For this is the real reason we all come to these places. Never mind the lure of foreign cuisine (!) and culture; the broadening of the mind which travel brings; the fascination of seeing how other people live. Thrills and spills, and high-speed ones at that, are what it is all about. I will, of course, contradict this in a few posts when we come to talk about The Parade and the Disney Mythos (a bit like the Cthulhu one but with warm furry arms, rather than tentacles, wrapping you in their embrace). But since when was consistency part of this ?
EuroDisney is much smaller than its Florida counterpart – 2 parks rather than 7 or so. This is good – everything within easy walking distance from the Hotel Cheyenne and not a car journey in sight. On the minus side it does mean that visitor traffic is more concentrated, and the demands made on the rides proportionally greater. Disney tries to get round this by offering FastPass tickets – rather than join the queue with all the other losers (anything from 5 to 90 minutes) you can opt to get a ticket to come back later when your progress into the ride will be much accelerated, much to the annoyance of said losers. This generally works pretty well, especially since you can’t just go round collecting FastPasses but must wait until one expires before you get another one. So far so good. The issue with EuroDisney is that the queueing times posted outside each ride to help you make a judgement seem wholly arbitrary and bear no relation to the actual time you’ll end up looking at the back of the person in front of you while you shuffle forward at the pace of un escargot. So the ride which you confidently join on the basis of a posted 5 minutes wait can turn out to be nearer 55 minutes, while an off-putting 55 minutes can actually turn into a much more reasonable 25. These are both actual examples too, just in case you think I’m exaggerating.
The other issue is that certain rides seem fated to pull the largest queues regardless of the time of day or the weather. In Florida 2011 this was Harry Potter whose waiting time jumped from 0 to 90 minutes within 30 seconds of the park opening and stayed there until closing time. The tale of that queue can be found elsewhere in this blog. In EuroDisney the most popular rides were, unsurprisingly, the ones which smaller kids could enjoy along with their parents. So Buzz Lightyear, Crush’s Coaster, Peter Pan’s Flight and The Tower of Terror were all mightily popular. Frances, Ben and Nate queued for at least 70 minutes with Liz for Crush’s Coaster, a sort of flying turtle roller-coaster which actually turned out to be quite good (I was on the Aerosmith Rock n’Roller Coaster at the same time, so no loss there). Which was fine, but hard work on Nate who is 5 and who wasn’t exactly keen on spending his entire week queueing for adult rides he wasn’t able to go on.
As things turned out, we did more than our fair share of riding and screaming. For me this ended as 5 x Aerosmith, 3 x Tower of Terror, 3 x Space Mountain (this would have been 4 but for the puker), 2 x Indiana Jones (a gem), 2 x Star Tours (a turkey) and a few other bits and pieces. So I really could not complain. The photo at the top of this post shows the powered launch for Space Mountain where, basically, you are shot up at an angle of 45 degrees or so and at speed before plunging into the blackness of the ride itself – a fairly extreme enclosed roller-coaster with some lovely inversions (loop the loop for older readers) and nasty corkscrew drops which tested the security of the restraining bars on the carriages.
Space Mountain was definitely one of the highlights of the trip – much more exciting than its Florida version, which always struck me as being neither fish nor fowl, neither a kiddy ride nor a properly extreme one. The Tower of Terror as always is a lovely ride. Even the fact that the superlative Rod Serling Twilight Zone introduction delivered in the library pre-ride was dubbed into French with English subs, couldn’t spoil the magic of this special ride. And the fact that the Disney Studios park is totally dominated by the crazy construction of the Hollywood Tower Hotel, designed for no other purpose than to drop you down a lift shaft at speeds greater than gravity, before whisking you back up to the top again and so on, is testimony to this attraction’s greatness. Some pics….
I could go on about the rides, but it would become tedious – assuming it hasn’t already. Generally, they were all on a par with Florida and, in some cases like Space Mountain, much better. We screamed and yelled and got rid of all our complexes and didn’t buy a single photograph this time around. What we did do was photograph the preview pictures….rather shameful, but things were expensive. Here’s one showing us in a moment of high drama on, I think, the Aerosmith Rock n’ Roller Coaster.
We did have a discussion at one point about whether these rides are good for you (raising heart rate, getting rid of tensions etc) or bad (head or vital organs exploding, loss of control over bodily functions, jarring and twisting injuries etc). The French are certainly a lot more relaxed about the list of medical or physical conditions with which it is ‘inadvisable’ to ride, and only once did they mention obesity – I forget the euphemism used, but it was not as direct as the American ‘abnormal bodily dimensions’. We didn’t come to any great conclusions, and nobody exploded, but I can say that the sheer exhilaration of Space Mountain or Aerosmith first thing in the morning can only put a shine on your day like very little else. WOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!