I am finally getting around to finishing my posts about our lovely trip to Europe! While I had written most of them while we were there, it was pretty difficult to edit them and post as we went, especially as I was operating solely on wi-fi because Canadian data plans are the worst. So please excuse the time travel!
We ditched the cultural centre that is Paris, waved goodbye to the Arc de Triomphe, and got on the RER to Disneyland.
I felt a little guilty doing it. I mean, here we were in Paris, and we were going to waste an entire day at an American tourist trap? What?? I told myself that Kaleb needed a day of kid fun; but really, we all did. I can’t be an hour away from Disney and not go!
There were extra magic hours from 8-10am, but we stayed offsite in an Airbnb in Paris, so we arrived just before 9:30. (Taking the RER couldn’t be easier – Disney is the last stop!) At 9:30 they let us into the main hub of the park. We took pictures in front of the castle, got some breakfast (beignets!), and waited at the Frontierland entrance. Getting to Disney parks a half hour before the posted opening is always key! We were able to walk directly to the Big Thunder Mountain entrance.
The only weird part was that they stopped us outside the queue entrance… was it not quite 10 yet? Nope, the ride was down! Ultimate Disney dilemma: do you wait for the ride to open, or do you cut your losses and try again later? They were running empty trains pretty consistently, and when we saw a train go with a single rider in the back we decided it must be something fairly simple since an employee was on the train.We sent my husband to get us Star Tours fast passes and made it back just as they opened the ride! It worked out well for us, because in January when we visited Magic Kingdom in Disney World the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train was closed for half a day. (Key difference: Mine Train had not been sending trains around the track. The more you know.)
Disneyland Paris utilizes the old school paper fast pass system, but luckily the parks are small enough that it isn’t too much trouble to dart around. After getting used to the My Disney Experience app in Walt Disney World, I was nervous to return to the old ways, but paper fast passes worked well at Disneyland Paris. Especially since the crowd levels were so much lower, we didn’t really need the fast passes at all.
I have to say, I think Big Thunder Mountain at Disneyland Paris is my new favourite coaster. It had more oomph and more dark than its Florida and California predessecors, and it was just so much fun! I had wondered if European ride regulations were stricter since the ride heights were different for a few favourites, but no, everything seems to be a step up in Paris! Waiting in front of Phantom Manor, on the front porch with its foreboding closed doors; seeing Canada represented in It’s a Small World; Ratatouille: L’Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy… it was like discovering Disney for the first time!
Kaleb was finally tall enough for Star Tours and Tower of Terror. We had been preparing him for months, and he’s been looking forward to Star Tours since his first trip to Disney. I had him watch ride videos on YouTube so that he would know what to expect, but even still he had a little fright in the boiler room line for Tower of Terror and started crying. He didn’t want to leave, he was just nervous, but stuck it out like a champ. We talked about how much he had been looking forward to it, and how when we watched the ride videos everyone was happy when they got off. He did much better once he was on the ride, and even admitted that while it was really scary it was lots of fun.
We used rider switch for the first time on both Rockin’ Roller Coaster and Hyperspace Mountain. It really is a great system. Two people go on the ride as normal and before exiting, they just have to ask for a rider switch (or baby swap) pass. Then, the person who remained behind can return with one other passenger and enter the fastpass line. The child must be too small to ride. I always thought that the child had to wait too, but they actually can’t go in the queue at all, so as long as you’re back before the people getting the rider switch pass you can go do another ride or get a treat with the too-small kiddo! It’s a great way for everyone to do what they want!
Speaking of Hyperspace Mountain: OMG you guys! I knew that they had recently upgraded Space Mountain to a Star Wars theme; but I did not know it was a special, limited-time thing. I was a little confused by the theming of the queue… why did it look like an old train station with solar systems? Was I missing a parallel between the “new frontiers”, space vs the old west? (Sidebar: getting older sucks because not only did I ponder this dilemma for the entire line, I also said things like “it must be difficult for their gardeners to find plants that give the atmosphere they want but will survive in the climate.”) But apparently the theming issues are because the ride is normally themed off of Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon. As soon as the ride started though, the only thing I was thinking was, “This is amazing!”
Kaleb loved the Cars Quatre Roues Rallye. We had always planned on taking him to Disneyland in California for their Carsland for his third birthday, but settled on Walt Disney World instead for a few reasons, including the fact that he wasn’t quite tall enough for all of the rides there. Our trip to Paris really solidified my Disneyland love though, and I think it’s going to have to be in the cards for a future trip to Disney!
I don’t know if this is horrible to say, but after a week of catching trains, planning restaurants, and deciding which museums to visit and which to skip; it was so nice to spend a day where there was no obligation to see everything and learn something or experience something new. It was a much needed refresher, because travelling is exhausting! Sometimes, you just need fun. And Disney always delivers on the fun!