The bus was due to leave at 9 a.m. so we went down to the hotel's breakfast room at 8 o'clock for the standard breakfast of orange/grapefruit/pineapple juice, croissants, bread roll and honey/jam and tarte de pomme and too many cups of you-know-what. The bus left the hotel a 9 a.m. and drove to Disneyland. As is was "Pacques" (Easter) all of France had decided to go to Disneyland and there were long queues on the entry to the park. It was late morning when we finally got into the park. After hearing reports from friends and family we had decided to buy tickets for the Disney Studio Park that also gave us free admission to the Disney World Park after 5 p.m.
Our first stop was the Disney Village to check out the shops and places to eat. This was almost enough to send me screaming from the park as my shopping tolerance is about 17 minutes at best. We noticed big queues starting to form outside Planet Hollywood and a few other restaurants so we thought it might be a good idea to get an early lunch. The least crowded place was McDonalds so decided to eat there hoping that the French version of McDonalds cuisine might be palatable. As in all McDonalds I've ever visited the staff were unable to cope with an order for 6 people. The staff were a mixture of Tunisians and Moroccans and so I knew there was no point even trying to speak English as I explained that there was one drink missing and one of them was wrong and they had missed the extra portion of fries. I kept my cool even when they tried to charge me for the incorrect items and the replacements. It's never a good idea to upset someone who might spit in your food is it? The coffee was surprisingly good and my chicken royale was passable even though it was drowning in mayonnaise. Even though the fries were probably the best I'd had at any McDonalds I felt disappointed at myself for not eating real French cuisine but justified it by telling myself "This isn't France, this is Disneyland, what did you expect?"
It was early afternoon when we left the Village and entered the crowded Studio park. There were big queues for all the rides so we decided to only wait in line for a few.
First stop was the Rock 'n Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith. This started with of 40 minutes of standing in a zigzag queue past a fake recording studio, autographed guitars and a very convincing projection of the group Aerosmith in a control room. As I climbed into the car on the ride itself and the safety bars came down I translated a warning sign advising against taking the ride if suffering from neck, spinal or heart problems. This suddenly seemed like a very bad idea. The lights went down, the dry ice rolled, the music started and the ride lurched forward and immediately downwards whilst corkscrewing at an insane velocity. I realised that I was swearing very loudly but luckily the music was drowning it out. I remember passing through rings of strobe lights and the vibration of the seat was bouncing my head off my headrest but the g-force prevented me from pulling my head forwards. Suddenly it was all over and it was light. I staggered out of the carriage with aching neck muscles feeling as though I'd just been beaten up. The two older boys who'd been with me said "That was cool. Can we go on again?" The look on my face was enough to make them realise that this was never going to happen. I won't be getting on any more rollercoasters.
Next was a more sedate tour of the Disney TV studios. This was very boring for everyone and so we made our way to the Studio Tram tour. This was a very interesting ride through two huge special effects sets. The first had an oil refinery blow up complete with a truck sliding down a hill, huge fires that we could feel the heat from and concluded with a burst damn and flood with thousands of gallons of water pouring over the tram. The second set was a scene from the movie Reign Of Terror showing a corner of London ravaged by dragons. This tour also showed how everything works behind the scenes. I'd see this again.
Finally we came to my favourite part - a stunt show spectacular. Set in a simulated town square, five black cars were chasing one red car around and around seemingly skidding all the time. Throw in a couple of motorcyclists with guns, a fall from a building, jumping across ramps and onto trucks and you get the general idea. I recommend this show.
As we left, the time was approaching 5 p.m. so we made our way out of the Studio Park and headed towards the entrance to the Disneyland Park.
I wasn't looking forward to this part of the day and the enormous crowds everywhere confirmed that this wasn't going to be fun. I don't remember much of the day other than the Pirates of the Caribean ride. This was a slow ride in little boats through a dark labyrinth of passages and cavern filled with pirates and treasure. The pirates were life-sized animatronics singing and drinking and fighting in a very realistic way. Most impressive was a full size village square with two storey houses some of which were on fire. This ride lasted a long time and is certain worth another visit. The only drawback was the entrance and passages leading down to the ride were in very poorly lit and several time I could not make out where I was supposed to be walking.
The Space Mountain ride looked interesting but as the queue was over an hour there was no time to try it. The kids went on a couple of fairground type rides whilst we sat and had coffee and ice cream.
We left the park at about 8 p.m. and had another walk around Disney Village. The queues to get into the restaurants were spilling out into the streets so we decided to get hotdogs from a street vendor and eat at the hotel later. The bus left at 9 p.m and when we got to the hotel, the restaurant was already closed. Rather than have pizza again we walked across to the shopping mall and ate in the restaurant there. I had a rice-based dish that I thought was called something like "tambore" but I'm not so sure now. As this was our last night in Paris I ordered a bottle of Champagne. In the morning we would be starting our journey home but that night I was in Paris with the people I love and half a bottle of Champagne in my stomach. Life was feeling pretty good. Even with the hiccups.
originally a starblvd post by llizard, Apr/28/2004 17:56:36 [-05 EST]
This is great David! And with the added bonus that I never have to go to Disneyland, having travelled there vicariously.
I gather lots of French people eat at McDo - I was most amused to see the advertisement for the Mcbreakfast in France - no egg McMuffin in sight - just the typical bun and coffee. I love the French and their refusal to budge with their breakfast menu.
Too bad you didn't have a longer holiday. I so want to hear more of your adventures in France.
originally a starblvd post by blm, Apr/28/2004 22:39:34 [-05 EST]
Although it doesn't sound very "French", it sounds like a fun day, although you convey the awfulness of the crowds and lines very well.
Glad you managed some Champagne. Do they call hotdogs "hotdogs" or "chiens chaud"?