December 15, 2007




Let's go and drop in!


This trip was definitely a spur of the moment one. We had just got home from our Christmas trip to WDW when on Monday I found an invitation to the Dream Annual Passholder Tower of Terror pre-opening in my mailbox.


The invitation was for the past weekend AND the following one. I called Tom to jokingly ask if I should book the trip and while doing so I found out I really WANTED to go. Since we had enough bonus miles Tom told me to go for it and try if I could get flights, a room at a decent rate and a car. About 2 hours later we had flights, a room and the rental car. All we had to do was to wait for 4 more days to go and try out the new Tower of Terror.

Our day started early. The alarm went off at 3am and we finally got up at 3.30. We had a quick breakfast, said goodbye to Pixie, the cat and got in the car to drive to the airport. We arrived there 5.05am and got our seats sorted out. (We had tried to check-in online, but the computer accepted only my ticket, not Tom’s!) It turned out that the computer had actually checked both of us in, but would only let us print one boarding pass.

The flight was on time and we left Linz at 6.05am! This is a very short flight to Frankfurt, so they only hand out a snack. We both had to laugh when we saw what they handed us. A sugar coated cookie, called an American!! We munched our “Americans” and sipped some coffee and we were in Frankfurt in no time. There was plenty of time to get to the next gate, so we had a good look around the airport and found a Disney playground. What a start to a Disney weekend! Tom could not resist saying “hello” to Mickey.

Even the next flight was on time, something that is very rare at Frankfurt airport. We had another snack on board, ham sandwich and a cookie bar, and within 45 minutes we landed at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport. Since we were travelling light with only carry on luggage we were able to hurry to the rental car desks. Hertz gave us an upgrade car, since they did not have the small car we had actually booked. NICE!!!!! We loaded our luggage into the trunk, put our Stitch on the rear-view mirror and the never-lost system in the car and off we went. We needed to check into the hotel first thing, since they closed at 1pm for the weekend. At 11am we arrived at the hotel, checked in and went to take a look at the room.

It was a nice 2 room apartment with a tiny kitchen. Nothing to compare to Old Key West, but very nice for the price we paid for it. After we had settled in we finally went to the Walt Disney Studios to try out the new ToT.

We tried to park at the New York, New York hotel, but they had a conference, so we had to go to the next hotel, down the road – the Sequoia Lodge. Parked the car and followed the Rio Grande to Lake Disney and crossed the Disney Village. We did go through the shops in the village, but without stopping and looking for long. By 12.30pm we arrived at the bag check. It did not take long to get into the park and cross the “Production Hall”. And there it was – MY Hollywood Tower Hotel! It looked great!

They had changed the entrance to the Backlot tour to resemble Hollywood Boulevard and the hotel was surrounded by a lot of smaller buildings, which I hope will house some more shops. We could see the entrance to the Tower right away, there were a lot of people and security there. We walked over, showed our invitation and our Annual Passes and were in. Boy, did we feel special to be invited to the pre-view.

We walked right up to the lobby and it is an identical twin to the Tower of Terror in Anaheim. We waited for a few minutes until we were sent into the library. The narration is in FRENCH and has English subtitles. I can tell you, it does sound VERY weird in French. They loaded the ride very slowly and we waited for another 20 minutes until it was time to ride. We were seated in the second row and the bellhop explained whatever there was to say in French. Then the elevator goes backwards into the shaft. It goes up a little and you can see the people in the elevator in a mirror.

Then it changes to just silhouettes and the passengers then disappear. There is always the same drop but when you are at the top there is a wonderful view of the studios and it was so much fun to see people staring up to the opening doors of the Tower of Terror. After the ride you exit into the same corridor you entered the elevator from. There is a room with the usual TV-screens showing the ride photos and the corridor leads into the gift shop.

There were a few items we already knew from our visit to WDW’s ToT 10 days before, but there were also some unique items.

I actually fell in love with a bellhop Stitch, biting the elevator cables. After giving the store a good look we decided to try again. There was even a shortcut to the lobby which we and a few other people used. This Tower loads at two different levels, but on Saturday they had only opened the ground level. Castmembers were trying out their “roles” and some of them did a really good job. There was one particular CM who made us laugh several times. He was first on our list of being rewarded.

 In French thank you means merci and there is a chocolate here in Austria and Germany that is called Merci and has the word on it. When we left the elevator after the second ride I walked up to the CM and handed him the chocolate.He was really puzzled and first didn’t want to take it, but once he had seen it was only chocolate he took it. We were only a few steps away when we heard him say – “oh this is called Merci!!”.

 We turned around and we all laughed. We rode the elevator 2 more times until 3pm when they closed the Tower for the day. While inside the building we took tons of photos of almost everything. After the last ride of the day we stopped in the shop and got a few things. Two limited edition pins to remember the ToT pre-view by, fridge magnets, one for Tom, one for me and another one for our friend Mary-Ellen, who is not a big fan of the original Hollywood Tower Hotel. And needless to say I got myself one of the cable biting Stitch. I carried him out of the studios so EVERYONE could see him.

When on our way out we stopped at the soon to be opened  new Stitch attraction – Stitch live! Something else to look forward to. We left the park and went over to the bus to go back to Sequoia Lodge to pick up our car and go shopping to Val d’Europe shopping center. When we arrived we were shocked to see HOW many people had had the same idea. Even if this is a large shopping center, there is a LARGE carpark, but it was FULL!!!!!! We drove in circles until we found a tiny spot to park our car. I had to get out and give directions so we would not damage the car. There were cars waiting to park everywhere. The Auchan shop was full, but we got everything we needed. A wonderful dinner and some breakfast for the next morning, together with a few snack things.

We wanted to see Candlebration and the turning on of the ice on the castle so we hurried back to the Magic Kingdom Park. All our shopping was stored in the trunk of the car and this time we parked the car at the Newport Bay hotel, hoping that it was closer to the village than Sequoia Lodge. Actually I think they are equally far from the Disney village. When we finally arrived at the park we were shocked to see how packed the park was. There were a lot of people still trying to enter the park and it was full already. We had not read the times guide before so when we arrived the parade was about to start. We didn’t want to wait it out and we were hungry so we figured that a large counter service restaurant would be our best bet. We went to Discoveryland and entered Café Hyperion. It looked full, but there were still empty tables so we joined the lines to order our dinner.

After we had ordered we waited for a rather long time, with CMs behind the counter just looking on and chatting to each other. When we finally got to the front of the line it took them another few minutes to get our dinner together. We both had the Grilled Chicken Cheeseburger with French fries and a diet coke and some peach yoghurt for dessert. We went to the toppings bar, picked up some lettuce, pickles and tomatoes and some ketchup and mayonnaise and went to look for a place to have dinner. We needed to go very high up in the restaurant, which is actually the theatre for the Lion King show, so it has a theatre like seating. When we finally found a table we were shocked at how dirty the whole area was. Bins had not been emptied, tables were full of dirty trays and the floor was covered in trash. Just not really what Walt Disney had intended his parks to look, but this is France.

Castmembers came by, had a look and turned around to wipe some other tables, because the tables high up were just too filthy. As mentioned before we hadn’t read the timetable properly, so we were thinking that Candlebration was just about to begin, but we were wrong. We had an hour and a half “to kill”. The park was so full that we thought there would be nothing we could ride, so we went and strolled through the park, looking around the shops and exploring the grounds. We were amazed to see that the wait for Pirates was just 5 minutes, so we got in line.

Actually the line was very short, but they were loading the boats shock full and then sending empty boats out. In our boat we were seated together with another adult couple and the row in front of us was left empty. I will never get the French logic. To say the least, it was a VERY uncomfortable ride and I will mention the CM in charge, Paloma, when I write my review for Disney. After the ride we went to stake out a spot to watch Candlebration and the turning on of the “ice”.

We had to wait for about 20 minutes, but it was SO worth the wait. The new show is sweet, with Minnie and friends dancing. Then the princesses are joining in and finally “The Big Cheese” himself turns on the birthday candles. TinkerBell then “ices” the castle. The castle looks wonderful with all the lights. After the show we went and took some more photos of the castle from different angles and even found a spot beneath the castle which we had never been to before.

It was fun to be there all on our own with the park being so full of people. It was about 9.30 when we finally left the park, did some more shopping in the Disney village and bought a Remy, the rat from Ratatouille for Tom. Then went back to the Newport Bay hotel and drove to the Residence Rive Gauche where we stayed this time. We had a very late dinner and even watched an episode of Desperate Housewives before we fell into bed.