JapanExpo & Eurodisney
Since it's the 15th anniversary of Eurodisney, I reach for France to spend a week of pure enjoyment in the beautiful amusement park and to attend the Japan Expo for the first time!
Us wanted knowledge...
Ryanair are unforgiving and they are faithful to themselves: departure before sunset from Orio al Serio (Bergamo), subtly sold as it was Milan's airport – but indeed it could have been worse since they sell Bratislava as Wien and vice versa - ...this alone tells much about the competence in Geography of the said airline (when will we have Crotone Malpensa?), and low-cost check-in where there's a worrying shortage of staff.
But we don't care much, we are right right on schedule, we parked for free below the control tower, and we are even a bunch of kilos below the 15 allowed (something that won't be repeated on the return flight) and, beautiful and trustful, we go to have breakfast in an awful Autogrill booth (that we later learned to accept as a constant for the vacation).
Obviously only 5 minutes after both the airport's bar and the confectioner's would open.
We notice that the wild bivouac is something usual in all the airports where the said airline operates and, in a freezing cold weather, we queue for the boarding.
On the plane our stewards are two gay, one with black hair the other one blond, whose movements [...]
- don't leave anything to be imagined.
The flight, during which we unleashed our instinct to sleep, justified by a night spent chatting on my sofa between a check list to finish and a trip to plan, lands on schedule.
When we get to the Gallic capital we have our first bad news: for once, this one, the weather forecast is right... it's cold like we were at the North Pole and it rains... cats and dogs.
During the transfer by bus from the Picardy airport to Paris we sit in front of two silly girls who are clearly affected by the annoying “I repeat loudly whatever I read” syndrome.
They probably think they are the only ones gifted with the light of sight.
In Paris, the tube station of Porte Maillot, that should be our salvation anchor in this deluge, is not findable even by the natives, who even hardly can show us a working ticket seller.
An employee in his beige trench helps us out, by giving us two tickets from his commuter's block of tickets: we will be his official excuse for two days off work... smart guy.
The truth is, everybody will always be very kind to us... maybe because they don't realize we are [...]
- Italians... at least this is what we are led to think by the fact they continuously speak to us in modern Gallic or, sometime, in Spanish.
We have to face the hard truth: nobody speaks English, and if he does, he has a vocabulary similar to that of a second elementary school child.
It seems like we were in Japan, with the only difference that Roberto speaks a little Japanese, while none of us is familiar with the language of Asterix.
The quest for the hotel under an annoying rain is something Roberto would happily forget to mention.
I will only tell you of the kind and friendly cashier of the supermarket who phones the hotel to ask where the uncharted street is and then he show us the wrong way, confusing left with right.
We start to have some personal ideas about the results of the recent elections.
After all, even the postwoman of the area is able to tell me where the is rue de petit hotels 8 is.
Needless to say, a real estate operator helps us out.
The power of money is the same everywhere.
The hotel du Brabant has puny and rotten rooms, but among the staff of the hotel famous names of the photo retouch world can be [...]
We can't explain otherwise the photos of the rooms we saw on Internet that convinced us to book here, abandoning the cheap but trustful formule1.
We make like a tree and get out, after a quick and essential check-in in the lobby (probably the concierge was a Spaceballs fan) during which the staff ask only if we paid.
We could be replaced by our terrorist cousins and no one would ever suspect anything.
We decide to take it easy and to go walking the town, starting from Forum Les Halles' mall, since the weather suggests an underground walk.
Useless to say, our first goal is a Starbucks and its Paris signed mug to complete my collection of mugs from the world (of Starbucks).
A little excursus on this subject: they might be just damned frog eaters, but their frappuccino is simply the best, probably thanks to the raw ingredients from which the cream is whipped.
We soon realize that food prices are unacceptable everywhere: even those who want to keep the image of low cost restaurant, like McDonald, shrink the dimensions of the serving.
During the following days we will have time and chance to have our wallets hit [...]
- hard by unsuspected uptown bar that sell half a liter of San Pellegrino water for 6.10 euro or a mediocre cappuccino (served at the desk) for the “cheap” price of 4 euro.
For a similar price in Italy you can sit in Piazza di Spagna in Rome, during the fashion show “Donna sotto le Stelle”, with violinists playing Mozart's 42 and Ms.Bellucci sitting at the table next to yours.
We continue our sightseeing, eventually stopping to take some silly pictures at the Ecoute in Place St.Eustache: I really dig that head (whose affliction rivals the statue of the chair that the city of Pioltello, city of three parks, wanted as the town landmark at the entrance of the urban center Note of Roberto).
Our walk takes us along a quai up to Tuileries, walking by Paris town hall and the Pompidou center.
To end the day we have dinner in a brasserie, eating some sort of omelette stuffed with meat and mixed vegetables (galette) and, tired for the walk, we have our well deserved rest, waiting for the tour de force of the two following days: Eurodisney.
Personal thought: French are lost without me... or at least they don't have a pen to [...]
I got to this conclusion after a rock solid statistic average, since two out of two asked and received a pen at their first attempt... like I had a sign on my head.
Roberto's corner: Paris' back is dirty.
This sentence has nothing to do with the absolute lack of bidet in French toilets, but rather with the consideration that Paris needs an all round redecoration.
One just needs to walk one meter away from the shining face shown to tourists to stumble into crumbling walls, rusting pipes and broken tiles everywhere.
It will be an hot summer (on another planet)
The alarm clock calls unmerciful at 7:30 sharp.
We had planned to be ready by 8:30, but Roberto underestimated my speed when it's time to get ready and to get a real time Photoshop before heading towards a goal like Eurodisney.
We are ready at 8 o'clock and I'm shining of joy from each squared centimeter of my body, while he, on the other side, has an expression between the “I give up” and the “am I so sure I want to take her there?”.
It doesn't matter if once again the weather is not at its best: black clouds gather far near the horizon leaving little to hope.
My happiness is shortly repressed when I realize that Autogrill SpA too possession of the whole French restoration, disguising like thousands of bars with different names that serve the same terrible fruit of the same terrible coffe machine.
They might have invaded us with mass distribution (fnac, carrefour, auchan, leroy merlin, castorama, decathlon, marianon profumerie, sephora) and they can make us starve or stink like pigs, but we can poison then whenever we want (sorry if it seems a small deal).
After all, you know, French can't [...]
- live without their croissant for breakfast.
And I still wonder why they stick to produce them empty like the outer space.
If you try to ask for cream inside, they will always understand that you are asking for a croissant and a coffee with cream that you never mentioned.
It must be a genetic fault or some sort of an ancestral and collective subconscious fear.
While I keep a 4th degree burning on my tongue caused by a crap cappuccino, that will annoy me for the rest of the day, we get to Marne la Vallee', where there is the face of the devil that can be seen from the space.
Actually Eurodisney resort is in fact made by three parks: Eurodisney, Disney Village, where shops and restaurant can be found, and Disney Studios, a smaller and still growing park opened just a few years ago.
Seen from above the resort is surely shaped like the disturbing shape of the face of the world most famous mouse.
Boasting our hopper tickets (that is we can hop freely from one park to the other) conveniently bought online, we hop the queue at the entrance and the dive in the magical Disney world.
I don't think I have the right words (I [...]
- don't either... Robbberto) to describe my commotion in the moment the pink castle from Sleeping Beauty, reproduced in 1:1 scale, rises in front of my eyes.
Decorations for the 15th anniversary of the park can be found anywhere in the resort with Lumiere acting as the main character for the celebration (after all he is an expert of candles), while the other characters hold candles on the castle's spires.
After passing through the castle, the first area encountered is Fantasyland, the true core of the park, a distilled of all the classic Dinsey's fairy tales.
Starting from the story of Snowhite, passing through the adventures of Pinocchio and flying with Dumbo and Peter Pan, you eventually get to Alice's labyrinth and the swaying mugs of the Madhatter.
That is exactly where our adventure starts from (not before having brought back to Earth Giorgia, who doesn't stop jumping here and there even if menaced by weapons... Robbberto).
Alice's labyrinth is wonderful, nobody's missing and I have the time of my life taking tons of silly pictures with the Cheshire Cat, the Cards and the Queen of Hearts.
The weather is not [...]
- helping us, but it will be very variable all the day changing from sunny to rainy every 10-15 minutes.
After a while we got used to this and our weather forecast became precise enough to let us plan our movements accurately.
We are helped in this by the discovery of the Fastpass, a wonderful invention that allows to avoid the queue of some of the attraction, booking a time slot of half an hour.
Useless to say, it's easy to book one attraction and queue another to save a lot of time.
So we manage to dive in the following attraction:
- Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast, a classic little train for children, but during which you are given a laser gun to help Buzz in his mission against Zorg shooting at a number of targets that pop up while an automatic system keeps track of the score;
- Star Tours, the classic dynamic cinema based on the adventures of Star Wars, taking the audience where everybody has always wanted to be: on a starship during the attack to the Death Star;
- Space Mountain Mission 2, the real revelation... think of a roller coaster, but in a completely dark environment, between a Supernova explosion and a meteor storm... [...]
- adrenalin and hits to our spines... we will come back 4 more times;
- Phantom Manor, the classic house of ghosts, in a very impressive environment, but, after all, no a big deal;
Pirates of the Carribean, the attraction that inspired the adventures of Captain Jack Sparrow & Co., almost identical to Gardaland's Pirates, and I have nothing more to say on this.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril, a ride on the little wagons of the mines seen in the movie, some sort of a roller coaster that has a close relationship with those of Luneur in Rome, with an added looping.
Adventure Island, a simple reconstruction of a pirate hideout with Ben Gunn's cave, the house of the Robinsons, Captain Hook's ship and a grounded wreckage of ship taken from Lost.
We end our classic shopping tour with the usual ride on the train that takes us around the park, so tired we risked doing three rounds in a row.
How did our heroes manage to get to the end of the day alive? Thanks to an appropriate diet.
Follow our suggestions and you won't regret it.
After all the best dietologists of the world compiled the menu offered by [...]
- Eurodisney to the visitors.
Candies, fats and the more candies.
Red candy apples that look like they just came out of Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, pancakes dripping chocolate syrup from everywhere, tasty waffles that could be stuffed with whipped cream, sugar or other ultra caloric substances.
All of this just to have fast sugar to face the struggle of the day.
The whole park smelled with pop corn, chips, pancakes, hot dogs and any other junk food you could possibly imagine.
Smells that mixed together and tempting visitors' sense of smell at each step.
The meeting with Disney's characters was another pleasant moment, non only during the parade (of which I will write a report tomorrow), but also at specific time in strategic places.
I was lucky enough, or shameless if you prefer, but in the end I come back home having taken a picture with Tweedledee (or Tweedledum, I will never know that), that playboy of FriarTack, the friendly Pluto, inside which there couldn't be Mauro Repetto.
Why? Easy, because he could dance.
Everyday, during the 15th anniversary of the park a so called Candlebration is held, [...]
- some sort of a short musical during which the most representative Disney's characters go on stage singing and dancing: you should have seen Pluto with his electric guitar who jumped on one leg like a rockstar while his tongue was hanging outside his mouth.
A personal thought: if they think they can beat me in queues, trying to sneak to overcome me, they should think again... I am Italian, don't try to steal in thieves' house.
Roberto's corner: seeing persons who probably have practiced dance for 10 years or who have dedicated a lifetime studying a musical instrument working as the stuffing for a puppet performing for little children who will forget everything after an Happy Meal in the evening, makes you think about how life is unfair.
We must figure out
When I was a child and my parents took me to the yearly visit to Gardaland (for us children heaven on Earth) i was forced to follow an unfair ritual consisting in a ride on the train surrounding the park, better known as the Gardaland express.
At this point, both my sister and I wondered why: we just wanted to run immediately towards the attractions that looked far more interesting to us, but despite this, for all those years we couldn't break this absurd order that my mother justified with the philosophic sentence “we must figure out”.
I have never managed to figure out what I should figure out.
The only thing I could figure out was that it was simply cruel to force me going around the park watching the other kids having fun on my favorite attractions.
Luckily things have changed and I'm now holding the matter with determination.
So during the trip for our second day in Marne la Vallèe, Rob and I planned accurately every single movement, figuring out everything we wanted to do.
This time our adventure starts from the smaller park, that is Disney Studios, Eurodisney's little brother vaguely resembling [...]
- the famous Universal Studios.
The park is dominated by a disturbing water tank with two embarrassing mouse ears on top that would make Topus happy and which even a clearly embarrassed information desk's operator used to teach us the way to the park.
At the beginning it's easy for us to move from an attraction to another thanks to the variable weather and to the very small queues, even if the attractions don't have the Fastpass yet, at all the attractions but this year's new ones.
Due to a technical problem in the Aerosmith's roller coaster (yes, you got it right), we decide to stay in theme and we try the attraction about the backstage of Armageddon.
Could something good come out of such a movie? Only time will tell.
The Rock'n Roller Coaster is a totally different story.
After a prelude in a fake recording studio with the rock band mentioned above, you are shot at full speed through a sequence of loopings and breathtaking sharp bands following the rhythm of the powerful rock of Tyler & Co. in a nearly completely dark environment.
We will try it two more times.
The long queues at all the other [...]
- attractions convince us to try an unconvincing ride on the Studio Tram Tour Behind the magic, a trip on board an improbable tram on which Jeremy Irons tells about the wonders of the backstage of the special effects of famous movies like Dinotopia, that we were going to see.
The trip climax was a passage through a Canyon where an earthquake and a fire threatened a tanker with scenic results involving fire, explosions and floods that granted to get you wet.
At this point, could we miss a visit on the set of Reign of Fire? Honestly the only positive side was the dragon's breath of fire giving us some heat in Paris' cold morning.
Next, during our day, a big sign “welcome to radiator springs” introduces us to one of the new attractions of 207, similar to the classic mugs attraction but with Lightning McQueen & Co. instead of mugs in a funny reconstruction of the little town of the Pixar movie.
Obviously we take some pictures with the 1:1 scale models of Guido and Luigi; add to this that just a walk away there was a door guarded by Sullivan and Mike Wasowksy directly from Monsters Inc. and you have quite a good picture of how we spent [...]
- our morning.
But there's no time to waste because Dinsey's magic concentrates in an unforgettable parade through the park's main street and we stand in first row to be sure we won't miss a second.
A dancing (so, this can't be Repetto either) Goofy opens the parade, followed by the chariot with Mickey and Minnie Mouse (of whose we draw the attention thanks to the sober ears I wear, while Roberto, who doesn't want to be left behind, became an elegant beaten Stitch).
Following, in random order, are the characters from Lion King, Mary Poppins with the Chimney Sweep and Toy Story coming after some exceptional green plastic soldiers (an ingenious cosplay).
Pinocchio, Peter Pan and Crudella De Vil couldn't miss what is a parade dedicated to the movie aspect of Disney's production.
We then queue to be the first in the row when Uncle Scrooge will show in the Toons area, but instead of him, none less than Mickey Mouse shows.
I decide that after all it is worth to take some pictures with the old good Mickey, but as soon as I get close, always sporting my Minnie's ears, he jumps on me clearly attempting to do me in [...]
- front of a puzzled family complete with 4 years old children.
I work it out with a kiss on his nose, while he blushes hiding his face and the audience laugh for the unexpected show.
We had almost given up when we spot Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck (instead there had been nothing to do with the evil Jafar) and we manage to get the wanted picture pushing and pulling among sneaking Spanish people and nasty children from assorted countries.
Always thanks to the hopper ticket we move towards Eurodisney to end the visit we left incomplete the day before, including a photo report of the main parade.
I even have time to catch master Geppetto who first laughs at Roberto 'cause of his embarrassing ears and then wraps around me like he didn't need Viagra for his hidden purposes.
Could you possibly think that I go to Eurodisney and I have to beware of the stuffing of the puppet of my childhood's characters? Where will all of this end?...
We have time (also because there's no queue) for a fast tour around the interiors of the Nautilus, discovering the adventures of Captain Nemo.
We see in the distance the small planes of the [...]
- Orbitron, whose steampunk style makes us wonder why the attraction is not dedicated to the Planet of Treasure, but we'll talk later about the big missing.
Standing on a patio from where we dominated the whole main street, enjoying a perfect visual, we are ready for the main parade.
Apart from the characters seen in morning, here it is the wonderful chariot of Alice with the Queen of Hearts, the Madhatter, the White Rabbit and the various cards.
Following is the joyful band of Winnie Pooh and his friends, with an exceptional jumping Tigger, the magnificent chariot of Disney's villains sporting beautiful Queen and Maleficent in flesh and bones and Ursula in full scale.
Of course the Jungle Book, the Little Mermaid on their chariots and the other famous princesses, that is Belle with Beast, Aladin with Jasmin, Snowhite with prince, Aurora with Philip and Cinderella with his friend, all on board a single chariot could not be missing.
All the characters are involving but a big part is played by the music, pumped all over the park by an hi-fi system that would put the one forecast by Douglas Adams in shame, giving a Dolby Surround 7.1 [...]
- experience in each and every spot of the park.
At this point we have to tell you what this system plays all the time since the park opening: the new hits of the moment, soon on top of all the World hit parades, that is “Ciak Camera Action” and “Just Like A Dream”... we would sing them until the end of the vacation and we will “hardly” refrain from buying the double CD sold in the many shops around the park.
After the parade our smart planning gives fruits and we enter without queuing for the third round on the Space Mountain, the roller coaster in the dark that are joy and pain for our backs, after which we go to the enchanted passageway of Aladin where some of the most famous scenes from the movie are depicted, and the we finish our shopping and we go again towards Disney Studios.
This time we have no excuse and we have to get on the flying carpet of Aladin, the classic attraction with small planes flying around, in place of which there are flying carpets that can be controlled in height and pitch.
But before they kick us out we manage to start the queue for the last and most crowded attraction of the day (the queue [...]
- never went below the 75 minutes peaking over 120), another 2007's novelty: Crush's Coaster.
It's a wagon type roller coaster where you board a turtle shaped wagon that will lead you in the deep ocean wih Crush and Nemo among colored jellyfishes, bubbles, vortexes and the strength of the Eastern Australian Stream.
The peculiarity of the coaster is that the wagon is let free to yaw, offering a new dimension to bumps and bends, if our spine ever needed more...
This time the queue was well worth it, I would have liked to do 5 more rounds.
We spend the following two hours finishing our shopping around Eurodisney and after a fast visit to Disney Village we decide we'll have dinner somewhere else (9 euro for an hamburger?), but our attention is dragged by the nearby Planet Hollywood that, despite not displaying attractive memorabilia, holds a real relic for all the fans of Back to the Future: the original leaflet inviting Hill Valley's citizens to save the clock tower... a tear of commotion.
There are some alternative t-shirts tempting me at the store, some of them sport glittered writings like “you can't afford me”, [...]
- “he's not my boyfriend, he's my bodyguard” and “no photo please”, but I come back to myself thinking about how much money I already left in the shop for the porcelain miniature of Maleficent.
We come back home tired but extremely satisfied, after all also the weather hasn't been bad, avoiding rain for the whole day.
Personal thought: I should become the artistic director of this park, not only because I could exploit all the characters' potential and peculiarities, putting them in the right attraction with the right choreography, but also because I would know how to place them all.
One of the things that puzzled me most is the total lack of some important Disney's characters of whom little if not nothing can be found around the park in terms of both gadgets and attractions.
Fancy some examples? Hercules, Hunchback of Notre Dame (that takes place in Paris!), The Black Cauldron, Mulan, The Rescuers, Aristocats, Lady And The Trump, 101 Dalmatians, The Emperor's New Groove and others.
Roberto's corner: I have decided that my DNA won't be broadcast to our future, at least not in a natural way.
I know that to many people this news will be a relief, but I can't think of a better way to contribute to lowering the world population of nasty kids.
If you think I'm being too drastic, have a walk around Eurodisney and then sign in for my club.
Walking with Nat
Finally, after years of email exchanging, I have the honor to meet my French twin site Natalie', better known as Ivycosplay.
We wait for her in the hotel's lobby late in the morning, having planned, weather permitting, a quiet walk around Paris' downtown.
Being a perfect guide, Nat takes us walking around places of Paris that usually are not visited by tourists, from a medieval kiosk perfect as the stage for taking pictures of Maleficent, to the St.Severin's church, in the crypt of which a number of scenes from Interview with the vampire have been shot.
But we appreciate also to walk to St.Michele, Place de la Concorde, the Opera', the Bastille, and the LaFayette stores.
We stop for a couple of hours in the Starbucks near the Opera', built in what used to be a great luxury building of the Renaissance, drinking a frappuccino among columns and stucchi that make this the most beautiful Starbucks I've ever been to hands down.
This is the perfect occasion to plunge into gossips about the world of French cosplay, finding out a number of analogies with our very own... starting to the massive use of the stabbing [...]
While we walk around the Latin Quarter, we are surprised to see the number of restaurants offering nearly any kind of dishes from anywhere in the world and, alternating little walks to transfers using the tube, we get to Montmartre, the artists' hill where the church of the same name rises.
But our goal is the many fabric shops crowding the surroundings, a real show of glitter, spandex and other shiny fabrics that would be the joy of all the cosplayers.
Going down from the hill on top of which the church rises, we stumble upon a shop selling essential Barbapapa's items where I buy an elegant CD case shaped like a gym locker.
Useless to say, it is pink.
Just a few steps further, the same will happen with a mouse and the related mouse pad sporting the face of Hello Kitty that will prove irresistible to both Nat and me.
The plan for the night includes the meeting with two of Nat's friends who are cosplayers and sisters, with whom we will go to a cheap but very good Japanese restaurant located in a street where there's plenty of choice among a number of restaurants offering Japanese dishes.
So, between some [...]
- yakisoba and some gyoza, we spend a joyful night before going back ired but happy, to our hotel.
Japan Expo!Sorry, text not available.
Shaping me up for the big time, baby!
For the first time we let the alarm clock show us a double figure, sleeping until after 10 o'clock, and then we start an endless game at Tetris luggage edition, on which Roberto is a wll known international champion, to distribute in the best possible way the 15 kilos allowed by those greedy guys at Ryanar.
It easy to understand how, after two days in Eurodisney and two more in a comic convention, it was mathematically impossible to go back home with empty hands.
By the way, squeezing, folding and moving objects and rules of Geometry of the solids, we manage to fit everything in the luggage, praying that no one will eventually notice our exceeding weight... and I am not talking about fat, since after this week we can boast some hard and tight butt which can easily win an international championship.
We spend the next hours sitting on some red sofas in a Starbucks where we went for the last frappuccino (see you in 20 days, honey), chatting and evaluating our situation.
Then just a last walk among the shops of Les Halles before we plunge in the feared transfer towards Beauvis.
While we drag our luggage, Paris' sky pours tears, and we do [...]
- too, but when we finally reach the boarding platform of the bus, Paris shines with a postcard worth sky and a rise in the temperature that we feel well beneath our coats (that we are wearing to lower the weight of the baggage).
We are quite sure that in the following days TV news will be reporting about how the protected by St.Genevieve will be looking for freshness by diving in the city fountains, but not today.
We get to the airport much earlier than needed, but just in time to catch the bad weather that, after having left the Capital, like a Fantozzi's cloud, follows us until the end of the journey.
Before the check in we stay in an elegant restaurant where a schizophrenic waitress asks us to take our luggage away from the defilated wall against which we put them, and to put them in the middle of a passageway.
All in name of safety.
We will cheer every single time she will eventually get her legs caught in my trolley's wheels while walking from the kitchen to the tables and back.
We try a pirate wi-fi connection, but with no luck, so we start writing this report, waiting for the clerks at the check in to decide our destiny.
Will we pay for the 5 exceeding kilos or not?
By the way, Roberto has already set up a personal vengeance.
They will have our 40 euro, but Ryanar will eventually spend that amount of money in at least a couple of useless touristic trip around the skies of Bergamo each time he will be in charge.
Luckily, with a last minute movement, we manage to stay in the forgiven kilos that the meticulous check in clerk (never seen checking the weight of the luggage one piece at a time as provided by the rules) allows us as usually done, and much relieved, we walk to the boarding gate, hoping that the Roberto's turbonerd type backpack will fit comfortably in the overhead compartment of the B737 taking us home.