UK theme parks from another point of view!

 
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Mitch
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Disneyland Resort Paris - 28/30-7, 2/3-8

Sun Aug 29, 2010 7:14 pm

Just a prior warning to everyone, this trip report will be a BIG one, so persons with visual, back or neck problems, or those who have a short attention span should read at their own risk. :P Just to make it easier and less strenuous as well I’ll start with the Disneyland Park first and then do the Walt Disney Studios later. [Also, as I didn’t take many pictures whilst I was there I’m just going to include stock photos for those who only look at photos.]

We spent a total of four days at Disney, we were originally going to do three but we got rained out on one of the days so we went back for a fourth day. (My dad had gotten the extra day free.) The last time I had visited Disneyland was part of a school trip which we were only in the park for about five hours, on a crowded Saturday in October 2004 which meant I didn’t really experience the park properly. Therefore I was really looking forward to visiting despite the resort supposedly going downhill.

I personally thought that the Disneyland Park was beautiful, I can’t pinpoint why exactly, but I thought that the park looked nicer than its American counterparts. I also think that the castle looks the best out of all the resorts as well as the entrance underneath the hotel. Speaking of the castle, here’s a picture of the castle to wake you up.

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Whilst I really enjoyed myself and personally thought the park was fantastic, what really peeved me off were the crowds. I guess it’s what should be expected going there on the last week of July and the first week of August but getting around was a complete nightmare as the pathways were completely congested! Worst of all were the bloody prams and the people pushing them especially who think they have priority and go bulldozing their way through the crowds. No woman, I’m not going to step aside no matter how much you curse at me with your gibberish! I’m not meaning to sound racist here, but I found the French, Spanish and Italians could not control their children at all. (I lost count how many of them ricocheted off me.) Oddly enough, it was also these people who couldn’t understand the concept of queueing either! :roll: More on that in the Walt Disney Studios section.

I know rude and high volumes of guests aren’t the fault of the park themselves, but they don’t help things by making narrow pathways and confusing layouts. The worst area is by far Adventureland where to get from Indiana Jones to anywhere else you either have to battle your way through the crowds on stupidly narrow walkways (and on the first day half of these were blocked by construction fences) or by crossing over to Adventure Isle which also takes you along narrow pathways with the extra possibility of getting lost due to the stupidly confusing layout.

The queues themselves were reasonable for the summer holidays and I wasn’t too bothered as we had plenty of time to do everything and Fastpass was also incredibly handy meaning I never really had any horrible experiences queueing. Eating was a bit of a problem. You can either go to the extortionately priced all you can eat buffets and sit down restaurants, or you can still pay a huge amount of money for a crêpe or a cake. There was not really much of a middle option and I didn’t fancy trying their hot dogs much. This was a major problem in the Studios as there was pretty much nothing to eat there either and if you don’t plan your day well (like we didn’t) you end up hungry.

Right, you’ve probably all dropped off again due to my ramblings at the moment so here is a picture of me and my sisters by the park entrance.

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Okay, it may seem like I’ve rambled on and on and complained but I’d just like to re-iterate that I really enjoyed my time in the park and that it is leagues ahead of many parks I’ve been to! I think the thing which I’m afraid takes the magic away from the park is the language barrier. As much as I realise that the park is in fact in France, I’d say a significant amount of guests don’t speak French nor do they have it as their second language, however many of the attractions (particularly the ones in Fantasyland) have been Frenchified so badly you haven’t got a clue what’s going on and it does affect the ride experience. However I do appreciate that the workers do talk to you in English and I actually found that the majority of them were very friendly and enthusiastic!

On the Monday we visited we got caught out in a thunderstorm. To my surprise, they actually still kept the rides very much ouvert (ironically, Tower of Terror was the only ride which was fermé) whereas in America every ride would have closed at even the slightest of rains. You’ve got to love the “shrug your shoulders” attitude of the French.

Approximately 15 minutes reading from this point.

Right, I think that’s enough about the park overall, on to the attractions there are on offer.

Big Thunder Mountain

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RCDB Stock Image

I’d say that this ride is the ride of my childhood. It was my first really major coaster and so it’s one which I have some nostalgia towards. We made the big mistake on the first day of getting a Fastpass (now referred to as FP for lazy people like me) for Space Mountain before queueing for Big Thunder Mountain. It was 10:40 when we entered the queueline and the line was already “40” minutes. The queue itself is well themed but horribly confined, furthermore it splits in two quite early on and you’d expect them both to be of a similar length right? Wrong. As we later found out, the two queues merge together closer to the station however if you choose to go on the right hand side you end up getting on about 10 minutes before. BTM has duelling stations so I presume that the queues used to lead to each side of the station. Now FP takes up one side of the station whilst the main queue uses the other side. Ridiculous? Yes it is rather. We ended up queueing an hour for it.

Anyway, on to the ride. I absolutely love the concept of diving underneath the lake to get to and from the Mountain in the middle and I think it’s what makes it stand out against its American siblings. My favourite part in particular is where it dives down back towards the station again in the darkness. It’s slow and sluggish in places but it’s incredibly fun in my opinion and probably my favourite coaster in the park, if not the whole resort.

We rode it twice more in later visits, FPing the hideous queue both times. Second time we got the back just as it was raining which I think made it faster, I recall even getting a pop of airtime in some sections. The final time we got on in the front which is quite a bit slower than elsewhere as you’re almost down the drops whilst the rest of the coaster catches up. I’d definitely recommend sitting as far back as possible for the best ride.

Solid, fun attraction. 8/10.

Moi avec Grand Montagne de Tonnerre.
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Space Mountain: Mission 2

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RCDB photo. Yay, more stock images.

Not an entirely new ride to me, I only rode it in its previous form and I don’t remember much from it. Due to BTM lying about its queue time, we had missed our FP time for Mission 2 but we gave it a go anyway. The FP dispatcher did notice we were 20 minutes late and my dad explained that we had lost our mum. The dispatcher replied “Ah but you are still late, but I don’t care, I let you go on anyway” and with a wink he took our tickets and let us through.

As there are 5 of us, I’m riding alone this time and soon we’re off into a small drop after the station and the stupid placement of the camera. Then some stuff happens in French and you get blasted off into the “mountain”. The actual launch is very weak and you can feel it decelerating as soon as you start moving. I’m not entirely sure what to think of Mission 2. The layout was very weird and I always felt like I was dropping even though the actual building isn’t very big. I didn’t think the effects were spectacular but I chose not to wear my glasses so I probably missed out on a lot of it. The ride was very bumpy and the restraints had a nasty habit of battering my neck. We rode it on the Friday evening and it was even bumpier than before.

I think I’d give it a 6/10 or a 6.5/10. I didn’t think it was awful but I thought it was highly overrated. Califonia’s Space Mountain gives by far a better experience.

It’s a Small World...

...of animatronic stereotypes. Not for the faint hearted. A dull and long boat ride made worse by a song which makes even the bravest want to tear off their own limb and beat their own brains out. iPods or other mp3 players are a necessity for this one. The only redeeming factor is that there wasn’t a queue for it.

As you can see below I clearly thought very highly of this attraction.
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Pirates of the Caribbean

A personal favourite of mine and a classic Disney attraction. Sadly, it too has fallen victim to Frenchification as you can clearly notice the prominent “Yo ho yo ho a pirate’s life for me” has been turned down so it’s drowned out by a French pirate saying “Zut alors! Ze dog ‘as stolen ze key!” I don’t even recall there ever being any French pirates?

What amazed me most was how quickly the queueline for this ride moved. We pretty much queued about ¾ of the queueline and we were on in about 10 minutes, it just did not stop moving! Excellent job by the staff who were also actually taking their roles very seriously! Shame it was apparent that there were far too many boats on the course causing a pile up at the end! I think we ended up on this about five times as it was pretty much a walk on. The people in front kept pissing me off though as they were constantly taking photos, often pointing their cameras backwards to do stupid facebook-esque photos. Now I don’t suffer from epilepsy but I was very close to throwing a fit at them.

Good, well themed and enjoyable ride. 8/10.

Indiana Jones et le Temple du Péril

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Final RCDB photo, I promise!

One of the three rides I rode on my visit with school only back then it went backwards and I remember not being very keen on it at all. Riding it forwards was a new experience for me and upon (finally after getting lost on Adventure Isle) arriving at the area I was really surprised about how quiet it was. Actually, it was “fermé. When running though, the ride makes a really tremendous roar, definitely the best roar I’ve hear from a coaster. Suck on that Nemesis. After sending empty trains round for about 10 minutes we were finally let on and allowed in to the 40 minute queue. Oh... merde.

Luckily we’d come and got FPs which reduced our queueing time to about 5 minutes. Unluckily, the ride was merde. It was horribly uncomfortable, really, really rough and at one point it came to a stop on one of the brake runs very suddenly which winded me. Horrible, horrible ride.

4/10.

As you can see, the thumbs down clearly shows my disapproval of the ride. The thumbs up is for the French booty to the right of the picture.
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Buzz Lightyear Shooty Ride Thingy

The Parisian version is new to me however I expected lots due to enjoying other versions and luckily I wasn’t disappointed. I actually liked that you could remove the blaster from its holder unlike the American versions making it much easier. As usual it was a very enjoyable ride, despite the fact I got a pretty poor score of around 50,000. To be honest it was more fun spinning myself round pointlessly. :P

7/10.

Phantom Manor was your standard “haunted house” attraction. Nothing really that special and another victim of Frenchification. Star Tours, again thanks to being Frenchified was merde. I didn't bother with the kiddy credit. I'm not a credit whore and the ride looked like merde.

I think that pretty much covers the main attractions. I’m not going to bore you silly for much longer but nevertheless I hope you “enjoyed” my Trip Report and if you haven’t... don’t say I didn’t warn you. :wink: I'll try and get the next part up tomorrow or Wednesday and it will be the Studios Park meaning: Aerosmith, Stuntcars and The Twil... sorry... I mean... LE QUATRIÉME DIMENSION!

---- Post Info Added ----

Despite the lack of replies, I’m going to write up Part 2 anyway. If it’s any comfort to you, this part of the report is SLIGHTLY shorter and I think there may be more pictures with this one.

Walt Disney Studios

The Studios was a very strange park in my eyes. There’s something very bland about it, it’s flat, theming is pretty limited and the park layout leaves much to be desired. Nevertheless, I found it rather relaxing compared to the main park, I think that was due to the much wider pathways, the fact that the entire park is in the queue for Crush’s Coaster and also there were far less crowds than the main park. There were fewer pushchairs to piss me off which was always a bonus too.

The biggest gripe I had with the park was the fact that there was not enough to do and not enough places to eat. On our first day there (30th) we pretty much got everything that was worth going for done except Crush’s Coaster by about 3pm. The park does look like it’s expanding slowly and I was very annoyed to find out I’d missed the Toy Story area’s soft openings by about four days. As with the main Disneyland Park, there isn’t a huge variety of food. It’s either the expensive all you can eat buffet, or an overpriced hot dog. Also, due to the way we poorly planned the first day, we didn’t really have time to go to the Disney Village to get something so planning a time to go there is something I’d recommend doing.

Overall though, I was pleasantly surprised with Walt Disney Studios having heard so much criticism about the park. It’s still my least favourite Disney Park I’ve been to but it’s not a dreadful park either. However I don’t see how Disney can justify charging pretty much the same price for a park which has four times less to do.

Okay, I probably owe everyone a photo at this point, so here is a picture of the entrance courtyard with the signature water tower.
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Crush’s Coaster

First thing we headed for on Friday was Crush’s Coaster. Due to my sister’s reluctance to put on sun cream there was pre-park faffage meaning we arrived at the park half an hour after opening. So we decided to head for Crush’s first and it had already got an 80 minute queue. (It had spilled out the entrance into what looked like a permanent “temporary” queue.) Merde. We tried again towards the end of the day but the queue was still 55 minutes so we decided to leave it and go to the other park.

On the Monday (2/8) we tried to get on it again, this time we were only 10 minutes late in and the queue was already at 75 minutes. As a group we decided “**** it” and entered anyway. The queue moved pretty slowly and wasn’t very interesting until we got to the point where the “temporary” queue moved into the main queue. At this point we were stopped by an attendant and whilst she was measuring a child a large family of Spanish (why is it always the Spanish?) people snuck into the main queue. The ride attendant did see them and argued with them (with some help from me, my dad, two Germans in front of us and a French family) but somehow she still let them in anyway. This pissed us off quite a bit because all it could have taken was a call to security. After another 30 minutes queueing we finally reach the front only to find the Spanish family arguing yet again. It appears two of the children were too small to ride. The French family in front also informed the ride dispatchers of the queue jumping incident and security was called and the Spanish family were kicked off the ride. [Insert cheesy superhero “Justice has been
served” quote here.]

Have a photo, shamelessly stolen from RCBD.
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So what did I think of the ride after that queueing ordeal? It was fun but nothing spectacular. I really liked the themed parts before the main ride. (Hint, try and sit forwards otherwise you’ll miss a lot of it.) The ride was your typical Disney enclosed coaster but with added spinning. Disney could easily change the pre-lift sections theming and call the ride Space Mountain without too much hassle.

Overall, the ride was fun, smooth and a solid family attraction. Was it worth the hideous queue? Well, I’d have been disappointed if I’d missed it! 7/10.

Yay for another one of my Dad’s “just stand there and pretend you look happy” photos.
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Time hopping back to Friday, after not getting on Crush’s Coaster we got a Fastpass for Tower of Terror and went to the nearby Armageddon Effects Show. It was a bit strange, there was lots of mist, lots of floor moving and some odd French pre-show which I didn’t really understand having not seen the film before. The effects were quite cool though.
Just across from the Effects show is a cool “Singing in the Rain” prop. Naturally I had to get a photo, but it wasn't a very good one and I don't want to give you all nightmares.

Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster

As it was close by we got a FP for Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster not noticing that it had a 10 minute queue so we went on it anyway. I was really looking forward to RnRC seeing as I REALLY like the one in Florida. For some reason, they weren’t letting us see the pre-show which didn’t bother me as this was not a glasses friendly ride so I couldn’t see much anyway.

We went on RnRC three times during our visits to the park, twice on Friday and once on the Monday. One time the dispatcher really messed things up and I ended up with a whole car to myself. So my thoughts of the ride. It was just as I was expecting it to be, fun and a bit bumpy. I’d say that Orlando’s one was a bit better due the better “theming” in the main coaster area and my third ride felt a bit slower than usual. I found the biggest problem with the ride wasn’t the restraints but the headrest which had a really stupid mould meaning that you’d get your head knocked about by it.

Overall, I’d give RnRC 8/10.

Oh great, another photo of me. This time I chose to be witty and play an invisible guitar.
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We went to the Studio Tram Tour next but it was fermée. How a tram can have technical problems is beyond me. The Moteurs Action Stunt Show Spectacular was starting soon so we made that our next destination.

Moteurs Action Stunt Show Spectacular

This was something I’d seen in Florida but I only saw half of it due to a thunderstorm. We arrived pretty early and got decent seats so it really annoyed me when people were arriving 10 minutes late and the staff expected us to shuffle along to accommodate them. Thankfully, we didn’t need to so I didn’t feel like a sardine the entire show.

They were also initially capturing images of the crowd and showing it on the large screen behind. It was at this point I needed to get rid of an annoying bogey. I decided to be a man and risk it anyway and luckily I wasn’t caught doing so.

I really liked the stunt show, I liked how in between the stunts they’d talk to you about how the stunt was performed and other special effects etc which was pretty interesting actually. I knew I’d seen most of it before but that was five years ago and overall I really enjoyed it.

9/10.

I didn't take this photo but it looked cool anyway.
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Studio Tram Tour

We queued 10 minutes for this when it finally re-“ouverted” and got a pretty good row at the back. I have to say I’m glad we didn’t wait any longer because quite frankly it was awful. The thing which let it down most is the fact it essentially turns back on itself so you end up going past everything twice. The on-board audio is barely audible and there’s no indication of where the sets are actually from. Apart from the catastrophe canyon section, the only real highlight was waving at a passing tram. It also takes up a ridiculous amount of space and blocks any further development in that direction. Disney, either re-route it, or get rid of it.

2/10.

Perhaps the only remotely good part of the ride.
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Hmm... I appear to have forgotten about a certain ride. Still having trouble remembering it, maybe Disney should make it stand out more by putting it right in the middle of the park. :roll: Of course I’m talking about The Twilight Zone: The Tower of Terror. (Not to be confused with The Toilette Zone.)

Tower of Terror

Thanks to Disney’s ingenious placement of this ride, it’s pretty damn difficult to miss but it still looks incredibly impressive. I rode it four times over the three visits to the Studios Park. I guess that automatically says quite a lot of what I thought of the ride. :P

Goddamn it Disney, why did you make this hotel so hard to find.
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I’ll start with the negatives first. Sadly, the ride has fallen victim of “Frenchification”. This ride no longer goes to “The Twilight Zone”. It now goes to... wait for it... LE QUATRIÉME DIMENSION! (Literally translated as the Fourth Dimension) Well done France, you’ve just taken away the identity of the show the ride is based on. :roll: Pah... Quatriéme Dimension...

My ugly mug is probably the creepiest thing about the ride in this photo.
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So anyway, the ride starts off pretty much just like the other Tower of Terrors I’ve been on with the library room (criminally dubbed of course) and you are greeted into the generator room. The theming throughout the ride really is phenomenal. From the abandoned lobby to the eerie generator room and music outside is relaxing yet creepy at the same time. One thing which really made the ride were the cast members who were really getting into their characters. (I particularly liked it when they said “there is your emergency exit” pointing at two gaps in the elevator roof.)

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So the ride itself. WOW! I was completely blown away, even after being on two other rides of its type. The pre-drop sequence was excellent and really built up the tension as you enter the Twil... sorry... I mean LE QUATRIÉME DIMENSION and the drop sequence was incredible. The drops felt FAR more forceful than the other two Towers I’ve been on. I had a bag at my feet on one of the rides and it ended up in my lap after the first drop! It also had that “stomach in your throat” sensation which a ride hasn’t given me for a long, long time! Everything about the ride was truly fantastic.

By the way I don’t know if it’s coincidental or not, but two of our rides were in English and two were in French. Our two English rides were from the lifts which were downstairs so if you want to get your ride in English, try and go through the library on the right. (I think Fastpass directly feeds into it.) I may be wrong though and it could just be a coincidence.

Outstanding ride. [I liked it better than Rush... shhh...!] 10/10.

No cheesy thumbs up photo for this ride I’m afraid.

That concludes my report of the resort. I had an excellent time there despite the high amount of criticism I seem to have of the place. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my report and I apologise if you have been murdered by all this text. (Trust me, if it took you a long time to read it’s taken me twice as long to type up. :P)

Until next time...
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AstroDan

Re: Disneyland Resort Paris - 28/30-7, 2/3-8

Mon Aug 30, 2010 9:56 pm

Great TR! I agree with many of your points, especially as I have just returned from Orlando. I think it's a little difficult to criticize the French-ness of the park, after all it is in France and it's partly only because us Brits (not myself, I may add haha!) generally are stubborn when compared to most of Western Europe when it comes to language learning.

However, to my knowledge, most attractions are available in English. Just ask on ToT and the ride staff can put it in English for you.

Regarding SM, for me the Paris version is the beautiful, ornate ride with lots of effects and lights, whereas Florida is the better track and train experience but lacks on the lighting/effects front. I adore the music and ambience on SM in Paris, though.

I think Disneyland Paris is a fantastic resort and, although I think Orlando offers a wider range, Paris is not far behind and several attractions are actually superior.

Love Paris' castle, too! Gaw-Juss!

:D
 
evil cod

Re: Disneyland Resort Paris - 28/30-7, 2/3-8

Mon Sep 13, 2010 10:57 pm

Alot of your points about the rides are spot on but your continued hatred of anything French in a park in France is quite frankly stupid, to say things are ruined because it loses the local language is pretty pathetic and small minded. I spoke to a German family at Alton Towers the other day and not once did they complain about the rides not being in German strange eh? Things like the name change of the Twilight Zone is because that show had the different name in France so it therefore quite an apt name change.
 
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Mitch
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Re: Disneyland Resort Paris - 28/30-7, 2/3-8

Mon Sep 20, 2010 12:12 am

"evil cod" wrote:
Alot of your points about the rides are spot on but your continued hatred of anything French in a park in France is quite frankly stupid, to say things are ruined because it loses the local language is pretty pathetic and small minded. I spoke to a German family at Alton Towers the other day and not once did they complain about the rides not being in German strange eh? Things like the name change of the Twilight Zone is because that show had the different name in France so it therefore quite an apt name change.


Thank you for commenting.

With regards to the language barrier I think I've not made my point clear enough and you've misinterpreted what I've ridden. I know if I was to go to a park such as Parc Asterix or Europa Park I'd expect it to speak in the native language.

I feel in some ways that Disneyland is an exception due to the fact that the whole franchise is American, not French. I appreciate the fact that Disney have made it as English-friendly as possible, something which I failed to point out in my report. However you get rides such as the classic Fantasyland rides which are almost entirely French. Similarly, it would be like building a Parc Asterix in Britain and having everything in English, it loses out on the French "character"(?) it had before.

You may disagree with me here, but to me Disneyland Paris is an American Park in France, I guess that's why I disliked the language change. Using your case with Alton Towers, it's a British park in Britain, so I wouldn't complain speaking English like I'd happily speak German if I visited Phantasialand, a German park in Germany.

Hope that's sort of cleared things up a little.
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evil cod

Re: Disneyland Resort Paris - 28/30-7, 2/3-8

Mon Sep 20, 2010 12:02 pm

So if they built a themepark built around Asterix down the road from your house you would be fine if everything was in French? You wouldnt see anything odd about that at all? Legoland is a park from Denmark but if I went to Legoland Windsor and everything was Danish I'd be a little taken aback! Its exactly the same situation for the French with Disneyland Paris.

All the kids loved riding the Peugeot Trafikskole at Legoland Windsor
 
Joelio

Re: Disneyland Resort Paris - 28/30-7, 2/3-8

Mon Sep 20, 2010 1:46 pm

You may disagree with me here, but to me Disneyland Paris is an American Park in France, I guess that's why I disliked the language change. Using your case with Alton Towers, it's a British park in Britain, so I wouldn't complain speaking English like I'd happily speak German if I visited Phantasialand, a German park in Germany.


Just thought i'd chime in by saying, it doesn't matter who built the park, the location and the patrons do matter, the last thing a company would want to be charged with is alienating the local population.

Great TR nonetheless however :)
 
TibBo
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Re: Disneyland Resort Paris - 28/30-7, 2/3-8

Wed Sep 22, 2010 5:00 pm

Great review! :)
And I completely agree with the one thing that you said... I am the most placid person in the world, but some of our European counterparts really do have no manners whatsoever when it comes to queing etc.
I actually find myself getting quite aggitated at times, forcibly standing my ground so people can't jump the que.

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