I’m back from my trip to Disneyland Paris. Your present? Photos & video. Lots of them…
This was my first time in Disneyland Paris and 2nd time in any sort of proper theme park (first being Universal Studious, Orlando 7 years ago). The park is broken in to two separate parks – ‘Walt Disney Studios Park’ & ‘Disneyland Park’. Walt Disney Studios is smaller and more suitable for adults (more thrill rides here)… certainly the better of the two if you’re sick of all the pink, fluffy stuff in the main Disneyland Park.
The main Disneyland Park however is much bigger than Walt Disney Studios park, plus it’s open later (11pm -v- 7pm), so if you’re tied for time, go to Walt Disney Studios first, then when it’s kicking out time there, you’ll still have 3 or 4 hours in the Disneyland Park at which stage the crowds should have died down and that was one major problem… crowds.
At times it was ridiculously crowded to the extent i became very conscious of the fact i couldn’t take a few steps without having to change direction. Once i noticed that, i pressed the record button on my camera, held it by my side and recorded the view if front of me as i walked along… (i’ll upload that video at a later date) let this serve as a warning to people who don’t like crowds and head to Disneyland at peak season 🙂
Average wait time for rides was probably 45-60 minutes and we only figured out on the last day you can get free ‘fast pass’ tickets at certain attractions if you book in advance. That doesn’t mean no queues, it just means shorter queues but every little helps 🙂
At night, there is a parade and fireworks show, definitely worth a look and i got some excellent fireworks & disney castle silhouette photos. I’ve read a lot of reviews and comments from people lately saying how run down Disneyland Paris has got and how it’s basically a cheap knock off of it’s American cousin but for first time visitors like me, i couldn’t really knock the place apart from the crowds. It appeared to be well staffed, fully functional, well looked after etc…
I also think a lot of people don’t realise that the first time is most likely always going to be a more positive experience than the rest, mainly because you know what to expect 2nd time around and you’re not going to be wowed be anything. You’re probably looking a lot harder for faults and more inclined to take mental notes of them.
Here’s a list of roller coasters / thrill rides i went on (everything!);
- Space Mountain 2
- Indiana Jones
- Rock n Rollercoaster
- Thunder Mountain
- The Hollywood Tower Hotel
- Crush Coaster
Space Mountain 2 was the ‘best’ in that it had more unexpected twists and turns than the rest plus it threw you around more. It felt faster than the rest even though on paper it’s not. Wikipedia says it’s max speed is 75.6km/hr. Nothing in a car but it’s a different ball game upside down at sharp angles with the wind in your face 🙂
The accolade of fastest roller-coaster goes to the ‘Rock ‘n’ Roller coaster’. From wikipedia, “The coaster accelerates from 0 to 57 miles per hour in 2.8 seconds (making this the fastest ride at Disneyland Paris). The riders experience 4.5g as they enter the first inversion, more than an astronaut does on a space shuttle launch.”
You can feel the speed all right on this one and it’s constant, unlike most others which are sort of stop / start / teasing. It definitely wasn’t the toughest to sit through though. To start off, it takes you at low speed to a big screen with a ‘3-2-1’ countdown timer on it. As you’re queuing to get on the ride, you can see this ‘blast off’ which is where a lot of people chicken out. The train literally blasts off at insane speed but that’s probably the most nerve wrecking bit because you don’t really know what that will feel like until you’re doing it yourself.
The Hollywood Tower Hotel is worth a mention because it looks the most intimidating from the outside. You can see the tower from all over the park and hear the screams from the people inside. In a nutshell it shoots you up and down a lift shaft, opening the doors to reveal the outside world along the way (the building is 199m tall). It can pull you down faster than gravity so that’s a strange sensation because you’re literally strapped in to your seat by your seat belt – if that seat belt wasn’t there you’d be floating in mid air (all be it temporarily), probably fall out and do some serious damage 🙂 However my girlfriend was hanging on so tight to the seat she never actually experienced being lifted off the seat / dropping faster than gravity! If you know somebody that is scared of lifts, this is definitely the worst possible ride you could take them on The type of stuff that gives kids nightmares.
We stayed at the Dream Castle Hotel, close to Disneyland. The hotel provides a free shuttle bus back and forth to Disneyland which runs every 20 minutes until midnight. The Hotel itself was pretty crowded but that’s to be expected during peak season. Rooms were pretty big as were the lobby & dining rooms, so it could handle large volumes of people flocking down for buffet breakfast.
Attention to detail was lacking though, for example check out is 12pm and breakfast runs until 11am – nothing wrong with that. But as we were getting ready to leave (from about 11am onwards), cleaning staff knocked the door and came in twice, possibly 3 times in the space of an hour or less. Most modern hotels can tell if / when people check out and clean rooms accordingly. We could easily have gone down for breakfast, let them clean the room, then come back in and messed the place up.
Another thing i noticed was the room keycard… check it out below;
Notice anything wrong? Well there *would* be nothing wrong if they owned the domain name dreamcastel-hotel.com and redirected it to their official site dreamcastle-hotel.com. A major typo mistake on their keycards and one i couldn’t live with if i was handing out cards with the wrong url on them. This could easily be rectified if they were to buy the ‘wrong’ domain name and redirect it to their actual domain name. It would cost about €8/year to fix this ‘problem’. If i was a scammer, i could easily replicate their official site and add a booking engine which pays me directly… i could then piggyback on the free publicity the hotel would be giving me on all of their keycards…
Another minor gripe was the shuttle bus drivers. Most of the time, the shuttle bus would be full or ‘packed’ to the extent you literally couldn’t get on and had to wait for another bus (the bus goes around 4 different hotels). Not ideal if there are people with kids and buggies etc… but the bus drivers were woeful and completely oblivious to the fact that when people are standing and holding on to a rail or nothing at all, they can’t anticipate corners and braking. A good driver will treat passengers like eggs and smoothly brake / accelerate / move around corners but these guys were the complete opposite. Braking sharply when coming up to barriers without stopping, then braking again quickly to come to a complete stop… accelerating too early around corners… just completely unnecessary.
Putting on my ‘perspective’ hat and these are, of course, all ‘first world problems’ i had the luxury of coming across, but these are just some of the reasons why the Dream Castle Hotel gets a lot of so-so reviews on tripadvisor.
The weather was pretty poor the entire duration of our stay, bar the last day of course where the sun was out burning us all. On the Friday we went in to Paris city center and seen the Eiffel Tower & Notre Dame. Also caught a glimpse of the Pompidou center as we were walking around which i don’t think anyone else noticed or cared about 🙂
We took a river boat from the Eiffel Tower to Notre Dame and on the way i was telling my girlfriend about a fence i’d seen which has a load of locks on it. Couples attach locks to the fence and throw the key in to the river underneath. I didn’t have a clue where this was, i just knew it was in Paris and had seen it in a video on youtube, so just a few minutes later we stumbled upon it walking around the Notre Dame area…
Beauvais / Ryanair
This was the scene at Beauvais airport a few nights ago at about 10pm.. check in queues merged in to check in queues with the queue for security / departures stretching outside the terminal building! That inevitably leads to queue jumping, confusion & panic… things which put people off airlines, airports and air travel.
We arrived exactly 2 hours before the flight was due to leave and got to the departure gate (about a 2 minute walk from check in desks) about 90 minutes later, just as the flight was about to board. As i said earlier the queue for security was mental so one staff member was scrambling around shouting out flight numbers & destinations to bring passengers on those flights to the front of the queue as their plane was waiting.
We had a hassle free time with ezyshuttle.com (private bus) who i booked online. Always on time (meeting us at airport / hotel) and dropping us direct to airport door / hotel door for a return price of €240 (for 6). The public shuttle bus would have worked out at €180 return for 6, but it would have added on an extra 1 hour or more to our trip plus we’d have to get a connecting metro from the city centre where it drops you off, which would have involved (a) more time (b) more hassle & stress carrying around bags / wondering whether you’ll get sitting beside people on the bus (c) more expensive because we’d need return metro / RER tickets on top of the bus tickets.
If i were to head to away again, particularly with a bag to check in and with other people, i’d avoid Beauvais and Ryanair, even if they were cheaper. Not worth the hassle. I overheard someone on the plane saying the same thing. Beauvais is an airport badly in need of expansion and the victim of it’s own success.
Tomorrow, i’m heading to Cork for a couple of nights. Not quite as action packed as i’d planned (won’t be going near Kerry) but i should see and do plenty when i’m down there. So there’ll be more photos & video on the way. At the minute i have about 600 photos uploaded to my flickr from Paris. When i get back from Cork, i’ve another 500 or so to upload + whatever i have from Cork. Uploading video will be a slower process, i may or may not edit the dozens of clips i have in to one long video…