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View Full Version : 'Twas the weekend before Christmas - trip report


dianewal
01-02-2009, 08:16 AM
It seems ages ago now already but I thought I'd put together a trip report of our visit from 20 - 22 December.

Cast
Me, DH, Alex aged 11, Ciara aged 9, my mum and dad

This was our second visit to DLP - we were there in August although without my parents - but like some other posters, as the trip got closer I found it harder to get excited. It didn't help that during the week before I read the thread on the disboards saying that Disney had actually issued a warning about Sunday 21st December saying that the parks would be full and they were no longer selling tickets:scared1: I didn't dare tell DH as he would probably have refused to go!

Anyway we had a last minute bit of luck with tickets for my parents. I managed to buy passes which had 2 days left on them but needed to be used by Sunday 21st on ebay for 25. It was a bit of a risk because I didn't know for sure they would work but if they did it meant we had the possibility of going into the park on Saturday evening as well which we would never had done had they had to buy tickets for that day. (We have annual passes so wasn't a problem for us).

We set off early on Saturday morning for our 11am eurotunnel crossing. A new experience for me but very smooth - would definitely do this again. The drive from Calais to the Marriott where we were staying was also hassle free and we arrived at around 4pm to check in. We were absolutely delighted with the Marriott. Our townhouse was nicely decorated and spacious with plenty of room for the 6 of us. It was a real bonus to be able to park right outside as well. We decided to get the free shuttle bus to DLP and try out those tickets.

We arrived at the entrance at about 6pm and hordes of people were leaving obviously after the parade. We crossed everything and sure enough they worked and in we went. Having read the negative comments on the boards about the christmas decorations I didn't have high hopes but I thought it looked absolutely magical as we walked in. It was the perfect way to see the park for the first time of the trip.

We weren't expecting to be able to do much as we knew the park would be busy so we wandered down Main Street taking our time as we went up to the castle. We went up on to the balcony and looked out on to fantasy land. It was absolutely heaving with people but looked beautiful. We then wandered though Adventure Land to check out the queue time for POTC. It was 45 minutes but we knew it wouldn't be better for anything else so decided to go for it. The queue actually seemed to go much quicker; that is until we were nearly at the end of it and the ride broke down for 20 minutes! Still they got it going again (good job as I have no idea how they would have managed to evacuate us all!) and in we got. My mum is quite a scaredy cat and I could tell she was quite worried. We enjoyed the ride and afterwards went to look at the ride photo. It was hilarious. Everyone was either smiling or looking really calm like they were just on a bus. My mum's face was screwed up and she was hanging on to the bars for grim death. All that for a drop of around 20 foot:confused3 Fortunately she found it funny too which was a good job as we were killing ourselves:rotfl2:

We headed off back down Main Street to catch the 8.25pm shuttle back to the hotel. It had been a short visit but we were really glad that we had come in. I was definitely starting to feel the magic a bit more. That night we ate at a really lovely little creperie in Bailly. The food was delicious and for the 6 of us it came to around 80 euros which, in the Disney scheme of things, seemed like a bargain.

Day 2 - Sunday 21st December.

Knowing that it was going to be incredibly busy today I decided that we should go to the studios rather than attempt the park. It was cold and grey and it made me doubly pleased that we had gone in the night before when everywhere looked so lovely.

The first thing we did when we got in was get fast passes for ToT and then head to RnRC. We fast passed it and then got in the queue as it was only 10 minutes. My mum and dad waited in a cafe as after the POTC experience I thought she'd have a heart attack if she came on this. As it was, it was nearly me that had the heart attack! I loved it when it was finished but spent the whole time screaming "Why am on here?" Definitely a rush though and it almost edges past BTM to be my favourite ride. Afterwards we met up with my parents and as an english Stitch show was about to start they took the girls in to that. Can't remember why DH and I didn't go in but we must have had a reason. We then split up, DH and Ciara went to the Art of Animation (they weren't impressed) and the rest of us headed of to the Tram Tour. The queue was quite lengthy for this (about 30 mins) and it was pretty cold but we enjoyed the tour. It was time then for the fast passes for RnRC again. My mum and dad went off to see Cinemagique which they thoroughly enjoyed. I enjoyed RnRC even more the second time and would have gone on again if the queue hadn't been 60 minutes by that stage. Ciara bailed out of ToT (I was secretly very pleased) so DH and Alex went off to do it whilst we joined a scrum to see some of the characters. The only one Ciara was bothered by was Stitch and she managed to get a photo taken with him so she was happy. I can see what others mean by all the pushing though and I wouldn't have let her attempt to get close if she was any smaller.

By now it was around 2pm and we decided to go to McD's in the village. It was heaving but we managed to get a table and at least it was a fairly cheap way to eat. We had a mooch around the shops and then decided to go into the park and queue for the Lion King Show. As we approached the park there were signs out to say that the park was sature but they were still letting people in. As we had a plan we literally just made our way to the queue for Lion King and waited until we were let in (about 25 mins). We got front row seats and really enjoyed the show although I didn't think the sound quality was fantastic. We headed off to Adventure Land just for a wander but everywhere was packed as per the warning. The wait for BTM was 140 minutes. I couldn't believe people were prepared to stand in a queue for that long. We had a drink in the cafe there which warmed us up and then headed back to the hub for the parade. We couldn't get anywhere near it but managed to stand the girls on some railings (we held on to them tightly!) so that at least they could see some of it. After the parade it took 10 minutes before the hub was clear enough to be able to walk anywhere!

It was nearly time for our 6.15pm reservation at Cafe Mickey so off we went. There was a small queue outside but as we had reservations we went straight in and were seated in the main part of the restaurant. There were several characters out and Mickey Mouse came over almost straightaway which was nice. I had ordered a birthday cake for Ciara so we just ordered a main course as we would have that for pudding. The food was perfectly OK although nothing very special but then that wasn't really why we had gone there. We didn't feel rushed by anyone (although it turned out there was obviously a reason for that) and there was plenty of time for the characters to come round and interact. We saw Eeyore, King John, Goofy, Pluto, Friar Tuck, Scrooge McDuck and of course Mickey. Then the birthday music started up and out they came with a cake for Ciara. Mickey and Friar Tuck hurried over and Mickey and Ciara had a dance together which was lovely. It seemed like the whole restaurant was clapping along - really enjoyable. I have to say it was probably the most expensive little birthday cake ever at 22euros but again, it's all about the experience. It was only when we came to ask for the bill that we realised the restaurant was having a bit of a drama. The computer system had crashed and they couldn't take credit cards or work out how much we owed! The waitress told us we could either sit and wait until it came back on or she could work it all out by hand but we would have to pay cash. DH headed off to find a cash machine whilst she worked it all out. She then seemed rather stumped by having to take off our 10% AP discount. It ended up at 145 euros for the 6 of us. As we hadn't had puddings, Ciara's child pizza ended up costing more than the enormous adult sized one that Alex had. Next time I would just order the 15 euro pizza between them as it would be more than enough. As we left the queue outside was enormous and it was clear that there were a lot of very angry people waiting for tables. I was certainly glad we had booked an early slot. Shattered, we headed back to our townhouse where we were all in bed by 9.30pm!

Monday 22nd December

With it being a Monday we were hoping for a quieter day in the park so after checking out of Marriott we headed straight there. There were hordes of people queuing to get in and we realised we weren't going to be in for a quiet day at all! As a bonus though AP holders were being given additional fast passes as they entered the park and, with the ones I had bought on ebay before and old passes we now had 3 each. We headed through to Frontierland to BTM. The queue was already 60 minutes and the park had only been open 15 minutes! We fast passed it twice for 12pm - 12.30pm and DH and the girls then headed to Indiana Jones to fast pass that as well while I waited for my parents to catch up. When we were all back together we decided to check out the wait for PoTC and give my mum another go on this terrifying ride:rotfl2: We couldn't believe it - the wait was only 5 mins and we virtually walked on. This time she enjoyed it much more, so much so that we went straight back round for another go! It was now time for DH and Alex to do Indiana Jones so we waited whilst they did that before heading back to Frontierland. Here we split up and my parents went to do the Haunted Mansion and steamboat ride. DH went off to fastpass Buzz and Space Mountain for later whilst the girls and I had a drink. Then it was time for out BTM fast passes. The fast pass queue was about 15 mins long but the main queue was once again a 2 hour wait. No sooner had we had our runaway train experience than we were back in the queue for a second go. This time we rode at the back as you seem to go much faster. I absolutely love this ride and twice in succession is definitely the way to go!

We met back up with my mum and dad and had a hot dog and a hot drink. the queues for both were pretty horrific but at least we managed to get a table. Ciara was determined that she wanted to do the car ride in Discovery Land and wasn't going to be put off even when I told her there could be a 2 hour wait. DH said he was prepared to go and wait with her so we all set off for Discovery Land. The rest of us went to Honey I Shrunk the Audience whilst they went to queue. Can't say I was madly impressed by the show - definitely not the best 3D show I've seen. We came out and I called DH on the mobile to see how far he'd got in the queue only to see them walking towards us. I thought they must have given up because the queue was too long but unbelievably they had queued and ridden in the same time as we had queued and see the 3D show. She loved the ride and said that even if it HAD been a 2 hour queue it would have been worth it. Not sure that DH agreed!

Time for our last ride of the trip and our fast passes for Buzz. Even the fast pass queue was about 20 mins but again the main queue was nearly 2 hours. Now I have to say here, that we had an advantage over my mum and dad as we knew what to expect. I'm still not entirely convinced though that this justified the scores. DH 111000, Me 96300, Alex 68000, Ciara 13000 then my mum 2500 and my dad.... just 1100 points. I'm not sure how it is even possible to only get 1100 points particularly as the ride stopped a couple of times but you could still keep shooting. Suffice to say he is unlikely to ever live it down!!

So that was it for us, we did a spot of retail therapy on Main Street as we left and then got a hot chocolate at the christmas market. By 4pm we were in the car and heading back towards Calais. As we left the carpark it started to drizzle which seemed like a sign that it was the right time to go.

So to sum up

Despite my misgivings beforehand, we had a great trip and managed to get done everything that we wanted to do. The crowds were VERY heavy - much busier than in August - so I would probably avoid going at this time of year again. That said, I'm really pleased we did it and got to see DLP at Christmas time even if we never did manage to see it snow on Main Street (not for the lack of trying!).

Fastpasses were definitely the way to go and the only way that we could have managed to do everything that we did. I would eat at McD's again as it is SO much cheaper than eating in the parks and let's face it, nothing you eat at DLP is going to be healthy. I think we are probably all Cafe Mickeyed out and would choose somethere else to eat next time. That said at least you are guaranteed to meet the characters there and can avoid any scrums in the park.

I would definitely stay at the Marriott again. It really is a lovely hotel, very close to DLP and the staff went out of their way to ensure you had a good stay. They even phoned on the first evening to check that everything was OK and sent extra blankets straight over to us when we asked for them.

Even though reading the boards panicked me a bit in the days leading up to our trip, at least I was prepared and had realistic expectations of what we would be able to do.

We will definitely go back although in the summer next time. I have to say, for all that it was lovely all lit up, Disney in the sunshine is definitely the way to go for me!

Sorry this has been so long and thanks for reading.

hildasmuriel
01-02-2009, 08:46 AM
That was a lovely report - thanks for posting.
Luckily the drizzle stayed as drizzle and didn't get any heavier. It was noticeably colder on the 23rd though...and even busier in the Parks!

I'm glad to hear you got everything done that you wanted to do. :goodvibes

I'm with your Mum, BTW - POTC is as scary as I go, with maybe a Casey Jr thrown in.

mommy2ash
01-02-2009, 10:16 AM
glad you had a great trip. thanks for posting. sorry im with your mum and hildasmuriel potc is as scary as it gets for me. in the ride pics my dd who was 22 months has her arms in the arm sreaming weeeeeeeeee and im clinging to her with my eyes shut lol. and no my family will not let me live that down

britchic4
01-02-2009, 10:50 AM
It was heaving wasn't it? Sounds like you had very similar experiences to us - we enjoyed it, and parts of it were magical, but I'm not going to go that weekend again for sure.

DLPdaft
01-02-2009, 12:10 PM
Thanks for posting your trippie - sounds like you were well organised for the crowds :thumbsup2 .

karenmoloney
01-02-2009, 05:16 PM
Thanks for sharing with us. Well done on getting everything done that you wanted to & for being so organised & realistic. We love the Marriott too.