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November 2, 2016

Disneyland Paris Dining

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Since several of you have asked about a blog on dining at Disneyland Paris...here it is.

Overall we were disappointed in the food at Disneyland Paris. Most of the restaurants offered the same theme park food that you would find here! There wasn't a lot of variety, and in fact ALL of the quick service places in the Studios were burger places.

One issue at Disneyland Paris was that a lot of restaurants (particularly quick service restaurants) were closed because it was the off-season. I don't know that the Mexican place in Frontierland or the pizza place in Fantasyland would have been any good, but at least they would have offered a little more variety - something other than burgers.

Of the restaurants that were open, the majority of them seemed to be expensive buffets, and that was a lot more food than we wanted. Table service restaurants didn't have much availability (plus the meals were 40 Euros and up).

Even kiosks offering a quick snack like popcorn were hard to find. Or hard to find one that was open.

Our first meal at Disneyland Paris was a late lunch at the Market House Deli on Main Street. It features sandwiches, salads, flatbread, and pastries. Cafeteria style - you grab a tray, go through the line and take what you want, order your beverage, and pay. I hadn't had a salad in days and really wanted a salad, so I got a three-cheese salad. Not exciting, but it was good, and what I wanted. (Sorry, no photo.) Lee ordered the Croque Monsieur - a toasted ham and cheese sandwich. Ahh...but not all toasted ham and cheese sandwiches are created equal! This was the best one we'd ever had. It had ham, cheese, and bechamel inside, and then the outside was covered in yummy crispy toasted cheese. It was SO good - the best thing we had at Disneyland Paris. We liked it so much we came back and had it two more times during our trip - once for lunch and once for an early dinner.

Disneyland Paris Croque Monsieur sandwich

That evening, by the time we started looking for a dinner spot we couldn't find anything that was open (that wasn't a buffet), so we went to Downtown Disney and went to Annette's Diner. At that point we kind of wanted a nice sincere burger and fries.

Disneyland Paris Annette's Diner

Lee had the Classic Cheeseburger. He said it was good, but not exceptional. 17 euros. He ordered a chocolate milkshake also. Tasted good, but there was not 10 euros worth of milkshake in that glass!

Disneyland Paris Annette's Diner Cheeseburger

I had the Fish Burger, which had pieces of nice crisp panko-crusted cod, and came with French fries and cole slaw. The fish was quite good. At 20 euros it was quite pricey - and that didn't include a beverage! Still, I enjoyed it.

Disneyland Paris Annette's Diner Fish Burger

For breakfasts...Our race package included continental breakfast (served in one of the hotel restaurants) every morning. Croissants, pastries, fruit, yogurt, deli meat and cheese, and cereal. It think there were hard-boiled eggs, also. It's a good thing that we had that, otherwise it would have been difficult to find something for breakfast. There was no quick-service dining at our hotel and there weren't many breakfast options available in Downtown Disney or the parks. The choice seemed to be full character breakfast or pastries from Starbucks - and it always had a long line.

There was an Earl of Sandwich in Downtown Disney, and we ate lunch there on our second day. It was quite close to the race expo and very popular - lots of Americans in there as well as people working the Expo. I didn't take any photos, but the menu was pretty much the same as at the U.S. restaurants. Just higher prices. :-)

That evening we had dinner at King Ludwig's Castle in Downtown Disney. I wasn't expecting much, but it turned out to be one of the better meals that we had. I don't remember now how much we spent, but it was cheaper than Annette's Diner the night before!

King Ludwig's Castle

The decor inside was interesting - certainly fit the theme.

Disneyland Paris King Ludwig's Castle

Disneyland Paris King Ludwig's Castle

Lee was happy because he could get a nice dark German beer. I had a glass of Riesling.

Disneyland Paris King Ludwig's Castle

We both ordered a two course meal. Both of us had the Caprese Salad as a starter. It was served in a very different way, but it tasted good. Strange to have small tomatoes rather than slices of tomato, though. And rather than pieces of basil it came with pesto.

Disneyland Paris King Ludwig's Castle

My entree was a Roasted Pork Shank served on a bed of sauerkraut. The pork was very good - tender and almost fell off the bone. The sauerkraut was fine - there was just an awful lot of it!

Disneyland Paris King Ludwig's Castle

Lee ordered the Spaetzle, which was a vegetarian dish, and had cheese in it. It was tasty, but VERY filling.

Disneyland Paris King Ludwig's Castle

For lunch the next day we went to Bistrot Chez Remy in the Walt Disney Studios park. We really wanted to try it and had made a reservation the day before.

Disneyland Paris Bistrot Chez Remy

The waiting area.

Bistrot Chez Remy

Bistrot Chez Remy

It's a large restaurant, with lots of interesting decor. Even though they weren't accepting walk-ups, there were a number of empty tables and it did not seem to be overly busy. Which made it a much more pleasant dining experience for us.

Disneyland Paris Bistrot Chez Remy

Disneyland Paris Bistrot Chez Remy

Disneyland Paris Bistrot Chez Remy

Disneyland Paris Bistrot Chez Remy

Disneyland Paris Bistrot Chez Remy

Disneyland Paris Bistrot Chez Remy

The menu offered two different set menus. With each you could order either a two or three course meal. Each menu had it own appetizer, with choices for entree and dessert. The Linguini (two course) and Gusteau (three course) menu was more gourmet (and more expensive) than theRemy (two course) and Emile (three course) menu. The Linguini and Remy options included starter and main course only, while the Gusteau and Emile options included starter, main course, dessert, and beverage. With Menu Gusteau there was an optional wine pairing for an additional 15 euros.

Disneyland Paris Bistrot Chez Remy

I went with the Emile menu option, for 40 euros. My starter was a mixed green salad with grated beetroot and chives, and a sesame and soy dressing. Which for some reason I didn't photograph.

Lee went all in and opted for Menu Gusteau with the wine pairing. That was 60 euros plus the additional 15 for the wine. His first course was duck foie gras with violet fig jam, toasted walnut bread, and salad. I didn't photograph that, either.

My entree was Roasted Cod, ratatouille, crushed potatoes and a beurre blanc sauce. The fish, sauce, and potatoes were very good. The ratatouille was ok.

Disneyland Paris Bistrot Chez Remy

Lee had the Fillet of Beef with Premium ratatouille, confit potatoes and mustard jus.

Disneyland Paris Bistrot Chez Remy

And this was the Premium ratatouille. Very nice to look at, but he also thought it was just ok.

Disneyland Paris Bistrot Chez Remy

For dessert I had the (big surprise here) Chocolate Mousse. It was very good.

Disneyland Paris Bistrot Chez Remy

Lee ordered the Apple Tart which he quite enjoyed. It came with a glass of Cuvee Disneyland Paris champagne.

Disneyland Paris Bistrot Chez Remy

It was expensive, but it was a very nice meal.

That night we looked for dining locations around Disneyland Paris, but a lot of places were closed. We finally ended up at The Cowboy Cookout in Frontierland. I was surprised this place was open, because it was at the back of Frontierland, and there was nothing else open back there except the train station. All the other attractions were closed as part of the big Thunder Mountain/Frontierland refurbishment.

Cowboy Cookout

This is a BBQ place - they had BBQ chicken, ribs, sausage, and burgers. It was quite large inside, though we ate outside, since it was a very pleasant evening. Not very many people in there.

I had the half BBQ chicken. I did the meal option for 13 euros, which came with choice of salad or potatoes, choice of brownie or yogurt for dessert, and choice of beverage. It was a lot of food. The chicken was very tasty, and the salad, even though it was pre-packaged, was nice and fresh.

Cowboy Cookout chicken

Lee had the Premium Angus Burger meal for 15 euros. The burger came with cheese, tomato, lettuce, and onion rings. There was choice of salad or potatoes, choice of fruit cup or ice cream bar for dessert, and choice of beverage. Lee said the burger was excellent - better than the one we'd had at Annette's the first night.

Cowboy Cookout burger

On Saturday morning we finished the 5K early enough that we had time to shower and still go make the continental breakfast at Sequoia Lodge - yogurt, fruit, pastries.

We met friends in Disneyland afterwards and stopped for a quick snack at the bakery on Main Street. They had some chocolate doughnuts that looked good, so I tried one of those. And it was pretty good.

Disneyland Paris Bakery doughnut

For lunch we went to the Deli again, where most of us enjoyed the Croque Monsieur. That was really a good ham and cheese sandwich! For later I picked up a Nutella muffin. It wasn't terrible sweet except for the Nutella filling. I liked it.

Disneyland Paris Chocolate Nutella muffin

With a half marathon the next morning we wanted to find something pasta-like for dinner that night, but there really weren't very many options. Colonel Hathi's Pizza Outpost in Adventureland was the only place we could find that had pasta.

Colonel Hathi's Pizza Outpost

Lee and I ordered the Rigatoni meal, which came with either marinara or bolognese, choice of salad or garlic bread, and choice of beverage for 12 euros. It was ok - not great, but not bad. I thought it was a reasonable-sized serving of pasta. I had the marinara. The sauce was fine but didn't have a lot of flavor.

Colonel Hathi's Outpost rigatoni

On Sunday by the time we finished the half marathon and showered it was too late for breakfast at the hotel. Though before we left the room I finished the rest of my Nutella muffin from the day before. We looked a the line at Starbuck's in Downtown Disney but it was too long. We went into the Studios and pretty quickly determined that the only options were the Restaurant des Stars buffet (expensive) or the Restaurant en Coulisse burger place just inside the entrance. We were pretty hungry by then so just went to the burger place.

I ordered the Fish Burger with choice of fries or salad, and beverage for 12 euros. It wasn't as good as the fish sandwich I'd had at Annette's Diner, but it was decent, and I was hungry.

Disneyland Paris Fish Burger

Lee ordered the Angus Cheeseburger. For 15 euros it came with choice of fries or salad, choice of fruit or ice cream bar, and beverage. It wasn't nearly as good as the burger he'd had at the BBQ place. But again, it was decent, and he was hungry.

Walt Disney Studios angus cheeseburger

We were back in Disneyland that evening (our final night in France) and had a couple of Croque Monsieur sandwiches at the Deli again. It was easily the best thing we had at the parks.

As I mentioned at the beginning, overall we weren't very impressed with the food offerings at Disneyland Paris. Some of that impression is due to the limited options we had with so many dining places being closed. But a lot of the places we did try were just ok. It was France, and we really expected the food to be a cut above what is available in the United States.







October 24, 2016

Walt Disney Studios - Disneyland Paris Hotels

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Walt Disney Studios

Walt Disney Studios Paris

This park is small. That was my biggest (so to speak) impression of it. I was surprised at how little time it took to walk around. There were a few quality attractions, but overall - there just isn't much there.

The entrance was very different - we walked indoors through the Studio 1 building to get to the rest of the park.

Walt Disney Studios Paris

There appeared to be a lot of interesting restaurants in there (The Liki Tiki looked fun), but they were all just false fronts to multiple counters of the same burger place. :-(

Walt Disney Studios Paris

Once we went through to the park itself I thought it very reminiscent of Disney's Hollywood Studios in terms of the layout and the attractions. Walt Disney Studios still has the Backlot Tour and Lights, Motors, Action. And there's still a special effects show - Armageddon.

The park is divided into several areas: The Front Lot, Production Courtyard, Toon Studios, and Back Lot. I was surprised to see the Partners statue in the Production Courtyard area of the Studios rather than at Disneyland.

Walt Disney Studios Paris

This park still has a sorcerer's hat, but it's much better integrated into the park than it was at the Studios in Florida.

Walt Disney Studios Paris

The first thing I wanted to try was Ratatouille: The Adventure. This is the trackless vehicle ride at the Paris parks.

Walt Disney Studios Paris

We boarded a "Ratmobile" for a somewhat wild ride through the kitchen and dining room of Gusteau's. It was cute, but didn't blow me away - for me Mystic Manor in Hong Kong is still the best of the trackless vehicle attractions. Ratatouille is a 3D experience, unlike Mystic Manor and Pooh's Hunny Hunt (Tokyo), and that's part of the problem, I think - it relies on the screens for 3D rather than set pieces and special effects like the other two.

Walt Disney Studios Paris

I liked the Paris look of the Ratatouille area - it was like I was in Paris! ;-)

Walt Disney Studios Paris

Next to the Ratatouille area is Toy Story Playland. We didn't really spend any time there since it was almost exactly like the one in Hong Kong - just smaller.

Walt Disney Studios Paris

Both the Ratatouille and Playland areas are part of Toon Studios, though they seemed more separate to me. The Toon Studios part had the Aladdin Flying Carpets attraction, the Cars-themed Cars Quatre Roues Rallye and Crush's Coaster.

Walt Disney Studios Paris

Crush's Coaster was really different - we were seated in a turtle shell, and the shell spun as we went along the coaster track. The coaster part was pretty mild (not even as thrilling as Thunder Mountain), but the spinning made it feel a lot more extreme. And it was in the dark. It was a one and done for Lee. I'd do it again, but not my favorite.

Walt Disney Studios Paris

Cars Quatre Roues Rallye was closed for refurbishment the first day we were there but it opened for the weekend so we were able to ride it on Sunday afternoon. It was a lot like Mater's Junkyard Jamboree at Disney California Adventure, only without the crack the whip effect. It was a fun little ride.

Disneyland Paris

The highlight of Toon Studios was the Mickey and the Magician show. This was a live theater show, and we both thought it was excellent. Lots of magical characters like the Fairy Godmother, the Genie, Elsa, and Rafiki.

Walt Disney Studios Paris

The Lion King number was especially good.

Walt Disney Studios Paris

There were some very nice special effects. Mickey spoke in French, but most of the other characters spoke English. As best I could tell they restated whatever Mickey had said. I didn't feel as though we missed something because we didn't speak French.

Disneyland Paris

In The Production Courtyard we saw CineMagique. This was a movie with a small live component. It starred Martin Short as an "audience member" who suddenly found himself part of scenes from all kinds of movies - silent films to gangster films to Westerns - and even Star Wars. Although it was an older piece (it opened in 2002!) I thought it had held up well, and it was quite entertaining.

Walt Disney Studios Paris

I visited the Art of Disney Animation. I was pleasantly surprised that it was somewhat educational and included a history of animation. The movie clips in the Classics Theater seemed like a different collection than what I've seen before.

Disneyland Paris

The Tower of Terror is exactly like the one in DCA - at least until that one gets its Guardians of the Galaxy makeover. I was not expecting it to be absolutely identical.

Walt Disney Studios Paris

Walt Disney Studios Paris

In the Back Lot area we did the Armageddon special effects show and the Studio Tram Tour. The former had a caution for pregnant women, which I didn't understand at all. It wasn't a ride, and the effects weren't really that intense.

Walt Disney Studios Paris

The Tram tour had a lot of the things we used to see in Catastrophe Canyon at the Studios at Walt Disney World. I'm glad I did it once - don't need to do it again.

Walt Disney Studios Paris

We never made it to Rock'n'Roller Coaster. I understand that the pre-show is different, but the ride is the same. I don't think the Moteurs...Action! show was running while we were there...but we really weren't interested in it anyways.

There wasn't a parade or nighttime show in the Studios. The park closed at 6:00 every night - even on weekends!

Walt Disney Studios Paris

While I really enjoyed Disneyland Paris, I was far less impressed with the Studios. It was nice to see a couple of attractions (Crush's Coaster and Ratatouille: The Adventure) that are exclusive, and Mickey and the Magician was first-rate, but otherwise the park didn't do much for me.



Hotels

I believe there are seven Disney hotels at the resort, and all of them except Crockett Ranch are walking distance to the parks. We stayed at Sequoia Lodge, which had a more "Wilderness Lodge" feel to it. It's classed as a "Moderate", but compared to moderates at WDW I'd put it between a Moderate and a Deluxe.

Sequoia Lodge

The photo above is of the main building. Our room was in one of the outer lodges, which are separate buildings, so we had more of a walk to get to the main building where the restaurants and shops were. We had to go outdoors to do that. We had nice weather while we were there so it wasn't a problem, but if the weather were cold and/or rainy then being in the main building would be a lot better.

Disneyland Paris Hotel Sequoia

Disneyland Paris Hotel Sequoia

The room was fine. It seemed positively spacious compared to the room we'd had in Paris. :-) But it was not equipped with some of the amenities we are used to here. For example, no refrigerator and no coffee maker (though we could have requested a hot pot). Still, it was clean and comfortable and we were happy with it.

Sequoia Hotel

I didn't actually take any photos inside the hotel lobby. It was reminiscent of Wilderness Lodge but not as grand. We went to the bar for a drink one night, and that was very nice. Really large bar.

As I mentioned before, the Disneyland Hotel is right on the boundary of Disneyland. Access to the ticket booths and the turnstiles is under the hotel.

Like the Disneyland Hotels in Tokyo and Hong Kong, and the Grand Floridian at Walt Disney World, this one also has a Victorian theme inside. Notice the bird cage. I don't know why bird cages are important in Victorian design, but all of the Disney Victorian-themed hotels seem to have them.

Disneyland Paris Hotel

I thought the lobby was very open and airy.

Disneyland Paris Hotel Lobby

I mentioned that some of the rooms would look out into Disneyland - this is a view from one of the lounges on the second floor. Rooms on higher floors would have even better views.

Disneyland Paris Hotel view

Sequoia Lodge, Hotel New York, and the Newport Bay Club (pictured below) were all around Lake Disney. Downtown Disney is between Lake Disney and the parks. So those hotels were all pretty conveniently located.

Disneyland Paris Newport Bay Club

A little further away was the Hotel Cheyenne. It is more of a value resort, and themed like an Old West town. The other hotel is the Hotel Santa Fe, with an American Southwest theme.

Disneyland Paris Hotel Cheyenne

We didn't see it but I'll mention the other available Disney accommodation: Crockett Ranch. It's quite different - individual cabins with full kitchens and one or two bedrooms. More like the cabins at Fort Wilderness. It's also a 15 minute drive to the parks.

Dining at Disneyland Paris gets its own blog - coming soon.

October 23, 2016

Disneyland Paris

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Disneyland Paris

The Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Weekend had the added benefit that it gave us the excuse to visit Disneyland Paris for the first time. (Now Shanghai is the only Disney park we haven't visited.)

There's two theme parks there: Disneyland Paris, and Walt Disney Studios. Plus Downtown Disney and the various resort hotels. As I mentioned in my race blogs, the resort is pretty compact and everything is within walking distance. Similar to Disneyland, but without a big city surrounding it. The park feels like it's off by itself.

I really hadn't done too much research on Disneyland Paris before our trip. I'd heard about some of the attractions but intentionally didn't want to know very much.

We visited in the off-season from Wednesday through Sunday. The parks were very quiet on Wednesday-Friday, and also on Sunday evening. Saturday was busy, but not awful. But because it was off-season there were a number of attractions that were undergoing refurbishment, and a number of restaurants that were closed.

Disneyland Paris

I was surprised that the Disneyland Hotel is on the park boundary - we walked under the hotel to reach the entrance turnstiles. Which means that some of the rooms look into the park. It's really a lovely hotel.

Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris was preparing for their Halloween celebration (though it didn't officially start until October 1), and some of the decorations were up. We saw changes in the first few days of our visit - figures would pop up that we hadn't seen the day before.

Disneyland Paris

Really very festive - and I particularly enjoyed all of the different ghost figures. I wish they'd do those at Disneyland.

Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris

One interesting thing about their Main Street - there's the street part, but then behind the buildings on both sides of the streets is a covered arcade. There are entrances to all of the shops and restaurants from the arcade side. Great way to get out of the weather, or to bypass crowds on Main Street.

Disneyland Paris

And the castle...it's just lovely. Even if it is pink. I think it's my new favorite Disney castle now.

Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris

There's a dragon under the castle!!! I had heard about the dragon, and wanted to make sure that we saw that. She was a bit temperamental, but we saw her wake up and roar at us a few times.

Disneyland Paris

I really, really loved the Fantasyland at Disneyland Paris. It's huge and roomy and very nicely laid out, and there's lots of attractions - more than in any other area of the park. There's lots of little extra touches, too, like this water feature. I was disappointed that the Pinocchio attraction was down for refurbishment, and the castle walk-through was also closed, but otherwise we were able to do all of the Fantasyland attractions.

Walt Disney Studios Paris

There's a Toad Hall! But it's a fish and chips restaurant. We didn't get chance to try it.

Walt Disney Studios Paris

The Casey Jr. Circus Train is much different than the one at Disneyland - I was surprised at how fast it goes. It's more like a junior Big Thunder Mountain. Even though it goes around Storybook Land it's not really a good way to see that like it is at Disneyland in California - it goes too fast.

Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris

This version of Storybook Land Canal Boats is called Le Pays des Contes de Fées. It's not narrated like the one in California.

Disneyland Paris

There are more scenes, and much different stories, than the one here. Like Peter and the Wolf, Night on Bald Mountain, The Sword in the Stone, Beauty and the Beast, and even the Wizard of Oz!

Disneyland Paris

Alice's Curious Labyrinth was fun.

Walt Disney Studios Paris

It really was a maze with dead ends and circular paths. Unfortunately the Queen of Hearts area was closed off, but at least we could go through the rest of it.

Walt Disney Studios Paris

I love carousels, and Le Carrousel de Lancelot was beautiful. One really surprising thing - the horses on the two outer circles of the carousel are HUGE! Definitely sized for adults and not kids. The horses on the two inner circles are smaller - more the size I'm used to seeing. They weren't as elaborately decorated as the larger ones.

Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris

Lee dragged me onto "it's a small world". It actually wasn't too bad!

Disneyland Paris

There were some different figures than we have here, like the Loch Ness Monster and Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.

Disneyland Paris

The U.S. section was interesting - very western cowboys and indians, with Hollywood and the Statue of Liberty thrown in.

Disneyland Paris

We visited Fantasyland one night - the lighting on some of the attractions was very nice.

Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris

As was the lighting on the castle.

Disneyland Paris

The very first land we visited after Main Street was Frontierland. It had been overrun by Pumpkin People. :-)

Disneyland Paris

Unfortunately much of Frontierland was closed because of a long, extensive refurbishment of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and the area around it. I've been told that it's the best Thunder Mountain, so I was disappointed to miss it.

Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris

The only attractions open in Frontierland were Phantom Manor and the train station. Phantom Manor was our first attraction at Disneyland Paris. That was the attraction I'd hear the most about - mostly that it was a little more grisly and scary than the mansions at the other Disney parks. Since it was placed in Frontierland the house was quite different than the others.

Disneyland Paris

And inside the decor reflected more of the Western theme, also. Especially when we reached the graveyard scene. Much more of a "Boot Hill" look. And lots of skeletons in rotting clothes. I was expecting it to be even worse, but it was definitely more intense than the ones I've seen in California, Orlando, and Tokyo. And I was surprised that there was no narration at all during the ride.

Disneyland Paris

Another surprise was the cast members. They seemed to have much more leeway to interact with the guests, and were shushing people who were talking in the Stretch Room, and telling them to put away their phones and cameras (the lighted screens were distracting).

In Adventureland we rode Pirates of the Caribbean. It was very nice to see the classic, non-politically correct version of Pirates where they were still chasing their brides. And it was refreshing to not see Jack Sparrow. It's the reverse of the one in California - Paris starts with the "live" pirates and finishes with the skeletal pirates.

Disneyland Paris

Indiana Jones et le Temple du Péril was another attraction closed for refurbishment so we didn't get to experience that, either.

We wandered around Adventure Isle - it seemed as though there were lots of activities there to entertain the kids.

Walt Disney Studios Paris

And there were more Halloween pumpkins - though these are the only ones we saw outside of Frontierland and Main Street.

Disneyland Paris

Discoveryland is the Paris equivalent of Tomorrowland. It's the Jules Verne look that we had at Disneyland for a while, though it works much better in Paris. There were a lot of construction walls up in Discoveryland, and Star Tours was closed for refurbishment.

We rode Space Mountain. It's much different than the attractions at Disneyland and Magic Kingdom. More like Rock'n'Roller Coaster, with the launch and the inversions. It was a pretty good coaster but neither of us wanted to do it a second time. The corkscrews are hard on my neck, especially when it's dark and I can't anticipate them.

Disneyland Paris

Also visited Les Mysteres du Nautilus which is a walk-through of the submarine. I wanted to see the giant squid but that effect didn't seem to be working.

Disneyland Paris

Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast is a lot like the one at Disneyland - except that the Buzz animatronic is in French mode. :-) Lee got a higher score than I did, too - he almost never does that here!

Disneyland Paris

The afternoon parade is called Disney Magic on Parade. It certainly starts off with a lot of magic - the opening unit features the three fairies from Sleeping Beauty, the Fairy Godmother, Merlin, and the Blue Fairy! I was especially happy to see the Blue Fairy.

Disneyland Paris

I enjoyed the parade - there were lots of characters, and the floats themselves were really detailed and creative.

Disneyland Paris

One interesting thing about the floats is that most of them had a different story depicted on the back side than the front side! For example, this float had Frozen on the front and Tangled on the back.

Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris

The final float had Tinker Bell tucked away in a little alcove on the back of the float. She was saucy and sassy and enjoying herself.

Disneyland Paris

The nighttime show is Disney Dreams. It's much more of a castle projection show than a fireworks show - the fireworks are more of an accent to what's happening on the castle.

Walt Disney Studios Paris

I liked the show. It actually had a little bit of a plot that strung together all of the various scenes from the different movies. The projections were very clear, and the castle is so large that they were easy to see. I especially enjoyed the Hunchback of Notre Dame segment. Though that's the only reference to that movie that I saw in our time at Disneyland Paris. Too bad.

Disneyland Paris

We think that normally there are fountains in the moat that accompany the show, but the moat was also undergoing refurbishment. At least it didn't prevent them from doing the rest of the show.

We really enjoyed our time at Disneyland Paris, and I'd like to go back some day. Here's a final look at the Disneyland Hotel as we left the park the last night of our trip.

Disneyland Paris


The Walt Disney Studios report is coming up next!








October 3, 2016

Disneyland Paris Inaugural Half Marathon Weekend - Part 3, Half Marathon

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Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

Somewhere along the way the race was renamed the Inaugural Disneyland® Paris – Val d’Europe Half Marathon. Or Semi Marathon, as they say in France. Val d'Europe is the area that surrounds Disneyland Paris, and we would be running through it for over half of the race.

It was a fantastic event. Maybe the most I've ever enjoyed an Inaugural runDisney event (Disneyland's Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon is way up there, too.) The race organizers, the cast members, the community, the volunteers all came together to give us a marvelous experience. Thank you to all of you!

Going into the race we really weren't sure what to expect in terms of on-course support, water stops, and nutrition. And given recent events in France, security was a concern as well.

I'm very happy to report that none of that was an issue. While perhaps there wasn't quite as much entertainment or cheering crowds, those that were there were enthusiastic and very supportive. And there were plenty of well-stocked and staffed water and nutrition stops. As for security - it was very different seeing pairs of armed guards all over the course, but I felt safe.

The race course was terrific. We had even more park time in the Studios than we did for the 5K, and about the same in Disneyland. The first 5K was basically parks, and then we had 1K backstage before going out onto the roads in Val d'Europe.

It was a beautiful area, and I very much enjoyed the views as we ran through the countryside. We saw parks:

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

Woods:

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

Houses:

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

Lakes:

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

And even corn fields.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

We were never that far from Disney and could often catch a glimpse of Space Mountain or the castle in the distance and even hear some music.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

It was very nice that for most of the last 5K we were back on Disney property, where we ran through several of the Disney resorts. Hotel Santa Fe:

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

Hotel Cheyenne:

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

Newport Bay Club:

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

We finished by running through Downtown Disney, then ducking backstage around the Studios for the final kilometer to the finish line.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

The weather was perfect. There was rain in the forecast but thankfully it held off until the afternoon, and for the race we had clear skies and temperatures of about 55-60. There was a light wind at times. It was very comfortable for running.

I was very pleased to see that the race organizers had learned some lessons from the 5K and made some changes to address a few issues. There were screens and speakers in the corrals that morning, so we had a much better idea of what was happening up front.

At the character stops, the handlers let runners in line know when a character would soon be going for a break, and when they would be coming back. And they let us know if a different character was coming out to replace them. That was much appreciated.

They pulled the PhotoPass photographers from the castle ramp, which really eased congestion when we went through it - we barely slowed down.

The Disney characters were still at the finish line, but they were more away from the line - it wasn't the bottleneck that it was the day before.

Once again, the race organizers did a great job of giving us character photo opportunities along the course. And very different characters than we had saw during the 5K. The number of character stops was about the same as for the 5K, but there might have been even more characters - some of the stops had four or five different characters associated with them! Some of the groups:

Mad Hatter, March Hare, White Rabbit, Cheshire Cat(!)

Dug, Carl, Russell/Baloo, King Louie

Remy/Marie, Toulouse, Berlioz (Aristocats)

Aladdin, Abu, Genie, Sultan

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

Cinderella, Prince Charming, Belle, Prince Beast (by far the longest line I saw so we didn't stop)

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

We also saw Chip and Dale, the Incredibles, Spider-Man, Darth Vader, and the Sheriff of Nottingham. I think Remy and Spider-Man/Captain America were the only repeats from the 5K. That's quite a lineup.

Race Day

We got a slightly earlier start - had our race breakfast at the hotel and were on our way to the corrals by 6:10. I was concerned that it might take longer to get through the security check, but it was again very efficient.

We learned from the way the 5K started to try to get further forward in the corral. We were in Corral B for this one, so that helped a lot. There were over 10,000 runners registered for the race, so it was about twice the size of the 5K. There were four start corrals instead of three.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

As I mentioned before, we had video monitors and a PA system for the half, so we were able to hear the announcements when they told us they would start us in waves - I think they said 32 waves.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

It was another cool morning - about 55 degrees - but there was a light wind and it felt a little colder. I'd remember to wear my gloves this time! With arm sleeves, trash bag, and gloves I was comfortable while we waited.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

The race started 10 minutes late - no explanation as to why.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

We were near the front of corral B and started about 10 minutes after the official start of the race. We were at the front of a wave, and that was nice.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

This time we went into the Studios first and to the Lights, Motors, Action stage at the back of the park.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

There weren't lines at the kilometer signs as there were the day before. 21 of them for this race.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

We ran through the Studio 1 building that's just inside the Studios' entrance. It was strange to be running inside.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

Since we were closer to the front of the race the character lines were much shorter, so we were able to make a number of stops. But one not-so-good change between the 5K and the half: CMs were apparently instructed not to take photos with guest cameras. So we all had to get someone else to take our photo if we wanted one with our own camera. Everyone was willing to do it, it was just awkward to pass the phones back and forth.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

The CMs were still out in force and enthusiastically cheering for us, though!

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

We went the opposite direction through Toy Story Playland this time and into the Ratatouille area. I was hoping that Remy would be out again, but I didn't see any character stops. Unfortunately I missed it - it was behind the line of cheering cast members nearer the Fastpass distribution area. I found out later that in addition to Remy that stop alternated with Marie and some of the other kittens from The Aristocats! I was really disappointed that I missed that.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

We'd run a little less than 3K when we entered Disneyland and ran down Main Street.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

In Discoveryland there was a line for Vader and the Storm Troopers. It was the longest line we waited in - about 8 minutes. While we waited for that I took this photo of Lee. The Vader photo was only taken by the PhotoPass photographer and I REALLY hope it comes out - it should be a good one.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

In Fantasyland we had our first experience with the CMs telling us that characters would be leaving. The March Hare and White Rabbit were out, but the CM told us they would be leaving in four minutes. The line was short, so we knew we should have time. But when the Mad Hatter came out (less than four minutes later) they pulled the other two, so we missed getting them - but at least we had a photo with the Mad Hatter.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

The Sheriff of Nottingham was out on Adventure Isle (some people saw Robin Hood, also). That was a new one for me, I think.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

When we were in the parks the kilometer markers were themed to the area of the park that we were in. (No race clocks on any of the kilometer markers like we're used to seeing here.)

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

After we left Disneyland we ran backstage for a while - this backstage road had traffic circles on it, and there was a gargoyle statue in each one! Surprisingly this was the only Hunchback character that we saw during the races.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

At the 6K mark we left Disney property for the surrounding commune of Val d'Europe. About 3.7 miles on Disney property to start the race, most of it in interesting on-stage areas - very nice.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

We ran around a number of traffic circles that day.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

At one point we ran about half a lap around a high school track. That was nice and cushy. Felt good.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

There were two nutrition stations - one at about 7.5K and one at 15K. Different than what we're used to - they offered cereal bars and apple slices. We split one of the packets of apple slices and they were quite good. There didn't seem to be too many takers for the cereal bars, though.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

There were a number of teams of runners who were pushing a disabled person in an interesting one-wheeled sedan chair. One person in front rickshaw-style and one in back pushing. They swapped out fairly frequently. Despite the chair they were moving pretty fast - most of them passed us.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

There were a number of bands along the course - most of them seemed to be high school bands.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

And this was a very unusual group. The long tubes are didgeridoos. Their name was Pranavibes.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

11K - over half way! When we weren't in the parks the signs were themed to different Disney movies.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

One part of the course I didn't like so much - for about 5K we were on an out-and-back, which meant that we saw people on the other side going on the opposite direction. Not so bad when we were the ones further along, but a little disheartening when we were still going out and watching those on the other side of the road who were almost 5K ahead of us!

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

About kilometer 12 we ran through a village. There were quite a few people out to watch us, including a very enthusiastic cheerleading squad.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon
The volunteers were outstanding!
Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

At about 13K we ran around a small lake. We started on a gravel path, which then turned into a packed dirt/gravel track. I heard a number of complaints from runners around me in this section, but I enjoyed the change in surface.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

At kilometer 17 we were back in Disney property. I liked the way the markers at Hotel Santa Fe and Hotel Cheyenne matched the theme of those resorts.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

Running along Lake Disney - a little over a mile left to go.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

The wind had played a little havoc with the 21K sign. CMs said that it was only 100 meters to the finish from there, but it felt longer than that to me.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

Arrivee!

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

Again there were characters at the finish but runners weren't allowed to line up like they had the day before.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

Lee and I both got our Challenge medals from the smallest race volunteer I've seen - isn't she adorable?

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

The signage for the Castle to Chateau wasn't clear - I passed by it the first time, and had to backtrack a bit to get to the entrance. I was also quite surprised that no one was marking our wristbands to make sure no one received more than one - it seemed like it would be possible to do that.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

Really beautiful medals! And the one has that special word on it: Inaugural. :-)

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

It was still under 60 degrees and a little chilly - I was surprised that mylar sheets weren't being distributed. I'm not even sure they were available at the First Aid tent, since I didn't see anyone who had one.

This time our post-race snacks were a banana, cereal bar, peanuts, and a dried fruit/nut mix.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

There was still no entertainment in the Family Reunion area and the lines for photos at the photo backdrops were long.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

We were both getting a little chilled so we headed back to our hotel. We had to cross the race course twice to get there, but the runners had thinned out enough that it didn't take too long. I had a really good race and felt really good - but it's always very nice to be done.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

A few souvenirs from our trip to France!

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

This was a terrific race weekend. Totally exceeded all of my expectations. Congratulations to everyone involved, and a heartfelt thank you from me as well. I hope this race weekend will be around for a long time. While I'm not planning to run it again next year, I would certainly like to run it again in the future - maybe the 5th anniversary?







October 1, 2016

Disneyland Paris Inaugural Half Marathon Weekend - Part 2, 5K

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Disneyland Paris 5K

The 5K started at 7:00 on Saturday morning. A very civilized hour for those of us used to the typical 5:00 or 5:30 starts of most runDisney events! (Though the start time was NOT listed in the official program!) And since everything was so close, we didn't even have to get up that early - we set the alarm for 5:15.

Continental breakfast at the hotels was included as part of our race packages. On race mornings, there was also a limited race breakfast available starting at 5:00. I was very surprised that there were NO bread products at the race breakfast! We're in France, where there's a boulangerie on almost every corner, and there's no croissants or toast for race breakfast? There was yogurt, fruit, and cereal, as well as juice, coffee, tea, and hot chocolate. That was ok for me, but Lee is used to having a bagel or toast or something like that before running.

We met our friends Julie and Mike at breakfast, and then walked over to the start area - left the hotel about 6:15. We again had to go through security, but most runners obviously weren't carrying anything and could just walk through. It took less than 10 minutes to walk to the Events Center. The pre-race area was right next to it.

It looked like it was going to be a great day for running, with a forecast of mostly clear skies and temperature around 54-56. That's perfect in my book. A little chilly for waiting in the corrals, but I'd brought one of my trusty trash bags from home, and I had arm sleeves. I'd also brought gloves but I forgot to wear them that morning - they would have been nice to have. I wore my Belle running costume for the 5K.

Bag check was in the Events Center - the same location as packet pickup, merchandise, etc. That was different, though it was nice that everything was in the same place, and it certainly made sense to do it there. We didn't check any bags, but had to go through the Events Center to access the Runner's Only area. There were lots of people checking for bibs in a couple of places to make sure that only registered runners were allowed to enter.

The event map showed "Photos" in the pre-race area, and I was hoping for Disney characters as they have started to do here. But no, just a couple of backdrops with pretty long lines.

Disneyland Paris 5K

And there were NO PhotoPass photographers - none roaming around taking photos, and, even more surprisingly, none at the photo backdrops! That was one reason the lines were moving so slowly - we all had to hand our cameras to someone else for photos. I was starting to wonder what the use was of purchasing the PhotoPass card if there weren't going to be any photographers!

We eventually got to the front of the line at one of the backdrops and had a few photos taken.

Disneyland Paris 5K

And then we went to the corrals - which were a very short distance away. Corral assignment for the 5K appeared to be completely random. Mike, Julie and I were all in B, but for whatever reason Lee was assigned to C (even though he and I had booked together!), so we all had to go back to C to run together. That was a bummer, as it turned out. We ended up near the back of Corral C.

Disneyland Paris 5K

There were 5,000-6,000 participants in the 5K - and most of them were ahead of us. We could barely see the start line, and there were no speakers or monitors anywhere around us so we had no idea what was going on.

Disneyland Paris 5K

There was a small burst of fireworks a few minutes before 7:00, and then after that we started seeing occasional puffs of "smoke" over the start line.

Disneyland Paris 5K

It appeared that the race started on time but we didn't start moving for another 10 minutes, I think. And once we did start moving we'd move a bit, then stop, then move some more. The reason became obvious as we approached the start line: within the corrals, they were grouping people together and starting them in waves about a minute apart. Interesting strategy, and it did seem to work to spread us out a bit more early in the race. But it was confusing since we couldn't hear anything and had no idea what was going on until we got pretty close to the start line.

Disneyland Paris 5K

There were a couple of race announcers, but we couldn't hear them until we were close to the starting line. They were mixing it up between English and French. Really made me miss Rudy Novotny and Carissa Bealert, though.

Disneyland Paris 5K

We started about 20 minutes after the race officially began. We were on the wide walkway between Downtown Disney and Disneyland, so crowding wasn't much of an issue and we had room to maneuver around slower walkers and runners.

Disneyland Paris 5K

We were very quickly on Main Street in Disneyland.

Disneyland Paris 5K

There's that lovely castle...but no PhotoPass photographers!

Disneyland Paris 5K

We reached the first of what were to be the most character stops I've seen in any Disney race as we made the turn from the hub towards Discoveryland. Cruella deVil and Jafar. Unfortunately, because of our start in Corral C, the lines were very long, so we didn't stop at most of the official photo stops - we had to make our own fun photos instead.

This is one of my favorites. Mike, Julie, and Lee got in the car and the CMs who were cheering there saw what they were doing and rushed over to photobomb them! It was great! There were a lot of cast members out cheering throughout the race, and they all looked like they were having a wonderful time doing it.

Disneyland Paris 5K

We passed the 1K marker in Discoveryland. A few runners around us thought we had already gone a mile. Nope, sorry, different system of measurement here! :-) There were even lines to take photos of the kilometer markers, so we didn't stop.

The course went through all of the various lands - Main Street, Discoveryland, Fantasyland, Adventureland and Frontierland before exiting Disneyland and taking us into the Studios.

There were lots of character stops - most of them had more than one character. And several of them were characters not often seen. For example, in Fantasyland there were two pairs of more unusual characters - Eeyore and Rabbit, and Thumper and his girlfriend. We counted 11 character stops. Very impressive.

Disneyland Paris 5K

Between Discoveryland and Fantasyland we turned and ran into a backstage area which was lit by some interesting lights - they changed color.

Disneyland Paris 5K

In Fantasyland we stopped for a photo outside Alice's Curious Labyrinth.

Disneyland Paris 5K

One of the two water stations was located in Adventureland just past Pirates and Adventure Isle. They were clearly marked.

Disneyland Paris 5K

We actually went into Fantasyland twice - once from the backstage area and once from Adventureland. The course designers did a great job of maximizing park time for this race. The second time we saw Mary Poppins and Bert at the Carousel. That's probably the one photo op that I regret not stopping for.

Disneyland Paris 5K

After that it was time to run through the castle. There were PhotoPass photographers on the Main Street side, so people were slowing down as we went through to mug for the cameras, though we didn't come to a screeching halt like we do in some Disney races.

Disneyland Paris 5K

We stopped in Frontierland to take photos with some of the "pumpkin people" (there were lots of Halloween figures out on Main Street and Frontierland for their Halloween celebration), and the people in front of us were the young woman and her father that we had talked to when in line for the Expo! It was so much fun to see them - and they were having a wonderful time.

Disneyland Paris 5K

We were disappointed that Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is shut down for a lengthy refurbishment - but it's still a very pretty backdrop.

Disneyland Paris 5K

After Frontierland we left Disneyland and went backstage to get into the Studios. In that area we were passed by a scooter with a cameraman on the back - we'd seen a couple of these. I felt like I was in the Tour de France. :-)

Disneyland Paris 5K

We didn't go through quite as much of the Studios park, though we passed most of the major areas and attractions. It's a much smaller park than Disneyland. It might even be Disney's smallest theme park - or that's how it feels to me. We passed the 3K sign just before we entered, so we didn't have too much of the race still remaining.

There weren't as many character stops in the Studios but there were a few very interesting ones. Near Crush's coaster was a character I haven't seen in a VERY long time - Roger Rabbit! And I think the longest line I saw was outside Bistrot Chez Remy - for Remy, Linguini, and Emile! Wow. Very cool to see all three of them.

Disneyland Paris 5K

A bit of a loop - the runners behind Lee, Mike, and Julie who are exiting Playland were ahead of us.

Disneyland Paris 5K

The course took us back into the Hollywood portion of the park and past the Tower of Terror and Rock'n'Roller Coaster. The final character stop was Marvel characters. We saw Spider-Man - others saw Captain America. The line wasn't too long (by far the shortest one we'd seen) and we stopped for it. Unfortunately only the PhotoPass photographer took the picture, and it's not available yet.

The last kilometer of the race was in backstage areas between the Studios and Downtown Disney. We finally found a kilometer sign that didn't have a line. Yay. :-)

Disneyland Paris 5K

The sun was just starting to come over the trees, and it was in our eyes. Lee was inspired to do his best zombie walk. I don't know why.

Disneyland Paris 5K

We reached the Arrivee line. This race wasn't officially timed, but by my Garmin it took us about 53 minutes. Even though we didn't stand in character lines we still stopped a lot for photos. We had a great time running with Mike and Julie.

Disneyland Paris 5K

One very odd thing...there were characters just AFTER the finish line - and they were letting runners pose for selfies with them! It clogged up the finish area. There were Goofy, Minnie, Mickey and Pluto. It was nice to see them, but it became a bottleneck.

Disneyland Paris 5K

5K complete!

Disneyland Paris 5K

I think the medallion is really cute! This is the last of the rubber ones - they will all be made of metal from now on.

Disneyland Paris 5K

In addition to bottles of water and PowerAde, volunteers were handing out bottles of a lactose-free chocolate or vanilla milk called Sporteus. It was pretty good, and hit the spot after running.

Disneyland Paris 5K

And...no runDisney snack boxes at this race! Yay! Instead we received an apple and an actual bag that had peanuts and a cereal bar inside. It was very nice to have the bag to carry the beverage bottles in - juggling all of that is always difficult.

Disneyland Paris 5K

There was no entertainment in the Family Reunion area at all - that seemed strange. There really wasn't anything to do once we finished the race unless we wanted to try to get photos with the backdrops. The lines were even longer than they had been in the morning and there was still no PhotoPass photographer. The generic half marathon weekend backdrop was available, though. I should mention that there were PhotoPass photographers in the finish area to take our official finisher photos.

Disneyland Paris 5K

We were finished and on our way back to the hotel by 8:30. Continental breakfast was still available there - we even had time to shower first. :-)

When we headed to Disneyland after breakfast we could see the Kids Races going on across the lake. It sounded like everyone was having a lot of fun.

Disneyland Paris 5K

Final Thoughts

I must say that I was very impressed - it was an excellent 5K. Easily the best runDisney 5K I have run. The course was terrific - most of it on-stage, and we had lots of time in the parks. I did not experience any real crowded and congested conditions. A little slowing when we went through the castle, but that was the only place that I had to drop to a walk, and not for very long.

And the characters! Disneyland Paris got it RIGHT. I was amazed at how many character stops there were. I hope that Disneyland and Walt Disney World were paying attention.

I didn't call them all out in the blog, but here's the ones that I saw:
Cruella
Jafar
Chewbacca/R2-D2
Eeyore/Rabbit
Thumper/Miss Bunny
Captain Hook/Mr. Smee
Mary Poppins/Bert/Penguin
Jessie/Woody
Roger Rabbit
Remy, Linguini, Emile
Spider-Man

From other runners I know that sometimes the entire Pooh gang, including Pooh, Piglet and Tigger, were out together, and Captain America alternated with Spider-Man.

I was disappointed that we started so far back that the lines were too long, but that's just luck of the draw. And it was our choice not to wait in some of the lines. The one complaint I heard about characters was that the handlers didn't close the lines when they knew a character would be leaving, so some people waited in long lines only to have the character pulled before their turn came.

Considering how much they pushed the purchase of the PhotoPass card, I was surprised that there were no PhotoPass opportunities in the start and finish areas. But there were a reasonable number of photographers along the race course, and at all of the character stops. There were a few other official photo stops in the parks, such as in the hub with the castle behind, at the entrance to Playland, and with some of the Tower of Terror Bellhops. But I'm disappointed at how long it is taking them to make the photos available to us - I'd hope to include some in this blog, but we are still waiting for them to be posted.

The pre-race experience was lacking. There were no video displays or speakers, so we had no idea what was going on. And especially when it turned out they were creating separate waves within the corrals, it would have been nice to know that.

Speaking of waves...I thought the wave idea worked very well in spreading us out a little bit more at the beginning. Especially for the 5K where corrals seemed to be randomly assigned and it was such a mix of runners, walkers, families with kids, etc.

The medallion is adorable...and I really liked the race shirt, also.

I was pleased with the refreshments. Chocolate milk is a very common post-race beverage at non-Disney races, and I was happy to see it here. I don't really need much after a 5K but the apple and cereal bar were nice to have - I ate them later. And giving us BAGS - hallelujah!!!

It was really a terrific race, and we had a lot of fun. I would definitely recommend this race, and I hope to do it again some time. Thanks, Disneyland Paris. Your debut race was a winner!

Next up: the Semi Marathon







September 30, 2016

Disneyland Paris Inaugural Half Marathon Weekend - Part 1

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Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Logo

For a number of years there had been rumors in the runDisney community that a half marathon race would be coming to Disneyland Paris. The official announcement was finally made at the Disney Princess half marathon in 2015, while we were waiting in the starting corrals. There were few details at that time other than the dates, September 23-25, 2016. There was also a run.disneylandparis.com/ web site, but all that was available there was an email signup for additional information when it became available.

Since it had that wonderful "I" word, "Inaugural", associated with it, I knew that I wanted to run it. Plus neither Lee nor I had ever been to Paris or Disneyland Paris. So it seemed like a great opportunity to do that.

Eventually there was a bit more information - there would be 5K and Kids races also, and there would be a Castle to Chateau Challenge medal for those of us who had completed a Disneyland/Disney World half marathon in the same year. Lots of excitement about that!

Later that summer we learned that initial registration would take the form of a package that included hotel nights, park tickets, and race registration. Those would go on sale in October. Bib only sales would not take place until early 2016. For many of us coming from the U.S. a package deal was somewhat attractive since we would want to combine the race with a trip to Disneyland Paris, but many European runners were not so keen on that idea. Some already had DLP annual passes and didn't need park tickets, or lived nearby and didn't need lodging, etc.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon
[Non-attributed photos courtesy of Disney]

There was also a lot of confusion about which travel agencies were "authorized" and had packages to sell. GET Travel was the only U.S. agency, though a number of U.S. agents partnered with U.K. agencies to provide packages. (The latter is the way that we went.) A number of people also called and booked with Disneyland Paris directly, though it was not initially obvious that you could do that. Different providers had different rules on how much you had to put down, and when you had to pay the balance. The one we used, Sports Tours International, didn't require as much down, plus we didn't have to make final payment until the end of June.

The packages offered a stay of 3-5 nights, though all of them required a Monday checkout, which I thought was odd. All of the various hotel properties were available, which meant there was a selection of price points. We decided on Sequoia Lodge, which is classed as a Moderate and has more of a wilderness theme.

Disneyland Paris Sequoia Lodge

It wasn't until mid-December that we each received an email giving us a username and password to the race registration site. That allowed us to register for the 5K and half marathon races. French law requires those participating in half marathons (or longer) races to provide a medical certificate from a doctor certifying that you are healthy enough to run. This of course was unusual to those of us in the U.S. but I thought the requirement was very well communicated. There was a particular certificate template on the web site that we had to print for the doctor to sign. (The hardest part was that the date fields were reversed: day/month/year.) As part of the registration process we had to upload a completed copy of that. And if we were eligible for Castle to Chateau we had to upload a copy of a finisher certificate from a 2016 Disney half marathon (or marathon). It didn't all have to be done at once, but the registration status was not complete until everything was uploaded AND we received an email stating that the medical certificate and finisher certificate had been accepted. Runners who wanted to use the Disneyland Half as their Castle to Chateau qualifier were nervous because their race certificates weren't available soon enough after the race, and I think most ended up bringing a copy of their results to the Expo.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Registration

Bibs went on sale early this year, and it seemed as though those who wanted bib only were able to register. There was even a transfer policy for those who had initially booked a package and then found they would be unable to attend. Bibs for the half marathon were still on sale as late as August. I do not think the race reached capacity. By the way, registration was quite inexpensive by U.S. Disney standards - 29 Euros for the 5K and 69 Euros for the half. Approximately $35/$80.

In addition to the 5K and half marathon, other events that were available were the Inaugural Party, a private event at the Studios on Friday night, and the "Rice Party" (in place of a pasta party) on Saturday night at Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show in Downtown Disney. We did not attend either of those.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon events

We received some email communications from the race organizers in Paris, but there still didn't seem to be nearly as much information available in advance as we are used to. The actual race courses were announced quite late - though that may have been due to security measures. The emails with links to our vouchers (which would allow us to pick up our bibs) didn't come out until September 6, and the actual race waiver form we only received via email the morning of the 16th, as we were preparing to leave for the airport!

I was a little concerned because we had nothing more than a confirmation number from the travel provider. There was an information packet we'd been able to download (again, not long before we left), but nothing really personalized. One detail that should have been communicated: when we arrived at Sequoia Lodge we had to check in at the group area (which was in a separate building) and not at the main desk.

We spent four days in Paris before going to Disneyland Paris. We had managed to travel with just a carry-on suitcase and small bag/backpack each, partly because of the move partway through the trip. We took the metro and the RER-A train to the Marne-la-Vallee Chessy station, which is right outside the gates to Disneyland Paris. Very easy.

Disneyland Paris Train Station

We decided to walk to the hotel rather than take the shuttle bus. I was surprised that we had to go through a security checkpoint to enter Downtown Disney - but it was also the security perimeter for the parks. Going through security was something that we got used to. It's quite efficient since they use an x-Ray machine to scan bags and everyone walks through a metal detector, or gets scanned with a wand. Even when the lines seemed long they moved quickly. I wish Disney would do that here.

Disneyland Paris Security Entrance

After we were directed to the correct check-in area, check-in at the hotel was easy. It was only 1:30, but our room was ready! Because our package was prepaid we didn't even have to leave a credit card - and they don't use the keys for room charging like we are used to here. We received 5 day park hopper tickets since we had a five night package. That meant we could go into the parks that afternoon. We were leaving early on Monday so that wasn't going to be a park day for us. The CM gave us a race information pamphlet but it really had very little information - the hours of the Expo and where things were located and not much else.

Disneyland Paris group check-in

We went to Disneyland Paris that afternoon - but that is for another post. :-)


The Disneyland Half Marathon Expo opened at 3:00 p.m. on Thursday. I thought that was a little unusual. The Disneyland Paris resort is quite compact and reminded me more of Disneyland, with parks, hotels, Expo, and start/finish areas all within walking distance. That's all the long way of saying that the Expo took place in the Disney Events Center, on the opposite end of Downtown Disney from the parks, and close to most of the hotels. And again, within the security perimeter - there was a checkpoint between the hotels and the entrance to Downtown Disney.

Disneyland Paris Events Center

People were concerned about the availability of merchandise for an Inaugural race, and were lining up outside the Events Center by 1:00, and probably before. We didn't go until about 3:20, at which point there was still a long line to get in. The line was because they were checking that everyone had their waiver, race voucher, and ID. It turned out that we needed two waivers - one for each race, and had only printed one, but there were boxes of blanks readily available. There was an area available to print out race vouchers for those who arrived without them.

Disneyland Paris Expo Line

Disneyland Paris Events Center

While we were waiting we chatted with a lovely young French woman behind us (who spoke excellent English). She and her father were running their first Disney race, the 5K, and they were very excited. They were from the local area, and have annual passes to the parks. We tried to give them some idea of what to expect - but of course we didn't know how much it would be like the races here.

Once we got inside there was a huge line. I assumed it was for merchandise and got in it, but it was for the Castle to Chateau wristband! Computer issues. Eventually we figured out what line we were in, and that we didn't need to do that right then.

Disneyland Paris Events Center

Though the lines weren't long, picking up the half marathon bibs took a long time. There was a laptop computer at each pickup counter for the volunteers to scan the bar code on the bib, but the computers were having problems. We also got the gear check bag there with a copy of the program and a cereal bar, but had to go elsewhere to pick up our shirts. We are used to getting our challenge wristbands when we get the bib, but that was not the case here - that was the huge line.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Bib Pickup

After we picked up the bib we had to move to a photo location to have our photo taken with our half marathon bib - we assumed that was for PhotoPass identification since they scanned the bib after taking our photo.

Disneyland Paris Expo

We picked up our 5K bibs and went into the merchandise area. There was no line to get in at that time. There was a line to pay, but there were lots of registers and it moved steadily.

Disneyland Paris Official Merchandise entrance

There really wasn't much merchandise available. "I Did It" shirts for the 5K and half, which were cotton, and men's and women's gray tech shirts with a half marathon logo.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Merchandise

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Merchandise

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Merchandise

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Merchandise

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Merchandise

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Merchandise

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Merchandise

There was a hat, mug, and a few Remy-themed items. No magnets, wine glasses, or a lot of other popular items. There was surprisingly no Castle to Chateau shirt, but we received a flyer with info on ordering them from the Disney Store web site. It loses the immediacy that way, but at least we'll still be able to get them.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Merchandise

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Merchandise

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Merchandise

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Merchandise

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Merchandise

The thing I wanted was the pins. There was an open edition half marathon weekend pin in the merchandise area, but the limited edition pins were only available at the registers. Since they were actually limited to one per transaction I had some hope that there would still be some left. But, of the five pins available, the mini-medal versions of the 5K and Challenge pins were already gone. This was less than two hours after the Expo opened on the first day. At least the half marathon mini-medal pin was still available. The two "I Did It" pins were also available, but I didn't want those. At the register they said they would have more of the other two the next day. I can't believe how badly they misjudged the quantity of pins to order. There's simply no reason to make them so limited! (The 5K mini-medal pin is already missing from the pin display as it was sold out.)

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Pins

After we shopped we wandered around the rest of the Expo. There weren't too many exhibitors there, and very little merchandise for sale. If you'd forgotten some running essential you probably wouldn't find it there.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Expo

We also picked up our race shirts. The 5K shirt is a light soft cotton and the design is very cute. Overall I really liked the shirt. When I selected my shirt size there was an advisory that European sizes run small in the women's cut, so I went with a large instead of a medium. I would have been ok with a medium, I think. They had a shirt exchange but I decided to keep what I had. It's comfortable.

Disneyland Paris 5K shirt

The half marathon shirt is a tech fabric and it's dark gray. I don't know what it is with runDisney and gray shirts, but I'm not a fan. A number of the shirts for sale were gray, also. The Mickey design was nice, though. I thought it interesting that both of the shirts were made in Portugal.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon shirt

The other thing we purchased at the Expo was the Photopass. For a (special?) price of 40 Euros, we will be able to get all of our race photos, plus any PhotoPass photos taken in the parks. To purchase I had to have a bib, and they scanned it, so at least my half marathon bib should be associated with it. And we are supposed to be able to put in all four of our bib numbers. But there wasn't much information on this, and the web site where we are supposed to go put in the info still isn't functional yet, as of this writing - current info says to wait for a week after the race. Not nearly the instant gratification that we are used to!

Disneyland Paris PhotoPass

Disneyland Paris 5K

I guess I should mention that the Expo was in a very large tent. It was a sunny day and it was very warm in there.

The runDisney booth was giving away runDisney shopping bags but the lines were too long so we skipped it. But they had all of the upcoming race medals, including those for Marathon weekend in January. They have all been redesigned. Almost makes me wish I was planning to run the half or full next year. Almost. :-)

runDisney 2016 Mickey's Holiday 5K medal

runDisney Inaugural Wine and Dine 10K medal

runDisney 2016 Wine and Dine Half Marathon Medal

runDisney 2016 Inaugural Lumiere's Challenge Medal

runDisney 2017 WDW 5K Pluto medal

runDisney 2017 WDW 10K Minnie Medal

runDisney 2017 Half Marathon Donald medal

runDisney 2017 Marathon Mickey Medal

runDisney 2017 Goofy Challenge Medal

runDisney 2017 Dopey Challenge medal

runDisney 2017 Castaway Cay Challenge Medal

Isn't the Castle to Chateau medal a thing of beauty? I was definitely looking forward to getting that one put around my neck!

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Medals

The line for Castle to Chateau wristbands was even longer, so we decided to just come back the next day - especially since I was hoping to get the other two pins. At that point there was no line to get into the Expo, and not much for bib pickup or merchandise.

Here's what I brought back from the Expo that day:

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Expo

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon medal pins

On Friday the Expo opened at 10:00 and we went back about 10:40. There was a short line to get in, but we explained we'd already picked up our bibs and needed to get wristbands and they let us in. We went to the merchandise area. They did have the Castle to Chateau pins but were already sold out of the 5K pin. By sometime later that afternoon all pins were sold out. Major failure.

There was a line of 15-20 people waiting for Castle to Chateau wristbands but it moved very quickly.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Expo

We had to have our bibs to get the wristband - they stamped the back of the bib to show that we had picked up the band.

Disneyland Paris Castle to Chateau button

Then we went to the runDisney booth, where there was a Castle to Chateau button for us. Our wristband was marked with a small "X" to show that we'd received that. I thought it was nice to see those measures in place.

Disneyland Paris Castle to Chateau button

The Disneyland Paris race director, Laurent Charbonnier, was giving a talk on the race as part of the "Speaker Series" so we sat down to listen to that. He obviously had experienced some runDisney races before, and described some of the similarities and differences that we might see. He also gave us a preview of both of the race courses - we were especially interested in what he had to say about the half marathon course, since much of that was outside the parks. One other thing I found interesting was that he warned us that at character photo stops we might find that some French and Italian people (yes, he singled them out specifically) could attempt to cut in line. He suggested that we firmly direct them to the back of the line. (We never saw any of that - and there were lots of French people in the race.)

Disneyland Paris Race Director Laurent Charbonnier

As you can tell, there were some Expo glitches. Though it seemed to me that they made adjustments between Thursday and Friday so that things went more smoothly for those who arrived on Friday. Honestly, I thought it was pretty good for a first attempt.

My major complaint is merchandise, specifically the pins. I just can't understand how, with as many race expos as there have been, that Disney can't figure out the merchandise quantities they need to order. Especially for an inaugural event.

Next up: the 5K








February 18, 2016

Disneyland Paris - Toy Story Playland

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com spent 10 days at the Disneyland Paris resort. I will sharing a series of posts from the trip here on AllEars.net and have a full set of pictures, videos, thoughts and observations linked to my 2015 Paris Trip Summary Page on disneygeek.com.

This posting takes a look at the Toy Story Playland area inside the Walt Disney Studios Park. This area opened in August 2010, a little over a year before its cousin in Hong Kong Disneyland. The two playlands share the same three attractions and have a similar layout. The Paris version seemed more compact and almost jammed into the park where as the Hong Kong one felt more open and a more natural layout. Hong Kong was also larger featuring a gift shop and snack location that Paris did not.


Approaching one of the two entrances to Toy Story Play Land.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


If you approach from another walkway this is how the entrance looks.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


The other entrance is from the Ratatouille area. Here you pass under a bridge and through a barrel.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Looking back.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Monkeys overhead as you enter from the Ratatouille area.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Near the entrance a photo spot.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Rex is another photo spot near this entrance.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Looking into the land. To the left is Slinky Dog Zigzag Spin. To the right is RC Racer and beyond that the Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


First up a look at Slinky Dog Zigzag Spin. This is the same attraction as in Hong Kong. It was closed most of the days of my trip, only open the weekend due to renovation.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


The entrance to Slinky Dog.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


The RC Racer attraction is across the walkway.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


A photo op nearby.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Another photo op.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


The final attraction is the Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


A look at the parachutes.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


A photo op near the queue.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


The Slinky Dog queue area.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


To close out a look into the land from the Buzz Lightyear entrance side.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015

Hope you enjoyed this look at Toy Story Playland inside the Walt Disney Studios Park at Disneyland Paris. For additional photos and details from this trip you can check out the full set of Disneyland Paris pictures/videos I posted on my site, http://disneygeek.com Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.






January 31, 2016

Disneyland Paris - Bistrot Chez Remy

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com spent 10 days at the Disneyland Paris resort. I will be sharing a series of posts from the trip here on AllEars.net and have a full set of pictures, videos, thoughts and observations linked to my 2015 Paris Trip Summary Page on disneygeek.com. This posting takes a look around Bistrot Chez Remy where I had lunch at the Walt Disney Studios Park.


The entrance to Remys. We had made a reservation earlier in the morning before leaving the hotel but it was really not needed as the walk-ups were getting seated about as quickly as we were.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015

The waiting area has several awards he has won over the years.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015

As you enter the dining area you are shrunk to rat size...notice the floor pattern enlarging as you shrink.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


A look around one of the front dining rooms, out those windows is the main square of the area.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


One of the other dining rooms. The back of this room has windows to the attraction unload area.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


The chairs are bottle caps and corks.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


The view from our booth.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


The napkin at my seat.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


We were on a meal plan which required us to order from the prix fixe menu, which included starter, entree, and dessert. For those not on the dining plan the price was 39,99 Euros. The starter was a mixed leaf salad with cheese, grated beetroot and chives, and a sesame & soy sauce vinaigrette. The Coke I had to drink was not included in the prix fixe menu, but was included in the meal plan. No refill, though.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


For my main course I had a grilled steak, ratatouille and French fries.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


If you ask for ketchup this is what is brought to you.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015

Thoughts: Since we were on a meal plan (the Plus plan) we were limited to the prix fixe menu and no changes. I ordered the beef which came with fries so I was good to go. The food was not bad...it was not great and was on the pricey side but it was lunch and filled me up. Compared to the other dining choices in the Studios park I thought this was a good meal and the environment was fun to see and eat in. I am not sure I would opt to go there and pay - for the same price there are other places with better meals. But if I were on a plan again and looking for variety I would probably go back.

Hope you enjoyed this look at Bistrot Chez Remy. For additional photos and details from this trip you can check out the full set of Disneyland Paris pictures/videos I posted on my site, http://disneygeek.com Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.






January 28, 2016

Disneyland Paris - Ratatouille Area of Walt Disney Studios Park

laura%27s%20masthead%20copy2.jpg

Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com spent 10 days at the Disneyland Paris resort. I will be sharing a series of posts from the trip here on AllEars.net and have a full set of pictures, videos, thoughts and observations linked to my 2015 Paris Trip Summary Page on disneygeek.com. This posting takes a look at the Ratatouille area of the Walt Disney Studios Park.

The Ratatouille: L' Aventure Totalement Toquee de Remy opened at the Walt Disney Studios Park at the Disneyland Paris Resort in the summer of 2014. The area consists of the attraction, FastPass Distribution, a gift shop, and Bistrot Chez Remy restaurant. The attraction features trackless ride vehicles that take you on a nearly 5-minute journey as you are shrunk down to Remy's size and experience a chase through a bistro with Remy utilizing 3D projections and larger than life sets & props. The ride system is similar to Tokyo's Winnie the Pooh attraction and Hong Kong's Mystic Manor.

Prior to going to Paris I had seen several videos of the attraction and done some reading on it. The pictures and video you see really do not do the attraction justice. The immersive feeling and movement of the vehicles are key components and just do not translate to the internet that well. I was impressed with the experience and it was by far the best attraction at the park and one of my favorites from the entire resort. Below are some pictures of the area. I will be sharing a follow-up post with a look at Chez Remy where I had lunch on day.

Approaching the Ratatouille area.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015

To the right as you approach is the gift shop.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015

Next to the gift shop is the FastPass distribution area.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015

FastPass machines

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015

The entrance to the attraction. It features FastPass, Single Rider and Standby.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015

A good portion of the standby queue is outside.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015

A couple of the posters along the queue area.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015

As you enter the building the cast chefs are highlighted.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015

The interior queue takes you along the rooftops of Paris (well there is a set that you work your way around).

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015

You work your way to one of two load areas each with several vehicles to board. Notice you are rat size at this point, see the wall in the background.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015

You board a trackless ratmobile for the adventure.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015

On your journey you go through a handful of projection rooms and a couple over-sized sets. My pictures did not do it any justice because of the 3D projections so I am only going to include this one of the finale.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015

You exit near Remy's restaurant. I will have another post on dining there. Here is a look at the central courtyard.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015

The Fountain in the middle of the area.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015

Through this tunnel is Toy Story Playland.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015

A wide shot shows some of the Playland beyond.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015

Some props nearby. Notice the poles.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015

The manhole cover.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015

One last look at the area on a rainy afternoon.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015

Hope you enjoyed this look at the Ratatouille area of the Walt Disney Studios Park at Disneyland Paris. For additional photos and details from this trip you can check out the full set of Disneyland Paris pictures/videos I posted on my site, http://disneygeek.com Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.







January 27, 2016

Disneyland Paris - La Magie Disney en Parade! (Disney Magic on Parade!)

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com spent 10 days at the Disneyland Paris resort last fall as part of his 2015 "Disney World Tour". I will be sharing a series of posts from the trip here on AllEars.net and have a full set of pictures, videos, thoughts and observations linked to my 2015 Paris Trip Summary Page on disneygeek.com.

This posting takes a look La Magie Disney en Parade! (Disney Magic on Parade!) which was the daily parade during my visit. It occurred each afternoon at 5:30pm.


Sleeping Beauty Castle with a crowd gathered along the parade route.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Looking toward Main Street

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather lead the way with the Blue Fairy and the Fairy Godmother on the first float.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Cinderella and her Prince following along behind.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Elsa, Anna and Olaf from Frozen

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


The Alice in Wonderland characters were in the next grouping.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Characters from Pinocchio are on the back of the Alice float.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Toy Story gang

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


On the back of the Toy Story unit is Winnie the Pooh

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Lion King

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


On the back of the Lion King is the Jungle Book.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Peter Pan is next.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Mary Poppins is on the back of the Peter Pan float

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


The finale float features an assortment of characters.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Mickey and Minnie on the front

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Goofy, Donald, Chip and Dale were all onboard too.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Tinker Bell on the back of the last float.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Coming behind the parade to clean the streets.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


A video of the full parade.

Hope you enjoyed this look at the Disneyland Paris Disney Magic on Parade!. For additional photos and details from this trip you can check out the full set of Disneyland Paris pictures/videos I posted on my site, http://disneygeek.com Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.







November 6, 2015

Disneyland Paris - Villains

laura%27s%20masthead%20copy2.jpg
Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com spent 10 days at the Disneyland Paris resort. I will sharing a series of posts from the trip here on AllEars.net and have a full set of pictures, videos, thoughts and observations linked to my 2015 Paris Trip Summary Page on disneygeek.com. This posting takes a look at some opportunities to meet the Disney Villains.



The Disney Villains take over the Castle Stage for a show called Its Good to Be Bad with the Disney Villains!

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Halloween

Dr. Facilier takes the stage to start the event.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Halloween


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Halloween


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Halloween

The other Villains join him on stage for a song before going meet guests.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Halloween


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Halloween

Here is a video of the show.



After the show the Villains are available for Photos. Here is the old hag looking at a picture of herself.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Halloween

Captain Hook

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Halloween

Dr. Facilier

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Halloween

Cruella DeVil

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Halloween

Jafar

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Halloween

Maleficient meets guests in Fantasyland at La Cour de Malefique

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Halloween


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Halloween


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Halloween

The backdrop for Maleficent are these brambles and Sleeping Beauty Castle.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Halloween

Notice the dragon shape...

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Halloween

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Halloween


Hope you enjoyed this look at Halloween at Disneyland Paris. For additional photos and details from this trip you can check out the full set of Disneyland Paris pictures/videos I posted on my site, http://disneygeek.com Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.


November 5, 2015

Disneyland Paris - Frontierland Halloween Festivities

laura%27s%20masthead%20copy2.jpg
Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com spent 10 days at the Disneyland Paris resort. I will sharing a series of posts from the trip here on AllEars.net and have a full set of pictures, videos, thoughts and observations linked to my 2015 Paris Trip Summary Page on disneygeek.com. this posting takes a look at the Halloween festivities in Frontierland.
As you enter through Fort Comstock there are fall decorations around.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Frontierland Halloween
A closer look at the lights.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Frontierland Halloween
Looking into Frontierland from the upper story of the fort.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Frontierland Halloween
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Frontierland Halloween
The Lucky Nugget is decorated.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Frontierland Halloween
A closer look at the pumpkin people.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Frontierland Halloween
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Frontierland Halloween
On the other side opposite the Lucky Nugget in front of Tobias Norton & Sons
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Frontierland Halloween
Looking back from near the river.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Frontierland Halloween
Throughout the day a band entertains in the area.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Frontierland Halloween
A video clip of the band performing.

Jack Skellington is also out at Le Cimetiere de Jack along the river bank.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Frontierland Halloween
Pumpkin carving takes place in Frontierland too.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Frontierland Halloween
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Frontierland Halloween
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Frontierland Halloween
The Cottonwood Creek Ranch is open for the season too.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Frontierland Halloween
It features La boite a citrouilles de Mickey (Mickey's box of pumpkins) Meet and Greet.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Frontierland Halloween
If you visit any of the characters you got an activity booklet and a treat (for free). Plus your picture taken with PhotoPass.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Frontierland Halloween
Goofy and Pluto were also roaming the ranch area.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Frontierland Halloween
Hope you enjoyed this look at Halloween in Frontierland at Disneyland Paris. For additional photos and details from this trip you can check out the full set of Disneyland Paris pictures/videos I posted on my site, http://disneygeek.com Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.



November 1, 2015

Disneyland Paris - Mickey's Halloween Celebration

laura%27s%20masthead%20copy2.jpg
Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com spent 10 days at the Disneyland Paris resort. I will sharing a series of posts from the trip here on AllEars.net and have a full set of pictures, videos, thoughts and observations linked to my 2015 Paris Trip Summary Page on disneygeek.com.

This posting takes a look at La Celebration Halloween de Mickey (Mickey's Halloween Celebration) that runs three times a day on the parade route.


Daisy leads the way.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Donald and his nephews are on the first float.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Scrooge McDuck is on the back of the float.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Performers in between floats.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


The Winnie the Pooh group.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Scarecrow dancers

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


The second float features Clarabelle, Horace and the Three Little Pigs.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


The final float has Mickey and Minnie on the front.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Chip, Dale and Clarice are on the back.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Here is a video of the full parade including the pre-parade announcement.


A clip of the parade coming up Main Street USA.

Hope you enjoyed this look at Mickey's Halloween Celebration parade at Disneyland Paris. For additional photos and details from this trip you can check out the full set of Disneyland Paris pictures/videos I posted on my site, http://disneygeek.com Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.







October 28, 2015

Disneyland Paris - Main Street USA Halloween Pictures

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com spent 10 days at the Disneyland Paris resort. I will sharing a series of posts from the trip here on AllEars.net and have a full set of pictures, videos, thoughts and observations linked to my 2015 Paris Trip Summary Page on disneygeek.com. this posting takes a look at Main Street USA in Disneyland Park and some of the Halloween decorations.


The Main Street USA train station, even though closed for renovation, has Halloween decorations as you enter the park.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


A video clip of the area at night.



Stepping into Town Square you are met with decorations and on this morning a band dressed for the occasion.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


A video clip of the band performing in Town Square.



Ghosts are present throughout Main Street USA.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


A video/pan around Main Street USA.



A look at some of the ghosts on Main Street USA, this family in Town Square.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


This trio near City Hall


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


This one near the dentist office in Town Square.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Overhead are more ghosts and pumpkins on the balconies, windows and rooftops.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Even the light poles are transformed for the season.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Main Street transportation has picked up a few hitchhiking ghosts too. A bellhop on this car.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


The horse-drawn streetcar is decked out for the season. Here is a video of it and a look around the hub.



In the hub are character-inspired pumpkins.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


Another video of a horse-drawn street car passing by.



There are also a couple of character meet and greet locations. The Halloween Costume Corner near Casey's has Minnie Mouse part of the day.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015


And when she is not there Stitch is.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Fall 2015

Hope you enjoyed this look at Halloween on Main Street USA at Disneyland Paris. For additional photos and details from this trip you can check out the full set of Disneyland Paris pictures/videos I posted on my site, http://disneygeek.com Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.







June 6, 2012

Disneyland Paris: Special Events with the Disneyana Fan Club.

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Preamble
Part 1.
Part 2.
Part 3.

Part of my trip to Disneyland Paris was under the auspices of the Disneyana Fan Club (http://disneyanafanclub.org/home) who put together a multi-day group program, centering around the 20th Anniversary festivities. The last time I traveled with them was for Tokyo Disneyland's 25th Anniversary some years ago, which was also a terrific trip.

The first full day of events took place on April 11, the day before the anniversary. It started off with lunch at Inventions--a fabulous buffet in the Disneyland Hotel.

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After lunch, we convened in the Founder's Club--an executive lounge in the hotel--to see presentations by Tracy Eck, Art Director of Lighting Design for WDI Paris, and Disney Legend Tony Baxter, who served as Executive Producer for the creation of Disneyland Paris.

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Both presentations were wonderful--Eck gave several details about all the work the park had recently undergone to get ready for the celebrations, particularly the large fiberoptic Tinker Bell sign on the train station entrance, the recreation of the previously-eroded pirate ship, and the creation of a few newly themed meet-and-greet locations.

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Baxter spoke of the many trials and tribulations that beset the Imagineers when they were creating the park, and some of the cultural adaptations they made to better suit the park to the surrounding populace. Realizing people residing in France were likely to be all too familiar with the real castles which serve as inspirations for the Disneyland and Magic Kingdom castles, they styled the castle to better reflect that of a fairy tale aesthetic.

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He also recounted some of the hidden in-jokes and homages they put in. He remembered that when the Imagineers were remodeling the Fantasyland in Disneyland Anaheim, the doorway out of Village Haus Restaurant had a beam going down the middle that forced them to place the Exit sign off to the side (which he thought looked terrible.) To try to cover it, he painted an image of Figaro with a rope tied to the sign, trying to pull it to the center. In Paris, the equivalent restaurant, Au Chalet de la Marionnette, had no such problem, so as a nod to the original, Baxter had another Figaro placed giving a thumbs-up to the onlooker, as if to say "we got it right this time!"

He noted that it would be a difficult reference for anyone to get, because you'd have to have seen them at each park. Only I, your strange little Disney friend, have traveled across two continents to bring you this trivia.

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Afterwards, we were surprised with a presentation of all the Disney Parks Ambassadors from around the world, gathered together for the first time in anyone's memory to celebrate the occasion.

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And if that weren't enough, a couple of other guys who happened to be traveling through popped by:

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...Frequent Disney Artists, Kevin Kidney and Jody Daily!

The next day, after the anniversary excitement of the morning, the group arranged lunch for us at the beautiful Walt's, on Main Street.

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The decor inside is magnificent--each room is decorated in the style of one of the separate lands. We happened to eat in Adventureland.

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Joining us for lunch was Chief Operating Officer of Disneyland Paris, Joe Schott, who graciously said he was happy to spend part of such a momentous day with people who had traveled so far to experience it.

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He seemed very invested in finding ways to constantly improve the park experience for his guests and spoke briefly on the difficulties of putting together the various components of the new anniversary attractions in the short ~two years since he had been appointed his position.

For our final special event, on Friday the 13th, no less, they arranged for us to enter the park before opening to have breakfast in front of the Phantom Manor.

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Unfortunately, the weather that day, as most of the other days, was freezing cold, so the decision was made to move it indoors. Fortunately, it was moved into the Lucky Nugget Saloon which proved to be a gorgeous venue on its own.

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The food, alas, was identical to the somewhat limited fare the hotel served for its breakfast buffet each day, but a few familiar faces turned up to enliven the event.

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After a photo in front of the Phantom Manor, that concluded the exclusive part of the trip. There were a number of other meets to watch various parades and shows as a group, but these were the activities they arranged that were special to the club.

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While the Disneyana trips aren't cheap, they do provide some experiences that would be difficult or impossible for you to arrange on your own, and they also offer the chance for people new to travel or the area to enjoy the support system of a group. I have enjoyed both trips I've taken with them, and would encourage anyone interested in their events to check out their webpage.

Next: The Big Day Arrives.

May 13, 2012

Disneyland Paris: Magic on Parade!

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Preamble
Part 1.
Part 2.
Part 3.

So as another component to their 20th anniversary celebration, Disneyland Paris added in a new/updated parade and "Disney's 20th Anniversary Celebration Train."

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This was something I hadn't seen before: The train, containing a number of characters, starts off down Main St. like a traditional parade, circles around the hub, and then stops. At this point, I thought maybe they would all put on a show or something.

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Turns out, not so much. The characters get off the train and then the CMs escort each one straight out into the mob of guests, and at some point in the morass of humanity, just stop...and that's where their meet n'greet takes place. The density of people around them was pretty impressive, and I was constantly surprised at the lack of bloodshed.

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Their new parade however, Disney Magic on Parade! is a little more substantial.

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The floats reminded me a little of the old Parade of Dreams from Disneyland's 50th anniversary, although perhaps a little less elaborate, with fewer moving parts. Magic on Parade apparently is an updated version of the parade they had been running for awhile, with a few additions and new segments.

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Travel Tip #4: Consider a tour.

One of the activities I enjoyed towards the end of my trip was taking one of the guided tours of the park. I'll give a little more detail about it later, but one of the perks of taking it was getting reserved viewing of the parade. Because it was my last day and I had already planned some different activities for the rest of the afternoon (and I had already seen the parade a couple times,) I actually didn't get to take advantage of that, but it's something I would definitely consider doing earlier in my trip next time.

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The music is catchy enough, but I might wish for the song to be a tad longer, as it did seem as though you heard the refrain quite a few times by the end of the parade.

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In any case, it's a perfectly respectable parade without any of the show stops or dance parties that so many of Disney's contemporary parades seem to find essential. I am thumbs up on it.

Next time: Special Events with the Disneyana Fan Club.

May 2, 2012

Disneyland Paris: Disney Dreams

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Preamble
Part 1.
Part 2.

So about a week or two before I arrived there, DLP had premiered its marquee event for the anniversary celebrations, Disney Dreams: A nighttime spectacular that combines fireworks and water projections and castle projections all into one big show. Joe Schott, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of DLP, told us that he had asked Steve Davison, Vice President for Parades and Spectaculars at Walt Disney Imagineering Creative Entertainment, to come up with a show they could spotlight for the 20th Anniversary only 13 months earlier--making the accomplishment of wedding all these disparate elements into one show that much more impressive.

Here's a video on the making of Disney Dreams:

The first night I was there, Dreams was shown twice, despite the fact that it was lightly raining.

Travel Tip #3: Pick up your map and show schedule when you first enter the park.

Unlike the US parks, in which you can usually always pick up a map and a show schedule in any store or from any available custodial CM, the only place I ever found them in DLP was at the entrance or in the AP center. I actually asked around for a show schedule once I was in the park, but apparently did a poor job at explaining what I was looking for, as the response was "I don't think we have those."

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The show is done in an interesting hybrid of English and French. As far as I can tell, any character who was obviously French, such as Remy, Lumiere, or Quasimoto, all spoke and sang in French. Main characters who were not French, like Peter Pan, King Louie, and Rapunzel, spoke and sang in English. Captain Hook and Wendy only spoke in French.

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Although it sounds a little confusing, the storyline isn't really so involved that it takes much to follow it--Peter Pan and Wendy are admiring the magical Second Star to the Right, when Peter's shadow takes it into its head to run away. On trying to elude Peter, the shadow inadvertently lets all the magic drain out of the star, causing all manner of Heck to break loose.

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At first, as these stories do tend to go, the musical interludes are happy and inviting for Peter's shadow, using numbers like "Be Our Guest," and "Step in Time," but eventually turn darker as villains such as Dr. Facilier start menacing him/it.

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Eventually Peter swoops in to save the day, and everyone lives Happily Ever After, as you do.

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The first showing was broadcast online, and one of the questions was whether it would look as awesome in person. I am here to tell you that, yes, it does. All the lights and projectors must be the next generation editions, because the visuals are exceptionally clear on the castle. The fireworks are integrated well into the show and really work as accents. Although the water screens on either side of the castle are effective, I actually thought they were the most dispensible part, as a lot of the time I felt like I was trying to look past them to what was happening on the castle.

To see the show, some people like to be further back towards Main Street, so they can get a better view of the water screens, but I actually found I liked it better up close because it was easier to see the projections at the base of the castle. As with World of Color however, the spray from the screens does start pelting the people in front...and when the temperatures were in the thirties and forties, as they were when I was there, that can quickly become a huge drag.

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Some nights the park closed at 9:30pm and they had one show at closing, and some nights the park closed at 11, in which case they had one show around 10 and a second showing at 11. My findings were that, on the days with two shows, absolutely everyone in the park went to the first show, leaving all the other attractions complete walk-ons, and no one went to the second one, making it possible to stand pretty much wherever you wanted to watch it. (Whether this was because everyone had to leave to catch a train back to town or something, I never found out.)

In any case, it is a stunning show, and, I think, the best of Davison's recent productions. He's clearly learned from his experiences with World of Color and Tokyo DisneySeas' Fantasmic! and created a show much more easily viewed from different angles. As good as it looks in the video below, it is easily twice as striking in person, so my advice? Get your passport in order.

Next: Is A Parade In Town?

April 29, 2012

Disneyland Paris: Ticketing and Transportation

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Part 1.

Depending on the hotel you stay at, you have different options for getting to the parks. If you pony up the dough to stay at the Disneyland Hotel, your life is easy, given that the hotel is directly opposite the Main Street Railway Station. Sequoia Lodge, Hotel New York, and Disney's Newport Bay Club are all located within walking distance, around Lake Disney.

Panorama of Lake Disney

Because it was dark, cold, and rainy the first night I went to the park, I took the bus. Although the pickup for the bus is pretty convenient--right in front of the hotel--the drop-off is less so. The buses all drop off along the side of the railway station/garage, with the stop for Sequoia being pretty far back.

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From that point, there is literally nothing within eyeshot of the parks, and if there were any signs indicating which way to go, I didn't see them. After watching me standing around for awhile wondering if I had gotten off at the wrong stop, the bus driver finally broke down and high-beamed me, to give me directions.

There is also, again, absolutely no one around the bus area to answer questions, so you need to get all the information from the bus driver that you want before leaving. Subsequently, I realized I didn't know when the buses stopped running and asked a number of security personnel (the only ones still around after the parks closed,) all of which gave me different times, none of which ended up being correct.

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Here's the map I wish I had had--I ended up taking the bus every day because it was pretty freezing and wet most mornings, and as a result never realized until my last night there, how close the hotel was to the Disney Village. Some nights, after the parks had closed, I actually walked the length of the Village to pick up food (at that point probably less than a 10 minute walk from the hotel,) then walked all the way back out of the Village, down the length of the train station, and waited around for the bus. The More You Know.

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Anyway, assuming you finally meander your way around the train station, you then get to go through the usual security check. In an interesting twist, there are several lines, one of which has an x-ray machine for your bags instead of a person doing a manual check. The line may be shorter for the machine, and it may seem compelling to just be able to throw your bag down without having to open it up and expose all the contents to a stranger, but don't do it--it inevitably takes longer for some reason. The security is also a little more cavalier than at home, as a couple of times I just walked through with my bag uninvestigated, when none of the security guys seemed interested in looking at it.

On passing through security, you then find yourself contemplating the beautiful Disneyland Hotel.

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Tony Baxter later spoke to us about how on creating the park, the Imagineers felt that European towns usually had an inn by the train station, and wanted to emulate that by designing the hotel to be directly abutting the park. At the time, they were beset by a lot of naysayers who said that no one would want to stay there from the noise of the parades or fireworks, etc...and subsequently the design was so successful, it was replicated with the Miracosta at Tokyo DisneySea, and the Grand Californian at California Adventure.

Travel Tip #2: Consider the Annual Pass.

Here are the prices for day tickets to Disneyland Paris:
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...And here are the prices for Annual Passes.
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As you can see, assuming your visit isn't going to coincide with the AP's blackout dates, if you are even going for three days, you're better off with the Fantasy pass (the one I got.) The one under that is worth it if you're even going for more than one day, however that might be limited to purchase by locals. The other advantage to the Fantasy AP is that it gave around a 10% discount at pretty much all the stores and restaurants on property which is less than the 20% that the Dream pass got, but better than a poke in the eye.

Activating the AP can be a bit of a challenge--I entered in the evening of my first day there, and found that the AP center (on the Discoveryland side of the hub,) was already closed. The next day I had to go around to guest services because my AP voucher no longer let me in, since I had already used it for an entry the day before. After a number of phone calls, the CM had to walk over and manually let me in, admonishing me that I had to activate the AP as soon as possible. I went over to the AP center...and of course, it wasn't open yet.

Anyway, you enter by passing under the hotel, at which time you get your first glimpses of the park.

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...and it's gorgeous. I mean it--everything I've said up to this point has probably made it seem like a big ol' hassle to get over here and get in, but at the point where you walk in and see all the detailing and the beautiful castle...it's all worth it.

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Next time: Disney Dreams.

April 26, 2012

Disneyland Paris: It Begins

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I'm back! Did you miss me? Wha...what do you mean, "oh, did you go somewhere?" Oh well...

Disneyland Paris celebrated it's 20th anniversary on April 12, 2012, which seemed like a good enough reason for me to make my inaugural trip out there. As I mentioned in my last blog, Jack Spence has already done a terrific job detailing the resort in his column (http://land.allears.net/blogs/jackspence/disneyland_paris/) I'll stick to relating my personal impressions and recent changes.

I flew over on British Air, connecting through Heathrow, and flew back on Air Tahiti Nui, non-stop. I know I've harped before on the importance of upgrading international flights...and I'm going to continue to do so. For me, being able to show up at a place without feeling like I've just been put through a meat grinder for the last 12 hours is a huge contribution to my travel experience. I would much rather get a cheap hotel room that I'm only going to use for showering and sleeping, and then put the money towards a better seat/bed that I'm going to be strapped into for a day.

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Plus, I got to fly in the same cabin as Ewan McGregor--which I texted to everyone I knew before takeoff. Of course then, during the flight, I got to ponder that if the plane went down, the last words anyone was going to have received from me was "Ewan McGregor." On the upside, I figured if we crashed, anyone who got a seat in his liferaft was golden, because you know that's the only one anyone's going to care about rescuing.

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Arriving at the Charles de Gaulle Airport, I had the difficulty of located the VEA shuttle, for which I had previously bought tickets online (http://www.vea-shuttle.co.uk/). I'm told they typically have obvious signs, however due to construction they appear to no longer be obvious.

Travel Tip #1: Write down and take with you as much information as you can find out in advance. You cannot always be reliant on the kindness of strangers.

If you use the VEA shuttle, the advantage is that it will take you directly to the hotel and you won't have to maneuver your luggage around as much. The disadvantage is that it is slightly more expensive than taking the train, and only leaves from one terminal at CDG. If your flight comes into a different terminal, you need to figure out where to catch a separate bus, which will then take you to the that terminal. Faced with the prospect of waiting outside in the rain to then have to heave all my luggage on and off another bus, I ended up just walking around the airport to the pick-up point. I asked a number of people about the bus, most of which were happy to point you in the general direction of where you had to go, but were non-specific on details, and there were very few official people around to ask in any case. As a general rule, this was a theme I found for the entire trip--the number of people available to ask for directions or information were pretty sparse.

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On arriving at Disney's Sequoia Lodge, one thing immediately noticeable was that there was again no one around the front to direct you...consequently, I had to make a couple of trips trying to check in before finding the correct place to do so. Although there is a baggage desk, it's located in a separate room off to the side of the hotel entrance, so there really aren't people readily available to volunteer to help you with your luggage. If you were expecting a folder-full of information as you usually receive when you check into a WDW hotel, you'd be disappointed on that aspect as well--I received a key card and an envelope with my new AP in it, and that was it. I asked whether they had a map of the resort in case I got a chance to go around and see the other hotels, and the response was "no."

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The rooms were relatively unexceptional. My room was in the main building (an asset, as the ones in the outer lodges could reputedly be a hike to the buses and restaurants,) and part of a block of rooms recently refurbished. Comparable to a moderate (although with prices closer to a low deluxe,) it was clean with reasonable furnishings, however the towels were pretty bad--your gym probably hands out ones about the same quality. If you like face towels, much like in the rest of Europe, you should probably bring your own, as they don't stock them here. There was no liner for the ice bucket which seemed unsanitary until I remembered that, by and large, they don't like terribly cold beverages, which probably means that they only use the bucket for chilling bottles. The room doesn't come with an electric kettle but one is available on request--if you know to ask. There's no folder or anything inside the room to let you know what's at the resort. There is information in the form of an electric menu on the TV, however some of it (hours of operation, etc.) was out of date. You could theoretically have gotten your account information on the TV as well, but mine said it was "unavailable," which was probably just as well, as it also had the wrong name on it.

The best thing by far on the TV was a "Stacy's Top Seven" equivalent--a British girl named Sophie, who would enthusiastically expound on various parts of the resort and then end each item on her list with "SORTED!!"

Next: I finally get over to a park.

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About Disneyland Paris

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Salute to All Things Disney but Mostly Disneyland in the Disneyland Paris category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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