Theme Park Etiquette, Continental Differences and a Question of Rucksacks

Day 11

You know by now that I’m in Disneyland Paris, and that I’m having a whale of a time, so I’m not going to go into the minutae of my experiences today – essentially, if you love Disney, you’ll love Disneyland, and if you don’t, well – then, you won’t!

So, even though today included Peter Pan, a trolley bus ride, the sleeping dragon,  Animagique, Armageddon FX, The Backlot Tour, Stitch Live, Ratatouille, Crush’s Coaster, RC Racer, Slinky Dog, Monsters Inc, The Tower of Terror and Phantom Manor, I’m going to focus on other things…namely, theme park survival and bloody Europeans.

(Disclaimer: I realise that I am English and from Great Britain, and am, therefore, European, but this is about continental Europe, and “celebrating” the difference.)

(Disclaimer 2: I am possibly being a tad xenophobic here. Please don’t be offended. Some British people are terribly shitty too… It’s just that mainly, it was Europeans that I came across today.)

Having been to various parts of France several times, and visited, amongst other places, Germany, Italy, Spain, Greece, Hungary and Corsica, I don’t feel as though I’m a complete stranger to being amongst Europeans. Equally, I have been to Disneyland in California, Disney World Resort in  Florida, and am currently on my 5th visit to Disneyland Paris, so I am fairly well versed in the art of a Disney survival.

However, I still get just a little hacked off at the bloody rudeness that seems par for the course in a Disney Paris day.

Look, I know that Europeans don’t have a concept of queuing in the way that we stoic English people do, and I can tolerate the pushing in and the laissez-faire attitude that prevails, to some extent, but after almost two weeks in France ( and three days in Disney) it is starting to, frankly, get on my jolly well nerves.

Thing is, you can forget all about the concept of “personal space” when you’re here, as it doesn’t bloody well exist. That piece of the universe that you are (albeit temporarily) occupying? It’s not yours. It’s, basically, fair game. And just because your actual body is in that actual space, don’t for one single second assume that you are entitled to remain in it, because you’re not. People can, and will, attempt to occupy that same space at any and all times (and here’s the mind blowing bit to an English person like myself) whether you are in it already, or not. So you can either vacate it, or share it (physics notwithstanding), the latter option usually requiring some kind of time travel, or quantum leaping or something. Because these people will mow you down if you don’t move. And they won’t give a shiny shite. 

And, quite honestly, I have moved on from my ever-so-polite “excuse moi” requests to strangers, to a full-blown “fekkin move” demand.

So, just in case any of the continental Europeans who I met today are reading this, here’s some advice for you from the black-haired, quite angry looking, middle aged woman with the passive-aggressive muttering:

1) If you want to get past me, just say “excuse me” or “pardon” or whatever it is in your language, and I will happily, gladly and even joyfully skip out of your way, and allow you to pass. You will smile, I will smile and the world will seem that little bit lighter. Don’t, however, walk into me and keep on moving, as though you haven’t just barreled me over; don’t knock me out of the way with your bloody rucksack/balloon/bag/other; don’t – ever – run over my feet with your pushchair and continue to roll, as though it were a tank or similar; and don’t flick your fekkin fag ash over any part of me.  For these things, in any and all combinations, only serve to piss me off, to piss you off and to increase exponentially the headache-to-Brit quota in the park. The world is nicer if we simply acknowledge each other

Addendum to point 1: if you have done any of those things accidentally, simply say “sorry” or equivalent, and don’t just storm off as though it was me that was in the wrong simply by existing/breathing.

2) If you are waiting to go into the toilet cubicle, then please stand away from the frigging door. That way,  I can get out and you can go in and the earth will continue to turn. If you don’t move away from the frigging door then we have a bottleneck situation, where I can’t leave, you can’t enter and there’s just no point in either of us existing any more. This also goes for all of you people who want to board the trolley buses while I am exiting, and anyone standing in a doorway or exit. FRIGGING MOVE, YOU MORONS.

3) There is a special place in hell reserved for you people who are walking along, contributing to the healthy flow of pedestrian traffic, and who suddenly stop. If you’re going to stop, either take a cursory glance around to make sure there isn’t someone directly behind you (there usually is), or move to the side, safe in the assumption that in Europe’s busiest theme park, there is a small likelihood that you will not be on your own.

Either way, if you suddenly stop to look in your bag/talk to someone/take a selfie/other, then do not look at me as though I am the devil incarnate, when I walk into you. It’s going to happen, isn’t it, you twat?

4) if you want to photograph fekkin everything something, then just make sure that you’re not walking across and in front of someone (see points 1 & 3). Especially don’t take videos by criss-crossing and weaving your way sideways to the flow of traffic. This makes you a bellend, and I am likely to photobomb you, in a very British way.

5) And, in its own special category: rucksacks.

Right, I have a question for you. This is for anyone who it applies to, and specifically to the many people I saw today. What the hell is in your rucksack?

Seriously, though? I’m not talking abou small rucksacks, or bags – obviously it’s sensible to have a bag. I’m talking about full-on, luggage-style rucksacks. What’s in them? It’s not food. Bags are X-rayed before they come into the parks, and I’ve seen several people forced to throw picnics away at the gate. It’s not jackets, caps, sunglasses or cameras, because serial rucksack offenders usually have those as well.

What is in them? Are you people setting up tents or something?

On this holiday, there are 3 of us -I have a small handbag with the tickets, sunglasses and a camera. The husband carries Smallboy’s tiny rucksack. It has wet wipes, sun cream and water. We carry money on our persons. We wear our hats.

What else do people need, in such vast quantities?

Some families have several rucksacks. Look:

  Three rucksacks. Three adults and two children. Cameras, hats and jackets stored separately. What is in these beasts?

  

Two adults. Two rucksacks. No kids. Wtf?

 

What is this guy hauling? 

Genuinely interested in finding out.

The other thing about rucksacks is that they virtually double your body mass (I’m sorry for going on about this, but it has really become something of a mission.) People don’t seem to realise that they are manoeuvring around as wide-loads, with the rucksack. You can’t just be swinging round willy nilly – you’re going to smack someone in the chops. And in a queue situation, your rucksack is literally increasing thg queue time for the normal people. Not to mention the fact that you people can’t get though the barriers within the queue, without a massive amount of fuss, and getting on the ride and sodding storing the thing takes an extra 30 seconds per rucksacker. Multiply this up and the 70 minute queue time becomes 85.

So, be prepared to provide me with a detailed inventory of contents, or leave the frigger at home.

6) Queueing. Yes, these European Theme Parker’s queue jump. Yes, we knew this in advance. Yes, we realise it’s cultural. But, frankly, I cannot get my head around the fact that it’s anything other than bloody rudeness. If you see someone standing in front of you, who has been waiting for longer than you, then it’s their turn first, you ignorant shite bag. This goes for rides, toilet queues, parades….anything. Simply seeing a teeny weeny space in front of someone, and assuming you are entitled to fill it (see point 1) makes you a knob.

Quite honestly, the melee of people waiting for the entrance turnstiles to open, was akin to some kind of battle field or Black Friday sale. If we all wait our turns, life is smoother.

7) And, while I’m at it, there are more than two speeds. Slower-than-a-snail and Lightning-McQueen’s-faster-brother are not the only options. It is perfectly acceptable to walk at a tolerable pace. The afore mentioned two speeds, are largely to blame for points 1 and 3 above.

8) PDAs

Look – I like a bit of love, me. I’m not a cynic. But there is a time and a place, people, for gratuitous displays of carnal desire. The queue for the Tower of Terror at 4:20pm is neither of those things.

I was queuing on my own (the husband stayed with Smallboy, who was categorically NOT going to go anywhere near that ride) and had a French couple with three kids in front of me, and a Spanish couple with one child behind me. Those two couples were constantly going at it with the full-on tonsil tennis. Twice I had to move the couple in front on, and how the couple behind me managed to hold off without booking themselves a room, I just don’t know. I’m happy they were in love. Really. But, I don’t need to see the bulge of a guy’s tongue from the outside of his wife’s cheek. And as for the roaming hands – I felt like I was in some 18 movie audience, with a row of horny teenagers. But the worse part of it was, the French couple’s youngest daughter (presumably in the absence of any parental attention) felt the need to entertain me throughout the queue. She danced, she sang, she jumped up and down, she span, she swang, she chatted in French… It was hugely annoying, particularly as I’d managed to bag half an hour off from my own little bundle of firecrackers.

So – PDAs? Non!

And now I have resolved all of the issues that have been weighing down heavily on me in the 28 degree heat, I feel as though we are all closer as a continent.

Bon Nuit, Europe…

The Disnification Commenceth

Day 9

Having fully packed, cleaned down the “holiday home” and ate as much crap out of the fridge as we could stomach at 7 in the morning, we duly trundled our stupidly massive suitcases down Le Camping boulevard, to the backdrop soundscape of the static home across from ours being dug out for car parking, by a bulldozer and a couple of mini steam roller things. One can only hope that the inhabitants had vacated first.

It’s been really quite lovely at Joinville, and Le Camping has been quite nice, but four mornings of waking up to a building site, is four mornings too many really, and after a final climb up the rocket-frame, we were quite happy to say “au revoir.”

A final embarkation onto the 101 (during rush hour with our stupidly massive suitcases) and a skip down the platform to catch the RER to Vincennes, and we were on our way. Smallboy was excited to be going home.

We hadn’t actually told him that we were going home, rather we just made a big deal out of our “final night on the campsite” and talked a lot about “catching the trains with our suitcases” – a parental decision to omit certain facts, rather than an actual lie.

At Vincennes, we changed platforms to catch the Marne Le Vallee train. It was lovely and deserted, and we settled back to a game of “I Spy” for the thirty minute journey. Smallboy is quite good at I Spy, although I maintain that “something beginning with f” and the answer being “forty four” as seen on the screen, telling us it was 09:44, was more like I Spy Extreme Edition 

The train arrived at Parc Disneyland, and we exited the platform with our stupidly massive suitcases. As we blinked into the sun, we encouraged Smallboy to spell out the sign in front of him.

” D…i…s….ney…land…why are we in Disneyland?” 

He was pretty excited to learn that not only were we NOT going home and were staying in Disneyland, but also there was a LEGO STORE (this is pretty big news for Smallboy) and we no longer had to spend our days traipsing round dusty city centres looking at historical monu….yawn…..ments….

We checked into the Sequoia Lodge. This is a pretty big upgrade for the Morrises. We are your Hotel Cheyenne kind of stayers, but we thought “bugger it,” this time…and very glad we did. It’s really quite lovely. Massive rooms, friendly staff, gorgeous pool and right on the banks of Lake Disney.

We managed a couple of rides today, but were happy to mosey, really, knackered and hot as we were. Our half board meal plan comes with an added bonus of a free afternoon cake or ice cream and a drink, so we are well on our way to consuming the annual combined calories of the entire population of Luxembourg this week. And the diet will start on Sunday. Promise.

Tomorrow, the husband has booked our petit dejeuner for 7am, so we can be in the park and raring to go when it opens two hours early for hotel guests. 

So, tonight we sleep in a lovely bedroom, with lots of facilities and rather more room than the little cabin we’ve called home for a week. Yessir, from camping to 3* hotel is kind of a culture shock, but I’m glad we did it this way round. I’ll be swinging “chats” in our massive bathroom all night.

All about the packing

Day 8

Today is our last day at Camping International, and although it genuinely is a very basic site (get ready to check out my Trip Advisor review, fans) I am really going to miss it.

The weather has helped. France (and the UK I believe) is currently experiencing some weather anomaly, and it has been completely glorious every day. I can imagine that the dust and sand and building works on the campsite  might have felt a little more grim, in torrential rain, but the sun can make a bulldozer look as sparkly as a diamond.

So, this morning we did somehing I have NEVER done on any holiday, ever. We did nothing. Literally nothing. We had a lie-in until about 9:15 (which is CRAZY late for me – I am a morning person) and then we lazed around, had breakfast, read, played games and coloured, until about 11:30.

Eleven-frikken-thirty without going outside!

I’m blaming the bloody 15 km a day treks through Paris we’ve done. My feet have not known what’s hit them (cobbles, grit, soil and paving slabs mainly)

Smallboy and I  both got a little stir crazy, so in the interests of sanity (and my now infamous holiday logistical planning) we despatched husband to the laundry, and I packed. I assumed that this was going to be a mammoth task. I had carefully-considered piles of categorised stuff ready to go. And it took me around 4 and a half minutes.

I had to call on all of my “optional and alternative activity” training and, so we decided to walk along the river to a park that we’d noticed last Monday.

 It was just so…French…

We strolled through open air seafood restaurants, to the sound of an accordion playing, we saw cyclists wearing actual berets and carrying French baguettes in rucksacks, we saw dressed poodles in the arms of impossibly-glamorous and fashionable French women, and we saw old, tanned men in canoes, smoking cigarettes and shouting at ducks.

It was like being on some xeno-centric film set!

The park duly played upon, and the 2 mile walk back completed, we felt we’d earned a final dinner out at the campsite bar. Turns out the French for “nuggets” is “nuggets” and it was entertaining listening to Smallboy speaking French to the bar owner.

W: Bonjour

L’homme: Bonjour

W: Ca va?

L’homme: Ah… Ca va bien. Et toi?

W: Pleeu plee ce ce va chan ce la….. MUUUUUMMY….he’s speaking a lot of bonjour words to me…

🙂

So, about to embark on our final night, but very excited, as tomorrow we go to Disneyland Paris…and Smallboy doesn’t know! He thinks we’re going home.

This could go one of two ways….

But for now, mes amies….Bon soir