Saturday, 31 May 2008

French Food

Just because you're in Disneyland Resort Paris doesn't mean you can't step outside and enjoy some of the delicacies of France. France is famous for some of its amazing foods - frog's legs and snails come to mind.
So, remember to try some real French foos - such as these delicious Mickey Mouse Beef Burgers - only €2. mouth is watering - delightful! Although maybe they're not authentically French.

Friday, 30 May 2008

Howdy Partners

One of the statues seen at most of the Disney Magic Kingdom parks throughout the world is the Partners Statue. Whilst Disneyland Paris has the statue, it is actually in the Walt Disney Studios Park. Once you exit Disney Studio 1 you come face to face with the statue of Walt Disney holding Mickey Mouse, pointing behind you.

Whilst I miss the statue from Parc Disneyland, I think that its inclusion in the Studios is great. Because the park is dedicated to Walt Disney and his movie legacy, it makes sense to have the statue greet you when you enter the main part of the park.

The Partners Statue is located in an area that is currently undergoing a re-vamp. Originally name Production Courtyard, the area is being transformed into Hollywood Blvd, mainly thanks to the construction of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.
My only issue with the statue being there is that Walt is pointing towards something - in the Magic Kingdom parks, I get the impression he is pointing over what he has created, as if to say 'Look how far we've come, Mickey!'. But in Walt Disney Studios, when the park was opened, there wasn't really very much my opinion, not that much to be proud of. However, you could interpret Walt in this park as saying 'Look how much we can do here, Mickey!', showing more optimism than in the Magic Kingdom parks.

Talking about comparing Magic Kingdom parks, please take some time to have a look at the fantabulous 5 Kingdoms blog. CheriBibi does a great job looking at the different Magic Kingdom-style parks, with some amazing photos!

Perfect Voices...

I'm going to do a post tonight, after work, but I thought I'd quickly share this with you. The BBC website has an article today about the perfect voice, and the celebrities who would help make up this 'perfect voice'.

Funnily enough, for women the voice would contain elements of Dame Judi Dench, and for men it would contain elements of Jeremy Irons. Coincidence? I think not... Read the full article here.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Inside Disney Studio 1

Before we can fully enter the Walt Disney Studios Park we need to enter Disney Studio 1, a building based on a large studio soundstage. Inside you are transported into a Hollywood movie set, a fantastical Sunset Boulevard, with shops and restaurants and ever changing scenery.

The benefits of this being a soundstage is that the weather, lighting and effects can all be controlled. There are neon lights everywhere and so many photo opportunities, it is breathtaking and a lot of fun! The whole right-hand side of the Studio holds the Restaurant En Coulisse, which sits behind some facades for some of Hollywood's most famous sites, such as The Brown Derby, Schwab's Pharmacy, and Liki Tiki. The left-hand side hosts the Legends of Hollywood gift shop, for all you Disneyland Paris gift needs, and has entrances to Shutterbugs and the Gossip Column 'shops' to name but a few.
Disney Studio 1 is an experience in itself, with a large backdrop that transports you from night to day in a matter of seconds, thanks to projections and lighting effects. The area also contains some fantastic live entertainment - bands and streetmosphere characters can regularly seen 'cruising' up and down Sunset Boulevard. Additionally, it was originally going to be called 'Lights, Camera, Hollywood!' but was changed at the last minute to 'Disney Studio 1'. You can still see the remnants of the name with many of the props labelled 'LCH'.

During the changeable Parisian weather, Disney Studio 1 is a great place to hang out while waiting for the rain to ease or the snow to stop. It can get very busy at lunchtimes due to the lack of eateries in the Park. So if you are lucky enough to visit Walt Disney Studios try and avoid eating at the Restaurant during lunch (12pm-2pm).

So, after our brief visit to Disney Studio 1, we'll be ready to enter the Walt Disney Studios Park! Excellent!

Monday, 26 May 2008

Memorabilia Monday

I thought it could be fun if every Monday I share with you some of my Disney memorabilia that I've collected throughout the years. Some of it to do with Disneyland Paris, but most of it to do with the American parks.

The first item I'd like to share with you is this fantastic patch I received from my fabulous friend who worked at Disneyland Resort Paris.

The patch was issued to Cast Members to celebrate the last ride of the original Space Mountain: De la Terre de la Lune (Space Mountain: From the Earth to the Moon) attraction in January 2005. Translation of the bottom of the part of the patch reads: Last journey before Mission 2.

The ride was updated, with new music and new theming, to be called Space Mountain: Mission 2, and re-opened in April 2005. You can read my previous post on Space Mountain here.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

A Quick Look Around the Front Lot

As you enter the Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris, you immediately meet with some of the well known characters from Walt Disney's Fantasia. There is a statue of Mickey Mouse as our beloved Sorcerer's Apprentice (the Fantasia Fountain), and to his front right one of the famous dancing brooms, complete with buckets of water. This area is known as the Place des Frères Lumière (Light Brothers' Place) During the Christmas and New Year period, you also get to meet the Christmas version of Mickey - with a fetching Santa-style coat.
The Front Lot area of the Walt Disney Studios has been stylised similarly to a 1930s Studio Lot. To me, however, it feels a bit like a holding area - somewhere where you're essentially waiting to enter the Park itself. In order to enter the attractions and shows of the Studios, you have to go through Studio 1, which we will have a look at another day. Meanwhile, the Front Lot has a couple of shops and a couple of lovely photo opportunities - Mickey Mouse's statue and the Earful Tower especially.
During the busier times of the year you can usually find a couple of characters hanging around the Front Lot too, ready to greet you before you enter the work of Motion Pictures. You may also get to see some genuine Europeans thoroughly enjoying their time at a Disney theme park (*note hints of sarcasm). There can also be some Streetmosphere shows - a particularly good one revolves around a Town Car and some 'movie stars'. If you're looking for more streetmosphere shows, however, heading inside Studio 1 will bring you face to face with more shows and more facets of Movie Making. Stay tuned for our visit to there!

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Let Me Introduce You

As we might be spending some time at the Walt Disney Studios, I thought we should pop back to the entrance and find out a little more about the park before we enjoy all of its offerings!

The park opened on March 16th 2002, and is the smallest of all the Disney theme parks. The park has suffered a lot of criticism, mainly for the lack of attractions upon opening. It is classically described as a 'half-day theme park', unfortunately, and is overlooked by a lot of guests. I do have to agree that there is not as much to do in this park as there is in it's sister park across the way, but it is still a fantastically fun Disney park. There are more shows than rides here, and there is also the famous Studio Tram Tour.
While the park, perhaps, doesn't have the same degree of theming as other Disney parks, it has been built to feel more like a film studio than anything else. Just looking at the park entrance you can tell what the theming of the park is - especially when you look at the detailing on the floor of spotlights.
Tomorrow, we're going to head into the park and explore some of the Front Lot. So please join us then! Also, please say hi and leave a comment to let me know if there is anything specific you would like me to cover, especially within the Paris theme parks. Thank you to all of you who read, too!

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Everyone Got Their Whips?

To celebrate the worldwide release of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, I thought I would introduce you to the Indiana Jones attraction at Disneyland Parc.
Indiana Jones et la Temple du Péril (& the Temple of Peril) is situated in Adventureland, near the back of the park, and is an outdoor rollercoaster. It opened at the end of July, 1993, and allows guests to be transported into a mining car, travelling through a mysterious and lost temple. DLRPMagic describes the story of the ride as follows:
Walk in the footsteps of Indiana Jones on an unforgettable expedition to a forgotten jungle civilisation. The first expedition to the Temple of Peril departed many many months ago... but they were never seen again.
Approaching the temple, the abandoned base camp and the thick vegetation doesn't look promising. The distant whirring of mine cars draws you closer, as you climb the imposing staircase to the temple entrance, where your adventure into the great unknown of the jungle really begins...
The expedition vehicle climbs the rickety chain lift to the top of the excavation site. Any sign of the first explorers down there? There's no time to even catch your breath - you're hurled suddenly into a twisting, turning, plunging ride around the temple ruins, driven around and around, over and under by the mysterious forces which reside here.
Forget the first expedition, you'll need all the courage of Indiana Jones to make sure you live to tell your own tale...

As you may or may not know, the original ideas for Parc Disneyland was to have a special Indiana Jones dedicated area, which would have had a full size rollercoaster (based on the Temple of Doom), a ride similar to the Indiana Jones ride found in Disneyland, and a Jungle Cruise-style ride. The rollercoaster that was built contains the first with an inversion in any Disney theme park and travels to a height of 52 feet.
During 2000, the attraction operated by going backwards, adding extra seats to the cars and also changing several props and lighting fixtures so as not to ruin the backward effect of the attraction. This also meant that for guests to enjoy the experience, some of the curves and drops had to be "softened". The attraction remained backwards until November 2004, when it was reversed back to its original forwards motion.

I was lucky enough to experience the ride backwards, and I have to say that it was an amazing ride! The unexpected nature of the loop was a ride in itself, and everything was just so much more intense. It's a shame that they have changed it to forwards again, as it takes away the original experience, but it doesn't make the ride any less exciting.

All you Indy fans, don't forget to check out Imaginerding for a look at something very special relating to Disneyland (California) and Main Street Gazette for even more Indy action!
(In the ride pictures, you might be able to see my dad looking up at the camera - and in the other one, you might be able to see me waving at the camera as we climb the hill backwards!)

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Let's Rock!

Continuing on with our 'Ticket To' series, I thought we should have a wee wander about Walt Disney Studios. So, let's enter and head over to one of the 'E ticket' attractions the park houses. And while we're there, we can grab a fastpass and then head on into Rock n' Roller Coaster avec Aerosmith!

The ride has the same premise as it's sister ride in Disney's Hollywood Studios, over in Orlando, Florida. You enter into a record company's building - Tour de Force records - and snake through it into a recording studio, where you find Aerosmith. They're talking about this amazing ride that Steve Tyler has just been on, and he's talking about the G-Forces that happen as the car rides off a loop.

During the queue line, the announcements are in French, but once you meet Aerosmith in the recording studio, they are speaking in English. The pre-show is slightly different to that of Disney's Hollywood Studios - apart from it being a different scene, the pre-show itself is shorter, allowing a quicker processing of guests. This is probably due to the large amount of non-English speaking tourists that will experience the attraction, and to save them standing impatiently watching something they can't understand.

Another difference between the two attractions is that this ride puts the guests in the situation of a music video (not the travel through the LA freeways to the Aerosmith concert); and instead of road signs throughout the ride itself, there are hundreds of lasers and flashing lights. The music is the exact same, though, but the 'limos' are SoundTrackers.

Construction for the ride began in May 2000, with the building itself constructed around the roller-coaster's steel supports and tracks. The finished attraction officially opened on March 16th 2002. Interestingly, the large and shiny CD disc 'prop' on the outside of the building was originally destined to be the entrance to the attraction, but ended up being place on the side. There was also talk of the attraction's exterior having a superb light and laser-show, similar to that inside, but this never happened.

It's one of my favourite attractions at the Walt Disney Studios in Paris, and on a quiet evening it's very easy to go on the ride at least 12 times in a row (that's what I could do - 16 in a day). It's possibly not as story based as the Florida attraction, but if you look for the story you can see it, and sometimes those are the best rides. The ones that have a story but it's not spelled out for you.

So what are we waiting for - do we all have our fastpasses? Let's go!

Monday, 19 May 2008

Underneath Your Feet

I know that there are lots of different things people go to the Disney theme parks to enjoy - some it's for the character hunting, others they enjoy looking at crates. For me, I love to look at floors.
I don't get to photograph nearly as many floors as I would like to, due to various things, but I love them! I'll use this blog to post some of my favourite Disney floors - and today I'm going to start with one at Walt Disney Studios, Paris.

These 'tiles' are spread throughout the main parade route in the Walt Disney Studios, so that daily the crowd know where they can sit (without the need for ropes). They're patterned to look like a movie reel going along the crowd - great detailing yet again!

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Spotlight On...Le Carrousel de Lancelot

As we are approaching summertime, and children will be off school, I thought that we should pop over to Fantasyland and relive our inner-child. Plus it's a good excuse to look over one of the most famous attractions in all the Disney theme parks.

Le Carrousel de Lancelot, or Lancelot's Carousel, is situated in Fantasyland behind le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant. This carousel is rather unique for a number of reasons, specifically because it has 5 rows of horses, allowing you and four friends to ride side-by-side. Additionally, it is the first carousel in all the Disney theme parks to have chariots in the ride, which means that guests who cannot climb a horse can still ride the carousel.

The horses themselves also have a great deal of history and detailing behind them. The 16 horses on the outer ring were designed by Joe Leonard, an American carver. Once these horses were finished, they were sent to Florida where they were painted, each one's armour individually detailed with a golden shimmer, which was produced through using 24-carat gold leaf. The inner horses, made by fiberglass, each have colourful armour and have been arranged in order of the colours of the rainbow. They have also been modelled after the horses on the carousel in the Magic Kingdom, Florida.

The outer horses each weigh 250 pounds, and are 6 and a half feet tall! The chariots in use date back to 1917 and were built by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company, and have been updated by Disney to also be decorated in 24-carat gold leaf, as well as copper and aluminium leaf.

Le Carrousel de Lancelot is a beautiful carousel, and at present is the largest in Europe. And whilst you're enjoying yourself on the attraction, you can listen to a selection of tunes from 'Beauty and the Beast', 'Aladdin' and many other Disney movies. And - like most of Parc Disneyland - it's a breathtaking site at night.

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Saturday's Funny

Taking a small break from our tour of the Disneyland Resort Paris, I wanted to share with you all this slightly funny picture I took on a trip to Disneyland in 2006. I was visiting my friend who worked at the Resort, and we have a crazy Disney sense of humour, and we saw this sign:
The full sign was 'Nothing Makes a Child Smile More' and it was for one of the shops on Main Street. But we read it wrong at first and thought it just said 'Nothing Makes a Child Smile' - which we found very funny, and very harsh in a Disney park!

So we took a picture, cutting out the 'More' and had a good laugh about that for the rest of the day. Hopefully some of you out there will also find it funny and smile. If not, maybe that shop was meant for you...

Friday, 16 May 2008

Ticket To...Disneyland Hotel

Welcome to the final stop on our tour of the hotels - the Disneyland Hotel. This is where we'll be staying while we visit the parks - as it is attached the Disneyland Park, it's a great place to rest our heads. To enter the park you actually have to go underneath the hotel - a fantastic concept and a great way to save some space, as well as provide a superior and unique guest experience.

A clearly Victorian styled hotel, you can see major similarities between the Disneyland Hotel and the Grand Floridian hotel in Walt Disney World. Highlighting that famous pink colour that seems to be synonymous with Disneyland Paris (thanks Ryan!), there are beautiful balconies, Mansard roofs and even the unique Mickey Mouse tower clock!

The hotel opened in April 1992, along with the park, and was designed by the Wimberly Allison Tong & Goo architects and Walt Disney Imagineering. Namely the Imagineers that worked on Main Street U.S.A, in order to coordinate with the theming of the entrance to the park. This is the most prestigious and pricey of the Disneyland Resort Paris hotels, and you can tell this as soon as you walk into the lobby.

There are 496 hotel rooms in the resort, with 18 suites, and even a 'Castle Club' with it's own elevator where the most expensive suites are.
Did I hear you ask about drinking and dining at the Disneyland Hotel? Well, if you don't feel like popping into the park to eat, you can dine in style with "haute cuisine" at the 'California Grill' or have a family-style buffet and 'Inventions' restaurant. And to enjoy some more of those delicious cocktails, pop into Cafe Fantasia for a nice, relaxing atmosphere with some piano music also.

Of course, sometimes it's just as nice to pop outside and have a look at the wonder of this building at night time. Isn't it breathtaking?

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Ticket To...Hotels

We're almost finished our whirlwind tour of Disneyland Resort Paris - bet you're looking forward to getting into the parks and having some time to actually look around? All this 'hotel hopping' can be tiresome for a Princess!
Anyway, today's post is going to be a brief look at the other Disneyland Resort Paris hotels that exist a little further afield. While the previously mentioned hotels are within walking distance, the Resort also has 3 hotels that are accessible by shuttle bus. I have not had the chance to visit these hotels, so apologies for the lack of suitable photos, but I thought you might like to hear about them before heading to our final hotel.

Situated behind Hotel New York, the Hotel Cheyenne is themed around cowboys and the old
 American West. The hotel was designed by Robert A.M. Stern (remember him from Newport Bay Club?), and gives the impression of a stereotypical Western town as seen through the eyes of Hollywood, using facades and other styles of decoration. One of Disney's 2 key resorts, most of the rooms have bunk beds, making it a great destination for families. There is also the 'Chuck Wagon Cafe' buffet restaurant and the 'Red Garter Saloon' for some rest, food and drink!

Following on from this, the Hotel Santa Fe is another great place for families to rest their weary heads after long days at the Disneyland Paris Parks. This hotel was designed by Antointe Predock, with the theme being inspired by motels of Santa Fe, New Mexico, and the Southwest of USA. The hotel's decor includes a large drive-in movie theatre board showing a picture of Clint Eastwood, western style; plenty of cacti, and a large neon
 sign out front. And no doubt you want to know what there is for eating and drinking? You can stop off at 'La Cantina' for a nice Mexican buffet, or pop into 'Rio Grande Bar' for some cocktails and karaoke. Yes, I did say karaoke!

Interestingly enough, the two resorts - Cheyenne (Western Styled) and Santa Fe (Mexican Styled) - are divided by a man-made river named the Rio Grande. The actual Rio Grande separates Texas from Mexico - yet another small detail that the Imagineers paid attention to in designing the Resort.

Our final hotel we're going to look at is the Davy Crockett Ranch, which is a campground with camping spots and log cabins - similar to that of Fort Wilderness in Walt Disney World. The cabins are spread across a number of trails, and the village has all the regular amenities, such
 as swimming pool, shops, restaurants, etc. This resort is the furthest of them all, about 15 minutes drive from the parks, but that only adds to the wilderness effect.  There are also several activities you can do while at the Ranch: horse riding, swimming, archery, basketball to name but a few. While staying in a cabin, you can collect your continental breakfast and take it back to eat; and for dinner you can head to 'Crockett's Tavern' for some good ol' fashioned meat! Of course, there's also 'Crockett's Saloon' for a nice cool drink at the end of a long day.

So, hopefully that gives you an idea of all the places you can stay at when you choose to visit Disneyland Resort Paris. This is, however, our virtual journey - so why don't we stay at the best of the best? Join me again tomorrow when we'll have a look at the Disneyland Hotel - our home during the 'Ticket To' series.

Happy Birthday, Imaginerding!

I'm a few days late, but I wanted to give a massive Happy Birthday shout out to the fantastic Disney Geeks - George & Andrew - over at Imaginerding. Their fantastic blog has been going for 1 year now - it was their birthday on Sunday, but as I have been caught up in other life factors, I am only mentioning this now. But, better late than never!

I imagine that the majority of you visiting my site already visit Imaginerding on a daily basis - but if you don't, you have to! It's one of the most interesting and definitive blogs in the Disney Community, and you can tell that George & Andrew put a lot of hard work and effort into it. It's also one of the best places to find out about old, new and upcoming Disney books - and they've certainly helped me (and the rest of the Community) empty our pockets, and add to our Amazon wish lists.

So, if you haven't already, head over to Imaginerding and wish them a (belated) Happy Birthday. Thanks for all your hard work, Disney Geeks!

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Ticket To...Newport Bay Club

Next stop on our whirlwind tour of the Disneyland Resort Paris is that of the Disney's Newport Bay Club hotel.

Situated directly across from the New York hotel we looked at on Monday, the Newport Bay Club Hotel was designed by Robert A. M. Stern. When you first look at the hotel, do you notice any similarities to other Disney hotels? Perhaps the Yacht and Beach Club hotels near Epcot in Walt Disney World? Well, that would be because they, too, were designed by Stern and opened two years prior to the Newport Bay Club hotel.
The hotel's theming is that of the Cape Cod and New England areas, with plenty of nautical references, and it was named after Newport in Rhode Island. In traditional Disney style the theming of the resort continues to the lakeside, where there is a petite lighthouse as you walk towards the Sequoia Lodge. As of today, the hotel is the largest on Disneyland Paris property, with 1098 rooms.

For those of you landlubbers who fancy a bite to eat, you can dine at 'Cape Cod' or the 'Yacht Club', then you can wash that all down with some rum at 'Fisherman's Wharf' or the 'Captain's Quarters' bars. Another favourite of this hotel is the character dining opportunities, at both breakfast and dinner. The resort is very family orientated, and a beautiful place to spend some time in.
That said, we can't spend too long at one location! Hold on to your tickets - just a few more hotels left before we can get back to the parks. Tally-ho!

Monday, 12 May 2008

Ticket To...Sequoia Lodge

After visiting the Hotel New York, and helping Ryan from Main Street Gazette find a place to stay when he visits Disneyland Paris, let's have a look at the Sequoia Lodge, further around the lake.

Based upon the American National Park lodges, the hotel is similar in theming to Wilderness Lodge in Walt Disney World. The beautiful hotel was designed by the French architect Antoine Grumbach, and opened it's 1011 guest rooms in April 1992 (along side the opening of EuroDisney itself).

On my family's most recent trip last December we stayed at the Sequoia Lodge, so in a future post I'd like to do a 'spotlight on' this hotel. I have plenty of pictures and memorabilia to share with you, so this is just a quick stop at this beautiful lakeside hotel.
Now, let's head onwards!

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Ticket To...Hotel New York

As we exit the Disney Village, the first hotel we come to (presuming we're going clockwise around the lake, which we are!) is the Hotel New York. And although you don't need a park ticket for the hotel, I'm going to request that you show the tickets to me before our tour.
The hotel is based on the theme of New York City - funny that, considering the name! The facade of the building is based on New York skyscrapers, each section of the building falling under a different style. Out front of the hotel is a large area which, in the summer, is a water feature and during the winter seasons it is a large ice skating rink - similar to something from Rockefeller Centre in New York!
Once inside the building you could be forgiven for recognising the styling of the interior - it's very similar to that of the Swan and Dolphin in Walt Disney World. That's because these hotels same the same architectural styling of Michael Graves. The restaurants in the hotel are also based around the New York City theming, with the Manhattan Restaurant and Parkside Diner (a great place for breakfast!). And there's the fantastic New York City Bar, to have a nice drink or cocktail at the end of the day. Oh, and for those cocktail lovers (non-alcoholic too!) the cocktails at Disneyland Paris are the best!

As with every Disney hotel, the theming of the hotel is kept right down to the last details. Even the shower curtains in the hotel room show the hotel's logo! Plus, in the lobby, there is a fantastic Taxi where you can pose for photos, and in the morning meet with Minnie Mouse. Of course, the taxi is probably made for the under-8s, but everyones a kid at Disney, right?

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Ticket To...Disney Village

Taking some time out from the parks, I think we should have a little look around the Disney Village.
Opening on April 12th, 1992, the Village was originally called Festival Village, and is based on the Downtown Disney area of Walt Disney World. It's the gateway to the shopping area of the Disneyland Resort Paris, with the usual Disney shops - the regular Disney Store, Disney Fashion shop and the Disney Gallery.
The area also contains several unique and delightful restaurants. One of my favourites, Annette's Diner, is the best place to eat after a long day at the parks! Based on a 'traditional' (i.e. stereotypical) American diner, the food is based on good American fayre, and the servers move around on rollerskates! Of course, there are many other places to eat at, as you can see from the map above.

So it's definitely a good idea to have a walk around here. Of course, this is also the gateway to some of the main Disneyland Resort Paris hotels. Let's head over to a couple of them!