Today was a whirlwind of a day. After our usual morning routine, our aim was to ride attractions we haven't been on as well as going back on our favourites where possible. We spent our morning at the Studios, had lunch at the Earl of Sandwich and returned the Disneyland Park for our 130 pm guided tour of park. The children did well through the 2 hour walking tour. The older two were actually interested and listened intently. Jonah, was, well...Jonah. He was happy though to receive a pin from our guide at the end of the tour.
|How could we NOT take a photo with the coca cola truck?|
|Elliot's Disney winter headgear of choice|
|Finally got to go on this after being closed for the first three days|
|Busy in the World of Animation|
|Reasonably priced tasty hot sandwiches with an extra 15% off...|
|Nice to see some sunshine|
|Doing a lousy job of pretending to be sad|
|Great time to have ice-cream, whilst the parade is on|
|Onto the guided tour. The imagineers for the Parisien Parks responsible for each themed land including Main Street|
|A seemingly pretty mural within the Emporium|
|Trying to find the hidden Mickey with Robbin our guide|
|Can you spot it?|
|The address for Walt's Restaurants has great significance. It is the current address of the real imagineers.|
|Established in 1901. Why? Because that's when he was born!|
|Family photos within the restaurant|
|Mum, Dad and Walt at 10 months|
|Snow White ride|
|which comes out into the dwarves house which is also the shop. The soft toys are placed on seven little beds.|
|Outside Cinderella's restaurant is a lone pumpkin lamp which is next to her carriage.|
|The characters do a little dance at 4pm in the Disneyland Hotel after which there is a scrum for a photo with the characters!|
We treated ourselves to dinner at Walt's on Main Street for our last evening here. We had come here earlier on the tour to the restaurant dediated to Walt Disney. The restaurant had different rooms which were themed to each land within the park. We were seated in a room which represented Fantasyland. The meal was delicious and generous. I took the younger two back to hotel whilst Malcolm took Elliot around the park before bedtime.
|Back to Walt's for dinner|
|Not game enough to play it!|
|This time we got to upstairs|
|The room where our table is|
|Beautiful artwork all around depicting Fantasyland|
|The children's meal|
|The very large Walt's burger with foie gras...|
So after our four days here, I thought I'd share my feelings on the Disneyland Paris Resort. In the interest of full disclosure, I need to insert my disclaimer that the last time I went to Tokyo was as a teenager and so I have not been to Tokyo Disney Sea. I also have not visited Hong Kong since the new expansion opened.
I feel that Disneyland Paris Resort is definitely worth visiting. It has a lot going for it. Disneyland Paris is hands down the most beautiful of all the Disney Parks world wide. It isn't merely the castle that is stunning but also the the way the Disneyland Park has been built, themed and landscaped. Main Street is simply gorgeous, as is Fantasy Land. Walt Disney Studios has its own kind of charm but does seem rather haphazardly put together. It is nowhere near Paris' Disneyland Park in terms of appearance and number of attractions. One thing that does not seem to be talked about much is that the resort has quality attractions, some of which are far superior than those of its American cousins. Examples include Big Thunder Railroad, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Space Mountain and Autopia. Pirates was better than Walt Disney World, but not as good as Anaheim. It also has great unique attractions such as Crush's Coaster and Cinemagique.
Where Disneyland Paris stumbles is the quality of the cast members. They play such a big part of making the guests experience magical, and sadly, only about a quarter of the cast members at most, came close to their American counterparts. During our visit, about half the cast members that we encountered were average and the other quarter downright terrible. Examples include being too busy chatting with each other to greet guests, curt reception at restaurants, poor control at ride entrances, general lack of friendliness and happiness, the list goes on.
The other big issue is smoking within the parks. In this day and age where the dangers of smoking are well proven, I find it difficult to believe that a park which sells itself as family friendly appears to not take a stronger stance against smoking. On our first two days, crowd levels were low and thus it was easy to avoid the the odd smoker. However, once the time came for parades and the main show, it was difficult to avoid the smokers. They were everywhere, and shamefully included parents with young children. This was amplified tenfold yesterday and especially today when the park was crowded. There were clearly dedicated smoking areas around the park, except it was empty as the smokers were all over the park! Even though we came pre-warned, it was still never the less unpleasant when we actually had to face it, and made it harder to enjoy the parks.
There are a few other things that I thought I'd mention. These may seem rather petty but I do feel that they add to the general "feel" of the park. The toilets were generally in poor condition being either dirty, too small or smelly, so much so that we made a big effort to not have to visit any toilet within the parks. The Christmas decorations were nice but lacked the amazing detail and wow factor of those at Walt Disney World, certain bits actually looked cheap. One that comes to mind immediately is the big Christmas tree at the front of the park. General running of the parks need to be smoother. You would never see bins being cleaned and changed, or other various things being set up right on opening time at the American parks! It would either be already done or "hidden".
Whilst beauty isn't enough to make a park but lacklustre castmembers and smoking doesn't break it either. These issues if fixed would make Disneyland Paris very close to being as good as or dare I say it, even better than the original Disneyland in Anaheim or Walt Disney World. Malcolm, however, insists that it isn't the same without Splash Mountain and more impotantly, there needs to be more Spanish renditions of "Please stand clear of the doors".
We have really enjoyed our time here at Disneyland Paris. We had an experience that was more than just simply "the last castle ticked off". However, for now, we will return to the American Parks for what we get there is the complete magical experience. And to us, thats what Disney is about.