Saturday 25 April 2015

Disneyland Paris - February 2015 - Day 3

Here we are Day 3 of our short vacation to Disneyland Paris, and after a good nights sleep we headed straight into Disneyland Park and Plaza Gardens restaurant for our 'breakfast in the park'.

The day was still very cold but much brighter with clear blue skies and shining sun.
A much brighter but still freezing cold day
We arrived at Plaza Gardens at 8.45am, exactly the right time for our booked time slot.

Now the breakfast inside Plaza Gardens was pretty much the same as what we got at the Sequoia Lodge...there were some different breads to choose from but everything else was the same. Although there was a panic moment when I couldn't find the Nutella chocolate spread, thankfully Ethan managed to track it down and so a crisis was averted!
Inside Plaza Gardens Restaurant
Tucking into breakfast to keep us going for awhile!!
Before heading off into the cold we took advantage of the warmth and coffee refills to look at the park map and decide what we wanted to do first.
Checking the map!
Molly however had plans...she was determined that our first ride of the day be Autopia as we hadn't managed to ride it the day before. So despite it not being one of my favourite rides we agreed to head over that way to 'get it over and done with'!!

But there was a problem...the ride didn't become operational until midday and it was only around 10.00am so we had to find something else to do. Now one ride that I can never remember riding at any of the parks is Orbitron (or Astro Orbiter as it's called in both Disneyland and Walt Disney World). Or as I like to call it Dumbo with a space theme!! It's just one of those rides that has never appealed plus it always seems to have long queues and is known to be a 'slow loader', but on this bright sunny morning we decided to give it a go!
Hey let's do this!!
Beautiful but very cold day
Ride queue selfie! Well it's gotta be done!
We had such a laugh on this ride if only watching the kids trying to get in one rocket together! Now Simon and I managed to get in our rocket perfectly fine but the kids were a little squashed...and I have to admit we just sat there and laughed at, and with, them. Suffice to say we all had a great time and I was pleasantly surprised by the ride itself, so much so that I think next time we are in the US this will be on my list of 'must do's'.

As we still had time to kill before Autopia we jumped on Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast before heading over towards Sleeping Beauty Castle to explore La Galerie de la Belle au Bois Dormant. This is a walk through attraction located on the first floor of the castle which tells the story of Sleeping Beauty through stained glass windows, tapestries and illustrated books. It is a truly magical experience that has been done with the highest levels of detail and is one of the highlights of Disneyland Paris.  Here are a few photos to whet your interest but I shall save more for a future blog piece.
Stained glass window
One of a number of 'books' re-telling the story
Beautiful, detailed tapestry
Gallery ceiling is!
And then when you exit you find yourself on the castle battlements overlooking Fantasyland to the rear...
Amazing views over Fantasyland, gives you a new appreciation for the way this land has been constructed
Busy taking lots of photos!
...and Discoveryland to the front of the castle...

But that's not all the castle has to offer...oh no! Because we then paid a visit to it's resident who lives in the dungeon...La Taniere du Dragon...
Me and a dragon!
I shall have many more photos of this amazing and unique attraction to share with you in another blog post...promise!

To finish off the first half of our day we took a stroll through Le Passage Enchante d'Aladdin in Adventureland. This is another walk through attraction which depicts scenes from the film Aladdin and whilst it's nicely presented it's not a patch on the castle walk through! Hence no photos to share!

We then had a meander around Adventure Isle culminating in a visit to La Cabane des Robinson, otherwise known as Swiss Family Robinson; A Treehouse with a View! Adventure Isle is a great place to explore especially if you have younger children but with two teenagers who couldn't see the point to it plus the extreme cold it simply wasn't appealing enough to do in detail this trip. The treehouse was very similar to those stateside and whist nicely done we were now beginning to feel the cold or should that be unable to feel our fingers and toes and were desperate for some warmth.

So off we went in search of a sit down in a warm place with a nice hot drink; we walked through Frontierland but the offerings were slim so we ended up at Casey's Corner for coffees and hot chocolates before we decided what to do next.
Sizing up Casey's Corner
Feeling rather cold and trying to get warm
And then Molly reminded us that Autopia would be open and that we had promised to ride that's where we headed next!

Even though it had not long opened the queue was already at a 25 minute wait!
About half way through the queue
We decided that the girls would go in one car and the boys in another. Us girls got in the car behind the boys, saw them drive off and then we were told to stay still...we waited for what seemed like an eternity before we were given the all clear to go. This meant that the boys were long gone and any chance we had of 'chasing' them was lost...wasn't quite the fun ride it could have been if we'd been 'after' the boys. In fact it was almost at the end of the track before we caught them up...

It was now approaching lunchtime and we decided that a change of park was in order, so we took a stroll down Liberty Arcade, which runs parallel with Main Street USA, and set off in the direction of Walt Disney Studios.

I think this would be a good place to stop and save the rest of the day for my next post :)

Friday 10 April 2015

Disneyland Paris - February 2015 - Day 2 continued

So where had I got to? Ah yes we were off to Discoveryland...or in other words Tomorrowland.

In Disneyland Paris Discoveryland incorporates all the aspects of what you'd expect to see in Tomorrowland in the other Disney parks but does so with a Jules Verne/Victoriana/Steampunk style themeing.
Entry to Discoveryland

However at the time of our visit there was an awful lot of refurbishment work going on. Space Mountain: Mission 2 along with it's neighbouring attraction Les Mysteres du Nautilus were both closed along with Cafe Hyperion which also houses the Videopolis theatre.  It did make the whole of Discoveryland feel like a construction site as there was the infamous boarding up everywhere.

But we took ourselves over to Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast which we always love playing...I never get the highest score but we normally have a good laugh playing it.  In this version, like the Disneyland version, you can remove the laser blasters from their mounts to help improve your accuracy...supposedly!!

We then headed in the direction of Star Tours another of our family favourites but this version was the 'old skool' version! And whilst it was fun to ride it really does make you realise just how awesome the new and improved versions are in Disneyland and Disney's Hollywood Studios, but it was fun to take a trip down memory lane.

At this point Molly was desperate to ride Autopia but the rest of us were desperate to get warm, so as she was out voted three to one we headed off in the direction of Main Street USA in search of hot drinks and inside seating. So we popped into Cable Car Bake Shop and ordered hot chocolates, muffins and chocolate cake, but there was no where to sit! However, we'd noticed that Victoria's Home Style Restaurant at the top of Main Street USA, although not serving food, was actually open with plenty of we took our drinks and food and went and found a table in there.  I think this had been left open in error because not long after we sat down (and we weren't the only ones in there) a cast member appeared and although she was clearing tables as people left we got the distinct impression her mission was to close up shop as soon as she could.  Why, therefore, it had been left open in the first place I do not know. As it was because the number of restaurants open was limited it actually made sense to leave the door open to provide more seating for when other places became full!

So warmed and recharged we headed off into the cold once more and headed over to Fantasyland where we were able to ride It's A Small World, Peter Pan's Flight, Mad Hatter's Tea Cups and Dumbo the Flying Elephant.
Letting the kids get dizzy on Mad Hatter's Tea Cups!
We also took a wander around the shops of Fantasyland partly to look at merchandise and partly to get warm!
I wonder if they do it in my size?!!
We then took a wander underneath the castle to visit La Teniere du Dragon; this is an attraction completely unique to Disneyland Paris and is a fully audio-animatronic dragon living captive in it's lair underneath the castle. It is a breath taking attraction and worth spending a good deal of time there taking in all the details, we made sure we visited on numerous occasions over the duration of our stay.

By now we were getting we headed into Frontierland to see what food options were there but found that the first two we tried were closed. This meant a walk round into Adventureland and a visit to Restaurant Hakuna Matata which had the yummy Hakuna Fries!!

By now it was getting close to park closing so we did a little more 'shopping' down Main Street USA and then just a few minutes before the night-time show 'Disney Dreams' was to begin we made our way out onto Main Street itself and took up position.
Main Street selfie just before 'Disney Dream's'
'Disney Dreams' is an amazing show; a combination of music, animation, lights, fireworks, lasers, water and projections and seems to never end. This is a 'must-do' for anyone visiting Paris and if visiting like we were for a number of days has to be seen more than once. Having seen it today we knew that we would make the time to see it again and to pick a spot closer to the castle to get the full effect of the projections.

We made our way out of the park taking our time going through the Disney Village by wandering through the World of Disney shop and the Disney Store. We had plans to pop into Earl of Sandwich to pick up something sweet to have back at the hotel but the queue was way too long so we headed straight to the hotel. We decided to stop in the Redwood Bar for a drink before having a look in the hotel gift shop - Northwest Passage. We had hoped on picking up something to eat from here and although there were some food items to buy there was not a lot to choose from and were mainly confectionary - not the same as stopping in the hotel shops in Walt Disney World!

Another day done, and all four of us well and truly worn out!

Wednesday 8 April 2015

Disneyland Paris February 2015 - Day 2

Right so this was our first full day at Disneyland just what did we get up to?

Well the day started really quite early with breakfast scheduled for 7.45am...however despite an alarm set for 6.00am we didn't actually wake up until 7.15am!!  So a mad dash round to get all four of us showered and dressed and we made breakfast for 8.15am...only 30 minutes late! 

Breakfast is served in the main building of the Sequoia Lodge in their two restaurants - Beaver Creek Tavern and Hunter's Grill.  Both restaurants offer the same breakfast and operate in the same way.  On arrival in the foyer between the two restaurants you are met by a cast member who directs you to one of the two restaurants.  Another cast member then takes your breakfast ticket and asks how many are in your party before handing you over to another cast member who takes you to a vacant table. The cast member then writes on the paper table cloth drawing a tri-circle Mickey with the number of how many are in your party, you are now free to help yourself to the breakfast buffet.

The buffet consisted of drinks station which served coffee, hot water, hot milk and hot chocolate as well as choices of fruit juice.  The food station included; cheeses, deli-style meats, fruit salad, bread for toasting, bread rolls, cereals, croissants, pain au chocolate, yogurt and fromage frais plus pots of jam, marmalade, butter and chocolate spread.
Breakfast Food Station
View from Hunter's Grill Restaurant
There was an option to have what was described as an 'American Cooked Breakfast' at an extra cost of about seven Euros (about £5 or $7.50), but although there was a sign indicating it was available there was no obvious way to get it! Cast members didn't offer it when seating you and there was no-one waiting to serve it should you decide you wanted it!!

Once we'd eaten we went back to our room to get ourselves sorted and wrapped up in as many layers as possible as the weather was rather cold and today started off rather misty and damp.  We then headed straight for Disneyland Park.
Outside the main entrance to Disneyland Park - this is also the Disneyland Hotel
And just inside the main gates, with the Disneyland  Railroad Main Street Station just behind me
Iconic view in any Disney park looking down Main Street USA towards Sleeping Beauty Castle 
Once again the kids ride of choice was Big Thunder least this time it would be in daylight! And again there was about a 40 minute wait; this seemed to be the norm for the duration of our trip which considering we were here at the early part of February I was quite surprised by as I would have expected the wait time to be shorter...this could have been due to other major rides being 'down' for refurbs...
Big Thunder Mountain behind me on an island in the middle of Rivers of the Far West

Queue selfies!!

We even managed to bump into an old work colleague of Simon's whilst we were in the queue!!

We then moved from Frontierland over into Adventureland to seek out Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril but unfortunately the ride was 'down' and didn't show any signs of being operational any time soon.
Yes it really was that cold!!
So off we went in search of pirates...Pirates of the Caribbean of course. This was a great choice for a number of reasons; firstly because it was this time we were in desperate need of some warmth because the weather was bitterly cold..secondly because it is a fantastic version of this classic Disney attraction. This version makes no reference to any of the movies and is beautifully themed throughout from queue, to boarding area to the ride itself and whilst I love Pirates in both the US parks I do think this stands out as being an exceptional interpretation of a classic.
It was now lunch time so we popped over into Fantasyland as it is right next door to Pirates and stopped off at 'Au Chalet de la Marionnette', a pinocchio themed counter service restaurant. Whilst everyone else had cheeseburgers and fries I decided that I'd try to keep relatively healthy and went for the chicken salad which actually wasn't too bad for a quick service food item (although it could have done with more chicken!). But as I would find out during our trip the choice of healthy options around the parks was limited within the counter service restaurants and in fact each restaurant offered the exact same salad options (chicken salad, three cheese salad or vegetable salad).

 Au Chalet de la Marionnette restaurant.
After lunch we attacked Fantasyland; we rode Blanche-Neige et les Sept Nains (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and which follows the same story path as Snow White's Scary Adventures in Disneyland)...

Casey Jr - le Petit Train du Cirque (which is a small roller coaster aimed at the whole family and especially those with very young children)...

Les Pays de Contes de Fees otherwise known as Storybook Land Canal Boats which follows along similar lines to the version over in Disneyland...

Some photos from around the canal...

...and then we had a wander around Alice's Curious Labyrinth.

Which way to go???

Views from the castle inside the labyrinth.
It was at this point that we decided to head in the direction of Discoveryland...and I think I shall leave the rest of our adventures on Day 2 for another post...