Saturday, 27 December 2008

Disneyland Paris - Hier kom ons!!!

We just returned from Christmas at Disneyland Paris and wow - amazing!!! We drove there which was very easy - 1.5 hours to the Channel Tunnel at Folkestone, to make it just in time at 5:30am for the 6:00am Eurotunnel crossing which took about half an hour. When you get to the other side you just ride off the train onto the highway which is a bit scary as it was still dark and you drive on the right and you don't really know where you are going and the Garmin takes you on a wild goose chase - but we got there safe and sound in around 3.5 hours. The rest of the afternoon we spent exploring the Val' de Europe shopping center which reminded me a lot of the ones we have in SA (why can't the UK get them right?) and then we checked into our hotel, went for a swim (jay indoor pool with slide) and then went for dinner at Val' de Europe.

On the 24th we dressed very warmly and got on the bus that goes to Disney and once you're inside its just like you imagined it, the way it seems on all those tv adverts - really magical. Well for me anyway, and hopefully for the girls, not sure about Werner. First there is this huge Christmas tree, and then once you past that you are walking on Main Street USA and then you see the beautiful pink and gold castle - wonderful. Disney music plays all the time, fake snow falls on Main Street USA, the shops look like something from a movie - everything is just perfect.

But back to business (and its serious business). First we headed to a ride called 'Its a small World' - we waited about 20 minutes in the queue (the only bad thing about Disney -queues everywhere even on the day before Christmas at 5 degrees celcius) but then someone in front of us went into another queue and we followed them and voila!! We were in front!! Feeling really sorry for the people we past (yea right), we got on the little boat and off we went. The ride features a multitude of audio-animatronic figures in the style of children of the world singing the ride's title track 'It's a small world, after all' , which has a theme of global peace. It is sooo cute and the girls loved it. Some of the dolls' mouths actually move like they are singing the song, and their costumes and sets are incredible. This is really a great ride as it is suitable for all ages, I just wish we could go again, but no time, no time - we had to rush to the next ride.

I can't really remember what we did next, but we did Peter Pan's Flight, Dumbo the Elephant (for Silke), Carousel with horses (for Silke), Pirates of the Caribbean (luckily Silke was sleeping with this one so Werner and I took turns and Mieke got to go twice which was great). We went on the Disney Railroad which is a train which takes you around the whole park which was great as it gave us time to relax a bit. Werner and Mieke also went on Big Thunder Mountain which is as scary as it sounds but Mieke loved it. We also saw a show on ice (Mickey's jolly holiday) and then that evening watched the parade which was beautiful and perfectly done. Characters from Lion King, Toy Story, all the princess stories as well as all the evil witches from the princess stories were there.

After an exciting day we went to Cafe Mickey for dinner. This is a very popular place but we weren't that impressed. We waited ages to get in (even with a reservation) and the food is very mediocre. What makes this place is the characters (Mickey Mouse, Pluto, Goofey, Eeh Ohre, Smee, Gepetto) that come to your table and sign your autograph book (which is quite absurd if you think about it). And now and then they will play loud music while the waiters dance on the tables. But I found it hilarious as the characters all came straight to our table because Silke is so cute, and then my kids especially Mieke would not give them any attention (Pa se kind) while jealous onlookers watch enviously with the specially bought autograph books clutched under their arms and their cameras within reach. Silke later on started to like them, and would sit at the table calling Mickey Mouse - "Mouse, come here!! Come here Mouse!" They also really like the dessert which was a small buffet with chocolate mousse and chocolate brownies and best of all - smarties!! Silke had none of her food and then a plate of smarties - happiness!!

On Christmas day we opened our presents (we kept it small) and then went for breakfast. Father Christmas was there handing out chocolate chip men (instead of gingerbread men) and naartjies. Silke took one of each, broke the man's leg off and gave the leftovers to Werner, and then ate two naartjies. After breakfast we filled our flask with mulled wine (which we heated in our room kettle - don't tell) and went to the park again.

First we raced for the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters and as it was early we were in luck. We did it twice in a row without really queing. Mieke and Silke both loved this ride. The description for this ride - "Spin your Star Cruisers 360 degrees while you fire moveable, hand-held laser cannons.
Blast enemy targets and amass points, then compare your high-score with other Space Rangers or go for a personal best." This was really cool and by the second time Silke got more than 2000 points shooting targets!! Don't ask me how she did this, I was too busy shooting myself.

After this we went on another space rocket ride and then we walked around a bit until it was time for our Christmas lunch - at Auberge de Cendrillion restaurant in Fantasyland. A wonderful experience from start to finish. When you arrive they first ask if your child would like a photo taken with Cinderella (I think - not so clued up on the who's who of princesses), but both my children were too shy and would not go near her. So they showed us to our table which was in a little alcove - just perfect. Its a french restaurant and really beautifully decorated, fireplaces, beautiful lights, wallpaper etc. They brough the adults coctails and the kids had their own classy little french menus which they could take home and also had a place for autographs - we are now the proud owner of Sleeping Beauty's Signature which says: Sleeping Beauty. And Suzy the mouse. What can I say...

Soon after we arrived Suzy the mouse from Cinderella, Ariel (Mermaid) and her prince came to visit our table. The really look quite unreal - especially the prince who looked like a Ken doll. Mieke was still quite shy but at least I got her to wear her princess dress. Silke loved the mouse and got a nice cuddle (Oooh I'm starting to talk like the English!). She also posed eagerly with everyone who visited us. Later Mieke also started enjoying this and we got a nice photo of her as well. We had the most delicious food (except for the foie gras which I ate for the first and the last time ever - it repeated for the next two days!!). But the smoked salmon, cheeses, veal, lamb cutlets and dessert (3 little desserts on a plate) was delicious. Mieke got a chocolate Cinderella's slipper as well as strawberrry ice cream, pink milk topped with candyfloss and a chocolate brownie for dessert. I wanted to take a photo of Cinderella's slipper but she ate it before I even had a good look at it!!

Afterwards they both received a beautiful pink wand as a gift, which was a nice touch. A really wonderful experience - Disney with a bit of class.

After lunch (when in real life I would have preferred to go for a nap) we first watched a christmas show with Minnie Mouse and Pinnocchio and dancers and then headed to the Disney Studios.

We watched a show called Stitch Live which was really amazing - especially for us as Lilo and Stitch is a favourite video in our house. Its difficult to explain but basically Stitch is on this big screen and they explain that he was very naughty as he stole a space ship and is flying around with it. Stitch then talks to the audience and then surprisingly really interacts with them. For instance he would get the 'presenter' to pick out a girl in the audience and then he would ask her questions. He asked this one lady to spell her name as he said she was his new girlfriend and he would like to name a new planet he found after her. He spelled the name incorrectly and then his ears droop and his eyes goes all wide and he will say: "Stitch made a mistake. Stitch so sorry" and then tell the computer to "Delete" and then the computer blows up the planet!!! Instead of deleting the incorrect letter. This was really amazingly done.

We went on another few rides and wanted to do Crush's Coaster but when we got there the queue was already 60 minutes long (at least they tell you before you start) so we left that. We then visited the Disney museum and took the girls shopping. They could each choose one thing of not more than 20 euros and Mieke chose a Limited Edition Minny Mouse in a gold dress and Silke chose a play set with rubbery plastic characters of Mickey, Minny, Donald Duck, Pluto and one other which I can't remember. Then it was time to have a last look around and say goodbye to Disney. I wanted to see the parade again, but we were so tired and suffering from stimulation overload, so we headed back.

Disneyland is really amazing, and we all enjoyed it a lot, even Werner who probably had to make an effort to get into the swing of things. Because as I write all this it seems so silly, but when you are there and you see 'Sully' from Monsters Incorporated sitting on this huge chair by Boo's Door and Minny Mouse dancing in her red Christmas outfit with snow falling down, and you get that first glimpse of Sleeping Beauty's castle - the magic seems quite real.

Would I recommend Disneyland Paris for Christmas? If I had a choice I would probably rather spend the day with our family in Betties Bay, eating and drinking too much and then going for a loooong nap in the afternoon with the sun baking down on me. But if I can't have that then Disneyland is definitely the next best but totally different thing.

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