MARTYN'S MIX - DISNEYLAND PARIS (& PARC ASTERIX)
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At the end of our 1999 holiday to Chamonix we spent a couple of days in Paris and made our first visit to Disneyland Paris. We enjoyed that day so much we decided to make a return visit in December 1999 to see the Christmas festivities and decorations.
Gary was designated the "tour guide" for this trip and arranged travel arrangements and accommodation etc. We decided that we would go by car via Eurotunnel. So at the quite early time of 5:45 am on December 6th we all gathered at Pete's house and away we went. It took about 4 hours to drive from Bristol to the channel tunnel teminal, having stopped at services for refreshments. Here I must mention something that we found quite silly. The services we stopped at were near Maidstone in Kent (junction 8 on the M20) and they had a currency exchange, which is not unusual, BUT, they did not sell foreign currency!!!!! Gary tried to buy some French Francs and was quite amused by this. A currency exchange not far from the channel tunnel that can't be bothered to stock foreign money. Pity foreigners who want some of their own money before they head back to their own country! Oh well! Also we arrived at these services at the end of rush hour and the place was absolutely filthy. There wasn't a single table that had been cleared of dirty plates!
Anyway, gripe over. We went through EuroTunnel with no hitches (my first journey through it and I am quite impressed with the smoothness of the whole operation) and there we were on French roads. It seemed strange being on the right hand side of the road, but Gary has driven in France before, after while we got used to having cars coming towards us on the left! French motorways (autoroutes) are smooth and fast (speed limit is 80mph in the dry - 70mph in rain) and it did not take too long to got to Disneyland Paris. You have to pay tolls to use the motorways however but it is not overly expensive - from Calais to the outskirts of Paris was about £10. In total the journey time from Bristol to Disneyland was about 9 hours and the distance is approximately 380 miles.

We stayed in one of the Disney themed hotels adjacent to Disneyland - Hotel Cheyenne - based on the wild west and is the cheapest hotel in the complex. The attention to detail was terrific and it was just like staying in a wild west town - because the weather was not too good during our stay it gave the place an eerie feel, with the wind blowing the oldstyle lanterns and making them creak - all that was needed were a few tumbleweeds blowing about! Each of the hotel blocks are named after wild west characters and we stayed in room 1088 in the Sundance block (others were called names such as Doc Holliday, Annie Oakley and Wild Bill Hickok). The whole hotel was excellent, with a fantastic dining hall (Chuck Wagon cafe), and a great bar (the Red Garter saloon) with live entertainment.
To get to Disneyland park itself from the hotels you have to walk through Disney village - a massive entertainments complex with restaurants, a cinema, video games arcade and numerous shops selling Disney merchandise. I won't go into too much detail about it all here. You can see what it is like from the photos and by visiting the official website.
Disneyland itself looked amazing with thousand of Christmas decorations everywhere. Apart from the weather we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, going on the big thrill rides several times, and watching shows performed by the Disney cast such as Mickey's Winter Wonderland; and the Christmas Parade. The sun came out on the day we had to travel home again so we left it until late afternoon before leaving for home, getting back to Bristol at nearly 1am (we had a 2 hour wait for the Eurotunnel as we got there later than our scheduled crossing, and the weather started to turn nasty again - we headed into a thunderstorm as we got near Calais).
Although we haven't been to Disneyland in America the French version is supposed to be identical, the only exception most people speak French or English with a French accent!! It is a magnificent place and I urge to to visit if you have not already done so.

DISASTER...

On 26 December, 1999, severe storms crossed Europe and Disneyland Paris was badly affected, closing the theme park for a couple of days and people had to be evacuated from the Davy Crockett Ranch hotel. Disneyland reopened a day or two later but urgent repairs had to be carried out to the Davy Crockett Ranch and people booked in to the hotel up until the new year had to have their money refunded. A circus show in Disney Village called Crescend'O was also badly affected with shows being cancelled over the New Year period.


Photos of our good times at Disneyland Paris are further down the page.... enjoy!

...DISASTER

Towards the end of our 2000 holiday, on the way back from Chamonix, we spent a day at PARC ASTERIX near Paris - this is the main theme park that the majority of the French go to, as opposed to Disneyland Paris. Click the link above to go to my Park Asterix page.

Note that this is not an official guide to Disneyland Paris, there are plenty of other websites that do this, see links below. This is just a personal reflection of this wonderful place in a few words and pictures. We enjoyed our 1999 visit to Disneyland Paris so much that we decided it would be good to go there again to see the Christmas decorations for 2000. So from the 11th-14th of December the Bristol posse were once again let loose in Disneyland Paris. This time round I decided to be the "courier" - organising the accommodation and driving us there and back. Once again it was an early start at 6am - the weather was cold and damp but the 4 of us were in high spirits - except Gary who was feeling a bit rough after a viral infection. Good progress was being made toward the channel tunnel on the M4 when everything ground to a halt due to an accident which delayed us by an hour and made us miss our scheduled shuttle crossing - we also heard on the radio that a swan had decided to take a rest in the fast lane of the motorway which didn't help matters!
The EuroTunnel shuttle crossing was again smooth and effortless and then it was my first ever experience of driving on French motorways. I did not find it too bad driving on the right and overtaking on the left but I did find the signing and layout of motorway junctions to be a bit frustrating - I managed to take a wrong turning and eventually get back on track after a bit of a frantic time. The problem is that as with most British motorway junctions you get slip roads and a roundabout so you can go in any direction (even back on the motorway if you have left the motorway by mistake) - French junctions are not like that - there are no roundabouts so if you take a wrong exit you have to go to the next junction and try and get off into a residential area that allows you to turn around and come back to where you wanted to go in the first place!!! A bit of a nightmare.
At 5pm we arrived at Disneyland Paris and checked in once again to the Hotel Cheyenne - this time we stayed in room 2512 which was in the Geronimo block of rooms. At 6pm the four of us became three - Gary had not said very much all day and we could tell he was not very well. He decided that if it was ok with us he would go to the train station and catch a train back home again. We were slightly surprised and a bit angry he had left it that long before deciding and it would have been better for him to speak out before we crossed the channel - or even still say he wanted to stay at home as he was still not very well. Anyway we walked him to the train station and saw him on his way. It was all a bit bizarre - after all he had already paid for the holiday and it cost him about £160 for a ticket back to Waterloo from Paris !!!
The rest of us however enjoyed our stay and there were one or two things that we did that made our visit memorable. One was going to watch the Buffalo Bill Wild West show - a fantastic show with a meal included - plenty of audience participation meant that there was never a dull moment. Another interesting moment was when we were on Space Mountain (the high speed thrill ride in the dark) and we were hurtling through "space" as normal when suddenly the brakes brought our ride to an abrupt halt in the middle of the ride, taking everyone by surprise - so there we were, sat in darkness for a few moments wondering what was happening when all the lights came on and booming announcements in French echoed around. The inside of the building looked eerie with all the lights on and we were sat there for about 5 minutes or so - an attendant appeared nearby checking we were ok etc then shortly after sirens sounded to indicate the ride was starting again and we were off to finish the ride. We did think that the lights would be turned off again but they stayed on until the ride finished so we saw what the track was like. It was a terrific experience and when we finally finished the ride (on the opposite side to the queue) all heads turned in the queue, wondering what had happened as we all got off in extremely happy mood!!! Fantastic - and apparently it was a "technical problem" which had us wondering what would have happened if the ride would not start again and we were required to get off and walk back down!!
So we spent a good couple of days in the park, which was open until 8pm this year instead of 6pm, saw the parades and rode on all the usual rides many times as the queues were very short (even though they are introducing a "fastpass" system which allows people to get a ticket in advance with a return time on it so you don't have to wait in long queues - which should help in the Summer), including the Indiana Jones ride which now goes backwards which adds SO much more thrill to the ride that it did when it went forward. This visit, when walking in and out of the main entrance to the park we could see the new Universal Studios complex under construction - it looks like it will be a massive arena and will be fantastic to visit when complete and open.
The weather again was not at is best - most of the time it was cloudy with only one morning of sun and there was always some rain, especially on the day when we returned home when the heavens opened and I had to use all my concentration when driving (once again I managed to take a wrong turning but soon got back on track. Took our allocated shuttle (even though there was a 6 hour delay for lorries) and finally got home at 11pm - extremely exhausted.
We are not sure when we will return to Disneyland Paris but as it is 10 years old in 2002 it could be a good time to visit then.

 

MAP AND PHOTOS...
Click on this link to see a MAP of Disneyland Paris.
Please be patient as the maps load as they are large in size (when loading for the first time
- will be quick next time if you have caching on your WWW browser).
The map is best viewed with the browser window maximised (if you are using Internet Explorer press F11)

 

...MAP AND PHOTOS

Click here for scanned memorabilia from Disneyland Paris.

 

Links to Disneyland Paris on the WWW
www.disneylandparis.com (official site)
homepages.which.net/~ian/
dlpfan.org

(there are MANY other sites about Disneyland Paris, try using a search engine like GOOGLE)

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