Tag Archives: Disney

DisneyLand Paris (NOT EuroDisney)

I am happy to announce that with my visit to DisneyLand Paris, I had the proud honor of having been to all Disney Park properties for a total of 13 days before the park in Shanghai opened. I also had the proud honor of having been to all of the properties within a year and a half (give or take) of each other. Although I have of course been to the U.S. properties many times before this year and a half feat. I wasn’t planning on visiting all of them within a couple of days of each other like some people have epically done. That just seems like a waste of money. I would have been to DisneyLand Paris in one of my 3 other visits to the city but it just never worked out. Thus our purposeful visit to Paris on this European trip. I’ve been given the unique opportunity in my life to visit Europe quite a number of times and I told my S.O. that I wasn’t going back without going to Disney. Fortunately he understands my Disney obsession and was willing to go along with it.

In case you were wondering, the property is now called DisneyLand Paris and not EuroDisney as it was previously known. To quote, Michael Eisner, “As Americans, the word ‘Euro’ is believed to mean glamorous or exciting. For Europeans, it turned out to be a term they associated with business, currency, and commerce. Renaming the park ‘DisneyLand Paris’ was a way of identifying it with one of the most romantic and exciting cities in the world.”

Disney Village

We visited Disney Village our first night in the area as we knew we probably wouldn’t get another chance. We chose to eat at a DTD staple , The Rainforest Cafe, so that we could have some “theater” with our dinner. We were both glad that we chose to eat early as the line as we were exiting was beyond long.

This is a standard DTD with your typical Disney shops, eateries, and a movie theater.

We stayed at the Radisson Blu which had a shuttle every half hour back and forth. It was also home to Disney Golf. We looked at staying at a Disney hotel but even the cheaper ones required a shuttle so we went with a nicer hotel for the same price.

Walt Disney  Studios

We made sure we were on the first tram to Disney! And of course we made sure to leave our selfie stick (yeah right, definitely not our thing) at home as they are banned in Disney parks (although we still saw a few). We only had one day to see both parks so this was going to be a fun and eventful day!

The gates opened earlier than the 10:00am opening time but not all rides were opened yet. We headed toward Tower of Terror where they told us to get a fast pass and go to Crush’s Coaster as the line gets long.

Crush’s Coaster had an app that you could play on your phone while standing in line. It was an interesting interaction. The ride was a blast! You are in a turtle shell mobile back to back with another couple. The shell spins around throughout the ride so it’s a mix of moving forwards and backwards. I chatted with a cast member who knew about Hidden Mickeys (Yay DL Paris cast members!) and found out there was one in the jellyfish right before the shark. And I saw it! No cameras of course since it was a roller coaster.

We wandered over to the Toy Story Playland and went on the Slinky Dog ZigZag Spin. It was a kid’s coaster but it was a dog so we had to do it. There was an RC Racer ride and parachutes, similar to Hong Kong.

We skipped Ratatouille but heard it’s pretty cool. I’m not one for 4D rides as they can make me pretty nauseous.

Next up – the Studio Tram Tour: Behind the Magic. If you’ve done something similar before, it’s not necessarily worth it. It has the standard fire, bridge, and water situations. There is a hidden mickey in the rocks during the fire/water/truck sequence though.

We managed to get right over to the Tower of Terror moment before our fast passes expired. A quick note about fast passes – they were only for a half an hour window where as typically its for an hour. I wonder if this is a change being made at all the parks. To me an hour is better as it gives you more leeway with lines and distances.

I normally don’t do ToT but my S.O. was keen to go. It was a lot more fun than I remember, however, we also both agreed that the Parisian version was not as scary as the two in the States. The drops didn’t seem quite as big. You still get the great view of the whole park from the top though. I do recommend you don’t use your camera on the ride as it will cause the cast member to yell at you during the ride and then again when it’s over. It was quite nice to see rules enforced as a camera in motion could leave quite a bump on the head on that ride.

Other notes:

  • The Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster was closed.
  • We skipped the stunt show.
  • The entrance funnels you through a sound stage full of restaurants and AC. It can create a bit of a bottle neck entering and leaving the park.
  • There are hidden mickeys in the fountain just past the entrance.
  • There was lots of smoking around the park despite designated smoking areas. Yay France…
  • We did the Armageddon Special Effects Show which was in French and English. It’s not a ride and you’re standing the whole time. Little kids might find it cool otherwise I would skip it. There is a cool hidden mickey hidden in the control panel on the way out though.

Look closely

DisneyLand Paris

It should be noted that here was a lot of construction occurring throughout the Disney properties, particularly at DisneyLand. The front entry way was all covered up but at least they had some cool signs to “explain” the construction. Unfortunately a lot of the items we were looking forward to seeing were closed.

After the obligatory photo with the castle, we headed for lunch. We did spot a cool 101 Dalmatians reference on Main Street at the Fire Department.

A high chair at the restaurant had a hidden mickey on the back of it.

To settle our stomachs before partaking on a big ride, we stopped at Phantom Manor. It wasn’t as “scary” as in LA but it was much better than Hong Kong which didn’t have the ghost mobiles. The view from the entrance to the manor showed the construction around the lagoon and the closed Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.Next we strolled through the castle and found a hidden mickey in a planet hanging from the glass shop. Unfortunately my photo didn’t turn out too well.

It’s a Small World had some wonderful cultural comparison and displays including a slinky dog. There was even a female hockey player and  a female baseball player – Go Disney! There were not as many Disney characters as some other locations but there was a covered loading area! 

The fairy tale boat ride was a nice relaxing way to gaze at some of the miniature sets and even had some hidden mickeys!

I somehow managed to easily defeat my S.O. at the Buzz Lightyear Blast. We are talking 100s of thousands of points here! It was quite gratifying. The ride had the typical planet hidden mickey and also formed one with the tops of batteries.

Space Mountain: Mission 2 was the best space mountain experience I have ever had! It was in no way jerky and had 2 360 degree rolls! It was very dark and had a completely different ride experience than usual. It felt a little disorienting getting off the ride at the end.

Daisies formed a Mickey on a stage behind the castle. Most of the rides had a French name. Some were easy to figure out like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. This experience led you through a small story line and was like a standard Snow White ride.

We stayed up towards the castle for a better view of “Disney Magic on Parade.” Floats were “double flats” with one story featured on one side and a difference one on the other. In the castle is a beautiful showcase of the story of Princess Aurora. The stained glass was divine! Below the cast is the Dragon’s cave but unforutnately it was closed…

Alice’s Curious Labyrinth was fun for all ages with beautiful design elements from the story. There was also an opportunity to go in the Queen of Hearts castle which had a view of FantasyLand from the top.

We embarked on a train, although not the Disney Railroad but rather Casey Jr’s train which wound through some of the elements of the fairy tale boat ride.Indiana Jones was a different ride entirely from the one in LA, as it was a roller coaster with a 360 degree loop. It was quite thrilling!

Nautilus made me think it would be a submarine ride but in fact it was just a walk through attraction.

We finished the night off at Pirates of the Caribbean. It was not as movie themed as the others and in fact did not have anything from the movie in it.

We decided to complete our visit to Paris at the Blue Lagoon Restaurant. It is a nice romantic area that overlooks part of the Pirates ride. Unlike in LA though, it is not in the boarding area so is less chaotic. The menu had a hidden mickey to show the language.

I must admit that our service wasn’t great and it seemed like they were overbooked and understaffed. It also didn’t help that our hostess forgot about us and seated us 30 minutes after our reservation. We then didn’t get our first course until an hour and a half after our reservation time… But we didn’t let that sour our time at Disney.

We made the most of our time at the “Happiest Place on Earth” and went home Happy!

Some more miscellaneous pics:

Look closely

Construction pics:

The Happiest Place on Earth – Tokyo DisneySea Version

As you may remember from this post, I am a big fan of Disney and it runs in the family as a lot of my cousins are also big Disney fans. As a result this post is basically for them. Feel free to skip over it, no hurt feelings. 🙂

As soon as I arrived in Tokyo I saw my first ad for Disney in the train waiting area to head into the city. Zoom in and see if you can spot some hidden mickeys. 


There are two Disney parks in Tokyo – your standard DisneyLand and DisneySea. DisneySea was created with adults in mind. Less cartoony, fewer children’s rides, but fun for any age still. I did my research and found out that Tokyo’s Disney parks are the busiest in the world. They consistently have days ranked in the 90s for attendance or receive the yield triangle that basically means don’t even bother unless you want to be absolutely miserable with little elbow room and LONG lines. I was going on a 90+ day even though it was a Monday (I did this purposefully). Apparently this was a school holiday period but again it didn’t even matter because as stated before, the parks are consistently in the 90s and above. 

So early Monday morning I packed up my bag and ventured out on the extensive Tokyo subway system. The final route on the Disney monorail was similar to other Disney parks with big “hidden mickeys” (HM) as windows and as rings to grab onto inside. I was most impressed by the first HM that I encountered. It has got to be one of the largest ones yet. They placed two ventilation ducts above a half circle mural, forming a classic HM. On the monorail I also got a view of Cinderella’s castle. 



The entrance to DisneySea has a gigantic globe (which I forgot to take a picture of) and then leads you into a seaport. There are seven areas in the park – Mediterranean Harbor, American Waterfront, Port Discovery, Lost River Delta, Arabian Coast, Mermaid Lagoon, and Mysterious Island. The MiraCosta hotel, which is the official DisneySea hotel, has guest rooms that look into the waterfront of the park. It has its own entrance as well, similar to the Grand Californian in Anaheim and some other Disney hotels. It was wonderful to see how theY incorporated the hotel into the scenery of the park. 



It was raining the day I went which fortunately deterred some of the crowds but it also posed the umbrella problem that I’m sure other tall people can relate to. The ends of umbrellas are right about my eye level, protective eyewear is necessary. 


My goal was to get a fast pass for the longest line. After taking a look at the board of wait times, I was headed to Raging Sprits. Indiana Jones and Tower of Terror also had long lines but I knew Indy had a single rider line and I had zero desire to go on ToT, it’s just not for me. 

So this was a first – there was a height limit on Raging Sprits and I surpassed it. A lady grabbed me just after I got my FastPass. She searched her book of information for an English page but couldn’t find it (more on the lack of English later) but I happened to spot the notice on my map. She took me over to a height measurer and I was over it by a bit. The silver lining was that at least I could exchange my FastPass at a different location. FYI Raging Spirits is similar to the California Screamin’ roller coaster at California Adventure with a 360° loop. 


Next I snuck over to Indy since it was right there and I found my first HM in the park without even trying. It was right at the entrance to Indy. 


I went over to the Arabian Coast and went on Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage. It’s similar to It’s a Small World. All of the clouds had a loop in them that was similar enough to a classic Mickey outline that I didn’t think it was a coincidence. There was also a definite HM in a miniature cloud (first photo). Online there was a great debate about the locks seen in rides and around the park. Can they be considered an abstract HM? I’ll let you decide.  


I snagged a FastPass for the Magic Lamp Theater and headed over to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. It reminded me of the Peter Pan ride where you are suspended from above except you are in a small sub with an underwater scene instead of a pirate ship over London. While waiting in line, I found a classic HM in the rocks while waiting for the ride. I also found some more abstract ones. One was a pulley system in the waiting area, and the other was formed by the water outside.  


No photos were allowed in the Magic Lamp Theater (photos below are in the outside area) so I was unable to snag a pic of the HM at the beginning of the show. Genie is coming up with a plan and draws out a loopy, classic Mickey. 



I had read reviews about the lack of English at the park and unfortunately the reviews are correct, although the Magic Lamp Theater did provide a small device with subtitles (see above). This and one other show (the Big Band Beat, which is all in English) are the only ones that offer any English support. Additionally, the staff had very little English. I couldn’t even ask a question about a meal or a ride (asking about Hidden Mickeys), they would look straight at me and say the commands in Japanese. I read that the Jungle Cruise at DisneyLand isn’t available in English either, only Japanese. This is one that was available in 3 languages in Hong Kong. One thing to note is that the Tokyo parks are not owned by Disney, the rights are just leased from Disney by the Oriental Land Company, which could be a reason for the lack of English at such an internationally known place. 

Journey to the Center of the Earth, which is similar to Space Mountain (my favorite ride), was closed. 

For lunch I stopped at Miguel’s El Dorado Cantina for a Mexican lunch with rice made in Japan (this was noted on the display). 


The River Mystic Show was an aerial arts show with fire, water, dancing, and lots of animal characters and human puppets at the Hangar Stage. English was not necessary for this show but still the only announcements were in Japanese. 



Big Band Beat was an awesome show featuring Jazz and Swing music and was a show that was all in English. 

Turtle Talk is not a show worth waiting in line for if you do not speak Japanese. It is an interactive show themed to be a viewing window into the sea from the S.S. Columbia. Crush from Finding Nemo shows up and interacts with the people seated in the small theater. It is not worth it especially if there is a wait time. I did find a HM right as I entered the holding pen though. 



Since I had just waited in line in the rain and cold for something that was a waste of my time, I decided I needed a drink. Conveniently the Teddy Roosevelt Room was right there inside of the S. S. Columbia. Something I learned in Japan is that they make you wait even if you are going to sit at the bar. This was the second time this had happened to me. Meanwhile the bar only had 3 seats out of 20-30 actually occupied. When they seated me they let me choose whichever one I wanted. I was about to sit down and then decided to scoot over one and I was glad I did because I found my most favorite HM created out of the shadow of alcohol bottles. I looked up and there it was!



I wandered around the American Waterfront and Port Discovery while I decided where to have dinner. 




 I settled on the Yucatan Base Camp Grill where I had a delicious roasted chicken dish. I also splurged on a HM dessert that came with a Mickey/Minnie mug. 



It was absolutely pouring down by the time I got out of dinner so I went to Triton’s Kingdom/the Mermaid Lagoon which is inside. I had seen the outside but didn’t realize there was a whole underground kingdom. 

I found a lot of HMs, including one best seen when standing directly over the sign as you walk down into the space. In Ariel’s Playground, a map features a rock in the shape of a Hm. The tiles and rocks both inside and out featured all sorts of HMs. The tiles in the entrance way were especially stunning with mermaids and other characters from the movie. I had heard about one with Mickey, Donald, and Goofy but was unable to find it. People must have thought I was crazy standing out there in the rain staring intently at the beautiful mosaics. There is a Mermaid Lagoon Theater but it is closed for a few more months while they finish renovations. 










It’s fun walking around at night seeing everything lit up. Unfortunately Fantasmic and fireworks had been cancelled due to the rain. I was about ready to leave when I decided that I would do something I haven’t done since I was a kid – wait in line to see the characters. 


I found some awesome HMs while waiting for Minnie. There is a book of bugs featuring a multitude of hidden Mickey characters. Take a look below.  


A bucket in the line for Mickey at the Donald Duck Temple seemed to have footprints that could represent a HM so I am declaring it one because Disney is very intentional, there is a reason for everything.  


Goofy loved how tall I was and made sure to point out how tall both of us were, especially compared to his attendant. We had a goofy time together. 

On the way back I hopped on the Electric Railway, just to say I did and because I knew there was a popcorn stand near the next station, specifically a caramel popcorn stand. There were an abundance of flavors of popcorn at Disney. It was impressive. 


As I made my way around the Mediterranean Harbor, a group of girls pulled me  aside and asked for a photo. I happily obliged and of course asked them to take one of me with them too. I was just thinking I needed one last pic of me with the volcano and the evening skyline, so now I have one of myself and my five closest friends. 

Overall it was a wonderful experience despite the rain and lack of English. Here are some final thoughts:

I was one of only a dozen non-Asians that I saw in the park. The only non-Asians in the cast were in the Big Band Beat. 

Japan has heated toilet seats everywhere, including in public parks but apparently they weren’t in Disney’s budget. My bum was disappointed, especially on that cold day. 

They had a LOT more FastPass rides than in Hong Kong, which only had two. There were eight total (one was a show) at the park.

As noted before – Tokyo Disney Parks are the only ones not wholly or partially owned by the Walt Disney Company, which could contribute to the lack of English. They are owned by the Oriental Land Company, which licenses the theme from Disney. 


The Happiest Place on Earth – Hong Kong version

(A quick note – this blog post is being written specifically for other Disney obsessed family members and will go in depth on my experience in the park. So get ready for a lot of Disney!)

There is just something about going to a Disney Park of any kind that gets me very excited. I was giddy as I rode the subway and then transferred onto the Disneyland Express, complete with Mickey ear windows and hand holders. Displays in the cars held statues of famous Disney characters. There is nothing quite as special as the Disney experience.




I arrived early for the 10:30am opening and apparently they let you through the main gates a half an hour before the actual opening so that you can peruse Main Street. I simply headed straight to the rope at the end of the street. I had never had Main Street all to myself before even if it was just a few fleeting moments. Ceremonies at both the main gates and at the castle preempted the openings.





Hong Kong Disney is different than the other parks. It is smaller, there aren’t as many “cool rides,” the mountainous/hilly areas of Hong Kong loom over the castle. A friend who grew up in Hong Kong but who has never been there heard that it was “lame” but that didn’t stop me, I was going to have an awesome Disney experience. I purposefully chose to go on a Monday to avoid crowds. With its overall smaller size, I feel as though it probably doesn’t get too many people anyway. The longest wait time I encountered was maybe 15 minutes. There were only two rides that were FastPass eligible – Space Mountain and Winnie the Pooh.

Besides Space Mountain and Grizzly Gulch (Thunder Mountain Railroad), there weren’t a lot of big time action rides. It needed a Pirates of the Caribbean, Indiana Jones, or Splash Mountain.



Hong Kong Disney had three official languages and even offered jungle safaris in all three – Cantonese, Mandarin, and English. The Festival of the Lion King even had monkeys that translated for the English-speaking emcee.

I saw three different shows:
1) Festival of the Lion King – It was basically the same except no acrobatic monkeys. As usual, it was amazing and inspiring.
2) The Golden Mickeys – Disney’s version of the Oscars where they don’t actually give out any awards. It includes actual humans and lots of singing and dancing as they go through adventure, romance, and villain categories. It got a lot of songs stuck in my head. One of my cousins would appreciate me calling it this – The Dundees of Disney.
3) PhilharMagic – A 3D production of Donald going through various scenes. It was wonderful as well!






Since this Disney is in Asia there were some different than usual offerings of food. For instance, sushi! I stuck to Western fare for lunch (with Mickey croutons) but indulged in sushi (with a hidden Mickey in the rice) for dinner. I had the hardest and most expensive churro I had ever eaten (it’s all part of the experience, right?) and something I had never seen before – frozen banana pre-sliced and dipped in dark chocolate. The pre-slicing of the banana means you get more chocolate!




The typical “Haunted Mansion” at most Disney parks was redesigned into “Mystic Manor” and didn’t feature the cool expanding room (aka a Disney elevator) that HM does, nor does it have a ghost riding along in your people mover. The premise of the ride was a professor with a magical music box that is not to be touched. But of course his pet monkey must touch it. You then ride through a standard Disney set. It’s nowhere near as cool as the HM.




There were two parades – a day time one which I skipped and an evening one titled “Paint the Night.” They did a great job illuminating their characters. And of course there were fireworks at night, illuminating the castle. Because the park was smaller and was also in off peak hours, the park was only open from 10:30-8:30. At first I was disappointed at the lack of hours but once I realized how much smaller I came to understand it. I was able to everything as much as I want, choosing to skip the children’s rides though, I’m just too tall!








Other miscellaneous notes from Disneyland HK:

– There was not a train as a new Ironman feature was being built.

– None of the staff members I asked seemed to have any clue what “Hidden Mickeys” were (if you are reading this and don’t know then I encourage you to google it as they make your time at a Disney park much more interesting), so I had to keep my eyes peeled. I did find one on the Winnie the Pooh ride (look at the cookies). Since no one knew what I was talking about they kept handing me stickers which are now in my journal. (Does a Mickey dress count as hidden?)



– There was a Toy Story Land area feature various kid-oriented rides. They had a large alphabet puzzle that had the letters for Andy pulled out along with 3 other letters. When I couldn’t find those around, I asked a person and he said they simply hadn’t made them which I found fascinating. I feel as though there has to be a better reason as to why the letters P, S, and T were missing. There was a parachute ride and a roller coaster featuring Slinky among other rides. The Lincoln Logs pic is specifically for my father.







– Apparently sobriety is encouraged at this Disney.


Overall, I had a wonderful day at Disney! Once I got over the fact that there wasn’t a lot of my favorite rides, I just embraced it and made sure to go on rides that I wouldn’t normally go on. There’s nothing quite like Disney!