France Day 29 - Goodbyes ... and Disney Paris!

Trip Start Jun 25, 2008
Trip End Sep 01, 2008

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Flag of France  , Île-de-France,
Sunday, August 24, 2008

Wow. 6:45am is EARLY when you've been lounging around for a month waking up at 8:30am or 9am each day.

Its a mad scramble around the house to make sure we've packed and cleaned everything. I'm sure we missed some things ... but, what can you do? ... Sorry Franck and Sandrine if we left anything too messy! ... Despite packing and cleaning for several hours on Saturday, we still felt a little frazzled.

Thankfully, Franck and Sandrine were very kind enough to volunteer to pick us up and escort us to Angers to see us on our way. We arrive without any problems and are able to see a little bit of Angers. Sandrine tells us a tad bit about the history of the beautiful castle that remains ... apparently, the Duke of Angers was so popular and powerful, that the King of France at the time demanded that the Duke cut the tops off the castle towers as a show of respect. ... It was done ... and the towers have remained at 75% height ever since. ... Every town we've visited here in France has such a rich and long history, its unbelievable.

Kisses to Franck and Sandrine ... what a wonderful home exchange partner family they have been. Their house was cozy and comfortable (the kids NEVER wanted to leave ... even at the end!), their friends and family were fabulously kind and outgoing with us, and their town and country were gorgeous. Not to mention that Franck and Sandrine were excellent organizers, great communicators before the exchange, during, and after, ...and great to spend time with. We only wish we could have spent more time hanging out with them and their children. THANK YOU FRANCK AND SANDRINE!


And before we know it, our second home exchange is complete, ... and we are en route to Disney Paris by direct train. The trip will take us a little over 2 hours.

The kids have no clue as to where we are going. They think its time for Paris, with Mimi joining us in a few days. But they are mistaken. We've booked a room at the New York Hotel at Disney Paris for 2 nights for 3 days of fun and amusement park madness.

We arrive and step out of the train ... outside, the bus stop is full of busses decked out with Disney designs and characters all over them. The kids are clueless. To the hotel with Disney emblems everywhere, staff with Disney stuff on, Minnie Mouse on the TV showing off the hotel rooms. Still clueless. They like the characters and stuff, but they have no idea we are actually HERE AT DISNEYLAND. Its funny because all summer long they've talked about Disneyland, more than ever before. And all summer long I've drilled in to their heads that there is only one Disneyland ... its in the United States ... and we won't be able to go because we will be traveling. ... Up to the room, with Disney brochures, maps, etc inside ... still clueless. I'm shocked at this point.

Downstairs and we start our ten minute walk to the park through Disney Village (the public shopping mall type thing outside the park gates). Lights, Disney Stores, more Mickey Mouse stuff... and the kids are liking it all, super excited, ... but no idea its Disneyland. Sam is just as psyched about the big McD's here as anything at this point!

As we approach the gates, we decide to focus them in on whats going on, so Janice points out a sign to Samuel.

There are rare times when you are able to make your children absolutely and purely joyful. A trip to Disneyland is one surefire opportunity for that type of moment ... and our reveal did not dissapoint. They were excited when we told them, but it was really a slow rolling, growing sort of excitement. As we showed our tickets, they became more excited, ... entered Mainstreet, ... more excited ... I love the scene of them skipping along Mainstreet. Just thrilled. Good times. And they deserve it really. They have been such troopers on this LOOONNGGG trip of ours.

Disney Paris is great. Its definately different than the park in CA. On the positive side of the scale: its more recently built, is a new and different experience than CA with a few different rides, and some different builds of old rides, ... and they allow you to bring some outside food in the park. On the negative side of things: the Disney spirit of the staff is not nearly at the level of their CA counterparts, the grounds and rides aren't kept as well, smoking is allowed (or at least tolerated 100%), and ... it RAINS.

Yes, most of our day today had light sprinkles. Sometimes, it was outright pouring. We had no rain gear, but we were relatively warm (though wet), and since it was our first day here ... we just adjusted. So we hit upa lot of indoor rides, movies, shows, etc.

One funny memory. An African family roamed the park with three children ... .... and the mom was carrying a huge black umbrella for the family with a large hot pink Playboy logo on it. Classy. Nothing says 'family day at Disneyland' like a Playboy umbrella. ... I saw them a second time in the park, and followed them for nearly five minutes trying to take a picture, but it wasn't in the cards. ... Reminded me of visiting an ancient temple in China and finding a woman with the 'JUICY' logo smack dab on her rear end.

Its cool to be in a Disney park thats very similar to our CA park, but with a bunch of different attractions. The kids don't really know the difference, but it definately makes it have a fresh feel to me.

As the weather improved, ... a bunch of things fell right in to place for us. First of all, around 4pm, the lines seemed to shrink in half at least. We were line for no more than 10 minutes for Small World. And Snow White, which had been 45 minutes earlier, ... only took us 10 minutes. Then, I made us dinner resrevations at the Blue Lagoon (restaurant inside of the Pirates of the Caribbean) at 6:45pm. We decided to FastPass the PeterPan ride nearby and it turned out to be a 6:15pm. Perfect! When we finished at the Peter Pan ride (skipped a 1.5 hour line with our FastPass! .... oh, excuse me, its 'que', not line here in Europe), we decided to do Pirates for the 2nd time, and found the line EMPTY. We walked nearly up to the loading docks with no wait! ... Then to dinner, and as I was paying, a waitress gave us four Fast Pass admissions to Thunder Mountain around the corner that were good for another ten minutes. ... saved us a 1 hour line! So ... boom, boom, boom ... we knocked out like 75% of the main rides and attractions that were on our Must Do list!

Poor Sam, just before dinner, he started complaining about his right leg hurting. He is a growing little guy, and it seems he has these growing pain shin splint sort of pains every once in a while. Totally reminds me of when I was a kid. I HATED that feeling. Ugh.

So now, its about 8:30pm, and Ella has been asking to go to the hotel since 6pm .... thats how tired she is. Actually ASKING to leave Disneyland to sleep. I volunteer to take her back to the hotel, while Janice and Sam explore some more (they are still gone as I write this .... nearly 11pm). Their plan was to visit the Phantom Manor and perhaps stay a little later until the parade and fireworks (starting at 10:20pm). They must have decided to do that.

Couldn't have asked for a better day. I feel a little bad that the kids are so dead tired, but hopefully with a good night's sleep and a solid breakfast in the morning, we can have another great day tomorrow. Maybe even a nap midway through. ... Still lots to explore. We haven't even ventured in to their version of the CA Adventure park ... Disney Studios. That will be for tomorrow.
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