Saturday, February 05, 2011

Lounge update

The lounge is coming along nicely, we had the skirting, doors and lights finished before we went to Disney. I varnished the lounge door last Saturday.

As the pebble dash walls were still not dry when we came home from Disney we decided to put the radiator back on to get some heat in the room. Unfortunately this left the system with not enough pressure for the boiler to work at all. No heating, no hot water. Friday morning I was on the phone to the plumber to try and find out how we top up the system. Friday evening we finally worked it out when Ollie found another booklet in our boiler papers on the filling loop. We still had the plumber come out today to give the boiler it's annual service and to check we hadn't done any damage.

Today I did the first coat of paint on the ceiling and the first coat of gloss on the woodwork. 

Disneyland Day in the Park

After the disappointment over our dinner the night before, the park had a lot to make up for to make our trip worthwhile!

Luckily our breakfast was included so we didn't have to shell out for that put the day off to a good start. We made our way over to the park. The day before had been clear and sunny and although cold it was fairly pleasant for January. As we stepped outside we noticed it was remarkably colder although Ollie was confident that it would warm up later and kept to only one layer of coat.

Entry into the park using our extra hours went smoothly enough and although there isn't much open before 10, it didn't really matter as we had anticipated this and we didn't get into the park until 9:30. We hadn't really done much research on rides, so we picked the first one we saw that was open. This happened to be the Buzz Lightyear fight against emperor Zorg. You had to sit in a space ship with a laser gun and shoot the baddies. You then got a score at the end. It was brilliant! Ollie scored more than me of course, but I had loads of fun.

Ride 2 was Space Mountain 2, this is a roller coaster in the dark and starts by propelling you up a slope (as an imitation of blasting you into space). This was probably the 2nd best ride of the whole day, and probably the only ride of a decent length. We came off not being able to walk in a straight line and with eyes streaming from the biting wind.

After this we went on the Star Wars simulator. This was completely lost on me, not being a Star Wars fan. I didn't like being thrown around in the hot tiny box and came off feeling extremely queasy. 

Next was over to Frontierland and the haunted house (probably scary if you are 3!) before Big Thunder Mountain. By now it was so cold it had started snowing and the huge lake around the mountain had frozen apart from a tiny bit in the middle. Ollie came off Thunder Mountain with icicles on his face where his eyes had been running in the wind and frozen! 

After Frontierland it was off to Adventureland and the Indiana Jones ride. This just looked like a duplicate of the Thunder mountain ride but in a mine cart instead of a train. How wrong could we be? We were stood in the queue and had to do a double take when one of the rickety looking carts did a 360 with a twist! It was excellent; the 360 was done at just the right speed but it was over far too fast. This wasn't such a problem for us as we weren't having to queue for more than 5-10 minutes (and that was only really the time it was taking to walk through the place where you would have to queue if there was one). I would have been really annoyed to queue for hours for a ride this short, even if it was quite good.

By this time we were very cold and quite hungry, so we decided to try and beat the rush by having an early lunch. Ollie had spotted a pizza place that he quite liked the look of and I must say this was probably the best value for money meal that we had all trip. We got a large 4 cheese pizza each, a large salad, a drink and a magnum for €12 a person. Ok, it was still about the price you would pay at Pizza Hut for less food, but it was hot, fresh and tasty.

Feeling nicely full and warm we headed back to Adventureland for Pirates!

It was quite difficult to imagine that you were in the Caribbean with the impressive icicle display at the beach though.

I love the Pirates films (nothing to do with Johnny Depp at all! I have always been 'into' pirates, infact at one point I wanted to grow up to be one!) I loved seeing the different elements of the films in the rides. Ollie, however was mystified to understand how they managed to create 4 films from a theme park ride and was none the wiser after the ride either! My day was made when we came out of the ride and I was chatted up by Jack Sparrow!!! (Even if it is an awful picture of me!)

Next was off to Fantasyland (or pink land as Ollie called it). We gave the maze a miss as it was quite busy and I had done it before but Ollie was very excited to go on his first ever tea cup ride! 

It was then over to the main event of the day. The "It's a small world" ride. When I went before, this was pretty much the only ride out the rain and for some reason Laura loved it. We must have been on it about 20 times in 2 days. We had warned Ollie that we were still singing the stupid song 20 years later, but I made him go on anyway! We had fun guessing the countries and Ollie wondered how in this day and age they were able to use such stereotypes. I wondered why the French people weren't wearing blue and white stripy T-shirts and holding onions and garlic!

That pretty much finished the Disneyland Park, so we headed over to the Disney Studios Park. This was all new since the last time I visited, but looking at the brochure there wasn't much that we liked the look of.

We wondered round for a bit and queued for the longest time (about 30 minutes) for the Crush's Coaster ride. This was the best ride of the whole day. You sat on a turtle shell with 2 seats facing forwards and 2 facing backwards. The seats then rotated as you went round the rollercoaster in the dark. You got so disorientated as you didn't know where you were going so didn't know whether you were going to be going forwards or backwards!

After this, we were so cold, tired and had spent 6 hours outside in the cold so we decided to call it a day and head back to our room via Starbucks for a nice hot cup of tea.

The ducks weren't too impressed with the cold either.

We were quite disappointed by the lack of Disney characters in the park; apart from Jack, the only other one we saw was Belle. (I have no idea who the kid is, but there was a huge queue for photos)

I decided to brave the cold again to head back for the parade as I remember this being very good the last time. I was very disappointed. There were only 5 floats and it lasted all of 5 minutes. I got some good pictures though, including one of Goofy for Alan!

I went back to warm up (again) before getting ready for dinner. We had booked a table in the restaurant in our hotel, but we decided to have a drink in the bar (with the log fire) and a game of pool first. I even won a game of air hockey!

Dinner was an all you can eat buffet, and even though it was expensive (we were getting used to it by now), it was very nice and I got to try veal for the first time.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Disneyland Hotel

Our hotel room was quite nice, we upgraded to the top hotel offered by the Sun deal. This was also the closest to the Park and Disney hotel which we appreciated in the sub-zero temperatures!

Our hotel was decked out to be a Canadian lodge type with lots of wood, flagstones and a bar with the hugest log fire I have ever seen (also appreciated in the sub-zero temperatures)

Our room was a Bambi room, with character border, light shades and a big Bambi print on the wall. The duvet cover even had Mickey Mouse ears!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Disneyland Paris Day 1

We saved the tokens from the Sun before Christmas and on Sunday we set off for a 3 day mini break to Disneyland Paris. It worked out a great deal saving well over 50% on the cheapest price I could find online for the same holiday. It did include a ferry crossing but Saturday afternoon we worked out how much it was going to cost us in petrol, toll charges, extra breakdown cover, a mapbook, wear and tear on the car etc etc and out of interest had a look to see how much Eurostar would be. Well, it worked out round the same price and as neither of us had any clue whether petrol was cheaper in France we decided to treat ourselves to the train. I have never been on Eurostar (or even on the train through the tunnel in the car) in the 15 years since it opened.

Me on the Eurostar train somewhere in France
I must say I am quite impressed with how easy it was. We got the tickets online Saturday evening. Sunday morning we got a City Thameslink train all the way from East Croydon to St Pancreas, printed our tickets from the automatic ticket machine, had breakfast and got on the train. All very stress free and simple! 2 and three quarter hours later we arrived at Disneyland!

Ollie has never been to Disney before and I went some many years ago to Paris just after it opened. From memory it was a good trip, apart from the torrential rain and lack of rides due to the newly opened status. My over-riding memory is of many many trips round the 'It's a Small World' ride as it was Laura's favourite.

Sunday afternoon we had a free afternoon to wonder around the Disney village and check out the hotel and amenities. The hotel and room was very nice, certainly one of the bigger rooms I have stayed in. I wish I could say something as positive about the pool though! It was billed as a sort of mini Center-Parcs type pool. Well it didn't even come close. The water was freezing, there were no bubbles in the bubble pool (trades description surely?) and the changing rooms were tiny, dirty and even though there was no-where private to change men kept wandering through at regular intervals. I think we stayed all of 3 minutes!

We did have a couple of games of pool (at €4 a game!) which was more fun, but was then rather spoiled by the Spurs game!

We had booked the steak restaurant for dinner without really taking too much notice of the menu. We turned up at the appointed time, waited a good few minutes to be seated and then almost fainted at the prices. The cheapest meal on the menu was €30, for just one main course. I pay that much for a steak at Smithfield market (except I don't because I have a 50% off card) and then only on extremely special occasions. I can guarantee the food will be excellent there and isn't full of brats running round screaming. We walked out, I refused to pay that much. Ok we thought, we must have picked the 'premium' restaurant. We'll try back at the hotel. No, they didn't have a table for 2 hours but their prices were slightly more reasonable at €25 for the set meal.

After wondering back around the village we ended up in the Rainforest cafe eating a main and a desert for €20. The food wasn't bad. I had chilli and Ollie had steak and chips. It was ok, but definitely not worth the money. Plus being a rainforest there were thunderstorms at regular intervals which made conversation rather tricky! It was cheaper to buy a bottle of wine than to pay for soft drinks, so that put us in a slightly better mood, but by bed time we certainly were not 'feeling the magic'