Sleeping Beautys Castle during Christmas Lumeire Show, Disneyland Paris
Disneyland is magic, I mean real magic, not orchestrated illusions, magic like when something wondrous happens, something out of the ordinary, something delightful, something magical.
I’ve returned from a Disneyland Paris New Year break spent with my problematic family. My family aren’t a problem, they just have problems. My mother was suffering from a throat infection as well as her usual ailments, my father was suffering from neglect as a result, my sister was dealing with a disgruntled fiancé, my other sister an harassed spouse, my nephew was depressed, my youngest niece moody, her cousin was troubled by her parents messy divorce, my other niece was feeling ‘uncomfortable’ whatever that means, and I was exhausted. Now for the magic.
It would be nice to say that as soon as we arrived in Disneyland Paris a transformation overcame us all and we were happier people but it wouldn’t be true. My mother was miserable due to the infection and wanted to go home, my father felt more neglected as we fussed around her, my sisters fiancé was more disgruntled because she was enjoying herself without him, my other sisters husband had an allergic reaction to a relaxing alcoholic drink he had consumed, my nephew was more depressed because his friends had decided to go out for New Year, my youngest niece threw a tantrum because she wanted to go on all the fast rides five times in a row, her cousin was ecstatic to be on holiday with us which I found disturbing, my other niece was still ‘uncomfortable’ (still not sure why), and I felt more exhausted then ever.
Day 2 and I knew action had to be taken. I had a quiet word with the children about how miserable their Granny and Grandad were, luckily they aren’t totally selfish. The girls took their Granny shopping, while my nephew and I took my father on some of the slower rides. My sisters phone ran out of battery so her fiancée was no longer in contact, my brother in law preferred the French coffee and had a non-allergic caffeine boost, and the children discovered the enjoyment of pleasing other people.
At the end of day 2 I was approached by a smiling woman who thrust a slip of paper into my face, ‘We’ve had to leave early but this is still valid for another two days if you want it.’ I bemusedly took it and thanked her and she ran off. It was a weeks unlimited fast pass for four people. I excitedly took it to my family and we never saw the children again till tea time when they returned happy and content because they only waited 30 minutes for every ride including the new Ratatouille ride.
We had queued early that morning to get a timed fast pass ticket at 8pm for the Ratatouille ride. You have to be at the fast pass point early as demand often outstrips supply and it’s almost impossible to get on the ride without one unless you want to queue for 3 hours. Its a brilliant ride but I’m not sure its worth waiting 3 hours for if you can get a fast pass. Thanks to the generous woman we had 5 spare fastpass tickets, my sister spotted a young couple with three small children who were clearly debating whether to wait the 3 hours or not. Snatching the spare passes out of my hands she ran to the couple and with lots of gestures (they didn’t speak English) forced the tickets into the young womans hand. It took them a while to realise the importance of the five tickets, when they did the expression on their faces made the whole day feel twice as enjoyable.
So we left Disney with happy memories again. My mothers throat infection was clearing up, my father felt appreciated, my sisters fiancée was still disgruntled but he couldn’t reach her on her phone, my other sisters spouse was feeling less harassed, my nephew was no longer depressed, my niece was too exhausted to be moody, her cousin had spent a happy week with her extended family, my other niece was still ‘uncomfortable’ (I think its the new ’embarrassed’), and I was still exhausted but in good way. Everyone decided its was the best holiday in ages and were planning the next family trip.
And that’s the magic of Disney. Giving. Its not just fast rides and merchandise. Everything is done with care and attention, more so then any other amusement park I’ve visited. And the ‘giving’ rubs off on the visitors. I’ve never seen an unhappy employee at Disney, and if there’s a problem they try everything possible to fix it. It’s almost scary how happy they are, maybe its the constant smell of candyfloss and popcorn in the air. Even ‘backstage’. We had the misfortune of being on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride when it broke down and had to leave the ride via the service entrance. The sugary smell was ever present and I saw chattering and laughing Disney staff getting off a shuttlebus and bouncing into work. No one bounces into work unless you really enjoy it. It makes me wonder if there isn’t a darker side to Disney, a dungeon somewhere where unhappy workers are put until they’ve learned to behave and be happy again. Mmm…