Disneyland Paris

We overslept after all our Paris sightseeing.  Upon opening our door, we were immediately greeted by 3 friendly geese that waddled up from the pond.  We stayed in a wonderful place on the Disney golf course called the Marriott Village d’Ile de France.  It’s like staying in a classic French townhouse in the countryside.  We went this route to get more space and so glad we did.  Lynn and I had our own suite upstairs and down below it had a kitchen, laundry machine, big family room, kids’ bedroom and two bathrooms.  There’s a little store on site to get groceries, which has been very helpful.  We made lots of crepes with Nutella and whip cream.

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Arriving at Disneyland, we were pleasantly surprised by all the Christmas decorations.  I didn’t realize they’d be all decked out and it made the experience that much more special.  There were classic Christmas carols playing all throughout the park, fake snow that made us feel cold every time we walked by, and festive trees and garland everywhere.  It really felt like the “happiest, (merriest) place on earth.”

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The park was larger than I expected.  We saw a lot of familiar rides and landmarks, but what stood out was the stunning, grand castle right as you walk through the downtown area.  I remember being disappointed in Anaheim at the small scale of the castle, but this one impresses and is so detailed and beautiful from every angle.  One of the coolest things about it is a dark cave underneath where a sleeping dragon lives and wakes to roar and breathe smoke.  Jace was fixated watching it and keeps asking if dragons are real now.  I really can’t convince him otherwise.

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The boys spent some time running through the Swiss Family Robinson tree house which was extremely high up.  Our first ride was Pirates of the Caribbean which Jace wanted to repeat about 2 seconds into it.  They also liked the haunted mansion, which I didn’t care for at all.

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Pirates of the Caribbean

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Le Manoir de Paris- Haunted House

Thankfully the lines weren’t too long on any of the rides our first day, except for Thunder Mountain.  We got a fast pass and were able to get on pretty quick and avoid the lines.  This was another ride I liked better than Anaheim.  Thunder Mountain is on it’s own little island and the ride starts across the water with a dark tunnel that takes you under the water and up the mountain.  It felt like a longer ride than usual and was quite the adventure for our group!  It was really the only roller coaster type ride we were all able to go on together.

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Thunder Mountain

One big bummer is that the height requirement for some of the faster rides is quite a bit higher than America’s.  Nathan was able to ride things when he was 5 that he wasn’t tall enough to ride here now at age 8.  The one ride he was so looking forward to was Space Mountain.  Since it goes upside down, he didn’t make the cut.  I have to say, I liked it so much better here and so did the older boys.  Definite repeat.

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Space Mountain

The other big bummer is dealing with just about everyone’s cigarette smoke.  Not sure why Disney allows it, it makes such a mess.  Not fun to be standing behind someone in line with it, but we got used to it.

Some rides are in English, but most characters spoke just French.  Star Tours was hilarious with C-3PO and R2D2 screaming in French.  It didn’t phase Jace, he could have stayed on that ride all day.  Even Buzz Lightyear and Zurg spoke French, which made all laugh for some reason.  They were hard to take serious sounding like that.

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Star Tours – Jace’s love

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It was probably a good thing the Tower of Terror was in a different language so Jace didn’t know what was coming!  He was brave and rode with us twice, but steered clear every time we asked if he wanted to go again.  The rest of us loved it!

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Jace doesn’t know what he’s in for!

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Two nervous boys the second time around

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Indiana Jones was quite a bit different, being a roller coaster here.  Lynn and I felt like we needed a chiropractor after one jerky spin around the tracks.  Tyler and Cade loved it and went without us again.

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Lynn & the boys on Indiana Jones

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Indiana Jones et le Temple du Peril

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We didn’t spend too much time in Fantasy Land, thankfully.  Full of little kids and strollers with long lines.  Small World was a must-see. It was fun to see England’s section with the bridge and buses.  America’s part was funny–they must think we’re all cowboys or Hollywood movie stars.  I was glad they mixed up the repetitive song with “Jingle Bells” too.

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Small World

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London in Small World

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The Wild American West

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USA – it was strange to see the Twin Towers represented

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Fantasy Land

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Time for a cotton candy break

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Entering Fantasy Land from the backside of the castle

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This was my favorite among many darling little shops

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Tradition to fill a tube with flavored sugar powder.

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Thankfully we had two days to spend in both parks.  Walt Disney Studios had some really fun rides.  The Toy Story Playland was so cute all designed with huge toys from the past.  Jace and Nathan loved riding up and down on the army man parachutes–it was like a child’s version of Tower of Terror.  The Slinky Dog and RC car ride were hits too.

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Entering the magic of Walt Disney Studios

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Toy Story Playland

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We went to a few shows, the boy’s favorite being a stunt car one.  We sat up in the bleachers watching cool motorcycle and car stunts.  They showed us how they do crazy stunts in movies and even had a guy crash his bike and slide into fire and become fully engulfed.  I’m really hoping they don’t get any ideas here.  Lightning McQueen made an appearance too.

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The older boys were excited to go on some more thrilling rides, so we waited in line for the Aerosmith Rock n Roller Coaster.  Nathan was surprisingly tall enough to join us and so excited for his first real adult-type ride.  Tyler loved checking out all the cool autographed memorabilia leading up to the ride.  We got strapped in and within 2.8 seconds were going 60 mph.  It was crazy, we were going so fast, upside down and all around in the dark with loud music and a colorful light show.  They said you experience more G-force than an astronaut does on a space shuttle launch, and I believe it.  We all ended up loving it and deemed it our favorite ride there.

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This is right before they shoot you out like a bullet!

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An extreme start to the ride. Poor Nathan is too short to see.

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That’s a happy scream!

It seemed like every time you turn around, there’s a new parade.  It’s about the only time we saw characters, so we’d stop and watch.  Father Christmas made his appearance with the elves.

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The most spectacular show was the Disney Dreams one at night which was made for the 20th anniversary celebration.  I’m not sure how they do it, but they project animation from different movies onto the front of the castle.  It featured a lot from the new movie Frozen.  No one does shows like Disney; the music was phenomenal, there were lasers, lights, mist, shooting water features, special effects and fireworks that entranced us all.  What a neat show!  I filmed all 20 minutes of it so we can experience it again!

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Disney Dreams!!

Disneyland is lit up so pretty at night.  If only it was a little warmer…

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How is that we always end up with weapons as souvenirs?  Jace had to have this blue Western gun with a badge, handcuffs and cowboy hat.  Nathan picked out a sword and mini pistol and Cade wanted a Pirate revolver.  Tyler added to his new collection with a Mickey Mouse watch.  The funny thing was we were nervous everything would be confiscated as we tried to board the Eurostar back home, but they all breezed right through security and I got stuck with my souvenirs–a bag full of ornaments all wrapped in tissue.  They unwrapped them all and admired them, checking out the tags and studying them all before trying to rewrap and finally sent us on our way.  I wasn’t happy to find one broken when we got back.

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What we take away most are the treasured memories we will all have of this wonderful Thanksgiving weekend together.  We had a lot of laughs and hilarious moments that made the trip unforgettable!

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What a magical place!

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