Left our house in Los Angeles just before 9am on Saturday morning to head for LAX and our flight. Arrived at LAX and used the new Delta One check in area since we splurged on this trip and are flying business class (thanks to a great deal). Was seating in the Sky Lounge after check in and through security with tons of time to spare so watched some football and relaxed. Boarded our flight a little late and left LAX behind schedule for JFK. Made up some time in the air but about half an hour till landing the pilot came on and said we did not have enough fuel to get into the JFK pattern and would divert to Newark. After a good 20 minutes he came back on and said they bumped them up the landing order and we could make it into JFK as planned. Hit the ground and exited the plan quickly since we had about an hour to transfer terminals and airlines to make our air France Connection. Of course one of the air train routes was down so we had to find an alternative Then had to go through security.. no priority line in operation. Made it to the gate about 20 minutes to flight time and found no signs of life. Found out after some panic that they had delayed the flight but no one updated any boards or let anyone know really. Eventually boarded and left an hour late. Made it into Paris an hour late and waited and waited and 2 of 3 bags showed up. One did not. After filling out the form crossed our fingers that our car was still waiting and it was! So off to Disneyland Paris! Arrived at the Sequoia Lodge and checked in. Dropped our bags, caught our breath then headed for the parks. Made a pit stop at the Golden Forest Lounge to see what that was all about then walked through the Disney Village. Stopped at Annette’s in the Disney Village for dinner along the way then entered Disneyland Park. My 10th Disney Park.. only one more to go. As we arrived on Main Street the parade was making its way through Town Square. So we took the Liberty Arcades (on the West side) of the street and by passed the parade. Walked through Sleeping Beauty Castle and into Fantasyland. Found my way out to the Storybook Canal and Casey Jr attractions and went on each a couple of times. The reason for this is they close after today for refurbishment so it was my one and only shot as seeing both. Then strolled back through Fantasyland and used a Hotel FastPass to hop onto Peter Pan. Walked down the trail into Adventureland and then back to Main Street. The rest of my group headed back to the hotel to see if the missing bag showed up and to get some rest they were exhausted. I had about 2 hours till Disney Dreams so I used the remaining daylight and shot pictures of all the pumpkins on the east side of Main Street as I returned to the hub. Sat in the shadow of Sleeping Beauty Castle and pre-staged a bunch of tweets to go once I had a wi-fi connection again. Then wandered into Frontierland and went for a ride on Phantom Manor. Roamed around Frontierland and back into Adventureland where I ended up on Pirates of the Caribbean. Continued around to Fantasyland then ran into a blockade of Cast Members clearing the land ahead of Disney Dreams so had to back track almost my entire route. Passed through the hub and into Discoveryland. Circled around the area and then back to the hub with about 20 minutes to spare until Disney Dreams was to start. It was not crowded at all so I sat on the curb and prepared more tweets until 5 minutes before showtime then found a spot where the street car tracks split to see the show. Afterward joined the masses exiting since the park was closed and walked back to the Sequoia Lodge to call it a night. (Well to copy pictures, upload everything and write this then a long shower then a night.. goal is midnight local time..).
- This trip we found a good deal on airfare and treated ourselves to business class. It meant making a connection in New York but figured why not. This meant we got to try the new Delta One service from LAX to JFK. The check in process involves being greeted by a Delta employee at a special doorway and escorted inside. Once inside they take your bags and process your check in. While they are doing this you walk around the corner and can eat a snack or just sit in the lounge. Once the bags are checked and boarding passes printed they come and find you and ask if you are ready to go upstairs. Once you are you are escorted up an elevator and the a priority line at the TSA checkpoint. After security you head to the Delta Sky Club to wait for the flight.
- This extra concierge type service was an incredible way to arrive kick off the trip and everyone we interacted with was friendly and helpful. Also very proud to be the first location with this Delta One Service.
- The Club renovations are now complete. In the club there is wi-fi, charging stations, snacks, beverages, and TVs. We found a spot by the window and ate a bit then watched some streaming football since it was a Saturday.
- We were on a 757 which meant large Delta One Seats but not individual pods since it was 2x2. They were big and reclined and were very nice. Also the large touch screen was awesome. The selection of food was also great. I had a steak and asked for it well done and they cooked it longer and it came out perfect. The live TV made the flight go by very quickly with all the football games to choose from.
- The frustrating aspect of the flight services was the wi-fi. Even in a several thousand dollar seat in business class you had to pay if you wanted it. That should really be included in a premium offering.
- Our flight was on time and all was good to go until a half hour or so before landing. The pilot came on and said JFK is backed up around 30-45 minutes and we did not have enough fuel to circle that long. So they were going to divert us to Newark. This would be a problem since we had a 2 hour window to catch our flight to Paris. We asked a flight attendant and they basically shrugged their shoulders and said talk to someone on the ground. I thought this was very very poor not to be able to help out with a plan or offer any words of wisdom either. We flew around for another 20 minutes or so and the pilot came on and said JFK accommodated them and we are on approach there. So all was back on track.
- The next Delta failure came on arrival. We asked for a gate number and all the app would tell us is a terminal. So we asked the flight attendant how to get there and if we should be concerned on the time (we were now late). Again should shrugs.. one did say take the train. As we disembarked we asked a Delta employee at the gate and they pointed down a long walkway and said go take the train. No real help. Again I thought this was extremely poor. I have been on flights before and they had a list of connections and would help you as needed. This was not good service and was a bit frustrating. No time to complain so we started to hike… and it was a hike. Made it to the train and of course the one we wanted to take was out of service. So we asked some employees and no one seemed to know. Finally a local took pity on us and said to get on and where to transfer. So we did.. eventually making it to the other terminal. Next up security.. saw no priority line so got in the shortest one and then walked quickly to find a sign and gate number then to the gate, arriving well after boarding was to begin. No signs of anyone at the podium. Looked outside and saw the plane and a fair number of people around but no signs of life.. this was odd.. I kept checking the Delta and Air France apps and they all indicated ontime. Finally another passenger said she got a text that it was late. So after all that rushing we left almost an hour late. After about 20-30 minutes they came out and made an announcement and I did get an email at that time. Very poor communication from Air France and Delta on this one. The good news I got to watch some of the USC football game while I waited.
- My goal on the Air France flight was to sleep. We had their new business class cabin which meant our own pod seat that went flat. The flight was great. I slept 4 of the 6 hours. I did not try the food since I was sleeping though. The Air France seat was more comfortable and the 777 was much quieter inside than the 757 too. Two potential drawbacks to the pods.. one is talking to your neighbor. They are angled away from each other, offset, and have some distance. The other is the windows are fairly far away and a bit hard to see out. You get two though.
- Arrived in Paris and had a long hike and then a train ride to customs. It was a breeze to get through and then we showed up at the baggage area and it said they bags were not due for nearly 30 minutes. After about 10-15 the carrousel did turn on and bags started to appear. No sign of ours. I checked the and it only showed our bags being checked in at LAX no other details. I knew they were on the first plane since I watched them load them from my seat. So we kept waiting. Eventually nothing more was coming. So a group of a dozen or so of us waiting around all went to get in line for lost luggage. Then more started to come out. Two of our three came up. We waited for another 10 minutes or so and they turned the belt off. So we went back in line to find out about our third bag. They had no record of it since JFK. So we filled out the paperwork and were told to check the website for more info.
- Thought it was poor of Air France that business class bags were almost last off the plane.
- Feeling frustrated after the travel experience it was now time to head out and hope our shuttle driver was still there. He was and we boarded our car and were on the road in a couple of minutes. I was off the plane just after 1pm and did not get into the shuttle until 2:40pm.
- The drive to Disney was an adventure as he was on the phone, drifting a bit, and going over the posted speed limits. We arrived at Disney around 3:05pm and our hotel Disney’s Sequoia Lodge a few minutes later to check in.
- We checked in at the Golden Forest Club area and picked up all our papers. Ran into a snag where our credit card would not scan. But skipped it and went to drop off the bags in the room and contact Air France to see about my bag. The Air France Twitter group was on top of things and communicated with me throughout the afternoon as they tried to locate my suitcase (of course out of the three it was mine with my power adapters, clothes, etc…)
- As I prepared for the day the others went and tried the credit card again and it worked this time so we did not have to deal with that.
- First stop for us was the Golden Forest Lounge to see what it was. It looked like a restaurant seating area more or less and had a couple of cast members. There were free snacks and beverages available or a menu if you wanted to purchase something more. At this hour of the afternoon it was a ghost town though.
- After a quick drink we were our way toward the parks at 4:30pm walking around the lake and past the New York Hotel.
- Ate dinner at Annette’s because it was comfort food, no wait, on the way, and on my list of places to try.
- We were on Disney’s Half Board meal plan for the trip. This included one meal voucher per person per day and one snack voucher per person per day. We did this because we found a deal that included it for free as well as a percentage off the room. So we ended up paying a couple thousand dollars less than the US rack rate for just the room and park tickets and got the Golden Forest Room, food, park tickets.. hard to argue with more for less $$.
- The amount of food we got with our voucher turned out to be an awful lot. It was an appetizer such as onion rings, salad, etc.. then an entre which were basically double burgers, burger and chicken, etc.. with fried, a soft drink and a dessert (milk shake, ice cream , etc..). We used two vouchers for the three of us and still did not get through all the fries.
- Finally entered Disneyland Park around 5:45pm. My 10th Disney park. I was very excited to reach double digits and only one more park to go and that would be in a day or two then I can say I have visited them all.
- Of course I did not really think about it but the 5:30pm parade was moving through Main Street as we arrived. So this meant no castle approach for me. I had a mission in mind. I wanted to get out to Fantasyland and experience Casey Jr and Storybook since they close tomorrow and this would be my one and only shot at them.
- I took the Liberty Arcade (Disneyland Paris has two arcades, think indoor walkways, that parallel Main Street, one on each side. Liberty is on the Frontierland/Adventureland side and Discovery is on the Discoverland side). These arcades are very impressive. They offer a climate controlled walkway, additional capacity for crowds, and are very detailed. After using them I think every Magic Kingdom style park needs them.
- First up Storybook Land. The boats here feature three rows instead of the bench seating. They are continuously loaded from a rotating platform and no live narration. Instead it is mostly music and safety warnings. The ride itself is very similar to Disneyland’s where you pass miniature scenes from various films. An odd choice that stood out to me was the Wizard of Oz at the end and it featured what sounded like the Main Street Electrical parade? Guessing it was Return to Oz.
- Casey Jr was next. It loaded fairly quickly with load numbers for each car to speed up the process. The track almost looks like a coaster track and it sits above ground level a bit and really stood out and looked out of place to me. The ride itself was what you would expect. You snake above the canals.
- Was walking through Fantasyland and passed Peter Pan. They have FastPass here so we used Hotel FastPasses (each day we had three vouchers that were FastPasses good for immediate entry onto any FastPass attraction). The ships here have two rows of seas. The ride itself seemed slightly longer and darker than the US versions. Darker meaning literally darker.. not scarier..
- Did a quick pass through Adventure Isle (think Tom Sawyer Island but on the main land) with Skull Rock and a Pirate Ship. It is also nearby is Pirates of the Caribbean and the Swiss Family Tree House. I will spend more time here on a later day. Today just touring the park.
- Spent some time exploring Main Street USA. It seemed to have the scale, meaning large, of WDW but the detail and feel of Disneyland. Halloween is huge is Paris and kicks off in Oct 1st. Most of the decorations are up though and there are pumpkins everywhere on Main Street USA. Interesting to note a large percentage of the crowd was heading for the exit around 7pm. The park was open till 10pm and the weather a bit cool but great.
- Sleeping Beauty Castle is at the end of the street and is the most impressive Disney Castle of the five kingdom parks I have been to. It looks incredible.
- Walked onto Phantom Manor, their Haunted Mansion. It sits on a hill in Frontierland and looks haunted from the outside. Inside it is much darker, more skeletons, and scarier than the other versions around the globe. Some elements are the same but others such several scenes with skeletons are unique. Also instead of a graveyard you go through a western town. The bride plays an important role here and the story revolves around her.
- Next up Pirates of the Caribbean. It was also a walk on this evening and is extremely well done. It is still the classic attraction, meaning no Jack Sparrow and crew. Also they sequenced it so the story makes sense. You start off in the fort under attack with the prisoners trying to escape even (the dog and key scene) then go down the first waterfall to exit the fort and cruise through the regular scenes. The final scene is the skeleton caves to show what happened after the town burned. It also features a very detailed interior queue. I think this is now my favorite in the world, surpassing Disneyland.
- As I roamed around I forgot that they closed 1/3 or so of the park an hour before Disney Dreams to pre-pare for the show. I ran into this clearing and had to double back a long way to get to the other side of the park.
- I choose to watch from the point in the hub where the rail tracks split/converge for the street car. It was not very crowded there and I thought have a wide perspective for my first viewing made sense.
- I enjoyed the show. It seemed to be the best use of projection mapping I have seen with most of the scenes taking advantage of it and the characters etc.. interacting with the structure, trees, etc.. The show also used some World of Color style fountains, water screens, fire effects, fireworks, lasers, and lights. It was a large multimedia array and well done. I thought the projection brightness and quality was very good but not quite as good as Tokyo’s. Also I did not think the finale was that strong. I would have really liked to have had a theme song wrap it up. But I am guessing they went with something everyone knew so language would not be an issue.
- As I got within Wi-Fi range of the hotel I found out they found my suitcase and it was sent to the hotel via cab (one perk of business class I did not have to go get it or wait for a regular delivery).
- My first impressions of the Sequoia Lodge – It is hard to compare/classify. It has the pricing of a Deluxe hotel, the grounds of a deluxe and many amenities of a deluxe (no spa but a gym and pool), several restaurants, concierge level (Golden Forest). The room felt the size of a moderate at WDW maybe slightly larger. The bath towels size and feel were on par with Pop Century though. Also frustrating was there were two electrical plugs. One under the TV and one by the door. None by the desk! Also no clock in the room.
Daily Summaries & Pictures:
- Sunday - September 27, Day 1 - Arrival and 1st Visit to Disneyland Park
- Monday - September 28, Day 2 - Disneyland Park
- Tuesday - September 29, Day 3 - Walt Disney Studios Park & Disneyland Park & Hotel New York
- Wednesday - September 30, Day 4 - Paris Sightseeing
- Thursday - October 1, Day 5 - Versailles Sightseeing & Disneyland Park
- Friday - October 2, Day 6 - Disneyland Park Halloween
- Saturday - October 3, Day 7 - Normandy - D-Day Beaches
- Sunday - October 4, Day 8 - Disneyland Park, Hotel Cheyenne, Hotel Santa Fe & Disneyland Hotel.
- Monday - October 5, Day 9 - A soggy afternoon at Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park as well as Newport Bay Club.
- Tuesday - October 6, Day 10 - A quick trip to Disneyland Park then heading home.