Category Archives: ABD France Trip

Adventures by Disney and River Cruises

According to this USA Today article, Adventures by Disney has finally caught on to a popular travel trend-River Cruising.  Adventures by Disney trips are great, and if you are interested in maybe going on one or trying a river cruise, read my France Trip Report to learn about the experience of an ABD trip!

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Here is the link to the article with more details.  An official Disney announcement should be coming soon…

http://www.usatoday.com/story/cruiselog/2015/04/13/disney-river-cruise-europe/25521577/ 

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France Trip Day 10-Au Revoir Paris

We woke up later this morning as our flight was not until 5pm and our ride to the airport would leave the hotel around 1pm.  My parents went out in Paris to find a fabric store for my mom who enjoys sewing.  My sister and I stayed at the Hotel Napoleon until they returned.  We all packed up and barely fit everything back into our suitcases.  I was the only family member who did not have  huge carry on.

At 12 we went across the street and had a quick lunch at an outdoor cafe.  We met our guides at 1pm in the lobby and were driven to Charles de Gaulle airport with our neighbors.  We looked around the airport shops, got a Starbucks snack, and waited for our flight to board.  Finally, we boarded the plane and I slept for most of the flight.  We arrived home late at night and went right to sleep.

It was a fantastic trip but it was nice to be home where iced water and air conditioning are common!photo 1

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France Trip Day 9-Cooking Class and Farewell Dinner

We were a bit tired waking up this morning.  I had incorrectly stated that we went on a bike ride the day before but it was actually on this day.  Our bike ride was about 20 minutes long and we all were disappointed when it ended.  They have one generic sized bike for everyone to use and then a few smaller ones if there are little kids.  Helmets are also available if you would like to use one.  One Adventure Guide biked in the front of the group and the other in the back of the group.  It was a very safe route and we got off our bikes the one time we had to cross the road.  We got GREAT photos in front of the Eiffel Tower on our bikes but unfortunately they are all on my parent’s cameras and phones.  We also took a group photo in front of the Eiffel Tower before handing the bikes back in and walking to our bus.
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It was a short bus ride to the cooking class where we were split into two groups, one with each guide.  My family and I were in the group which decorated chocolate first and then helped prepare the meal second.  We each got a little circle of chocolate to decorate with edible paint and the chocolate tasted very good.  Each group also got three templates with which they painted a design and it went on a larger piece of chocolate which the group shared.   For the meal, we had a tomato basil tarte tatin as an appetizer, a chicken dish as the main meal, and a little chocolate cake for the dessert (as well as all of the chocolate).  It was fun helping to prepare the meal but it was even better eating it.  This meal was one of my favorite of the trip and they kept bringing more bread to the table!

IMG_2035After the cooking class, we had free time on our own until our farewell dinner at the Louvre.  My family and I walked around the Champs-Élysées purchasing some last minute souvenirs.  My dad and mom went to the Louvre early since my mom had not gone earlier in the trip with us to see the Mona Lisa.  My sister and I stayed at the hotel and met the group in the lobby at the designated time to take the bus to the Louvre.  My sister and I and our neighbor all dressed up for the farewell dinner.

The farewell dinner was good, but sad.  We had met many great people and wished we had more time to get to know them better! We had drinks out on a balcony overlooking the center of the Louvre and then had dinner inside.  IMG_2036The sun was directly on our table and it was pretty hot outside.  They needed blinds on the windows to prevent a few members of our table from the heat!  There was a caricaturist at the dinner as well who drew pictures of the kids first and then did ones for the adults who wanted them.  My favorite part of the dinner was the hot chocolate for dessert.  We got back on the bus and went back to the hotel where we had a final gathering with a surprise from the guides.  IMG_2044The sunset behind the Arc de Triomphe was AMAZING as we got back to the hotel.  This picture does not do it justice and you have to be there to experience it.  The girls from the Junior Adventurers Dinner performed the Camp Rock dance after a little persuasion and then groups started to say goodbye to each other.

IMG_2061The end of the trip is always sad even though it is easier to keep in contact with fellow adventurers with Facebook and social media.  We told our guides we would see them in the morning for our departure and my dad, sister, my neighbor, and I all headed by taxi to the Eiffel Tower.  We were able to see the last few seconds of the sparkling of the Eiffel Tower at 10pm.  It was really neat.   On our last night we finally saw the Eiffel Tower lit up in the “City of Lights.”  We packed a little when we got back to the room but fell asleep pretty fast.  Our neighbor slept over in my sister and my room on the pullout couch and we started wishing we could extend our trip for a few days instead of flying home on the following afternoon.

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France Trip Day 8 Part 3-Disneyland Park

I am not sure if I made it clear in the last post but going to Disneyland was not part of the Adventures by Disney tour.  We had the afternoon and evening free after visiting the Eiffel Tower with the group and my family and I decided to go to Disneyland Paris.  I just wanted to make sure no one was confused if they were looking into taking the ABD France Trip and did not see Disneyland Paris on the itinerary.  DSC02132

Disneyland Park was very similar to Magic Kingdom in design with Main Street and the Castle at the end with pathways to different lands.  The shop windows on Main Street are usually decorated but I especially liked the ones in France.  I did not stop long enough to take good photos but I did include one in this post.  On the walk from Walt Disney Studios to Disneyland Park, I looked at my phoneDSC02082 and realized I only had 37% left to last me 8 hours!  So I turned my phone off since I was only using it for pictures and started to use my camera.  These pictures might be a little better quality than the ones in the previous post.

One of our ABD tour guides had suggested getting reservations to eat at Walt’s Restaurant but when we checked, they were all sold out for the day.DSC02139  The cast member said to check at other restaurants later on to see if Walt’s opened up but booked us at Blue Lagoon for 6:30pm.  Since I had read Disneytouristblog.com’s Guide to Planning a Disneyland Paris Trip, my family and I decided to hit the attractions that were much different from the ones in WDW first.  We headed towards Phantom Manor, which had about a fifteen minute wait.  To enter the stretching room, you had to turn a corner to enter the building as you do when entering Tower of Terror.  I noticed more skeletons in the ride and the audio seemed to be a little louder than the Haunted Mansion in Florida.  I also felt the stretching room moving which I normally don’t in WDW.  My family definitely enjoyed this ride.

It wDSC02103as starting to get hotter and it truly felt like we might be in Florida again.  I was craving a Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bar but we could not find any!  Disneyland Paris does not have Mickey Ice Cream Bars which I was very disappointed with.  Instead, we went to a stand and got regular, boring ice cream cones and a sugar crepe.  Can’t get a crepe in Magic Kingdom! (I would say WDW but you can in France in Epcot).  After gaining a spurt of energy we continued on with our journey through the lands.  My dad and sister got Fastpasses for the Indiana Jones ride.  I got one too but did not end up using it so I kept it as a souvenir.  Since Fastpasses are extinct in the paper form at WDW, I was sort of glad to keep mine.  We all went on Pirates of the Caribbean while my dad and sister waited for their Fastpass time.  DSC02112Pirates of the Caribbean was much longer here and you actually pass right by the Blue Lagoon Restaurant, similar to the Mexico boat ride and restaurant proximity in Epcot.  Unfortunately, someone scared their child and took them on the ride even though they were crying so they screamed for the entire ride behind us.  But other than that, we enjoyed this extended Pirates of the Caribbean ride and even debated riding it again.  I had expected to exit into a gift shop after this ride since you do in Florida but the one in Florida is HUGE and this one did not compare.

We went to check at the Blue Lagoon to see the menu but then my mom remembered to ask if a reservation had opened up for Walt’s.  The cast member said one reservation was left at 6:15pm so we took that one!  We were glad we had checked!  My dad and sister headed to Indiana Jones so my mom and I went to explore Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.  DSC02127On the way, we went on the Pinocchio ride.  DSC02125This is a classic Fantasyland dark ride which in WDW would probably have an hour wait if this ride existed there.  However, we walked on!  I was in disbelief!  It was a nice ride but a little jerky.  I have never been to Disneyland in California so I can’t compare the two Sleeping Beauty Castles but I really liked the interior of this one.  You could walk through two levels of scenes from Sleeping Beauty and below the castle was a dragon which moved occasionally.  The dragon area is closed when the water show is going on in front of the castle at certain times of the day.  The interior of the castle closes around 8pm to get ready for Disney Dreams at 11pm.

DSC02097We decided on heading to dinner after riding Snow White’s Scary Adventures.  The Snow White ride left WDW last May so we figured we would ride it in Paris again.  I never liked when the witch turned around and changed form and of course I screamed this time.  We all made our way to Walt’s restaurant after stopping in a few shops on Main Street.  Walt’s was very good.  We each had a different entree and we all liked them.  I recommend the chicken since that is what I had!  The waitress also brought us bread and water with ice.  The iced water was definitely a plus for me since I like cold water and ice is hard to find in Europe.  We were too full to order dessert and still had a few more things to fit in before the day ended.

IMG_2014My dad and sister rode Space Mountain which they said was incredibly different and more intense than the Florida version sometime after dinner (but not too soon!).  We then rode It’s a Small World where we noticed a few differences.  The Paris version’s outside paint needed touching up and the end scene of the ride did not have “Goodbye” in many different languages.  The day was going by very quickly!  We went through Alice’s Labyrinth which was very confusing.  I am glad we did it and it was fun stopping short at dead ends.  It was starting to get late and we were starting to get tired but we had decided on staying until 11pm to watch Disney Dreams.     We went to find water bottles which was a harder task than I would have expected.  All of the small stores not on Main Street selling water and snacks closed around 8:30pm.  It was an inconvenience but we found our seats early at 9:30pm.  We sat on benches to the right of the castle which ended up being good seDSC02149ats.  My dad got us snacks while we waited and a few last minute souvenirs.  Then we rotated using the restrooms before staying put for the show.  The show did not begin until 11:03 which is unlike Disney.      DSC02157

Disney Dreams was great!  Less fireworks took off compared to Florida however Disney Dreams had water and had lots of scenes from the movies projected on the castle.  It was a cool combination of all of the special effects.  Disney knows how to do shows!  After the fifteen minute show, we met up with the rest of the group we had traveled with from the tour, had to run through an open metro gate because our tickets did not work on the way back unfortunately, and got on the 45 minute train ride back to the middle of Paris.  We made it back safe and sound although a bit tired with awesome memories of getting to experience a Disney park in another country.

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France Trip Day 8 Part 2-Walt Disney Studios Park

We decided to go eat lunch in Downtown Disney before going into Walt Disney Studios Park so we walked in the other direction towards the Downtown Disney entrance.  A circle of markers with the number of kilometers to each of the other Disney parks was in between these two areas.  I took a picture of the Walt Disney World one since WDW is the only other park I have visited and it was 7272km away.IMG_1976

Downtown Disney was more similar to the Downtown Disney in WDW than I had expected.  A Planet Hollywood restaurant was the first similarity but there was also an Earl of Sandwich restaurant where we had lunch at.  They had a similar menu to the one in the states and I won’t bore anyone by describing the restaurant but they did have WiFi there so that was a major plus!  I had read Disneytouristblog.com’s guide on Planning a Trip to Disneyland Paris before our trip so I knew that there was an Earl of Sandwich there.  The shops in Downtown Disney were interesting.  IMG_1980The World of Disney store was MUCH smaller compared to the one in WDW and there were separate stores for toys and clothing.  We looked around but did not decide to buy anything yet since the long day had just begun!  To the left is a picture of my sister in shock next to a huge mushroom.

We walked over to the Walt Disney Studios Park and noticed one of the main differences that we did not like between WDW and Disneyland Paris.  The cast member name tags do not have their hometowns on them.  Sometimes a cast member at WDW is from near where you live or you know that place so you can start up a conversation based on that but not at Disneyland Paris!  I am curious why they decided not to include hometowns on the name tags here.  When we entered the park after bag check we did not have to put our finger on a scan thing like you have to do in WDW.  IMG_1986We decided to head to the new Ratatouille Ride first after grabbing a few maps at the entrance of the park.  Note: We had a lot of trouble finding maps after this.  They seem to only be located at entrances to the parks and not in stores or restaurants as they are in WDW.  We walked through the main building which was very cool.  I apologize for the blurry picture on the right-there were too many lights and I was walking!  IMG_1984A quick service Brown Derby restaurant was inside as well as some shops.  This area reminded me a lot of Disney’s Hollywood Studios and was a combination of different parts of that park.  After going through this building, we came upon the classic Partners statue with Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse.  IMG_1990In WDW you cannot get a great picture near it because there are usually tons of people wanting to get a picture.  We found that not many people were taking pictures throughout either park.  Maybe we were the only tourists there.

Ratatouille had the longest line that we saw all day.  My mom decided not to go on it because she was worried she would get sick from it and its probably a good thing she did not ride it because it spun fast and was a motion simulator.  My dad, sister, and I went through the single rider line and waited 30 minutes which is not bad at all.  IMG_1996We waited an hour and a half for Ariel’s Undersea Adventure the first week it was open at WDW.  I won’t spoil the whole ride but you get into a rat shaped vehicle and then spin around on a trackless, WiFi controlled ride to different screens and try to avoid being captured in the kitchen.  It was definitely a fun ride but it seemed short.  This new Ratatouille area had many advertisements around Paris, especially in the metro but it was not too big of an area.  There was the ride and the restaurant basically.  We did not even exit into a gift shop as we always do in WDW.  We rarely exited into a gift shop at all in Disneyland Paris.  I would have liked to see a character meet and greet but those were not as common in Disneyland Paris as they are in WDW either.

My dad and my sister wanted to go on Crush’s Coaster but the single rider line was down for that ride for the time so we walked towards Rock’n’Roller Coaster since we had heard from another family on our ABD tour that it was much different.  On the way to Rock’n’Roller Coaster we passed Mr. and Mrs. Incredible on moveable Segway like vehicles.  IMG_2011 IMG_2010There might have been two character attendants and the area was not roped off that they were passing through.  This was surprising to me since in WDW usually there are many cast members protecting the characters  and making sure the crowds don’t come too close.  We noticed overall that it was harder to find cast members in the Disneyland Paris parks and there appeared to be fewer cast members.

Also on our way to Rock’n’Roller Coaster, we passed the Tower of Terror which unfortunately we did not ride that day, but it was neat to see how it looked different on the outside.  When we got to Rock’n’Roller Coaster we basically walked on which is hard to do even at park opening at WDW.  The pre show was disappointing with much less dialogue than the Florida version.  We were surprised and didn’t move for a few seconds after the doors to our high speed super stretch limos opened.  IMG_2008Rock’n’Roller Coaster seemed similar to the one in Florida but there was different decoration within the ride and there were a LOT of strobe lights flashing at us.  IMG_2005It definitely made it seem a little crazier.  The fog from the strobe lights also smelled a little and we were stopped for about three minutes right in the direct line of the lights before we got to the end to exit the vehicles.  I liked this version and am glad I did it but I think the Florida version is better.IMG_2006

After this, we went back to regroup with my mom who was looking in a few gift shops and resting.  My dad and sister went to ride Crush’s Coaster which they said was good even though it broke down while they were waiting in line to get on.  My mom and I went to watch the Animagique show.  I had no idea what this show was about but it was very good.   The theatre was pretty full which was surprising since the rides did not have long lines at all.  I enjoyed seeing snip its of different classic Disney movies and hearing a little dialogue in French and English.  After the fifteen minute show, we regrouped with my dad and sister and decided we wanted to start heading out towards Disneyland Park.  IMG_1992It was around 3pm and we still had 8 hours until Disney Dreams started but it felt like we had been in the parks for more than three hours.     DSC02078I was hoping my leg would last because it was starting to really bother me from all of the walking this trip (I hurt it during basketball season in February and strained a muscle and acts up after long runs or walks)!  I definitely liked Disneyland Park better than Walt Disney studios but am glad we were able to experience both during our trip to Paris!

 

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France Trip Day 8 Part 1-The Eiffel Tower

This day was one of the most exhausting days of the trip because we started fairly early with a visit to the Eiffel Tower in Paris and did not get back to the room until 1 am because we stayed at Disneyland Paris late to see Disney Dreams.  Part 1 of this day is going to cover the morning before we step foot into Walt Disney Studios Park.  Part 2 will focus on Walt Disney Studios Park and Part 3 will be on Disneyland Park.  I could not only do one post for this Disney focused day!

We had a reservation time of 9am for the Eiffel Tower.  I would highly recommend a reservation here as early as possible if you are going on your own because it was getting crowded.  IMG_1952

We were each given a ticket and had to go through bag check.  We took one elevator to the first floor that went up diagonally and then right away took another elevator to the second floor.  IMG_1954Our tickets worked for all three levels so my family and I went up to the third level after this.  The view from the top was impressive but since we had used the Eiffel Tower as a reference point when we climbed Notre Dame, there was not an iconic thing to see from the top of the Eiffel Tower.

We used the stairs instead of the elevators to go down to the first level and then used the bathrooms before taking an elevator down to the ground.  We saw bride and groom models under the Tower getting photos done.  IMG_1958We then met up with the rest of our group who wanted to go to Disneyland Paris aka the true Disney fans.  It was a short walk to the subway after stopping to buy a few water bottles at a kiosk. IMG_1957

We avoided all of the people selling mini Eiffel Towers and asking us if we spoke English to sign petitions.  Once we got to the metro, buying tickets was very confusing and two guys came up and did it all for us and then we paid them.  We quickly realized we probably got scammed and on the way back from Disneyland our tickets did not work so that was an interesting experience.  More on that later.

We got on the right train easily and then got off to transfer to the RER A.  Disneyland Paris is the last stop on the RER A and it was about a 45 minute ride from where we got on.  My mom took a nap on the train ride there and so did one of the other members of our traveling party but the rest of us were too excited and planning our course of action for the day.  We walked off the train and were all thrilled.  We took pictures of the train station sign as we got off.   We followed the crowds out of the train station and were a little confused.  Downtown Disney was one way, Walt Disney Studios Park was another way, and Disneyland Park was another way.  We went towards Walt Disney Studios where there was a line for bag check.  In Walt Disney World you go through security and then you can buy tickets before you go through the turnstiles.  The bag check line in Paris looked like it went right into the park.  But it did not so after I ran to a booth across the way, we went through security and my dad purchased tickets at the booth.  The tickets had Ratatouille pictures on them since the new Ratatouille section had just opened. My dad gave us each a ticket and we walked…to be continued!

 

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Disneyland Paris Photo Preview!

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