Disneyland Trip Report- 2adults, 1 child (4), 1infant (nearly 2) visiting 7th-9th November 2012
Never written a trip report before so here goes…
Our trip began a bit stressfully as we only just made it to check in as it was closing. We had relied on the taxi company recommending what time we would need to be picked up to make it in time for the train and we were cutting it very fine! Anyhow once on the train the trip there was straightforward and a member of staff came round and gave us our park tickets, café mickey breakfast vouchers and tags for our luggage. We arrived just after 2 and after dropping our bags at the Disney express service desk we headed straight into the park…
Although I remembered how beautiful the castle was from when I visited as a child there’s nothing like the moment when you see it again for the first time-breath-taking! We headed into Fantasyland and the queue for the Carousel wasn’t too bad so my husband took both the kids on that. After that we decided to get some Candy floss so my husband queued for that while I took the opportunity to get some photos - of Jack and the Beanstalk outside Sir Mickey’s and of Jack trying to pull out the Sword in the Stone-bless him he tried so hard to pull the sword out I felt guilty telling him afterwards it wasn’t possible! We realised you needed a ticket for the candy floss so ended up queuing again for that. We headed on further into Fantasyland, passing Rapunzel’s stand but there was no sign of her, and It’s a Small World, which had a massive queue (as predicted). I remember thinking it looked like Le Payes de Contes Fees was open although according to my research prior to travelling I had been expecting this to be shut but I had no time to investigate as we headed on past Alice’s Labyrinth as there was a bit of a queue and in to Meet Mickey. After queuing for about 5 minutes in a very long queue I wondered what we were playing at as head breakfast and dinner with Mickey the next day! So we left and headed back to the Labyrinth where we walked straight in – how we managed to get lost in there initially I don’t know!
After this we headed back toward Main Street ready for the Parade which was due to start in 20 minutes, and, after managing a conversation in French, I found out where the dragon was sleepoing and went to see him quickly before getting our spot for the parade. My camera batteries already needed changing (eek- would have to buy more before the end of the trip). Isla was not scared of the dragon atall and kept pointing at him saying ‘dinosaur, dinosaur’. The parade was great – LOVE ‘there’s magic everywhere’ – such a catchy tune!
Next we headed into the Village as we were ready for tea now. Husband was eyeing up Planet Hollywood but I already knew that I wanted us to go to Rainforest Café so I just kept heading onwards in that direction until ‘oh look we’re at Rainforest Café – let’s go in there!’ We had to wake Isla as she had fallen asleep by this point after a tiring day. We ordered a sharing platter, 2 steaks and 2 kid’s meals plus drinks – husband was outraged at the cost of a pint - €7.90! But then it’s Disney after all and I was prepared for/expecting extortionate prices for things. In total the meal was approx €117. We had no complaints with the food and the steak was well cooked and the food had nice little touches like a bowl cleverly made of leaves. Jack liked the elephant, who my husband named ‘Nellie’, and ‘Craig’ the crocodile who lived outside.
We then headed back towards the park and upon asking was informed by a staff member that Dreams and the Firework celebrations by the lake were both on at 8.30 – so we had to decide between the 2 so I chose Dreams as I knew I would be devastated if I didn’t see it (if for example it was rained off or anything the following day). We then did Aladdin passageway and Robinson Crusoe, coming out near Indiana Jones which only had a 5 minute queue but I felt it was a bit cheeky to make the others wait in the dark whilst I went on so I gave it a miss and we headed back to the castle to watch Dreams. We found a good spot to the left on the castle near a popcorn stand (which Isla was running laps around while we were waiting for the show to begin) near Central Plaza. From here we had a relatively good view (although not quite central to the castle which you need to be for the best view) and the crowd was not too overwhelming (not sure what the crowds are usually like but perhaps it was a bit quieter due to the fireworks being on at the same time?!). Dreams was fantastic and I found it emotional but maybe that’s just me?! Even my husband, who before hadn’t a clue what it was - ‘is it a show with projections then?’ – was impressed. As an aside, my iphone was much better at taking photos of Dreams than my expensive bridge camera I’d purchased specifically with Dreams in mind, despite trying all different settings. It was quite crowded leaving the park, and we figured out we had to pass through Disney Village to make it back to our hotel. We walked past a lovely statue of Sleeping Beauty trying on a new dress and Café Mickey with its Mickey-shaped bush outside but husband was on a mission so didn’t have time to stop and take a photo! Understandably the kids were knackered by this point, especially as Isla had a bit of a cold and Jack wasn’t used to walking so far but did really well.
As we got to the lake the fireworks had just started -result! Although we missed seeing Mickey on the lake and didn’t make it round to Sequoia Lodge side (where I’m told is the best view), turning off towards the Santa Fe at the end of the lake, we stopped for a few minutes to take a few photos of the fireworks (despite the kids’ tired protests). The fireworks finished about 5 minutes after we moved on anyway so we didn’t miss much.
Check-in at the hotel was relatively straightforward although there was a bit of a queue so my Mike took the kids to the bar to get some drinks while I checked in. I was given a hotel map, room key and EMH pass, and was able to book our breakfast time for the Friday at 7am. We then picked up our luggage from the ‘baggagerie’ – such a great service and I was impressed that our bags were there ready for us to collect and hadn’t been sent to the wrong hotel or anything! We couldn’t have asked for a better room location-wise (room number 23 in block 49) as it was near reception and the shops on the ground floor. There was evidence of renovation work going on and our room had clearly not been renovated yet but it was still fit for purpose and comfortable enough for the short amount of time that we spent in it. (Would be great to stay in THE Disneyland Hotel and not have to walk so far to and from the park but that’s mega bucks!). The bathroom had complimentary Mickey Mouse soaps and shower gel which I thought was a nice touch. I realised my travel plug did not fit the French sockets so had to do a night-time flit in my pj’s to the hotel shop to buy the correct adaptor (€9.99) but this gave me an opportunity to have a child-free browse of the souvenirs and get an idea of what I might like to buy before we leave (a few choice items – not the whole shop!)
Luckily I’d set the alarm or who knows what time everyone would have woken up! The kids were dressed in their Cinderella and Woody outfits and off we headed towards Café Mickey for our character breakfast booked for 8am. At Café Mickey Pluto, Goofy and Rabbit came to our table. There was then a break before Chip and Dale and then the man himself Mickey put in an appearance.
After breakfast we headed into the studios to catch the end of EMH where we bumped into Donald Duck and waited patiently in the crowd surrounding him to get a picture of him with Jack, before heading into Playland. Here I was surprised to see that the queue for Slinky Dog was showing as 30 minutes and it was only 9.20am at this time, however as Jack was desperate to go on a ride and it was one that we could all go on together, we decided to wait. The queues for the other rides were even worse – 30 mins for a single rider on RC racer, and 65 minutes for the Parachute drop and it wasn’t even 10am yet! There was no queue time showing for the carpets so we went for that and got on within half an hour. Jack’s response to that ride was that it ‘wasn’t fast enough’ so I pointed out Tower of Terror to him and he insisted he wanted to go on that! Isla was tired by this point so Mike put her in her pushchair for a sleep and went off to grab a coffee while Jack and I waited the 25 minute queue for Tower of Terror. Jack loved it and claims he wasn’t scared although in the photo they took it looks like there’s an empty seat next to me as Jack had his head ducked down in my lap!
We head over to watch Moteurs stunt show, which was due to start very soon. This was very good and, although Isla wasn’t too impressed at having to sit still for 45 minutes, Jack was amazed by some of the stunts – he said the ‘man on fire’ and ‘smashing through the window’ were his best bits.
Once back in the studios there were lots of characters putting in an appearance – Jack had a photo taken with the Wicked Stepmother from Snow White and joined the crowd for Snow White and one of her dwarfs but quickly dropped her for a chance to see, and ‘kiss’ Cinderella! We also spotted Goofy, Cruella DeVille, Mary Poppins and Burt, the dragon from Mulan, and the Prince from Snow White from a distance but didn’t stop to see them. For lunch we ate at Restaurant en coulisse in Studio 1 before catching the Stars and Cars parade. We then decided to head back to the hotel for a rest, as the kids were tired and we were aware we wanted to watch Dreams again that night and make it for EMH the following morning. Looking back we probably wasted time here as neither of the kids slept but we did manage to get them bathed to save on doing that later, and I managed to buy a fresh stock of batteries for my camera from the hotel shop (around €7.99 for 8 AA’s).
On our walk back to the park we noted ice skaters on the rink outside hotel New York, and that the barriers that had been around the Christmas Tree in the park the previous day had been removed in preparation for the start of Christmas season. We were aiming to get back to the park before the parade started in the hope that some of the ride queues would be shorter, however, the parade was just about to start by the time we made it back to the park, which made it very difficult to get across to Fantasyland. Instead we ended up going through Frontierland (queue for Big Thunder Mountain 55 minutes!) and ending up outside Pirates, which had only a 20 minute queue. Isla had now fallen asleep so Mike stayed with her while Jack and I went on the ride. Jack’s feelings on the ride; ‘I was not sure if I was brave enough for that ride…I didn’t like the tunnels or lightening’. When we got back to Mike he reported that he thought he’d seen a little bird under the bench while he was waiting but that a French man had pointed it out and informed him it was a rat!
By this time we were now running late for our 6pm booking at Inventions and had no clue how to get there. The rides we passed on the way still appeared to have long queue times and would be shut by the time our meal ended so we decided we would have to go for it with the EMH in the morning. We arrived at Inventions at 6.10pm but they let us in no problem. The hotel is very posh and has a lovely flowery fragrance to it, and had a live pianist playing as we were leaving. The Christmas decorations in there were beautiful.At dinner we saw Cinderella’s mice, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, the Genie, and Eeyore just as we were about to leave. One good thing was that the characters made sure they spent time at every table and no-one was left out; the kids that came up to them from other tables, poking them etc would be ignored or gestured at to go away. I also caught a glimpse of Donald Duck when I was at the buffet area but he didn’t come into our room while we were there. Food-wise the meat was very well cooked, loved the Mickey shaped potatoes for kids and the mashed potato was the best I’ve ever had. Very expensive meal but well worth it in my opinion.
Following dinner we headed to the Kodak shop as I wanted to see if it was possible to have a photo done on all of us superimposed in front of the castle. This was possible and they did it there and then and we had the choice of 3 photos and numerous backgrounds to choose from. The cost was €18 for the photo package (1 big and 4 smaller photos) and €3.50 for a special cardboard anniversary frame to put it in. By this time it was only 10 minutes to go until Dreams, which we of course stayed for. Not sure if the crowd was bigger this time as we were standing in a different spot, more central, but some woman nearly fell on Isla’s pushchair, and her daughter fell of the barrier she was standing on into bushes twice! On leaving the park for the walk back to the hotel I picked up the new program for the next day and saw that there was no anniversary train mentioned on it so it looked like we’d missed that, but there was lots of other good stuff going on instead so I wasn’t too upset.
We were in a rush this morning to check out, drop our bags at the baggagerie and eat breakfast before heading into the park to make the most of the EMH. We were late for breakfast but the staff member said it was ok and that there was ‘no-one’ there, when in fact it seemed the whole world and his wife had turned out for breakfast at the Santa Fe! Still there were no signs of any ‘bun fights’ and breakfast went fairly smoothly. They were also playing Christmas music over the sound system and I was getting in the festive mood! We passed Goofy in reception on our way out and by 8.30 were on our way into the park, which I didn’t think was too bad going. (Incidentally, the entrance for EMH is to the right of the Disneyland Hotel for those who don’t know.)
Weather-wise this was the worst day as it was foggy and slightly colder than the previous days but nothing too bad. Typically this was the one day I hadn’t dressed the kids in thermals when they could have done with them! It would appear Christmas had arrived in the park too, as festive music was ringing out in the park and all the Christmas decorations were complete. We headed straight into Discoveryland with the idea of checking out the Buzz ride, getting a fast pass for later in the day. However, once we got there the queue was only 25 minutes and we got too excited and decided to go for it. This was my husband’s favourite ride, although he didn’t realise you got a score! I scored 129400 – not sure if this is good or bad?!
After Buzz we carried on walking round into Fantasyland, with the aim of doing perhaps Peter Pan or Dumbo while it was still EMH. However, by this time it was 9.35 and we saw that the queue for It’s A Small World (which wasn’t even yet open) was huge, so we decided to join it as we figured it would only get longer and this was one ride I didn’t want to leave without doing. While we were waiting we watched the queue for Princess Pavilion get longer and longer – people had obviously cottoned on to the fact that it would probably open earlier than the advertised 10.30 opening. They started letting people on to It’s a Small World at 9.45 and we were on by 5 to 10. This is the only time when I saw anyone blatantly queue jumping which always irritates the hell out of me; a woman with a young child on her hip cut in but no-one said anything , there were no staff around anyway and the queue was so open it was hard to stop it. The ride was all done up in the Christmas theme too and it was great – Isla loved it.
After this ride we saw that Le Payes Contes Fees and Casey Jr were both open (my research before travelling had suggested they would be shut while we were there-maybe they changed the closures as the French children were still on holiday?) so we all went on those, before picking up fast pass tickets for Peter Pan (to return at 11.45). In the meantime Jack and I went on Blanche Neige and then Jack and Mike went on Pinocchio, whilst the other waited with Isla, as the queues for both rides were only 20 minutes. While I was waiting for Jack and Mike I went into Sir Mickey’s Boutique to keep Isla warm and then went to the toilets. They looked beautiful from outside but inside I have to admit they were a bit smelly! Here I lost Isla’s boot and didn’t realise until half an hour later, but when I went back some kind person had left it on the side for me.
We all got a snack from the pretzel kiosk and Mike and I shared a coffee (tastes of caramel in Disneyland) in a souvenir flask which I wanted to get to take my coffee in for work. I caught a fleeting glimpse of Jack Sparrow on our way to Peter Pan. I have to say this was joltier than I remember and not as good for some reason.
We then left Fantasyland (the queues for Dumbo and the teacups were consistently horrendous) and made our way through Adventure Isle to pick up FP tickets for Big Thunder Mountain for me and Jack, who was adamant he wanted to go on ‘a big, fast, ride’. By this time Mike was hungry so we headed back to Main Street and ate at Casey’s corner (nice counter service and cheap if you’re on a budget), outside of which Winnie the Pooh was doing a meet-and-greet. The Christmas Calvacade just so happened to be starting in 5 minutes so Jack and I went to watch this and some kind lady let Jack move to the front to get a better view. This was my favourite parade I think; we got to see Santa and it was ‘snowing’ (fake snow but looks really realistic). It was also ‘snowing’ as we wandered down Main Street towards for a restroom stop. By the time we headed back, Winnie the Pooh had gone. We stopped for a family photo in front of the castle- 2 kind french girls took it for us and we took their picture in return.
It was half an hour until our Big Thunder Mountain ride, so just time for a ride on Molly Brown before Jack and I headed for the big one. We got on quite quickly after about just 10 minutes or so queuing. The ride itself was great and Jack loved it, however it was not as scary nor the drops as big as I remember as a petrified 8 year old on her first rollercoaster! Was impressed Jack was doing it at 4! We then all headed over to Phantom Manor, the queue was about 25 minutes, which seemed to take ages as Isla decided to have a 2 year old strop while we were waiting! I was worried Isla would be scared on the ride but she wasn’t at all other than cuddling into Mike a couple of times during the ride. As we were exiting we saw the skeleton guy (don’t know his name) doing meet-and-greet.
We headed back to the castle so Jack could say goodbye to ‘George’ (the dragon who sleeps under the castle!) while I took time to admire the castle again and take more photos of it and the character snowmen. The queue for Dumbo was still 45 minutes and the teacups looked long too so we decided to go to Fantasyland station to ride the train as our last ride in the park ? We didn’t realise we could take the pushchair on the train until it was too late – otherwise we could have saved on some walking and got off at Main Street instead of coming back to Fantasyland. However, during the train ride I did see: a glimpse of Chip and Dale in Santa costumes, Pirates ride, and Belle’s Christmas (queue looked horrendous!). We then had a mission across the park if we were to have time to buy some souvenirs and make the Eurostar in time. I nearly cried looking back at the tree and castle for the last time!
We went to World of Disney (fabulous décor, especially the ceiling) where Jack picked a Buzz gun and I chose a Tinkerbell decoration for my Christmas tree and Mug. I then rushed to the World of Toys store to pick up the bag of 6 princesses I’d seen for Isla before we then made it to the station, collecting our bags from Disney Express and checking in with minutes to spare. For tea we got 3 sandwiches from the station shop (€11.10) and used up our spare euros on the train for drinks and snacks. We then started on our train journey back to home and reality…
Well done guys if you made it to the end of my TR-know it was a lengthy one! some points that applied during our trip:
-we did not encounter any rude french people (although the crowds around characters in the park are a bit 'pushy'
-we did not use the bike lock I bought for our buggy and it was not stolen
-my husband possibly saw 1 rat
-the toilets are a bit smelly!
-I thought the crowds were well managed (and not too bad considering the french hols had been changed and the french kids were still off school)
-not too smokey - a few people smoking but was never an issue
-Santa Fe breakfast busy but did not involve any bun-fights
-we did not make use of the shuttle buses but chose to walk
-food very expensive as expected
-we were lucky with the weather-no rain
-Dreams my highlight!