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Old 05-19-2011, 08:05 AM   #1
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 142

Trip Report - May 2011 - (or "Confessions of Holiday Wimps")!

I should start this by pointing out that we are Holiday Wimps.

I’ve not been out of the country for 20 years, wife and daughter have Never been out of the country at all! (we like UK holidays where we can take the car for flexibility, pack as much as we like, have a chalet/cottage etc, our own space, own catering etc).

With Amy, a now 4 year old, in tow, we like things to be easy! (Our admiration goes out to those in DLP with either more than one toddler, or toddler + baby, we really don’t know how you do it...)

Everything about the whole getting flights, passports, travelling etc was an experience for us, so forgive me if I ramble about stuff most take for granted. :D

Day 1

4.30am start so that we can get ready and get to Manchester airport for our 7.40am start to check-in. Given 2 hours till flight, I was pleasantly surprised by how quick it went. Checked car in at Meet & Greet, checked us and bags in, drink in cafe (curiously, drink had horrible UHT milk, I think this was meant as a warning for later in the holiday), through security, wander few shops, 15 mins wait, getting on plane. Nowhere near as torturously boring a 2 hours as we’d expected.

Air France plane going out, so quite swish I guess, felt like we were in a plane of French Business Travellers (this becomes relevant on plane back...)

Amy settled into the plane reasonably well, couldn’t get her head around the ear thing, and nothing we did would ease it for her.

When we arrived, we were among a crowd of people who had not a clue where to go when getting off the plane (god help em, people started to follow me, ME!), but we found the security & baggage area eventually. Felt glad it wasn’t Just us looking stupid.

Here I must recommend Ezyshuttle taxi service for getting to hotel. The pick up was by the doors right outside baggage area, we barely had to move! Straight in taxi and off to be dropped out right outside HNY, perfect.

After keeping Amy amused on plane for 90 mins, I passed her off to the wife to deal with in the Taxi for a break. Naturally, Amy fell asleep within minutes. Humph.

Slightly confusing outside the hotel, bellboy took bags, gave me a ticket, didn’t really explain what to do - largely as he was too busy chatting to/up the taxi driver... Checked in, and with some “Huh?” type phone calls, got the bags back eventually when I twigged what to do with the ticket (told ya it was all new to us).

I noted No Kettle in the room! I NEED tea at this point, and going without all week is not even an option. Went to see reception, and they said Tea & Coffee facilities should be ordered from Room Service (7 euros!), but that I could Have a kettle. As I brought my own tea bags etc, Money Saved, happy start. I only twigged later that we’d have no Cups etc, but you can’t have everything...

Upon seeing the Mickey themed toiletries in the bathroom, my forum training kicked in, and I took some and packed them away, leaving just a couple of those that had duplicates so I didn’t look like a complete klepto!

Thanks to our early flight, it was now only about 2.30pm, so we’d time to get in the parks. On way through lobby found some kind of impromptu Mickey & Goofy dance-along going on with loads of kids (you assume this is quite common until you see nothing like it for the rest of the week!). Good to see some character interaction and get first photo so soon after arriving! It’s an awful photo though, so I won’t show it here, as a kid leapt in to try and get Goofy’s attention (as, of course, the accompanying staff were doing Nothing to help the poor character manage the crowd).

(We had been told on the flight that weather for the week was Ok today but but cloudy, Warm tomorrow, good rest of week. Upon being out in it for a while, it was obviously HOT by our standards. Oh God, what’s tomorrow going to be like?)

After a village wander, decided that with only a couple of hours park time, we’d focus on the smaller Studio. Straight on Tram tour with no waiting time, which went down a storm with Amy (despite her pre-holiday refusal to go on it, as it looked scary).

Our wanderings then led us straight into the Green Men meet & play already underway which was entertaining, they put a lot of effort into it in what must be awfully uncomfortable costumes. Amy not really ready to join in and play along just yet, still wary.

As were passing the Pixar Cars ride (spinning little cars, forget the name sorry) we queued for that. This was fortuitous, as we didn’t see it open again the Entire week, looked like it was under repair. Shame, its a good little ride that we’d like to have done again.

Bit more wandering to get used to the place, but that was enough for us, long day, back to hotel to get ready for an even longer day tomorrow!

The park was Pretty busy when we first arrived. We were though I beleive not only on a sunny weekend, but on the last day of a French holiday, so were expecting that.

Decided to call in at Train Station shop to get Sugar & Milk (and a cup... ahem...) for making tea in the hotel, and this is when what a Parisian colleague had warned me about kicked in, Fresh Milk is not a big thing in France generally, whereas UHT (and a particularly noxious type of it in my opinion) is everywhere. Did without it that night, determined to find some tomorrow... (Look for my “Got Milk?” thread for more info on this).
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Old 05-19-2011, 08:07 AM   #2
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 142

Day 2

Got in for breakfast first thing, arrived at 7.10am, and yet the ‘hot’ food (sausages, bacon, scrambled egg) was barely warm, not really that appetising for me. Range of cereals - but the Milk being served is the UHT stuff! Urgh.

Good pastry & cold meats, fruit etc selection, if thats what you like for breakfast you’re laughing, not really for me. But, I’m a very fussy eater (as the milk thing no doubt shows).

Out of curiousity, tried the hot chocolate from the drinks machine there... it too stank of UHT. At this point, I’m beginning to wonder what I’m going to be able to drink beyond water (which I wouldn’t normally drink enough of to be my Only liquid for a week!). If I’m stuck with fizzy pop, I’ll be being used to replace the Hot Air Balloon outside the HNY (Panoramagique?) by the end of the week.

Straight into parks for EMH 8am opening. FANTASTIC. Everything you want a theme park to be (i.e. Nearly Empty. :D). It was lovely and cool, while still sunny. Mickey was being driven around in his car as you walk up Main Street, so we met him. This is a good start, if the week is like this, we’ll be happy bunnies.

(You’ll note Amy is still in Shy/Puzzled about the big characters thing at this stage. This notably changed over the week! Not bad for someone suspicious who, the night before we left for DLP, asked “Will it be Real characters, or just people Pretending?”)

Into Fantasyland through the castle (noting that it seemed largely shut-off, and remained this way most of the week. I thought there was a dragon thing still accessible somewhere? Never saw anything but corridors leading you back out. May be bad timing on our part, or we missed a vital door/turning somewhere(!), but we’re kinda in an off-season week after all, not a huge loss either way, plenty more to see!

Carousel... to ourselves! Teacups... no queue at all! Dumbo... no queue! Peter Pan (maybe twice? I forget)... no queue! Why do people go to the parks at any other time of day than this - it’s great!

Buzz Lightyear next (3 times I think, Amy hooked on this, no queueing at all...), it’s now 9.30am and it’s getting notably busier. Sat down for a drink and toffee apple (promptly binned, not nice), and then some kind of Storybook ride, on a boat? Not got a clue what it was, but it was good...

(I must mention at this point that, on Sunday night in the hotel, I went through my inch thick pile of forum printouts, menus, guides etc that I’d brought with me, and took the most useful with me (list of toddler rides etc). INVALUABLE. I could largely walk around like I’d been there before, didn’t have to worry at every ride whether it was suitable, too scary etc (we’re not Coasters people, so not interested in the main big thrill rides). I really don’t know how anyone would be able to do Disney without such research.)

Nearly 11am now, so pose with Sword in the Stone (before it gets so busy you have to fight your way to it) and then go for a wander.

Then (because still not quite reading the schedule as much as I should) stumbled into the Dance Express on main street, so caught most of that. Amy not quite got the courage to join in the dancing with them though.

Getting hungry now, it’s 11.30am. We had planned to do breakfast and then do meals Mid-afternoon, so a snack would get us through night (meaning only One big paid for meal per day to keep the costs down), but ho hum. As were at the entrance to Frontierland, research kicked in again! We’d put amy in a Country style Checked thing, and I too was in kinda country style shirt (in readiness for the nights Buffalo Bill show), so I realised... Cowboy Cookout is a character meal now, and it will start at 12 noon!

Got in there about 11.50am, it was almost empty, maybe 10 people? As such we got on the tables to your right as you go in, just in front of the mini-stage (I’d recommend sitting in this area if you can, its the easiest space for the characters to hang out in). No music act on stage though.

3 characters to go around just a few kids was great, Mickey and Minnie in cowboyish get-up, and Goofy (later turning into Pluto, Woody and Jessie). We’d purposely picked up a Princess style autograph book earlier in the day, so this really helped Amy get into the character thing, and she was much less shy etc. It always felt a bit like we were ramming the book into her hand and insisting she got an autograph, like obsessed parents, but I really do think it helps, as the kids without them seem to have stand near the characters and wait to be noticed. Get the autograph book wedged in there, and the photo will follow automatically!

Character interaction was great, and lengthy, various characters danced with Amy and generally messed around.

The food for me wasn’t great. I don’t mind a bit of BBQ, Spice, Smoked etc. But EVERYTHING on the plate being one of the above? Made it a bit sickly. Amy enjoyed it, Sandra would have also liked it reined in a bit. (I’m afraid I didn’t bother photographing food and other bits and pieces in the holiday, as I think it’s all well documented enough anyway).

Fixed menus, adult €26, kid €13, so €52 in total - no shareholder discount allowed! This was I think the only time I got told that in the week, so it could be an error by that staff member?

Personally though, I think for the character interaction & autographs alone, this was a bargain. If I had to choose an hour queue in the sun for a 2 minute Meet & Greet, or 52 euros for an hour playing with 6 characters, I’ll gladly pay! The food is an added bonus.

It is however quite a dark place (which is a relief on a hot day) so with a lot of photography issues caused by the occasional bright window around - and I’d chosen Not to lug the DSLR on holiday with me (though I saw a LOT of people who brought theirs). Instead decided to buy a decent Bridge compact, and this place was a bit of a Push for it. Flash gives you not particularly pleasant photos, but no flash carries high risk of useless blurred shot unless you could get Just the right amount of light in frame. I’d suggest practice shots to get your camera settings right Before you pose with anyone here, saves disappointment. Video footage much more practical, handled the lighting conditions a lot better.

From this point though Amy thought asking for food, whatever time of day, would mean we would take her to somewhere with characters. Oops. We may not be able to eat without characters at all now - could be a problem!

By now it was REAL hot outside. Cripplingly so. I wasn’t getting as much to drink as I needed either, just couldn’t force enough (wam!) water or fizzy pop down, so I needed to get out of the heat pronto.

We returned to hotel about 1.30pm to crash out and let sun lessen a bit. With a headache, and no doubt dehydration, I crashed and awoke around 3pm feeling a lot better now I was cool!

As Amy had been insistent on trying the skating rink outside the hotel (she remembers another fake rink from last years holiday), I took her to try it out. But, last year she had baby skates (2 blades on each so you could easily stand), this year it was normal ones. Hard work anytime, torture in the sun, we lasted maybe 15 mins! Cost me about 21 euros to hire the skates, completely forgot to check if you have to pay if you are staying at the hotel (well, I had just woken up), but ho hum.

Slow walk through the village, nipped into DLH to book Princess for a day for tomorrow morning, and got into the main park in time to find a place (which without the kindness of the people in front, letting Amy get to the Kerb - thanks if you’re reading this! - wouldn’t have been that great a view for her). If we didn’t feel like we were at Disney before, we felt it now. Amy was engrossed, Sandra just the same!

Newbie Error - should be Very early for parades (at least 45 minutes for a half decent spot), find somewhere shaded! Its a long time not moving, squinting in the sun.

Returned to village for Buffalo Bill show about 6.15pm, we should have been earlier perhaps as our pre-booked category 1 seats didn't seem notably better than anyone's, likely as most people were already seated, show started just as we sat down! That’s two newbie errors in a row... duh.

There are five rows of tiered seats, we were on the third. It's possible this is classed as the best overall view, though its hard to say. Personally I think any tickets will be good if you’re wanting to spend as little on them as possible, but front row will feel more ‘part’ of the show.

Amy bless her tucked into the food etc with Gusto, but while attentive, struggled to follow the show. Understandable, as I felt they should ditch the narrative and just get on and show us stuff!

Something in me, likely the dehydration, had told my brain to override my taste buds and drink. Lukewarm water, gone, numerous refills of incredibly large Sprite supplied by very accomodating staff, gone, tea with no milk (the Tubs were UHT!) was even forced down. My headache duly cleared, hurrah!

Brief shop in village, return to hotel room, then start to umm over milk situation. After chat with recepionist I opted for the great milk hunt at 9pm (to save wasting valuable Park time). Not perhaps one of my wisest calls.

(The results of which can be found in my “Got Milk?” thread - if you don’t want to read it in detail, basically, I got Milk. Hurrah!)

I had been told that I could hop one if the very regular trains one station down to Val d’Europe and be at a supermarket. This is technically true... and is doable. I would Not recommend doing this at night as I did. When you leave Disney the number of fluent english speakers drops and so you need there to be plenty of people around!

So, anyway, in the end put 2 bottles of milk in hotel fridge and took one to room and stuck it in ice bucket. Finally had a cup of tea, and could sleep in peace!

But.... before bed, as the previous days nabbed toiletries had all been replaced, thought I’d do a test. I took all except the large bar of soap which I opened and used to see what would happen... (I’m easily amused).
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Old 05-19-2011, 08:10 AM   #3
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 142

Day 3

(I noted to the wife at one point today that there was literally NO clouds in the sky. Could get more than a tad warm...)

Breakfast in hotel, EMH just for Buzz Lightyear! Then dash back to DLH for princess makeover. Very good overall, they were running slightly late but it didn't get rushed.

Note: We booked the €165 package, and didn’t realise till late in the game that as this includes “Crazy Hair” it doesn’t include a tiara. Amy wondered where hers was - and frankly, once the fancy hair gets messed up, a tiara recovers the situation. So, while we were waiting, I nipped up to the DLH store and bought the suitable one. Bear this in mind when you’re booking.

Also... 2 tills at DLH shop, both of which can show & print photos (which you do yourself for the Princess ones of course). They served two people showing them loads of photos at the same time, leaving me to stand and queue indefinitely. Other staff passed by ignoring the issue. Until that is I literally grabbed one and said “I’m now late for my Princess booking, you either get on a till and sell me this Tiara, or I’m just taking it.”. It sounds more vicious written down, I was smiling slightly when I said it, honest.

Suddenly I had a whole store of apologetic looking people who couldn’t do enough for me. :D

Dresses advice - when picking think about the size! We had to choose between a bit too small, and a bit too big (gangly child that we have). We went for small so that it didn’t drag on the ground and torture amy with too much material in the heat. I saw a lot of kids whose parents made the other decision, which while I understand from a “Get more use out of it” thing, please, don’t torture your children with a too many Kilos of Nylon to carry around.

So anyway.. stress over... and Amy all done up and photographed quite well (not marvellous, as some poses look really awkward on someone so young, but there’s one cracking shot which I’ll put below). We ending up spending €50(ish?) on photos,we got the Big print from the package, and 13 other smaller ones for that (Shareholder discount playing its part there). We decided to make these the gifts for grandparents - cheap, easy to pack, and saves us doing any more gift shopping. :D

Straight back to main park for princess meet and greet to make most out of her get-up, long wait, but worth it in the end as Amy was thrilled to talk about her belle dress to Snow White, and got ticket for professional photos to collect later. Again, with a 3 framed pics for €30 deal on, plus discount, these aren’t ridiculously expensive either I thought.

(Convinced wife on way into park that the 'horrible' buggies she hated were worth a shot, by end of day she agreed they made things much more workable and are certainly fairer on Amy.)

Didn't feel the weather made it fair to drag Amy around rides in Princess get up, and Amy was desperate for more character meets, so the timing meant we could get to Cafe Mickey, no advance booking but we still walked straight in.

Chip, Dale, Goofy, Smee, Friar Tuck (who really shouldn’t sign his name as F Tuck, it doesn’t read well when you don’t join the T up properly... I patched it in with the pen...!), Pluto, Mickey, Gepetto (however you spell that), were all on rotation (3 at a time of course). Chipmunks inparticular were good interaction, liking amys dress, having her twirl etc. All characters who saw her in full on Princess get-up did in fact do as others have reported and make extra fuss over her.

Shareholder discount meant decent main course, desert and additional drinks came to €66 Euro. Ok food but with the supplied card game, tv and characters around, Amy couldn't have enjoyed it more.

(You will note Shyness around characters has now gone, and she’d struggle to look any more Smug when stood with them...!)

We knew we were there for breakfast following day, but booked for Lunch too anyway!

Headed back to parks, weather is still crippling, I’m worried about Amy in that dress, so headed for Studio park to try and find indoor shows etc, but walked straight into Stars In Cars parade, oops.

Watched some of it then walked around to Playhouse show, 73 mins to English, damn it, they really need to put the actual Languages on the printed schedule, as having to walk up to a show and then walk away just irritates toddlers!

Walked down towards Moteurs Action while explaining to wife what that actually is (Just call me the DLP Oracle!), got there to find massive crowd just going in, so joined the rush, no queueing!

Show was ok, Amy succumbed to heat and fell asleep on me, making it harder to enjoy show on the crowded benches. Probably best though, I felt the show dragged and isn’t really that interesting for someone like her. I left wearing most of one side of her makeup on my shirt... ho hum.

By now though we weren't far off Playhouse time, so got there and basically joined the crowd walking in (three in a row, on a roll!). Amys outfit now really not suitable at all. Hard to sit on floor with it, hot etc.

Show was good, if hard for liitle ones to see past the adults. Considering reseeing with earlier arrival. Decided to change Amy back to normal clothes immediately upon leaving (we kept them with us all day, expecting this). She changed begrudgingly but was better off in the long run.

Being around 4pm the park was notably stopping, few meet queues were nearly gone but closed to anyone joining, few rides were shut already. However rode flying carpets with only 10 min queue and only did that as i saw we were next to Animagique starting at 5pm so had time to zkill.

Bit of walking around, in Animagique by 4.45pm, could easily have sat front row (people likely in main park for parade) but stayed back a few rows for better view, place maybe got 1/3 full. Good show, and Amy took the English-French mix very well, likely due to her deciding that when in the hotel room, French playhouse Disney channel on the TV is better than nowt (and “it's to help me learn French”!)

Wanted to catch end of parade, then 7pm magic celebration, but we were all shattered. Snack from train station and back to hotel room for night to rest and cool down (worried about surviving the long Friday getting home after a full day in the parks now!)

Retrieved more of my precious milk supply from Hotel Fridge, despite a slightly sarky receptionist (don’t mess with my Milk! it’s like gold dust!).

Toiletries check: The maid is playing my game - all replaced, but the Used bar of soap is replaced by two! Feeling smug, until I notice the flannels have disappeard, and oddly, the TV remote too. I may have angered her.

I’m not easily disuaded, got TV remote replaced by reception, and then removed all toiletries completely this time. Have hidden the ones we've partly used (you have to use some after all, you’re in Disney, would be silly to not) to continue to use when I lift tomorrow's supplies! Mwah ha ha...

Amy and Sandra are asleep at 9pm (crazy nightlife or what), I sit writing up the notes for this report, as if I leave it any longer, I’ll remember nothing!)

Last edited by Jakaru; 05-19-2011 at 08:26 AM.
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Old 05-19-2011, 08:13 AM   #4
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 142

Day 4

Planned quick snack breakfast in hotel, EMH, then character breakfast at 9.30 in Cafe Mickey. We slept in(!) and so went straight for EMH. Plans etc have stopped us getting to Salon Mickey every day so far! Determined to make it happen tomorrow.

EMH was a brief visit but usual quality, straight on Buzz, twice, but then had to get back for character breakfast, and needed yet another buggy hire in park to do even this in time!

Breakfast was about the same mediocre stuff as hotel, got stuck in outer part of Cafe, which is not a nice area. 30 mins passed and and long finished eating before characters made it outside the main seating area to us, not happy, and of course it's now obvious that the cafe has a standard cast of characters that we've seen enough of, and yet we have to come back for the lunch reservation!

Studio park at opening time to see Playhouse in normal clothes, 40 mins to English though, so straight onto Tram Tours then dash back to Playhouse. Tip: first room gets mistaken for show by many who sit on floor and watch the screen (perhaps expecting it to be like stitch live) so go to the doors at the far end and sit there while the clips play so you can dash in and get near the front. Show is much more watchable near the front!

Came out to what I beleive were unannounced character meets, Remy, Emile, Mulan, Gushu(?), Woody, Mary Poppins and Bert, hard to even see them though the mini-crowds, it was more a 'what's going on there, quick run over!' type of thing. Scrums of course, but we were polite and didn't knowingly push ahead of People before us. It's noteworthy that Mulan inparticular noticed this and assured Amy got her turn.

As well recorded here already, the accompanying cast members were useless, mostly sat off to side chatting to each other instead of doing their jobs.

We couldn't physically do them all before they left and Sandra was gutted we didn't see Mary Poppins was around until it was too late to get a meet.

Slinky dog had ok queue (we’d been on this earlier in the week, somehow missed it in my notes!) then Art of Animation show (would enjoy this more on my own to be honest). Headphone thing for any language but doing this in French is just stupid, the lips on film were English sync, but when you had the headphones on both the English audio and the French audio on speakers were really loud and competing with each other! Make everyone use headphones for Any language and it would be a massive improvement. As it is, I found it only Just watchable.

They didn’t seem to be doing the animation class afterwards though which was disappointing.

Peter Pan mob was outside Art of Anim, but simply couldn't get to them before they dashed off (in character, they literally ran off like it was a game).

Sully meet had small queue opposite anim when we came out, so did that one, a nice one to get, though I wanted sully to look huge and he kneeled down, ruining the main thing about that costume for me!

Peter Pan and Wendy and now Smee back at anim, still a mob and they dashed off again almost immediately, rather annoying bad timing on our part twice, got a sig but no photo from Wendy, but did get a photo with Smee, (Everyone else too busy failing to see Peter!)

Cafe Mickey lunch, 2pm, so lot of people in there but only small queue of reservation people.

Rather than the usual waitress staff the man (manager?) on counter shouted for Mickey who had just passed by and had him show us to a table! Chuffed!

At first the decent Main area tables weren't ready, but with a quiet whisper from Mickey to a staff member it was sorted. I got the impression Mickey cast member has clout . Both these things though got me wondering if there was something written on our reservation that got us such good treatment...?

Food was the usual decent standard, not great (lukewarm slightly undersone fries for instance), character interaction typically good, and I thought I had noticed Eeyore disappear off in the morning and sure enough he was there again. Is there some outfit rotation that we had so far seen nothing of? Could be more characters here than we think.

Decided to skip Cafe M tomorrow, but as character meal HAS to be had to keep Amy happy, and we’re under budget on spends, I nipped back to hotel and booked Inventions for tomorrow at 6pm. (Big benefit of HNY - proximity to Cafe M!) May give Cafe M a final visit on Friday mainly for ease and value.

As today's plan is to get better view of parade and stay for the 7pm Mickey Magical Celebration, we headed back to main park.

We've still at this point to even get into adventure and frontier lands, and today was no exception! Picked up the previous days Snow White meet photos (lovely shots) and nipped up to get a buzz fastpass for just before parade, so wife could camp at spot while we rode and got back in time.

So with a couple of shop visits (including booking a shave in Dapper Dans for tomorrow!), we hit Fastpass time only to have Amy asleep in buggy. Not wanting to look a gifthorse in the mouth, we simply stayed at camp spot and woke her for parade. Spot in shaded side of main street wasn't 100% but certainly cooler and easier than previous attempt, we’re learning.

We then went and begrudgingly queued for Buzz (she remembered we were supposed to have a ticket for it) and we had missed Fastpass of course. (This was the first and only time we got a Fastpass, they just didn’t seem worth planning our day around, but I can see they are a great idea for some).

With a little time to kill before 7pm, found Nautilus, a very quiet attraction sorely missing in any real point that I could see, hence it being very quiet. Kills 10 mins though.

Generally wandered more, got souvenir container popcorn and chose camp spot. Wife predicted that we need to be looking up Main street for proper view rather than side on, and she was right. For a round stage show, its Far too biased to head-on viewers, but seats that way are limited and largely already taken long in advance. I personally was happy enough side on but with a bench to sit up on the back of!

Back to village for bit of shopping, Starbucks and McDonalds (a good 30 minutes queue in McD, complete chaos in there) but while Sandra queued, me and Amy had a nice sit down outside looking at the (fake) elephant and the (very real) massive fish in the lake.

(Read my Milk thread about my hunt for something else to drink, but basically Starbucks became my other lifeline, even though I don’t like Coffee! Order a “Chocolat Vienoisse Classic - with No Creme” and you get a very strong hot chocolate without the UHT squirty cream to ruin it (though they are Automatons and try to add creme anyway, leap in and stop them!). It’s far too strong this way of course, so in the hotel I would water it down to make 2-3 drinks the same size. You do what ya gotta do! :D)

The shops have some seriously nice merchandise, that’s both the shops in and out of the parks. So much heavy and/or breakable stuff we’d otherwise buy! (There’s bronze effect Minnie, about 12-14 inches high I’d say, think it was €49 euros, BARGAIN. Saw it in HNY lobby and in shops. Seriously, if anyone is feeling really care-free about their baggage allowance and is happy to pick one up for me, let me know!)

Back to hotel to sort out days of accumulated detritus and get to sleep, though probably too late to be that hopeful of hitting EMH tomorrow...!

Toiletries check: New supplies duly placed, and now taken.

Last edited by Jakaru; 05-19-2011 at 08:19 AM.
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Old 05-19-2011, 08:16 AM   #5
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 142

Day 5

Feels like it will be a hard day today, not sure why, feeling the burn?!?

Usual EMH buggy pickup then Buzz twice, Peter Pan twice, Dumbo.

Purposely left park and re-entered through Salon Mickey! What a bargain, couple of cookies, hot chocolate drink for me, juice for Amy, Water for Sandra, spare bottle of water subtley taken. The people who came in after us took more than one cookie/pastry each, so I don’t think the staff particularly worry. Notable that we also let ourselves out (after having our tickets returned) so reports I’d seen here of not being allowed to take drinks etc out of Mickey into park seem odd, no-one cared. Probably varies depending on staff member on duty.

Realised there was a Princess meet at 10am, so got in early (about 9.20am), rode teacups while wife waited. Tiana showed up, pic and signature as usual, official photographer was seen there originally but disappeared, which was strange, and a shame.

Booked in for shave at 11am, so we made our way back down main street, couple of shops and then a shave. An interesting experience... €16, good value I thought for the experience more than the shave to be honest!

The shave was timed well for finishing in time to watch Dance Express in the plaza, then onto Autopia (which we’d so far forgotten about, don’t know how!).

Then into Frontier land for the light-guns (€2 but a nice fun change from the usual) then Phantom Manor (dragged a little, but a good change of pace, and there’s some nice clever stuff going on that’s perhaps lost on toddlers) before a visit to Cowboy Cookout.

We should have done those last two the other way around as we didn't get a seat by the stage, and the band were on this time. Characters good as usual, but the same ones, so we didn’t get signatures (you’ll see why this is important later!).

Answered a survey from one of the clipboard people about the experience, as it gave Amy more time to play with the characters, so why not. It was also a cheap character meet, as I just bought 2 kids meals for Amy and Sandra, and a drink for me. This is probably the cheapest way of getting good character time should you wish - nip in just for drinks even!

Finally walked through Frontier and Adventure lands properly! Frankly I don't think we'd been missing much, Amy’s not got energy to waste for playgrounds, so we did a couple of 'walkthrough' things. Realised later, there must have been a Pirates of the Caribbean ride we’d not seen.

Rode the train around park, which is interesting, nice change of pace and a chance to sit down. :D

Then Disaster... We think at some point between Tiana and Cookout we lost the autograph book! (Possibly taken out at Cookout and as not used, forgotten about, though my best bet is that we put it in the top fold of the buggy quickly when the Tiana signing ended, and left it there until we returned the buggy later!). Didn't notice until returning to hotel for mid-afternoon break (shopping on way as last opportunity pre packing), and it had a week of carefully gathered sigs in it, including two queued meets!

Gutted, but realistically Amy will never give it a thought, we just wanted it as a Nice keepsake for her.

(Of course, if anyone reading this hired a buggy and Kept an autograph book they found, please let me know, I understand why someone would keep it, but I’d really like to make arrangements to get it back!)

So, bought new book and pen in readiness for inventions meal at 6pm, so we could do a bit of recovery work and in the long run, Amy will just know there was a book, both look exactly the same, and i intend to see if I can utilise this forum to fill in some gaps...! (I’ll do this in a separate thread.)

Noted every time we were in DLH that the English contingent appears higher here?!? Whereas there seemed to be a lot of Italians in HNY. Doesn’t bother me of course, just found it curious. Was much faffing about at Inventions entrance by staff, but got a reasonable table.

Characters were as promised fairly constant, Tigger, Chip, Dale, Minnie, Launchpad McQuack Goofy and Pluto. There was probably at least one in the room all the time. We stayed until they had cycled around to beginning, but we'd Long finished eating as it really wasn't to our tastes, pink inside even well-cooked meat etc (which btw, I’m told afterwards is quite common in France. Their well-done is not Our well-done by a long chalk. Though this wasn’t apparent in Cafe M and anywhere else I had steak.)

There were Chicken in Breadcrumbs among the other usual things documented on this forum - though I found them a bit over spiced. Fish in breadcrumbs was nice though, and Sandra enjoyed some of the deserts.

Shareholder card saved us quite a bit here, so three of us ate for €116 (Inc soft drinks), left €5 tip for the very good, attentive and friendly waiter, no idea if it's an appropriate amount!

Back to hotel with a couple of toy purchases on way (as oddly Amy has been bought quite little this week) it's notable how little room in the cases we have even though we packed well under weight on purpose! And of course, I’ve a lot of Mickey Toiletries to make room for. :D

Moderately early night (but still stopped to hide the toiletries), as its a long day ahead with travelling back tomorrow.
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Old 05-19-2011, 08:18 AM   #6
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Day 6

Usual 7am breakfast then EMH with Buggy (€8.95 a day, but as we no longer own a buggy at home, even paying every day I think has been preferable to Buying one and dragging it with us).

Buzz Lightyear twice, for a change. At this point, I think I’m pretty good at this game. Passed 300,000 points, to become Level 5 and a Ranger 1st Class! (I’m not convinced its possible to get above Level 5, but someone on here is bound to ruin it for me and tell me otherwise. :D)

As you exit Buzz, you can see photos of yourself on the ride, we have a couple and checked them every time. In theory, the photos contain your Score. In practice, they resulting print usually said 0 or 123123 for us, which is annoying. I wanted my score in Print, so went to the screens to see it being listed under a photo of someone else! Pfff. As sad as I am, I’m not going to Ask a photo tech to put the right score on, I have a little pride left (...), but these things I’m sure cost them sales!

So, Star Tours again, Carousel, then back to hotel for last chance of an hours rest (and final gathering of bags) before 11am checkout.

Oddly, when we got there, there was a meet going on in hotel lobby, half hour alternates of Pluto and Minnie literally for hours. Nice quick queue so we did it. However, bit surprised at the timing.

Yes, people are checking in, so they will like it, but it's also big checkout time. The lobby is nearing impasse, and it’s awkward to get about. More oddly though, when we checked out an hour later the lobby had emptied, Minnie was just stood there waiting for people! The only time in the week I’d seen a character just be Ignored and not Scrummed! :D

We got another photo just for the hell of it, and to stop the cast member being too bored!

Checked out just before 11am, left baggage to collect later, and went to DLP lost and found (we had been advised to leave it overnight) to see if they had our Autograph book. I’d like to think that if I’d found it, I would have handed it in, so you never know.

They hadn't had any Princess books handed in... But to make up for it gave me a pair of pink sequin Minnie ears for Amy! I was amazed, they charge 14 euros for those! Would of course have preferred them to find the book but what a nice gesture from them.

As I’d decided not to hide the fact of the lost book from Amy, thinking I was being clever, I said “I went and told the Characters you had lost your book, and they were so upset, they wanted to give you these special Minnie ears to make up for it.”

I didn’t think that through really. Amy says, after gosh of amazment etc “We have to queue and see Minnie to say Thank You!”. Oops.

So, we were done with the main park really, so didn't hang around, went straight to Studios to look around the shops in the entrance and Studio 1. (Carefully avoiding seeing the Minnie meet happening... no mood for queueing!)

Ran into Queen from Snow White (Amy LOVES the Queens “Why am I not on this book?” routine, still talking about it now, which is good, as we got the same routine again late at the parade!), and someone who we eventually twigged was supposed to be Gaston, though we couldn’t get a Signature at the time to check.

Then tried the Armageddon show, we picked a good place to stand entirely by accident, just where Some of the fire goes up (If you think of yourself as Entering at South, Stand by the Airlock at East, though if you can get around the central barrier, do so, but everyone goes for that, we were stood on our own!). Queued for mickey at Toon Studios as it was a fairly short queue and just being closed (we needed to fill in his missing autograph - we had him 3 times in the original book!). Professional photographer took a nice photo too (not scanned any of the pro ones in yet...).

Decided to see Animagique again as we were in peak sun, and it’s best avoided! It being Friday, this, like everything, was notably busier than the rest of the week. This means that its harder to get a good seat, and really, the show works a LOT better from the middle seats - they should ditch the others completely, as side on, you often see the Puppeteers!

After that found a spot for the Stars in Cars parade, only near the barrier spots were behind the stage, but this worked for us, as a lot of characters work the crowd while others do the dancing show etc. Picked up a few more autographs, ones we didn't even have before... but its still annoying us that we'd have had a hell of a book for one trip...

We got Mary Poppins autograph this time though!

Time to pick up the photos from Mickey meet so back through Studio 1, decide to get the 'glamour shots' (BAD name!), done on the way (You get your Pic done on a green screen, and someone not as good at comping you onto another Picture as they should be, has a go. (To be fair, I should point out that I’m a graphic designer, so I knew as soon as she started that she wasn’t going to get Great results at her speed, and with basic tools. Amy comped onto Playhouse, Group shot of all of us onto Paris backdrop, if only as there’s been limited chances to get shots of all of us together. They are nice keepsakes but could really be better, and not That cheap...

Minnie then had a short queue outside the shop so Amy of course insisted we did that (I can only imagine how confused Minnie was to be Thanked for the ears, but she seemed to play along as much as she could), and we left the parks by 3pm.

A meal in Planet Hollywood gave us a rather non-Disney end to the week! We wandered some shops, and it was then a case of sitting and waiting outside hotel until Ezyshuttle time at 6pm to begin the journey home.

(Oh, if you are leaving your baggage with the hotel all day like we did, it gets stacked outside. I therefore chose to take our wallet of passports and other documents out of the bags, and put them in the hotel safe for the day. Just don’t lose the key they give you, and allow extra time at end of day for retreiving it!)

Ezyshuttle guy (pretty sure the driver who brought us thought she was coming back) oddly brought his little girl along, and had to stop for fuel on the way (which was odd being in BP in France). I’m guessing something went wrong, but ultimately they arrived on time, and got us to CDG on schedule, so I can’t complain. Again, struck by the benefit of being dropped off right where you need to be, as opposed to TGV etc. It’s a BIG place - and you feel it - much more than you do at Manchester Airport (which ain’t exactly tiny after all). Being able to walk to the needed check-in area in just a couple of minutes lessens what could be a very stressful “Where’s OUR desk!!!!” type of walk.

Negotiated the whole airport check-in etc relatively easily given our inexperience! Though, despite reassurances when I booked the flight, our seat allocations were Me and Sandra in 1 row, Amy on her own in the row behind! I know there’s only 2 seats together, but seriously, who wrote the software that allocates single seats to toddlers? AND you couldn’t change the seats on the check in screen, it said you could, but thats only if there are Empty seats.

Had to just take them, and get the guy taking the bags to alter them. Got 2 together with the other seat across the aisle from us in the end, so that worked out.

Again, by the time we got through security (VERY slow passport queue, I expected more staff at this time on a Friday, bit pathetic), and got some drinks from the shop, very little sitting around before boarding.

While we booked with Air France, this particular flight was actually being done by FlyBe. There’s a strange “Aaahhh” buzz of comfort to seeing a menu in £, with food you recognise, and to hear the general Chatter of English around the plane. It’s like being home already. :D In fact there was a Distinct “Hen Party”, “Drinking Holiday” type of feel that made it feel a bit TOO like England...

Flybe use smaller planes than Air France making for a slightly more dramatic journey than coming (you really feel it more...), airport meet and greet for car pick up worked fine and we were home in no time.


I know I missed stuff... both in reporting and doing, we took pics of Casey Jnr train, don’t think we remembered to actually Go on it! And I keeping seeing things in the photos that I don’t remember happening that day, which is actually Fun.


For those who think this report is over... did you not wonder “How many toiletries did you get in the end?”.

Well, the luggage scale tells me 1.3kg worth. :D

8 bottles of Shampoo, 8 of Bath Gel, 5 Body Lotion, and 10 Soaps (mix of both sizes). They are currently making a lovely display in a bowl on the bathroom windowsill!
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Old 05-19-2011, 08:49 AM   #7
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A few general thoughts that didn't seem to make it into the report...!

DLH can smell REALLY strong. It was like being in a room where someones just dropped some Talcum Powder at times. Its not a bad smell, but it would drive me Mad!

HNY need to sort their reception area out. Better queueing, more staff at certain times of time, less baggage people - as they seem to be stood about all the time.

Shareholders card - as long as you don't mind adding a couple of minutes stood at the till holding up the people behind you while a manager is called to apply a discount, it's Great! You do have to spend a fair amount to make it pay for its original share cost in 1 trip, I think we Just about did it.

The place needs more character meals that aren't the Fancier restaurant type food. I know its easier to charge more in Inventions and Auberge for that kinda stuff, but we're Pizza, Steak etc type of people. Desert is Ice Cream, not White Chocolate Slippers. I don't mind the fancy food experience, or really even the price, but I'd like to be able to Eat a decent amount too...
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Old 05-19-2011, 08:53 AM   #8
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Fabulous (and very quick ) trip report there!

Cowboy Cookout character lunch is classed as counter service, so you can't use your shareholders discount for it I'm afraid. I'm a bit confused about the 2nd time you went to Cowboy Cookout - was that for lunch too? I'm just wondering how you managed to only pay for what you wanted that time, and had to pay the set price for 2 adults and one child the first time?

Also, you can check the information board in the Studios park (across from Studio One and near the start of Hollywood Boulevard) to get the times and languages for all the shows in the Studios .

Loved the toiletries game too lol!

Feb 07 Santa Fe, Oct 07 Santa Fe, Nov 07 Cheyenne, June 08 Explorers, Oct 08 surprise upgrade to the Newport Bay Club! May 09 Magic Circus, Dec 09 Santa Fe VIP, Oct 10 Santa Fe "Cars stylee", March 11 St Patricks Day Santa Fe, Nov 11 Dream Castle bonfire and Christmas, June 12 Dream Castle 20th Dreams, Feb 13 Santa Fe & Dreams, April 14 Santa Fe Spring Festival Fun
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Old 05-19-2011, 09:02 AM   #9
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I thought I'd written too much until I re-looked at some of the others, I should have fleshed out my story more. :D (Though I suppose I did put a lot of my time into the Got Milk thread. :D

2nd time at Cowboy I paid set price - I just bought a Kids meal for an Adult (how are they really going to know if theres a lot of people there), then asked for an extra Drink. Didn't seem to surprise them.

I didn't see the Information board! That would have been good to know about, but we managed I guess, can't research everything. :D
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Old 05-19-2011, 09:07 AM   #10
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Oh, also... I find the No Discount at Counter-Service a bit of an Odd one.

You can have Shareholders if we bring the food to you - ala Cafe M.

You can have it if we lay the food out for you to get a plate at a time - ala Inventions.

You can't have it if we give you the food on a tray for you to carry back to your table yourself, ala Cowboy Cookout.

Now, call me mad, but if I'm doing some of the work, that's costing you LESS to provide the food to me, no discount makes no sense.

Now of course, it just so happens that the Cheapest meal of those is Cowboy, so I'd say it Does in fact cost them less to provide. But... discount is discount - everything will have a profit margin. I just can't see a good argument.

(Don't get me wrong, I don't really care, it saved where it saved, and it was good.
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Old 05-19-2011, 03:47 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Jakaru View Post
Now, call me mad, but if I'm doing some of the work, that's costing you LESS to provide the food to me, no discount makes no sense.
Lol - when you put it like that...!!

Loved your trip report; think the fact that you put a lot of research in beforehand is reflected in how smoothly your holiday went. The toiletry aspect - genius, I was counting them along with you every day!

Your little girl looks as if she had a fab time, and what a difference in her with the characters from the start to the finish. She's a cutie.

Thanks for the report.

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Old 05-19-2011, 05:04 PM   #12
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Loved the report! It's always great hearing from "newbies" as you put it LOL! Quick note, "Gushu" is actually Mushu....and also the name of my cat

loving me a Pirate
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Old 05-19-2011, 05:47 PM   #13
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Great TR - you certainly packed a lot in! I love the photos of the princess for a day!

Can't believe you missed Pirates though?!! Did you find Big Thunder Mountain?

I have posted a link on your autograph thread, hope you manage to replace your missing characters...

Thanks for sharing!
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Old 05-20-2011, 03:03 AM   #14
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Mushu... ah. I didn't say I was the Mulan fan. :D And of course, without his actual Signature to read, it was a kinda guess.

I've now corrected it in my Autograph hunting thread!

Bug Thunder Mountain (yes I mis-named on that on purpose) was closed for maintenance our week, but we'd not have gone on it anyway, so no loss.

We Saw a Pirate ship, looked like more of a Play on/around it type of thing? Just around the corner from Indiana Jones? Don't remember seeing any type of Ride Queue though.

It was one of those things though that we weren't particularly Looking for the Ride, and didn't remember it even existed until afterwards. Think positive, if we end up going back again, it will be nice for there to be Some things we've never done before...

Last edited by Jakaru; 05-20-2011 at 03:10 AM.
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Old 05-20-2011, 05:41 AM   #15
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I'm at the tentative planning stage for DLP trip number 10, and there are still things I've not done/seen.

Feb 07 Santa Fe, Oct 07 Santa Fe, Nov 07 Cheyenne, June 08 Explorers, Oct 08 surprise upgrade to the Newport Bay Club! May 09 Magic Circus, Dec 09 Santa Fe VIP, Oct 10 Santa Fe "Cars stylee", March 11 St Patricks Day Santa Fe, Nov 11 Dream Castle bonfire and Christmas, June 12 Dream Castle 20th Dreams, Feb 13 Santa Fe & Dreams, April 14 Santa Fe Spring Festival Fun
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