Two decades ago, an experiment known as Eurodisney was a financial black hole on the budget of the mighty Disney organisation, despised by the locals and largely ignored by tourists. Today, however, the European home of the mouse has been transformed into a gold mine. One might have hoped that the two parks would be quiet on a weekday in school term, but it was not to be; during a nine hour period we managed just seven rides. Though a low number, it was at least a better average than my last visit five years ago.
Our first stop of the morning was on Tower of Terror, a fun ride at the best of times but all the more so when some of your companions are not aware of exactly what the ride does. Perhaps I'm a sadist at heart, but I've got to say that the screams generated by passengers on board the freight elevator are really funny to me, to the point that I probably enjoy the overall experience even more than the various roller coasters. Separately, I'd like to single out and commend the cast member on duty at our elevator for the excellent way he dealt with a member of our party with special needs. It was refreshing to find someone so accommodating.
New since my last visit was RC Racer (#1744), a half-pipe coaster from Intamin. This model is a variant on the standard design that replaces the standard spinningcars with a forward-facing vehicle. The change makes the ride far less intense, and thus well suited to a Disney park which already has a fairly decent spinning roller coaster. The result is a fun ride, albeit one hobbled by limited capacity and a fairly painful load and unload process. We caught a quick lap on Rock'n'Roller Coaster before relocating to the park next door.
30th April 2012
It was lunch time as we entered the second park, and due to crowds we decided it would be best if we didn't try for a meal right away. Instead, we waited the better part of an hour for Pirates of the Caribbean. There were plenty of boats in use, but the operators were not able to load them quickly enough, resulting in a lengthy queue of boats backed up at the end of the ride. On the plus side, this provided an extra opportunity to admire the last few scenes in depth, in the process identifying two different hidden mickeys. We also had to wait quite a while for the Phantom Manor, which was still excellent despite a number of broken effects and two ride stoppages in the space of one five minute journey (apparently due to misbehaving ghosts).
The rush period was theoretically over by the time we stopped for our meal break, but despite that it still managed to take an amazingly long time to place an order with only a dozen or so people waiting in front of us. It never ceases to amaze me how complicated a meal purchase process can actually be; am I the only person in this world who actually reads a menu before arriving at a cashier?
The day finished with two coaster rides; a rather brutal lap on Indiana Jones, followed by the much more enjoyable Big Thunder Mountain. The latter ended up being on my own, as due to time restrictions the rest of my group had to depart before we reached the front of the queue. Unusually the posted wait time of sixty minutes proved to be divorced from reality; I ended up waiting just over ninety due to the fact that every second train was completely reserved for fast pass users. I'm broadly in favour of the way that Disney offers fast passes for free, but it's a bit unfortunate when their use has such a substantial effect on the regular queue.