View Full Version : Katie's Disney Birthday (Disneyland Paris Nov 9-13)
02-28-2002, 05:22 AM
Well, I have this in Word fortunatly, so I'll just copy it over. I feel a bit silly posting mine first as I know it's not the greatest report out there, but it's a start.
Disneyland Paris – Friday November 9th
Wake up and look out of the window and what do I see – SNOW! Normally this would be great, I love snow but we have to drive to Leeds today to catch our flight to Paris. I am a little concerned about driving in the snow. However, we get on our way by 9.15 and by the time we have left Newcastle behind and are passing Durham the snow has gone. We make good time and get to Leeds Bradford airport for 11.15 which is great, except our flight isn’t until 1.45, while it seemed like a good idea to leave plenty of time for the drive incase of snow problems, 2 ½ hours in this airport is going to be hard to fill! We find an Airtours playarea and Katie has a great time while we have a drink and a sandwich and eventually our flight is called.
Leeds Bradford is a small airport, we were at gate 11 and I don’t think there was a 12. There’s not much in the way of duty free, one small shop, but the flights were only £60 and it’s a reasonable alternative to Newcastle, I would consider using it again.
They call our flight and we walk out on to the tarmac, I assume we are getting a bus, but no, we are boarding the tiniest aircraft I have ever seen. It’s 2 seats on one side or the aisle and single seats on the other side – I’m not a nervous flyer but this thing was tiny – we were in row 12 and that was the last row. 36 passengers in all.
The flight out is fairly uneventful, except that just as we are coming into land Katie drops one of the disks from her Viewmaster and it disappears into a gap between the seat and the wall of the plane. After we land I scrabble around on the floor trying to find it, and Katie crys, a lot. The stewardess offers to get an engineer to take up the floor (honestly!) and I tell her it’s not necessary, after a good search the pilot comes on the tannoy to tell us to hurry up, there;s a busload of people on the tarmac and they are all waiting for us. We hurry off the aircraft and as we are leaving Phil spots the missing disk – it had rolled about 4 seats up the plane. We get onto the bus very sheepishly and arrive at Charles de Gaulle airport – which is to be honest – a dump.
We find our way to passport control where there is 1 man processing everyone and the queues are huge, I don’t know what happened to free movement within Europe, but we had to wait to be scrutinized, not quite the States but close. As I overheard one man say ‘There just letting us know we’re in France now.’ Eventually we get through passport control, find our bags (already waiting for us) and head for the exit – which is quite hard to find. CDG airport is a very strange place, it’s circular with lots of tubes criss-crossing the center of the circle, it’s hard to explain but it feels very futuristic, or more like the vision they had of the future in the 60’s.
Anyway, eventually we find the exit and the VEA shuttle bus and climb aboard. It takes over an hour to get to DLP, mainly because we spend at least half an hour driving around the airport to other terminals but not actually stopping to pick anyone else up. I have read that you can get the RER from the airport to DLP in 15 minutes, so I think if we go back I will look into this. Eventually we get to the Cheyenne Hotel – this is great, I just love everything about it. There is noone waiting to check in, so we go straight to the desk. It takes me ages to check in because I have loads of vouchers for meals etc to be explained, and I want a charge card facility but eventually we get everything sorted and we are off to our room. We stayed in the Wyatt Earp building which is very close to the reception building, in the middle of the hotel. The room is ok. It’s got a double bed and bunk beds, and it’s a bit small but fine. The bathroom could do with regrouting, and I have heard that the hotel is due for refurbishment, but I didn’t have any serious complaints, it was just looking a little tired. We decide to dump our stuff and head straight to the park – having been couped up on buses and planes all day, we walk, and get a little lost, but eventually we find the park and head in at about 7pm.
The ticket CM can’t believe that we are going in for the first time and is really keen for us to go to the re-entry counter to have our handstamp checked, but we do get in, and WOW!
It’s deserted, it’s freezing cold, but crystal clear, and everything looks beautiful. Xmas didn’t start at DLP until the following day, so the tree and main street just had a few lights on them, but they looked lovely. In the central plaza there were hoardings around the Xmas tree with Halloween decorations, we wandered up main street and headed straight for It’s a Small World. I wanted to do this today as I heard it changed for Christmas on the 10th. On this evening, it was the usual song, and there were some Christmas decorations up, but not all of them. We were the only people on the ride and it was lovely, Katie really enjoyed it.
After IASW we walked onto Dumbo – Katie really wasn’t at all sure about this, but she really enjoyed it, and when you went up high the view is lovely, I didn’t think it would make much difference but I was really struck, I tried to take some pictures so I shall have to see if they came out.
After Dumbo we did Pinocchio – Again Katie was not too sure, but she was fine, this isn’t actually very scary at all, although a whale jumps out at you at one point, but not so that you’d really notice if you weren’t looking for it. I wish we knew the story of Pinocchio a bit better, we weren’t always sure what we were looking at.
After Pinocchio we walked up to the castle, and I found the balcony in one of the shops where you can see the dragon, we had a peek over at him and he seemed to be pretty quiet.
We wandered back through main street and left the park at 7.45, just a quick visit but very magical.
We walked back into the Disney Village, and I thought it looked great (at night), the lights overhead look a bit like stars and make it feel enclosed. There was a bonfire and fireworks show scheduled, but I’m afraid to say we were hungry so we decided to go to the Rainforest café instead. Phil and I had steak and baked potato (no veg which was disappointing) the meal was lovely but could have used some kind of side dish. Katie had something like chicken nuggets (ok, I admit it I can’t remember), and we had a couple of drinks and desserts (Crème Caramel – yum) and it came to about £50 which I thought wasn’t too bad. We hadn’t been to the Rainforest café before and I enjoyed it, the ‘show’ is great although the thunder and lightening took Katie by surprise the first time, but she has calmed down by the 2nd time it happened. All the creatures kept moving and we were never sure if something had moved or if we had imagined it.
After dinner, I checked out the shops… (now there’s a surprise), I had heard that the world of toys shop sold Barbie stuff, but it doesn’t. Well, it had one or two Special Edition ‘Cinderella Barbies’ but not normal Barbie stuff. It did have loads of other lovely stuff though.
We walked back to the Cheyenne, this time along the correct path, which takes you past the New York Hotel, along a river and into the Cheyenne hotel. It’s about 5 minutes walk from the back of the Disney village. We decided to go into the shop in the Cheyenne ‘just for a look’ and I bought some pins. I bought a couple of packs with 3 small pins on them, and then traded them with CM’s for bigger and better pins. I was also looking for a particular pin, called a Pin Traders Pin that one of the US Disers was looking for. While we were shopping Cowboy Goofy wandered into the store, it seems he hangs out at the Cheyenne as we saw him loads of times in the reception, and restaurant.
We finally got back to our room and set the wake-up call for 6.45 am – Ouch.
02-28-2002, 05:23 AM
Saturday November 10th.
The wake-up call comes far too soon, but Katie has spent the night in her own bed, the top bunk, which is quite a surprise, so we can’t complain too much. We are up and out eventually by 8.15. We enter the park about 8.30 and it is deserted – the walk up main street and through the castle is brilliant, there is not a soul in sight, really magical. We make it to breakfast in Fantasyland for about 8.40. Breakfast is not too impressive, croissants, bread rolls, cereal, but it was included in the price and when we had finished breakfast we walked into a completely empty fantasyland. We rode It’s a Small World, Peter Pan, and the Carousel walking straight onto all the rides. Katie was the only person on the Carousel. It’s a small world had changed overnight, there were more Christmas decorations on the scenes, and some of the rooms sang Christmas Carols rather than It’s a small world. It wasn’t a dramatic difference, but it was different. Also, they had removed the hoardings around the Christmas trees in the central plaza and there was a huge tree that you can walk through the center of, and a number of smaller trees and presents, all covered in ‘snow’. Xmas tree (http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/bevs97/dlp/thumb_2001_1110_073118AA.jpg) Peter Pan was great as Katie had been on it in Florida, so she wasn’t at all nervous – we saw long lines for this (well over 30 minutes) later in the weekend, so we felt quite pleased with ourselves for walking straight on.
As we were walking back through the park we spotted Pooh Bear, so we stopped for a photo with Pooh, we had a short wait here, less than 10 minutes and just after Katie had her picture taken Pooh disappeared, hopefully the people behind us didn’t have a long wait for him to return. Pooh Bear (http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/bevs97/dlp/thumb_2001_1110_085831AA1.jpg )
After Pooh, we crossed to the central plaza where a character greeting was scheduled on the map. Right on queue a Bus (http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/bevs97/dlp/thumb_2001_1110_090340AA.jpg) pulled up and out poured loads of characters. Unfortunately at this point, chaos descended. We had seen a character bus at Epcot which was wonderfully organized with each character moving to a separate spot and CM’s forming kids into lines, but this was just a scrum. We did manage to see a few characters but just as we were heading to see Minnie things started to get ugly with kids pushing and shoving, Katie tried to get out of her pushchair to get a bit closer and tripped and banged her knee. It wasn’t really a bad trip, but combined with the cold and not getting to see Minnie it sent her into floods of tears. We abandoned the characters and headed into the Arcade behind Main Street. We sat down and tried to calm her down and decided she was too cold so we went into the bathroom to put some extra layers on. When she took off her shoes, her feet were freezing and bright red with the cold, so we sat and tried to warm them up – poor thing, they were so cold that rubbing them must have been really painful. I think she was much colder than we were because she spent too much time sitting in her pushchair rather than walking. We decided to look around the shops and try and warm up, but Katie was very fragile and burst into tears every few minutes, so eventually we gave up and headed into the Main Street bakery for hot chocolate and muffins. Katie took off her shoes and socks and warmed her feet in a hat for a while, and she also wrapped herself up in all her dad’s hat, scarf and gloves Katie getting warm (http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/bevs97/dlp/thumb_2001_1110_094124AA.jpg) I went into one of the stores and tried to buy thicker socks, but they didn’t seem to have any warm socks in little sizes so we didn’t manage to get any. After the hot chocolate she seemed much warmer and happier, so we did a spot more shopping (since it’s warm – no other reason you understand) and bought the picture of Katie and Pooh Bear. I love these official photo’s, we buy loads of them because they turn out so well. As we were at the bottom of Main Street at this point, it made sense to take the train around the park. We had to wait a while for the next train to arrive, and when it did it didn’t look like we were going to get on (they closed the gate right in front of us) then suddenly a CM came running up and told us there was space at the very front of the train, so we got into the first carriage, talk about luck! The trip around the park is great, although the ‘Grand Canyon Di – O – Rama’ is a bit silly, but the announcements are fantastic.
I can’t quite remember what we did after the train ride, but at some point we walked through Adventureland and Frontierland – we didn’t do any rides, but we took a look at the Pirates playarea, Katie was still a little weepy and wouldn’t even play in an empty play area, so trying hard not to get annoyed with her, we decided to stop for lunch. I had fancied the Blue Lagoon, but we had a look at the menu and nothing really appealed, and it wasn’t cheap. So we didn’t bother, instead we walked back through Adventureland and Fantasyland and ate at the Hakuna Matata café. This was pretty good, I had some chicken, I think Phil had a burger and Katie had chicken nuggets. No idea the cost but it wasn’t too bad, I think about £10-£15. After lunch we walked back through fantasyland and took a look at Discoveryland and ended up at the plaza near the top of main street just as the parade was passing by. It was very crowded and the parade was close, so we ran down the arcade and came out near the Kodak shop, the crowds were a little thinner here and we managed to find a spot on the corner with a pretty good view. A lovely English family gave Katie a seat on the curb near them and we were all settled just as the parade started. The Christmas parade is lovely, the music is superb and we really enjoyed it. Katie was dancing in the street and just had a super time, which was a relief!
After the parade, we decided to head out of the park, as Katie’s mood was fragile and we were cold. We walked back through the Disney Village and stopped to buy some tickets to the Buffalo Bill Wild West show for the following night. I was just running through the plan in my head trying to make sure that we could make the following night, when I realized we were supposed to be having tea in the Lucky Nugget saloon at 4pm and it was 4.15 already. If we hadn’t already paid for tea I don’t think we would have bothered as we were cold and tired, but we had paid, so we headed back into the park, up through the arcade, along Rob’s secret pathway and into the Lucky Nugget Saloon for 4.30. This was pretty good, they had cakes and deserts laid out, and a waitress brought you drinks. You could have one hot drink and one cold drink each which I thought was strange, as it was so cold we would have preferred two hot drinks. There were quite a few characters, and some of them managed to make their way through the seats to us (we were right at the back sitting at a counter) but Mickey and Minnie were mobbed as soon as they entered the restaurant and they didn’t make it more than a few feet into the room. Eventually we joined the mob and took Katie down to Mickey for a photo. I didn’t particularly want to do this, as I felt the characters should be left to come to us, but when in Rome (or France…). The Character tea was pretty good, and it was only £7 I think, but the Ice Cream Social in Epcot is better organized. I don’t think there is any need to pre-book this, at least not in November, there were plenty of people who were just walking in and paying on the door.
Tea over, we head back out of the park and walk back to our room – Katie slept in her pushchair, and so I had a good browse of the shops in the Disney Village, it’s very cunning making you walk past all the shops to get home each evening! We are all shattered so we collapse on the bed and watch the telly for a while. Tarzan was on the Disney channel and I didn’t particularly want to watch it, but it was very good – this is not a film I would have made any effort to see, but we all really enjoyed it. About 10 o’clock we decided that we ought to have something to eat, so we went over to the Chuck Wagen Café and Phil had a salad while Katie and I shared a Mickey Ears Pizza. (http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/bevs97/dlp/thumb_2001_1110_205634AA.jpg) While we were eating an Indian came over to our table, and Cowboy Goofy went running through the restaurant with a crowd of kids following him. In the lobby of the hotel there were all sorts of activities going on, face painting, coloring, videos etc, which all looked great. Katie was more interested in playing on the stage coach in the kids play area – she has the video Calamity Jane and she loved playing ‘the Deadwood Stage (http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/bevs97/dlp/thumb_2001_1110_212120AA.jpg)’ She even had the other kids playing it, although I don’t think they knew what she was talking about. We eventually fell into bed about 11 and no alarm call was set, we decided a lie in was much more important….
02-28-2002, 05:25 AM
Sunday November 11th.
We wake up late and stroll over to breakfast for about 10 o’clock. We had had reservations for 8.30 but there doesn’t seem to be any problem with eating at 10 instead. The breakfast at the Chuck Wagon Café is the same as the Fantasyland breakfast, bread, croissants and pain au chocolat. They also have crème caramel which is unusual but I have one for breakfast anyway. After breakfast we walk through the hotel grounds and take some pictures Cheyenne Hotel (http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/bevs97/dlpothers/medium_2001_1111_095153AA.jpg) Our building (http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/bevs97/dlp/medium_2001_1111_094841AA.jpg)
We walk through the Disney Village and into the park, it is noticeably busier than yesterday, but then again it is nearly 11 o’clock so I guess we shouldn’t be too surprised.
We had a look around Discoveryland and I bought a few bits and pieces for Katie’s birthday in the shop there. I think we saw the Visionarium movie at this point, but I haven’t got a photo and I can’t quite remember. Anyway, at some point we saw this movie and it’s very good. It’s in French but you can get English headphones, although Katie refused the headphones and still seemed to enjoy it in French. After this, we went into see the Mulan show. This is a brilliant show – I didn’t know the story of Mulan at all, but we really enjoyed it and Katie was very impressed with the plate twirling. I wasn’t too impressed with the crowd though, they seemed to be too busy tucking into lunch to bother applauding some of the amazing acrobatics. After we had walked around Discoveryland and I had decided not to wait for Honey I shrunk the audience, we found ourselves outside the Toy Story Pizza Planet, so we popped in there for a snack. This was another place where I noticed the music changed as you approached, so we were humming ‘You’ve got a friend in me’ by the time we were in the building. This place was packed, I can’t imagine it in the busy season because it was pretty busy in the quiet season. We did get a pretty good meal though and we got to see Woody and Jessie. There is also a good kids play area which kept Katie amused for a while. The characters here had a stage area where they waited and the kids lined up to see them, but they also walked around a bit too, and we had a good chat with Jessie (http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/bevs97/dlp/2001_1111_115244AA.html) who was very impressed with Katie’s dalmation trousers as they looked like Jessie’s cowboy trousers. After lunch, we walked along a back road into Fantasyland. We went on It’s a small world (well, are you surprised???) and Phil said it was 2.45 so we started to stake out some good spots for the parade. Except there were no ropes up, and noone else seemed to be waiting for the parade so that all seemed a little odd. After waiting for a while, Phil checked his watch again, and lo and behold it was only 1.45 – we wanted to see the Mickey’s Wonderland show which was on at 1.45 on the other side of the park, so we ran through Adventureland and made it to the show just as it was starting. This is a great show, it’s in French and English with the two human characters speaking a bit of each. The songs were in English. The language didn’t seem to make much difference though, it was very easy to follow.
After the show we went over to the Pirates of the Caribbean, which we didn’t do in Florida, I was really keen to do this and we walked straight onto it, I think this was because it was nearly time for the parade, as we had seen long queues earlier for this ride. The Pirate ride is great fun and Katie really enjoyed it, I was worried she would be scared and spent the entire time pointing out non-scary things for her to look at, but I think she would have been fine regardless. The fact that it was a boat seemed to help, since It’s a small world is a boat and she’s not scared on there. She even enjoyed the little drops although Phil looked a bit surprised! But her absolute highlights were the skeleton drinking the rum because you could see it pouring out of his neck since he has no body, and the skull and crossbones telling us to stay in our seats. After a very successful ride we headed into Fantasyland and took a walk around Alice’s curious Labyrinth – I had heard it was impossible to get lost in here but we seemed to manage it, although eventually we got to the castle and climbed up. Katie was desperate to find the slide which features in her video but we think it must have been from the top level which was closed. Nevertheless, we had good views and managed, eventually, to find our way out. We decided to stop at the Tea Party for a hot chocolate, but they had no hot drinks, and although it was much warmer than yesterday it was definitely a hot chocolate kind of day. So instead we went over to the Old Mill and had hot chocolates and crepes. While we were sitting there I realized that my shopping bag was no longer in the pushchair. We had a quick look around and realized we hadn’t seen it since the Pizza Planet earlier that day.
We headed back through the back road to the Pizza Planet, and nearly walked into a huge pile of horse poop – I couldn’t believe this as it had obviously been there since the parade and I would have expected it to be cleaned up almost immediately.
In the Pizza Planet I struggled to explain my problem to a number of staff who didn’t speak great English – since I don’t speak any French I don’t feel I should complain, but it did make it tricky. Eventually they understood but they didn’t have the missing shopping. Feeling rather foolish we left and headed up to City Hall to see if it had been handed in there. City Hall didn’t have it either, so that was a bit disappointing, but we were advised to try again tomorrow as things do get turned in all the time.
Feeling a little deflated, we left the park and walked to the Disney Village. We had reservations for the 6.30 show of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, and since we were celebrating Katie’s birthday in the morning I wanted to pick up a few bits and pieces for her in the shops. I also was still looking for the pin traders pin. Katie fell asleep while we shopped, which made things a bit easier, and I picked up a few things for her. We had been looking for a light up Pooh Bear since her’s (from WDW) had broken, and I spotted some light up Sorcerer Mickeys which I thought might do the trick, but they were seriously dirty and broken and looked like old stock that hadn’t sold in WDW and had been shipped over to Paris, I was really disappointed as Katie loved her Pooh Bear and this would have been a big hit. In the end I get her a Mickey Ears which lights up, it’s not quite as good as Pooh, but it does work.
I also spotted some serious pin traders at the pin trading station and tried to work up the courage to ask them about the pin I wanted, but they seemed to be deep in negotiations so I didn’t interrupt.
We headed into the Buffalo Bill show quite early and asked for a seat near the back – this took the CM by surprise, but Phil is allergic to horses and was concerned that he would start to sneeze if we were too close. Katie was fast asleep through all of these which was a shame as they had face painting and photographs on offer. We ordered a bottle of wine for the meal, which was a little silly as I didn’t realize the meal included all the beer you could drink, and watched a show while we waited to be seated. We were given red cowboy hats and seated in the Red section of the theater. Katie woke up just in time for us to be seated, and the show began! The show is great – I don’t think I can do it justice, but it’s cowboys and Indians, a rodeo, and some sharp shooting from Annie Oakley. We had a super clown to help our section cheer on the red team, and we just whooped and Ye Haha’d our way through the performance. The meal was ok – we had chilli to start with, followed by lots of meal (it was very dark and hard to see exactly what you were eating), I vaguely remember a pudding as well. Katie had a kids meal which was chicken and sausages and chips – don’t quote me on that! The tickets came to about £80 but I thought it was worth it as we had a good meal and a great show. We all really enjoyed it – Cowboy Katie (http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/bevs97/dlp/2001_1111_172529AA.html)
The show last for about 1 ½ hours, so we headed out of the show at around 8pm. As we passed the Pin trading station I noticed there were a couple of traders still hanging around but it was much quieter, so I decided to be bold and ask them if they knew where I might find this elusive pin. There were 2 traders there, obviously together, and the guy looked very amused when I asked him where I could find one, and pointed to his pins, he had at least 3 of them on the page his book was open to. I was pretty excited and dashed out to Phil to collect all our hats (our tiny pin collection is on our hats, we haven’t made it to lanyard status yet). The two traders looked at my small collection of pins and I have to say they didn’t look too impressed, most of our pins were from DLP and freely available to they had them already. I didn’t expect they would agree to a trade, then the girl pointed out a Muppets 3-d pin we had from Orlando, this pin was given to us by a CM in Epcot and we hadn’t given her anything in trade, she just gave it to me. I don’t particularly like it so was more than happy to trade it. In the end the Paris Pin Traders Pin cost me the Muppets 3-d pin and another pin from WDW that we didn’t like either, so that was a bargain! I was so excited I felt like I had won the lottery, it seems daft, but we had looked at every lanyard on every CM that we had passed looking for this pin, and I had just about given up ever finding it. I hope the Dis’er that asked for it still wants it!
After this we walked back to the hotel. Phil and Katie went to bed and I went to the shop to get her a couple more birthday presents and pick up her ‘free’ birthday gift. I bought her a birthday pin, and a set of Mickey and Donald playing cowboys and Indians complete with Stage coach and wigwam. They had a couple of these play sets and I thought they were good value at about £10. We say Pirates, Cowboys, and Test Track sets but no really girly ones. The ‘free’ gift was a badge and a Pluto Beanie and a birthday card, but disappointingly the card hadn’t been signed by anyone. I knew goofy was often in reception so I went to look for him, and there at reception was Pluto, the reception was deserted except for Pluto who was standing at a podium looking rather bored – I wish I had taken my camera because he looked quite funny. I asked him to sign the card which he did, so Katie got a card and beanie and it looked just like they came from Pluto.
While I had been in the store I had tried to buy some wrapping paper for the presents, but they don’t seem to sell wrapping paper – I asked a CM and he gave me a lot of paper for free which I thought was very kind.
When I got back to the room, Katie was wide awake – obviously she had napped to long earlier, so I spent the next half an hour hiding in the bathroom wrapping presents! Katie had no intention of going to sleep in her own bed, so I ended up in the bunk bed and it was quite comfy, so I would say you could easily sleep 4 adults even though it’s bunk beds.
In the morning, it’s Katie’s birthday….
02-28-2002, 05:29 AM
Day 4 – Monday 12 November. Almost Katie’s birthday
It’s not actually Katie’s birthday until the 13th but since we will be spending most of that day traveling we have decided to do all the birthday celebrations today.
I wake up before Katie, and Phil is also awake, so we sneak around the room blowing up balloons and tying them onto the bunk beds, then I go and retrieve the presents from the bathroom and we wake Katie up by a noisy rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’. Katie opened up her presents, I had brought a couple from home and also picked up a few over here, so she had some things to open. We were going to a character breakfast at the Los Angeles grill for breakfast, and as it was her birthday I really wanted her to wear her Snow White dress, but it was sooooo cold, so she wore her vest, knickers, thermal vest, long johns, socks, shirt ,dungarees, fleece and then her snow-white dress over that. Add on her fur hat, scarf and gloves and she looked quite the princess, if a little chubbier than normal! (Princess Katie (http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/bevs97/dlp/2001_1112_082810AA.html) )
We had a lovely stroll through the grounds of the hotel and along the river to breakfast, and although it was very misty it wasn’t too cold at all. Breakfast was at 9:30, so no need for a really early start.
The character breakfast was a bit of a disappointment (for me, I think Katie enjoyed it). We were seated right by the door, so there was a terrible draught, and also the characters entered the room from the opposite side of the restaurant and the popular ones such as Mickey never seemed to make it over to our side. Once again no instructions were provided, just a simple ‘Help yourself to the buffet and the characters will come to you’ would have helped. Some of the characters did make it around the room, we saw Gepetto & Gadget at our table, but when Mickey came out he just seemed to pass our corner of the room by completely – and he visited some areas of the restaurant twice. I was really disappointed. I actually took Katie over to see him in the end, but it was so crowded that she opted not to bother and she saw Chip and Dale instead, I think these are our favorite characters, we always have superb interaction with them. After a disappointing breakfast, we headed into the park (I should say that Katie took off her princess dress for the park and put on her coat – if we had been in Florida I would probably have let her wear it all day, but it seemed a bit daft in the freezing cold).
The mist as we entered the park was very heavy Pic here (http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/bevs97/dlp/2001_1112_104139AA.html) and made for a very strange atmosphere – it kills the sounds so the park was quite quiet sounding. We decided to go and see Mickey in the park, as we had missed him at breakfast and we found him at a character greeting spot. There are areas of the park which have obviously been designed especially for character greeting and we saw Mickey in the same spot all weekend. The queue didn’t look that long, but we waited about half an hour, possibly longer. I told Katie we didn’t have to wait, but she was quite happy too and chatted with the other children in the line. Eventually it was our turn and we had 2 photo’s taken, one of just Katie, and a family shot which will hopefully be on our Xmas card this year.
(http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/bevs97/dlp/2001_1112_103842AA.html) Since one of my goals of the trip was a Xmas card photo, I was quite pleased to get this taken.
I have no photo’s between now and the 3pm parade, but I can remember that we went on the steamboat around Big Thunder Mountain, followed by the Phantom Manor which I had been wanting to do all weekend. Katie enjoyed the steamboat and was quite patient while Phil and I swapped for Phantom Manor – she is really terrified of this building and was incredibly brave walking up to the front door and letting me go in while she waited with Phil. I thought the show was good, and that stretch room is very clever, but it would have been nice to have someone to share it with. After the Phantom Manor, Katie really wanted to see the Winter Wonderland show again, so we got fast passes for Big thunder mountain as we walked past and went to see this show again. The show was the same as last time, but still very enjoyable. Actually, it was interesting seeing it twice, as there was a problem with the sleigh at the end, and they had to slightly change the ending, we would never have noticed this if we hadn’t seen the show already.
After the show we headed back towards Big Thunder Mountain, but Katie was hungry, and truth be told, so was I, so we passed on BTM and went to Walts for lunch. Walt’s is really lovely, it’s an old-fashioned house with lots’ of rooms decorated for the various lands. We were in the room with lots of paintings of Phantom Manor – but Katie is quite brave now she is 4. During lunch (and breakfast for that matter) lots of people had birthday cakes, and all the staff came in and sang Happy Birthday and presented someone with a cake. I reassured Katie that she would be getting her own cake later on in the day.
Walts has 2 menus, a slightly pricer al a carte menu which looked yummy, and a salad and sandwich menu which we ordered off. I had a club sandwich, Phil had a salad and I think Katie had chicken nuggets. We had a lovely relaxing lunch and it was about £25 which I thought was very reasonable. When we came out of the restaurant it had started to rain, which was really disappointing, it was pretty miserable rain, but since Main Street was absolutely packed with people waiting for the parade under every cover we decided to brave the rain and watch the parade from the theater area. This was deserted and so we got right up to the parade route with no one around us at all. We got loads of smiles and waves from the parade as we were all on our own.
I took a lot of pictures of the parade since we had an unobstructed view ,and you can see them here http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/bevs97/dlpothers/index3.html
Since we were near the beginning of the parade route, we decided that as soon as it had passed us by we would head into Discoveryland as I wanted to try Honey I shrunk the kids. Unfortunately we took the wrong path and ended up in Fantasyland, the connecting path between the 2 was closed while the parade was on, so we had to come right back out and around and didn’t really beat the crowds. Not that it matters, HISTK was closed for technical difficulties. Phil decided he would like to do star tours, so he did that while Katie and I shopped- this was tricky as the rain was really heavy now so everyone was in the shops and it was very hard to maneuver with pushchair and brolly. In the end I found a spot under cover and we just sat and waited for Phil to return, once he had returned, I went to do HISTK as it was now open. I walked straight onto this, and got to sit at the front and hear it without headphones as it played in English which was a nice bonus. This is a cute show, although I didn’t like the mice much but fortunately I knew what was coming, I think if I hadn’t read the boards I would have really jumped. That dog is pretty disgusting too!
By this time we were all rather damp and tired, so we decided to head to the Disneyland Hotel where we had reservations for the character dinner at Inventions. This was to be Katie’s birthday tea and I had reserved a birthday cake for her there. We found the entrance to the hotel (no mean feat) and headed up to the restaurant, past the store, so I had to take a look in there. They had some really lovely clothes in the store but the shirt I liked was £110, so I had to leave it behind… we all took turns in the bathrooms getting changed and trying to tidy ourselves up for a smart meal while we waited for the restaurant to open. Katie put her princess dress back on, and looked very smart – I even put on a spot of lipstick, so this was to be a very special meal! Our plan was to eat at 6 and be back out on Main Street for 7.30 to see the MSEP and fireworks. Since the Disneyland hotel is at the entrance to the park this seemed reasonable.
A few thoughts about the Disneyland hotel – it is beautiful and the location can’t be beat, but I felt very uncomfortable waiting for the restaurant to open, we were sat outside the restaurant in a seating area, complete with pushchair, overcoats etc fairly well laden down after a day in the park. Everyone around us was quite smartly dressed and having cocktails, I felt extremely out of place, and it put me off staying there (which considering I had been determined to stay there eventually was a shame).
Anyway – the restaurant opened, and we headed in, I handed over my reservation card which clearly said we had a reservation and cake booked. They looked in the system and no reservation for us at all. After much humming and hawing, they said we could have dinner but no cake – I didn’t feel this was good enough as I had booked that cake in June and made the reservation for the restaurant 2 days prior. We argued about it for about 15 minutes and eventually after ringing the Cheyenne (who had taken the reservation) it was agreed that we would have the characters sing Happy Birthday here, and have the cake later at the Cheyenne. I was not happy about this and really can’t believe that they couldn’t produce a cake in a decent restaurant in a posh hotel, but in the end we were going to ruin Katie’s meal by continuing to argue. By this time I was so upset and angry that the meal didn’t really stand much chance of being a success, BUT, I have to say that it was super – I didn’t eat a lot, mainly due to being upset, but we saw loads of characters, the restaurant was empty and we had all the characters to ourselves for ages, including Gideon the cat who wouldn’t go away. Katie was wearing her name badge and Gideon gestured to me, what was my name, to which I replied ‘Mummy’ – I really must get out more…. We also saw Eeyore, who had me sit on his knee (which was a very surreal experience, I could feel human knees in there)
Goofy, Mickey and Chip and Dale. The meal was a buffet and we went back quite a few times, and Katie ate loads which was the only meal that she really ate at all, so that was a plus. The maitre’de kept telling me that Mickey would be along shortly for the Happy Birthday, but then he disappeared for a break and we were told it would be 35 minutes. I asked Katie if she wanted Happy Birthday or to see the parade and she chose the parade, so I advised her that we weren’t bothered about waiting, to which she replied that we could have Chip and Dale there and then, so Chip and Dale and Gideon all came in singing Happy Birthday and made a big fuss of her
She really enjoyed it and was beaming from ear to ear, so I’m glad we did wait.
We then dashed out of the restaurant and down to the park, as we were entering the park I could see some floats heading up main street – the MSEP had already started and it was going up Main Street instead of coming down (I had counted on a few extra minutes while it came down main street). Phil and I decided to run up the arcade at the back of main street and try and beat it out the other end, so we set off- Phil was running so fast that I couldn’t keep up, and when I got out the other end of the arcade there was no sign of Phil or Katie anywhere. There were 1000’s of people everywhere and about 4 paths he could have taken so after attempting to watch the parade from a side road for a while (a CM kept moving me but I wasn’t in anyone’s way so I don’t know what her problem was) I just ended up standing at the fork in the path waiting for them to come back. I was really upset as the meal hadn’t worked out properly and then I had missed the parade – I saw one or two floats but I was so cross that I didn’t see many. After the parade had finished I went and stood on a picnic table hoping that they would see me, or I might see them, and eventually spotted them in the middle of Main Street getting ready for the fireworks – reunited we waited for the fireworks while I tried to decide if I should talk to Phil ever again… The fireworks were amazing, and the lights on main street are beautiful and so I relented and decided to be cheerful for the rest of the evening
after the fireworks we looked around the shops, one last time, and slowly made our way out of the park. For some reason everyone in the park had to leave via the handstamp gate even though none needed a handstamp as the park was shutting – this struck me as daft and potentially dangerous as it caused an unnecessary bottleneck at the park exit.
We walked back through the village, and into the restaurant of the Cheyenne where I spoke with the Concierge about our cake, he knew all about it and we settled ourselves in the bar with a couple of hot chocolates while the CMs from the restaurant brought in the cake. They were all banging pots and pans and singing happy birthday, and Katie was pretty impressed – every CM I dealt with at the Cheyenne was superb and they really made this a special event.
we had the most enormous cake which was very chocolately and very delicious, but there was no way we could ever eat it all. Katie made some friends in the play area so she spent a while playing Deadwood stage with them – I was quite amused, one of her new friends was very keen on fixing the engine on the stage – I wondered where it might be located… There was no way we could possibly eat all the cake, so we got a couple of boxes and took some back to the room with us.
When we got back to our room, it was very strange – One of Katie’s presents was a cowboy and Indians set from the Disney store, and it was strewn all over the floor. She had left it on her bed. We started to pick it up, thinking that it was strange the maid had left it on the floor when we realized a couple of pieces on the stagecoach were broken – it appeared they had been stood on. With all the various disappointments of the evening, this just infuriated me, so I put all the bits in a carrier bag and stormed back to reception. I should the broken pieces to a nice American CM called Tom and explained what had happened – he was very good and after checking with his boss and a few phone calls etc we were giving a new stagecoach. He also gave us another ‘free gift’ for Katie’s birthday because of the whoha with the cake. The free birthday gifts were small beanies and a birthday badge (like a foam sticker), and Katie got Pluto the first time and Minnie the 2nd time – she was also quite pleased with the badge as the 1st one had fallen off – this one is still on her coat a week later.
Eventually, all problems resolved we fell into bed, a very mixed day…
02-28-2002, 05:31 AM
Day 5, 13th November, Katie’s real birthday. Time to go home….
We sleep late and pack, we normally pack the night before we leave but we had been to tired the previous night. We seem to have bought a lot of stuff and packing takes an age, I really don’t know how we squeezed everything in. Eventually everything is in the cases and we take them over to left luggage, we had a reservation for breakfast in the Chuck Wagon café for 8:30 and it is after 10 when we get there but it doesn’t seem to be a problem. We have a very leisurely breakfast (Katie has birthday cake) and it is nearly 11 before we leave the restaurant. I picked up a schedule for the shuttle back to the airport and our flight is at 4.15 so we decide we had better get the 1:20 shuttle which will get us to the airport for 2.20 – that way if we should have a problem and miss the shuttle we will still have plenty of time. That only gives us 2 hours, so we decide not to go back to the park, but to take a look around the hotel and some final shopping in the Disney Village. The hotel is really well-themed and it appears that in the summer they have pony rides and other activities going on but it was very quiet today. We do some shopping (I bought some great cereal bowls!) and end up in McDonalds for lunch where Katie has a great time on the play area slide – I think she prefers play-areas to rides! All to soon it is time to catch the shuttle back to the airport, it picks us up from right outside the hotel and was right on time. Nearly everyone on board is on our flight back to Leeds which we discover isn’t until 4.45 – I think we could have gotten a later shuttle and still caught the flight easily, but better safe than sorry. Most everyone we chat to had made it to the park that morning, so I felt bad that we had slept in and been too lazy, but we did have three very full days in the park and one magical evening, it would have just been nice to leave on a more positive experience than the last night we had.
We have to wait in CDG for about an hour, and there are not many shops there, so we got chatting to other people who had been at Disneyland Paris. Katie and another little girl poured over a park map discussing each ride and my daughter who hates scary rides had a comment about all of them, it was quite amusing to listen. We heard that the character breakfast at Walts (which isn’t in the brochures as it is new) as excellent, very well organized and table service for the food, so I think I would try that one next time.
The flight back was uneventful – we had a bigger place (2 and 3 seats – and big leather seats) and Katie slept the entire way, and we made a quick escape from Leeds airport, into the car and 2 hours up the A1 to home, we arrived home at 8pm, which is 9pm in France, so it took us nearly 8 hours door to door which is a long trip - next time I will try and fly from Newcastle and find out about the RER from the airport.
Final thoughts – beautiful park, great hotel and staff at the Cheyenne- totally recommend it, although the rooms are a little small. Not as many attractions in the park as there are in the MK, it felt a little empty to me, especially with a few of the kiddie rides being closed, but not at all crowded and the lights and fireworks were beautiful. I think we will go back – but I prefer the Magic Kingdom in Florida.
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