France Days 31-33 Disneyland Paris
I'm not going to lie. By the end of the first day at Disney, I no longer felt magical. But we won't start there. We'll start with how similar this place is to Disneyworld in Florida. It's very similar. Castle in the middle, Main Street USA leading up to it, Tomorrow Land off to the right there, a boat in Adventureland...the list goes on. It was a lot like Florida. However, this park did have special features and a different fireworks show.
There was also a Disney Studios park right next door, featuring a Ratatouille-themed ride and restaurant.
We had a wonderful morning, but as always when we try to embark on big adventure for a full day, we take a mid-day break for sleep and nourishment and general rest and alone time. It keeps us all centered, even if Bittykins doesn't nap, which she's just starting to not, and without a baby gate at home or a crib that will contain her, I can only do so much about it in a hotel room. So she's been Not Napping for awhile. This was kind of the day I realized we may have started a new phase in parenthood called None of the Children Nap Anymore.
Today, Geoff wanted to stay by himself and ride all the roller coasters our two small children and pregnant me could not ride. I allowed him to, of course. This meant finding our way back to the Metro, getting off at the right stop on the right side, and going the right direction down the right street. Only 2 of those 4 happened. Long story short, it was almost 2 hours between the time I separated the children from their father kicking and screaming and the time I opened the hotel room door. Also, this was the first day of the historic heat wave that swept Paris. And our room may as well have not had any air conditioning whatsoever, if it did indeed have some to begin with.
A hot hour and a half in the hot, sunny hotel room did not lend itself well to napping, but exhaustion set in for us all. When we woke up, I thought Geoff had made a mistake in telling us which restaurant to meet him at because the listings were right next to each other on the map, but were in two different parks.
So, of course, I headed to the Ratatouille restaurant all the way at the back of Disney Studios, when in reality, I was supposed to meet him at the Pirates of the Carribbean restaurant all the way at the back of the Disneyland park (the equivalent of Magic Kingdom). By the time I walked all the way into and back out of both parks, I felt like I had seen everything already, so the magic of discovery was kind of wiped away by the need to press onward in a sweaty trod toward trying to find my husband with two hungry, sweaty little ones in tow, pushing that stroller. It did not add to the magic. See, we only had one working cell phone, because while you can take an iPhone to another country (my phone), you can't use a Droid (Geoff's phone). Luckily, a kind stranger let me use her phone, so I posted a facebook wall post about where we were, and he found us.
It was 9 pm.
No one had eaten.
And Geoff gets hangry.
And during that encounter, Bittykins shook pepper into her eye, and I had to carry her sideways to the men's room and give her an eye flush we'll never forget.
We had waited over an hour for Geoff. Turned out he was on the other side of a wall not 50 feet away, waiting for us.
As it would happen, we came into the area in front of the ride, where he told us to meet him, just as hundreds of people were flooding the area due to a sudden ride shut-down. I didn't see him, and, assuming that was the normal crowd flow, kept moving on to the next logical place, the restaurant.
What a mess.
Well, the meal was delicious and Bittykins made friends with a little girl at the next table from Spain. Her family didn't speak French, and we didn't speak Spanish, but they spoke a little English, and after 8 years in Tucson, we figured out any Spanish. It was nice to lighten the mood. We sat right by the water and boats at the end of the Pirates ride drifted slowly by.
There was lots of music as well, some of it louder than others, and after 3 attempts at trying to get our waiter's attention, I finally said VERY loudly, "PARDONNE?" JUST as the music ended and there was an unnatural lull in the conversation at seemingly most of the tables around us. The waiter (and about a dozen other people) all whipped their heads around. Needless to say, we got a very large *stack* of napkins and an entire *pitcher* of water.
Days 2 and 3 were kind of a blur. In no particular order, here are some memories...We rode a very cool Buzz Lightyear ride where you get to shoot aliens and the evil Captain Zorg with your laser blaster from your traveling and spinning chair. We went to see the Frozen live act show (it was chock full of talented singers and dancers and very well done...I might have teared up). We ate barbeque ribs in a big country barn. We rested. We came back. We did most all of it over the next few days...and Alice in Wonderland shrub maze leading to the Queen's castle, full of spiral staircases. We ate hot dogs at Casey's. We did Disney Studios, where we saw a Cars stunt show, a behind-the-scenes movie lot tour of special effects, a parade, a Disney Junior Live show (where the children believe they saw the real Mickey Mouse), another special effects movie show about film history that was a little outdated but still very well-done. We ate ice cream together. A lot. I put my camera away. A lot. Geoff even took some pictures of me. We explored caves and a pirate playground in Adventureland together. We watched CineMagique. We climbed the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse. We saw the Main Street parade. We ate at the Ratatouille Restaurant (finally). We saw incredible fireworks and laser lights and a projected show on the Disney castle. The music was phenomenal and made me cry both times we saw it (which means there were at least two nights we didn't leave the park until 11 pm...). And despite all the child-centered fun all day, and the fact that we were covered in sunscreen and sweat and it was 10 pm, and we knew we still had a long walk ahead of us when it was over...there is no way around it. That fireworks show is romantic.
I waited outside while the kids rode lots of rides with Geoff I wasn't allowed to go on pregnant - Snow White, Peter Pan, and Slinky Dog, just to name a few. We did "Dancin' Dolls" as Bittykins calls it, twice (It's a Small World). (And yes, I cried through the ride...I know.) And we rode the spaceships in Tomorrow Land twice. We bought lollipops. We bought balloons. We bought incredible French pastries. We bought cotton candy. We bought popcorn (the best I've ever had, actually, from a Main Street USA popcorn cart and a guy in Victorian popcorn salesman garb). We rode the train. We rode the double-decker bus. We Did Disney.
Every ride that I could ride, we had a Pink Pass. They don't have these in the U.S., but it's a special pass that lets you get in front on rides with no wait if you are expecting. Usually, they only let one other person come in with you, but because our two little ones were so small, they made a special exception and gave us a pass for all 4 (um, 5) of us to go together! HOORAY! My back was grateful. But even with the Pink Pass, Disney is just a lot in the heat now that I'm 14 weeks along. Disney was when I began to get kind of worn out, and also the point at which I had all but given up a digital life (I'm writing this now a couple months after the fact). I needed a break, though. I was compulsively checking in on apps for no reason other than habit. That ended. I turned my attention to my family and we just enjoyed our time together.
So that's definitely magic.