Even though we learned that there wasn't a whole lot open during Extra Magic Hours at Disneyland Paris, we hoped to get a ride on Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear, and Peter Pan in before joining the mosh pit of people that wait for the 10AM stampede to Big Thunder Mountain by the rope to Frontierland.
We arrived at Disneyland at 8AM and took the waiting Paddy Wagon up Main Street to the Castle. That was a lot of fun. The driver was very nice and offered to take our picture by the car in front of the castle.
After taking a few pictures, we made our way to Space Mountain. Just as it was two days before, Space Mountain was not running due to "technical problems." We got Fastpasses to use later in the day.
We rode Buzz, and then walked over to Fantasyland and rode Peter Pan. Since there was a very short wait for Dumbo, we hopped on for a quick ride. The kids rode the Tea Cups, but Lori and I decided to pass in order to retain our breakfasts.
Around 9:15 we joined the crowd waiting for the Frontierland rope drop at 10AM. Just like two days before, we second-hand-smoked about 5 or 6 cigarettes. When the rope dropped, the mayhem that we had come to expect at DLP ensued: adults trampling children, full-out sprinting, pushing, shoving, etc.
We arrived at Big Thunder Mountain a few minutes later to find the queue wasn't open. We had experienced this before, so we didn't think much of it. People started queuing up behind the rope, but the queue soon started turning into an orderless mob. After about 5 minutes, there was just a huge mass of people jostling for position. After 10 minutes it was getting a little tense. I was holding both Michael and Abby's hands to keep them from being separated. A large guy with a cigarette in his mouth pushed Michael out of the way and "excused" himself up to his family on the other side of the mob. It was getting pretty ugly.
After about 15 minutes we decided it wasn't worth the stress of waiting any more. We correctly assumed that the ride was down for "technical difficulties." Because both kids really wanted to ride Big Thunder one more time, we promised them we'd get Fastpasses later in the day. Even with the Fastpasses, they didn't get to ride, though, because each of the 4 times we stopped back, the ride was not running.
We made our way to Pirates of the Caribbean and rode. It, too, was down for "technical difficulties", but opened just as we arrived at the queue.
The rest of the day was spent exploring the park at a very relaxed pace. Abby and Lori rode Space Mountain (which again magically stopped having technical difficulties at 10AM) using Fastpasses while Michael and I rode Buzz again. Next to Space Mountain we explored the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea walk-through. We waited in line for 45 minutes to meet Mickey, but the time passed pretty quickly as we watched Have a Laugh cartoons.
For Lunch we had fish and chips at Toad Hall, a Mr. Toad themed counter service restaurant. In the afternoon we rode Phantom Manor one last time, and saw some of the minor walk-through attractions we had passed up during the previous two days.
The kids enjoyed pin trading in the afternoon. In the back of Frontierland there was a shop that sold pins and Vinylmation. We met the two best DLP cast members there. Nadia and Triston are the kind of cast members that have made our trips to Disney so special over the years. They explained to the kids that the pin-trading rules at DLP are the same as at the other parks, despite what other cast members have told us.
They brought our a pin board for the kids to trade on. As I thanked them before we left, they asked us to wait a minute so that they could get something for the kids. Michael and Abby were very excited and appreciative when Nadia and Triston returned with special "1st Visit" Vinylmations for them. I asked if I could take a picture of the kids with them so that we could remember them, because they had been so wonderful.
As we walked back to Main Street to pin trade in the Emporium, we passed a fountain. About a dozen kids had climbed in to swim in their clothes while their parents sat on the edge with their feet in the water. Based on our experiences over the past two and a half days, we probably shouldn't have been surprised, but we were. This kind of thing just isn't allowed, and doesn't happen at Disney World in Florida.
Pin trading in the Emporium wasn't as pleasant for Michael as it had been before. He only had one pin left on his lanyard that he was willing to part with. He asked a male cast member to trade, but the guy wasn't willing to take the pin that Michael wanted to give him because it had Mickey on it. According to the cast member he "didn't like Mickey because that's my boss." Abby stepped in and offered a different pin, which she shouldn't have had to do, but the guy still didn't like either pin.
Appalled at this guy's attitude, we told Michael to try and find a different cast member with whom to trade. Michael was a bit upset because he couldn't understand why this guy wouldn't trade with him. It would have been tough to explain to him that some DLP cast members make up their own rules, so we just told him that the guy wasn't a great cast member.
We had a dinner reservation for Walt's at 6PM. When we arrived we spent a few minutes debating whether or not to get the dinner package that included priority seating for both the Fantillusion Parade at 10:15 and the showing of Disney Dreams at 11PM. Even though the price wasn't that much more, we passed on the package because we didn't think we'd all make it if we tried to stay out that late again.
Walt's had a great atmosphere, decorated in turn of the century style to fit in with it's location on Main Street. We rode up to the dining room in the antique elevator which had old filament style light bulbs and stained glass. Dinner was good, but nothing special. The kids enjoyed seeing some of the 7 o'clock parade outside the window next to our table.
In the evening we rode Pirates again, where two guests got into a swearing match. It got very heated and escalated to a point where the one guy climbed out of the boat as it was loading, leaned over the railing and spit at the second guy. The cast members looked at each other, not really knowing what to do. Finally they let them both ride, and had security waiting for them at the end of the ride.
The kids wanted to do a little more exploring on Adventure Isle, so we allowed them to play a bit and walked through the Swiss Family Treehouse. On the way out of the park we walked passed Big Thunder Mountain one last time to see if it was running, but it wasn't.
We left the park just after it was getting dark. As we walked under the train station and out of Disneyland, we had a little of the "we're sad we're leaving Disney" feeling that we know all too well from our trips to Disney World, but it wasn't nearly as strong as normal. All of us were looking forward to getting home after twenty days of living out of backpacks.
As we walked back through the Disney Village we picked up a set of Disneyland Paris Christmas Tree ornaments for our Disney tree we put up in our foyer every year. We took the long way back to our hotel, stopping in the lobby of the Newport Bay Club hotel to see how it compares to the Beach Club - a similarly themed Disney World hotel that's one of our favorites.
We went to bed with the very pleasant thought that our next bedtime would be in our own beds at home. Even though the trip had been amazing, and one that we will always remember, twenty-one nights spent on planes, overnight trains, and in hotels makes you really miss your own bed.
The next morning we woke up and went to breakfast at 8. Our train to the airport didn't leave until 10:55, and our flight home didn't leave until 1:55, so we had a little time to meet characters in our hotel in the morning.
I stopped by the front desk and asked them to print our airline boarding passes. They told me that they couldn't do this, and that I'd have to walk over to the Hotel New York, and use the business center to print them myself. This was another of those moments in which Disneyland Paris seems to make things much more inconvenient than they need to be. Luckily we weren't too rushed for time.
We walked over to the Hotel New York, and the kids met Mickey one more time as I walked to the business center. I paid 5 Euro to find out that our boarding passes needed to be printed at the airport. On the way to the business center there was a sign for Shea Stadium, a place where I have so many memories from going to Mets games throughout my life, so I made Lori take a picture of me next to the sign. I didn't take a picture in front of the Yankee Stadium sign.
The train to the airport, and the flight home were rather uneventful. I did get stopped at security at the airport and had my bags searched. The agent asked me if I had any butter in my bag, which I thought was odd, but let me pass through when he was convinced that I did not.
We watched movies on the flight home, and got through immigration and customs in New York pretty quickly. My father picked us up at the airport and drove us to his house out on Long Island to get our car. The 2 1/2 hour ride back home to the Poconos was tough with jet-lag, but it felt great when we were all able to put on clean clothes and collapse into our beds.
It really was an amazing trip, and we made so many wonderful memories. I feel so blessed that we were able to provide so many great experiences for our kids, and that we were able to spend so many happy moments as a family, and with other family members.