Friday, September 14, 2007

Day Six: Euro Disney

Sunset on the Castle

For some reason I had in my mind that the day would start similar to Christmas morning. The kids didn't wake us up at 6am; I believe this was evidence enough that the trip was beginning to exhaust us all. I had an appointment to catch at 8:15 in the morning Grandfather & Grandaughter Momentwith The Little Book of Man and had been dreading the venture. I needed to capture a photograph which would inspire humankind not to drop another bomb within the fifteenth minute after 8 o'clock in the morning. Having only arrived the night before I had no idea what kind of photographic moment my present itself, but I was taking my obligation seriously. Spider Monkey awoke while I was gathering my camera so she and her grandfather wandered down to the pond out back with me while the rest of the family lingered under the sheets. They made a pretty picture in the French countryside sunrise with their arms around each other. I cannot say the moment was not void of some previous forethought, but what was captured was produced all of their own doing; I let them lead the way and followed with my angled view.

The doors to the Wonderful World of Disney do not open until 10am so it was not surprising that we were among a few select early risers in the breakfast room. Again, the buffet was nothing like you may expect in France, but we lived off it. The stragglers of the family joined us in time to snarf enough down and pack our daily belongings to catch a shuttle bus towards the front gates. EnteringRainy Morning the park was just as exciting as it was in my childhood, only now I had enough excitement for all seven members of the family. The only thing which could have dampened my spirits at all would have been the droplets of rain which seemed to be increasing their tempo. We raced past the stores on Main Street to where the action awaited. As we stood in the center of the different entrances to the lands our mind was made by the little princesses in our midst. From somewhere around our middles came the cries "The castle!!" We walked the castle path, over the drawbridge, and into Sleeping Beauty's castle. You could not imagine the delight on little Squirrel Monkey's face as she walked past scene after scene of her favorite movie. In her eyes the spinning wheel was real and the fairies in the stained glass windows would flutter into the air between blinks. The band drew us out onto the balcony and eventually our search for rides which were out of the rain was underway. The men were sent ahead to gather Fast Passes, tickets which you could get ahead of time so we didn't have to stand in line, and the women huddled the children under eves where the view was just as lovely.

Disneyland . . . what can be said to describe the magic of a day in Disneyland? I can tell you of the various rides we were able to experience and the looks of joy on our children's faces, but it would not compare with experience. Bring yourselves back to those moments of wonder and magic when you were a child and that was the level of feeling we maintained throughout the day. For some magical reason we were able to find a spot to rest or a show to watch at all the right times, keeping the children from getting too tired or the parents too grumpy. The lines were comfortable and the weather soon became pleasant. The bright yellow ponchos we purchased after or first ride were folded and tucked away for another day.

Before we knew it our tummies were rumbling and we looked down at our watches to see it had passed midday. Pulling out the maps to get a feel for the locale, we decided on a French restaurant which was supposed to be in our current land. I guess we figured if we were in France we may as well eat French. We didn't want some quick hamburger joint as our minds needed something a little slower. We turned around and there was the very place we'd picked out on the map resting just a few steps away. Upon entering this restaurant it became apparent that we were in for a real treat. When it said there were often surprise visits from the princes and princesses they were not far off. It seems the royal couples hang out all day just to hop from one table to another giving each their undivided attention (in whatever language that table may be speaking). The girls were enchanted seeing their idols walking in human form among the commoners, though were less excited when they were approached themselves. I still cannot place their reason for withdrawal at the approach of the beauties; was it jealousy, unbelief, or simply shyness? I am leaning towards jealousy over the role as they opened up quite easily to the princes attentions. Rightfully so, our little princesses were heirs of the princes' flirtations. They would tuck their chins and look up through their batting eyelashes at them and put on a believable shy act when the prince asked for their hand. After pictures were taken and conversation grew thin the couples moved on to the other tables and the girls could observe the princesses with awe once more. Maybe they were gleaning from their royal demeanor to better their own attempts. Whatever the case the girls were at home in the spacious banquet halls. When our waitress addressed Squirrel Monkey and asked her where she lived her response will remain eternally memorable: "In Disneyland." Naturally . . .IMG_2727

Grammy and Pa bestowed the princesses with their very own gowns off the racks sitting in the shadow of the castle. Each was set on a particular gown so there was no worry of indecision, just cause for concern when Ariel's wedding gown didn't come in Spider Monkey's size. We called each store in the land that carried them to learn none of them had her size. What was the luck or magic that the size 10 actually fit her petite 7 like a glove? Who would Squirrel Monkey be? Sleeping Beauty, of course; in pink (blue on the days she feels a little off). They danced through the rest of the day in their gowns and captured glances from those with a true eye for beauty. One teen went so far as to bestow a matching headband on our little Sleeping Beauty who wore it with love until it was lost, presumably having slipped off with the headphones when we needed translations during the Art of Disney Animation tour. It did not keep her tears long enough to keep her from the drawing room where the girls caught the last lesson. They both walked away with very interesting versions of Winnie the Pooh.

We seemed to miss just about everything that drew us into the Studios Park, but at least the girls got a chance to do their artwork, get rejected from the Nemo ride, and be terrified in the Armageddon set (I am still amazed they will watch a Star Trek show with us since). Fast Passes in Discoveryland awaited us and we found ourselves on yet another starcruiser in battle with the evil Zurg. Each had their lasers at the ready and blasted the aliens with an extra sense of purpose.

The adults felt the need for a little pampering, themselves, and got Fast Passes for Space Mountain. While we waited we hit another watering hole with tables sitting in stadium seating over a stage. Though the stage was not in use the kids were easily distracted by the many screens showing classic silent Disney films (It was nice not to have to worry about the 20 different translations or so). While our break lasted the adults took their turns to slip out of the dark theater and over to the next star ride. Grandma and Grandpa went first and came back with big smiles and assurances that we would have fun. Are you kidding? We remembered the ride from the time we were kids and looked forward to it with mouths watering. If we would have read the map a little closer we would have seen that it was not just Space Mountain, it was Space Mountain: Mission II . . . Wow! I cannot lie, the fast pass line was so short we went back through it for a second ride before the grandparents(parents) could question where we were going. Turns out the play had started in the theater and the kids and grandparents alike were enjoying another spin off of The Lion King. Disneyland has its perks. Ha ha ha . . . ah, I have to share another one of them with you that my mother-in-law pointed out. This was our first visit to a . . . um civilized city on their trip, evident by her passing remark. It went something like this. "Isn't it nice to be able to walk down the streets and not worry about what you see in the windows? I mean, even in a nice town like Brugge they had mechanical penises right in the front windows on the street." Hmm, I wonder what she would have said if I told her they sell a collection of vibrators next to the lipstick in the grocery stores? Yes, we had certainly entered a different world.

By the time we exited the sun was setting and only a few moments remained for Fantasyland to be open so headed that direction to hop on It's a Small World which just could not be missed, could it? By now the girls were recharged and the lines were bare. We were able to zoom out of one and another ride making the most of our last few hours. I was amazed to walk through the maze the line would have normally weaved its way through one slow step at a time. Pirates of the Caribbean was especially entertaining and all the more so when you can wander through it at your own pace. After the ride we passed through Skull Rock into a new world of wonder. It was dark night now and we found ourselves creeping through underground caverns, overhanging wooden bridges, stepping stones over creepy bogs, and through the jungle paths to the Swiss Family Robinson house. Can you believe we had this whole island to ourselves? I will never venture into the island in daylight again. The candles and lamps were lit in the tree house and the passages in the caves were as eerie as they were meant to be. There was a view from the hanging bridge which would have been ideal to watch the fireworks with an overlarge view of the lit castle. I am glad the rest of the family talked me out of it as the fireworks display was not an ordinary pyrotechnics show; they used lasers to display amazing images across the face of the castle. It was mesmerizing to watch, but by the end of the show I felt like I had seen all there was for any fireworks display to offer. We filed out of the park with the rest of the mass exodus in a trance. The girls were piled into the Chariot and wheeled out to where the last shuttle of the night would take us to our beds. They didn't make it into their beds before they were off into their own magical dreamland.

Asleep in the Chariot

WC Report:

The French toilets seem to either be dirty and unkept or pristine, there is nothing in between. Even while we were at the fancy French restaurant their bathroom was disgusting, missing essential pieces, no soap, and half-used toilet paper laying all over the place. They didn't even have a baby changing station, so I ended up laying Screech Monkey on the counter between two sinks which was pooled with water and no paper towels to mop it up with. Later we walked into some out of the way toilet between Fantasyland and Adventureland and were pleasantly surprised by a beautiful and clean bathroom. I can't say I picked up any rhyme or reason for their toilet madness.

Tragedy Report:

I wish that I could put we had no tragedy in Disneyland, but as fate would have it we left with a major tragedy: we did not get to go on every ride. There were so many places we wish could have been seen or experienced. The one ride Squirrel Monkey wanted to go on in the Studio Park, Crushes Coaster, did not allow her small size on. Although, to this day, if you ask her what her favorite ride was that she went on in Disneyland she'll say it was the Nemo ride. Well, I guess just being rejected at the front of the cue was enough of a memory for her.

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