Today marked our last day in the European incarnation of the Disney Theme Park. We had breakfast in the park again, then proceeded to take photos and do some last, minor shopping. Ixner and Nicole really wanted to find a Stitch doll (“Lilo and Stitch”), so we walked all over the park to find one. No luck. At least we did find the Stitch character, and made a lengthy photo session with it. We followed this up with a few last rides; in a bit of irony the Aerosmith roller coaster broke down just as we were sitting in it and were about to be launched. Now was that Disney’s way of getting rid of us, or what?
Sarcasm aside, this was the third ride that broke down on the past two days; Space Mountain broke down yesterday morning, and Big Thunder Mountain broke down – twice – in the afternoon. Except for the Aerosmith breakdown, this didn’t affect our schedule. But since it was getting late (about 1pm) we decided to simply grab our things and head home.
So, in conclusion, how did I like Euro Disney? Actually, quite a lot. You need to be careful not to spend too much time there – about 2 days seems right – and you really need to find a time when the park is mostly empty. Then it’s a blast. Avoid the pricey rip-offs that are all over the park (Cheeseburgers for 4 euros; Buffalo Bill for 52 Euros, and so on – the most expensive burger I saw was about 15 Euros), and you should be fine. It would be fun, I guess, but you can’t do it too much. I am afraid people will send me for rehab anyway after being exposed to such an artificial world.
Anyway, overall I had a good time. Many thanks to Ixner, Nicole and Hübi for taking me along.
The day began very early with breakfast in **Fantasyland**. You have a chance to eat in the park instead of the hotel, about an hour before it officially opens. The side benefit is that you are in the park before the regular visitors, and you can – I think – even get fast pass tickets before breakfast.
Today, we decided to go all-out for reimbursement for the horror that was Buffalo Bill, and we stuffed ourselves quite nicely. Since we were there at the start, we got stuff that wasn’t available the day before – like sliced ham.
The day was spent catching up on some events that we hadn’t had the time for before. Some minor rides – Pinnocio’s for example – and a repetition of “It’s A Small World”, but nothing really worth mentioning. Both Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain broke down, the later at least twice, once when we were on the river boat and once later, when the guys wanted to ride. They did restart Big Thunder Mountain, but I really didn’t feel like taking part. Probably the only real thing of note besides the breakfast was the **Tarzan show**, which was actually surprisingly good. Too much singing, too little story, but you get almost an hour of artistic “dances”. Very nicely done, really, and some of the stunts were downright amazing.
Later, we went back to the Disney Studio Park in the search of Stitch (without success) and, as I mentioned, a few repeats of the Aerosmith roller coaster. We headed back to the Village for dinner (Mc Donald’s, with a reeeeeally cute cashier; so cute that I was seriously tempted to ask her phone number, but of course I chickened out) and then for a big shopping spree through the merchandise stores. I spent way too much money. Well, my family will be happy about it.
All in all, day 3 was pretty uneventful. It was very mixed weather – first very cloudy, then sunny. It also got noticeably more crowded. I am not sure if it was a holiday in France – it was in Hesse – but that would explain the increase in patrons. Either that, or the approaching weekend. I think that about two and a half days are really enough for Disneyland – plus maybe some time for shopping – and I’m actually looking forward to returning home.
The second day began with breakfast at the **Hotel Cheyenne**. It’s a normal “take whatever you can carry” hotel breakfast, with pretty small trays. You can imagine the ensuing panic amongst the people: Everybody filled their trays to maximum capacity and sometimes beyond. We were still relatively modest in what we took, even though by this time we had decided to “get our money back” for the Buffalo Bill West West Rip off Show. We were at the table late (10:00 am) and when we were done, the hotel staff was already cleaning. It was a battlefield of bread-crumbs and spilled juice. Not really our fault, I must add; we contributed little to the chaos caused by the other guests of the Cheyenne.
When we left the hotel, we had our first real run-in with a **Disney character**. Mickey was in front of the Cheyenne posing for children. The funny anecdote is that one of the kids was so scared it was about to break out in open tears, but the parents made it pose anyway. For Disneyland being a “kids’ event”, the parents surely act selfish around here.
For this day in Disneyland Paris we took it upon ourselves to visit the **Disney Studio Park**. It’s basically a smaller park separated from the main Disneyland; the theme is more movie-centric than Disney-centric. Of course they use Disney movies wherever they can. The focus is less on rides and more on, well, harmless stuff – with some notable exceptions.
Unlike the first day, the weather was marvelous – not too hot, but very sunny. We visited pretty much all of the Studio park. **Aladdin’s Flight** is really pretty much for kids; but if you want a quick, short, relaxing ride, join it and go ’round and ’round ’til you get bored (happens before the ride ends, at least in my case).
995There are two shows; **Animagique** and **Cinemagique**. They’re both sort of related, in that they present an aspect of Disney movies. Animagique is, as the name implies, about Disney Animations. Donald enters a “forbidden vault” in which he encounters all kinds of characters from Disney animated movies. Pretty well done, actually; especially the part with the pink elephants is laugh-out-loud funny. We all liked it. But even better, in my opinion, was Cinemagique. A person gets drawn out of the audience and into the movies, where he meets a blonde chick from a silent black and white movie. Together – or more aptly, apart from each other – they travel from one movie to the next; high noon and other wild west movies; Braveheart; Titanic; even Silence of the Lambs. It’s pretty funny, in parts even clever, and thoroughly enjoyable. As with several other shows, the real space in front of the space gets involved in the show. I will not give anything away, but I will say that Cinemagique is very worth the time you spend on it, and I recommend that you do go and watch it.
In stark contrast to these two shows is Disney’s **Art of Disney Animation**. They have some pictures on the wall, a few very minor activities and a “how to draw Disney characters” course for kids. Probably only interesting for very dedicated fans… and for parents who wish to occupy their children for a little bit. Otherwise, you can safely avoid it.
The same can be said about the **Walt Disney Television Studio Tour**. You get a very quick “tour” – two rooms, really – in what supposedly is the center of Disney channels in Europe. Or was it France? I forget. Anyway, it’s tedious and boring and you can spend your time better in any number of ways.
1001One better way would be the **Studio Tram Tour**. They show a few props, costumes and so on from various movies, and they have set up a sort of stage to show off some “special effects” – the infamous water flood and exploding tank car. You probably heard about it. Anyway, it’s impressive and worth the ride, although I wish that in the last part – the destroyed London of Reign of Fire – they’d at least show a bit of a dragon. Oh well, it’s still sort of fun.
In the same so-so category we can find the **Special Effects of Armageddon**. They are trying to simulate the asteroid impact in the Russian space station from the movie (never watched it, so I cannot comment on it). Basically, they synchronize some flames, smoke and water with images on a screen. Impressive to children and young teenagers, but it’ll leave anybody else pretty cold. If you are into this sort of thing, go and watch it; if the line’s short you can spend your time in worse ways, but I won’t recommend this attraction.
As an aside, in the middle of the day we happened to catch the **Disney Studio Parade**. A couple characters, a couple of cars, some weird “movie like” people – starlets both male and female – dance once across the park to music. Well, some of them are well done, but most of it is… cheesy. Good for a laugh or two.
1333Finally, we are left with two attractions and it’s a pleasure to describe them. First off, we also went to **Moteurs Action!** (“Motor Action” in English, if you didn’t get that), a stunt car show. They show some tricks and perform various car chases combined with fire, gunfights, jumps, and so on. Pretty nifty, really, and fun – again, if you are into this sort of thing.
The spectacular highlight of the Disney Studio Park, however, is the **Rockin’ Roller Coaster Aerosmith**. This rollercoaster is a real trip, and the coolest I have ever rode on. It is a lot more fun that Space Mountain, Indiana Jones or Big Thunder Mountain. The track has loops, is upside down, curves, and everything at a speed of I think 92 KM/h. The acceleration at the beginning is insane (0 to 92 in 3 seconds). And everything to Aerosmith music. As with most Disney rides, the attention to detail was nice. We rode this roller-coaster probably ten times over the two last days of our stay at Disneyland Europe, and it was fun every time. if you can stand roller-coasters at all, then you have to ride this one. It is a definite must.
After we were done with all the attractions and rides of Disney Studio Park, we went back to Disneyland itself to ride Big Thunder Mountain again (I didn’t feel like it) and we went to the Disney Village for some food (**McDonald’s** at Disney is surprisingly cheap, compared to the prices some of the other places charge) and for some minor shopping.
End of a rich and busy day two – we went back to the hotel, exhausted and sleepy and went to sleep soon after.
Today our trip to Disneyland Paris begins. Ixner, Nicole and Hübi picked me up at around 5:40 AM. Hard to get up so early. It was a long drive to Euro Disney, with my feet and legs stuck I was unable to move, but I survived and we arrived in high spirits.
We arrived at our hotel – the Hotel Cheyenne – at around 11:30 AM or thereabouts. It was relatively easy to find. Check-in was uncomplicated, although you do have to get used to the way things are done in Disney. The rooms are okay, but for the money I could imagine a better hotel; in fact I have lived in better hotels for less money. Still, the rooms are acceptable – especially since we only intend to spend the nights here.
After we dropped off our stuff in the rooms, we went back to the reception to put some valuables in the saves. The safes are free, but if you lose the key you will pay 150 Euros. A good service, especially since Hübi and I didn’t feel like leaving our notebooks in the room – that’d have been an open invitation to thieves, after all. We also had some credit card business to take care off – which Sara the very good looking and pleasant receptionist handled nicely – and ordered tickets for the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show (more on that later) and then off we went to Disneyland itself.
We decided to walk some back route, then through Disney Village, and then we were in Disneyland. The first impression was pompous and kitsch, and that’s what would remain a background theme for our entire visit.
After entering Disneyland proper, we took the train ride around Disneyland, taking in a first impression of the scenery. Everything was nicely sculpted, maybe a little too heavy on the artificial side, but it was nowhere near as bad as say Storyland.
Disembarking the train, we went to the first attraction for the day, **Space Mountain**, a sort of space-themed indoor roller coster ride. It was a trip. A bad one. I mean it was fun, but the trip was stressful and disorienting. If you want to try it, my advice is to really take the warnings about medical conditions to heart. Space Mountain is not for the weak or injured; it will be a problem. At one time, you’re going head down. And the ride is shaking and vibrating like crazy. When we left Space Mountain, I felt decidedly dizzy and couldn’t really walk in a straight line. That passed quickly, but I doubt I would enter Space Mountain again.
938We followed up with a few other attractions – **Star Tours**, the Star Wars flight simulator was nicely done, with a lot of good attention to detail, a very nice attraction. As we left it, the clouds became thicker; and when we were done with a small snack and a look at the next gift shop, a strong downpour occurred. Time to find an indoor attraction…
The **Visionarium** is a 360Â° cinema that shows a sort of time-travel episode movie, the attempt is to immerse the viewer in the scenes displayed. Most were done quite well and the immersion kind of works; but I hated the capsule story of the “Timekeeper”. Very Disney, true, but also very lame. Aw ee only went in here to cover the time of a bad rainshower, and when we got out the sun was shining, so it wasn’t a loss.
1118**Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril** is also a very fun ride. It is not quite as tough as Space Mountain, but it’s still a trip. They make the rollercoaster go backwards, so you do not see what’s coming next. I enjoyed this one more than Space Mountain, and it didn’t make me quite as dizzy. I would say that Indiana Jones is the “toughest” roller coaster I can recommend. The only problem is that it’s way too short. This wasn’t so much an issue for us because we didn’t have to wait much… but I imagine that if you have to wait, say, an hour to get in and then the ride takes about 60 seconds you’ll be disappointed.
965**Thunder Mountain** was again a step down from Indiana Jones… a lot of fun, but not as tough. At some points I was definitely worried about hitting my head or the cars flying off of the track. I know this is unlikely to happen, but it was a worry. Probably not a ride to take if you are 2.20 meters tall or something.
**Pirates of the Caribbean** is a very relaxing ride, a water-ride with two or three slides. The theme is probably well known: It depicts scenes from a romanticised Caribbean. Very nicely done, nice visuals and very relaxing. The coolest thing is that you can actually dine in the first set of the ride; the restaurant is called **Blue Lagoon**, and the prices are… well, piracy. A menu costs around 40 to sixty Euros, but I’ll have to check the photo of the menu to make sure. I kind of purged this memory from my mind.
The **Flight of Peter Pan** is another relaxing ride; like Thunder Mountain we took a Fast Path ticket to get in. Fast Path is a method that alloows you to bypass the normal queues, but you have to show up at a certain time. A nice system if you ask me. Anyway, Peter Pan’s flight is nicely done, a relaxing voyage through the Peter Pan story, with a miniature Neverland below you, and so on. Really nice, the only danger is that if you have been walking around all day you very well may fall asleep here. This ride is probably much more suited for small kids.
**Phantom Manor** is a ride we took after Thunder Mountain, because we had plenty of time left before the Wild West show. It’s a normal haunted house type ride, very nicely done in parts. I especially liked the ballroom ghosts, which were very conincingly done. The overall setting and scenery were well done, as well. I admit I have a knack, a fancy for colonial/victorian type haunted manors, so I may be biased. Anyway the ride was relaxing and nicely put together, so I’d recommend this one as well.
956Finally, we took a ride in the (in)famous **It’s a small world**, which – to be fair – was designed for the younger members of the audience. Well, what can I say – this is the Disneyland stereotype. There has never been worse Kitsch in a ride. It was colorful, tacky, horrible, and in bad taste, supplemented by an annoying tune and many, many national stereotypes. It’s so fake you won’t believe someone put it into an actual theme park. And yet, we had a blast – mostly simply because this ride was so bad. I took a few video clips with my camera, and I’ll see if I can put them together and upload them.
Those were the attractions/rides we visited today. Overall, I liked them a lot. Much fun. There were some other sites we visited; we had lunch in a – deadly expensive – fast food place; we went to **Cinderella’s Castle** and into the dragon cave. The Dragon, as a side note, is really well done, very convincing. HÃ¼bi made a good photo of it which I will happily steal for my own photo album.
We also went to **Robinson Crusoe’s treehouse** – an impressive achievement of construction but of little entertainment value. We took a look at various gift shops and again they’re stereotypical Disney. Merchandising in perfection. Guard your wallet.
Lastly, after the day, we went to attend the **Buffalo Bill Wild West Show**, which included dinner. We first had to make a detour via the hotel, because the security guards didn’t like Ixner’s pocket knife. Nevermind that they never checked us in the morning, or in the evening when we returned for the show. Idiots…
The **Wild West show** is not included in the entrance fee for Disney, and costs a whopping 52 Euros extra. We figured we just as well could give it a shot as it was unlikely we’d ever return, at least in the near future. Well, let me say this loud and clear: It is a rip-off, even by Disney themepark standards. There were a few parts of the show which were well done, but overall I found very annoying. HÃ¼bi disagrees; he told me to mention that he really enjoyed the show. Well, this is my weblog and I say it’s not worth the money. The food was horrible too. I’d probably be willing to pay, say, 10 Euros for this show. But 52? By all that is good and pure, you should save your money and buy anything for it, anything but the ticket for the Wild West show. Blow it on Disney merchandise, if you must. At least you can bring that stuff to some relatives or friends. But whatever you do, __avoid Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show__.
Anyway, to sum it up: Despite the horrible Wild West show, I really enjoyed Day 1 of Euro Disney. We seem to have caught the perfect time of the year for a visit. According to reports and the signs near some rides, it isn’t unusual to wait 45 minutes, an hour or even longer for some attractions; and we never had to wait more than maybe five minutes today.
Well, time for a nap; I’ll write more as time progresses.
Some friends intend to go to [Disneyland Paris](http://www.disneylandparis.com) in June, and I jumped to the opportunity to go with them. Always wanted to go there and never had a chance – once, my ex girlfriend went there with her company and I couldn’t join them, and much later a co-worker I liked asked me to go with her, but like all things she told me nothing ever came from it so far, and I have serious doubts anything ever will.
So, anyway, the date is set, and in June we’ll go to Paris for a few days. As always, if anybody wants to meet me there, let me know and we’ll hook up somehow.
As an aside, I realize that Disney is not only the epitome of American entertainment industry, they are also one of the sternes proponents of the DMCA and similar nonsense. Still, as someone who grew up on Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse comics, it’s an obligation to go to a Disneyland once in my life.
I view it as supporting France’s tourism industry.
_Update, June 2nd, 2003:_ It has been booked. Participants will be Ixner, Nicole, [HÃ¼bi](http://vadersfear.pandemonium.de) and myself – [Nils](http://nils.jeppe.de/).