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Topic: First but not Last, Day 1

  1. #1
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    Default First but not Last, Day 1

    Background

    I should say upfront the I had never been keen on the whole idea of a Disneyland Paris trip, I guess I had always believed the reports that it was the unloved step child of the Disney empire, a poor imitation of the American parks and in particular the American customer service. The other negative has always been the price, whenever Iíve looked it was going to cost about the same as a trip to Florida and Iíll take Florida every time thanks. We had come close a couple of times to going, taking seats on one of my sisterís coach trips, but to be honest that whole sitting on a coach thing was also a negative. I like to be able to choose my seat-mates and stopping points thanks.

    My wife and sister slowly worked on me and in the end as normal my sister found an offer and a Ďbargainí. We got booked on a Ďbuy two, get two freeí deal staying at Hotel Cheyanne in late June, including 5 daysí worth of park tickets for quite a lot less than the cost of a trip across the Atlantic. I have to say that without the 2 free days it would have been close still!

    The only fly in the ointment was that with his new job our son couldnít join us, all the leave allocation for June had gone before he started his job. This would be our first trip away without him since he was a toddler and we did miss him greatly. On the bright side this did mean that we only needed to take 1 car for the 4 of us, me, Julia my wife, my sister Sandra and brother-in-law Brian. Julia has a pathological hatred of boats so we didnít take up Disneyís offer of a free ferry crossing and instead spent about £120 on the tunnel instead.

    I admit I had some preconceptions and wasnít looking forward to the trip as much as a normal Disney holiday, but as the weeks went past and I started watching more and more videos, reading trip reports and news reports of stuff happening in the parks my excitement built. Work has been absolutely manic since March and so I was really looking forward to a few days away and spending time with Julia as much as anything.

    I should probably mention that Julia is disabled with a chronic pain condition that also limits the amount of time she can stand or walk, or even how long she can stay sat in the same position (another negative against the coach trip). Normally in the US we hire an ECV for the duration of our holiday, but it seems ECV hire is not possible in France. There are only a couple of companies out there and they are extremely expensive. They donít even hire ECVs in the parks, only manual wheel chairs. We did look in the UK, but it would have taken a lot of boot space in the car. In the end Julia decided to see how she got on walking with the parks being smaller than their Floridian cousins and if necessary hire a manual chair.

    Continued Below
    5 Trips to Florida, Christmas in LA, Disneyland Paris twice and odd days here and there.

    All my trip reports are now HERE.


  2. #2
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    Day 1 Thursday June 22nd 2017

    3:30am? 3:30am? Really? Whose idea of a holiday is this? Grumbling aside we were soon through the shower and on the road. The nice thing about driving is that you donít need to worry about everything fitting in a case, nor the weight of that case. Even so with us only being away for 5 days everything did fit in a single case. The trip from home in Northampton to my sisterís just outside of Bedford was lovely and quiet, with the Highways Agency for once not having the M1 closed for a laugh overnight. Sandra and Brianís much smaller case was soon beside ours in the boot along with a cool bag of rolls for the road and we were away from Bedford before 5:30. Julia was far too excited to sleep in the car and so was driving the UK leg of the journey.

    The M25 also behaved itself and then we were driving against the flow of traffic down the M20 toward the tunnel. We did all manage to forget the toll of the Dartford bridge, which caused some swearing later in the trip when I suddenly remembered. Iím happy to say that since this was the first time my car has gone over the bridge without paying they sent me a letter a few days later telling me off, but giving me the chance to just pay the toll and not the fine.

    We were running early for our 8:30 crossing and so having missed Maidstone services after my coach driving sister assured me it had its own exit and not to come off at the Maidstone junction, we called into the deserted Folkstone services just before the port. We went in here because my sister again assured me there is nothing at the port, something Julia and Edward discovered is another falsehood a few weeks later on a trip to Holland. There may have been no one in the services, but the poor girl in the restaurant was completely on her own and so breakfast still took an age. Still we were in no rush and it just meant when we did go to the port we simply drove straight to the train.

    Julia wanted to drive onto the train, but we swapped while on there so I drove the French leg of the trip. The crossing was as boring as ever and I was soon on the very quiet French motorways. There was one stop for a quick toilet break and to munch on one of the rolls Sandra had made, but other than that it was a straight drive down to the resort. We did pass a very nasty accident on the other side of the motorway just by Paris airport and felt very sorry for the people stuck in miles and miles of stationary traffic. As we passed it looked like they were just cutting a gap in the central reservation to let the trapped traffic cross to our side, but even that didnít slow us down much.

    This was one of the hottest days of the year so far, as we drove through France the temperature climbed and climbed. At one point it was going up about half a degree for every 10 miles we drove. By the time we got to Paris it was 37.5 Celsius / 99.5 Fahrenheit.

    Just before 2pm we pulled into the car park at Hotel Cheyenne and first impressions were very good. The theming is as good as any budget hotel in WDW.


    Hotel entrance


    Resort store and Starbucks on the end.


    The lobby.

    Check in was fairly smooth, if a little paperwork heavy. We all commented that Magic Bands are so much easier. This being France there was no way they were going to give us our rooms a moment before the 3pm check in time and so we had a quick poke about the small shop and then went into Starbucks to sit and wait for 3pm with a frozen drink. My goodness Starbucks is expensive in France, but then I think the French government make them pay a proper level of tax.

    3pm came and so we made our way back to the front desk, where we discovered 3pm is also the time of day the staff change shifts as they all disappeared into the back office for a handover. Such organisation is only possible in France I believe. Eventually around 3:30 the staff re-appeared and we got our adjoining room keys in a newly refurbished block.

    After moving the car we unloaded and took the short walk to our rooms. First impressions were very good, while they are basic the theming is very good and they were certainly clean. First job on opening the door was to get the air-conditioning going, then to take some pictures.




    The sofa folded out to another bed if needed.

    Sandra and Brian were in the next room and we had a connecting door between the rooms. For some reason they had two double beds rather than one and a fold out, but other than that the rooms were identical. I didnít photograph the bathroom, but it was functional and clean. It did appear to have a wood panelled shower, but I presume that is actually plastic and not rot prone wood.

    We took our time unpacking, made some tea with the kettle we had brought from home and then tested the beds with a quick afternoon nap.

    We headed out to sample the park just after 5 in the slightly cooler evening air and had to fight our way through the crowds to the resort bus stop.


    The wide dusty street is all part of the theming.


    Thatís our block behind us.

    As you can see the refurbishment of the resort is ongoing, but it didnít cause us any disruption at all. We were nice and close to the resortís bus stop and the service was frequent, I donít think we waited more than 10 minutes the whole holiday. This afternoon we certainly didnít as we were at the being re-built bus station 12 minutes after that last picture was taken.


    Someone is excited.

    As I said the bus station is currently being re-built and expanded and so it is a bit of a mess, but it worked well enough even at the busy times after the park closed. The land around the bus station and train station is obviously not Disneyís as it was normally carpeted with tat being sold by dodgy looking men. I canít imagine Disney are happy about this, but obviously canít do anything about it.

    Security is just past the stations and is airport style with everything going through x-ray machines and everyone going through metal detectors. I was happy to see squads of French para troops patrolling the area outside of the security stations to protect the queues. At this time of day we didnít have much of a wait at security and to be honest never saw long queues with extra lanes being opened at busy times.
    Once past security we turned right and down the slope to Disneyland Park. This entrance is beautiful, by far the prettiest park entrance of any that Iíve been to. The slope wasnít as fun late at night going up of to get out, but it does make a great start to your visit.


    We stopped for the obligatory fountain photo.


    Park entrance below the hotel

    Getting into the park was no problem, this evening or any time the whole trip. Once out from under the hotel you arrive in a courtyard before the railroad and the park proper. This was decorated for the anniversary with some clever animated panels.



    Out from under the railroad and you are in Town Square, a Town Square that feels more Disneyland than Magic Kingdom to me. Any worries I had about the quality of the parkís theming were quickly evaporating. There is nothing second best about the decoration and attention to detail in Town Square or Main Street. I did read an interesting article about the Imagineering team that Ďrescuedí Main Street at Disneyland Paris a while ago. Apparently the original plans were for something much simpler, with flat frontages on the shops and no detailing. Someone took it over just a few weeks before opening and put a team together who worked around the clock to deliver what is now a simply stunning level of detail on the street.

    We did realise as we entered that the parade was due any minute, so hence the large crowds.


    City Hall all dressed up.




    That castle couldnít be mistaken for Disneyland.

    Continued Below
    5 Trips to Florida, Christmas in LA, Disneyland Paris twice and odd days here and there.

    All my trip reports are now HERE.


  3. #3
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    We decided now was as good a time as any to watch the parade and so hung around on the far side of Town Square where it would double back on itself to go backstage. Julia took shelter under the canopy of one of the shops, not being happy in crowds while I found a gap to look up Main Street. Sandra and Brian got spots on the rope by the parade exit point.


    The Main Mice.




    The Toy Story gang.


    Quite a creepy Peter Pan float.


    Dude!


    Who doesn’t love a fire breathing dragon?


    Much less impressive plastic horse floats.


    Just let it go already.


    That dragon deserves a second picture as it goes around the back of Town Square.

    Brian and I were also kept entertained during the parade by a lady near us in a loose backless and side-less dress who kept running about and bending about after her small kids. We certainly were not in the US, such exposures would be illegal there! Parade over I kind of expected a lot of people to head out of the park, but instead most made their way up Main Street and into the park proper. Once the main crush had gone we followed at a nice slow pace trying to take everything in on our way.

    At the top of Main Street we turned left and into Frontier Land


    See, turned left.

    The park’s layout was a bit confusing to us, being used to Disneyland and Magic Kingdom, Adventure Land and Frontier Lands have their positions reversed in Paris. Our first ride was to be Phantom Manor as Haunted Mansion is a firm favourite of Julia’s.


    Looking good.

    The queue was only a few minutes and has some great views of the spectacularly photogenic Big Thunder.


    I was photographing into the light, but Big Thunder still looks amazing.

    Phantom Manor is a lot darker in theme than Haunted Mansion isn’t it? I really enjoyed it, but Julia was genuinely scared a couple of times. The snarling dog in particular upset her and she wasn’t keen on laughing Death either. I can imagine all sorts of complaints from parents of traumatised kids if this ride were in the US. This was also our first experience of ride narration being in French and to be honest we didn’t really notice, what with knowing the English version so well. It was only later in the week that we realised there is no on ride narration at all.

    As you come off the ride you seem to be on a path to nowhere, room for expansion I feel. You do get some more great views of Big Thunder from here, and the side of the Manor as well.





    Little details like the lamp post are everywhere.

    Big Thunder was either down or had a really long wait, I don’t remember which but for some reason we didn’t ride this evening. Instead we walked on past and made our way into Adventure Land and the Indiana Jones Coaster. The theming around the park is absolutely top notch, maybe even better than WDW in many places. The park was also immaculately clean, we hardly saw any litter despite the filthy habits of many visitors.


    We looked a couple of times, but never did eat here, one for next time.

    Julia was lulled into a false sense of security for Indy as Brian will ride it. I had my doubts looking at it, but she came on anyway and hated it especially the loop. While there is some lovely theming around the ride and its queue, similar to the queue theme of the Disneyland ride this Paris ride is actually a very standard wild mouse, all be it with a tight loop.


    Nice stone work.


    I’ll not tell you how I nearly fell over taking this picture, too embarrassing.

    Sadly the rough coaster on top of a couple of hours walking had finished Julia off and she was in agony. What she needed now was her pain pills and to sit the rest of the evening, but we were at the far end of the park a long way from the hotel. There was only one thing for it, a piggy back to the bus stop. Sandra and Brian were ready for some dinner and so decided to follow us out of the park, agreeing to meet me at the Disney Village security point so we could go and eat once Julia was back at the bus stops.

    By the time I had carried Julia to the front of the park and then up the slope outside she had a numb leg to add to her woes, but oddly wasn’t keen on me massaging her thigh and hip in the street? I (almost literally) dropped her just inside the security point as she assured me she would be ok going back on her own and turned to find Sandra and Brian just behind me.

    Continued Below
    Last edited by spencem; 27-11-2017 at 05:59 PM.
    5 Trips to Florida, Christmas in LA, Disneyland Paris twice and odd days here and there.

    All my trip reports are now HERE.


  4. #4
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    After a brief discussion about where to eat, including discounting Five Guys as it was outside the security zone and we couldn’t be bothered to go through that again we decided to try Annette’s Dinner as Sandra had enjoyed previous meals there.


    She’s a big girl this Annette .

    There was a bit of a wait, but we were soon ordering our burgers. My wife safely out of sight I also joined the other two in a beer. Our meals were all very good and considering where we were and the beer not too expensive either. None of us had room for a desert and so we were back in the park an hour later at about 8.20.


    Even better after dark.

    Back in the park Sandra showed me another one of its gems, the arcade behind the shops of Main Street. These are beautiful, you could easily believe they have stood there since Victorian times (or whatever the French call that period of history). There is also some really interesting stuff in the display cabinets along the walls.


    Shame about the crowds.


    Authentic gas lamps are happily not the only source of illumination, but they look great.

    At the end of the arcade we turned right, we had a galaxy to defend with Buzz.


    First view of Discoveryland, so much a better theme than Tommorowland.

    Again the multi-lingual aspect of Buzz really didn’t bother me, I think it is great how they seem to mix loads of European languages together so everyone gets the gist of what is being said. I forget our scores, but they were obviously not amazing and memorable.

    As we came off the skies had darkened enough that the lights were on in Discoveryland and it just blew me away, the whole area looks fantastic.


    Two-Stoke Stink Ride has never looked so good.

    Sandra wanted to go on Space Mountain and luckily Brian doesn’t mind a sit down and some people watching so leaving him on a bench we joined the half hour queue.



    This is a fantastic coaster, smooth, fast and superbly themed. However, the two themes of the building and the theme of the ride itself are totally different. The building is a very well done Jules Verne Columbiad space gun, complete with barrels of gunpowder in the loading area, but the loading area also has banners for Star Wars and of course the ride itself has some very clever Star Was theming on it. You almost have to think of Hyperspace Mountain as two rides in the same space.


    Loading area with its dual themes.

    As we came off there was a couple in front of us of which the guy had obviously not enjoyed the ride at all. He was very unsteady on his feet and ended up leaning over the rail outside. I’m not sure what language they spoke, but you didn’t need to be multi-lingual to know how much he hated the ride and how funny his partner found it all.

    On our way back to Brian I had to stop and take a couple of pictures of the land all lit up.


    Love the detail in the lamps.


    The ride building doesn’t look big enough for all the track inside.


    Looking back toward the castle.

    After collecting Brian from his bench we made our way into the hub to get a spot for the 25th anniversary show. There was a discussion about coffee, but in the end it was decided a good viewing spot was more important. With only about 20 minutes until the 11pm show time spaces were filling fast, but we still got a good enough view.


    Projectors warming up.

    The show is simply breath-taking, a fantastic mix of super bright projection mapping, fountains, lasers, fireworks and fire all used to great effect to tell emotional stories.


    The latest generation of projectors.


    Not huge fireworks, but just as effective up close.


    Who put that speaker there, spoiling my symmetry?


    Who doesn’t love a flame projector?


    Fountains.


    Lasers and a French Frozen.

    The show was a big hit with us and the vast majority of the crowd judging from the applause at the end. As normal we let the bulk of the crowd go before making our way out of the park. Do hang around at the end as there are some lovely static anniversary projections on the castle after the show.

    We slowly made our way down the other arcade to the one we had come up earlier and out to the bus stop. That slope was every bit as unpleasant going up as I feared, but the winding paths through the trees and the running water features do help to thin and relax the crowds. We only waited a few minutes for our bus back to the resort. It was crowded, but no worse than a bus at WDW after park closing and it wasn’t anywhere near as far to go.

    I soon joined Julia in our (far too firm for me) bed, after turning off our air-conditioning which had done a sterling job keeping the heat away. We had a brief chat before settling down and both agreed that Disneyland Park had won us over. It is every bit as good as its American cousin and in places even better. It is a very pretty park, not as big as Magic Kingdom but with more space between attractions than Disneyland. That said to me it has more of a Disneyland feel to it than a Magic Kingdom one. All the staff we interacted with were a credit to Disney and there was none of the gallic indifference I had heard about from years gone by.

    Even with the firmness of the bed I didn’t take much rocking once the lights went out.



    Day 2 is here.
    Last edited by spencem; 05-08-2017 at 01:38 PM.
    5 Trips to Florida, Christmas in LA, Disneyland Paris twice and odd days here and there.

    All my trip reports are now HERE.


  5. #5
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    A very good start to your break. Such a shame that there wasn't any place where you could hire an ECV for Julia though. I wonder why they don't?
    Have never visited DLP but I have read a few trip reports on another site who cannot be named here and one of the gripes is the smoking (which is a big pet peeve of mine). Did you find that people were smoking where they shouldn't?
    I must agree that the park is very pretty.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Catlady View Post
    Have never visited DLP but I have read a few trip reports on another site who cannot be named here and one of the gripes is the smoking (which is a big pet peeve of mine). Did you find that people were smoking where they shouldn't?
    Oh yes, in particular our southern European cousins don't really care where they are when they want to smoke. That did take some getting used to, but it didn't really bother us.
    5 Trips to Florida, Christmas in LA, Disneyland Paris twice and odd days here and there.

    All my trip reports are now HERE.


  7. #7
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    A good report and handy as we're considering DLP very soon. Have never been but we may well do in the next 12 months or so just to tick it off the list.

  8. #8
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    Looking forward to having a good read of this! We're just heading out the door, so I only got about 1/16th into it, but will eagerly return to it as soon as I can!












    Midlife: when the Universe grabs your shoulders and tells you ďIím not messing around, use the gifts you were given.Ē

  9. #9
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    A few years now since we went, but the Disneyland park looks really nice, they have obviously been doing further updates.
    "No man stands as tall as when he stoops to help a child. Thank god Joshua has a very tall dad!" - Deb Ireland 2007


  10. #10
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    A great report I love DLP (if only because I don't have to walk as far !!!) ... I can't believe it's been nearly 4 years since we visited. We've always gone in school holidays and I hate the crowds for the buses so we've stayed at Davy Crockett so that we can drive or at the New York so that we can walk .... I hope Julia felt better for day 2, I wonder if there's a reason why they don't hire ECVs or if it's just not "done" in France in general ?

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