PARIS: A Nightmare In Disneyland

Disneyland Paris is much more fun in theory than in actuality.

A post shared by Benjamin Phillips (@bdphillips) on

I have a confession to make, dear reader, I am not fond of Disneyland Paris. I know that this may rattle some of you to the core, but there it is, out in the open at last. Don’t get me wrong, I adore Disney World in Florida — especially EPCOT, where I would gladly visit every day — and I liked Disneyland in California. Paris, though, for reasons that I’ve never quite figured out, just doesn’t feel right. Something is missing. Some key element that makes the Disney theme parks grand elsewhere is just not here. Maybe I’ll never figure it out, and if I don’t I won’t be terribly bothered as I never intend to visit that horrible place again.

Before I ramble on about my misery, I suppose I should get started as always, with my charming and rambling narrative.

I was still absolutely destroyed physically after my late night getting home from the Bastille Day fireworks and festivities. Standing in one spot for three hours does not make a comfortable body. And so, I was terribly unamused when Jessica started shouting far too early in the morning, “BENNY! LET’S GO TO DISNEYLAND!” First things first, I don’t like being called Benny. Secondly, I was really in no mood to go, but it’s become something of a tradition. I don’t even know now how many times I’ve visited the park, becoming less and less enchanted upon each return.

We ate a quick breakfast from the bakery down the road and I was delighted by how good their pain au chocolate is. That’s one of my favorite things to eat. Not to make, though. Croissants are fun and all to roll and roll and roll and roll and cut and cut and roll and roll and roll and rise and rise and bake. But, they are terribly time consuming and awfully fickle when you aren’t baking in a commercial oven. I think I might make a batch when I get home, though. I have a commercial style oven after all. I haven’t made croissants since the coffee shop I was baking for shut down. That seems like ages ago.

Disneyland is easily accessible from Paris via the RER. You are leaving Paris, though, so you have to buy a pricier train ticket that costs €7.50 each way. I was already deliriously happy to be throwing my money away. The train was rather quick, but it was very crowded, and fortunately we were soon there.

Jessica was delirious with enthusiasm. I don’t know where she gets this great joy from for amusement parks. I’m a fan of EPCOT because it has world-class restaurants and a tequila bar in a Mexican pyramid, not so much for the rides.

With a sense of dread, I approached the ticket counter and ordered two tickets for the two parks for one day. Would you like to guess what unbelievable sum of money I had to pay? Go on…guess! I HAD TO PAY €176.00! I was sick. I felt like I was being raped as my soul was being ripped from me. It’s not worth it, reader. It’s not worth that money! We could have taken a round trip train to Marseilles for lunch and back and still had enough for a meal on our return! But no! Disneyland it was.

Slightly woozy from the assault my wallet had undergone, we entered the Disney Studios. This is the French version of MGM Studios in Florida. They don’t call it that anymore, but that’s how I first knew it and that’s how I’ll always know it. Let me tell you upfront, it has nothing on its Floridian counterpart. There are a few rides and a few shows, but it’s not worth going. If for some godforsaken reason you find yourself headed to Disneyland Paris, just go to Disneyland Park.

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I had a bit of enthusiasm for the park today, though, since their new attraction based on the film Ratatouille had opened a few days earlier. In every Métro station in Paris are huge advertisements for this new ride. The people in the picture are delirious with excitement, their hair is whipped back from their heads from the ride’s breakneck speeds, they are being splashed upon from giant bottles of champagne, they’re nearly barbecued by an oven gone awry. So, thinking I was in for something of a thrill, I quite gladly waited in the single rider’s line.

As I exited the ride, I shook my head in disgust. That had been a monumental letdown. Let’s break down why. The line builds great enthusiasm as various characters from the film chat and giggle and you’re given 3D glasses — my first sign that something was horribly wrong. Then you see the vehicles you ride and you’re really quite excited to sit in a mechanical rat. You’re seated and the security bar is lowered and secured exceptionally tight — clearly you risk flying out and dying. Finally, the ride begins…and you’re driven to a giant screen where half the ride takes place. There’s no real story, you’re just one of Remy’s friends in a kitchen and for some reason the chef in the dining room has no idea that there is an army of gastronomically inclined rats in his kitchen. All of a sudden he sees you and wants to kill you. So, the rat car you’re in spins around. FINALLY! Some excitement! All that happens, though, is you’re wheeled around to another screen. A few dribbles of water fall from the ceiling. A blast that is weaker than a space heater imitates a backfiring oven. It’s a travesty, reader.

We decided we had better eat, so we looked in the Bistrot Remy, the new restaurant based on Ratatouille. We walked away laughing after taking a look at the menu. €29 for tofu and white beans? No thanks!

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We resolved to eat over at Park Disneyland, but we decided we might as well go on the Tower of Terror before heading over. It was a lengthy line — nearly an hour — but we were amused by the Irish girls ahead of us who clearly hated their posse. Finally we got on and this gloriously fun ride helped efface the pain that I had just suffered on that horrible rat ride.

IMG_2268Look, I even put on a forced happy face:

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In a slightly better mood, we went to look at Walt’s, a nice restaurant on Main Street. We looked at that menu and laughed even harder. €35? NOPE. Discouraged, we checked out the map at different places. Every single time we go to this park, we somehow end up at a miserable little joint that sells pasta and pizza. LITTLE DID I KNOW THAT IT WAS AN OASIS OF COMFORT. We weren’t going to go back there, reader, nope, not us. We were going to try something new.

And that’s how I found myself at Fuente del Oro, otherwise known as the entrance to HELL. It was basically Satan’s asshole. There was not a long line, but somehow this line at a FAST FOOD restaurant took an hour. A literal hour. We timed it. SIXTY MINUTES. I don’t think you can actually fathom what this did to us psychologically. It was maddening. Why couldn’t they assemble tacos any faster? WHY? WHAT WERE THEY EVEN DOING BACK THERE IN THE KITCHEN? You literally put filling in a tortilla and serve. I was infuriated. Finally after the ages I had spent waiting in line, it as my turn to order. I ordered vegetarian taquitos that, for some reason, came with onion rings. This cost €11.99. Begrudgingly, I swiped my credit card. They wouldn’t accept it. YET AGAIN, I have been denied service because I don’t have a chip card. Do you know how embarrassing that is? Do you know what it makes me feel like to look like an awful fool in front of people we had been waiting with for an hour?

Outraged, I demanded to speak to somebody. I had used that same card to buy the awful tickets that morning, there is no reason it shouldn’t work now. The manager didn’t really seem to care. His response was, “You have cash?” I flung the last bit of money I had at them and stormed away taking this tiny plastic box with me. Jessica could see I was in a fury. Well, she had no idea of the anger seething beneath the handsome exterior that threatened to escape from me when I opened the box.

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It was a thing of nightmares, reader. There was a scoop of salty, mushy rice. There were three, two-inch taquitos that tasted of salt. There were four onion rings the size of those awful miniature donuts your buy at truck stops that tasted of salt. There was literally a tablespoon of salsa. On the bottom of it all was a tiny mess of wilted, shredded lettuce. Oh I was angry. It wasn’t even hot. It was temperate. I WANTED TO KILL.

After calming myself slightly by eating the rest of Jessica’s overcooked rice and dipping my lame onion rings in some decent pre-made guacamole that came with her meal, we made our way over to what is inarguably the greatest attraction in Disneyland — The Phantom Manor.

I proclaim this to be the superior of the attractions in both Disney World and Disneyland in California. It has a cohesive story and a unique design. Instead of just being a creepy old mansion that houses ghosts, this is a creepy old mansion that houses ghosts in the Old West with a deranged bride and her murderous father. I always have fun on this ride, but this time even it failed to give me any pleasure. It shut down THREE times whilst we were aboard our doom buggies. I would have laughed if I weren’t already halfway out of my mind.

After this, we waited in line for Pirates of the Caribbean next to a family who thought it was perfectly appropriate to karate chop each other and take up the space of fifteen people. I passionately and vehemently hated them. Once we were on our boat, though, we had a great time. I like that ride an awful lot and it’s more dramatic here than back home. There are several waterfall plunges.

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Next on the list was the Indiana Jones roller coaster. I haven’t gone on this since my first visit in 2007 since I think it separated my spinal cord from my brain. It has gone under renovations recently, so we got in line. We waited for a long time with a group of Americans who couldn’t wait to “GO OUT TONIGHT IN PARIS!” I hate the youths. I’m only 24, but I have the mentality of a grouchily retired 87-year-old. Why on Earth would you want to go out to a club? It boggles the mind. Truly it does. Dancing with sweaty strangers who want to grope you whilst horrible DJs mix awful songs with strobe lights? NO THANK YOU, READER. I’d much rather go to a nice café and sip on a cocktail and talk about how much I hate everybody with somebody like me. Maybe that’s why I’m alone? The roller coaster lasted for a whole thirty seconds. Totally worth the wait. That was sarcasm.

We were both in foul moods by now. The parks were busy and the lines were long and everything was so expensive. I had no cash left. We decided we may as well get dinner and get out. So, we went back over to Bistrot Remy. It was an awful idea, reader, and I regret attempting it, but over we went. We decided that we may as well try it. We waited in a lengthy line and when I finally made it to the front to request a table, we were told that there were no more spaces available. Oh, I could have punched, reader. “Do you want a table tomorrow?” I replied, “MERDE,” and stormed out.

We were really quite peckish, so we stopped by one of those street vendors that sells ice cream and soda and crap for fifteen times there value. I thought some chocolate ice cream would be a great idea. So I waited in line whilst a preteen bought a soda and her father took pictures of her doing so. WHY? Finally my turn. I ordered. I was told, “Sorry, monsieur, we are out.”

I literally slammed my head onto the counter with annoyance. The cool metal was almost pleasant. So angry that I was beyond anger, I grabbed Jessica and stormed from the parks declaring that I would never return and that I will never go again no matter how much she whines and begs and pleads and grovels. NEVER.

We were still starving, though, so unbelievably we found ourselves seated at Planet Hollywood in the Disney Village. I didn’t even know that these things were in operation anymore. I thought they’d died out a few years ago. Nope, so we sat there in that horrible early 2000’s decor and ate exceptionally overpriced and exceptionally mediocre food. I had the only vegetarian dinner option. Pasta with tomatoes. That was literally all it was. I laughed. We were photographed by a creepy man who then printed out the picture and wanted us to buy it. Why do they still do this? Didn’t this practice go extinct? I guess not…I looked pretty good.

We finished our meal, laughed at the bill, and went back to the trains. We paid our ridiculous sums of money and boarded and were blissfully on our way back to Paris. I mean what I said. I won’t ever go back there.

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