Disneyland Paris, Garbagnati Style

I feel like it’s safe to say that I’ve earned myself an okay amount of travel cred over the years. I feel I chip away at that credibility whenever I visit any of the Disney Parks and I am 100% okay with that. Besides, Samantha Brown has been posting from Disneyworld, so it’s all good.

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When Chris and I visited Disneyland Paris back in September, there was some early talk about coming back when the whole group was out here. It was why I almost upgraded my ticket to an Annual Pass back then. I still kind of regret not doing that, but we still weren’t sure the trip would have happened. It would have been the first time since my Irvine days that I would have held the status of Annual Passholder, though.

The trip to Paris was interesting to say the least. I’ve taken that same Friday night train between Basel and Paris before and it had been generally uneventful. This time around, it was like a full on happy hour. There was a cast of weird characters during the whole ride. The trip between Paris and Disneyland Paris was significantly less eventful, as was the bus from Disney Village to the hotel (once we found where that was).

We got the two-day park pass and the itinerary I planned for everyone was relatively similar to the one Chris and I did when we were at the parks in February, where the focus was on the rides that are different from what we get back home. I, of course, brought my hat from our trip last fall in a vain attempt to not buy new mouse ears.

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We started the day at Walt Disney Studios and charged towards the Ratatouille Ride for Fast Passes. For some reason, however, the line to get Fast Passes for the ride looked incredibly long. Instead, we opted for the 30 minute Single Rider line. The ride was just as charming as it was the first time around. Also of note, they had mulled wine in that part of the park this time around. Having had my fair share of mulled wine over the past few months, I have to admit that this was probably one of the better ones that I’ve had. I was surprisingly impressed.

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We did a round of the Toy Story section with the intention of riding one of the rides there, but none of them stuck out as being rides that would not get us sick. Instead, we made our way to Crush’s Coaster and waited in the single-rider line for the ride. It took a little longer than the Ratatouille ride did, but I think it was less than the predicted 80 minutes.

Now, when we visited the parks in the fall, there was a big Marvel event going on and there was Marvel stuff everywhere, including giant statues of the Avengers. I hyped that a lot to everyone, and was partially disappointed when we crossed the park to find that the Marvel set up was replaced with a Star Wars event. Now, the Star Wars stuff was cool, but there also were no statues of Darth Vader and no one wanted to try the Star Wars themed food with me.

On the upside, I did take what was probably the closest I will ever get to a selfie with Lin-Manuel Miranda.

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We did an assessment of the rest of the park around this time. The line for the Rockin Roller Coaster was too long for a ride we’d done before (although I’m still curious if Ken Marino is in this version of the ride), no one seemed into the idea of doing Tower of Terror, and the Backlot Tour / Studio Tour (?) was closed, so we decided to leave the park. After I raided the Captain Marvel section of the store, of course.

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We made our way across to Disneyland and into the park. Unfortunately, we learned on our way in that Phantom Manor was closed for renovation. I was so sad to have missed it when we were there in the fall and so stoked to see it this time around. Instead, it was disappointment all over again. We made our way to Adventureland for Indiana Jones Fast Passes and then jumped in line for Pirates, which got us out just in time to get onto the Indiana Jones ride. Neither Mia nor Umma wanted to ride the ride, so we had two extra passes that Gianni and I used to ride a second time. Turns out, it’s not the best ride to go on twice in a row, but it was still fun.

Another thing I promised was a villains section of the store outside of Pirates, something that also no longer exists. We were told that it all moved to Frontierland, making it our next stop. This meant that Frontierland was our next stop. They didn’t have a villains section (unless you count the Nightmare Before Christmas stuff), but I did end up getting a Maleficient hat. I guess the promise I made myself was not to get ears…didn’t say anything about goofy hats.

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It was almost four at this point and we hadn’t eaten since breakfast, so we were getting pretty hungry. It didn’t hurt that all of Frontierland smelled like some solid barbeque. We’re all suckers for good BBQ, especially Gianni, so we made our way there. Except both of my brothers grumbled about how they were in France and eating American food as soon as we ordered the food. I felt bad until they started talking about how they really wanted to go to the Mexican restaurant to get the California-style burritos. Nerds. The barbecue was good, though. They even had pecan pie.

After we ate, we wanted to try to get Space Mountain Fast Passes, so we wound around the crazy parade via Fantasyland to Tomorrowland (except it’s called something else there) to try to get them. Unfortunately, they were out of passes for both Space Mountain and Buzz Lightyear, by that time. Dejected, we went back to Fantasyland to do the Alice in Wonderland maze.

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We did a stop by Sleeping Beauty’s castle as well to see the dragon and the tapestries, where I took a photo with Maleficient and my hat. Was trying to go for her look in the photo, but I somehow don’t have the presence/swagger/fierceness/(__fill in the blank____) to pull that off.

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We decided to dare the line for Buzz Lightyear, but it was broken down by the time we got there. There was a short-ish line waiting outside of the ride, so we thought maybe the ride would be opening soon. We waited there for quite some time until they pretty definitely told us the ride was actually closed. It worked out, though, because Hyperspace Mountain also was momentarily shut down. This time around, we waited for about five minutes before the ride opened, saving us what could have otherwise been a long wait. Also, this my be my favorite iteration of Space Mountain of the Disney parks I’ve been to. It’s chaotic and dark like the other versions, but there is also a loop and back to back corkscrews. If the ride didn’t almost instantly fill up, I would have tried to ride again. Instead, we met up the other half of the group, who really looked like they were having a grand time in Disney.

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The timing worked out too, because Buzz Lightyear was open again. The ride kept breaking down, so it may actually have been a problem with a ride and not secret Disney code. Mia scored an obscene 420k points. I couldn’t even break 100k. Ugh.

The park was just about to close around this time and they were ending with the final show of the night. I have to say, the show was kind of fantastic. They mostly relied on projections on the castle with very well choreographed fireworks. It was fun. Disney certainly knows how to put on a good show.

Things were packed as we left the park, but we did make it out. There was some chaos afterwards trying to figure out how to get everyone else to the airport early the next morning. There actually is a 10 minute train between Disney and CDG, but the trains they wanted were sold out. They ended up taking a taxi and I took a bus and series of trains back to Basel.

The Disney day was a good day all in all and it’s hard not to become an absolute nerd when I’m there. It’s been a long time since all four of us Garbagnati siblings have been to a Disney park together. The last time we went to Disneyland Paris together, we were also all under ten (or didn’t exist in James’s case).

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Disneyland Paris

The days leading up to last weekend included a series of conversations where I would mention that I was going to Paris for the weekend. People would ask what I was doing in Paris and I’d mention with a slight cringe that I was going to Paris to go to Disneyland. I got at least one eye roll, but whatever. It’s Disneyland. And, slightly more importantly, I found a Chris in Paris the night before.

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The last time I actually went into Disneyland Paris, the park was still called EuroDisney, so I’d been pretty excited about visiting the parks. Although I think we would have been more than happy sticking to one park, we got the two park hopper because I absolutely could not end the day without doing the Ratatouille ride in Walt Disney Studios.

The parks opened at 10, so we left Paris pretty early to get to our hotel, Hotel Santa Fe. It’s part southwestern theme and part Cars theme, which is funny because the last Disney hotel we stayed at was also Cars-themed. We walked got to Disney Village just around 10 and made the mistake of sitting down at Earl of Sandwich for breakfast. It ate up a precious hour of park time, after which we did get into Walt Disney Studios.

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Walt Disney Studios is part Hollywood Studios and part California adventure. There’s a Marvel section, the Tower of Terror, a Pixar section, and the Rocking Roller Coaster. They even have a backlot tour, but I’m not really sure what the point of that is there. The first thing we did once we got into the park was make a bee line to the Ratatouille ride to get our fast passes, then we backed up a little to do Crush’s Coaster (another Pixar-themed ride that I think is unique to the Paris parks).

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The ride is a roller coaster where the cars spin. It wasn’t too bad at first, until things sped up. That’s when it got pretty rough and Chris and I spent the next hour a little disoriented. By the time we got out of Crush’s Coaster, we had just enough time to walk around the park, but not really enough time to get onto any of the rides. The exception, much to my surprise, was Tower of Terror, but Chris refused to ride that with me. What a butt. Instead, we walked around the park (surprisingly small). We explored the Marvel section, failed at getting Fast Passes to the Rockin Roller Coaster, ate Groot bread, bought Disney gear, got way too excited about Spiderman and visited the Art of Animation. It was a productive 40 minutes.

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We also walked through the Toy Story section, which was kind of awesome minus the fact that none of the rides were good rides to go on after a spinning roller coaster.

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We finally did the Ratatouille ride, which was everything I wanted it to be. It was a 3D adventure through the kitchen in the movie. The ride was absolutely adorable and everything smelled like butter at some point. It would have been even better if it wasn’t for the screaming teenagers on the ride. Otherwise, the ride was perfect.

Once out of the ride, we partook in the food festival that was taking place in the park. In the Ratatouille area specifically, they had a number of stalls selling various regional French foods. We had some stuffed peppers, curry (Antilles), and wine. Unfortunately, they were out of ratatouille at the time.

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It was early afternoon at this point and time to switch parks and pick up our bibs. We ran into Disneyland quickly to pick up fast passes for the Indiana Jones ride before we left the parks to get our bibs, check into the hotel, and unload some of that stuff we’d accumulated during the first half of the day.

After a short break and the realization that we hit about 8/9 miles of walking by 4pm on the day before our half marathon, we made our way back to Disneyland. While we were waiting to get into the park, we found out that one of the rides that I had been most excited to ride in Disneyland (Phantom Manor) was closed for the day. If I recall, the ride is a much more intense version of the Haunted Mansion.

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Instead, we made our way to the Indiana Jones ride. At Disneyland Paris, the ride is a roller coaster (with a loop!). Unfortunately, it meant that we didn’t get to listen to Sala tell us not to look into the Forbidden Eye five hundred times while we were in line. The ride was fun, but awfully short.

We followed it up with one of my favorites, Pirates of the Caribbean, after which I almost bought an amazing Maleficent hat and we failed to get into the Pirates of the Caribbean restaurant. Business as usual.

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We failed at a couple of other restaurants along the way. There was the Hakuna Matata restaurant that was meh, the pizza restaurant that we briefly considered but decided against, the barbecue restaurant we didn’t find until much later. We ended up deciding on the Mexcian restaurant, in part because it was Coco themed at the time and also because it’s been a while since I’ve had Mexican food. I have to say, being in Switzerland made the Disneyland food prices not so bad. The burrito I got at the park was significantly cheaper than the burritos back in Basel. Although the guacamole in a tube was kind of sad.

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While eating, we checked out the lines for our other usual contender rides at Disneyland. According to the app, Star Tours had an obscene three hour wait and both Buzz Lightyear and Hyperspace Mountain were broken down. So, we made our way to Fantasyland.

The other attraction I was hyped for besides Phantom Manor was Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. The thing that sets this castle apart from the castles at the other Disney parks is that you can walk through the castle. They’ve got stained glass, tapestries and, of course, the wheel. Oh, yeah, also they have a dragon, which is what makes it the best Disney castle.

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As a side note, I’ve spent years thinking that the castle at Disneyland Paris was Belle’s castle because Belle was in the name. I was just being stupid, though, because belle is just the beauty part of Sleeping Beauty.

From the castle we went to the Alice in Wonderland maze, which was significantly larger than I remember. It felt like we were in there forever. Now, I love Alice in Wonderland, so typically this would be heaven. Unfortunately, each step was another pre-half marathon step, so we probably racked up a few too many steps during the maze. It was also incredibly crowded.

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Chris refused to ride It’s a Small World with me, so we walked to Discoveryland (aka Tomorrowland) to try to ride either Buzz Lightyear or Hyperspace Mountain. Unfortunately, Hyperspace Mountain was still closed and while Buzz Lightyear did open up again, we didn’t want to wait in line for 80 minutes after being on our feet pretty much all day. So, we decided to stop by the Star Tours gift shop to find socks for someone who decided to forget to bring socks with him for a half marathon, and made our way out of the park.

By the time we got back to the hotel, we racked up somewhere between 12-14 miles of walking for the day. I think I was in more pain Saturday night than I was on Sunday night, actually. Nevertheless, it was a fun day. I become hopelessly basic in Disneyland. I also was very close into falling into my old habits and very nearly upgraded my ticket to an Annual Pass.

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Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

I am writing to you from our train from Paris to Strasbourg. It feels good to sit. Because we’re kind of dumb, we decided to “pre-game” our half marathon by doing both of the Disneyland Paris parks (more on that in a different post) and racking up about a half marathon worth of steps the day before. It’s our half marathon MO in many ways, but this one seemed rougher than usual. Everything after mile 11 was a blur of pain.

Nevertheless, we made it and can now say we’ve done races at the three parks that (to my knowledge) offer (or offered…RIP California RunDisney) races. Unfortunately, due to the aforementioned “hiatus” of the California races and the fact that we didn’t have the time to do one of the FL races this year, we didn’t qualify for Castle to Chateau. Another time.

There’s a lot about the way they do the race here that I loved and a lot that I didn’t.

We’ll rip the band-aid off for what I didn’t like.

1. The Expo: It could be that we were there late in the day on the last day, but the expo was kind of lacking. Look, I come to these things prepared to throw a lot of money at race organizers and the assorted vendors there. Chris and I both came with things to buy. It was cold on Saturday and I’m in denial that it’s fall, so I needed a long sleeve shirt. Nope. None. Chris needed socks and failed at that. There was no New Balance, no medal display vendors, no people selling “I run for wine/coffee/etc” shirts. It was weird and made me sad. They didn’t even have the car magnets that I’ve collected.

2. Race Shirts: The quality was not as good as the other RunDisney events I’ve been to. I think that’s because they don’t use the same shirt vendor, but I absolutely love my collection of Disney race shirts and am just a little sad this one isn’t as nice.

At the end of the day, though, this race entry was a fraction of the cost of the ones in the US, so I’m sure both could be tied to that.

The Good:

1. The Course: Like any RunDisney race, you spend a decent amount of time in the parks, but you spend most of the time out of them. The parks aren’t that big, so I was impressed that they were able to get us about 8km of park at the beginning. For reference, that’s about the same amount of park time we got for Light Side and Super Heroes in Anaheim. You also spend the last 5k weaving through the hotels and back in Walt Disney Studios. The time outside of the park goes by fast, despite the fact that a lot of it is an extended out and back and run through a small village.

There are some quiet stretches, but it’s no Orlando highway or Harbor Blvd.

2. The Finish Line: There are two reasons why I love this. First, you typically finish in a parking lot and are funneled through a quick path where food and drink are thrown at you and there are people everywhere. For this one, we finish in an area of Walt Disney Studios after having run through stretches of the Backlot ride and are greeted by Mickey. It’s kind of awesome. The other thing I loved about this was that the parts of the park you run through are parts that are closed off to the public. When we did Dark Side, we ran through the World Showcase in Epcot but all the runners are bunched up because you are running through areas open to parkgoers. I get why they have to do that, but it was hard to run and chaotic. Here, we got out and took pictures with a statue of Black Panther. It is a much more pleasant finish. Didn’t see the massage stations that I’ve seen at the US races, though. Eh.

3. The Theme: The theme of this year’s race was Disney Villains. One of the best parts of the Disney universe and people brought their costume game. I’ll say, though, that my favorite costume was someone dressed up as Miguel from Coco. He had a speaker attached to his guitar and was playing songs from the movie. Except, we ran into him when they had Remember Me playing. Not a good song when you’re already race emotional.

Chris and I both dressed up. My Ursula costume was kind of a bust and I don’t have a full length photo of me in the costume. Chris had a low key Gaston costume, which I think came out pretty well considering we bought all the pieces on Amazon last weekend.

The Medal: Wasn’t too happy about the medal at first because it was the only medal from the race weekend not in the villain theme. Now that I have it, I can’t complain. It’s much nicer than it looked online. I kind of love it, actually.

The Start Time: I’d much rather not have to wake up at 4:30 am (or 2:30/3 for the Orlando races), so I appreciated the 7 am start time. The downside to 7 am (or 8 for those of us in Corral E) is that we hit it ridiculously close to our extended check out deadline after the race. Then again, I woke up at 6 and not before 5. I’m less miserable right now.

The Weather: It was overcast and windy during the whole race. It was raining, but the rain was a gentle light mist that kept us cool. It was cool, but not cold, so the fact that I didn’t have a long sleeved shirt ended up being okay. The wind got a little rough towards the end, but it was generally pleasant race weather.

So there we are, I’ve checked another RunDisney race off my list. It’s a little bittersweet, though. It’ll probably be the last RunDisney race we do for a while. IF we’re lucky, we may get CA races again in a few years. We want to do Wine and Dine in Orlando at some point but I need to gather the willpower to do another one of the FL races again. That won’t be for while (or at least until we forget how exhausting they are). I can’t complain, though, I thought Super Heroes last year was going to be the last one.