Despite our late night, we were up early-ish and headed to the main hotel lobby for the included buffet breakfast. Our meal plan included 4 breakfasts and 4 lunch/dinners per adult and the breakfast buffet at the Santa Fe Hotel seemed just as good as anything else.
On the way there, we pass Pluto in the lobby doing a photo op (again, advantages of being in an onsite property) so we do that first, hoping to take full advantage of the Photopass program. I like the program, since it gives you access to all the digital photos the Disney photographers take (including those on the ride shots) and since photos was one of our primary foci here, it seemed like a good deal. It’s not for everyone, but it works for us.
Except…sometimes the Photopass photographer isn’t paying attention and misses key moments. Like for instance, in this case, when Monki first ran up to Pluto it was cute and sweet and completely missed by the guy who was talking to a colleague instead of taking pictures. I’m sure there are some general rules they have to follow, but still. It made us make sure we always had our own cameras ready.
Now, speaking of Photopass opportunities, it seems Disneyland Paris is piloting an app called Lineberty. The idea is like a fast pass for photos and it’s running on a couple of settings, Minnie Mouse and Buzz Lightyear over at the Disney Studios Park and a Minnie Mouse meet and greet as part of the Lion King show happening now. I’d downloaded the app ahead of time, finding out about it somewhere, and seen that the reservation line opened 15 minutes before the start of the character interactions so while at breakfast, at 9:45am, I tried to book us in to see Minnie Mouse since she and Daisy Duck were on Monki’s must see list. Couldn’t do it from the hotel as we were “out of range.” Strange. Okay, so we’d do it from the park. Except that by 9:55, it was full for the day. So if you were not at the park by 9:45, you had no opportunity to get in on this. Add in that the other Minnie meet and greet, while it says it is for the Lion King Signature Event, isn’t really clear, so that was frustrating as well. When I mentioned this to several workers at the park, they all shook their heads knowingly and agreed the app sucks. I knew I was going to complain about it.
Regardless, we were there to have fun, so after breakfast we headed to the park and did the classic, let’s pose for pictures in front of the castle, thing. Always a lot of fun trying to get your people in frame whilst avoiding the other throngs milling about. Then we immediately put small people into a good mood by riding Small World and the Carousel. Monki rode the horse all by herself, with mommy standing by in case of emergencies, but in general, she was on her own. It was awesome!
Since it was sunny and still early, we thought about riding Peter Pan but the line was already pretty long. So we picked up a couple of fast passes instead and headed off in search of other adventures. Specifically, we went to Adventure Isle, a pirate themed adventure area where kids of any age can play, but especially designed for the younger set. It’s also Disneyland Paris’ answer to Tom Sawyer Island and the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse all wrapped up in one. Which means there’s bridges and caves and waterfalls and all sorts of things to explore.
And there was a suspended bouncy bridge, nowhere near stable (but not dangerous, just swaying) which Monki decided she wanted to cross. Rasa wasn’t sure about it, but the three of us went over and, even though there was a slight hesitation and panic around half way, we made it just fine. Really proud of Rasa for doing it. In fact, she ended up doing a lot of things on this trip which made her uncomfortable but she pushed through and was just amazing!
Coming off that adventure, we found a playground with slides and climbing things and
the like. Monki wanted to go to it so we did. Although the first sign we saw said it was for 7-12 year olds and I was about to get angry (after the Linberty thing, I was primed) but then someone pointed out that there were two entrances and the second one was for 3-6 year olds. And the two areas were separated by a solid barrier. Crisis averted. We played for a few minutes, Monki learning how to find the hand and foot holds cut into the wooden ramp for climbing and was having a great time – but we figured there were play places at home so we moved on.
Besides, Pirates of the Caribbean was right around the corner. We weren’t sure how Monki was going to react but hey, nothing ventured nothing gained, right? So in we went. The line wasn’t long, about twenty minutes or so, but the little one was freaked out from the get go. Again with the dark and being inside. She kept wanting to go out but we convinced her that the way out was through (Thanks Mr. Churchill) and eventually got to the boat loading area. By this point, we figured we’d just step through and leave, and we told the guy loading the boats as much, so he put us into the last row.
And then a weird thing happened. As I walked through and got out on the other side, Monki sat down in the middle of the row. She decided to stay after all. Now, this could be that she was thinking it was like Small World or she was just tired and wanted to sit, who knows. But sat she did. So we sat and told the guy we were going to ride.
Except now there was a problem: Monki wasn’t allowed to sit in the back row of the boat and we’d have to wait for the next ride. Then the nice folks who had been our line companions and were now seated in the row in front of us offered to switch, which we did.
The ride was fun, but a little overwhelming for the little one. It’s weird what scares people and what doesn’t. When I think of Pirates, I think of a cool, fun, relaxing ride – nothing remotely frightening. A roller-coaster, on the other hand, can be terrifying. And yet, Monki was terrified of the dark and noises in Pirates but the rides she went on which had ups and downs and were more traditionally scary were actually her favorites.
That said, when we got off the ride, we quickly realized our Peter Pan fast passes, which were available then, weren’t going to happen. No way we were going to get her on a dark ride so quickly after that last one. So we went to the ride and found a couple to give away our passes. This act of generosity would come back later.
Besides, it was lunchtime. So a burger at Cafe Hyperion in Videopolis in Discoveryland, our old haunt from the last time we were here. This is the Paris version of Tomorrowland, where Star Tours and Star Wars: Hyper Space Mountain are. Well, would be if Hyperspace Mountain and Autopia weren’t under renovation. In fact, a lot of stuff was under tarps or being worked on and it seemed to affect quality of everything else. Over the course of our five days, we noticed that a lot of the workers just didn’t know things, and half them didn’t really care.
With lunch out of the way, we change parks to head to Disney Studios. In the front courtyard we see Daisy and Donald with a line so we dutifully get in the back of the queue (remember, Daisy and Minnie are on our “must see” list) and prepare to wait our turn. A few minutes later a “cast member” approaches the people in front of us in line and tells them that the line ends with the people in front of them, effectively closing the line where we, the last people at the moment are standing with two people ahead of us. This does not make us happy campers. Yes, I absolutely understand the need to limit the lines, and yes, it’s hot out for the kids in the character costumes, but to exclude two families when it would have been just as easy to close the line behind us, where there was no one waiting, just seemed rude.
Now, then, seemed like a good time to go to guest services to complain about the Linberty app. The guy there explained the concept of the app was to stop people from reserving and not showing up. That explanation didn’t hold water. So I complained louder. All I wanted was a reservation, or at least the opportunity to make one fairly. Eventually, the guy suggested a line pass for the Mickey meet and greet, which I accepted. Then he took our cards and made a notation on them. I guarantee it was some kind of “this guy’s a complaining asshole” code, but you know what? Line pass for my kid to meet Mickey Mouse was totally worth it!
Aside from characters, Monki, who has been watching Peppa Pig and Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom has seen several of her favorite characters jump from airplanes and decided she wants to do a parachute jump. Thankfully, Toy Story Playland has the Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop, so were covered. While in line we met a nice family (DeAndre, Pat, and Hannah Rose, who is one week older than Monki) which made the line go faster.
The ride itself, which lifts you up to height of about 60 feet and then bounces you up and down a few times, is not Rasa’s kind of thing at all, but she did it! Monki, however, loved it! This became her “up and down” ride and fast moved to one of her favorites.
As we exit that ride and get our stroller, the Slinky Dog Zigzag spin ride is right across the way and the line is only a few minutes long so we re-park the buggy and away we go. A few minutes later we see our friends from the parachute jump get into line so we call them over and continue our nice chat, saying goodbye for good when the ride ended.
It was now time to head back to Disneyland to meet up with Mickey. There was some slight confusion about the line pass, and we spent a few minutes in the regular line (sitting in air conditioning and watching classic Mickey cartoons) before I cleared it up and we moved to the fast pass area. It didn’t take long before we were herded in to see the main mouse himself.
The conceit here is that Mickey is a magician getting ready for showtime, and we are coming backstage to meet him. Therefore, the set decoration is all magic props and schedules and stuff. I loved it! We have a few minutes wait in the antechamber before we are ushered in to see the star…and there’s no photopass photographer.
Sure, we can (and do) take pictures with our own cameras, but when you spend a bit on the photopass, you want to take advantage of it and get as many of the “professional” shots as you can, so when I don’t see the photographer, I ask about it.
“Isn’t this a Photopass area?” (some character interactions are not)
“It is,” came the reply from the nice girl working the room. “Except we don’t know where they are – They’re missing.”
“So what should we do?”
The suggestion is to either wait or just take our pictures and complain about it. We wait, let one family go ahead of us, and then decide to take our pictures anyway. The girl tells us to complain at the desk and ask to be take to a room with a photographer. So we do.
Interestingly, by the time we get back in, we’re shown into the same room and they’ve found a replacement shooter. I ask the girl if we can get a shot of Mickey with some of the magic props and she agrees enthusiastically, explaining there are lots of things we can use. So we get a few shots of Monki doing her thing, and then I ask for Mickey to move away from the red curtain background and get a shot with some props and am immediately shot down. It’s a no go. Interesting. Seems the staff photographers have guidelines which are not to be trifled with.
Back in the heat, Monki wants ice cream (she had SO much ice cream this trip, but the heat was unbearable so fair trade). Meanwhile, Rasa wants a Nutella crepe (she’s gone off Nutella at home, but I guess vacation Nutella is SO much better!) so we go in search of both, ending up at the big windmill (Monki has a fascination with windmills) to at least get the ice cream, then sit down to eat. Within a few minutes, Rasa kinda screams out in pain and jumps about, realizing she’s just been bitten by a wasp. She’s in huge pain but not allergic so no imminent danger. I go in search of ice (surprisingly hard to find nearby) and then Monki and I leave her to just sit and freeze her forehead while we go ride Small World…again.
By the time the ride is done and we get back, about 25 minutes have passed. The pain is still there, but at least she can move without feeling nauseous. So we decide now is a good time to find the park’s first aid station and get a large dose of paracetamol. Now, for sure, it’s time for a Nutella crepe!
We ask around but none of the workers seem to know where a stand selling them either is or is open, but we do find one by chance and Rasa is in heaven, easing her discomfort with hazel nutty goodness!
After all this, we’re all a bit beat so we decide to head back to the hotel. We have an early morning coming, with a pre-booked character breakfast. Monki is so tired she falls asleep on the 15 minute walk back, waking only briefly when we enter the room to make sure the ceiling fan is still covered.