Thursday morning we had a choice. We had spent two very full days at the parks and seen most of what there was to see. The decision now was whether to forego the parks for a day in Paris or forego Paris and keep the trip Disney. We decided to at least start at Disney since we really wanted to see the Cinemagique show, which would be starting at 11:15 (and had been cancelled yesterday). Of course, since the parks opened at 10, this meant we could sneak in some other stuff before the show and then decide about heading into the City of Lights.
So now our question was which ride or attraction to try and get in before showtime. You know which one, don’t you? Go ahead and say it with me…
That’s right. Figured 3rd time’s the charm for this one. So with that decided our morning went quickly. I wrote a few postcards and we headed out to meet the shuttle. We arrived at Disneyland slightly before opening (well, opening for the attractions – shops were open and doing a brisk business) and were held up in front of the Castle until the tenth bell chimed. As soon as it did, they lowered the ropes and we made a beeline for the Boy who never grew up.
Of course, with early admissions and hotel guests and people who can run faster than us, by the time we got into line, the wait was listed as just over 30 minutes. We got into line ready to wait… And then it started raining. This time, we were not going to let a little water stop us in our quest – so I ran off to the nearest shop to buy an incredibly overpriced Mickey Mouse umbrella to keep us dry. Naturally, by the time I returned, the rain had stopped. But it could have started up again at any moment, so I was still holding on to the good deed I had done by getting it.
It stayed dry through the rest of the outdoor portion of the line and then we were under a solid roof and we could see the flying ships being loaded just ahead of us. Neither of us wanted to say anything since the possibility of jinxing it was quite real so we discussed the non-rain and the show we wanted to see and before we knew it, we were being loaded into a flying ship. We had made it! We were flying over London, fighting Captain Hook and rescuing poor Tiger Lily. It was great. It was also almost exactly the same as the one in Anaheim, but after three attempts, it felt perfect just to be able to say we did it.
We had beaten the half hour time frame (old Disney trick to post longer wait times so it feels like you’re beating the system) and wanted to head to the Studio side sooner rather than later so away we went. Since we still weren’t a hundred percent sure our afternoon plans, I wanted to make a quick run through the Dragon’s Lair again. I must say, I was incredibly impressed by this beast. So many moving parts. I stared at it for a good 7 or 8 minutes, trying to capture it on film. Other visitors came and went and, like a true dragon, getting it’s image proved elusive. I finally said good bye and we headed off to the other park.
Once there, we still had a few minutes to kill so we each grabbed a coffee and what passed for a donut and sat inside the little route 66 area. While we ate, I noticed a mural on the wall above us. It showed Hollywood Boulevard, with the Chinese Theatre, the Pantages, the Capitol Records Building and even the Magic Castle on one side of the street while on the other, you had the El Capitan and the Hollywood Sign — wait, what? Yeah, they got it backwards. The Hollywood Sign was in the wrong place. Le sigh…
Oh well. We finished breakfast and headed over to the Cinemagique show, got great seats in the middle of the first row of the second section and patiently waited. Soon enough a movie palace usher walked on stage, welcomed us and admonished us to turn off our cell phones. Pretty standard fare, really. The lights went down, a film clip appeared on the screen, something from the silent era, maybe The Sheik, mayb— a cell phone started ringing. Seriously. And it was loud. And then it was answered. The usher immediately headed over to quiet the guy who jumped out of his chair to get away, all while still talking on the phone. When he made his way onto the stage I understood I’d been had and this was part of the show. Sure enough, a minute later and the silent film was interacting with the guy on stage and a minute after that, he was magically transported into the film itself (and had turned into Martin Short). The rest of the 30 minute long show was Short’s character interacting with 100 years of cinema history a la Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid. It was great! Certainly worth the time and effort it took to see it. Probably one of my favorite attractions in that park. Now, to be fair, I’m a film nut and half the fun for me was naming all the hundreds of clips used to put the piece together. But I also enjoyed the silly story-line which was woven through and the practical effects were also pretty impressive. So much so that the Disney feeling we had when leaving the auditorium was enough to allow us to finally decide to stay in the parks and leave Paris for another trip.
Cinemagique, however, did wrap up the Disney Studio for us, so we were going back to Disneyland. There was a brief detour while I was sent to four different places to try and find stamps, but find them I did… eventually. Postcards were posted and we said au revoir to Walt Disney Studios.
Discoveryland was our first stop, picking up a FastPass for Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast (just like the Astroblaster in Anaheim but with an absurdly long line) then heading to the Disneyland Railroad to take a 360° tour. These were two of the maybe four or five things still on our list so we figured this was good progress. The train is like the ones at the other parks, complete with Grand Canyon diorama (but no primordial dinosaurs). The train car itself succumbed a bit to the inattention to detail as there were cobwebs covering the ceiling. Again, not enough to destroy the fun, but certainly enough to damage the illusion. There were four stops and we sailed through all of them, making the whole circuit. It really is a nice way to chill out and get some rest in the midst of all the rest of the excitement.
Back in Discoveryland, we had time for another tour of the Nautilus before our time for Buzz was open. I thought it was just as cool the second time around. I don’t know if it’s me getting older or the subject matter, but I’m enjoying the “B Ticket” attractions as much as the “E”s.
The FastPass for Buzz did cut out some of the line but there was still about a 20 minute wait to actually get on-board our astroblaster. Once there, though, let the shooting begin. It was a close contest, no doubt, but in the end, I did come out on top, beating Rasa by a few thousand points. And as the loser, it was up to her to pick our next ride. She opted for the Molly Brown Riverboat, so ff. we went to Frontierland.
The Molly Brown, like the Mark Twain, her companion paddle-wheeler in Anaheim, sails around the Rivers of America, but here she circles the island home of Thunder Mountain. There aren’t as many tableau’s set up on the river banks, but there is a nice dinosaur skeleton near the end. The island itself is also a masterpiece, with several people around us wondering if it was an actual island they had dug the river around.
From the boat we could see the Phantom Manor and considered taking it for another spin, but decided to do that later in the afternoon. I wanted to check out the “Boot Hill” area next to the Manor, though, to see what their tombstones were like. So that’s what we did. It didn’t occur to me until after we walked over that they witty epithets the Haunted Mansion in Anaheim is famous for might be recreated here, except in French. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case. They were in English, but there weren’t many of them. The most interesting one for me, was for a gentleman named Jacques whose tombstone bore a violin and bow.
Lunch was next and again we avoided burgers, eating instead at the Lion King/African themed Hakuna Matata. We were able to get a nice chicken and rice dish and were seranded by a troupe of African drummers. And because the weather had stayed so nice, we were even able to eat outside… the umbrella sitting on the table and mocking me the entire time.
Since the restaurant was in Adventureland, we were just across the footpath from Adventure Isle, home to the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse and Pirate’s Beach. There’s also a series of caves and caverns called The Earth’s Belly and a “peak” known as Spyglass Hill. This is the european equivalent to Tom Sawyer’s Island and is good for a nice walk through. And while there are several kid specific playgrounds throughout the park, this area, too, is a great place to watch your step for small children underfoot.
By this point, Lancelot’s Carousel was the last remaining unknown on our list of things to see and do. So we did it. Not much to say about it, it’s a merry-go-round with some fabulously decorated horses along the outside rail. There’s also not much of a wait, so it made for a nice, easy ride.
As we climbed off our high horses, we realized we had checked all the boxes we wanted to check. The only thing left was to repeat a couple of favorites. With that in mind, we set off once again for Frontierland and a “15 minutes from this point” line for Phantom Manor. It was just as creepy the second time around but now we strolled a little more casually through the initial gallery so we could watch the paintings change. The hitchhiking ghosts still weren’t appearing, but if you didn’t know tio expect them, there was nothing to indicate they were missing.
Heading back to the world of the living, we knew Thunder Mountain was only a few steps away. We didn’t have a FastPass this time around so we figured we could risk the line. It claimed a 60 minute wait. We could do an hour, easy. And besides, it had started sprinkling so as an added bonus, we could open the umbrella (didn’t really need to, but it made me feel better)
Turns out, this time line psychology was wrong and it was closer to 90 minutes… maybe 100 before we were boarding our train. It was a long line for sure. Probably the longest we waiting in during all three days, but for this ride it was totally worth it. We spent the next three minutes or so screaming and cheering like little kids. It really was a great ride to go out on.
And while we were done with rides, we still had one more attraction to revisit – Alice’s Labyrinth. Naturally I was wearing my Doctor Who/Alice mash-up t-shirt so it seemed like we really had to take one more spin around the hedges. Good thing we did, too, since there was a whole section we had missed the last time. We got some good pictures, had a laugh or two and knew it was time to head out.
On our way back to the hotel, we did a quick tour of the Disney Village (the Downtown Disney stand-in), walked through the Disney Art Gallery and the Lego shop (with brilliant lego tapestries of Disney scenes) then strolled easily back home. We had another night of take-out (and no, it wasn’t without complications this time, either) and packed up. Our shuttle to take us back to the middle of nowhere airport was due to arrive at 4:30am. The fact it actually arrived at 4 and left us at the wrong terminal before that terminal even opened is a story for another day.