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Melanie R 8 Feb 17 10:55 PM

The Duchess does DLP - Day 1 Mickey, Mountains and Moments
So you left me drifting off to sleep in the most comfortable bed I have ever slept in, and I can honestly say it was the best nights sleep I've had in a long time, so I wasn't best pleased when my alarm went off at 3:45am! I hit the snooze button and luxuriated in the warm cosy bed for the next 9 minutes, then when the familiar alarm tone sounded again I knew I had to leave my little cocoon and brave the morning. I headed into the bathroom for my final time under the amazing shower

I had just smothered myself in posh shower gel, when the phone started to ring! Yes, it was at this point I remembered I had requested an alarm call at check in as I didn't fully trust myself to wake up. I now had the dilemma of trying to ignore the phone and risk annoying the poor soul in the next room, or making the dripping dash across the bedroom to the other side of the suite to stop the phone!
It seemed to be getting louder on each ring, so I loosely wrapped the towel around me and hurried across to answer it. This was the downside to the suite - it was quite a trek across the large bathroom and even larger bedroom to the desk with the phone on it - #firstworldproblems ;)

I returned to the shower and was soon clean and tidy and got myself dressed ready for the day. I wrapped up well as I knew it would be cold in Paris (it wasn't exactly tropical in Manchester!) and repacked the few items I had used the previous night - I also wrapped up my bottle of Prosecco in some fleeces and put it in the middle of the case - more on this later!

I did a last minute check around the rooms to make sure that I hadn't left anything behind, and headed out with a last lingering look at the place (I seriously could have moved in if it had a little kitchen!) and made my way to the lift. One point to note about the business class floors at the Radisson - they have lovely thick carpets along the corridor but they are a pain to wheel a case along!

It was around 5am by the time I was leaving the hotel and headed along the walkways towards the terminal. I knew that I needed terminal 3, and I knew it was the furthest to walk, but it was quite a trek and took around 10 minutes to get there, and then I saw the queue for security! Decision made straight away that I was paying the 4 for fast track!

I deposited my bag at the bag drop, then headed to pay my 4 and into the significantly shorter queue for security.

As is usual, I headed through the body scanner and was immediately asked to step to one side for a pat down - seriously, I don't remember ever getting through an airport without either me or my bags being further checked!

Having nothing to hide, I was soon through and putting my trainers back on and collecting my stuff when I realised by bag hadn't passed through the X-rays and was selected for further checks! At this point, I'm stood there praying I hadn't overlooked any liquids or anything (been there, done that ;)) but it seemed it was just a random check and was quickly returned to me so I could be on my way.

It was around 6am by this time, and my flight was showing as on time, but no gate yet displayed, so I bought a bottle of juice from WH Smiths and took a seat in the waiting area just outside. It wasn't long before the gate was posted and I made my way over, and took another seat to wait. It was a very strange mix of people - families with Disney paraphernalia, clearly heading to the same place as I was, business people heading out for meetings and what I like to call "the beautiful people" clearly heading to Paris to sample the shops, restaurants and culture - and me!

It wasn't long before the flight was being called and for once, my row was in the first wave for boarding, so I gathered up my bits and pieces and joined the throng. At the head of the queue was a middle aged Frenchman who clearly hadn't read the rules on what was allowed as hand luggage! He had a full size case, a cabin case, a plastic bag bulging at the seams and a brown cardboard box! The steward boarding us was having none of it and all I could hear was "You have too much hand luggage sir" on repeat. The Frenchman was playing dumb and kept repeating that it wasn't too much, he was perfectly capable of carrying it. He was told over and over and finally asked to step to one side - a colleague came over to assist the steward and I could hear the conversation continuing along the lines of "it will be put in the hold and it will cost you 20 - how do you wish to pay?" I was then at the head of the queue, so never did find out what happened to his luggage! Don't you hate it when that happens ;)

I took my seat, and was next to a very pleasant business man who gave me a warm smile and asked if I needed help with putting my bag in the overhead locker - I thanked him, but was happy to stow it under the seat in front, so buckled up and got out my iPhone to try again with my audiobook. Again, people watching was far more interesting, and I was watching in fascination as a man about 3 rows ahead was trying to put a cabin case in the overhead locker - it really didn't take an expert to realise that there was no way on the planet that it was ever going to fit, it was clearly stuffed to bursting and was far too big, but I give him top marks for trying! He tried the locker above his seat, the one opposite, the one behind - it was as if he thought that by some miracle, one of the lockers would be bigger than the others, and all he needed to do was find it! At this point I noticed that the man sat next to me was shaking, and when I turned to look he was desperately trying to stifle his laughter at the man's antics! We shared a conspiratorial smile and the cabin stewardess came along to sort the issue. She stood in the aisle, looked at the bag, looked at the man and said "your bag is too big to fit" - all that training clearly paid off! He asked if he could put it on the seat behind as it was empty, but she told him that was against regulations, so he ended up jamming it under the empty seat - I have no idea how he wedged it in, but finally he was seated, and the flight attendants were into their safety routine and we were on our way.

It's a very short flight time to Paris and by the time they had been round selling food & drinks, then again with duty free, we were listening to the announcement that we were approaching landing. For those who have never flown in to Charles de Gaulle, I have never landed at an airport where you taxi for as long as you do here - I'm convinced you actually land in Belgium and taxi the rest of the way! It took around 10 minutes before we were finally stopped and allowed to head off the plane, we were herded into the shuttle bus and we drove, and drove, and drove! I was convinced by now it was going to take as long from wheels down to the terminal as it did to fly across the channel! Finally we stopped at the terminal and I was heading into the passport control where I was directed to a very long queue which seemed to be taking forever. After around 15 minutes, I realised that there was actually a separate queue for EU passport holders which was moving significantly faster, so I ducked under the barrier and joined that one instead! I was then through very quickly and headed to bag claim - due to spending longer than necessary in passport control, mine was the only bag left to claim, so no issues spotting it on the belt! I then moved through customs and into the arrivals area of the terminal, feeling proud of myself for getting here alone and in one piece. I checked the time, and with the time difference taken into account it was 9:50 - not bad timing at all I thought, at this rate I would be in the parks by lunchtime... or I would be if I'd given any thought to how I was actually going to get from the airport to DLP!

Yes, you did read that right - the Duchess of Wigan, top planner, veteran of 15 trips to DLP had overlooked this teeny tiny detail in the planning (or lack of!) this trip.

I decided I couldn't face the VEA shuttle, so looked for signs for the station to catch the TGV. I found the station and couldn't have looked more like a tourist - I had a large suitcase, a Disney rucksack and I was looking vaguely around for signs, so clearly despite the abundance of information kiosks available, I was the obvious candidate for the rather lost looking Frenchman to approach to ask for help. He fired off a long incomprehensible sentence in French, to which I replied in my best schoolgirl French "Je suis Anglais - je ne parle pas Francais" to which he replied in very broken English "where can I smoke?" I clearly have the look of someone with information to impart as this happens to me a lot!

I persuaded him I had no idea where he could smoke, then headed to the ticket office to buy a ticket to Disney. It works in the same way as a deli counter - you are given a ticket with a number on as you enter, then they call you to a booth when a member of staff is free. Within minutes, I was handing over my 25 and collecting my ticket, with instructions of which platform to head to. The train was due in 10 minutes so I headed straight to the platform and hadn't long to wait until the train arrived. I had no sooner boarded, found somewhere to put my luggage and sat down, when they announced we were arriving at Marne le Vallee - 9 minutes from CDG to DLP - can't be beaten :)

I made my way off the train and out of the station and stood outside looking at the very familiar DLP scenery yet with a really eerie feeling that there was something not quite right, and at this point I was fighting back the emotions. I knew heading into this trip that it was going to be one of the hardest things I would do, but that it was something I absolutely needed to do as part of my moving on process, so I allowed myself the wobble, then got a grip and started to head purposefully towards the Village. I'd already decided that I wasn't going to waste time waiting for a shuttle bus, I could easily manage the walk through the Village to take my luggage to the hotel, so off I set.

For those who haven't visited in a while, they have significantly stepped up the security measures at DLP and you now need to pass through a body scanner and ALL bags need to go through the X-ray machines. No problem I thought heaving my case onto the belt, strolling through the scanner and waiting to collect them on the other side... if only it was that easy! As I passed through, I was about to take my case off the belt, when the security guard took it off himself - but was not going to pass it over to me, no he had questions! What was in my case he asked - my mind was a complete blank, I had literally no clue what was in there to cause him grief - surely I wasn't the only 40 something woman to have a pair of Minnie ears, so what else could it be. He took pity on me and my blank look and said just 1 word, with a raised eyebrow - "alcohol?"
Now at this point, I had been up since before 4 and was having significant case of brain fade, so I continued to look blank and said, that no, I hadn't been drinking. He gave me a very pitying look, and pointed at my case and repeated "alcohol?" At which point the penny dropped - I had the bottle of Prosecco from the Radisson. "Yes!" I exclaimed, "I have a bottle of wine!" He then looked at me again and asked where I was going. It was then my turn to give him a pitying look - I had a large case, a rucksack and a handbag - I wasn't exactly park ready, so I pointed towards the Village and said I was heading to the hotel to check in. He shook his head at me and said no. I gave him a questioning look, he sighed and very patiently explained that alcohol wasn't allowed in the parks (where I wasn't heading) or the Village (which I was only planning to pass through) and that I wasn't allowed to walk carrying alcohol. He pointed at the station and told me the only way to take it was to catch the bus, so he proceeded to hold up the queue of people trying to head into the parks while he escorted me back through the scanner and out of the security area. I was very conscious of people giving me strange looks at this point, so with head held high, I did the walk of shame away from security and headed back to wait for the dreaded hotel shuttle ;)

To be fair, I wasn't waiting long and at this time of day, there was no queue heading back to the hotel, so I was soon on board and seated, heading to Sequoia Lodge via Hotel New York.

One of the perks of the Golden Forest rooms is the dedicated check in area, with seats and very helpful staff, so I headed straight there and was very quickly booked in and told my room was ready, so I was able to head straight there once I had collected my free dining vouchers and hotel fastpasses - they would come in very handy later on :)

I was on the 6th floor and had a very nice room with a king size bed and a couple of armchairs where the other bed would usually be, so I wasted no time in unpacking and was soon heading off into the Village towards the parks, stopping only to make sure I was wearing suitable headgear ;)

My original plan had been to call into Earl of Sandwich for lunch, but I realised I was starving and decided to use my voucher for Annette's Diner and have a more substantial lunch, and head to the Earl for tea instead, so I wandered through the Village checking out the few shops which were actually open at this time of day, and made my way to Annette's. There was no queue, so I was quickly seated and given a menu and was left to my own devices. Luckily I had used the dining plan before, so didn't need it explaining and made my choices from the set menu - I was going to have the hash brown potato sticks, a Rock n Roll burger with bacon and cheese followed by chocolate fudge cake - and all washed down with a cherry coke. The diet could wait!

I have long been a supporter of Annette's and have had some great meals and fun times in here in the past, but I have to admit I was really disappointed with the food I was served today - the hash browns were very greasy, the buns & cheese in the burgers have changed and were not as nice as previously - the only saving grace was the chocolate cake - that was delicious!

I had made the rookie error of coming out without my Kindle, so was sat in the restaurant looking around at all the families and couples having fun together, and will admit to suddenly feeling very lonely and overwhelmed by emotion and seriously wondered if I had made a mistake in thinking I was ready for this trip, but again I gave myself a talking to, and pulled myself together again - I was here, I knew I had plans to meet up with Anna & Rachel the next day and I really had to make the most of my time, so with tears mopped up, I paid the bill, wrapped up in fleece and gloves (it was -2 outside!) and steeled myself to head in to the parks as I was fully expecting that to be a difficult moment.

At this point, I decided to be kind to myself, and break myself in gently by heading to the Studios first - I didn't think I was quite ready for the emotions of seeing the castle just yet!

So I headed into the studios and was really perked up to bump straight into Captain Jack Sparrow - almost literally as he was weaving and swaying! He gave me a wave and swayed off for a break while I headed into Studio 1 and meandered through the shops and out the other side.

I took a breath, I was finally here and realised I had no plan, so decided to check out the queue time for Ratatouille. This was my first real shock of the trip - it was a walk on! Yes, you read that right - it was 2:15 in the afternoon, fastpasses were available with a return time of 3:30 and the standby queue had a wait time of 10 minutes! I wasted no time and headed into the single rider queue - I literally walked straight through and was pointed straight to a rat and was seated within minutes of entering the queue :) this is an amazing ride and I had fully expected to be using up my hotel fastpasses on here, but with times such as this, I could save them for other rides!

I came off the ride and headed straight back round - well it would be rude not to ;) and after my second ride within 10 minutes I headed out and strolled around the fabulously themed area taking a few pics, then I was hit by another wave of emotion as I thought back to the last time I had visited this area. I plonked myself down on a handy bench, which was facing away from the path, and took a few minutes to let the tears flow - I knew I needed to get it out of my system, and couldn't keep bottling it up, so I spent a good 10 minutes there just crying then composing myself. I headed into the restroom (they are lovely and clean in this area) and splashed some water on my face, told myself to get a grip and set off to go do some rides! I started with the Parachute Drop which had a 5 minute wait time, then was heading to Tower of Terror when I noticed that Cinemagique was due to start in 5 minutes so headed there instead for a warm!

I love this show and love that it's unique to Paris, but I always forget about the water effects!

Coming out of Cinemagique, I felt in a happier mood so decided the time was right to head into Disneyland Parc and face the castle! I had never before had such mixed feelings about heading into a Disney park, but the time felt right, so off I went. The beauty of DLP is the distance between everything, and within minutes I was scanning my ticket at the turnstile and heading into the park. I won't lie, I didn't get the familiar rush of happiness that I am accustomed to feeling walking through those gates and under this station, but neither was I filled with sadness, so today I was taking that as a huge positive!

I passed under the station into the town square area facing Main Street, and looked down at the castle with some trepidation, but I'm pleased to say that the butterflies had passed and although I wasn't exactly dancing down Main Street, I was at least strolling down with a smile on my face, so decided to check out some of my favourite shops - Lily's Boutique and Harringtons. My shopping list for this trip was for kitchen items and a specific Mickey statue which I wanted to replace due to giving it up in the separation. As I was wandering in Harringtons, I knew this would be the best place to find the ornament, and to my delight I spotted him in one of the cabinets - I would be calling back for him on my way out of the park!

I headed up though the castle and decided I just wanted to spend some time meandering and soaking up the atmosphere - and as I had no one else to consider, I could do exactly that!

I wandered through Fantasyland then headed over to frontier land and decided to check out Big Thunder Mountain after its year long refurb. This was when I realised where my fastpasses would be used - it had a posted wait time of an hour with no Fastpass available, but I still had my hotel Fastpass for the day to use, and it was now approaching 5pm so was within the use window - so no prizes for guessing where I was heading!

I walked round the Fastpass queue and was soon boarding the back carriage of the train, secured my Minnie ears in my rucksack, and off we went. OMG I had forgotten how cold this ride is when it picks up speed! On the way back through the tunnel it literally took my breath away and as I got off I had to head into the shop opposite to catch my breath ;)

I realised now I was cold and tired, and decided I had done enough for one day, so decided to head back to the hotel - via Harringtons to purchase my Mickey :D I went to the sales desk and enquired about the statue and the sales lady disappeared to the stock room, then came back to inform me that they had none in stock, but a colleague was going to collect one from another shop for me, and could I come back in half an hour? I said I was finished for the day, and would come back the following day when she offered to send to the hotel for me, if I didn't mind it taking an extra day as I had missed the cut off time for that day - I was more than happy with this, so paid up then headed out of the park and back towards the Village.

I was freezing by now, so called into Starbucks for a coffee to keep me warm on my walk back, then enjoyed the walk around the lake. I made my way back to my room and collected my Kindle, then headed down to the Golden Forest lounge to relax for a while before having a well earned early night. I can't praise the staff in here highly enough - I was welcomed in, invited to take a seat on the comfy sofas and provided with a coke and some snacks. I spent a lovely hour relaxing with a good book, then when I was struggling to keep my eyes open, was given a hot chocolate to take with me as I headed off to bed.

Stopping only to charge my phone, I was quickly in bed and fell asleep while watching a movie on my iPad - ready to take on the next day with a new positive attitude :)

Melanie R 8 Feb 17 10:59 PM

Today was light on photos but high on emotions, the next days have more pics in them and less tears ;)

Guest 8 Feb 17 11:14 PM

Aww bless you. I'm sure your trip was emotional in many ways. Looking forward to hearing more. X

geoffa 8 Feb 17 11:26 PM

Mel - bless you. I think we all understand the turmoil of emotions you experienced on this day. Memories are powerful things. But you were in a place that brings joys and smiles and I'm sure these will come through on the next day. You took a big step and we all want to be there with you.
Looking forward to your next day.

lottiesmum0 8 Feb 17 11:31 PM

Well done on being so independent. It must have been very difficult for you at times X

jandlsmum 9 Feb 17 01:43 AM

Aww well done you ,I think you are brave and loving reading thanks for sharing

suziwong_96 9 Feb 17 11:38 AM

Thank you for sharing with us all, very brave of you to share and to take the step to go. We have a GF room booked in April so looking forward to reading more x

princess allie 9 Feb 17 11:54 AM

I have enjoyed reading along with you. Sorry it was hard for you, but you are very brave, well done on overcoming your fears and emotions. I hope you have made some new happy memories for yourself xx

Jaybeez 9 Feb 17 11:55 AM

Well done for getting through the first day and starting to make new memories.

We stayed at GF last year and the staff were lovely. We're returning to DLP and have booked GF again.

Gemsie0812 9 Feb 17 12:46 PM

Bless you, weldone for having the courage to do this trip you are such a brave lady. Looking forward to reading the rest of the trip report - thank you for sharing it all with us :)

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