First impressions are the best

For those of you eagerly waiting for a day-by-day, blow-by-blow as it happens account of our adventures in Disney France, I have a disappointment. No wi-fi ! Seems like the French can organise a public transport system which is the envy of just about everyone, but don’t consider wi-fi to be one of life’s essentials when stuck in a hotel room miles from home. There is also the matter of not being able to make hot drinks in your room, but I won’t go into that just yet.

Anyway – because I can’t upload on a daily basis without incurring punitive roaming charges, I’ll just get on and write as things happen and upload the lot when we get near civilisation. I might also have to add in photos later too, as nothing I take will be online either. So there you go….

First impressions then. We set off from Brizzle without a bona fide ticket to our names, but instead armed with sheafs of paperwork printed off from all of our online bookings. Slightly unnerving at first, but I have to confess that this self-booked travel lark is a doddle and everything has run like clockwork – bookings all in place, trains and planes running on time, relatively few language barriers (as far as O-level Franglais can go) and even great weather on this side of the Channel.

The only small frisson – wildly underestimating the distance between CDG Airport and the Hotel IBIS on night one – was put right by one very very patient airport worker who took great pains to make sure I understood his French before letting us go on what proved to be completely accurate directions. So all good.

EuroDisney is an entertaining hybrid – and as these are first impressions, this judgement may change before the end of the week. The Hotel Cheyenne is designed to resemble a Wild West township, and all the rooms are in small outbuildings with traditional French names. We are in the Billy The Kid building…

The rooms are clean, functional and perfectly nicely appointed. No smells of raw sewerage here, thank you very much Trip Advisor ! Sadly, no smells of wi-fi either, or any means of making hot drinks in the rooms. Well – not entirely accurate. There is a kettle, glued to the unit. But no cups, tea-bags, milk, coffee or anything else. All of those things you can buy for 7 or more Euros, for which you get 2 x teabags, 2 x coffee bags, dried milk and 2 x paper cups. Not the best value for money, so we have resorted to bringing in our own tea-bags and stealing cups from the breakfast buffet, which then need to be locked away in the room safe so that the ‘chambermaids’ don’t reclaim them for the State. All good clean fun, and no harm done. The food has more to do with Greyfriars (and I mean the public school) than Michel Roux – all you can eat, canteen buffet style and wildly expensive. The advantage of this is that everyone spends breakfast making up additional rolls with ham and cheese to take around the parks for lunch and thus avoid paying the extortionate Disney catering prices. We have even brought extra sandwich bags just for this purpose, and given that the climate is much more temperate than Florida, the food remains more or less edible by lunchtime.

This sort of petty complaining is typically English and reads like an episode of ‘Death in Paradise’, where a stereotypical British police inspector is transported to an idyllic Caribbean island, complete with attractive female counterpart and scenery to die for, and spend his time complaining that he can’t get a decent cup of tea ! So no more of that.

I’ll talk about the parks and the rides in the next instalment. Suffice to say that the parks are a fraction of the size of Florida’s, with proportionally less rides. However, the ones that are here are GRRRREEEEEEEAAAAAATTTT !!! without too many exceptions. Even the more modest rides seem to have a kick to them which I don’t remember from before – perhaps I am getting older and less demanding. What is more noticeable is the levels of organisation (or lack thereof) compared to the US. In Florida, the queues for the rides are as entertaining in their own way as the rides themselves. Certainly, the Americans have the art of queue management down to a very fine art. Perhaps this is a reflection of national characteristics – Americans (and us) are natural law-abiders and respond to a degree of bossiness. The French (and some other Europeans, excluding the Germans) on the other hand take all these rules with a pinch of salt, comme ci, comme ca. They regard queues as a challenge, rather than as one of the pillars of democracy, and will do their best to circumvent them at all times. This laissez-fair approach extends to the Disney employees, who demonstrate more than any words can the truth of the aphorism cucullus non facit monachum(the cowl does not make the monk). They may wear the Disney uniform and have done the Disney corporate training courses, but when crisis strikes their instinctive response is the Gallic shrug.

On this note (and a slightly more serious one at that), we have been in the parks for 1 and a half days and have so far witnessed 3 rides stopped ‘for technical reasons’. Space Mountain twice (albeit one was a puker), Phantom Manor once and Big Thunder Mountain once. We’ll see if this trend continues, but I don’t recall seeing even one ride stopped due to technical glitches whilst we were in Florida. In all cases, the ride was back on track within the hour, but you do wonder about the maintenance scheduling……

In spite of all of this, the first two days have been great and we have done some killer rides. So all good. And on that note, we’ll leave this until tomorrow. A bientot, mes amis.

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