Posts Tagged ‘Disneyland Paris’

The park must base much of its economy on disposable items. The type of item that, when you buy it in the midst of the fun of Disneyland looks fantastic, when you get it home you think what were you thinking. For example, a Minnie Mouse ear headpiece cost ten euro and 50 per cent of the females in the park had bought one. While that’s charming when you are three, when you’re thirty the chances of wearing it to a social occasion outside of the park are pretty limited.

Balloons also have built-in obsolescence. The number of balloons that go drifting off to the heavens can’t be that much of a coincidence.

The attention to detail in the theming of this park is incredible. The cast members’ costumes, for example, are simply beautiful in some instances. (Phantom manor, Space Mountain 2) Quite honestly I’d love some of their clothes. Plus the design is clearly European, i.e. think warm.  Think very warm.

Equally the theming in the areas is impressive and unique to Disneyland Paris. Tomorrow land is completely inspired by Jules Verne; Fantasyland is influenced by olde European fairy tales.  Both look beautiful. Adventureland is less impressive though it amuses me to see people take pictures of the polystyrene mesas.

That is true of Disneyland, the other park here; Disneyland Movie studios is unbelievable in it’s completely rubbish theming. Think artificial backdrops, loads of “shows” rather than rides, dreary eating areas, the different areas merging into one without any unique identity (e.g. a Cars ride is opposite a finding Nemo ride is next to Toy Story Play land.)  When I take over Disneyland I am revamping this park completely.

While unbelievable attention is paid to the theming, the same cannot be said for the food services. Any food eateries in the park serve cold, reheated, expensive crap. It’s wonderful for the diet as you simply don’t eat however this is something I again am changing when I rule this place.  How each eateries works is you place an order in front of the food preparation area, are then given a receipt which you hand to the dull-witted but exquisitely tailored cast member who then grabs the been siting there for ten minutes food products and places them on a tray for you. While he wrestles with the complicated concepts of getting both a lemonade and coke zero from the dispenser, the food sits getting colder. By the time they achieve each drink item all the food is cold. So cold. That’s completely being revamped when I am king here.

Fascinatingly, a fun game to play is spot the country with the crowds. Italians are incredibly easy obviously due to their skin colouring; the French tend to be stylish in clothing and, ducks for cover, sort of pushy in lines. The British are tanned. Clearly not having learnt the terrors of the sun bed the British roam this place like tanned leather crocodiles. Some skin cancer doctor will be rolling in it in a few years.

I am a walking Chernobyl disaster. AS you know I have been sick all week, which has meant that while everyone has been dressing up in their winter warms against the alleged cold, I have been wandering around in a short sleeve shirt and wondering if they would mind if I took that off. It’s nice when people gravitate to you in lines as you warm them. A little girl told me, “Monsieur, you are so warm.” I’m not sure that is a good thing. Today when the sun came out I became freezing and had to wear my bitching jacket. People have been looking at me oddly all week. Then welcome to my life.

I’m not sure how it developed but you could drop me in the middle of any Disneyland and I could tell you the quickest, easiest access to any ride you mentioned.  I realized this today as I cut off ten minutes walking to the Pirates of the Caribbean Ride (still closed and the only ride my parents haven’t done this week. They are having conniptions.)  I am not sure this is a translatable skill though. Most Cast members only get paid crap wages and I can’t imagine anyone else paying me for such information.  Sadly this unique sense of navigational acumen does not translate into real life. If you stuck me on a street and spun me once   I would have no idea where I was.  Normally I have the directional sense of a lemming.

My mother’s favourite ride has been the Buzz Lightyear ride. Essentially you are given a laser and have to hit targets and score points. My mother then buys photos of her or Dad or me shooting at targets as the Buzz Lightyear game is, in fact, a massive money spinner. Particularly when my mum is here.  I have been made into a cup as a result of Buzz Lightyear ride.

My Dad’s favourite ride is Space Mountain 2 which is a roller coaster in a darkened environment with asteroids spinning around you, etc. My father has been on it 6 times. He has not had his eyes open once. He asked me “Did we go upside down?”  Bless him.  It is my desire to get a mug of my dad on Space Mountain 2 WITH his eyes open before we leave tomorrow.

Thank you for all the wonderful comments re the post Duets yesterday.  That it touched everyone so well was indeed a wonderful surprise. Thank you.


Read Full Post »


Perhaps it’s because I am still full of lurgy and feeling sorry for myself that my defences are down but I am misting up all the time here. I would never have thought this park would kill me so much on daily basis but each day I have witnessed something incredible that has had me reaching for the tissues.

It’s probably that everyone’s defences are down and people are prepared to have a wonderful time no matter how foolish they may look. Thus it is nothing to see mothers wearing Minnie Mouse ears, fathers wearing Stitch hats or Goofy cowboy hats; all the while looking like fools while their children love them for it.  The amount of unbridled joy and love you witness between child and parent while waiting  in line for a ride is unparalleled. No matter how big a cynical corporation Disney is, that it can generate that response in people is pure magic.

However two moments captured me completely this week.

The first involved an intellectually disabled boy in his wheelchair, coke bottle glasses and spastic contortions, meeting his hero, Mulan. The cast member playing Mulan, an utterly captivating Asian woman, sat down next to the boy and held his hand.  He shook happily at her touch. Even without talking you could tell he was captivated by her.  She held his hand and spoke gently to him:

“You know my name, don’t you? It is Mulan.” The boy nods despite his constrictions. “Do you know my friend, Mushu? He is a red dragon who blows fire in his breath. He is magical.”  The boy knows Mushu too. He is smiling so wide, his face looks so happy. The boy starts to drool slightly from the corner of his mouth and without hesitation, the cast member uses his cloth and wipes his mouth, all the while smiling and speaking to him.  The boy is shaking with delight.

The cast member speaks softly now and grasps the boy’s hand tighter.

“Did you know you are magical too?”

His parents begin to cry.

I leave. Something in my eye.

Today I was lining up to see Buzz Lightyear. My niece is infatuated with Toy Story and I get uncle points for having pictures taken with celebrity cartoons, no matter how stupid I look doing so.  To have your picture taken with Buzz you line up like a lemming and wait patiently if you are a 45-year-old man, less so if you are a three-year old boy.

I am next in line when the procession of people and photographs stop.  A girl in a wheelchair is driven to the front of the queue.  No one minds. She is physically handicapped, slightly less contorted than the previous boy but nevertheless significantly impaired. She is able to say Buzz, but that seems to be her only word.

Buzz walks up to her in her wheelchair and takes both her hands. She stands up and, with his support, walks towards the photo area.  She is beaming with accomplishment.

He stops and kisses her on her hand. She is totally smitten, as is her audience.

Then Buzz lifts her up, pulls an arm wide and waltzes with her. Around and around. She is squealing with delight.  When he finishes their dance, she hugs him so, so tight. He returns to her wheelchair and, as she sits, he bows towards her.  He kisses her on the hand one last time. Her parents wheel her away, tearing up, as she laughs and laughs.

Buzz Lightyear took a well deserved break after that visit. Something in his eye. And mine. Again. Damn this place.

Read Full Post »

My parents are celebrating their fiftieth wedding anniversary. My Father is celebrating his 70th birthday.  This makes my Dad 19 when he got married and 20 when he had Andrew, which is astoundingly baby like.  Their request to celebrate two momentous milestones is to come here, to a Disneyland and stay in the Disneyland Hotel. (If I am truly honest, if I were to reach 70 and/ or 50 years – unlikely unless I meet someone today and live till 95 – I would ask for something else for a present. But that’s me and it’s not my moment.)  So here we are in Disneyland Paris for the week and the parents are in heaven.

I let them be yesterday as I was feeling wretched and they skeedaddled off, systematically riding every ride in every land.  Shopping till they dropped. My nieces have that many Princess dresses and accessories now that we are going to have to make a separate post as we are way over luggage. Every niche of this park has been explored by them. They are exhausted.

What impresses me about my parents is there is no ride they will not attempt. Space Mountain 2, which is awesome and has two inversions, Indiana Jones, runaway mining cart roller coaster with one inversion, Big Thunder Mountain, which you need to come here and try if you’ve only done the lame California one. Nothing is missed. Which is very impressive for a 71 and 70-year-old.  Slap on the heart patches and away we go.

They may keep their eyes closed while riding but, hey, at least they’re there.  The tourist photos the rides take and then try to sell you are hysterical. Each time they are there, eyes tightly shut. If it weren’t for the fact that the photos are so expensive we could have a record of every ride ridden, eyes wide shut. Ahhhhh, memories….

Read Full Post »

I’ve booked a ticket to the UK finally. Much like Christmas I like to have these things sorted well in advance. This, to me, is cutting it fine plus I miss out on airline specials. Ah well.

After I wrote this Qantas did an airline special where I could have saved 1.5 thousand by waiting! The Buggers. I had to cancel my previous ticket at the cost of $300 however still saved $1200 so win for me. Cheers for that.

I have six weeks prep time to get as much overtime as possible to pay for these sojourns and also make arrangements for when I am there. In the meantime, my drive shaft has died and the air conditioner saga rolls on and on and on, so basically looks like  it’s back to prostitution for me.  Last time this cost me money as I had to pay the clientelle but this time I’ve lost a little weight so, you know, I live in hope….

On a completely unrelated note, I have the worst rash on my back. It is Driving. Me. Mental. I just want to itch the crap out of it. As part of the cool down after a work out, my personal trainer gives me a back massage. Yesterday, as he deep tissue massaged my fricking annoying itchy skin, he told me I was “freaking him out” by all the orgasm noises I was making. Wuss. But damn it was wonderful. I am not sure why I have the rash. It is evidently a heat rash caused by sweating and lying on the rubber mats. I am also not convinced the  chlorine in the pool doesn’t have anything to do with it. I am not sure.

In a  rare moment, my GP and Wesley agreed with diagnoses. Amusingly my GP got VERY snitty with me when I suggested I wanted a further opinion on the ?BCC/? Meibomian Cyst on my eyelid as my friend in the US was convinced it was a BCC. Very snitty!!!! ha! I laughed. Anyway, I have a further appointment to get it assessed but was told by my GP that “if the specialist doesn’t believe it is a BCC, your friend must trust in his opinion.” To which I thought, you do not know my friend, my friend is not gonna be happy till it is removed and under a microscope but I kept schtumm.  The GP then wrote an amusingly veiled annoyance referral letter to the dermatologist.

Anyway time will tell. I hope Wesley is wrong cos then I can forget about it. I suspect though…

My father is 70 this year, in addition to his 50th Anniversary (god love him he was married when he was 20, a baby) and for his birthday present (again, God love him) wants a week in Disneyland Paris. I am currently looking for specials. He is such a big kid. Anyone still holding out hope that I am ever gonna grow up need stop wondering.

Read Full Post »

Wow, yesterday was a downer huh. Word must have gotten around cos no-one read it. Brad calls me a hit whore cos I will stand in front of the stat counter and hit refresh all the time. There is a sad element of truth to that. So no one came visiting yesterday, except for Wesley, bless him. Fortunately today’s post is less suicide inducing.

Moving onto the positives of last year, of which I am pleased to say there were many. It’s the first year ever I flew overseas twice for holidays. Normally I don’t take holidays which is why I have so many holidays up my sleeves. It’s also the year of the newest addition to the Vanstone clan. And some seriously amusing highlights. Speaking of:

Disneyland At Christmas

I make no apologies for being a Disney Kitsch lover. I love rides, I love theming, I love kitsch. Disney is a natural  fit. I timed my visit in November perfectly. The Halloween ornaments had just been removed and the Christmas Decorations were being put up. Disneyland Christmas was in full swing. When the park closes there is clearly an army of people working on decorating the place, as each day more and more decorations were evident.

And they looked really pretty.

So considering I love Christmas and all its kitschness, Disney, Christmas and me were a superb fit. Next year later in the year so at to see parades etc.

The Most Beautiful Moment


I still get teary when I recall that moment. And the joy of it was its spontaneity and being in the right place at the right time. It’s possibly one of those had to be there moments however, for me anyway, it was so beautiful and worth revisiting.

An Addition to the Top 10 Wonders of the Food World

I am still finishing up entries from the last trip to the US ( I know, right. I couldn’t organise the (insert your choice of event) in a (insert your choice of venue)) so I haven’t told you about the fantastic night I discovered these. Let me just say this.

Fried Pickles are the Food of The Gods!

Oh my Lord,  it was a revelation. They are pickle chips fried in a buttermilk batter and taste heavenly. Seriously they are the most amazing thing. They are one of the reasons I am returning to the US.

Speaking of Food of the Gods

The Burger that is Bubba

Oh man. Bubba Burgers, a burger in the shape of Texas and the best tasting burger in the US. I tried these  for the first time at Wesley’s birthday and I was completely hooked. I insisted we have them when I returned in November and they were as delicious as ever.  They now have turkey burgers which I havent tried yet but considering how much I love turkey and how much I love Bubba Burgers…….That’s a no brainer.

Lauren Emily

My newest niece. Completely gorgeous and the most docile baby you could ever hope for. My brother and Sister in Law are running around not believing their luck. This is the child that will squeal happily as her three-year old sister mashes her cheeks in with unrestrained strength. She is the picture of placid, until she is hungry. Then she is a typical Vanstone.

Way more to go (it was a great year!) but this one is running late. So Part 2 tomorrow.

Read Full Post »

You know how you hear a song or a piece of music and you’re transformed back to the time when you first heard the song.  When I was 19, and the first time I returned to England, I heard Feargal Sharkey’s A Good Heart is Hard To Find. Good Lord it’s awful.  However, whenever I hear it now I remember the first time I was discovering London, the 19 year old falling in love with England.  

There was a number of songs that gained personal meaning for one reason or the other during the holiday. As pure self-indulgence I am listing them here and giving some insight into what or why they gained notoriety.

As I can imagine that would be boring for anyone reading this, instead of listing the song title, I’ve listed a song lyric. Guess the song before you click on the link.  See.  A game out of my indulgences.  Doesn’t get better than that.

“I want your love I don’t wanna be friends.”

I started off easy.  You should know this.

This song was EVERYWHERE! All the countries I visited I heard it played.  If there was an anthem to the trip, this is it. I could not stop hearing this song and it is so annoyingly infectious. This is the song that i will hear when I am 60 and be transported back to a lake house in North Carolina, a bus station in France, a pub in Exeter, an airport in Toronto…. too many excellent memories for this one song.

“And now whatever way our stories end I know you have rewritten mine By being my friend”

This song! Drove me insane. I could not stop singing it in the weeks prior to visiting America.  First song played in the car in Charlotte was this soundtrack.  Someone telling me something. 

And some notes about this particular YouTube clip. There are better clips of For Good but this is the last performance ever of the artist (Kristen Chenoweth) in the role of Glinda, the white witch in Wicked.  And for those who don’t know, this song is all about the character saying goodbye to each other.  Watch the whole clip. It’s doubly heartbreaking.

 “We’re surfing in the air We’re swimming in the frozen sky”

I’ve taken you here before and you know the reason why. I’m nothing if not a completist.

“And darkness still inside you Make you feel so small”

On the plane play list returning to England from the US.  Some of the lines of the song were especially pertinent. Listen to the lyrics more than the singing.   I included the Glee version, even though I appreciate it is wuss rock and there are better versions, as this was the one on the plane and I seriously love Glee. Glee is just so much fluff and  an excellently fun tele show. If you haven’t watched it I would recommend it. Highly. 

“There are no lyrics”

 Only one person will get the significance of this, which I include to make that person  giggle. Everyone else, move on. Nothing to see here.

“I don’t mind spending everyday Out on your corner in the pouring rain”

Ray and I had driven through Washington and seen so many famous sights my mind had been blown. We had just finished a mountain of fries at Z-burgers and were heading back in the car to Baltimore Airport to send me on my way to Charlotte. This song came on while we were driving. It was just one of those gooey moments of being really happy that I will remember.  And I like this song.

“As he came into the window It was the sound of a Crescendo”

I missed this. I’m not sure how. But when I saw it, for the first time at my friend’s place at 3 in the am after a really long night, I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. It’s a great song. But good God, were MJ’s video clips self-indulgent or what??!!! I included this 9 minutes epic not expecting you to watch all of it, unless you are super bored.  He patented the shoes that made him be able to bend over like that tho. And the reason the song gets included here. The second time I heard it was with the same friends. Odd. Clearly the song hangs around them.

“These streets will make you feel brand new, the lights will inspire you”

Just in case you don’t know, hover the cursor over a link or a photo and text will appear. And the text for this is particularly true.  This song drove me nuts as I kept hearing it in Brighton at the start of the holiday and never heard who sang it/ rapped it.  I’m not a fan of rap but the chorus by Alicia Keys is enjoyable and why it gets here. It sticks out (like those things that stick out) amongst all the other songs though.

“There’s not a word yet for old friends who’ve just met”

You wont get this one. Even I didn’t know what the song was except that I spent days humming it to myself at the end of the holiday. You know that annoying tune you can’t get out of your head. I explored the song on the internet when I got back wondering why it was playing on my brain.  I was pleasantly surprised by the lyrics and its pertinence to my current situation. And yeah, muppets. Ah well. I’ve clearly proven I have zero taste in music.

Read Full Post »

Relations in the United Nations that is the populace of this theme park broke down a few times over the last few days, in much the same way as the real United Nations. The most spectacular was a very large Frenchman and a very large Englishman come to blows outside of the Skitch ride. Much macho posturing, fists were raised and it all got really ugly in front of the kiddiewinks. All of this was due to the French family pushing in front of the English family. Annoying, it is agreed, however pullease…. Examples to the children please.

As you know I am here for the rides. Best ride bar none was the Space Mountain ride here. It is themed ala Jules Verne and includes a 0 to 60 mph launch tube which goes up through the giant Jules Verne telescope. Good fun and you get off genuinely dizzy. One of the best things was watching the punters stagger off the ride.

This may be boring if you’ve never gone to a Disney theme park but the rides here have largely improved upon their American cousins and, as such, are well worth a look if you’re into that sort of thing.  Most rides are more gutsy and genuinely exciting, even the more gentle rides like Peter Pan and Snow White. (Bet none of you knew I was a theme park geek, did you?)

It is incredibly crowded. Nicola, this would be your idea of hell and, on occasions, was mine as well.

While I may be cynical towards the Disney Empire, it’s not often you see parents spontaneously engage with their children and act like complete fools. You see parents dance with their children here, sing songs to them, generally act like big children themselves. The children loved it, of course.  Obviously I could be completely mistaken and parents do this all the time with their children however I do not think so. And, certainly not so publicly.

It is ridiculously overpriced here. Even for Disney, they are taking the mickey. Heh, pardon the pun. A delightful Irish 11 year old very nicely let me know that the drink I was quaffing in the bar would have cost a good 3 pound less in Irish pubs. God love him. And nothing like perpetuating the stereotype of Irish people…. How does an 11 year old know bar prices?

Most of the rides are indoor, unlike their Californian cousins. This is because it snows here, though sadly, not while I was here. Today however was a bracing + day and I wore a second layer for the first time since coming to Europe.

It is exhausting here. I am sure a pedometer worn from day to end would indicate a half marathon.

Went to a ghastly tourist exhibition this evening. A Mickey Mouse Buffalo Bill rodeo “spectacular”.  Evidently the West Was Won when Mickey helped the French discover Champagne…. or something. I had stuck cotton wool in my ears to stop my brains seeping out.

I’m back in England tomorrow and off to the States a day later. Normal services will be resumed for a day. Then Who knows!

Read Full Post »


Really quick update today as there are multiple balls being juggled at the moment.

It’s the end of a really long day traipsing the parks. I’m tired and my feet are screaming at me. We sit down at the bus stop waiting for the bus that will transport all the weary people back to their hotels.

Next to me is an older lady, mid 40s, peroxided hair looking extremely weary. Her daughter is with her wearing a Cinderella outfit that she has bought in the park. The daughter looks extremely pretty and I catch the mother’s eye as I smile at the daughter in her outfit. The daughter and mother are French and I do not understand their conversation.

We sit and wait and wait. The daughter gets close to her mother and her mother gives her a gentle hug. Then the mother starts singing, very quietly, so quietly only her daughter and I could hear it. She sings Someday My Prince Will Come from Disney’s SnowWhite and she sings it PERFECTLY. Completely stunning. It really was the most beautiful voice.

And the daughter is looking at her mother as she is singing to her and there is such an expression of love on her face that the mother starts to cry. Singing this song with tears down her face. As her daughter looks at her perfectly.  And I start to tear up, as I am tearing up writing this.

The mother finishes singing and realises I witnessed this beautiful moment  and we both smile at each other with tears in our eyes.

I have not described this at all well. Certainly not to convey the sheer perfection of the emotion between the mother and child. My apologies. It’s probably one of those had to be there situations.

Life is full of small beautiful moments.

Read Full Post »

After an interesting journey in the chunnel ( note to potential travellers…. The Eurostar train trip is ok and at two hours long way quicker than previous options of travelling to the continent however,  all in all, it’s kind of boring. Do it so you can say you’ve done it but otherwise go for the cheaper flight options that now exist in the UK. If you can find a long tunnel and make your ears pop you’ve done the chunnel) we have arrived in the French house of the rat.

This one is going to be stream of consciousness stuff and all over the place tonight because I am a bit tired. The reason I am tired is because I went to Kensington Gardens this morning to have a look see at the Princess Diana Memorial Garden which is themed like Neverland. ( Just in case you were wondering, I nothing Princess Diana. People either loathe her or love her.  I am not bothered.  I was interested in the theming of the park. )So moi and the joggers were up at six to see the sun come up over London.  Kensington Gardens ( not Hyde Park as I erroneously identified it yesterday – I could go back and correct it but let’s face it, by now you’ve realised I directionally challenged) is right opposite the hotel.  Getting to the Memorial Garden is easy as pie. Getting in was harder as it didn’t open till ten. AND you needed a child to get in as there were signs everywhere stating adults couldn’t enter the gardens without a child. I left Kensington Gardens pleased that Princess Diana’s memory was being kept alive by encouraging people to abduct children so they could get in to see her poxy garden.

I am in two minds about Disney. It’s a corporate giant and as such it does it jobs brilliantly well. The ride to the park and access to the hotel could not have been easier. Disney is a well-oiled machine. However, having known some Disney Cast Members (staff for those not in the know)and knowing they  are treated like crap, you can’t help but wonder  what cost  is paid to oil the machine.  I have not heard any positive stories from the staff that makes me want to give up the glamorous life of mental health nursing and put on a Mickey Mouse suit. And the reality is that Disneyland is essentially a giant Supermarket. It may have rides and parades to amuse it’s customers but you’re here to buy and you buy up big, whether  its food, clothing or tourist rubbish that will be junked as soon as you get home.  (It amazed me how much cheap plastic junk the kids had today, all specifically designed to break after five seconds. I dread to think how much was paid for that. I was also amazed at how many people were willing to wear silly Disney hats while they got into the spirit as it were. Minnie mouse ears are the headpiece de jour.)  Hence, the title of the blog.

On the other hand I love theme parks. There is something about going on roller coasters and other rides that thrills the socks off me.  Plus all that people watching! I was in heaven. Let me assure you that Disney has failed to meet its marketing by not issuing Mickey Mouse stasers for some of the little darlings. A little sweetheart on the chunnel with a lightning bolt shaved into his hair was affectionately nicknamed 24601 by myself in honour of his future employment status. I marvelled at his antics as he kicked and hit all of the people around him. Mickey staser = fixed. 😉

Some random thoughts:

Rides break down a lot here. I got stuck on the haunted Mansion about seven times before the ride completed. Mercifully the It’s a Small World ride died as we approached it. There is a God.

I completely marvelled at the amount of people and different nationalities present in the park today. It was like the United Nations. Everyone, largely, was happy and working together despite often not understanding each other. It was quite inspiring really.

It is fascinating to watch the parenting of the different nationalities. Tragically the children most in need of Disney Stasers were the British kids thus far. However the most scary parents were the French, whose parenting techniques appear to involve eye poking.

And the most terrifying thing I have seen today was an older Gentleman in the bar of the hotel  French kissing his ten-year old son! Fortunately, because yes I did have to investigate this, it turned out it was his wife with a very small head. It was beyond disturbing.

So were here for a few more days. I am writing this on word because Wifi is proving to be elusive but hopefully I can sort it out tonight. If not there’s going to be a huge Saturday update.

Read Full Post »