|19 days 'till Halloween!
||[Oct. 12th, 2011|12:31 pm]
Last week I went to Disneyland Paris for their Halloween season :)
I’ve build in some links to photos my friend Dan of Character Central took, because he went on October 1st and 2nd and has some things I want to talk about or just plain better photos of things we both saw :)
Starting September reports had been doing the rounds that didn’t sound promising at all for this year’s Disneyland Paris Halloween season.
The first rumour I heard was that the Halloween pre/post parade, last year actually named for the first time as Dreams of Trick or Treat, was to be cancelled along with the Pumpkin People, DLP’s seasonal special characters.
I was rather less than impressed, as regular followers of this blog may remember. I was also less than impressed with the fact that DLP point blank refused to confirm or deny the rumour and we just had to go by what was circulating online.
Secondly there was the fact that this year there wasn’t even a proper Halloween website.
Of course end of September they started Halloweenifying the Fantasyland Castle Stage, setting up a HUGE Mickey Jack o’ Lantern so hope rose again. Especially with the announcement of two all new seasonal shows.
Photos were appearing left and right of these new things, and sure it started to look alright.
My friend Sam and I had booked for the season months in advance, and we were, especially after reading Disney Dan’s blog post about the season and seeing the DLRP Magic Halloween section, pretty optimistic by the time we were leaving. His sister Lien and her bf Pieter were joining us, exiting for their first DLP Halloween season.
I had made cookies and muffins for on the way there
and handed Lien and Pieter a package with a Halloween card, a witch hat brooch for Lien and a copy of the scavenger hunt. She was happy to get it and play along. Lien if you read this, I still have some of your shots for your hunt!
Some pics on the road:
We were staying at Hotel Cheyenne, and inside the Hotel there was pretty much nothing in the way of decorations other than lovely fall flowers. Which was fine, as it suited the atmosphere and theme of the hotel.
After checking in, parking the car outside the part we’d be staying and sorting the last bits of costume
we walked to the park (because it takes longer to wait for the bus, be on that and walk from the stop to the park than to actually walk straight away).
In Disney Village the only Halloween décor was outside World of Disney and in World of Toys, the two shops that sold Halloween merchandise. No big Haunted Manor type stage for photo opportunities and concerts like last year. No all out decorations like previous years.
We got tickets (entrance tickets are not included if you book from Belgium with annual passport discounts) and I renewed my AP and was given the temporary entrance ticket.
When Sam and I tried to get in, we were halted on the spot by a cast member who insisted she needed to call her manager because, get this, we were in costume. Apparently they changed the rules all of the sudden (after we booked so we didn’t even know) and whilst for as long as everyone can remember adults were allowed to costume in the park the entirety of the Halloween season, you are now only allowed to vaguely put on some Halloween accessories. It was fine because in the end as we could pass for regular steampunks with some added themed accessories. But still: WHAT THE FUCK people?! We were rather less than impressed.
We didn’t actually get any good costume shots this year (I have no clue why, we must have lost our brains somewhere so have some from last year, we wore the same costumes as back then again ^__^). Neither of us wore our coats in the park though (Sam left his at the luggage depot and I had left mine in the car) because it was just too warm.
They did have the glossy full colour programs for the Halloween season (they do those during the Christmas season too) instead of the plain paper ones, which was nice :)
Main Street used to be all out full blown decorated for Halloween (at least up to 2009, last year it was far less already). They had seriously toned that down last year (much to my chagrin) and this year the decorations were pretty much non existent.
There were some set ups with merchandise and Halloween candy (very reasonably priced for once!) inside some stores,
a sign outside Lilly’s Boutique
and some Mickey eared pumpkins on the grass outside Town Square
and Central Plaza.
Winnie the Pooh was out in his new bumblebat costume (I like to think that it could be a bat dressed up as a bee but seeing it’s Pooh universe the chances of that are next to none) which was cute.
They also played a Halloween song at intervals, but that was _it_.
We went into the Bureau Passeports Annuels where I went to renew my disability pass and get my permanent AP (you get a temporary ticket at Guest Relations, which you then need to take to the AP office and get swapped for your real one). No issues there an the CMs were very friendly. They also explained that soon (no actual set date yet) the disability cards will be replaced. People needing one will be allowed ONE person to go on rides with them (because they are legally obliged to allow one) but not more.
Which I think is a bit rubbish for the following reasons:
- It splits up groups. Now if you’re using such a card you could take up to 3 people with you (more in some rides, less in others, but generally three). This made sense because there’s 4 people in a room normally and it allowed the entire party to stick together. Unless you were there with a HUGE group but let’s face it, how many times does that happen?
- CMs are really well organised when it comes to dealing with the disability groups and they have foreseen the amounts of place they need to clear really well. Making the groups smaller would probably only really affect the speed of queues during top peak season. And even then probably not by more than like 5 minutes as they’ve calculated in how many disabled people + people with them can get into a ride per hour.
You have to get a return ticket at most rides after all, if you don’t, you don’t get in, simple as that. And there’s only a limited amount, so abuse is pretty much impossible.
So my hope is that Disney does a really good testing of these new cards and realises they don’t need to cut the number of accompanying people short. If they don’t, well I’ll have to stick to the low season because I’m not able to stand for prolonged times but I don’t want to abandon half of my friends in a queue either :(
Also, most of the people with disability passes don’t abuse them. I certainly don’t. I know I often jokingly say “skip the queue pass” but that’s because I rather laugh at the fact I’m not healthy at all than sit there being depressed about it. I can’t change it after all (I wish I could though!) In reality (and I told this to the CM renewing my pass too) I am really happy Disney extends this service to people so they can come and enjoy the parks. Frankly without it, I wouldn’t be able to go. And I never use my pass if I can avoid it. If there’s no queue or a very short one, I will just go in like everyone else. And so do most people in my situation.
It’d be sucking so hard if we now have to leave half of our friends behind because of the few that do abuse their passes.
Wait and see and hope for the best I guess.
That all said, we marched into Frontierland for Phantom Manor. And nearly got apoplectic from shock. No Frontierland = Halloweenland. No decorations apart from some outside Tobias Norton & Sons (the shop that always sells Halloween merchandise). The only thing Halloween that was up were the signs pointing to where you could meet Jack and Sally. By the by, the hours on the program for them and the Villains are hours where they MIGHT be out.
At Phantom Manor we discovered that they had instated a return ticket for it, which we didn’t know (as we weren’t told by anyone and it wasn’t listed on my pass as R for Reservation required either). I apologised profusely to the CM, who totally understood and said it happened a lot and it was fine for this time and we just had to get one the next time. Basically a lot of people just take the disability entrance like they have been doing for years and they just inform them and well, people know and get a return ticket the next time they go on.
When we came out we bumped into a whole crowd of people trying to have their photo taken with Jack Skellington.
It was like 2008 all over again and allow me to explain to you why.
Back in 2008 it was the year they introduced Jack and Sally. They had the luminous idea to just put them out on Boot Hill Cemetary and let people sort it out themselves, which always resulted in a mobbing of the characters.
In 2009 DLP had amended that situation by setting up a truly epic meet and greet area for Jack and Sally near Cowboy Cookout Barbeque. They repeated this in 2010.
So you can all imagine that Sam and I were VERY surprised to see that they had gone back to the mobbing situation again. It was bad already now in the middle of the week during low season, I don’t want to be in Jack or Sally’s shoes on Halloween itself!
The nice attendant was kind enough to help us out and Lien and I went on the photo with the Pumpkin King, who was very awesome.
We thanked his attendant repeatedly and ambled off in the direction of Thunder, only to bump into Jafar. There weren’t many people in front of him but they were all Spanish and off the MY CHILD MUST GET ON THE PHOTO FIRST REGARDLESS OF OTHERS mentality and we did try to get on a photo with him before asking help as I was starting to feel it, but he sadly had to leave.
And then we noticed Dr Facilier who had pretty much no one around him and they were all decent people waiting for their turn, so we could go on a photo with him without help at all. Yay for people being decent!
So we went to find out what was wrong with Big Thunder, as it wasn’t going, and the friendly CMs told us it was a technical difficulty but that it’d be fixed later during the day.
Thus we went into Adventureland, where they are doing maintenance on the Swiss Family Robinson tree house
and redoing the Jolly Roger (bye bye pirate ship, you will be missed dearly!).
Following the Leader, the Peter Pan show, was on and I grabbed a very quick photo
before going into Pirates of the Caribbean with the others.
There was only a 5 minute wait, so we wandered into the queue and into the ride :)
The swinging pirate wasn’t swinging and they adjusted the cannons of Blackbeard’s ship and I got wet, as usual. And the duelling pirate and local weren’t there either, they’re probably down for maintenance. Or as Sam said: they ran each other through and had to be fixed (which sounds funnier really).
We popped into Coffre du Capitaine where Lien got a mini witch hat with ears and then we went to get a return ticket for Peter Pan. As it was so calm we got to go on straight away. The CM checked his time table for return tickets and realised he could let us straight on so he did, yay.
By that time it was high time for some food. Sam and Lien wanted to do Casey’s Corner, for which my enthousiasm is always lacking (the service is poor and the food isn’t that great in my opinion). Pieter really wasn’t convinced by that plan either so we decided to do Cowboy Cookout Barbeque instead.
On the way there we got distracted in Adventureland (there’s a short cut via Fantasyland to Frontierland through Adventureland) by the set up for Aladdin’s Magic Lamp.
Cowboy Cookout fell through also as the character tea party was going on and you could only get in if you got an overpriced menu. So we tried Fuente del Oro, which was closed (much to Sam’s chagrin and no obviously he didn’t really harm my umbrella)
and ended up at Last Chance Café. Where the service was slooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooow but the CMs were really friendly. And the food was nice :)
There was a two piece country band playing for whom we all felt very sorry as no one was paying attention to them apart from us (at regular intervals).
It was nice to see that Disney had them out and about, although I think they’re better placed at Cheyenne or Cowboy Cookout as people will actually give them the attention they deserve and they actually have equipment there so they are properly heard.
But still, they rocked and if you see them out and about, take the time to listen to them if only for a couple of minutes as they’re well worth it.
I didn’t see the Crypt Quintet, which was too bad as I was totally looking forward to seeing those guys again. I think they may be a weekend only kind of thing :(
After food it was time for more rides. We had a return ticket for Thunder by that time and spend some time in Tobias Norton and Sons. They had Halloween t-shirts in this shop, I think it’s the first year they have those.
One of the CMs working there came up to Sam and I to tell us she loved our costumes. I loved her make-up so I asked if I could take her picture :)
And a strawberry Minnie they had and I photographed for kureakawaii.
First we went onto Big Thunder Mountain, which was now working again
And then we went on our way to Discoveryland (also often dubbed Steampunkland by the fans of the genre) we realised the Villains show (Disney’s Maleficious Halloween Party) was about to start so we stuck around to watch that. It’s actually pretty fun. And it’s awesome to see that DLP saw the light and re-added Maleficent in a starring role after canning her from the show last year. This is a new villains show but it does hold some elements from the old one. The Maleficent-Jafar tango is back, and the dancers are largely the same. And it still ends with the Villains routine of “It’s good to be Bad” which I think is EPIC. Definitely well worth taking the time to watch if you like Villains.
I didn’t get any good photos, but my friend Dan did (and he also got photos of the Halloween shows I didn’t see so check out his flickr set if you want to see them!)
Photo by Dan
In Discoveryland we did Star Tours,
[neither had queues longer than 5 minutes] and then we hopped into Fantasyland for Small World (urgh!)
And got caught in the parade
whilst trying to get back to Discoveryland so Lien, Pieter and Sam could use their fast pass tickets for Space Mountain. Whilst they went on I bought some Christmas baubles (baby girl’s 1st Christmas 2011 ones) for Bert’s grandparents, my brother and sister in law and my mother in law
and then waited outside Nautilus (taking pictures of course) for the others to emerge from their rollercoaster ride adventure.
For some bizar reason we totally forgot about the Jack Sparrow meet and greet, so hopefully we’ll remember next time and Lien can finally have a picture taken with him.
We went to Disney Village to have dinner after park closing time and left Lien and Pieter at Planet Hollywood whilst we went further into the Village to check out the new Earl of Sandwich. After reaching the conclusion it was a combination of Panos and Subway and we really didn’t feel like that, we went next doors to the Rainforest Café.
I hadn’t eaten there before and I have to say you get really quite good value for money. Just don’t go if you’re not that hungry because you get a LOT of food! It was pretty packed but they still managed to seat us promptly (immediately when we arrived) and set things up so people could still move without bumping into the next person every step. And the (interactive) décor is pretty awesome too, I would definitely recommend it. Price range wise it’s around € 25 for a large drink (and by large I mean LARGE) and a main dish, which is about the same you’d pay in hotel Cheyenne and Santa Fe for a normal drink and buffet. So yes it’s a little more expensive, but it’s worth it I’d say.
When dinner was had we went back to the hotel to put the stuff into our room
and hang out.
Sam sorted out Disney Channel onto the English one and a little later Pieter and Lien showed up too after their meal. Sam and Lien went to get drinks in the hotel and we hung out and had fun talking in the room.
The next day we got up for 7am breakfast so we could enjoy Extra Magical Hours. I do quite like the dining hall of the Cheyenne, although I prefer the one from Santa Fe to it as that’s warmer.
Still the food was nice (they’ve got the same buffets other than the fact that Cheyenne has garlic paste and tomato paste, which baffles me as a morning thing but hey) and there was PLENTY of choice. I would really recommend the Cheyenne if you love Western style things as the décor is perfectly done and it’s a really nice hotel. We normally stay at Santa Fe, but as Sam is the champion of tossing and turning the plan of one double and a bunk bed (meaning 2 singles) seemed the way forward. Now we just need to find a way to stop Pieter from snoring haha.
Frankly quality wise there’s no difference between Cheyenne and Santa Fe, it all depends on what theming you like best really. And if you’re going in the low season the price difference is so little you might as well go for Cheyenne if you would like to stay in an old fashioned styled western town.
I had decided not to wear my full costume for the day like I had originally planned, because I didn’t want to get told I couldn’t get in whilst wearing a shirt with jack o’ lantern print, waistcoat and tie so I toned it down. Thankfully I had forseen this (ok I admit, I had forseen it because I had planned to take the train home and I wanted to change to avoid drama in my home town) and I could just wear a black tee, black longsleeve and black cardi instead.
We went straight for Discoveryland where Pieter, Lien and Sam went into Space Mountain
and I took photos of Hyperion and other stuff
and waited for them in Constellations (the shop at the exit of/next to Buzz Lightyear Lazer Blast). Next we did Buzz again,
where Sam once more got the top score. Sam explained me how to get the most points, which is very nice of him as I always get the lowest score ^__^
We all got arm cramp and laughed about that a lot.
Seeing hardly anyone was around the Castle Stage, which was decorated for Halloween as Mickey’s Halloween Treat in the Street goes on on there (the show we missed, see Dan’s flickr for photos).
Halloween décor = picture fun.
As you can see, Pieter refused to jump, but thanks to his refusal this is the one jumping photo that came out nice!
Afterwards it was time for Peter Pan’s Flight and then it was nearly 10am and the official park opening. We decided to go have our picture taken with Pooh bear so we did that. Because we arrived at about 9.55ish the queue for Pooh was very short and we only had to queue about 5 minutes in it.
When Pooh had been photographed with us Lien and Pieter went shopping in the Village and we agreed to find each other there for lunch. Sam and I went back to Frontierland to do Phantom Manor
and Big Thunder Mountain.
Both had no queues at all (ok fine they said 5 minutes but they were pretty much walk through and wait 2 minutes) so we walked through the waiting area because they’re nice to see and there’s no need to get a return ticket when you don’t need it.
Pirates was another one we wanted to do, and that had no queue either, which was really nice.
After that we bought some Halloween candy at Le Coffre du Capitaine.
Sam also got a Trick or Treat bucket and some presents for his mum. I was tempted to get one too but I really have no use for it seeing the amount of Halloween decorations I have collected over the years ^^.
By then it was time to go to the Star Wars characters meet and greet, which we really wanted to do so we went there via Fantasyland.
They had Darth Vader out and he was pretty much being mobbed as they hadn’t instated a queue so I asked the attendant for help who got pretty grouchy as apparently disability passes are only for queued character meet and greets. Colour me surprised as it was the first thing I ever heard of that, which I explained to the CM. Initial confusion on both our accounts (and a lot of apologising on my side) aside he realised that I honestly genuinely didn’t know this and decided he was going to help us out anyway because he thought we shouldn’t miss out because someone didn’t do their jobs properly and forgot to tell us.
So yeah, something new learned. It was the first time a CM told me that, they’ve always helped out with non queue characters before. I won’t ask for non queued character help again because if it’s not allowed then it’s not allowed, simple as that.
On the way to Darth Vader we had noticed that the Princess Pavilion was doing it’s try out and was accessible for the holders of a Dream AP. So we figured that we might as well (ok I told Sam I wanted to do it because it was new and I wanted to take photos).
I have to say that it’s absolutely lovely set-up wise.
BUT: don’t do it if you’re not a honest to god princess fan. It was FULL of hysterically screaming children, children running amok whilst parents just let them. Cookies were smashed into the carpets and the lamps, there was ZERO respect for the set-up from 90% of the people in that queue, it was horrid.
The Princesses themselves they had in the area were Aurora in her blue dress and Belle.
Sam knelt for both for a photo and their surprised looks are priceless. I of course look like the queen of derp on all photos, no surprise there haha.
See my full post about the princess pavilion here (I don’t want to bore the socks off people that really don’t care about them).
The queue outside had said 20 minutes, but we were in nearly 40 in the end (damned screaming spawn!) and just had enough time to do the shops we wanted. Sadly no time to spare for Nautilus, so I’ll do that in the Christmas season. I still feel kindda sad I missed Nautilus because I went to see Princesses though, damn me and my desire to photograph new things!!!!!
Shopping wise we got more Halloween things and then went to the Village where we found Lien and Pieter and went to have lunch at Annette’s, which was nice.
Some more (Halloween) shopping
and photo & video fun
was had after food and then we went home again.
Sam dropped me off at Louvain train station and I managed to get home hauling 5 bags and 3 umbrellas. The looks on people’s faces nearly made me laugh several times :D
Bert picked me up at our local station and I lamented the weather as that was MUCH nicer in la France than here in Belgium.
Basically, if you want to have fun in a Disney park now’s as good a time as any. If you want proper Halloween celebrations, just don’t bother with Disneyland Paris. It’s more Hallowasn’t than Halloween (and yes that is a Winnie the Pooh Halloween reference, deal with it :P) and just not worth it. If you like Halloween but don’t mind there’s not much in the way of decorations and just want to shop some stuff then it’s ideal. Because whilst you can find Christmas things most of the year, you can only find Halloween things during the Halloween season.
Lien and I also played scavenger hunt. I don't know about most of her photos but mine (and two of hers that were on my camera) are here :)
Full set of all photos of this trip is here :)