Disneyland Paris

Simply put, Americans don’t belong at Disneyland Paris. Truth be told, Disneyland doesn’t belong here, either.

Disneyland stands for everything truly American: walking around eating giant roasted turkey legs, standing in line without cutting to the front, and getting onto and off of the rides quickly because you don’t want to hold up the line of patiently-waiting-non-cutters.

I remember when people made a big stink because Disney had to change its policy and serve beer in and wine inside the park. They said it was a culture thing. Maybe so. But there are a lot of other cultural differences that have quietly been accommodated. And they are the very things that annoyed us. A lot.

Saturday checking into our Disney hotel, everything seemed fine. All the negative reviews I’d read about customer service seemed wrong. Sure, the hotel is in desperate need of physical attention, but it isn’t dirty. It’s a little like the hotel where we stayed at Disneyland in California. And it’s definitely a far cry from our experiences at Disneyworld. Here, we stayed at the Newport Beach Club. We stayed at the “same” hotel in Florida. You’d think they’d be exactly the same, since the company probably already has warehouses of nautical Mickey Mouse junk. Nope. The one in Florida is more Mickeyed out.

Once we’d found our room at the hotel (it’s a big hotel), we walked the 15 minutes to the park where we stepped out of France and onto Main Street USA. The facade was all Disney, but the similarities beyond that were harder to come across.

Kaitlyn wanted to go on Buzz Lightyear, so we got in that line. I was relieved to see the sign saying there’s no smoking in line. I am apparently the only person in the whole place who read it. I might not have cared quite so much about the people in front and back of us smoking if they hadn’t all cut in line to get there. Then the line-jumper behind us let in another line jumper who then, along with her two daughters, proceeded to bump into us and nearly crawl up our backs at every chance. Finally I turned around and said “ce n’est pas necessaire a pousser.” (it’s not necessary to push) I’d been trying to figure out what to say and that just came out. And the pushing stopped. Bill thinks they were freaked out to discover we could speak French and probably spent the rest of the time wondering how much of what they’d said we’d understood.

While we were in that line, Kaitlyn checked out the map of Disney Studios and insisted we go next to Radiator Springs. (That’s the setting for the movie Cars) There, Lightning McQueen takes you on a tea-cup like ride, except you cannot make your car spin. They should have made it so you steer left to go right.

Across from Cars is Crush’s Coaster… featuring the seaturtles from Finding Nemo. You have to be 107 centimeters tall to ride, which I don’t think Kaitlyn is. But the guy measured her and said she was “just” tall enough. So we got in line. A second guy measured her, with the same result. I got out of line because I’m a coaster chicken. I wandered around, checked out the Monsters Inc area (they should have called this the Pixar Park), bought a coffee with whipped cream on it, ate the whipped cream and tossed out the coffee, then positioned myself where I could try to snap a picture of Bill and Kaitlyn zooming by on the ride. I waited and waited. They never went by. Then I heard Kaitlyn crying. I looked to the exit and saw Bill…. furious. The guy with the measuring stick at the end of the line had said Kaitlyn was “just” short and wouldn’t let her get on the ride.

I managed to divert Kaitlyn’s attention by taking her to the Monsters area where she could scream into a scream-meter. It took a little longer to get Bill to calm down.

We went into a show called “Animagique” for a diversion. When it started, Kaitlyn turned to me and in a very defeated sounding voice said “it’s in French.” I hadn’t thought about that. Mickey Mouse was speaking French. Luckily the star of the show is Donald Duck. And he speaks English.

Next to that is Aladdin’s carpet ride. It’s like the Dumbo ride, only the carpets don’t just go up and down they also tilt forward and backward. It’s not a ride I’d normally ever go on, but tired of missing out, I went. Bill sat in the front of the carpet and made it go up or down (mostly up). I sat in the back with Kaitlyn, who immediately put her hand on the tilt controller. I admit, she and Bill managed to freak me out a little bit. But it was fun and by the time we got off everyone was in a good mood again.

When we’d checked in at the hotel, I stopped to make reservations to eat dinner with the princesses. It was in a place all decorated with scenes from Cinderella. But she wasn’t there. And that was hard to explain to Kaitlyn. Two of Cinderella’s mice friends were there. And so were Belle and Ariel, with their princes. In the amount of time it takes to eat a French meal (and this was a French restaurant complete with hoity-toity gross French food like fois gras), the mice and princesses came out to do their same little routine three times. I was impressed when Ariel made her second visit to our table and remembered Kaitlyn’s name.

As we were leaving the park at nearly 10pm, dog tired, I wondered if it might have been worth the extra 300 Euros to have stayed at the Disneyland Hotel. It’s right at the entrance. Not outside the entrance.. at it. You walk under the hotel as you go into the park. The rooms that are probably even less affordable have a view of Main Street.

Our hotel may need some paint and may not have a view of the park, but it does include breakfast. I’d read on Trip Advisor that you’re better off opting for the breakfast inside the park. So we did. We had a 9:15 “reservation,” which meant get up, get ready, get packed and get out. But we could barely get Kaitlyn up. Even the idea of still being at Mickey Mouse land couldn’t rouse our sleeping beauty. Bill finally dragged her out of bed and to the bathtub and we left the hotel at 8:30. One perk of paying the extra price to stay at a Disney hotel is you get special extended hours in the park. Today, those hours were from 8-10am. If we had realized how relatively empty it would be, we’d have bagged that stupid princess dinner and gone to bed early to get the full two extra hours in this morning.

Still, in the half hour we had before our breakfast time, we went on three rides… Pinocchio, Peter Pan and Dumbo. Kaitlyn loved them all. And we practically walked onto all of them. We really only had two long waits today… Autopia and the Rockets. Seems Tomorrowland is the land of long lines. We refused to even get into the long line for Big Thunder Mountain, for fear of a repeat of yesterday’s coaster calamity. (even though she’s been on Thunder Mountain in California). We nearly walked on Pirates of the Carribean and Haunted Mansion… two that are normally horrible long waits. We found out the Haunted Mansion here is scarier than either one in the U.S. And the little speech about the “chilling challenge to find a way out!”… it was in French. Although thanks to the ride I may finally remember how to say “come back” in French.

Even without the long lines, getting on the rides was still frustrating… thanks to some of the guests. Some people think nothing of getting their child into a teapot or rocket, then standing there to snap photos (always plural, mind you) before either getting into the ride themselves or then kissing their child goodbye as if they’ll be separated for months then going out to wait. When Kaitlyn and I were on Dumbo, the operator had to stop the ride because one of those people whom the world revolves around had not left the inside area of the ride after the strapping-in, picture taking, kissing ritual. She propped herself up against the fence to make it appear she was standing outside it… and the ride started. When one operator realized what she’d done they stopped the ride to drag her outside. I cannot be entirely sure, but I think that may be grounds for expulsion from the parks at home.

We finished the day by taking Kaitlyn shopping. We skipped Main Street and went to the string of Disney stores in the Disney Village we had to walk to on the way to our hotel to get our luggage. Apparently, everyone had the same idea; the place was packed. Kaitlyn looked and looked and looked. The only thing she wanted was a reversible Belle costume. Frustrating, given the hoops I made others go through to get a new Mulan costume here just last week.

But now she’s sleeping next to me on the train… in her new red ball gown.

3 Responses to “Disneyland Paris”

  1. D.A.D. says:

    Once again I can see this playing out as you wrote it. Disney is wasting money having three people check heights, and then to disagree with each other really stinks when there’s little kids at stake. And this line-cutting nonsense . . . holy cow . . . sorry, holy mouse . . . . I could make a comment about how in many ways that resembles certain people in Glendale, CA but I won’t. But that new red ball gown no doubt is gorgeous!

  2. mandy says:

    oh, yes, she’s planning on bringing the ballgown to grandad’s.

  3. Branson says:

    Hey Mandy, how ironic is this: Walt Disney was French. Well, at least his distant paternal ancestors were. They were from Isigny-sur-Mer in Normandy, near Carentan. His name was Anglicanized from d’Isigny to Disney. So Disneyland Paris may be some kind of obscure French attempt to take over the world.

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