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Old 6 Jul 17, 04:38 PM  
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sammykitten
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Back last night - highs, mehs, lows and thoughts

Phew what a scorcher! Hope you are all enjoying this lovely hot weather (well, it is here in Nottingham today, and it certainly was in DLP yesterday, it hit the 30s!). We got home last night from 3 nights and 4 days in the parks, travelled by Eurostar and stayed at the Sequoia Lodge in a standard room.

Highs -
Definitely the Sequoia Lodge hotel - I can totally see why folks love this hotel and return to it again and again. The rooms are nothing special (I've stayed in standard rooms at all the onsite hotels now except the DLH) but the grounds are fabulous, so tranquil and beautiful, with babbling brooks and fragrant trees. We were in Yellowstone Lodge, top floor, which was lovely and quiet, didn't hear a thing once we were in our room. The walk to the parks was so easy, round past the south wing and then you're on the bridge right next to the Hotel New York, I had no idea it was that close! The pool is fabulous too, about 4 and a half feet deep all the way around though so not great for non-confident swimmers, but they had the outdoor section open when we used it on Monday, and it was wonderful, lots of sunbeds and lots of towels available for everyone.

The Stars on Parade - this is a great parade, with a very catchy rhythm and the ratio of floats to walking characters/performers was really good I thought. I have no idea why they have Mowgli in Fred Flintstone's outfit though!

Main park shows - we saw the Forest of Enchantment, Mickeys Anniversary show, and the Princess Waltz. All very professionally done, lots of fun, and Forest of Enchantment is very atmospheric.

Mickey and the Magician show - wow this is soooo good and a very fitting replacement for Animagique, still featuring traditional Disney characters with excellent props and real showmanship.

Dry weather - because it meant that most people around the hub stayed seated for the whole of Illuminations, meaning that even the littlies could see everything. I've only ever seen this once before at DLP, and it was lovely to witness.

Misters and drinks fountains - boy were these needed and they were readily available and all working all day.

Studios opening at 9.30 (officially 10am) - we do this on every trip, but this time just about everything was up and running at 9.30am, including Ratatouille and the Ratatouille fastpass machines. This meant my teenagers made the rush for Crush, while I walked on Slinky and the Parachute Drop with my littlest niece, then we picked up FP for Ratatouille for all 4 of us for 10.30am, then we rode Ratatouille with a 10-minute line all before 10am. The teens even had time to ride RC racer and then we all used our free breakfast vouchers in En Coulisse, before heading for our FP for Ratatouille. So we got loads done in that first hour and a half.

Mehs -

Illuminations - you know what? This is nearly in the Lows. Its only reached the meh section because the format is still good in that its great picture projection in time with the music segments and the fireworks are awesome. However, whilst Dreams! had a haunting almost operatic quality to it at times, with traditional Disney clips, seamlessly running together, Illuminations to me is just a mess of clips advertising Disney's latest releases. Not impressed, and honestly wouldn't care if I never saw it again (and it made me miss Dreams! and the way it made me cry even more after I saw Illuminations).

Inventions dinner at DLH - now, don't get me wrong, the characters we saw were great and it wasn't busy so they spent a lot of time with us (we went in at around 6.15). However, the food, to me, wasn't worth the price tag. I wouldn't pay full price for this - we cashed in free half board plus vouchers so paid around 100 euros for 3 adults and one child.

free quick service breakfast vouchers - you all probably know breakfast included is not really a deal-breaker for me (or it wasn't before we used these vouchers). However, for someone like me, who doesn't do early breakfast but appreciates a bite late morning, these can work really well. The reason they are a Meh rather than a High is because the signage for which restaurant to use them in could be much better, and the vouchers themselves don't really help in this regard. We didn't go to Hyperion, we used them in Fantasyland (look out for the breakfast board in whichever one restaurant it is held in that morning) - for us that was Chalet au Marionette, but could also be Pizzeria Bella Notte. This is a full buffet breakfast, and much better value than the other options (think Santa Fe or Cheyenne breakfast buffet). The good thing about these is that they can be used anytime in the designated restaurants from 8.30 to 11am so even if you're not doing EMH, you could still use your breakfast vouchers.

Lows -

DLP onsite room keycards - why oh why do they still have these? They are ridiculously fiddly to work, and have been for the last 3 or 4 years at least, every time and every hotel I've stayed in.

Lack of WiFi in the parks - before this trip, this wouldn't have bothered me at all. However, there is a very good DLP app which gives you wait times etc, the only problem is you can't use it if you haven't got good data connection on your phone (ie me!). Because it was sooo hot we really didn't wander the parks as we normally would without even thinking about it, so having the wait times available on the app would have really helped.

Guest behaviour - we didn't get pushed and shoved (I've experienced that before!) and I didn't have anyone hugging my back in the BTM line (again, a previous experience with differing ideas of personal space ) but we did have one very annoying family who thought they were above all the rules and insisted on stepping on the grass right in front of the castle on the Adventureland side with minutes to go before Illuminations was to start. They argued with 3 CM's for a while before stepping back on to the right side of the railings - and then refused to move so they ended up getting the great view they wanted after all (ie they were stood in front of people who had staked their spot out about 90 minutes before the start of the show). I thought there was gonna be a fight. And a couple of very questionable methods of disciplining young children by their parents - I don't think I'd be able to work there seeing that every day, without saying something, which would probably get me fired.

Rides going tech - BTM and Buzz Lightyear I'm looking at you. We made the rush to BTM on Monday morning only to find out it was tech, and it stayed that way a lot of the morning. It was tech on Sunday evening too, and intermittently on Tuesday. My teens were in the right place at the right time on Tuesday evening to ride it, and we used a FP on Wednesday morning to finally do it altogether. Love the ride, don't love the amount of time it goes tech.

Thoughts -

Although I've been to DLP many times, this was my first time in hot weather, and it was pretty busy too. Because it was so hot and because it was so busy, we really did have to go with the flow a lot more than usual. We found the rides to be great until around 11am, then forget it or fastpass it (I don't do queues of longer than 30 minutes for anything, and even then I feel like I'm losing the will to live). It wasn't really quieter in the evenings either. At this time of year, I'm really glad we had a hotel with a pool, because we spent several hours in it on Monday afternoon, just chilling and enjoying.

I really really missed POTC being open, and with the problems with BTM etc going tech I felt the POTC closure even more, as thats always been my go-to ride. It meant that even the Indiana Jones ride was a 50-minute wait at one point on Monday afternoon, I have never seen that before .

Oh, and I need to switch from cafe au lait - my tastes in coffee must have changed over the last couple of years because I used to love DLP's cafe au lait, now it just tastes like lait .

There are lots of character meets n greets, but in the main park those queue lines don't have a lot of shade (better in the Studios) - I wouldn't like to be stood there in the beating sun for long with young children.

Will I be back to DLP? You bet, its still my Happy Place, and it looks wonderful at the moment. Will I be back in summer? Probably not. I like wandering back and forth, park-hopping, one end of the main park to the other etc and back again, and I think nothing of it in cooler weather. It just wasn't enjoyable doing that in those temperatures.

My girls loved it - although littlest niece (aged 8 and lives in the NE of Scotland) was "boiling" a lot of the time. The teens (both 16) spent most of their time taking selfies and checking out boys (both sets of eyebrows shot up when Tarzan appeared in the Forest of Enchantment - sigh ). So a good time was had by all !

Edited at 09:00 PM.
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Old 6 Jul 17, 08:44 PM  
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loldis
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Nice report!

I caught MATM on my last day and agree it was fab. Much better than I was expecting. Our lists are mostly the same actually except I really enjoyed Illuminations. I didn't have Dreams to compare it to though as I haven't seen that one.

Can't say dry weather though as it poured every day when I was there in May. At least it wasn't too hot though!
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Old 6 Jul 17, 10:03 PM  
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Tink75
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Glad you had a great time sammy.

We loved SQL too and would definitely stay there again - in fact if we do go and stay onsite again I think it would be there. The smell is delicious as you walk into the reception area!

I watched Illuminations once by myself on our trip and waited a long while, but was sat about 2 back from the rope at the front - it was a warm, dry night and everyone stayed sitting - it was stunning! I did love Dreams though - always made me cry but Illuminations didn't. My children enjoyed it but again, I don't think as much as Dreams. I do wonder how much of that was because it was so new and unique?

Agree about rude people - the CMs must get sick of it!

Agree about BTM too - it's our favourite ride as a family but it just seems to go tech so much since the refurb?!

I wasn't aware there was even a buffet breakfast - didn't appear to be when we were there? So that's great to know.

I'm eyeing up a holiday in France next summer and we'll be about an hour from DLP - it would be rude not to visit! DH isn't as keen but I'm working on it 😂.

Glad you had fun overall. Did you do Plaza Gardens breakfast in the end?
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Old 6 Jul 17, 10:42 PM  
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sammykitten
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thanks for the replies both .

I decided against the Plaza Gardens breakfast in the end, we really were only doing the characters for my niece and she was happy with the ones she met in Inventions (Mickey, Pluto, Goofy, Eeyore and Tigger).

Dreams! always made me cry - every single time (although I got a bit grrrrr over the Frozen overlay at Christmas seasons). I must have seen Dreams! at least 10 times between 2012 and the end of 2014. I'd rather use the time when Illuminations is starting to ride BTM in the dark (if its not gone tech ).
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Old 7 Jul 17, 06:38 AM  
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Gill H
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The buffet breakfast is a surprise - haven't seen that anywhere!

Glad you had a good time. I agree - we don't do heat or crowds. Paris in August is a furnace as we discovered on our first visit. I would rather be cold than hot!

I heard Mark Peter on the Dedicated to DLP podcast describe Illuminations as 'the pineapple whip of castle shows'. Meaning that if you haven't experienced 'the real thing' you will think it's great, but for those of us who have...
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DLP: day trips 2000, 2003; Cheyenne Sep 2009, Feb 2011, Nov 2018; Sequoia Lodge June 2008, May 2012; Elysee May 2012, Jan 2013, Sep 2013; Disneyland Hotel Mar 2015, Santa Fe Nov 2016; Newport Bay Sep 2017, Ibis Sep 2019
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Old 7 Jul 17, 09:04 AM  
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Tink75
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Originally Posted by Gill H View Post
The buffet breakfast is a surprise - haven't seen that anywhere!

Glad you had a good time. I agree - we don't do heat or crowds. Paris in August is a furnace as we discovered on our first visit. I would rather be cold than hot!

I heard Mark Peter on the Dedicated to DLP podcast describe Illuminations as 'the pineapple whip of castle shows'. Meaning that if you haven't experienced 'the real thing' you will think it's great, but for those of us who have...
Have to agree with Mark there Gill!

Sammy - probably just as well you didn't do PG as it would have been a repeat of some of those characters anyway. I also think the interaction is way better at Inventions. It's a shame you didn't rate it more highly - it is a lot of money though, but I think the character interaction is the best in DLP! Mind you, that's not hard as there isn't much competition right now 😂.

So, will you be going back next year sammy?
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Old 7 Jul 17, 09:11 AM  
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sammykitten
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oh I agree with Mark as well Gill.
I'll definitely be back next year, just need to keep an eye on the ride closures etc as I don't want to miss POTC yet again.
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Old 7 Jul 17, 09:23 AM  
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Tink75
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Originally Posted by sammykitten View Post
oh I agree with Mark as well Gill.
I'll definitely be back next year, just need to keep an eye on the ride closures etc as I don't want to miss POTC yet again.
Yes! We definitely missed it last visit actually. Didn't think it would bother us, and it didn't spoil anything but as it was closed on our WDW trip, we feel we haven't been on it for years!
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Old 7 Jul 17, 09:28 AM  
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LOU LOU DISNEY
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Brilliant report sammy, we love SL too stayed in it many times but trying GF at Christmas & cant wait! Totally agree re illuminations, i said that in my highs & lows when we came back too, I don't think there's any need for the 2 full lion king songs & beauty & the beast songs maybe a a few lines of each but just my opinion. Visually it's brilliant but just lacks emotion, my family who had never been before just thought it was outstanding but they had nothing to compare it too.
Good to know about the breakfast as we had our hotel breakfast included at Easter so this will be new to us.

Edited at 09:29 AM.
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Old 7 Jul 17, 11:49 AM  
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sammykitten
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thanks LouLou, I also meant to add to my Highs that the Dragon was blowing fire all down the parade route every minute or so, both days we watched the whole Stars on Parade pass by (I love that Dragon ).
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