of these other resorts, Disney has built a special loading and unloading area for taxis and buses. Many of these non-Disney resorts are within walking distance of the parks.


Drop-off Area


On my most recent trip to the Disneyland Resort, I did not rent a car. Instead, I used the Disneyland Express bus service that runs between the Los Angeles International Airport and the Disney area. This service is operated by Grey Line, not Disney (so there is a reasonable charge for the service). However, the Disney resorts are given priority as their guests are dropped off here first and picked up last to minimize your time in the bus. I have to say, I was extremely happy with the service and would definitely use it again.


Okay. I know what you're thinking. You're saying to yourself, "Jack, you've convinced us that the Disneyland Resort is worth a visit, but you say that it only takes three days to see the parks. So what are we supposed to do with the rest of our week?"

Southern California is one of the key tourist destinations in the country. It has enough man-made and natural attractions to keep you busy for months. Alamo Car Rental is located at Downtown Disney and day trips abound. Here is just a sampling of things to see and do within an hour or so drive from the park:

Knott's Berry Farm
Universal Studios Hollywood
Legoland
Nixon Library
Long Beach Harbor - for Catalina Island
Queen Mary
Madame Tussauds Wax Museum
Hollywood Sightseeing Tours
Newport Beach - for whale watching
La Brea Tar Pits
Griffith Planetarium/Observatory
Venice Beach
Huntington Library
J. Paul Getty Museum
Walt Disney Concert Hall
Olvera Street
Aquarium of the Pacific
Raging Waters

If you're willing to drive an hour and a half or two hours, here are few more sights worth your time:

Ronald Reagan Library
San Diego Zoo
San Diego Safari Park
Sea World
Six Flags Magic Mountain

Visit the Disneyland Resort. If you love Disney history and details, you will be glad you took my advice and took the plunge. I'm not saying you should abandon WDW. After all, the Florida resort is a tough act to follow. But in my opinion, the Disneyland Resort is a wonderful encore.

Once you've got your feet wet with a second Disney resort, maybe I'll be able to convince you to visit Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disneyland, Hong Kong Disneyland, and Shanghai Disneyland. The more Disney parks you visit, the more details you'll discover and you'll see a bigger picture emerge.

Check back next week when I'll discuss the history of Disney California Adventure. And the week after that I'll be comparing the "old" DCA to the "new."


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.

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 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

DLP%20Videopolis%2003.jpg


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 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 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.

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 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 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 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 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.


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.

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 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 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 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 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.


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 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 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.

January 31, 2009

Disneyland Paris Main Street Part 1

Before I start to discuss Main Street, I need to give you a little background about the Disneyland Paris Park.

When Walt built Disneyland in California, he did it on a shoestring. It was all he could do to scrape together enough money to buy the land and get the park open. Today, Disneyland is physically one of the smaller Magic Kingdoms; however its diminutive size gives it a wealth of charm.


Disneyland California Opening Day


When plans were being drawn up for the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, the Imagineers were excited about the abundance of land they had at their disposal. When the park opened in 1971, its larger size handled crowds significantly better than its California counterpart. But much of the charm that can be found at Disneyland was missing from the Florida project.


Walt Disney World Opening Day


When the Oriental Land Company came to Disney and said they wanted to build a park in Tokyo, they used the California and Florida parks as a shopping list. They selected what they considered to be the best attractions and designs from these parks and combined them into their new Magic Kingdom. When they were done, Tokyo Disneyland had a disjointed feel with mediocre transitions between lands. Don't get me wrong, it's a wonderful park, but it lacks continuity.


Tokyo Disneyland World Bazaar


When Disneyland Paris was being planned, Michael Eisner, with Frank Wells at his side, were willing to spend money. They were prepared to do things the way Walt would have with Disneyland if he'd had the means. Combine this attitude with senior Imagineer Tony Baxter's brilliant designs, and a magnificent park emerged - a park big enough to handle large crowds yet has intimacy, charm, and seamless transitions. For me, it all comes together at Disneyland Paris and it's my favorite of the five Magic Kingdoms and my second favorite park after Tokyo DisneySea.

Like California, Hong Kong, and Florida, you walk under the Train Station to reach Main Street U.S.A.


Plaza Disneyland Paris


Below is a view of the Train Station as seen from City Hall.


Train Station Disneyland Paris


It's difficult to know how best to describe the steam trains. Do you divide the description into sections depending on what land you're discussing? Or do you talk about the entire attraction, even though it crosses many lands? I think I'll choose the latter and start at Main Street and give you the complete tour.


Euro Disneyland Railroad Poster


Even though I vote Tokyo's steam train as my favorite, Disneyland Paris is a VERY close second - and for the same reason. You see more sights on these two lines than you do on the rails of California, Florida, or Hong Kong.

Shortly after leaving Main Street Station, you enter the Grand Canyon Diorama, a copy of the one found at Disneyland, California. Once again, you hear the music of Grofe as a full day of the Canyon unfolds before you. At Disneyland in California, the Grand Canyon backs up against Tomorrowland. But at Paris, it appropriately backs up against Frontierland.


Plaza Disneyland Paris

Grand Canyon Disneyland Paris

Train Disneyland Paris


Emerging from the Grand Canyon diorama, you travel next to mud pots and geysers with Big Thunder Mountain towering in the background. Then a section of the Rivers of America comes into view. Here you may see the Mark Twain or the Molly Brown sail by.


Disneyland Paris Train

Disneyland Paris Train

Disneyland Paris Train

Eventually you pull into the Frontierland Station.


Disneyland Paris Train Frontierland Station


The rolling stock at Disneyland Paris is unique in that the cars are better enclosed due to the variations in weather and they feature an interesting seating pattern. Instead of forward or side facing benches, these trains use a "U" shaped or "booth" configuration. Each car is divided into six sections and within each section you'll find a "U" shaped bench with one portion facing forward, another facing sideways, and one backwards. The idea was to give everyone a better view. Personally, I found this configuration a little cramped. When sitting in a "corner" seat, your legs and knees are pressed against those of your fellow passengers. You can see this seating configuration (and me) in the following pictures.


Disneyland Paris Train

Disneyland Paris Train

Up until just recently, the fences, barns, and animals of Critter Corral came into view as you left the Frontierland Station. Now a new attraction, Woody's Roundup Village, occupies this space. You soon leave Frontierland on your way to Adventureland.


Disneyland Paris Train Woody's Roundup Village


If you look quickly, you can see the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril attraction in the distance. In the foreground is a grassy meadow and a jeep. You soon enter a tunnel and a quick glimpse of the inside of the Pirates of the Caribbean can be had (similar to seeing Splash Mountain from the train at Disney World). Unfortunately, I was unable to catch a picture of "Pirates" while in the tunnel.


Disneyland Paris Train


When you emerge from the tunnel, you're at the Fantasyland Station.


Disneyland Paris Train Fantasyland Station

Disneyland Paris Train Fantasyland


As you skirt the edges of Fantasyland, you see Alice's Curious Labyrinth and the Old Mill before crossing a trestle. You then pass in front of "it's a small world" in the same manner that you do at Disneyland, California.


Disneyland Paris Train

Disneyland Paris Train

Disneyland Paris Train

DLP%20It%27s%20A%20Small%20World%2004.jpg


A few chugs later and you're at the Discoveryland (Tomorrowland) Station.


Disneyland Paris Train  Discoveryland Station

Disneyland Paris Train  Discoveryland Station

Disneyland Paris Train  Discoveryland Station


While traveling through Discoveryland you are afforded views of Star Tours and Space Mountain. After 7,150 feet of track, you're back at Main Street.


Disneyland Paris Train

Disneyland Paris Train


In my next blog I'll talk about the Town Square section of Main Street.

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About Disneyland

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to The “World” According to Jack in the Disneyland category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Disneyland Paris Resorts is the next category.

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