Friday, November 05, 2010
Bring me the cryogenically frozen head of Walt Disney
Tuesday afternoon saw us flying from Birmingham to CDG Airport in Paris. We had originally intended to see a bit of Paris on the Tuesday and then spend all day Wednesday in Disneyland, but we ended up getting the wrong train to the park - a journey that could have taken us ten minutes ended up taking us two hours because we caught the Metro which stopped at every single bloody stop in the entirety of France. And we had our first experience of a Surly frenchman in the form of the train conductor who wouldn't let us out of the station (we had problems using our tickets in the machine) unless we spoke in French.
We were staying two nights in the Magic Circus hotel, which was lovely and had absolutely phonomenal breakfasts. Tuesday night upon our arrival saw us getting a shuttle to the Disney Village and just milling about for a bit. We grabbed some food and drink in Planet Hollywood, because nothing says honeymoon more than tat from films you've never seen stuck on the walls. (€15 for two pints of Kronenberg and €15.90 for a cheeseburger with overcooked chips!).
Wednesday morning saw us up bright and early and heading into Disneyland - we had 'jumper' tickets which let us pop between the two parks at will; Disneyland and Disney Studios. A quick hop on the Disneyland Express Steam Train to get the lie of the land was our first idea, but this was quickly dissolved when I spotted a full size X wing in Discoveryland. We had a go on Star Tours which was excellent, especially for a Star Wars geek like myself. I got my photograph taken with Darth Vader afterwards, who seemed nice enough for a Dark Lord of the Sith. From here, still in Discoveryland, we went onto Space Mountain 2 which was bloody terrifying. Shot out of a cannon you're flung around the inside of the mountain on a darkened rollercoaster. This is when I began to regret having so many pastries for breakfast.
We had a bit of a wander through Cinderellas castle, the central location in Disneyland, and went into Fantasyland. We had a go on the Carousel (The favourite all-time ride of Tara) and meandered about the Alice in Wonderland Labyrinth. This was a maze dotted not only with Alice in Wonderland stuff but also confused lost holidaymakers.
From here it was into Adventureland to have a go on Pirates of the Caribbean. Tara wasn't impressed, but I enjoyed it for sheer spectacle alone - so much animatronic stuff that you simply can't take it all in.
A trip the Frontierland saw us having a go on the Phantom Manor. Again, quite a spectacle with loads of impressive effects done with mirrors but nothing remarkable.
We left the park and headed into Disney Studios, just in time to catch one of the legendary Disney Parades. This was 'Stars with Cars' which had a variety of chauffeur driven disney characters driving past. Tara was happy to got to see Sully and Mike from Monsters Inc., but I was most impressed by the villains cars. Whereas every other character was happy to wave and smile at the kids, the villains didn't bat an eyelid. The Evil Queen didn't even acknowledge their existence with a surly expression on her face the entire time. She must have seen the prices at Planet Hollywood.
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. This was absolutely brilliant. You enter a fifteen story hotel building which looks absolutely fantastic from the outside - all scarred from a lightning strike and half ruined. From here you're taken into a service elevator which takes you to the top of the building and then takes you through a number of drops. For atmosphere alone (the whole thing is introduced as being a Twilight zone episode) it's outstanding and easily the best ride we went on.
We then went on the Aerosmith Rock'n'Rollercoaster. Another indoor rollercoaster in the dark, but a much noisier one than Space Mountain - all to the accompaniment of Aerosmiths insipidly bland stadium rock. Great ride though. And a good 'walk this way' gag to get you onto the ride itself. Looking for something more sedate, we went to see one of the shows, a half an hour history of animation. Impressively put together with a live host who must really love or really hate kids, it was entertaining
enough and gave us chance for a sit down at the very least.
We also had a go on the Armageddon SFX ride. This turned out to be a rather dull special effects simulator, but at least we didn't have to listen to any more Aerosmith. We grabbed a hot dog to eat - despite being in one of the culinary capitals of the world all we could eat all weekend were burgers and hotdogs - very little else was available - and took a trip to the Disneyland "Behind the magic" tram tour. Despite starting off rather dull - the tram simply took us past props of films we'd never seen or weren't bothered about - we were then treated to a stunt spectacular in which we were in the middle of an earthquake next to an exploding truck, the flames of which were put out by a huge torrent of several thousands of gallons of water exploding around us. We were then taken onto a replica of the set of Reign of Fire, a burned out London street, which was very impressively put together.
One quick hop around the Toy Story section, we headed back into Disneyland as it was now getting quite dark and late. We grabbed a cup of tea because we're English, and caught the end of the one of the stage shows taking place at the base of Cinderellas castle. Tara had a go on the Thunder Express, an old fashioned wooden rollercoaster. I sat that one out. The park was pretty much closing down now, but we got the chance to go on a Buzz Lightyear Kids ride - we were right by the door and it was about to close - and then left the park.
We queued and ate at Annettes, an American diner ("with a happy days atmosphere" the billboard happily announced). They did pretty much nothing else other than Burgers, but that was okay as we were both starving.
A quick wander around the billions of shops in Disney Village, and then back to the hotel where we were both absolutely exhausted. I'd been looking forward to a beer for most of the day - you can't get alcohol in either of the two parks - but was too tired to even manage one when I had one in front of me.
We flew back the day after (having worked out how to catch the correct quick train back to the airport this time). Except for some really bad turbulence when we hit Birmingham, it was an easy enough flight. So there you have it, the complete breakdown of Mr and Mrs. Courts adventures in Disneyland. We'd love to go again, but I'd like to go in a bigger group this time. An incredible (albeit expensive) couple of days. Highly recommended.