Carolyn Buckle - November 2006 - SL
Carolyn (46) mother
Isabella (23) daughter
Monday 27 November Friday 1 December 2006 (5 days, 4 nights)
TRAVEL METHOD :
Personal car / aeroplane / transfer
5th trip for both, although only 3 of the previous trips were made together
This was very much a last minute holiday, booked in mid September. We had talked about going back to DLP together for quite a while, and suddenly the time seemed right to do it! We therefore checked out the official DLP internet site late one night, and found they were offering a 4 nights for the price of 3 deal, (including length-of-stay park tickets), at the Sequoia Lodge, which seemed really good value, so we booked it right there and then! Next we checked out a variety of airline websites, and the best value at the time seemed to be British Airways, who were offering return flights for the dates we had booked at just over 100 each, which seemed quite fair to us. Again, we booked these straight away. We have stayed at the Sequoia Lodge before, also the Santa Fe resort, and the location and theming of the SL is more appealing to us.
It seemed weird not having proper airline tickets or booking confirmation of the DLP package, just emailed confirmation of our bookings, and we were a little apprehensive about this, but in the end everything was fine.
Nothing more we could do now, except keep an eye on weather websites, order some waterproof walking boots, and plan to pack warm clothing! A couple of days before leaving I changed some sterling into euros at Marks & Spencer, who gave a terrific exchange rate and didnt charge commission for the change. I also mentally packed my case three or four times, in order to maximise space for the very important task of bringing back DISNEY STUFF! Ergo, almost nothing extra was taken just in case I always take loads of just in case stuff, and never use it, so this time I was going to be ruthless! Hah! (and just hope that this would not turn out to be the one time I really needed something from my just in case list eek!). By the way, I checked three separate weather websites just before the weekend and all three gave TOTALLY different forecasts one said it would rain all week, another said it would be showery alternating with dry but cloudy, and the third promised either sun or dry with slight cloud all week! First hand weather reports are listed for each day we were actually there, however.
Anyway, the weekend of 25/26 November was spent washing, packing, panicking, repacking, etc. etc., and going to bed at 8.30 p.m. in the vague hope of trying to stop my brain from yelling go to sleep! Now! and actually getting some sleep before having to get up at stupid o clock the next morning.
DAY ONE MONDAY 27 NOVEMBER 2006
PLAN Drive to airport, fly to Paris, transfer to Sequoia Lodge, check in, to DL Park.
ACTUAL so, the alarm goes off at 3.15 a.m. good grief, is there such a time?? Yes there is, proven by the malicious little piece of blue plastic yelling its head off by the side of my bed the alarm clock. Up, dressed, LARGE cup of coffee, out of the door by 4.15 a.m. My beloved drives me to my parents, who live 10 minutes away from Birmingham airport, whereas darling daughter drives herself, as my beloved needs my car while were away, and we can therefore leave Isabellas car at my parents house all week until our return. So we drop her car off, pick her up and progress onto the airport. (We tried to put her car keys, my house keys, etc. quietly through the front door for safe keeping till we got back, but Max the border collie still heard us whispering and woofed the whole house awake! We ran away quickly, before anyone could shout at us ..). Its POURING with rain at this point, and cold.
We got to the airport at 5.00 a.m. and checked in for our 6.30 a.m. flight with British Airways, to Charles De Gaulle airport, then despatched ourselves to Costa coffee for a further caffeine hit (aside : I love Costa coffee, but they seem to misunderstand the term medium cup and serve you a vat of coffee hmm, cant be good for me, and in fact the cup was so big Im sure I saw a shark swimming in there .). At 5.50 a.m. I kissed my beloved goodbye (dont feel too sorry for him, within 24 hours he would be off to Norway to work for a week!), and we went into the departure lounge. At 6.30 a.m. we were still there! I was a little put out that no announcements or explanations for the delay were made, but we eventually began to board at 6.40 a.m. We were 30 minutes late taking off, which the pilot apologised for, and he said he would try to catch up the time during the flight, which he pretty much did, as we landed at 8.00 a.m. (our time) or 9.00 a.m. (French time)!
Customs clearance was relatively quick and painless, and once we found our way to the luggage retrieval, that also went quite quickly. We dragged our luggage for what felt like 15 miles through the airport, to Hall 12, Exit 4D, and went outside to wait for the transfer bus. Rats! We had missed one by 5 minutes! So we had to wait another 40 minutes for the next one (they run, quite obviously, every 45 minutes!). Anyway, at 10.10 a.m. a bright red Disney bus pulled up hooray! It cost 16 euros each to be transferred, payable on the bus to the driver, and there were a few seats left so we were able to sit together. Weather in France was rather mild, with a beautiful blue sky and bright sun.
At about 10.40 a.m. I was gazing off into the distance, and thinking blimey! That building over there looks like the Grand Floridian hotel when suddenly I realised that next to it was something that looked suspiciously like the Earful Tower and it was! The Disneyland Hotel at the entrance is very much like the Grand Floridian, visually. I was really surprised by how much of the park and the buildings are visible from the road, they obviously dont have a berm to protect them from nosy people in Paris!
Within 5 minutes we were pulling into the Newport Bay resort, and after dropping off a couple of guests there, we were soon back on the road again. The Sequoia Lodge was the next stop, so we hopped off the bus, grabbed our luggage from the storage area under the coach, and, taking a deep breath, walked into the SL reception area. *sigh* What a lovely sight, and it even smells of Disney a welcoming mixture of warmth, sweetness, and excitement. Check in went smoothly, as usual. Unfortunately our room wouldnt be ready until after 3.00 p.m., but we had expected that anyway, so it wasnt a problem. We were given our room key and park passes, and then chose breakfast times for the next 3 days 9.45 a.m. for Tuesday (this was the only time left by then!) in the hotel, and 9.15 a.m. for both Wednesday and Thursday in the park. More about that later. From check in we moved to the left luggage desk, and wait for it left our luggage! We were given receipts by a very nice cast member, which we stashed away carefully for later retrieval of said luggage.
Now we were free to explore the parks! We had already decided to visit the main park on our first day, so we exited the SL at the back entrance and began the walk around the lake, through Disney Village, and into the park. I was struck by how mild the weather way, I was able to wear a short sleeved t-shirt and still feel comfortable, so I left my coat with my luggage at the hotel.
The walk around the lake was lovely, there is a tethered hot air balloon next to the lake, which you can ride (for a fee). It was closed most of the time we were there, so we didnt investigate this further, however. As we walked past the Hotel New York, there was a beautiful, enormous Christmas tree in front of the hotel, and an ice-skating rink set up.
The village was rather quiet people-wise at this time, but the music they blast out was lovely, really exciting. We noticed what looked like a large Disney Store as we walked through, and agreed to visit there later.
After exiting the village, we politely ignored the hoards of hustlers attempting to take our photo or sell us plastic Eiffel towers between the Village and the park, and headed for the really pretty entrance to the park. After going through a cursory security check, you walk through a really picturesque garden with fountains and little windy paths towards the entrance, which is made by passing underneath a section of the Disneyland Hotel. Then we were through the turnstiles and into the park!
The first thing that struck me was how fantastic the Christmas decorations looked. There is a truly massive tree and the bottom end of Main Street (as you walk in), and really magnificent decorations throughout both the park and the Studios. Santa was sitting near the tree, with a queue of children waiting to see him, which was really sweet.
We began to walk up Main Street, and I must admit I was a little choked up at the sight of the castle tall and pink and sparkly in the sunlight. Main Street itself is one of my favourite parts of a Disney park, the sights and smells are very evocative of Disney no matter which park you are in around the world.
In keeping with some sort of elderly family tradition that I was unaware of, Isabella wanted to make the first ride we went on Space Mountain, so we turned right at the hub and headed for the attraction. However gasp! It was down! (Small side note : in Birmingham there is a bus route called the 101, and every time I see a bus with 101 on the front, I wonder whether it is working or not!) No explanations were available, other than technical difficulties, so we picked up fast passes for later and decided to go into Videopolis to watch The Lion King show, and pick up some lunch as well. Isabella went off in search of somewhere to sit, although it turns out there were a huge number of tables to choose from, while I went to order the food. I had a chicken nuggets meal, which came with fries and a drink (I chose Sprite) cost 9.95 euros, and Isabella had a Magic Cheeseburger meal, again with fries and diet coke cost 9.95 euros as well. The food was excellent, hot and tasty, and the show was really lovely. This was a new show to us in this venue, as the last time we were there the show was Beauty & the Beast..
Fed and suitably entertained, we marched purposefully back to Space Mountain only to find it still closed! After much deliberation, discussion, and finally demanding on my part, we decided to break with tradition and headed for Pirates of the Caribbean. This was advertised as a 5 minute wait, but turned out to be a walk-on (this was a recurring theme throughout the week despite the parks appearing to be very crowded with families a lot of the time, most of the rides had very little in the way of wait times or queues). Fun! I like the fact that this ride has two quite mild but exciting drops in it; however, I am not keen on the fact that the narration is virtually all in French, which is a bit of a problem for anyone not familiar with the language (i.e. me!). Also, I think I had got a bit carried away by the idea that maybe the ride had been rehabbed and Captain Jack Sparrow had been added but it was not to be *sigh*. Ah well, never mind.
Next we went over to my favourite ride, Big Thunder Mountain. Again, I really rate this ride in Paris because you have to travel under the lake at the start of the ride to get to the main part, which is obviously in the dark, and very exciting. I particularly wanted to refresh my memory of this ride because when we go to Florida next year, to Walt Disney World, I am keen to try Expedition Everest for the first time, which apparently has a section in the dark, and whilst I am terrified of Rock n Roller Coaster and the Tower of Terror, at least I have tried both of them at least once. Ergo, I do want to try Expedition Everest, and just needed to remind myself whether I was happy to do a portion of a ride in the pitch darkness turns out, I was. Happy, that is! I suggested we pick up fast passes, go through the normal queue, then ride again with the FPs, but the FP machines were covered over, so we just went through the standard line. It was advertised as being 20 minutes, but was more like 10 mins. This is a fantastic ride, and we had really good fun on it, although Isabella insisted we sit at the front. As she soon discovered, however, this is the slowest part of the train, and for every other ride during the week we managed to get the back car.
Whilst in the area, we then headed for Phantom Manor. Again, the narration is all in French, which can detract from the enjoyment a little. Also, this ride is much, much darker than the Haunted Mansion in Florida, and I think could potentially be very scary for younger kids. A 10 minute wait was listed, but it was more like 20 minutes before we were inside the stretching room.
After this we whisked back over to Discoveryland to see if Space was up and running yet, but it was STILL down, so we gave up at this point and decided to go and see if our room was ready yet at the resort. We took a leisurely walk back to the Sequoia Lodge, arriving back there around 3.15 p.m., and upon checking were informed that yes indeed, our room was ready. Number 5170, on the fifth floor. Off we trot to reclaim our luggage and trek wearily over to the lift, along a very long corridor, and to room 5170. What a nice room! Basic, but clean, if slightly shabby here and there, but very well themed with images of, well, um, hunting and stuff.
We rested for about 30 minutes, flicking through the TV channels (although we could only get BBC World News and The Disney Channel in English!), before unpacking and heading back out to the park. I actually had to change my boots for a pair of sandals, and left my jacket in the room, venturing out in short sleeves as it was still warm and mild.
Back to Discoveryland AGAIN and this time relief! Space Mountain was open! Using our FPs obtained earlier, we scooted through the FP queue line and began the approach. Except the nearer we got to the loading bay, the more my knees began to wobble and my heart began to pound, and despite all my brave words about yeah, Ill give this a go! eventually I gave up and chickened out. Yep, I had to watch my fearless daughter climb into the car by herself while I quivered my unsteady way out of the chicken exit, head bowed and feeling thoroughly ashamed all the way. I waited for Isabella in the big baby corner, and when she had finished the ride she told me it was a good job I didnt do it, as I would have hated it apparently, it was very, very fast, bumpy, swirly, and went upside down A LOT!! I felt a bit better then!
We walked back towards the hub, intending to ride Big Thunder again now it was dark. Main Street was absolutely packed with people milling around for the 5.00 p.m. showing of The Enchanted Fairytale Ceremony, but we had already decided to spend an entire day later in the week catching all the shows, parades, etc., so we edged our way around them and out towards Frontierland. Big Thunder was showing as a 20 minute wait, which turned out to be about 10 mins, and was just the best yet in the dark, fast, exciting, and the castle looked absolutely fantastic from the ride all pink and sparkly, with twinkly lights all over it.
When we were done with Big Thunder, we were feeling really tired, having been up since 3.15 a.m., so we decided to head back to the Village to have a quick look around the shops and grab something to eat. At this time of year, the park closes at 7.00 p.m., and the restaurants become absolutely packed shortly after that, so by leaving around 6.00 p.m. we hoped to beat the crowds. On the way back down Main Street we browsed through the Emporium, looking for a jacket for Isabella. We found one she liked the look of, but in her typical fashion, she decided to shop around a bit first before buying it. I spotted a gorgeous Tinkerbell hooded sweatshirt in dark purple that I really liked, and will try on at some point tomorrow when Im not so tired and frazzled!
We discussed what to have for dinner, and spotted that Annettes Diner, one of our favourite eating places at DLP, did take-out, which sounded a nice idea as we were so tired, so we first of all browsed a little for jackets, and Isabella finally decided to buy the one she had originally seen in the Emporium. Its lovely, a long, white, fleecy lined, waterproof jacket, with a subtle Mickey logo on the front. Then we went back to Annettes. Its difficult to get to the take-out section, as you have to go in the main doors and round to the right to a separate counter, but we felt guilty about walking past the huge queue to get in and finally just sort of hovered near the exit doors, which were next to the take-out counter, until someone came out and let us in! Isabella ordered a Salade de Pate with no olives (a sort of green salad with pasta and cheese), and a diet coke cost 10 euros. I had a meal called the Euro Chick a breaded chicken burger with salad on a bun, fries, and a Sprite. I also got a coffee, as my caffeine levels were feeling a little low total cost for my meal was 13 euros and the coffee was 2.50 euros.
We snuck the food back to the room (not being sure we were allowed to take food back!), I had a quick shower, and then we ate. The food was really lovely, just what we needed, particularly the coffee. After that we just watched TV (Disney Channel), read, ate a bit of chocolate (that we had taken with us), and Isabella was asleep by 9.00 p.m., with me following by 9.30 p.m.!
DAY TWO TUESDAY 28 NOVEMBER 2006
PLAN Breakfast in hotel, DLP Studios
ACTUAL After an excellent nights sleep, I woke with the alarm at 8.45 a.m., having slept for nearly 12 hours! The room was really quiet at night, with no noise coming from any of the other rooms to disturb us, but the view outside of the laundry storage area and main road, which we had thought yesterday was rather horrible but liveable with, turned out to be rather noisy at night! Fortunately, we were too tired to let it disturb us last night, and that was the case all week, really. We showered, dressed, and headed down to breakfast for 9.45 a.m.
Breakfast was in the Beaver Creek Tavern, a lovely restaurant that offered a full range of continental breakfast items. The tables were arranged together a little snugly, and people in there with pushchairs didnt help with overcrowding, but it was manageable. When we first got there, the queue to get in appeared HUGE, but it was moving very quickly and we were seated within 5 minutes. Food available was a selection of cereals, croissants (both plain and chocolate), warm rolls, cheddar and gouda cheeses, ham, salami, fruit salad, fruit and plain yogurt, coffee, tea, orange juice, fruit & mint teas, butter, jams, and marmalade. There was plenty of food available, and stocks were replenished very frequently. Isabella had bread, cheddar cheese, ham, and coffee. I had one each of the plain and chocolate croissants, a bread roll, some cheddar and gouda cheeses, coffee, and orange juice. All was very good indeed, particularly the orange juice, which was sharp and fresh tasting, not watery at all. Isabella was obviously impressed with the breakfast, as she went back for a second plate and promptly demolished more bread, cheese and ham, and a strawberry yogurt. I had a second roll with some ham, and more coffee.
At 10.50 a.m. we waddled into the Studios. The weather today was cloudy and a bit cooler than yesterday, and I was glad I had worn my fleece rugby shirt. The Studios were very crowded. We picked up park maps to check out the parade time, and also to see whether any mention was made of the Backlot Tour, which was supposed to be down for refurb until Friday 1 December. We were hoping it would be open on the Friday though, as that would be our last chance to ride it, but the map said it was closed to 1 December INCLUSIVE, so I guess that means the Tour will have to wait until next time!
Isabella decided a trip on the Rock n Roller Coaster was in order, so off we went. I decided that the nice looking bench outside would be as exciting as I could take after that huge breakfast, however, so once again chickened out of this ride. Off she shot into the ride, with the wait time being posted as 5 minutes (actual time taken : 15 minutes). Whilst I was sitting there waiting for her, a group of British lads came up to me and asked where I had got the map I was perusing. I told them where to pick it up from, then wondered what it was about me that looked English, as they had picked me to ask over other groups of people around me! Anyway, shortly afterwards, an extremely excited Isabella bounded over, grinning from ear to ear, so I sent her back on R & RC again as she had obviously had a great time.
Next we joined the queue for the Moteurs, Action! Stunt Show Spectacular show, which was at 12.15 p.m. This is a truly stunning show, and is very exciting. The ballet of the cars is amazing! The show got a standing ovation at the end! This show is well worth seeing, it lasts about 45 minutes and the concrete bench seats get a little uncomfortable after a while, but you hardly notice this because the show is so good.
Next Isabella back on R & RC again, while I staked out places at the kerbside to watch the parade at 1.30 p.m. She came out just in time! The Cinema Parade is really lovely, of a nice length, and made me cry a little as I turned to watch Mickey and Minnie waving to us all at the back of the final float!
After the parade, we stopped at a kiosk and bought 2 lemon Fantas and a coffee (total 6.70 euros). Then we headed for the Walt Disney Television Studios, finishing off the coffee just as we got there. What an odd attraction! You basically wander from room to room, with no cast members in sight, whilst being given an incredibly boring lecture by a French girl on a TV screen about how TV programmes get to the Disney Channel. Yawn. Not something we will do again, not even if tortured. At the end you are spat out into a dark and crowded area with lots of interactive video game areas, and a Cyber Space Mountain interesting, we thought, but the queues for everything here were massive, and by this time we were bored with the whole attraction so gave up and left.
We exited into argh! Rain!! Quick, nip into Cinemagique (well, we were heading there anyway!). This is a wonderful show, with a mixture of live action and clips of classic movies through the years Harold Lloyd, Laurel & Hardy, The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly, right through to Star Wars etc.
Back outside into a slightly lighter drizzle, we went to the Animation Studios, which is a show consisting of film clips narrated (very loudly!) by an live animator, explaining how characters such as Mushu from Mulan were developed. There were headphones with translations of various other languages, but unfortunately the microphone that the narrator was using was so loud it almost drowned out any sound from the headphones! However, it was still an interesting show.
From there we walked out to the last area of this particular building, which housed various interactive drawing consoles for kids, and a roped off section where a drawing class could be taken. There was a tutor at the desk, but no-one was seated in the classroom area. Before we could take our seats, however, I was Tiggered! Standing idly looking around, Isabella suddenly smirked and pointed behind me I turned around and was immediately hugged by the bounciest Tigger I have ever encountered! He hugged me almost to death for a couple of minutes then made me kiss his nose, before posing beside me for a photo. He was lovely (if a little wet)! We finally made it into the drawing class, but then sat there alone for quite a while. Amazingly, considering the Studios had been crowded when we arrived, it now appeared that it had quieted down somewhat. Anyway, after about 10 minutes a few more people drifted in, and the tutor began to teach us how to draw Winnie the Pooh. I guess it must have begun to rain a bit more shortly after that, because suddenly the drawing class was taken over by a whole heap of characters! Two mice from Cinderella, King Louis, Tigger, Woody and Jess, Abu, and Captain Hook all appeared and began to either join in the drawing class or just create mayhem! Tigger came over to me and obviously approved of my attempts to draw his pal, because he gave me a thumbs up and proceeded to sign my drawing! King Louis was very funny, he sat down at a desk and began to very earnestly draw, looking up at the tutors board and kind of measuring the picture with his thumb every now and again. Also, some of the characters crept up on kids and just stood behind them without making a sound, until the child suddenly noticed there was someone behind them and jumped! All in all, the drawing class was great fun.
By now it was raining quite hard again, and was also starting to get cold and dark. Isabella ran off to do R & RC (AGAIN!!), while I sat in Studio 1 to dry out a little, and stay out of the cold wind. When she returned, we did a little shopping in Studio 1, buying some playing cards for gifts and a lovely key ring (a pewter Sorcerers Apprentice hat with Disneyland Paris across the bottom) for my new handbag, which is exactly the same as Isabellas, so at least I can now distinguish mine from hers!
At this point, we were cold, tired, wet and hungry, so we decided we couldnt be bothered being adventurous and just trudged back to Annettes Diner again, where I got a Be Bop Burger (burger with mushrooms and cheese, and their special sauce), fries, and salad (cost 12.50 euros), with a lemon sprite (4.50 euros). Isabella had a Rock n Roll Burger (basically a bacon cheeseburger), with fries and salad (cost 13 euros), and a diet coke (4.20 euros). Got this to go, and decided to pick up a bit of shopping on our way back to the hotel.
We picked up some bags of chocolate, postcards and stamps, a really cute, tiny Eyeore snowglobe, and a Pirates t-shirt, mostly as gifts, before finally getting back to our room at about 8.30 p.m. to eat, shower, watch a little t.v., write postcards and read, before falling asleep at 10.30 p.m. *snore*
DAY THREE WEDNESDAY 29 NOVEMBER 2006
PLAN Breakfast in Park, catch parades and shows
ACTUAL A bright and sunny but colder day, today. We were a bit late for our breakfast in the park, as it took us longer to get there than we thought! Breakfast was in Au Chalet du Marionette in Fantasyland, and was the usual fare. The place was really crowded, and the cast members didnt seem able to keep on top of keeping the food area clean and well stocked, unfortunately. Anyway, we managed to find a table and had the usual croissants, orange juice, coffee, rolls, ham and cheese, after which we nipped out to Main Street and posted our postcards.
Next we queued to meet Mickey near Caseys Corner on Main Street. We were fairly sure my sister was due to take her driving test soon (she was keeping in quiet from the family, just in case, but had said one or two things in the preceding weeks which made us think the test was imminent!), so wed bought her a Congratulations on Passing your Driving Test card, which I wanted to get signed by Mickey as a surprise for her. After 40 minutes we got to the front of the queue, and although I am fairly sure Mickey had not got the slightest idea what he was signing, he happily signed my card and posed with us for a photo.
We headed over to Discoveryland after that, and Isabella did Space Mountain while I browsed in Constellations for 5 minutes, which was all it took for her to be out again and looking for me! We then rode Buzz (with a 10 min wait), and Star Tours (15 mins), before walking back to Fantasyland. We picked up Fast Passes for Peter Pan, then Isabella discovered the batteries in her camera had gone flat, so we went off in search of some, walking through Belles Enchanted Christmas Market on the way (cute, lots of stalls selling usual stuff). Having picked up batteries, we then rode Its a Small World, one of our favourite rides, and then went back to Peter Pan to use our FPs. After a mere 5 minute wait, we were soaring above London in our boats lovely! Out of there, and round to Pirates weather still glorious and sunny (albeit cold), and the park really rather quiet today. Pirates was a walk-on, and after yo-ho-ho-ing our way around, we were allowed to stay on for a second ride as there was no-one in the queue!
We then meandered our way around to Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom, which I had the intention of riding when hell froze over, so after a quick check that it hadnt, I stood by a fence bit and watched my darling daughter dice with Doom! Again, this was advertised as being a 5 minute wait, but was more or less a walk on. Doing well today, crowd-wise!
Heading for Big Thunder Mountain, we were really impressed with the lack of crowds today. It seems odd that this would change on a daily basis, but maybe Wednesdays are quiet because people usually come Friday to Monday, or Thursday to Tuesday, I dont know. Anyway, we werent complaining! BTM was posted as a 10 minute wait, but unfortunately broke down after 5 minutes so we exited, grabbed fast passes for 30 minutes later, and then went back to Main Street in search of ice-cream. At the Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlour there was quite a queue, but we braved it out and got a Chocolate Extreme Cone for Isabella (3 euros 10 cents), and a Triple Cup for me of Vanilla, Chocolate, & Coffee ice cream (cost 3 euros 70 cents). The vanilla was nice, but very, very sweet, the chocolate was very rich with bits of chocolate chip, and the coffee was the nicest, being smooth and creamy with bits of coffee flavoured biscuit in it. Isabella said hers was nice!
After our ice cream monsters had been satisfied, we went back to BTM, which was up and running again. Fast passed through to the wildest ride in the wilderness, and then decided to split up for a short time, after taking a photo of the Haunted Mansion. Isabella went to Space Mountain again! while I decided to get another BTM fix, and we agreed to meet in 30 minutes near Autopia (which was closed seasonally!), to get in place for the parade.
We met again and managed to get a nice place to watch the Christmas Parade, opposite the castle. It was a really lovely parade, with an incredibly catchy theme tune. All the usual suspects were there, plus Santa in a real reindeer drawn sleigh! We were very amused by one of the Cast Members on rope duty, who sang and danced his way through the whole thing! I thought it might be nice to try and find the theme tune on CD at some point.
Buzz Lightyears Laser Blast was next, with a posted 15 minute wait, which was about right. By this time Isabella was hungry, so we got her a foot-long hotdog from Caseys, with some diet coke, and I just had coffee. After that it was nearly time for the Enchanted Fairy Tale Ceremony in front of the castle, so we found a position to watch that. Unfortunately, we didnt realise we were around the back of the stage, so missed large chunks of the show! It was a nice show, but we felt it could have been better it seemed to lack something, being merely characters singing and dancing to various Christmas songs.
One last visit for the day to Big Thunder, as it was dark by this time and this ride is just the best thing ever in the dark, and just about time for a little shopping down Main Street. Into the Emporium for key rings, the gorgeous Tinkerbell hooded fleecy sweatshirt for me, a fleece blanket for my beloved other half, etc. etc.
By the time we lined up for the evening parade, the weather was very cold and an extremely dense fog had descended making everything look kind of weird and blurry. The parade was rather a disappointment, we thought. Nothing like the old Spectromagic, with its lights and catchy music. It was based around Disney villains, and about halfway through the whole thing comes to a halt and whichever villain float is in front of you has characters dancing around it. Nice, but you dont get to see any of the other bits of the parade characters dances as they are either too far ahead or too far behind!
Anyway, when it was over we fought our way out of the park and back to the Village. After a rather long discussion over what to eat, we gave up and went to Annettes again. Isabella repeated the Salade de Pate thing, and as I wasnt very hungry I just went with fries and a Sprite. (K 10 euros; me 5.50 euros).
Back to room, eat, shower, read, t.v., lights out at 10.15 p.m.
DAY FOUR THURSDAY 30 NOVEMBER 2006
PLAN Breakfast in Park, anything else we wanted to repeat, plus Winter Wonderland show
ACTUAL A much colder day again, and the thickest fog you ever did see! Headed for the park for breakfast again, which was even quieter than yesterday! The restaurant was also quieter, and less messy than yesterday, which was nice. Had the usual for breakfast, plus some really nice corn pops with icy cold milk yum!
Straight from there to Big Thunder Mountain, which had a 5 minute posted wait but virtually no-one inside! Straight walk on, sat at the back again, but then had to wait about 5 minutes before the train left, as what looked like a bunch of Disney officials walked past the train making notes on notepads hmm. Not sure what that was about. The ride was extremely bizarre in the fog, we couldnt see any of the usual landmarks at all! When we pulled back into the station, there was still no-one waiting to ride, so we got to stay on for a second time yay! I love that ride!!
However, the next time we pulled into the station there were other people waiting to get on boo! So we had to get off again. Rotters! How dare they??
Anyway, we decided to head for the Studios next to pick up some bits and pieces we had seen previously, so thats what we did. We bought two copies of a beautiful book by the Imagineers, one each, and then split up again. Isabella went guess where? Rock n Roller Coaster! And I went to check out Animagique, which is a really lovely show, using a mixture of live action and puppets.
We met up again after that, and it turned out Isabella had ridden R & R C three times as there was no wait!! Next we went into Studio 1 for a little shopping, picked up a notepad and pen for a friend for Christmas, plus Tinkerbell mints in a tin, etc., then we headed back to the hotel to drop everything off. We stopped at the Concierge to check the bus timetable for tomorrow we will need to leave the hotel around 1.30 p.m. Turns out there is a bus at 1.35, which is ideal! We also had to pick up our breakfast time card for tomorrow.
After dropping off the shopping, we went back to the park and rode the Disneyland Railroad to Discoveryland, which was really lovely! I think you know whats coming next Isabella off to Space Mountain, while I nipped into Constellations to pick up a Castle pin I had spotted earlier in the week. Buzz was next, followed by Star Tours both 5 minutes posted, but virtual walk ons. Through the Castle (via the shops, where I picked up a lovely Mickey ears pendant with a purple crystal in the middle of it), to Its a Small World again, no wait. The park really is much, much quieter today.
Next was Pirates oh no! Closed! With no explanation!! Oh well, back to Big Thunder, I guess! 10 minute wait posted, but again, no wait at all, just walked straight on. We have managed to be sat at the back all week now, which is great fun. Afterwards it was time to go to the Chaparral Theatre for Mickeys Winter Wonderland show. It was freezing in there, despite being a covered theatre! The show is wonderful, and has a real shire horse pulling a sleigh at the end!
Right, time to try for Pirates again yes, its open! Walked straight on, and stayed on for a second trip as no queue when we pulled back into the loading dock.
Here we go its now dark, (although the fog has lifted somewhat), getting late, and there isnt much time left in this park today now. So we went for one last ride on Big Thunder in the dark, which was very sad. This was probably the longest we had to wait today to get on this ride, and was still only 10 minutes!
Back on Main Street, the call of the waffle was heard, so we went to Gibson Girl again and got Isabella a waffle with cream and chocolate sauce 2 euros 90 cents, and she scarfed that down pretty quickly, I can tell you.
We left the park after that, and had our usual discussion regarding food ending up back at Annettes! However, this time, we opted to eat in as we hadnt done that yet. We queued for about 15 minutes, before getting a table upstairs. We ordered the Nachos Feast for two (which is actually classed as a starter, but is big enough to have as a main course). Cost 7.50 euros. Then we had an ice-cream sundae each vanilla ice-cream, with Isabella having chocolate sauce, and me having caramel sauce (big mistake it was actually too sweet!). 5.50 euros each. Plus diet coke (4.20 euros) and vanilla coke (4.50 euros). Boy, were we stuffed after all that!
We now had the sad task of heading back to the Lodge to pack, panic, repack, and decide to worry about it in the morning So thats what we did! We got back about 8.30 p.m., spent an hour panicking and trying to fit everything into the cases, and gave up to read, watch t.v., and turn the lights out at 10.30 p.m.
DAY FIVE FRIDAY 1 DECEMBER 2006
PLAN Breakfast in Hotel, last visit to park & studios, leave hotel at 1.35 p.m.
ACTUAL Cold day, bright but cloudy, fog all gone! We got down to breakfast at for 7.30 a.m. (our earliest yet, but the only time card left yesterday when we booked it!), and had a much lighter breakfast than usual. I could only manage coffee and orange juice, but wrapped up a couple of croissants in a napkin for later. Isabella had her usual mountain of bread, ham, cheese etc!
After breakfast, we went back to our room to finish the packing, and after sitting on the cases we just about managed to get everything in! We dropped the luggage back off with left luggage, checked out of the room, and headed over to the Studios.
By this time it was 9.00 a.m., and the Studios were advertising as opening at 9.00; however, in actuality, they didnt open till 10.00 a.m.! So we milled around outside until about 9.30, when they let us into Studio 1. There were lots of characters around, so it was nice to just watch them for a while though. After another 5 minutes or so we made the decision to split up, as Isabella wanted to go on Rock n Roller Coaster, and it seemed a bit pointless for me to hang around outside there waiting for her, so I left her to it and went to the park, which had opened slightly earlier than the Studios.
My first stop was Phantom Manor. Isabella really was not keen on this ride, as the narration is in French and she cant understand most of it, but I rather like the ride itself. I was the first person in the queue for the first ride of the day!
Next I raced over to Big Thunder, which was showing a 10 minute wait, and turned out to be about right. The park was still quite quiet at this point, which was nice.
After this, I decided against going on anything else on my own, and had a good look around the castle, including venturing down into the dungeons to check out the dragon cool! I met Isabella outside the castle, and we went over to Pirates for one last ride however, it was closed! So we went back to Big Thunder for our last ride or two together. The queue board said it was a 10 minute wait, but the queue looked awfully long for just 10 minutes. We picked up fast passes for 30 minutes later, then decided to risk going in the regular queue line first. Everyone was queuing on the right hand side, so we just went to the left and bypassed everyone! I cant believe people were just following each other in a sheeplike way and not utilising both sides of the queue area! We walked almost all the way down to the station, before encountering anyone else in our queue! A quick whisk round the wildest ride in the wilderness, then straight back on again with our fast passes lovely! But sad too, as it was the last ride on there.
By now we were starting to feel like lunch was in order, so we went to Main Street and into Victorias for an early lunch (the place was empty!). Isabella had a Menu Victorias which was a Mickey shaped pizza, salad, chocolate ring doughnut, and a diet coke (9.95 euros) (and very, very good, apparently!). I opted for the Pluto Victorias, which consisted of a fantastic croque monsieur, salad, chocolate filled doughnut, and a Sprite (10.95 euros). I also got a coffee.
After lunch, we split up again, with Isabella going back for a last ride or two on R & R C, and me heading for Snow Whites Scary Adventures, followed by Its a Small World, both of which were really lovely. I then walked very slowly (and sadly!) back down Main Street, popping into the Emporium on the way to pick up the CD of the Christmas Parade music, and a Mickey-shaped lollipop for Isabella. I felt very sad to be leaving the park, and shed a tear or two (much to my daughters embarrassment when we met up outside!).
We headed back to the Lodge via the Village, and collected our luggage from left luggage, before going outside to the bus stop to wait for the 1.35 p.m. bus back to the airport. It arrived slightly early, and we were off! The trip home was very uneventful, and we finally landed safely back in the UK at about 4.30 p.m.
This was a truly wonderful trip, it was lovely to spend some quality time alone with my daughter, and naturally there is no better place to do this than a Disney park!
We will be back!!