April 28, 2012





Business Class and an Annual Pass


Our Disneyland Paris adventure started out very early in the morning. We had both had to work the day before and had gotten to bed late, but none the less we had to get up at 3.30am!! So when the alarm went off we crawled out of bed, got ready and just grabbed a bite to eat, knowing that we would be fed on the plane. We had put Tom’s car into the service station to have its yearly check and have some upgrades done, so we fit our luggage into my car and off we went. At that early time of day there was no problem driving to the airport. We made our way into the long term parking lot about an hour prior to our flight, parked the car and hauled the luggage over to the terminal building. When we approached the check in area we could see lots of people already in line, but luckily we were flying business class and there were only two people in line.

 We had done online check-in and just wanted to drop off our luggage. When it was our turn we had our luggage weighed and there was a priority label put on them and the we were handed a slip of paper. The lady at the check in let us know it would be our code for the business class lounge. Now that was a surprise! We had booked business class on airmiles as there were no regular tickets available, but we had never thought about the perks it would come with. So, since we had only literally had two bites of breakfast we decided to check out the lounge. Off we went to go through security, just to find that there was a line for economy class passengers and no one in the business and first class line.

We were through within a minute and walked over to the elevator to go up to the lounge. Tom typed in the number, the door opened and off we went. The lounge was super nice, with large comfy chairs, lots of drinks options and continental breakfast fare. At the moment we were the only guests, so we took a few photos, before we got ourselves some coffee and breakfast pastries. It was nice sitting up there in a quiet environment, enjoying a fresh pasty.

Tom had a Cheese Danish, while I had half a Nut Roll and we both had some coffee. Time was flying by and far too soon it was time to take the elevator back down and get in line to board the plane. And really we only had to wait about 5 minutes and the gate was opened and we were allowed to walk over to the plane. There was no hurry, we knew we would be in row 5, the only row that had two seats in one row available in business class. The planes that fly out of our home airports are pretty small, so business class usually means that the seat next to you is kept empty so we were super surprised to find the two seats next to each other and behind the curtain that divides Business class from economy.

We stowed our luggage and settled in, when the flight attendant approached us to check our tickets. She then told us that something must have been wrong with the booking machine, as we had been seated in the wrong section and would we mind moving one or two rows forward or she would reset the curtain. We were happy to move forward and were unsure where to sit, but since we were the only guests in business class we were allowed to sit anywhere. We chose row two, settled in, were offered newspapers and magazines and within a few minutes we were off. Now, this is only a 50 minute flight and we did not expect some big breakfast, but as soon as we were on a higher altitude, the flight attendant offered us some coffee, tea or cold drinks.

Tom got some coffee and some water, while I only opted for some water and then we were served breakfast. It consisted of a small container of Yellied Yogurt with fruit in it, a very delicious, fresh and moist Chocolate Chip Muffin and a Ham and Cheese Croissant.

The flight attendant checked on us a few times, but we did not need any other drinks. Once the trays were removed we were even offered some Truffles, which we gladly accepted. The short flight was over before we knew it and we arrived in Frankfurt. The aircraft was parked on an outside position and we all had to transfer to a bus to take us to the terminal. We only had about an hour for our stopover and all we wanted to do was find our gate. Frankfurt airport is large and it can take a while, so once we knew our gate had changed, we headed in the direction of the new gate. We went past the Frankfurt Business Lounge but there was just not enough time to check it out.

Once we had reached our gate there were only a few minutes left until it was time to check in again. This time we were seated in row two and there were only two more other guests in Business class.

We took off on time and since this is another 50 minute flight the flight attendants were quickly there to serve another round of breakfast. This time we both opted for some water and were handed our breakfast trays. This time there was a bowl of Fruit Salad, a Roll, some Cream Cheese mixed with finely cut radishes and some Salami and Ham and a plate of Pancakes served with Berry Compote and a cube of Green Apple Jelly. It was really yummy and we were stuffed after breakfast number 4 within a few hours. In no time it was time to get ready for our descend on Paris Charles de Gaulle airport. Being in business class gave us the option of a quick start and we were in front of the baggage carousel within a few minutes. And the priority labels on the luggage were a huge hit as well, as our suitcases were within the first ten that were delivered. It was only 10.30 when we made our way over to the rental car counter. There was only one family ahead of us and we waited for about 5 minutes until it was our turn. Tom handed over his voucher and the paper work was done quickly and we were set on our way up to the location of the cars. We found the car assigned to us no problem, went around it and found a few more scratches, which I had noted on the rental paper work and in the meantime Tom fixed the new GPS in the car and we were finally all set to leave. We had debated to try to check in early, or get to the bakery early or pick up our annual passes first. The annual passes had won, so our first stop were the parks.

There was not too much traffic, so we made it to the parking structure in good time. While we were walking past the building site of the new World of Disney we discussed where to buy the passes and when we saw that there were literally no people at the entrance to the Studios, we knew where to head. Went through bag check and on to the ticket booth, where we bought two Annual Passes DREAM. Now, temporary passes in hand we headed over to Disneyland Park to have them exchanged to regular annual passes. A lot of people were streaming in and we went to the entrance at the far right were there are always considerably less people.

No long line ahead of us we were inside the park within a few seconds and on our way to the Annual Pass Bureau. We decided to walk through the walkway on the side and were shocked to see that the Annual Pass Bureau was FULL. They have now installed “Do it yourself” machines, but they all seemed to be pretty complicated to handle as the attendant was helping people constantly. We decided to get into the regular line and after about 20 minutes we made it to an actual Cast Member. They used our previously taking pictures again for the AP and so we were done pretty fast. It was past noon by then and we figured that wait times would be long, so we decided to enjoy a walk through Fantasyland to maybe ride “It’s a small world”.

But even the line for “It’s a small world” was about 20 minutes long, so after browsing some of the stores in Fantasyland we decided that it was time to do some shopping and then check into our home for the next three nights. So after leisurely strolling back to the parking structure we set off to drive to Val d’Europe to do some shopping at Auchan. It was Saturday afternoon and many people seemed to have the same idea as us, so we were lucky to find a parking space for our car fairly close to the entrance. Once inside the shopping centre we were disappointed to see the Disney store in there had been closed, so we decided to head right over to the supermarket to do some shopping.We had a few items on our list we wanted to bring home, so we went to pick those up first.

Then went on to pick up some groceries for our stay. We spent about an hour and a half in the supermarket, then loaded everything back into the car and went off to check in at our hotel. On the way there we made a short stop at our favourite bakery to find out when they would open for the afternoon and luckily for us it was only about an hour later. Our hotel is just around the corner from the bakery so we went over there, parked the car close to the lobby and went to check in. There was no one in line ahead of us, so it didn’t take long to check in and be handed the key to our “residence”.

It was situated at the back of the property and we didn’t take any luggage with us when we went to check out the location. It was pretty easy to find and we were pleasantly surprised to see that it was a corner villa and that the bedroom and kitchen windows overlooked a nice park. After having checked out that everything was in order, we headed back to the car and hauled our luggage and all our shopping back to our villa. We unpacked, stocked the fridge and connected to the internet and when all that was done we were ready to head out again and go over to the bakery to pick up some baguette and pastries. By then it was nearly 4pm and we were getting hungry and since there were lots of yummies waiting in the fridge, we had a nice picknick in front of the TV once we returned from the bakery. There were lots of ham, cured and cooked, some salami and salads, wonderful fresh baguette and several cheeses we had picked up. There were also some tomatoes and some fresh radishes. For dessert Tom had some cookie flavoured pudding and I had picked up some Crème Caramel, which I truly love. Once we had filled our bellies we relaxed before we got ready to head out and over to the park again.

Again, we parked at the Parking structure opposite the new World of Disney, showed our AP to the attendant and got our ticket validated, so our stay there would only be 2 Euros. By then the crowds had picked up quite a bit and we just took our time walking towards the Disneyland hotel, taking in all the decorations for their 20th anniversary. Once inside the park we were stunned. The parade was just coming towards the town square. It was past 7pm and the afternoon parade was running? Well, it turned out they have changed the time of the afternoon parade to 7pm and we were lucky enough to see about half of it. Score, as I had wanted to see it that day, but had been sure I had read it would be at 5pm.

Tom took a lot of photos and when it was over we walked over to Guest relations to get some reservations for the next two days, which we cancelled lateron in the trip as we were not really excited about anything on the menus after all. Reservations done we walked outside and when we past Duffy’s meet and greet area we were intrigued by the suitcases and labels on them. All of them were from Disney destinations and he had a blast finding them all. After that we were swept up Main Street to the Hub, where we had a look at the tip board, just to find out that most main attractions had quite a bit of a line.

So we decided to just wander the park and take in the sights and sounds. We walked towards Adventureland first. Usually Indiana Jones doesn’t have a really long line, so we wanted to try there, but the ride was down and people were streaming away from it and we could watch some Cast Members evacuating some guests from a higher point of the ride. Next stop Big Thunder Mountain. Thanks, but no thanks as that line was really long. There are a few shops in the area and we went through to check on the merchandise and my eyes caught something. Bags, hand bags from Dooney and Bourke.

We walked up to the display and while still trying to figure out I was ordered to step back as those bags were linked to an alarm system and touching them would result in an alarm.  Okay, dude, I didn’t want to steal them, just LOOK at them. So we asked if we could have a look and he told me that he would just be a second, as he had to finish serving a customer. Now three customers later, who had all come to his counter later than us I decided that I had had enough and we left. We walked towards the Molly Brown, but they had just closed the gates, so we walked over to the Silver Spur restaurant to check their menu. We had made a reservation for it earlier, but still wanted to think about it as the menu didn’t appeal to us as much as we wanted.

We looked over to Phantom Manor and it appeared that the line was fairly short, so we checked the time they were predicting and it was only 5 minutes, so we hopped in line. There is quite a walk up to the doors and we were only waiting for about 2 minutes before the doors opened and we were led into the Stretching room. Knowing where the doors are helps as we were the first in line for the carriages through the manor.

After the ride Tom was determined to find Dooney bags for me in another store and so we went to hunt for them. We thought about which one of the stores might have them and decided on one of the clothes stores along Main Street. Low and behold they had them on display as well and we asked if we could have a look at them and even though they were linked to the same alarm system we were allowed to have a closer look. They did only have one of the styles I was interested in and the bags on display did not have the icons on the front that I wanted, so I asked about other bags in the same design and was assured that they would all be the same and these were the only ones they had in the whole park.

Well, if you shell out all that money for a Dooney, then I want one, which has absolutely the right icons on the front. We left without purchase and strolled through some more of the shops on Main Street. Back at the hub we took a sharp right and headed towards Discoveryland. We both decided against Space Mountain as it is a really bumpy and dark ride and I always bump my head at some part or another. The line for Buzz Lightyear was long, but what about Star Tours. We walked over and no line whatsoever until you hit the last room. Finally we were put into rows and right when the doors opened the lady in the next row decided to “jump rows” and got right in front of me with her kid.

Once we had all sat down she signalled us to get out of our seats so her family who were all in the row ahead of us could sit together. No way would they have all fit, so she had to move instead of us. The ride itself is cute, but not all that fun, as it is in French. After the ride we decided to stake out a spot for the show in front of the castle. We tried lots of different spots and finally found one that we thought might be nice.

Unfortunately this is Europe and people do not really care if they get in front of you and block your view, so we had to move sideways and forward quite a bit in the hour before the show was to begin. When it finally started many people put their kids on their shoulders and why I don’t blame them to want their children to have a good view, it really is a pain as they block the view of MANY other people behind them. Tom and I had to move sideways again slightly to be able to see and take pictures and make a video. The show itself is out of this world good. They project moving images onto the castle and onto “water screens” in front of the castle. It is really pretty awesome.

The music is catchy and there are fireworks to go along with the presentation. It was pretty long too and we were truly amazed by it. After the show the park resumed open for an hour but since we had been up until 3.30am we decided to call it a day and head back to our car. Main Street was packed with people leaving and it took a while until we made it to the exit. The walk to our car was only about 5 minutes and we were on our way back to our villa pretty quickly. Tom parked the car in one of the tiny spots close to our villa and lobby again and we were sure that NO other car would be able to squeeze into the spot on the driver’s side as the next car was parked a bit over the lines.

We went back to our villa and talked about all that had happened all day. We snacked a little more and I tried the Eclairs I had bought earlier in the bakery. There was a wonderful Caramel Éclair and a Mocca flavoured Éclair for me and Tom had a bit of his “Chocolate baguette”. We watched an old episode of Hell’s Kitchen and around 1am we finally went to bed.