Problem the first: the cost of the Disneyland hotels was so high that it seriously made more sense to go in on a very nice, very expensive apartment on Rue Rambuteau, which is like saying "it cost so much to get a manicure that I decided to buy a new car." These things should not even be in the same discussion. But they were, and so we decided to stay with our friends and have some wonderful non-Disney experiences to go with the wonderful Disney experiences that we were already guaranteed.
Problem the second: we didn't actually know how many days we wanted to spend at Disneyland Paris. I mean, there's the quick and easy "all of them," but that didn't really address the fact that we had no idea how my foot was going to have held up during Loncon (surprisingly well, as it turns out), or how much walking we'd have to do to get to the Parks (annoyingly large amounts), or even how much there'd be to do inside the Parks, which are more spread out and still slightly sparser in some ways than their California equivalents. In the end, we decided to buy our tickets when we got there, since that would give us more flexibility.
Monday, we went down and wandered around Disney Village, and I started my multi-day campaign to collect all the pins I'd never had the opportunity for before.
Tuesday dawned bright and (relatively) early, considering that we were all sort of sleeping with no concept of time or how long things would take. Vixy, Amy, and I departed for the train station, and were basically the annoying giggly tourists all the way there, since "We're going to DISNEYLAND!" was continually appropriate.
Upon arriving, we joined the first mighty queue we found: the bag check. This took a dauntingly long time, and was followed by an even mightier queue, where we bought tickets. All three of us got Park-hopper tickets, two-day for me and Vix, one-day for Amy. I was already almost out of steps by the time we got through the gates and entered Disneyland Paris, so Vixy and Amy parked me on a bench while they went and got me a wheelchair.
This is where I say "we fell prey to thinking that because it was a Disney Park, it would be like all the other Disney Parks, and nothing could possibly go wrong." I had looked at the website previously, trying to figure out what we needed to do in order to have me in a chair without a problem, and had not realized that we would be banned from the main queues of even rides where I could physically go through the queue in a wheelchair. Instead, we would have to use the back entrances for everything, and would need to have an Access Pass. Why would this be a problem? Because at Disneyland Paris, unlike at Disneyland California, you need a doctor's note to get an Access Pass. Even if you clearly cannot walk. So...
Amy and Vixy returned with a wheelchair, and we proceeded into the Park. Being long-time Disney Park people, we immediately beelined for the Phantom Manor (the local equivalent of the Haunted Mansion), using the Frontierland signs as our landmarks. I admit, I teared up when I saw the Manor for the first time.
The queue area involved stairs. Amy followed the wheelchair signs to the back entrance, where we learned about the Access Cards for the first time. Oh, we said, and made our way back to City Hall...which is where we discovered that we were supposed to have a doctor's note. Which was a problem, since a) we didn't have one, b) my doctor was in California, c) we were in Paris, and d) my doctor was not going to get up at local 3am to fax over a note saying "her foot is messed up, she cannot walk." Vixy, as our main French speaker, tried to explain that we hadn't known before we got there and was there anything we could do. Amy looked distressed. I tried not to cry, while wishing I could sink into the floor. I hate this, I hate it, I hate having to do research on lifts and where I need a doctor's note and not knowing, day to day, whether I'm going to be able to walk. And sitting there not knowing what was being said, just that it was being said about me, made me want to die.
I can say "it was all my fault, I didn't dig deep enough into the website," and that is true. I can also say "spending a day confined to a wheelchair for the privilage of using the back entrances, not seeing the queue areas, not getting on the ride any faster, and being sneered at for taking up space, is not fun; it is not something I do for shits and giggles," and that is also true.
Eventually, Vixy was able to get across that my injury was temporary, rather than being a permanent disability which was why we didn't have a placard or anything. The very nice man in City Hall basically went "Americans" and gave us an Access Card that was good for me and one other person to use the back entrance (again, not priority access: we had to wait for the length of the line before we could get on the rides, which was totally fine by us).
We returned to the Phantom Manor, where Vixy went through the line while Amy and I waited in the back. Multiple people checked my Access Card to see if it was legit, which...we were not getting priority access. We were not "cutting" or getting a special magical show. We were, instead, fighting across cobblestones in a manual wheelchair, having people run into us, and basically being treated like we didn't deserve Disney because I had the audacity to be in an assistance vehicle. I was miserable. I was sitting in the Phantom Manor, feeling like a cheat and a fraud and a liar, because everyone was treating me like one. The Cast Members I usually count on to be on my side were acting like we were trying to pull something over on them.
I have never felt more like a burden to my friends and loved ones.
But the line moved, and we got on the Phantom Manor, and Vincent Price laughed for me, and I gradually reclaimed my Disney spirit. It was not easy. It hurt, and that was new and strange and awful. But I did it. Amy and Vixy and I proceeded to a BBQ place, where we ate lunch, and then enjoyed the Park.
Alice's Curious Labyrinth! Space Mountain Mission 2! The Nautilus! The Tower of Terror (across the way in Disney Studios)! The new Ratatouille ride, which used the trackless 3-D ride format from Mystic Manor, and was splendid! And so so so so so so so so so so so so so many pins. Oh, the pins. AN INFINITY OF PINS. I traded constantly, and got glorious pins from cast members, and it was wonderful.
Space Mountain Mission 2 was jerky and weird, but it was a coaster Amy had never been on, and we loved it so. We hit the Ratatouille ride just before closing, and the Cast Member on the door kindly let us ride together, even though I still had to use the wheelchair entrance. Dinner was at a little cafe on Main Street, and included the best ham and cheese sandwich I have ever had. We returned home tired but okay.
The next day it was just me and Vixy. We had already decided that our main objective would be a) pins and b) trying to eat lunch at Cinderella's Enchanted Table, so Vixy could meet the mice (Suzie and Perla). I decided not to get a wheelchair. It just wasn't worth it, and I knew I could turn back at any time; we didn't need to close out the Park.
It was my first day on foot in a Disney Park in more than two years.
To say that I was nervous would be an understatement; so would to say that I was overjoyed. I could climb stairs (slowly). I could step up curbs (also slowly). I could do anything I fucking wanted and it was magical and I only cried a little from the pain. I really am getting better. (Note that this would not have been possible had I not been in a wheelchair for the whole previous day.)
Vixy and I started by going to see the dragon that sleeps beneath the castle. It was a glorious piece of animatronics, and leaving put us right near Cinderella's Enchanted Table, where lo and behold, they had just started service, and we were able to get a table. She was ecstatic. I was amused. We spent two and a half hours eating a very slow lunch, ending with flaming ice cream balls, and she got her picture with the mice. She then declared that it was ANYTHING YOU WANT O'CLOCK, since I hadn't stabbed her with a fork during the very slow dining experience. Yay!
I elected for Pirates. Their queue led through a smuggler's tunnel into Tortuga, and it was a glorious piece of ride design (the ride itself was pretty awesome, too). From there, we went to Indiana Jones (totally different from the California ride; this is a single-track roller coaster with a full inversion), Phantom Manor, and then out, marking a day with very few rides, but with a lot of pins. So many pins.
On the whole, Disneyland Paris was gorgeous, and I wish I had been able to take more time to really drink it all in. But I couldn't have done any more time than I did on foot, and being there in a wheelchair was so unpleasant and dehumanizing that I don't think I could have loved the Park if I had spent any more of my time in an assistance vehicle.
Glad I went; may go back someday; will not go back until I am absolutely sure I can spend the whole trip on foot.
Next up, Ireland, and Eurocon!