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Trip Report Excusez-moi: A DLP Trip Report - From the WDW Perspective

ddbowdoin

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Freshly off an adventure to DLP I am eager to report back on my findings, thoughts, concerns, and overall impression of the experience. Moreover, it comes from the perspective of a US based family with roots at WDW.

The important preface: As a teacher and working, professional artist I have been fortunate enough to travel quite extensively throughout the US, Europe, and Asia. My work brings me to some interesting places, some of which are your run of the mill catered tourist experiences and others are places where I may omit facts of areas I stayed in to avoid a meltdown from my wife. WITH ALL THAT SAID, I am adamant about absorbing local customs and cultures and am neither close minded or a walking stereotype of an American abroad.

Who: Myself (Dan) and my lovely wife of 7 years.

When: July 1-2, 2019
Where: DLP (Sequoia Lodge)

Contents:

1.) OVERALL IMPRESSIONS
2.) DISNEYLAND PARK
3.) STUDIOS
4.) LODGING
5.) DINING
6.) EXPERIENCES
7.) CONCLUSION

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To start, yours truly... a customary picture that stems from visits to DLC, WDW, and now DLP as I work my way to visit all of the Disney Parks across the globe.
 

ddbowdoin

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
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The Origins : as mentioned above I teach and am a working artist. Part of the life is applying for grants etc. Well, luckily I was fortunate enough to land a grant that has me in Paris for 2 weeks working on a new body of pictures. I am finding original sites of photographs made around 1900 by Eugene Atget and rephotographing them using the same format camera.

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95 degree heat wave, my 8x10 camera in tow. I am a beaten man here.
 

ddbowdoin

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
OVERALL IMPRESSIONS:

Given that I was already in Paris, the decision to visit DLP was an easy one. It is not my first time in France, however, it is the first time I’ve been here without students and the responsibilities that come with that experience. The freedom is and remains electric. Paris is both a beautiful and a raw place once you move beyond the Champs-Elysees.

I was a bit scared to be honest... how would I react to the DLP experience, could I bring myself to experience it without the critical eye being so familiar with WDW. Some of the reactions to the park come from this bias, others may not. My wife and I have spent hours since returning thinking about what we enjoyed, what we didn’t, improvements, etc.

A secondary preface: Value is a subjective thing, we all know this. The argument of something being too expensive or “not worth it” simply varies too much from person to person. Given that I was already in France and that all of my expenses are being covered I was a little more loose with a Disney trip than I normally would.

However, even with that said I nearly dropped my iPad when I started planning the stay. I never thought I would say this but DLP almost made me think WDW was “cheap”. One night and two passes was 1500 plus to stay in the Disneyland Park Hotel.

We “compromised” on a more “value” hotel with the Sequoia Resort. I still shutter at the reality of spending 850 dollars for this experience. At WDW we usually fall on the more premium side staying at Beach Club unless it’s a multi-trip year then we get creative with lodging.

More to come on this...
 
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ddbowdoin

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Start of the Trip: A Sigh of Relief Followed By an Ouch.

From Paris the journey to DLP caused me a little anxiety. I don’t speak French very well and am especially weary of public transportation when it comes to safety. However, I am staying in the Marais and it is an easy journey via train. That represented a sigh of relief!

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We arrive! Wow... it’s happening! I’m actually at DLP! We go through the standard security and make the 15 minute walk through the Village into the resort area. Folks are friendly, CM’s all speak English and we check in early. Customary to my Disney experience the room isn’t ready as we always arrive for park opening hours etc. That is fine, no issues whatsoever storing luggage etc. Off to the Disneyland Park!

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More on the park later... first, the ouch.

We take a break from the park around 3pm and head back to the hotel. Check with the front desk about the room and here we go, all set! Cards are activated, get a comprehensive map and breakdown of where the room in. Find the room, tap the RFID card open and the door and wow, ok... “nice room, oh man... a water kettle! I need a coffee!” Wait, what is that... there’s luggage and passports on the table. Someone else has this room and DLP CM’s just gave me access to this room.

Now, some may shrug this off but to me that’s a HUGE ISSUE. When I travel I carry cash, you need it... it can get you out of serious binds. However, it also represents another layer of anxiety regarding safety, where to store said money vs carrying it all on your person. I had access to someone else’s passport and cash! Luckily, I’m an honest guy and I immediately called down and explained what was happening. I now had to go back down with my luggage and sort this out. All set, given a new room. CM said she was sorry, that is it... she brushed it off as it happens, nothing to see here.

Now an important note: be nice to people. In a past trip my wife and I experienced something I’d rather not go into at a value resort at WDW. It was a couple hours of an ordeal, we were given cash and a ride to a Walmart to buy clothes while our things were cleaned. At no point did a raise my voice to those lovely CM’s simply because it wasn’t their fault, yelling at people gets you nowhere. The manager simply picked up the phone and offered us a room at any hotel we wanted on property, any one! Then came a few gift cards and fast passes etc. it was handled incredibly well and despite having happened over 5 years ago it represents the greatest customer service I’ve ever experienced at a Disney property.

Fast forward to DLP, I maintained the same calm and respectful demeanor. They go off and fix the room situation but at this point we have been up to a room, back down, talked to a CM who left for some time, then finally sorted out for what seemed well over an hour. We were offered nothing, just a simple and casual “oh sorry, pardon”. It didn’t bother me, I’m not at Disney to try and squeeze out free things.

We get to the new room... immediately notice it’s a barren room. There is no espresso maker or water kettle. It’s important to note that I didn’t expect those things but they peaked my interest as I saw them in the first room. As a side note, I always carry instant coffee in Europe because as much as I love espresso and all it’s variations I sometimes just want a big mug of regular coffee, the euros don’t do drip.

Call down to the desk, explain what just happened and if there was any way I could get a kettle... nope, I’m told “you have the exact room you paid for, that’s not included in your level”

That’s a bit of a snarky response that I didn’t expect nor appreciate. CM’s already off to a rough start, that seemed to be the common thread of this experience and more to follow in this trip report.
 
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Swissmiss

Premium Member
Trust me - even when they are handing out good news at Sequoia Lodge they could use some help in the message delivery department. Several years ago I arrived there late at night (after 11 pm) with my DD and another mom and her DD - the girls were 6 and 8 at the time. The CM seemed quite flustered about my reservation, says “I’ll be right back” and then disappears. Like really disappears. I finally flag down another CM, explain the situation, and then she disappears. She comes back a couple minutes later and says the first CM will be coming back. By the time the 1st CM comes back, we’ve been waiting a good 15 minutes and she hands me back my reservation confirmation and says “do you know the Disneyland Hotel?” I answer - “the one at the park entrance?” “Yes, it is now your hotel”. And she turns around and leaves. There was no explanation of how to get there, or even an offer to get us there ... so we spend an additional 30 minutes waiting for the shuttle to take us back to the train station, go thru the main security gate, walk down to the hotel, check in and walk to our room (which turned out to be at the furthest point in the hotel from the lobby). So while I appreciated staying at the Disneyland Hotel for the same price as I paid for the Sequoia Lodge, the whole way the upgrade was handled did not make it feel like pixie dust at all.

And yes, looking back today, we should have walked out the backside of the Sequoia, walked thru the village and down to the hotel. But it was before they gave out really good AP room discounts so it was only my second time staying on property and at the time did not realize how close it was to walk from the hotel to the park.
 

ddbowdoin

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Ok, now that the snafu with the room has been discussed I can move on to my impressions of Disneyland Park.

Disneyland Park is an impressive place with immaculate maintenance and it’s own unique flares that WDW doesn’t have.

Main Street: about the same here and my heart truly ached when I read the DLPRR would be down for renovations. I’ve been on the Magic Behind The Steam Trains tour and collect anything railroad (art, pins, trinkets etc). I will say, I LOVE that they have “arcades” or separate tunnels to the left and right of MSUSA if you’re just interested in blowing past a parade or want to get home quickly and avoid the masses.

Fantasy Land: wonderful spot with nice theming that matches WDW. Small bit of separation between the parks is Its A Small World... DLP version is AMAZING and IMHO a far superior version of the attraction. Well done!

A note on technology: I actually prefer the paper FP system, it felt nice to be able to leave my phone in my bag and go back to a bit of a nostalgic state.

Ok, now to the real meat and potatoes!
 

ddbowdoin

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Phantom Manor!!!! A bucket list attraction for me. The queue area is lacking, however I love the abandoned gazebo area with the music box style song being played! Luckily we only had 5 min waits so the lack of theming in the queue wasn’t a huge issue. I rode PM 3 times to get a peak at as many details as I possibly could. I wanted to end my trip with PM but wait times hit 60 minutes so we decided the train ride home was more responsible!

PM is amazing... the entire thing from top to bottom. The whole theming and how it surrounds Thunder Mesa and it’s characters is a nice touch. I ended up picking up a new PM pin lanyard and simple pin.

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ddbowdoin

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
On a more personal note I’ll add that this trip presented many physical and emotional challenges. My wife and I have had struggles starting a family and over the last year lost two babies. In a way the Paris trip was a sort of a reset button for our emotional states. After several tests and visits with a Boston IVF clinic we decided to let Paris happen and then begin treatments.

Well, a couple of weeks before Paris we found out that my wife is pregnant again and an early scan showed excellent growth and a strong heartbeat, this is the furtherest we’ve come in this journey.

As a result, it’s been a slow pace trip and many rides were off limits. I rode quite a few things by myself if the queue wasn’t too long, she’s a great sport!

Point being... if you’re pregnant DLP leaves you underwhelmed. Fewer shows, less theming, fewer rides etc.
 

ddbowdoin

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
A post that relates to the preface in my introduction...

Culturally you’re likely to struggle here if you’re a WDW fan. CM’s are slightly pitiful here, they’re just kind of there. Now, I understand you’re in France and the primary language isn’t English but it is something that should be a sort of requirement to work in the parks given the UK and US attendance. Also, I would assume basic communication skills... not the ability to give a verbal dissertation to guests.

Back to my point... CM’s witness guests doing what they please and do little to nothing about it. As an American living in 2019 I’ve grown accustomed to a smoke free environment. Despite signage everywhere that DLP is a smoke free area people were vaping and smoking cigarettes everywhere, in front of CM’s, who just sat there and allowed it. This was at the entrance of queues, in casual dining areas... frankly, disgusting.

Also, numerous guests just started skipping lines and absolutely nothing was said. I’ve witnessed this a LITTLE in WDW but this was rampant.

This is a major cultural difference between the parks, be warned!!!
 

ddbowdoin

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Illuminations: absolutely 100% fantastic! Here I found guests quite pleasant, people kept to themselves, no loud groups, no smoking, and everyone in my section sat! My 5’1 wife really appreciated that. Numerous times I looked over to see her crying, always a great sign! 386164

We waited an hour and a half for this spot, well worth it!
 

ddbowdoin

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Side Note: Observations on Dining Options in Sequoia / DLP / France in General.

Warning : a rant is coming...

Preface: I live a very clean life. I’ve taken steps to increase my health and over the last year I’ve lost 90 pounds using the ketogenic lifestyle. The short for those not aware that is... no sugar and very, very limited carbs. For the most part I eat a Whole Foods and natural lifestyle. This doesn’t work very well when traveling and I must get very creative to eat. I also employ a schedule of intermittent fasting that varies from time to time, essentially I don’t eat breakfast 5 or 6 days a week and restrict my calorie intake to an 8 hour window.

You want duck confit? Perfect, France nails this. Coq Au Vin? Again, nails it.

Pizza? Tacos, Burgers, Steak... holy smokes, what happened to the land of culinary expertise?! France as a nation, perhaps Europe as a whole, doesn’t get beef. They neither season nor age their beef and cook it straight in a pan sans anything or they smother with a pepper or bernaise sauce. America, appreciate our diversity.

I dropped into the buffet for some breakfast as my wife slept. I got there at 7:15 to avoid crowds. Well... another dud here. The scrambled eggs were watery and without flavor, bacon was ok, veal sausage was dry and without flavor. I ate about a pound of bacon as it fits my macros and the fat keeps me fueled for hours. If you’re into the sweets thing this will be up your alley... an entire row of just bread and sugary stuff that I just don’t eat. 22 bucks wasn’t bad for the amount of bacon I ate. The other options are an English fry essentially sans the grilled tomatoes or Irish pudding (black or white).

We had a first lunch at Caseys... nope, pass on this. France doesn’t do hot dogs either, just a mass of flavorless mystery meat. At least we use beef dogs that have some favor and spice back in the states. America, you win again. I don’t eat the bun, slide the whole thing and eat with a fork and knife... I got the cheddar sauce and onion strings, which are bad for me but I knew they give you like 5 total and I was right. WDW: winner.

Second Lunch: I got creative here...

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Ordered two entrees: 1/2 chicken and pork shank. Tons of fat and protein here, check. Best meal of the trip but cost me about 27 euros with a Coke Zero. Skip the fries, wife said they dry and pretty sub par.

She popped over to the Toad Hall for Fish and Chips, reports back were decent. Tough as we are New Englanders and fish is our thing.

Dinner: Captain Jacks

We wanted to make an ADR in the park and being fans of the Blue Bayou in DLC we landed on this. I also previewed the menu and found something I could eat. Started off with the fish soup which was actually quite nice. Followed by the suckling pig, I enjoyed it but unfortunately it came doused in some sugar sauce which wasn’t needed. The meat had enough seasoning and natural flavor to carry the dish.

Again, another tough CM experience. We checked in, they clearly knew we spoke English and sat us. The waiter didn’t speak a lick of English, we had to resort to pointing to the menu. I asked a question about an item, “what is the spicy black pudding, like a blood sausage or morcella?”... he looked at me and said “it’s pudding”. Ok, guess I’m not getting that. He never came over to check on anything, no bread plates, I had to steal utensils from another table... the list goes on.

Culturally they don’t tip, the 20% just isn’t a thing. Therefore, service in general is weak across the board both inside and out of Disney. There’s really no incentive for them to work harder, they don’t benefit from it. You’re a tourist and you’re already in the seat.

The food, ok... not bad. I enjoyed the food and went in understanding that this food would be GROSSLY OVERPRICED. No alcohol , wife went with a prefix, and I ate off a la carte since again I don’t eat sugar. 105 euros. But again, you’re at Disney and you know it’s going to be overpriced. I’m ok with overpriced food that is edible, it’s that expensive food that’s bad that’s hard to accept.

At the end of the day I’d rather just eat my quick service chicken / pork shank for 1/2 the cost.

A note: eat early and avoid peak times. Refer back to the CM experience. They move like turtles. Not enough infrastructure to handle the load of people, not enough cashiers etc. Its a weird experience.
 

ddbowdoin

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
One thing I absolutely loved about DLP is living some weird fantasy of how WDW could exist with less people! Weekday crowds at DLP were amazing... sure Peter Pan still had the traditional 70 min wait but I was able to knock a lot of things out without huge queues.

The only downside were the current closures, mainly Hyperspace mountain and notably the DLP Railroad. I’m just a huge fan of all things WDW railway.
 

ddbowdoin

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Non Disney Post (and somewhat related)...

At no point have I or will I ever considering DLP a destination coming from the US. That’s a bold statement, I know. In my humble opinion if you fly 6-10 hours solely for Disney you will be disappointed. France is pretty incredible if you’re flexible. Brush up on a touch of French, rent a car or hit the trains. There’s so much to see.

A few pictures from our time here (just cell phone, I’ll develop my film when I’m home)

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Le Mont Saint Michel

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Kevin_W

Well-Known Member
Le Mere Poulard... the famous soufflés omelette with salted butter and scallops. This will set you back nearly 50 dollars but well worth it. It’s the first “real” meal that I felt I have had over the last 12 days in France.

View attachment 386684
That looks fabulous. We visited Mont St. Michel during the new moon and watching the tides was a really awesome experience. But we ate at a crepe place! It was good, but this looks better. :)
 

ddbowdoin

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
That looks fabulous. We visited Mont St. Michel during the new moon and watching the tides was a really awesome experience. But we ate at a crepe place! It was good, but this looks better. :)
I probably wouldn’t get it again but it was a nice memory to say I’ve had a traditional soufflé omelette. We paired it up with a fish stew and since my wife can’t finish anything I essentially eat 1.5 meals. 125 euro lunch is a hard pill to swallow, oh well.

It’s been hard avoiding all of the sweets... the croissants, the freshest bread on the planet, the deserts... but, that’s the price you pay. I don’t think o understand the principals of moderation. At my highest I was at nearly 270 lbs, I’m down to 175 and that’s enough of a reminder to pass on the baguette.
 

Kevin_W

Well-Known Member
That is a pricey lunch - our crepes were much cheaper! :)

Congrats on the weight loss. I didn't have a hard time with desserts in France, but the bread would be hard to pass up. My wife tired of the ham and cheese on baguette lunch we had several times, but I loved it. :)

Also, thanks for the DLP report. I've hear those comments about CM's and smoking many times, but we were lucky not to experience it.
 

fractal

Well-Known Member
Side Note: Observations on Dining Options in Sequoia / DLP / France in General.

Warning : a rant is coming...

Preface: I live a very clean life. I’ve taken steps to increase my health and over the last year I’ve lost 90 pounds using the ketogenic lifestyle. The short for those not aware that is... no sugar and very, very limited carbs. For the most part I eat a Whole Foods and natural lifestyle. This doesn’t work very well when traveling and I must get very creative to eat. I also employ a schedule of intermittent fasting that varies from time to time, essentially I don’t eat breakfast 5 or 6 days a week and restrict my calorie intake to an 8 hour window.

You want duck confit? Perfect, France nails this. Coq Au Vin? Again, nails it.

Pizza? Tacos, Burgers, Steak... holy smokes, what happened to the land of culinary expertise?! France as a nation, perhaps Europe as a whole, doesn’t get beef. They neither season nor age their beef and cook it straight in a pan sans anything or they smother with a pepper or bernaise sauce. America, appreciate our diversity.

I dropped into the buffet for some breakfast as my wife slept. I got there at 7:15 to avoid crowds. Well... another dud here. The scrambled eggs were watery and without flavor, bacon was ok, veal sausage was dry and without flavor. I ate about a pound of bacon as it fits my macros and the fat keeps me fueled for hours. If you’re into the sweets thing this will be up your alley... an entire row of just bread and sugary stuff that I just don’t eat. 22 bucks wasn’t bad for the amount of bacon I ate. The other options are an English fry essentially sans the grilled tomatoes or Irish pudding (black or white).

We had a first lunch at Caseys... nope, pass on this. France doesn’t do hot dogs either, just a mass of flavorless mystery meat. At least we use beef dogs that have some favor and spice back in the states. America, you win again. I don’t eat the bun, slide the whole thing and eat with a fork and knife... I got the cheddar sauce and onion strings, which are bad for me but I knew they give you like 5 total and I was right. WDW: winner.

Second Lunch: I got creative here...

View attachment 386167

Ordered two entrees: 1/2 chicken and pork shank. Tons of fat and protein here, check. Best meal of the trip but cost me about 27 euros with a Coke Zero. Skip the fries, wife said they dry and pretty sub par.

She popped over to the Toad Hall for Fish and Chips, reports back were decent. Tough as we are New Englanders and fish is our thing.

Dinner: Captain Jacks

We wanted to make an ADR in the park and being fans of the Blue Bayou in DLC we landed on this. I also previewed the menu and found something I could eat. Started off with the fish soup which was actually quite nice. Followed by the suckling pig, I enjoyed it but unfortunately it came doused in some sugar sauce which wasn’t needed. The meat had enough seasoning and natural flavor to carry the dish.

Again, another tough CM experience. We checked in, they clearly knew we spoke English and sat us. The waiter didn’t speak a lick of English, we had to resort to pointing to the menu. I asked a question about an item, “what is the spicy black pudding, like a blood sausage or morcella?”... he looked at me and said “it’s pudding”. Ok, guess I’m not getting that. He never came over to check on anything, no bread plates, I had to steal utensils from another table... the list goes on.

Culturally they don’t tip, the 20% just isn’t a thing. Therefore, service in general is weak across the board both inside and out of Disney. There’s really no incentive for them to work harder, they don’t benefit from it. You’re a tourist and you’re already in the seat.

The food, ok... not bad. I enjoyed the food and went in understanding that this food would be GROSSLY OVERPRICED. No alcohol , wife went with a prefix, and I ate off a la carte since again I don’t eat sugar. 105 euros. But again, you’re at Disney and you know it’s going to be overpriced. I’m ok with overpriced food that is edible, it’s that expensive food that’s bad that’s hard to accept.

At the end of the day I’d rather just eat my quick service chicken / pork shank for 1/2 the cost.

A note: eat early and avoid peak times. Refer back to the CM experience. They move like turtles. Not enough infrastructure to handle the load of people, not enough cashiers etc. Its a weird experience.
Congrats on the healthy lifestyle - you look great! Barely recognized you. Just started myself a couple months ago on getting myself healthier. Things kinda slipped over the last year.

Enjoying the report!
 
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