Last Monday I hobbled out of bed at around 7:45 AM to make sure that I'd be conscious enough to take the line 6 metro at 8:30 AM to Nation where I would meet Jiny, her friend Svenja, Alex, and his friend Charlie. While blankly staring out the window of the mostly elevated 6 train, I felt stupidly glum and blah, the effects of an emotional hangover from the night before. (I've never had a physical hangover, but assuming that's worse than an emotional one, I think I'll pass.) When I arrived at Nation half an hour later I hoped it would be easy to run into the others at the RER A platform.
A few seconds after stepping onto the platform, there he was! ALEX BREEEEEEY! SAVING MY SANITY! And there was Charlie who I would soon find out was a bundle of awesomness. And then the smiling Jiny and Svenja arrived behind us! Like whoa, so many humans! My emotional hangover poofed away in the presence of awesome happy people. I traded Jiny a box of Fruit Roll Ups and a bag of Reeses Pieces (apparently these things are hard to get in her home in Germany) for a armload of German chocolates and odd edible things of German origin. And then we went on our merry way to the happiest place on earth, European style.
Okay, that's not the real entrance to Disneyland. That's the point after you get off the RER where they check your bag to make sure you're not packing explosives or other dangerous un-Disney-like things.
Ah, that's more like it. The coral pink Disneyland Hotel sits right at the entrance of the park. There are loads more hotels around the park, all with their own special theme (this one is just like being in NYC!), but they're more of a hike away from the park. I know because when I was 7 years old my family stayed at the Sequoia Lodge and my feet felt like prickly, stinging death every night after walking through the Disney Village.
Yes, I do have quite a history with Disney theme parks. If you're a Disney hater, just leave me be. I don't love Disney to death (the last time I went to Disneyland in California I was sadly disappointed; it just wasn't the same as when I was kid), but I've enjoyed going to the parks since I was 5 and it's loads more fun when you get to roam the parks with friends than with your own family. If you've been going to the parks since childhood you might understand.
"Oh my god, it's like being in America...kind of."
If America were really, really clean. And stuck in the 50s. Disneyland is surreal enough in the US, but even more so in Paris. Being spoken to in English and seeing English on all the signs says something like, "You're in idealized America now, bitch."
We couldn't help but giddily trot around as soon as we crossed the park entrance.
The castles are different in each Disney park. Somewhat. The castles in Disneyland Paris and Disneyland in California are for Sleeping Beauty while the ones in Orlando and Tokyo are for Cinderella. Why am I telling you this? I DON'T KNOW. Anyhoo, the Paris castle is the prettiest out of all of them, which should be fitting for a park that's in Europe. (However, you can't really blame Disneyland's for being so dinky since it was the first park to open.)
Although we all grabbed maps, we didn't really need them since Charlie immediately took the role of "Disneyland Guide". He suggested what attractions we should visit; we followed like baby ducklings.
The first stop was Discoveryland (Tomorrowland in the US), which has the best ride in the park: SPACE MOUNTAIN. Okay, that's just my opinion; my mum's favorite rise is the Casey Jr train in Fantasyland. Space Mountain has been my favorite ride for a long time, thus why when I went to Disneyland (California) in 2004 and found that it was closed I felt like my soul had been squashed. Today we were in luck as for whatever reason no one really felt like riding Space Mountain, meaning that there was no wait for those of us who wanted to ride it over and over again, which we did because it was awesomer than any other Space Mountain.
My god, can you feel the joy in this photo? The unbridled happiness of a thousand rainbow unicorns dipped in pristine rivers of marshmallows and baby bunnies? Yeah. We look like a bunch of little kids dumpling out full bags of Halloween candy after a successful night of trick-or-treating. Later we would feel like a bunch of little kids who had just eaten entire bags of Halloween candy, but I'll get to that in a bit.
Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast was bizarrely fun in the sense that you have no idea what the hell is going on, but it doesn't matter because the point of the ride is probably to give you some brain damage (and to save those cute little green aliens from Emperor Zurg, or something).
Imagine a noisy shoot 'em-up carnival ride with retina-raping colors and excessive blinky lights that's built really well (as opposed to a real carnival ride where half the thrill of terror comes from thinking the ride will break down and collapse on you); that's kind of what the ride was like. Each car sits two people and comes equipped with laser guns that you shoot at targets labeled with Zs. When a target has been successfully hit, a bunch of little red lights kinda poof out from the Z and...well, you'll figure it out. You'll know if you're doing well or sucking crap from the score that comes up on the dashboard. There's also a wheel in the middle of the dashboard that allows you to spin the car as much as you want. Of course the spinning isn't necessary, but it adds another dimension of "WTF THIS RIDE IS STUPID FUN!", which is the feeling I'm sure those Disney Imagineers were going for. I spun the car while Alex confusedly attempted to shoot everything in sight (I got a much better score than him though, bwahaha, I AM GOOD AT SHOOTING THINGS, that is so useful!).
The Indiana Jones roller coaster was not nearly as awesome as Space Mountain. If not for the theming, we decided it would be a somewhat sucky, too short carnival ride. But it had really good theming. So! [shrugs] The Indiana Jones ride at the Disneyland in California is really freakin' cool and completely different, probably because it cost a bagillion dollars and a few human sacrifices to make the waiting area alone.
Pirates of the Caribbean wasn't as cool as I remembered, but it wasn't...bad. It's just a bunch of animatronic pirates singing, breaking shit, drinking booze, chasing women, ye know. Boys will be boys, robotic pirates will be robotic pirates. Remember, no rocking out on the couch (or the boat).
At some point we went on the Haunted Mansion ride (no photo, gasp!). It felt a little cooler than other versions of the Haunted Mansion, but I don't know why. Oh, but I thought was missing something in the room with the woman's head in the glass sphere. Know what I'm talking about? I thought there were supposed to be objects "floating" around the room as you rotate around it, but in this ride there weren't any floating objects. Did I make that up? Wuhzuh? Possibly.
Out of everything on that ride, what creeps me out the most is the neverending room with the candlestick that moves towards you at half the speed of a garden slug. Maybe I have a fear...of candlesticks. Or neverending rooms. Or slow moving inanimate objects.
We took a whirl on the teacups because it creates the rare occasion where nausea is fun!
"There are three axes of spinning!" noted Charlie with a bit of glee.
Oh yes. Yes there are.
I squeezed into a teacup with Charlie and Alex since their goal was to spin as fast as Disney deemed possible and for whatever reason I wanted to be a part of that magic. Jiny and Svenja intelligently opted to not reach a hemorrhaging-inducing spinning speed.
So how do you make the teacup spin hella fast? Grab the wheel in the center of the teacup and spin it as hard as you can. No stopping.
Oh my god, it hurt. Leaning back during the ride resulted in your head being transported to a life-squeezing vortex of skull crushing doom. I don't think we were on earth during the ride, more like some alternate universe where you can't stop laughing because everything is really funny and the world is spinning and you don't know when the colors will stop mushing together in one blur.
But the real pain doesn't settle in until you leave the ride. Or attempt to. I had trouble stepping out of the teacup like a normal, able-bodied human as my body still thought it was spinning. When I reached the "sortie" gate the lurch of an unwell digestive system became very clear. Uuunnngg.
And then we got lunch. (Yes, we planned to go on the ride right before lunch, as opposed to after.)
We each got a different pizza except for Svenja who opted to get gelato. I was the only one who was intrigued by the chicken tikka pizza. Hey, it's just spicy chicken...on a pizza! Nothing weird about that. I think. Since I have low expectations for amusement park food, I wasn't disappointed by the pizza, which was more like bread with stuff on it as opposed to pizza. Which I know is the same thing. But. There's a difference. Kinda. The crust wasn't think enough to be thin crust, nor thick enough to be thick crust. Hovering in the middle makes it "bread with stuff".
WHATEVER, I DON'T HAVE TO EXPLAIN MYSELF.
Although I didn't venture into "long beef" territory, I'm going to assume the pizza is better.
They have a bake shop on Main Street with American goodies like donuts, muffins, and chocolate chip cookies. Sadly, I wasn't hungry enough to actually try anything. Oh god, how I failed. I guess the pizza did me in.
We roamed to Main Street in search of Mickey-head shaped ice cream popsicles, none of which existed in the park. I don't know if they actually exist in any Disney park these days, but I definitely ate them as a kid. My childhood memories has been ruined by the lack of this frozen treat. Seriously.
So back to Space Mountain we went.
After our second time on the ride, Jiny, Charlie, Alex and I went back for more. Now I know that riding Space Mountain two times in a row is probably not a good idea. The loops and corkscrews really get to you without enough buffer time in between. After the third organ-shifting ride, we were beat.
No better way to repair one's sanity by riding It's a Small World, right? ...Huh? Uh. Well, it's a relaxing boat ride, aside from the song. My favorite scene was the portrayal of Canada, which distilled our northern neighbor quite succinctly with a mountie, a moose and a totem pole. Above that scene seems to be the north pole with an Inuit, a bear, an igloo and a...pole. My god, I love it.
At the end of the ride we floated through a hall of depictions of people from different parts of the world all with the same smiling face holding a miniature version of something that defined their culture. My favorite was the Inuit and the midget seal. Kinda makes a question mark pop up in your head. Oooookay.
We got a closer look at the castle, in particular...
...The stained glass windows on the second floor depicting the story of Sleeping Beauty.
There's a nice view of Fantasyland from the outside balcony.
Alex was on a quest to find a good Disneyland hat, which we decided this hat was not. Charlie deemed it the douchiest hat ever. I gotta wonder who decided that producing a birthday hat—not just one shaped like a head-eating alien cake, but that also plays a bad rendition of Happy Birthday—would be a big moneymaker. But someone must be buying it. Oh dear god.
Alex eventually settled on a Mickey pirate doo-rag-esque thing whose ears would only stay semi-upright. The ears are a lot of fun to bat around in case you want to annoy someone wearing a Mickey pirate hat.
As Jiny and Svenja had plans to stay in the park as long as possible and Charlie, Alex and I were starting to feel the burning sensation of Disney overload, we parted ways with our lovely German friends at around 4 PM to go back to Paris.
Not without taking a classic "Happy Asian tourist who bought stuff and went to Disneyland" shot.
As we left the park, Alex and I showed interest in going to Disney Village, the shopping/eating complex right outside the park featuring American classics such as a 50s diner, a NY-style deli, McDonald's and Planet Hollywood. We were banned by the power of Charlie from entering the village. Maybe it was for the best.
Although we initially felt Disney-ed out, walking into the semi-deserted RER station sucked all the Disney magic out of our systems and we longed to go back to the park. (Or at least I did.) We felt very, very sad. Even sadder was when Charlie tried to buy an Orangina from the vending machine in the station and it got stuck in the rotaing metal thinger.
"I WANT TO GET OUT OF HERE," moaned Charlie.
Back on the RER we went to civilization...and accesible Orangina.
back in Paris
When we got back to Paris we headed to Parc Monceau near Alex's apartment and...
...Shared a very good, crusty, chewy baguette from Le Moulin de la Vierge...
...While staring at this weird, sad looking tree-thing...
...And shared a six-pack of Orangina from Monoprix as joggers whizzed by, reminding us of our gluttonous, sedentary lifestyles.
If only we could do that every day, life would be so much better. Le sigh.
Metro: RER A to...Disneyland!
Metro: Monceau (2)