A Pair of Days at Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris Castle sm
And so after so many places in Belgium and Holland we returned to France, and to our first visit to Disneyland Paris. We stayed at the Disneyland Hotel for that walk-right-into-the-park experience, and we were not disappointed. My wife is a huge Disney parks fan but has only been to the original (like a million times) so this was a novel experience. I have to say I really liked it, it wasn’t as crowded, the sidewalks seemed to be wider, the two arcades behind Main Street were nice and accessible and I really liked the Castle. I had to sketch it. Everything was a bit different from California, Space Mountain for example (which is still Hyperspace Mountain) repeated Star Wars phrases in French (naturally) and had an outside starting point, while Thunder Mountain Railroad was definitely longer and faster, and was located on an island that the ride went under a tunnel to get to. I also really liked Pirates of the Caribbean (“les morts ne raccontent pas d’histoires!”), probably more than the Californian one. The maze of caves near the pirate ship too was so much fun to run around. And of course, serving champagne on Main Street during fireworks (though I didn’t indulge). So yes, we liked it.
Belgium Thalys to Paris sm
Our Thalys train from Brussels to Marne-La-Vallee was, amazingly, on time. I was sketching with the brush pen here, my son wearing his new Charleroi shirt. We spent some of our time on the train playing MarioKart on the Switch (I lost). When we got into Disneyland we had dinner at ‘King Ludwig’s Castle’, a lavishly decorated Bavarian themed restaurant, and we had hearty Bavarian fare (on our first night in France).
Disneyland Paris Fire Hydrant sm
On the other side of the main park, in the place where California Adventure would be, is a second park called Parc Walt Disney Studios. I liked it there, although there was not as much going on, except the incredible Ratatouille ride. That one we enjoyed. In that whole area there were a number of mobile food carts, one from each culinary area of France (crepes from Bretagne, tarte flambee from Alsace, cider from Normandy etc), and then around the corner there were more, but from different European countries (we had some nice sangria and tapas from Spain, while my son went back to enjoying his favourite Belgian waffles).
Disneyland Paris Ping Pong sm
The hotel was incredible. I enjoyed spending time in the pool, and they even gave my son a ball so he could have a kickaround on the grass (that made his trip). Above, I sketched my family playing ping-pong. Below, I tried one more fancy drink this time in the music-themed Cafe Fantasia. It was called the African Dream, made with rum, papaya, St Germain liqueur, lychee puree and bissap, I don’t know, I’ve heard of rum. It was tasty (and expensive), I got it because it looked like a vacation.

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Disneyland Paris Thunder Mountain sm
Above: Thunder Mountain Railroad, on an island in the middle of a lake. I drew this while tired legs were resting, colouring in later.
Eurostar Paris to London sm<
And finally, one more train journey, this time the Eurostar from Marne La Vallee to London, going back to the UK to see the family, go to a Spurs game at the new stadium, and hopefully unwind after a very busy trip.

galaxy’s edge

Galaxys Edge at Disneyland!
In June, we went to Galaxy’s Edge, the brand new Star Wars land at Disneyland California. It was fun – expensive – but they have a huge life-size Millennium Falcon, and since it’s the fastest hunk o’ junk in the galaxy well, you have to sketch it. It was busy, for sure, though at that time Galaxy’s Edge were still only letting in limited numbers, I think it’s more open now. It’s very hard to get a reservation for a drink in the Cantina, that took some queuing up, but that was fun as well. Could have used more people dressed as aliens. The Millennium Falcon ride was good, flying in the cockpit, people saying “punch it” like that phrase is the new “may the force be with you”. Oh, the whole place is called Baku, and is named after the the city far, far away where they held this year’s Europa League final, forcing two teams and a few fans all the way from London, through asteroid fields and pursued by bounty hunters. Sorry not Baku, it’s called ‘Batuu’, which sounds very similar. As I sketched this I stood on a box that I had been sitting on, and a space-uniformed Batuu lady came up and said that climbing is not permitted in Batuu. They really sell this place as a real place (and people really buy it, with real non-Batuu currency). It’s pretty big too, and they are going to expand. The level of detail is epic even for Disney, and I tried a quick sketch in the restaurant (below) but there was so much to draw.
Galaxys Edge at Disneyland!

All in all, it was fun. My bubbling drink at the Cantina was crazy. I know Star Wars has been part of Disneyland for a long, long time (Star Tours is still one of my favourite things) but now Disney owns it and decides on its direction, well I do miss George Lucas, and when I asked my young nephew recently who his favourite Disney character was and he said “Darth Vader” well, a little part of me sank. But they did a pretty good job on this park. It’ll be expanded with a new ride soon, so I’m sure we’ll be back.


Up next…sketches from the summer trip…

 

disneyland

Disneyland Castle Dec2016

Before Christmas we took a family trip to Disneyland, down in southern California. I managed to get a couple of sketches in, namely the Fantasyland castle, and Flo’s V8 Cafe in Cars Land, over in the California Adventure park. Christmastime in Disneyland is fun. Hey what is your favourite Disney movie? I’m not including all the ones owned by Disney like Star Wars and Marvel movies, but the cartoons, and some of the live-action ones like Mary Poppins and stuff. I suppose Pixar counts as well. Mine is probably Jungle Book, or maybe Aladdin.

Disneyland Cars Land Dec 2016

These were the first sketches in my new Stillman and Birn (Beta) softbound landscape sketchbook. That’s a mouthful, so we’ll just call it the Sm&B(B)SbLsSb for short.

under dreaming spires

Disneyland Castle
The weekend of Thanksgiving was not spent gorging on leftover Turkey. Black Friday was not spent queuing up outside Best Buy at 4am to get $5 off an iphone or some other nonsense. No, the Scully Family went to the Happiest Place on Earth: Disneyland, California. We love Disneyland. Evidently a lot of other people do too because it was pretty busy, but fortunately my wife is an expert at strategizing Disneyland so we made full use of fast-passes, early entry, single-riders, and generally had a great time. Of course with the usual constant movement about, I only made time for a couple of sketches, and you can’t really sketch in line (no, you can’t, you really can’t. Those lines are long but they move). Above, Sleeping Beauty’s castle, all redecorated for Christmas. The Holiday Season at Disneyland is pretty mind-blowingly spectacular, the amount of decoration is incredible. In Cars Land for example the number of different types of cars-themed Christmas trees were staggering. I definitely recommend a visit. The Castle however is the centrepiece and was really pretty, especially at night. When the fireworks lit up the sky above, snow machines blew snowflakes over everyone. I drew it in the daytime as you can see. It was a warm day, t-shirt weather. My wife and son had gone back to the hotel for a nap (though actually they went and sat by the pool – late November folks, late November!) giving me some solo exploring time. I met them later to watch the parade, and we sat by the Disneyland Main St Station, where I did a quick sketch of Disneyland City Hall while waiting for the parade. No sketch of the parade though, you can’t really sketch parades, no you can’t, not really. Well, I can’t. Well I could, but I don’t want to.
Disneyland City Hall

I do love Disneyland, and would love to draw the whole thing. But you know how it is, you pay a lot of money to get in, you don’t want to sit in one place for two hours drawing a panorama when there’s so much to do! Like meeting Captain America. We did that. that was cool.

gettin’ cozy at the cones

Disneyland Cars Land
Cars Land, aka Radiator Springs, the most popular attraction at the Disneyland California Adventure, and the main reason we travelled all the way to southern California. My son, who had his birthday recently, is mad about Pixar’s Cars movie, as are many kids his age. Cars Land is HEAVEN. One thing Disney does really well is attention to detail, nothing is done in a half-hearted way. It is expensive to go there, but you can see they spend the money really well. Above, I had about half an hour or so to do some sketching while my son, overwhelmed from a morning spent inside his favourite movie, rested for a bit. I stood at the excellent Cozy Cones motel while happy tow-truck Mater posed for photos with ecstatic kids. Every building there is an incredible and absolutely faithful recreation of the Radiator Springs in the film, from the rocky backdrop catching the warm light right down to the detailing of Sarge’s Surplus Hut or Luigi’s Casa Della Tires. Occasionally, the great car Lightning McQueen himself will ride through, and as the sun goes down, the neon lights of Flo’s V8 Cafe and other buildings come on to the music just as in the film. Every so often the DJ Car (one of the ‘”import punks” from Cars 1) rolls in and plays music while dancers dance with the kids. The Radiator Springs Racers ride is wildly fun, though my son preferred only the Junkyard Jamboree ride, in which the wild tractor cows dance around while riders sit in carts behind them. We went on that about ten times. Yep, for any parent of any Cars-mad kid, a trip to this place is worth every penny.

Below: our hotel room in Anaheim. Got to have the in-room sketch when travelling!
Marriot Hotel Anaheim

it’s a kind of magic

Disneyland Castle
We went to Disneyland at the end of last week, my son’s first ever visit, a fifth birthday treat. The main destination was the wonderful Cars Land, which I’ll write about next, part of the adjacent Disney California Adventure park, but the main Disneyland park is the original and really is a fabulous place. I first went in 2002, on my first trip to America, having wanted to go all my life. I was a big fan of Disney films as a kid and as a grown-up, the Jungle Book and Aladdin especially, and Disneyland is addicting. Expensive too, and you find yourself constantly forking out money, but it is Disneyland after all. The attention to detail is staggering. I particularly enjoyed the Star Tours ride, the Star Wars themed one, and the Jedi Training Academy for the kids was very entertaining. While my son went back to the hotel for an afternoon nap, I had some time to sketch so I sat and drew the classic Sleeping Beauty Castle. This has been here since 1955 (so it’s older than many buildings on the UC Davis campus!), the original Disney Land.
Sketching Disneyland

Here’s another sketch from the area inside the castle grounds, Fantasyland, which is full of very sketchable things. As I sketched, kids got on and off the King Arthur Carousel, lined up for the Peter Pan flight ride, strolled about with cotton candy and ‘churros’ looking for Mickey and his mates, while embarrassed daddies took their little girls into the Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boutique to get dressed up as princesses and little boys found swords and shields to dress as knights and fight dragons. Happiest place on Earth.
Disneyland Fantasyland