The Land of Disney in Paris: Part III – Frontierland

When I was a kid, my brother and I we able to venture around Disneyland alone. Before you say a THING, it was a different time. We were given my mom’s watch and had to check into the Hub and see them every so often. The sense of freedom rocked my world. We would ride coasters endlessly. When we returned as older teens, we would ditch the oldies at night, and head into the park to ride coasters at night. SO FREAKING AWESOME! Our favourite ride was Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (BTMRR) located in Frontierland.

Our early morning adventure in Paris was about to begin and we stood with the crowd waiting for the rope to drop at the entrance of Frontierland. I knew BTMRR was waiting for me. I knew it was vastly different from the other parks, I couldn’t wait to try it out!  As the cast members dropped the rope and allowed us to enter the land, I was taking in the detail of the the place. I had been to Walt Disney World in August when the Halloween Decorations went up. I found that to be fun and exciting. Nothing had prepared me for the amount of thematic  decorations placed all over Disneyland Paris. There were pumpkin people every where, I must admit, I loved the attention to detail! I was caught up in looking at all the amazing little things before I realized I was at Phantom Manor. It’s equivalent is Haunted Mansion in the sister parks in the states. Phantom Manor sat on the hill over looking Frontierland. It had an air about it not unlike the home next to the Bates Motel. It LOOKED spooky and creepy.

The queue was particularly well themed with nifty little details that rocked my world. My family was walking fast up the hill while I was quickly snapping photos along the way. We were in a time crunch and wanted to see everything, but how I WISH I could have lingered just a bit longer to take in the surroundings!  As we entered the Manor, the spiel was given to us about not getting out alive, just like the other parks. Only it was in two languages, quite comfortable really for Canadians who are use to everything being duel languages, it felt oddly home like.  Away we were whisked to the Doom Buggies and on our first Disneyland Paris Adventure! The ride did not disappoint! The order was different from the American Parks but the story was very similar, Madame Leota’s voice was french and didn’t not sound even remotely the same, but I loved it just the same.

After the ride we wandered down the path to the cemetery to take in the hilarity of the tombstones. A very western theme was present. It gave the impression that America is all about the wild west. The views from the cemetery were really spectacular, showing off the sights and sounds of the Mark Twain. We took a bit of time to soak it all in, when we should have been hightailing it to BTMRR!! It was a Saturday with the first sunshine Paris had seen in a while, the park was getting busy! So we made our way to BTMRR and looked at the stand-by time, 10 minutes! YAY! That is barely a wait at all. My general rule of thumb is if it is longer than 20 minutes stand-by then get a fastpass! So away we went! Within moments we realized the Stand-by LIED! It LIED to my face! We ended up waiting about 30 minutes, not cool Stand-by!  Did it really matter? it did a little, it took away from other rides in the afternoon. But in the big picture, BTMRR was super fun! It was mor intense than it’s sister coasters. Traveling under the water to get to the island was a fun experience. Didi I like the ride itself? You Betcha! It did disappoint me to see all the garbage in the queue and the way people would just toss stuff on the props as if it was a landfill. Use the Garbage People! Disney provides one every 20 feet for your OWN personal use! Take advantage of it please!!!

 

Next Stop, Adventureland!

The Land of Disney in Paris: Part II – Main Street

Here I was, Disneyland Paris. Park #3 on my bucket list.

Walking up to the hotel was very exciting. The Entrance to Disneyland in Paris looks nothing like it’s sister parks in the United States. The big reveal takes a while. Through the ticket booth, up to the turnstile and across an open walkway and finally you are at the tunnel. The Tunnel is in the sister parks too. The train travels over head. In the other parks I went to there is only two choices, left tunnel or right tunnel with a sign over hear that reads : Here you leave today and enter a world of Yesterday, Tomorrow and Fantasy. I looked for a similar sign and could find it. It must have one. That was the first thing I noticed was different, that and THREE tunnels to choose from.When we travel to the parks, we take turns deciding which tunnel to go through. I prefer entering the park on the right and leaving on the left. Here in Paris, we threw caution to the wind and went in the center tunnel! Crazy and shocking, I know! Thrilling none the same.

My fist glimpse of Main Street, There was a gazebo where the American Flag stands in the States. I understand why the flag was not there. The Gazebo was charming all dolled up for Halloween. I looked for the Fire Hall… To my extreme disappointment, there was a store in it’s place. There was no apartment overhead, no light in the window, no sign of Walt Disney. Maybe that is why the spark was not the same. I sent the muppets off to get photos with Characters before the rope drop (park opening), while I went to City Hall to make dinner reservations. By the time I found them, they were disheveled and flustered because here in Paris, guests do not queue up for pictures and autographs. They channel their inner hockey players, hoist their elbows up and force their way to the front. For a couple of Canadian muppets, this concept felt rude and unappealing. No autographs this trip. Secretly I was relieved, this meant more time for rides and details! YAY! Score one for the mom!

As we walked closer towards Main Street, I noticed the Castle drawing me in. She was beautiful and more spectacular than the other two castles I have loved before. It was hard for me to pull my eyes away and discover the details that surrounded me on Main Street. Windows on Main Street traditionally are painted with names of Disney builders, and imagineers, these windows did not disappoint. Except they are sparse in comparison. The street is wide and gives you that “walking down the red carpet” feeling Walt had wanted for the other two parks. By this time I was so excited to get to the castle I could barely contain myself! I wanted to see the Partners Statue and compare it to the others. We passed Casey’s Corner, and Gibson Girls Ice Cream Parlor, saw a shop that gave a nod to Lilly Disney – that thrilled me. All I could think was, I am walking right down Main Street in Paris with my family, Luck me!

Off we went to find the rope and join the masses for rope drop. We reached the “hub” and noticed no Partners Statue! WHAT THE…? It was later when I discovered it was at the Studios, a separate park – WRONG WRONG WRONG! But WHATEVER, it’s not my park, I understand you can put it wherever you like Michael Eisner, maybe that is why you don’t work there any more….poor decisions. The Castle up close and personal, amazed me with the scope and grandeur. I fell in love with my 3rd Castle. Although I think she is my favorite.

We had time to listen to the Main Street Loop music that is piped in. It really adds to the magical feeling in the park. Listening and singing while we waited in Frontierland for the rope to drop and our brand new Disney Adventure to begin!

 

 

The Land of Disney in Paris: Part I

The real reason I only spent one full day in Paris was… I wanted to go to DISNEYLAND! Spending all day in Paris was wonderful and I made the most of it, I really did! But for those of you who know me and those of you who don’t, I am a HUGE Disney fan, and I am talking HUGE! I have been to Disneyland in California well over 15 times. I have been to Walt Disney World Florida, twice. Now I have been to Disneyland Paris! 3 parks down, 2 more to go on the bucket list! The next series of posts will bore you if you are not a fan of the land of Disney. Sorry about that, but talking about the land of magical wishes is fun for me…so bear with me.

I understand there are people out there who don’t understand my Disney passion. I don’t expect you too. Just like I don’t get your need to go to Vegas every time you can, or pop off to London as often as it calls you. Nor do I get the need to go to Toronto, Winnipeg, Vancouver or THE LAKE.  I really don’t understand the need to go to Mexico every year, but you don’t have to listen to me say “Why do you do that?” with disdain on my face. You know why? Because I respect that you need to do things that make YOU feel fulfilled. It is YOUR mental break, not mine. My mental break is in the Land of all things Disney.

I love Disney Parks and here is why…

When I was 6 my parents drove from Edmonton to Los Angeles one summer. We were living in Yellowknife, North West Territories. So technically the trip was from the Arctic to California, with a giant rest stop in Sherwood Park to visit my grandparents and pick up my aunt ( who was 11 at the time). I knew we were going, but still han’t grasped the idea of what it meant. The trip itself was great, I remember traveling along the Oregon coast, seeing giant redwoods, the Pacific ocean for the first time, and I can remember vividly, oranges growing on a TREE! ON A TREE! This was the very first time I remember loving to travel. I loved seeing new things. I caught the bug. I was hooked. I was a traveler.

I remember small bits from my trip. Sitting on the corner of Main Street, in front of the Emporium, watching the Main Street Electrical Parade float by. I remember Robin Hood sitting in my brothers stroller and thinking I am in love! I remember how happy my dad was and how much fun he had. I remember my mom closing her eyes on every single ride because she was to scared to see what was going on. mostly I remember the feeling. The feeling of being swept away to a magical place, filled with details that will amaze you if you take the time to look for them.

Every trip after the first one was better than the last. The Land of all things Disney change. It never stays the same. The feeling is the same, details, rides and music change. This is reason one, why I like going back so often. I enjoy change. Hard to understand when I go to the same place as often as I can, but it is true. I love spotting the difference too. I love how small things change like tiny details such as light posts, or larger changes like rides who give nods to rides of the past that stood in their spot. It’s like belonging to an exclusive club where secrets are only given to members. If you plan to go for the first time and wish to know some of the secrets, I recommend you give Werner Weiss a visit at Yesterland. He will let you know what Disneyland use to look like. It’s a fun trip down memory lane for those who were there before.

I introduced my husband to the magic, he was hooked too. Although I suspect he puts up with my passion more than he loves it himself. The offspring were hooked. I’m sure my enthusiasm was part of the reason they loved it so much.  We felt we were ready to expand our horizons. We needed to move on to a larger space. Bring on Walt Disney World. The two places cannot be compared. Florida is as different from California as peanut butter and jelly. The two work together, but are very different. So please don’t ask me which I love more. Just like you can’t tell me which child you love more. You love them different but the same. Make sense?

Last spring my mom suggested we go and visit her, dad and Mrs. Stadler for a week while they were traveling around Europe. I thought this was a great opportunity for the offspring. I know Honey and I could not have been able to do this without their help and support, so thanks Mom and Dad! We spent hours looking a maps and a made a list of things we MUST do. Disneyland  Paris was on my list. I was willing to spend only a single day there. I am an experienced Disney Traveler. I know the other parks like the back of my hand, I understand the secrets only few know. I will not share all my knowledge but  dole it out as I think you could benefit from it. Therefore I was confident I could see Disneyland Paris in a single day. I could plan a day that would be memorable. I was ready. Life experience taught me what to ask, what I needed to know and where I would find the answers to my questions. Bring it…

Our last day in Paris, we had breakfast in the hotel with my parents. Kissed them good-bye, and walked to the Metro station 2 blocks away. We boarded the train heading in the opposite direction of every other commuter, who were heading into Paris proper. Two stops and we were there. Climbing out of the Metro and into, what would be known as the Esplanade in Disneyland, CA, we followed the hoards of Cast Members as we ready ourselves for rope drop. If there is one thing I know, be early for the opening or miss out on short lines. I was prepared. I couldn’t wait to start!

Around the corner, we saw the fist glimpse… The Disneyland Hotel which could only mean one thing, we were at the gate.

Let’s Talk Turkey!

This past weekend was Canadian Thanksgiving. This was the first Thanksgiving in a very long time that I did not celebrate. Historically that weekend is filled will family, friends food, laughter and the Rotor Rooter Man. Not once did we ever invite the Rotor Rooter Man over for the traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Maybe we should have, then we would have been given a deal on fishing out turkey necks from the garburator. Hind sight is 20/20.

I did not celebrate Thanksgiving in the traditional sense because I was busy flying home from Paris, France. No one thought to fill my fridge with Turkey, stuffing, potatoes or rutabaga while I was gone, not that I am bitter about that or anything. Okay, maybe I am little bitter. But being a non-traditional kind of gal, I did actually give thanks for several things in my life. So my friends, it is time for another Edmonton Tourist top 11 list!

The Edmonton Tourist’s Top 11 Things She is Thankful For:

  1. I am very thankful I went to Vimy Ridge! Vimy Ridge is located in France and is a significant battle in Canada’s History. You can read more about it here. It was a powerful and moving experience for me and my family. Walking through the cemetery and looking at the ages of the boys, who were not much older then my children or my nephews, made me pause and be thankful for what I have. The visual of the munition craters in the surrounding battle fields and the maple grove you walk through was such a moving experience. It is one I will never forget. It is a much different experience being there then reading about it in history books.
  2. I am very thankful for Facebook. I know you think I am cracked in the head. Facebook has given me the opportunity to get to know Americans on a friend basis. I am proud to say I am a world traveler. With that experience comes a opportunity to defend your identity. Everywhere in the world where I have been, an American had been before me. Likely it was the same Texan I met on a cruise to Alaska. He was rude and self centered. So I naturally swept all American’s with the same paint brush. Here is my formal public apology to the Citizens of America. I am so sorry I stereotyped you in that way. One person who is not globally aware does not mean the entire country is that way. I have met some spectacular people who live south of the border and proudly call you my friend. I am honored that you live next door. I am thrilled it is you who is my neighbor and not someone else. So Please forgive me for stereotyping you in a way that was unbecoming to you and made me less of a Canadian.
  3. I am very thankful for my family. I know it is cliche and everyone says it. But after spending a week in a caravan with my family, I appreciate them more then I did before I left on my vacation. All our strengths came together and complemented each other. Other days it came together and clashed like the titans. But in the end, it was more fun then should be legal. We laughed together,teased each other, fought like crazy and cried. It was worth every second and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
  4. I am very thankful for French Dairy Products. My husband said it best, “Canadian Customs won’t let you bring dairy into the country because everyone would know French Dairy is better and that would kill our industry.” It was so amazing I will mourn it for a lifetime.
  5. I am very thankful for my 5 senses. I know this seems odd but after my vacation to Europe it is so very true! I saw buildings that dated before 1322! I could hear the Church bells ring in every little village along the way. The sound was angelic! The smell of the lush, green forest of Germany reminded me of home. The taste of the foods and beverages from shops in the villages and carts in the city brought a thrill to my taste buds every time they tried something new! The touch of my skin was so soft in the humid climate of Europe compared to the dry prairie of home. My skin misses you already Europe!
  6. I am very thankful for Maple Trees! Please don’t tell my Grandpa if you see him before I do. The Maple Leaf is such a strong Canadian Symbol, yet I saw more Maple Trees in Europe then I ever have in Canada. It made me proud and homesick all at the same time. My children collected maple leaves and pressed them in their books. I love Maple Trees!
  7. I am thankful for Canada’s low population! We were traveling on the Paris Metro when an abandon package was found. The train needed to be evacuated. That means a GAZILLION people tried to squeeze through the door. 6 million people ride the Metro everyday. There are only One Million people in the Greater Edmonton Area. When we arrived in Canada, it seemed like the country was deserted!  Low population density is a beautiful thing.
  8. I am thankful for Art. We spent some time in the Louve of Paris. I stood before paintings that I had only ever seen in books. It is a much different experience to see a Leonardo Da Vinci painting in person then to see it in a book. I could imagine him standing where I was looking at his own work and deciding what needed to come next. The depth and emotion in his work far surpasses any of that of his contemporaries. It was a spiritual experience for me. Later that same day, on the steps of the Seine, I met another artist who made a living from his work. I was moved buy his choice of colour and vision. I bought a piece of his work and love it as much as I loved looking at a Da Vinci.
  9. I am thankful for language. I know, you think it’s another odd choice. I speak one language fluently. Obviously it is English. Here is Canada we are considered a bilingual country. All our food products have both English and French labels and ingredients. Our version of Cereal Box French helped tremendously in grocery stores and markets. German Language was fairly easy to read and figure out because it is so closely related to English. But mostly I am thankful for the abilities of others who took the time and effort to learn English. This enhanced my trip because I was able to meet and learn about their life and thoughts about places. This was the true highlight for me. From talking to Adolf Herr the clock maker to Arnuad the Disney Cast Member and everyone else in between. I loved meeting new people.
  10. I am thankful for water. For it’s million and one uses to its life giving nature. I was thankful for clean clear water on this trip. But more thankful for water when I came home. Canada, you produce some of the best water in the world, thank you.
  11. I am thankful for my bed! As fantastic as my days were in Europe, my nights filled me with dread. I slept in a bed that was too short for me, the mattress was too thin, and the blankets were not warm. An uncomfortable night can seem longer then a busy action packed day. After forever and a day on the airplane, sliding into my thick cozy bed was pure ecstasy.

I am a very luck girl to have so many things to be thankful for. But mostly I am thankful to be home. This is something I need to keep remembering. The importance of home.

So What’s the Plan?

I spent the better part of my morning emailing back and forth with the European Traveling Contingent of my family. They are safe and snug but didn’t think through the details they would need for a certain aspect of their trip. I was happy to help them but my first thought was: This is NOT like my mom! She is usually more on top of this! Then I thought: Maybe she was deferring to my sister for the information, thinking she would have planned this part. Or maybe she was kidnapped by terrorists needing an organized person in their fold! Or maybe my sister knocked my mom unconscious in a battle for last Chocolate Mousse! You see, I didn’t actually converse with my mom.

Now I am starting to panic.

We leave very soon for a lovely trip to the European Continent. In an earlier blog I confessed my trepidation to release the reigns and let others plan and take care of me. By now my loyal readers know I am a control freak and bossy by nature.  I wish it wasn’t true. I want to know what it feels like to have complete faith in someone, knowing they will take care of things. The reality is, that is just not possible for me, I need a backup plan. I am willing to let my Honey and my Mom, plan and navigate the trip, look after details, decide on sequence of events. However, I have packed a  “Just in Case” bag, just in case.

Just In Case:

  1. GPS – Mom said not to bring one but after this morning’s conversation, The GPS is coming with me. Better safe than sorry. No one needs to know until we need a back up plan.
  2. Extra Cash for a Cab – sure we will be camping in a caravan, but the last two nights of our stay are in a hotel close to Disneyland Paris. We have made arrangements for a shuttle to take us to the airport on our last day, but communication with the shuttle company has been less the comprehensible. Language is a barrier. Our friend had translated for us but still the company operates in a way that differs from the North American procedure that we are used to. We are taking a leap of faith and trusting the shuttle will be there on time, I’m sure this will be the case. However, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that I will need cab cash to get my family home.
  3. More Luggage – The Plan is for my family to travel with ONE suitcase, and TWO carry-on pieces of luggage. It is my understanding the closet space is minimal. Space is a premium. So we can take clothes for only 3 days. That means washing out stuff nightly or using the camp facilities for laundry. Yet I know my family well, and shopping is going to happen. So on the bottom of the suitcase will be two more collapsible bags waiting to be filled with goodies and chocolate.
  4. Food – I enjoy the luxury of having a Child with a Sensory Disorder. Translation: Picky Eater. I am bringing cereal and Carnation Instant Breakfast. Luckily the best bread and buns in the WORLD is available in European Bakeries.
  5. Earplugs – Sleeping in a Caravan that exceeds fire regulations will be cozy. Between snoring, talking, mumbling and heavy breathers, I am sure sleep will be a               premium. Luckily for me I am mostly deaf so this won’t be much of a problem for me. I do know  if the offspring are low on sleep they become high on crankiness.

The more I tell myself I need a backup, the more I think my plan is just good common sense and makes me a conscientious mother. After all I am the one ultimately responsible for my children. Or I am justifying my need to be prepared? Either way I am ready and feel better about the upcoming trip. Actually, I am starting to let myself get exceedingly excited! I miss my family and very excited to them! It has been a very long time since I have shared Europe with them. My Grandma being there is also a huge thrill for me. As a kid, Gran and I would often shared accommodation on these large family adventures! I am very excited to share this adventure with my Honey and Children. Even more so now that I have a plan.

So my dear friends, long time and recent readers, am I missing anything in my back up plan? You know I will be worrying about that until I am in the air and can no longer do anything about it. Please feel free to add to my “Just in Case” just in case.

All I need is a Beverage with an Umbrella Perched on the Side

Shades of blue
Image via Wikipedia

This afternoon I laid out on my lounger in my backyard. I think it was the last really nice day before my vacation is over for another summer. I leaned back with my hands crossed behind my head, ankles crossed and just relaxed looking at the light blue sky above me. That is when I saw it. An airplane flew across the perfect blue sky leaving a contrail, marking up the perfect view. When I see an airplane I often think about who is in them and where are they going or where did they come from. My husband knows by the direction where the flight is likely headed – Fort McMurray would be his answer. Fort McMurray? Land of the Oil Sands? How unimaginative, boring, disappointing, and disenchanting. All that answer does is thwart my imagination and bring a frown upon my face. But, he wasn’t there to give me the smarty pants answer. So I speculated the aircraft came from London, England. Filled with travelers who had a marvelous time punting on the Thames, having tea parties on the ceiling, dancing on the roof tops of London, or even visiting Admiral Boom’s home for 3:00pm. I want to do that. Yes I want to hang out with Mary Poppins, but I also want to back to London.

I’ve said before that I love to travel. The only thing almost a great as visiting a place is reading about it. So looking at that blue sky, it made me want to make a list of place I want to go with and without the children.

1) Europe – on the continent. I was there when I was 10, turning 11. At the time it was a great vacation with family. Looking back, I cannot believe what I saw! I want to share that with my children. I will, it is happening this year.

2)Mediterranean Cruise – No Children. I have never been on vacation without them. mostly because I believe in the family first/always prescription. Vacations are the best time to hangout with your kids and laugh, have fun in a different setting. Sharing unusual things is a treat and an honor. But The time has come, I need a vacation FROM my kids. I don’t think that is selfish, I think it is long over due. I need a re-charge. I want to visit Greece and Italy from the shores. I want this BAD.

3)Alaska – I went on a solo trip before my family came along as a find myself/escape from reality type of trip. I saw amazing things. A Kodiak Bear fishing on the shore, humpback whales swimming along side the ship, dolphins playing in the wake of the boat, Bald Eagles flying over head, and puffins sitting in the sun. I want to share this with my children. The Disney Wonder Sails out of Vancouver next year. Vancouver is driving distance from my house….Honey…you reading this today?

4)The Grand Canyon. Ever since the Brady’s went on the Brady Bunch, I wanted to go. Maybe I will run into Peter Brady and…. wait…. I will save that private moment for later.

5)The Redwood Forest – I remember driving through it as a kid. I was 6 and we were on the way to Disneyland. The sights and sounds of the Redwoods are still a very strong memory. Including the time my dad and uncle nearly burned DOWN the forest at a KOA campground – but that is a story for a different blog.We stopped at the Paul Bunyan, Babe the Blue Ox and the Trees of Mystery – California. It was a roadside attraction and is still there according to waymarking.com

http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WM3GBB

6)How fun would it be to have just a road trip of sideshows? Largest ball of yarn, The Last Supper Sand Sculptures, or just drive and see giant fruit. What a fun picture collection that would be!

http://www.roadsideamerica.com/

7 ) Laying on a Tropical Beach. I don’t care which one, I just need a drink with an umbrella in it, white sand and blue/green ocean. I would prefer it without kids, but with the right beverage in hand, I likely would no longer care if they came. They are old enough to entertain themselves!Or better yet, bring the grandparents! They hate laying on the beach and would plan a ton of sight-seeing stuff and would bring the kids.. .one better, My Honey hates sitting still!  He would go too!!!  Oh I am liking this trip better by the second. Me+beverage+umbrella+sun+sand+quite=heaven

8 ) The Canadian Maritimes – in the fall. I want to see were my Great Gram came from, Souris PEI. I want to see the red sand of PEI. I want to see an Iceberg floating past the shores of Newfoundland. I want to visit Lunenburg for the Tall Ship Festival. I want to stand on the rocks of Peggy’s Cove. I want to see Halifax harbor. I want to share this with my family.

9)New York – ideally I would go with a fabulous gay male friend. That way we could have breakfast at Tiffany’s. Visit Riverside park where Joe Fox told Kathleen Kelly it was him, go to the top of the Empire State building and pretend it was Valentines day. Go to Serendipity and wait for  Jonathan Trager to bring the matching glove. Get our picture taken outside Bergdorf Goodman and pretend to be Carrie. More likely it would be with my husband which would be great too, because he would make me go to Yankee Stadium, and I would drag him to Madison Square Gardens.He would want to go to Museum of Natural History and I would drag him to the MoMA. We BOTH would want to go to F.A.O. Schwartz.

10)The 10th place on my must see travel spots is a 5 stop adventure. But I would make it 6. AND it must be done with my family. Start at Disneyland California, fly to Walt Disney World Florida, fly to Disneyland Paris, Fly to Hong Kong Disneyland,  to Tokyo Disney Resort and end back where it all began in California.

Yes, I know what you are thinking, the amount of money you need is crazy! You need to win a lottery! True, winning the lotto WOULD be the perfect solution. But, the world is supposed to end in 2011. If I get a really big line of credit, start traveling soon, I could conceivably finish my top 10 travel destinations BEFORE the world is obliterated. Then, the world is destroyed and I no longer care about paying back the line.

To be a tourist in my own life, I recognize that I still need to be a tourist in the truest sense because that is what feeds my soul.