08 May 2018
PRESS PLAY ALONG THE ARTICLE TO GET THE RIGHT MOOD*
When I received the invitation from Air France & Disneyland – and this happened somewhere in February this year, I didn’t think too much before saying a quick and determined yes. Just to make myself clear, in June I will be turning 26 and I have never reached Disney, so I thought – it’s never too late for a trip to the famous theme park near Paris, right?
At first I had the impression that Disneyland – wherever it may be – it’s just for kids. That there is nothing to impress us as adults there, a fantasy that only kids crave for, especially after they reach a certain age, and they get to watch and understand Disney movies, Disney drawings, the characters and the magic that surrounds them. I couldn’t have been more wrong – I was impressed first and foremost by the work of everyone who has been involved in building this magical park, but also by the attention that the so-called imaginiers (imagination engineers) have put into details when they built every corner of the Disneyland Paris theme park.
When we arrived at the hotel we were already very tired (we woke up at 3am) so we decided to stay in the room and sleep. I think we had a little bit of a reaction when we first saw Damien, because we immediately told him that we wanted to sleep and that the earliest we can meet again is at 20 o’clock, at dinner. But I was exhausted and honestly, I must have the right to have some wishes. I’m a mess when I’m running low on food and sleep – as many of you I guess, and besides that, I still want a socket, some water and wifi.
We stayed at Disney’s New Port Bay Hotel, which is a 5-minute walk from the park. Inside the room we were awaited by the press kits, the VIP Fast Pass badges, the program for the coming days and some information about Disney. I highly recommend you to choose these VIP Fast Passes if you come to Disney because you don’t have to sit (that much) at the queue for the attractions. We waited 15′ at It’s A Small World After All (one of the attractions), just enough time to check some errands on the phone.
The hotel is quite close to Disney, as I was telling you, but if you want to stay in the middle of the park, I recommend Disney Hotel, the only 5 * hotel in Disneyland Paris – a hotel where many international stars stayed at (such as Michael Jackson).
When we first entered Disneyland in Paris, Damien – our guide, drew our attention to a metal plate that is right at the entrance to the park and can be easily missed – quote – Walt warns us that in this moment, we leave behind the real world and enter a realm of fantasy, where everything is possible. Damien tells us about the great passion Walt Disney had for the trains and how he wanted everyone in Disneyland to have this experience.
About this time I started day dreaming. And how would such a fantasy realm look like if I were to design one (I know, my thoughts fly away fast). We went into the park without thinking about what was expecting us. I walked confidently and full of hope under the trailer that stood guard behind the metallic curtains made out of blue sequins on which Mickey, Donald and Minnie were painted. We did not imagine a second what was running beyond these gates. How much passion for audio-visual, how much fantasy it is hidden in this place, and especially how beautiful it is to escape from reality, step by step looking for a few days only at the castle of the Sleeping Beauty.
We started our inroad as we were supposed to – we took pictures of the emblematic castle we’ve seen over time in all Disney movies. Given the fact that we were on a VIP Press Tour, we had access to that small hill on the left of the castle, which helped us take great pictures and avoid crowding. They’ve been waiting for us with about 50 balloons with Mikey and Minnie for a wow effect, and the photo is one that will surely sign in the series of the ones we’re going to print for our Best Friends Be Like album … We still have some photos from Rockafella in New York, Hong Kong, Mauritius, Thailand, Paris and many other places where we wanted to arrive together.
We were clearly enchanted by the way Disney had organized our first day in the park and we could not wait to see the first attraction. In general, the attractions are roller-coasters, floating ships that carry you on the inner rivers and lead you into a magical story or trains, which also take you in another dimension, in a dream. Let’s take them one by one!
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN SEA
One of the longest and most beautiful attractions in the park. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a great fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean series and Jack Sparrow – or should I say Johnny Depp (?) – or this place is really cool. Ever since entering the world of pirates you come across all sorts of details – lush vegetation, cascades, dead giant heads. The interior is made of wood, and the temperature is somewhat higher, but very pleasant, especially after facing the wind outside. It’s dark, a slight breeze is heard, and leaves of palms create an interesting fuss. Behind the luxuriant vegetation of the Caribbean region there is, of course, a blue light, which perfectly reflects the atmosphere you feel in the evening on a beach, somewhere in the middle of the ocean. Everything gets shade of dark blue, and all these details combined with high temperature and ambient music take you right there in the story. We get in a 6-8-person boat and we start by entering a dark tunnel that only makes you think: What’s next? This is certainly the longest and most impressive route of all. The characters are created down to the smallest detail, the lay figures are very realistic, they are flashing, they move their fingers independently and have a well-developed route and speech. I don’t even want to think about how much work has been done on all this underground river that has about 6-7 scenes on hand and it’s exactly what I wanted to see. The moon is projected in the distance with clouds, palm trees and all the cutlery, and in another part of the route we see Jack Sparrow in a 1: 1 true copy – like what you see at the wax museum – perched on a pile of gold and treasures, talking to a parrot. On the left, a skeleton in a canopy bed … at one point we pass by a hop and land on the same river, and in our side there is a restaurant where you can have lunch …Trust must be told, all the attractions will make you say: I want another turn. Obviously, I didn’t get the chance to do that.
We start with the adventure of Peter Pan, the place where Damian began working for the first time for Disneyland Paris, 16 years ago. We climb into a flying zeppelin floating in Peter Pan’s room, at night, obviously – with everything being set down to the smallest detail. The dog, the beds, the children’s pajamas, the furniture, the pink light, the windows we’re heading towards right now and open, just to let us float over London, as it appears at night. The whole room is dark, the ceiling and the four huge walls are decorated with fluorescent stars. We crawl over Big Ben several times, while we all marvel at what we see – the scene, the smell. We move on to an animated jungle where the realistic projections render a flashing eye beneath us in the moonlight. We get to the floating boat where we find the characters in this animation, including Peter Pan, and then we go out on another window and arrive where we started.
(Last pictures courtesy of Julia of Defeat Despair cuz my 85 lens was no good on this)
Disneyland Paris is the only place where you can find the Ratattouille attraction – here you have the impression that you have turned into the little rat in the movie. Everything is done on such a large scale – the roofs of the Paris buildings, Gousteau’s restaurant, the sewer system – even the fences. Another attraction I liked most of all because it combined 3D technology with special effects and a round shape carousel that walks as you like and I promise you -it gets you into the mood. We were actually sitting in the bottom but I felt like slipping from the roof to the restaurant, running away from cooks and yes, I felt even when a champagne was opened in front of us. Everything was so well-played and even though we were screaming in the chairs, holding on to a bumper, we were actually seated on a bank at 90 degrees. True madness, I tell you that.
The first carousel with a track that includes a loop where you will be turned upside down. I was really nervous at the entrance, especially because I had brought my super-big camera – which I did not want to drop and eventually break. But like all the other attractions where you head turns upside down, you’re caught super-safe with a U form rubber that you can not fall from. If you watched our story on Instagram you certainly felt it all in real-time with us – or maybe with a little delay because we could not shoot everything we wanted. We’ve all said we need to have a show just for us to shoot everything we experienced. That would have been much easier. Indiana Jones attraction is one of those outdoors attractions, which means that you get to see everything and all the sensations are more real than a carousel in a closed space. We had fun! We really did . What are we talking about, 10-year-old kids did it with us … it’s funny.
STAR WARS TOURS
Unfortunately, on the first day we arrived too late at Star Wars Hyper Space Mountain so I left a little disappointed to Star Wars Tours where I was in an interstellar flight simulator. Again a super cool episode that focuses sequences from the latest Star Wars movie and 3D technology – again an attraction for which we had to wait some time.
STAR WARS HYPERSPACE MOUNTAIN
The next morning, after the little brunch (who says brunch at 9:45?) we ran up from from Plaza-LA-LA- to Star Wars HyperSpace Mountain, which is – as they they told us – the most hardcore attraction in Disneyland Paris. Again a roller coaster in which you get caught with all the safety systems because it’s turns you upside down several times – even though in that hyper-spirited black space full of stars you no longer know when you’re in your normal position or when your upside down. Stars, tunnels simulating the speed-light journey, star ship prototypes, explosions, and more! It really was the coolest roller-coaster we tried, even though I felt a little bit bad about the fried bacon and the mustard served at breakfast. It’s worth 100%, just an experience you have to have on your empty stomach. Let’s not forget that you will peculiar photos from each of these attractions – you don’t know when they’re snaping it and you will not have the best faces, but the good news is that the takeover process of these photos are super-well designed and easy, so you get a Photo Pass card at the entrance to the park that you will present to all the photographers who take pictures, but also to the points of departure of each attraction. You look at the panel, scan the QR code with the application on your phone, or save the number, at the desk they scan your card and you get all the photos in the park on it. When you arrive home you go to the Disney site, write down your username (a code of many letters / digits) and voila! you have the photos downloaded on your laptop, just like that. As I told you, they are not the best, but … we’ve tried those attractions. And we have proof.
BREAKFAST AT PLAZA GARDENS & MORE
HOLLYWOOD TOWER HOTEL
Going to Disney Studios where you can see how movies are made and what are the special effects used for different animation drawings or movies, here we got to see just a little, but it was very intense. Right from the entrance to the Hollywood Hotel – a hotel that you realize is haunted. Spider web everywhere, affected walls, all things seem to be in their place for about a hundred years … oh, the whole place looks like it’s taken from American horror movies. We went to a library where they asked us to stay in the perimeter of the carpet. Although I had the impression that I would fall with the carpet, I saw a black and white film about how we’re going to go in another dimension, finally, a whole story, that’s it. A story Cosmin had already seen the day before (when it rained and we were asleep), and knew everything that followed, telling us that nothing was going to happen in this room. Still, Carmen stammered at every noise. We climbed about three sets of super creepy, open-ended stairs, like the ones you see in the action movies, where two guys are fighting and one jumps under, gets over your head, gets on another scale and so on..we were almost tripping especially because the environment had a horror vibe- little girl’s voice could be heard inside the pipes stammering words like – Who’s there? Is anyone there? Where are we? We’ve patiently waited for our turn. We were given a number that we had to stick to when we entered the elevator.
At first, when the doors opened, I heard Carmen next to me: I don’t know if this is a good idea, I’m already a little bit dizzy. My hands are sweaty already. Mine too, I tell her, grabbing her hand. Come on, we said we’re trying everything we can, right? We are together. Look at these kids. We’re stronger than them, right? Yes. Come on, hop up. I don’t know if it’s a good idea, I want to get out, she tells me after putting her belt noticing that we’re in a kind of open cage just in front. I already knew she is claustrophobic, but I confessed that I was more afraid of Hyperspace than this one. Practically the better you get in the belts, the more intense your experience gets. Here we were standing on a single-seat bench and we were only caught with a simple belt over the hip. It couldn’t have been that bad, right?
Here we had an experience in which we fell into the empty elevator about 14 floors and yes, it felt like a horror movie. Especially because again, all kinds of special effects are used, UV light, projections of ghosts, mirrors that you get to see and make you say goodbye to the real world, and then your reflection leaks over mirror, while the thunder and lightning in the background seem to come out of the frames in front of you. And then suddenly, you fall. And you fall. It’s dark. Your stomach rises, you feel like a feather, and you think of the whole body of emotion. It stops, the the elevator raises you up, takes you up to the 14th floor where the doors open – suddenly – two iron doors that leave you a dizzying view over the park – it assures you that you are high enough to fall again. And BAM, you fall again about 4 floors and you see the same view from a lower floor. I immediately turned my head to Carmen to stop seeing what I was seeing, and obviously I appeared like that in the picture. You’ll see! It all lasted for about 3-4 minutes, but it usually seems like it takes much longer for the moment and when you go out again you feel like it was like … 10 seconds. One of the most scary attractions – but again, before climbing, we conspired with the thought that some 10-year-old kids were enthusiastic about us and said hey- how bad can it be. Disneyland is not just for kids.
And our Disney Photopass+ pictures are here:
Before the end of the evening which promised to be spectacular, from what Damien explained, we had dinner at the California Grill restaurant in Disney Hotel where we had the best meal – the view, the food, the champagne, the serving, everything was impeccable . Before sitting at the table, I took the opportunity to run to the hotel bar, where I asked for a 12-year-old Macallan. I enjoyed for 15 minutes that private time I needed so much. I’m a super-sociable person type of person, but I need these safe minutes every day. It doesn’t matter if I take a bubble bath and I relax while reading a magazine or a book, or I’m locking myself in the dressing to create an outfit for the next day, I just need this time with me. We’re talking about a Gemini after all … finally, I went back to the table.
The table I’m talking about is one that accommodates up to 12 people and is positioned right after the showcase you see at the entrance to the restaurant. You have a spectacular view over Disneyland Paris and at the same time you can see the castle that had a perfect sunset, with pink clouds in the background. We had a 4-course dinner – entry, starter, main and dessert.
The end of every evening at Disneyland Paris until September 2018 is more spectacular than ever because it celebrates 25 years since the opening of the park. In the evening, 15′ before 10 PM, everyone gathers in front of the castle that has become the Disney emblem, on blankets positioned on grass – and attends a show of projections, video mapping and fireworks. This whole show takes about half an hour and you go through all possible states through all Disney animations – there’s a moment there for everyone – that moment that will melt your heart and bring you back in your childhood no matter how old you are or who it’s your favorite animation – Ariel, Lion King, Pirates of the Caribbean, Frozen and the list can continue. I will leave you with a little snap from what we lived a few days ago. If this moment doesn’t convince you to visit Disneyland Paris this summer with your sister, brother, family, boyfriend or best friend, then I don’t know what else can convince you.
Finally, I have to tell you: Disneyland is not just for kids. It’s for your inner child, yes, but no matter what age you are, if you haven’t got there yet, I assure you that you will have so much fun. And we were skeptical at first, especially because we are super-realistic, never over-enthusiastic, or ultra-positive, but this place is indeed the place where you can get rid of the reality for a few days where you can disconnect where you can forget the world, worry, job and why not – responsibilities. I hope every one of you will have the chance to reach Disneyland Paris once and live all that we have lived at maximum intensity and enjoy the inheritance which was left to us all by Walt Disney.
Signed, a girl born on June 1, 1992.