Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanks, Mickey

Today was going home. Like walking into a place that I know and love and feel comfortable in. Everything was warm and inviting (despite the cold being biting and at times unbearable). Much of what I saw was what I'd already seen.

But it wasn't home. In my heart, I knew this straight away. The façades were different. The sounds, the sights, the smells. The smells. We couldn't get over the smells. Disneyland has really special scents that emanate from the bushes and from the water and the popcorn and churro stands. It attacks your senses to the point that you can no longer disassociate any particular experience with it. If you smell a similar smell, it brings you back. Anything can bring you back Disneyland.

So not everything was just right. But it was still right.

This morning as Dana and I walked into the Disneyland Resort Paris, we were reeling with excitement. The park was nearly empty as we moved across the wet pavement, still glistening from a morning soak by power hoses and untainted by the stain of millions of footsteps across it. It felt like the world (or at least Disneyland) was our oyster. We could do anything (or at least go on the rides that were open for Extra Magic Hours). We had the place to ourselves (and a few other families, plus that one guy on our boat in It's a Small World who was riding alone).

We grew complacent. It began to felt like our own Disneyland, there with the early morning dew sparkling off the planters and the sunlight just creeping in past the gloomy clouds, casting a pink and blue glow across the sky. How appropriate too, considering the castle that towers over the park belongs to Sleeping Beauty (Aurora).

By regular opening hours, we no longer had the place to ourselves. Our complacency had steered us wrong in the same way the proclamations by hotel staff had made us believe that this was the supposed "off-season" of the Disneyland Resort Paris.

These things may be true in theory, but when you walk around the park and see only lines of 40 minutes or more even for dark rides and Pirates of the Caribbean (which reminds me, anyone who doesn't go to Disney parks frequently may be confused about references to specific attractions and experiences.. apologies), you know that you're not in off-season.

After 14 hours of theme park hopping we managed to get on virtually all the rides we had planned to experience. Save for a few shows and lands that we skipped over for expediency, the day was well-accomplished and went off with few issues (despite the fact that the management here seems to believe it's okay to only open about half the restaurants and food stands during "off-season").

In a day we went on Phantom Manor (Haunted Mansion), Indiana Jones (a rollercoaster unlike the Disneyland version), Pinocchio, Snow White, Peter Pan, the old Star Tours. So many great classics. And new ones like Crush's Coaster.

At every step along the way it felt like repetition and sameness. Like walking backwards in time to this summer when I had Disneyland fully at my disposal every single day of the week. I didn't go every single day of the week, but the availability was what mattered.

And now it's available to me again. Or it was. For the full day of 8 am to 10 pm this morning, afternoon and evening. I'm so thankful for the opportunity.

Tomorrow I have a day planned in Paris. Dana will be heading back to Edinburgh in the afternoon and then I'll be left to my own wits to get back into the city and wander around before going back to London in the evening. I'm a little disappointed, I must admit. While I enjoy Paris immensely, the real excitement of this experience was Disney. It was all for Disney.

Anything with the name seems to have an impact. Earlier this morning, Dana and I talked a bit about that on our way into the parks. We were giddy and floating on air at the idea of spending a day living our Mickey and Friends. The topic of conversation eventually turned to how we've been raised to be obsessed with this brand, and how it may seem silly to some people that we go far and wide to take part in the Disney magic even when there are so many European cities to explore within an arm's reach of where we are.

Anyone who asks that doesn't have the Disney gene, I guess. There's something about going to these parks, no matter where in the world you are, that makes life a bit brighter and happier. Even if it seems culturally stifling to some, for us it's like re-entering a cultural haven of childhood and happiness-eternal.

So that's the end of the Disney story for now. Tomorrow we'll have several hours here to wind down, but after that it's back to the real world again (after Paris for me, of course). But I'm so glad to have had the experience. Disneyland Paris was great. Spending time with Dana was wonderful. Getting to be away and back home (in some ways) for a bit has been a luxury.

It'll be hard going back, but I think I'll be doing so with a new vigor. Thanks, Mickey.

No comments:

Post a Comment