Travel Tales

June 2015
The Birthday Trip

I’ve never been to Disneyland Paris on my birthday. I imagined it had to be even more magical than on every other day of the year. The weeks before my trip, I’ve watched so many vlogs on youtube, mostly from people celebrating their special day in a Disney park. I noticed all the birthday people wearing a Happy Birthday badge. After a bit of googling, I found out that there’s no such thing in Disneyland Paris. You can go to the cityhall and ask for a birthday sticker, though.

There’s also some kind of birthday arrangement you can book for your room in a Disneyland hotel. That was a possibility for my buddy and me since we were staying in hotel Cheyenne. It’s quite pricey, so we didn’t do that. We read stories from people online who said they just send an e-mail to their Disney hotel with the explanation that there’s a birthday or any other special day and they got gifts in their room anyway. Don’t know if these stories are true, my buddy told me he contacted the hotel and informed them about my birthday and he didn’t even get an answer. There was nothing extra special in our room and nobody mentioned anything while we were checking in. I guess it’s just stories than and if you want some surprises for sure, you’ll have to put down some serious money.

Our room wasn’t ready yet of course, so after we checked in, we took the shuttle to the parks. Since my friend was a Disneyland first-timer, we decided to check out the castle first.

 

When I saw there wasn’t a long queue outside the cityhall anymore, I went in to hear if I could get anything for my birthday. I did end up with the sticker (which I wore the two days because the cast members were even nicer to me wearing the sticker. It was possible for me to peel it off and put it on another piece of clothing the next day. Don’t think it would have lasted much longer though.) and another nice surprise: an exclusive phone call from Mickey Mouse himself. It’s a high-pitched monologue but it made me feel special for… let’s say twenty seconds.

Meeting Baloo

The first day we were off to a false start with a couple of unlucky coincidences, where two main rides
were closed for an unknown period of time. I don’t like losing time that way, I always want to try to get the most out of something.

But it did turn out in our advantage! We accidentally ran into Baloo and got this fine picture.

Meeting Baloo was the only chance we had to get a picture next to a Disney character. Not because there weren’t enough characters out and about, but mostly because it was a bit too chaotic for us. Of course, it’s super exciting for young children to be able to see and touch their favourite character, so to me it’s normal that I give these children the first choice to have their picture taken with them.

If there only were a queue

A goal for next time will be trying to meet more characters. I don’t really want to spend much time waiting around though, but if there only would be a queue in front of the character, it would be so much easier. This was quite the point for me, I don’t understand how such a well organised park can be so chaotic at times.

 

Later that day, I spotted a wild Rapunzel. I was too late to get my picture taken with her though, when I found her just around the corner by the castle, she was already saying her goodbyes. I didn’t even know that the princesses were out and about like that. I would love a picture with Rapunzel, so I’ll hopefully get a chance next time.

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Next to the Castle,

 

I spotted a wild Rapunzel

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A very sweaty Frozen sing-along

If there’s one thing that sets me and Olaf apart, it must be the fact that I’m not that much into Summer. I’m more of a falling leaves and hot chocolate kind of  girl. So this was the second time I went to Disneyland in the summertime and, just like the last time, there was quite the heatwave going on. For me it was a very sweaty birthday and by the end of the day, despite the multiple times I had applied sunscreen, I sort of shared skin colour with Sebastian the crab.

It was nice though to get some shelter from the sun in the indoor Frozen theatre. Turned out: we definitely weren’t the only ones who wanted to join the sing-along. Outside the theatre grew a long row of people waiting to get in. It looked like a little Frozen village where we were waiting and the  supervisors, who were already in costume and in character, were very nice and were able to assure us that there was enough space for everybody.

 

 

The little Frozen village consisted of a merchandising area and some snack stands, besides the theatre. Don’t know if there are plans to go bigger and more detailed, in my opinion there’s a lot of expansion possibilities there. The little bit of Frozen merchandising was exactly the same stuff we could find in the shops in the rest of the Park. And I have to say, even though I read disappointed articles from Disney-fans who aren’t happy with the amount of Frozen stuff that’s dominating the Disney shops these days, I have to say: I was let down by the Frozen merchandising during the summertime in Disneyland Paris. So I don’t know if it’s just an American thing (the articles were based on the American shops only) or what’s going on exactly, but I do know that I was going to get another special birthday present in Disneyland and considered my buddy and I are both into Frozen, it was meant to be something from that movie. But the Frozen range just didn’t convince.

Also, the edible Frozen stuff in Frozen village was not that impressive. Believe me, if I would have seen a cute Olaf ice cream,  I would have bought it. And probably smear it all over my face, given the heat. But again, the offer was limited and the products themselves looked better on picture than in reality.

That rant aside, I had no real expectations from the sing-along, and stayed away from vlogs and reports so it would all be a nice surprise. Over all, it really, really was. We had to sit on wooden benches, very Arendelle-style I guess, we chose the very last row. Some fiery grandma’s were using more than their elbows to make sure their grandchildren had a good spot. We thought the last row would give us the best overview and I suppose my buddy didn’t want happily kicking children feet and knees in his back.

Except for Olaf, the Frozen sing-along didn’t really warm my heart

The show itself was fun, the side characters, the villagers from Arendelle, were enthusiastic and tried to have us singing all the time. Apparently, there were some vip seats as well, but I don’t know what the deal is with them. When you’re seated in these special seats, your row is projected on the big screens a few times during the show. And then the whole audience gets to see your face and the fact that you have really no idea what’s going on. The children on the special seats didn’t realise what was happening, so it was either a weak show or it’s just a weird thing in general.

 

When Olaf hopped on stage, my heart was overfilled with joy. The costume didn’t look scary, and Olaf was just his very clumsy, enthusiastic self. Anna and Kristof didn’t impress me that much, they weren’t very true to character. And Sven didn’t even make an appearance at all. I wouldn’t know how they would fix that, though. But still.

For Elsa, we had to wait until the very last song. I get it, they want her to make a big entrance. But I totally missed it, since she arrived right behind a huge wooden bar in front of me. That kind of sucked, right? At the moment, I couldn’t really believe how stupid it was. I guess I was on the single spot in the whole theatre where you didn’t get to see Elsa’s reveal. My buddy could see her perfectly.
Besides that, what was even weirder, was the fact that we had to sing the songs without the character who originally sings the song, on stage. Do you want to build a snowman, but without Anna. Olaf leaves the stage and then we start singing In Summer. Elsa only joins us for the five last notes of Let it Go.
I guess I’ll also just have to Let it Go?

olaf not nsync

Olaf being his perfect self

 

Don’t rain on my parade

I don’t know how it happened, but we managed to never see any type of parade this time. My friend isn’t that big of a fan to even recognise all the different characters, so I guess he just saw it as a waste of time. Crazy, I know. But forgive him, for he doesn’t know what he is missing.
And given the fact that I have already seen these parades so many times, I was okay with it. I also hoped that we would get a chance to do more rides because everybody was watching the parade.

Spoiler alert: It wasn’t like that at all.

Also, I made the mistake to check some vlogs from people who saw the Disney’s Electrical Parade in Florida and once you’ve seen footage from that parade, the Disneyland Paris parade isn’t impressive anymore. Really, the same wagons for how long now? And Simba, for instance, is looking very dusty.

So if you think the parade is a bit outdated and the waiting lines are too long and the Casey’s Corner hot dogs are too pricey, there’s this one thing that will make up for it all: Disney Dreams.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s like a  big plaster to cover it all up, or a nice warm hug, that will make you forget about the ridiculous amount of money you spent in the shops.

I’ve seen this show once before in Winter 2013, but it has been changed up a lot since then. It was all about making people eager for Frozen, because we then saw a lot of Anna and Olaf projected on the castle. I remember finding that a bit weird, since I didn’t know Jack about these characters yet. Now I love them, so I would have enjoyed that show more.
But this time, no more Frozen or Christmas theme. Makes total sense of course, we don’t need a Woody dancing to Christmas songs in June. Well, actually I do. But that’s another story.

We were able to watch the Disney Dreams show on both days we were at Disneyland, I’m really happy about that.

 

 

 

 

I still wouldn’t be able to enjoy it without earplugs. And the second time, I was standing really close to the castle and then it was often too loud for me, even with earplugs.
When you stand in the Main Street area, you get surrounded by some extra projections on the walls of the houses and it gives you a nice overview, but standing closer to the castle, you get to see what’s going on by the gate (something you will totally miss in Main Street). Also, standing too much to the left or right of the castle, you won’t get a good view of what’s happening on the other side.

I am still trying to find the perfect spot for the show. That means: another reason to go back!

You’re supposed to see a lot of these pricey light-up ears that follow the beat of the songs in Disney Dreams,

The show itself, Disney Dreams, was pure magic. For the entire audience, Let it Go with an on the castle walking-Elsa was the peak of the show. It seemed as if the whole park went quiet and the temperature everywhere dropped a few degrees (in a positive way). I liked the Tangled-part a lot, where they played I see the Light and hundreds and hundreds of lanterns flew in the (on the castle projected) air.

I wonder if I would ever get sick of watching Disney Dreams every night. (I guess the answer is yes, eventually, if they can’t get rid of all these people holding up their Ipads and huge smartphones on selfiesticks during the whole show and blocking everybody’s view.)

The new Ratatouille ride

On the second day, we tried to go on Ratatouille right away, but there was already quite the waiting line. When we looked at the time tables for the fastpass, my mouth dropped. Our only chance was at 7.30 pm! I couldn’t believe these passes went so quickly but apparently, it’s really all about this new ride.

They went all out in the new Ratatouille in Paris area

I feel there are things changing in my body, I get dizzy way quicker and leave a lot of rides with a feeling that I have to puke (I never have to, fyi). The same feeling happened for the first time when we did the  Crush’s Coaster ride. Wow. We both weren’t feeling well. That sucked, because I really really like the ride and I had been pumping up my company that the ride is worth the one hour wait. Apparently, not anymore for us!

Things got even worse at Ratatouille. I wanted to love the ride so much and after waiting for two days, we were both really excited. We missed the waiting lines since we had a fast pass and so I don’t know how well designed these queues are.
I have to say that I love the feeling of doing a ride I’ve seen nothing about. Everything would be a big surprise. We got our 3D-glasses and it was our turn right away. A dark space, some mice scooting around as if it’s not well organised. I couldn’t see which mouse would be ours.

The ride was pretty cool, of course. Well made, fun and Ratatouille-fans will love it. I was genuinely frightened at times but the feeling that topped all feelings was: nausea.

I couldn’t believe it. I seriously thought I was going to be sick in the mouse-cart. The more I say that I’m feeling sick, my buddy will start realising he’s feeling sick himself so that’s no good either.

So the conclusion is that I’m mostly disappointed in myself. I don’t know if I’ll want to do the ride again next time, because I know I will get sick. Same for Crush’s Coaster.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But it’s just so typically me to freak out about a closed ride, or a missed fast pass. I also feel like the waiting lines for the single riders area are getting longer.

I guess it’s a nice thing to have free internet use on your phone while you’re in Disneyland, so you can check out the waiting lines using the app. But if you’re not from France, you’re screwed.

All rants aside, I managed to capture the real magic in Disneyland Paris. Enjoy!