Disneyland Paris - April 30, 2006

We visited on April 30, which is the day before May Day (Labour Day celebrations for all but North America). It was busy, but the park was navigable except around Buzz Lightyear, the parks newest attraction.

Big 3 coasters:

Big Thunder Mountain -- The best theming in Disneyland Paris was the western theming. For some reason, Europeans really dig cowboys, indians and anything related to the wild west. The queue and the ride were themed to the max. The ride itself is not significantly different from the BTM rides in California and Florida, with the exception of the long tunnel between the station and the island with the majority of the coaster course (and multiple lift hills). Not huge thrills, but top marks for theming, I give it 8/10.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril -- We had never been on an Intamin Looping Coaster before, so the ride was a completely new experience. The ride was rough, and the OTSRs are not comfortable. But it was still fun to zip through the archeological dig theming, which was good, but not as thorough and detailed as BTM. After riding it, we thought "whatever". There were much more exciting things to experience in this park, we didn't need to repeat it. 7/10.

Space Mountain -- Our first experience on this coaster was tempered with very bad vibes because of Disney's FastPass bungling -- the FastPass ticket line was 15 minutes (many machines broken, useless cast members not moving people through), the FastPass Return line was 30 minutes and there was rampant line-cutting (Parisians don't queue - they shove themselves in wherever there's a gap). But the ride was redeeming. Themed after Jules Verne's story "From the Earth to the Moon", riders shot from a smoke-filled gun-barrel into space. Rather than distant star-fields seen in Florida and California versions, the Paris version has star-fields plus massive fluorescent planetoids and projection-screen comets placed in 'near miss' locations throughout the course. Words do not do it justice - it is spectacular. We rode it again later in the day, zipping through the standby queue in less than 30 minutes despite a posted wait time of 60 minutes. We will never use FastPass for this ride again. My rating: 10/10.

All the other stuff....

The park was open from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm, but it was very crowded at the gate and even though we bought tickets in advance, we didn't get our first ride until 11:00 am. We did not have time to see everything. Our only regret was missing Peter Pan -- the queue was very long throughout the day. It rained very hard most of the afternoon and there is a serious lack of indoor eating facilities. Adding cheap beer to our meal combos almost made up for the cramped conditions.
Pirates of the Caribbean -- we enjoyed it, but it was hard to sing along when every second verse was in French. ;)
Skull Island -- a very interesting parallel for Tom Sawyer Island, with similar bridges and caves. But Skull Island looks much better in our photos.
Star Tours -- Cast members did not collect our FastPass tickets, so now we have souvenirs. The adventure is the same as in California and Florida, but in my opinion, the French-speaking droid is funnier.
Captain Nemo's Submarine -- a walk-through attraction that has lots of interesting bits for Jules Verne fans. There is also a repeating attack by an animatronic giant octopus. We wandered into this attraction mostly to get out of the pouring rain.
Buzz Lightyear -- This attraction is brand new to DLP and it was mobbed with people all day. They also had FastPass problems here – when the machines started breaking down, the queue choked off a major path through Discoveryland. We waited until late in the dat and it took us an hour to go through the standby line. Not much different from the Florida version, although my score really improved whenever the ride halted and I could repeatedly hit the high-scoring targets. (It stopped 3 or 4 times throughout the course. I think there are some commissioning issues.)
Adventures of Pinocchio -- A ride-through of movie scenes. It reminded me of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, but my wife (who has not experienced Mr. Toad) thought it resembled the Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
Sleeping Beauty's Castle -- the stained glass walk-through display is nice to look at, and the Dragon Cave downstairs is very well done. (Kids were frightened whenever the dragon awoke and roared at them.) We also found a sheltered corner above the moat where we could watch the parade without getting drenched by the rain.
Phantom Manor -- I thought it was the same as the Haunted Mansion, but my wife (who hates haunted houses) thought it was much less frightening. The staff have the same attitudes, but it's funnier to see only half the guests move when the butler yells in French, then other half move when he repeats his demands in English.
Disneyland Railroad -- Relaxing ride around the park. It's more interesting than a park bench when you need a rest. :)
Adventures of the Wild West / Fort Cornstock -- This would not be the same in North America, we're too politically correct. Guests would not be as enthusiastic about everything about cowboys and indians. Kids would not be running around shooting toy rifles at everyone. (These rifles do not have the orange barrel-tip seen on North American toys.) Seeing how guns are handled in a virtually gun-free culture is surreal.

With the Parisian attitudes of guests and cast members, the 'Disney Magic' we enjoy in Florida could not be repeated. It seemed like just another theme park. That said, I might go back, just to ride Space Mountain again.

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