Sunday, June 26, 2016

To Disney or Not To Disney

When we emerged from the station at Marnee-La-Valee, and I saw the mass of never ending concrete, all I could think about were those poor French farmers whose protests never mattered. Disneyland Paris opened in 1992 under a disenchanting prediction "The sun will never set on the Disney empire."

We'd chosen a perfect weather day for keeping the crowds away: 50-80% chance of rain throughout the day. It paid off and we never had more than a 15 minute wait; we even had our own boat on It's a Small World. We enjoyed the fine mist throughout the day; it was like being in a cloud. When the sun came out~~what a treat.

We'd purchased our tickets online and they were only $53 per person for both parks: Walt Disney studios (comparable to California adventure), and Disneyland Paris....wait...can this be true? It was, but only because Disneyland was going through a major renovation and several of the main attractions were closed: space mountain, thunder mountain, Peter pan, adventure island, Swiss family Robinson treehouse, Pocahontas village.

Our round trip train from Paris was $15 per person and took apprx. 35 minutes. Disneyland Paris or not to Disneyland Paris? I would never be so foolish as to steer someone away from what might be a magical day, but I do have my opinions.

I expected Disneyland Paris to be more French, so I was gravely disappointed when the food offerings were hamburgers and french fries, and the sweets were donuts and cookies. When I saw a small tray of pain au chocolats, we ordered one and were sorely disappointed--it was not even a bad American pain au chocolat. The worst I've ever had. However, those resented french fries--were very tasty.

One very, very bad ride. When the torture finished, I turned to Tony and asked, "Where's the quality control?" My favorite Disneyland Anaheim ride, Indiana Jones, had been butchered in France. It is only an outdoor roller coaster lacking in head protection. My head banged from side to side, Tony took a few whacks to his ears. The staging however was beautiful--a deserted archaeological camp with jeeps, idols and empty tents, but beauty can't compensate for a headache--skip Indiana Jones Paris.

DP was built for large crowds. The sidewalks are bigger, the spaces are bigger, hence walking distances are greater between rides. We enjoyed the absolute aesthetic beauty. Landscaping was stunning. The first-entry buildings were more pleasant than Anaheim or Florida. Main Street USA's view of Beauty and the Beast castle was breathtaking.

Walt Disney studios was pleasant but marginalized. The rides weren't quite as good. Except for Tower of Terror (an exact replica of California Adventure's), they seemed to have been created with half the imagination, with half the budget. Ratatouille was however~~darling! By simply wearing 3-D glasses, I now know what it's like to be a rat scurrying through a French kitchen.

The park seemed to be dominated by the Angleterres, from just a hop across the channel. Their language, the variety of accents that distinguished the gentile from the dock workers; their twist on hair color, tattoos and dress--I felt surrounded by the Dursleys--which was almost as entertaining as anything else in the park.

I enjoyed immensely the Tower of Babel atmosphere. So many languages, so many diverse people from all over the world who were brought together for one day in one grand commonality~~to experience Disneyland magic.

And was the Disneyland magic present?

Absolutely. Only a truly curmudgeon, American tourist could deny the magic. It came during the parade as little children sat on their father's shoulders waving to Mickey. It came when everyone flocked to a golden coach carrying the Frozen sisters while the beloved music blasted through the park. It was a moment of awe, and I imagined how it must have been when people saw the Savior and rushed to be as close to him as possible.

The best part was in stepping away from Paris for just one day; it magnified the magic of Paris! The day before I had walked into a hall at the Louvre that was absolutely spellbinding. Every corner was gilted in gold, every inch of space was gloriously painted. In the middle of the room were glass exhibits of royalty's jewels. Necklaces and tiaras with hundreds of diamonds, emeralds, rubies and other precious stones. Disneyland had nothing on the imagination of the Renaissance French and their overindulgence in beauty.
The Gallery of Apollo-even the floor is a masterpiece.

 The next morning after jumping on a bike and dodging Parisian traffic, I called to Tony, "It's great to be back in Paris riding a bike."

As was, sinking my mouth into a real pain au chocolat from Julien's Boulangerie.

As was walking authentic cobblestone streets while passing Disneyland-like architecture,

As was the pull into a cathedral when we heard a Gregorian chorus.

As will be the moment, at journey's end, when we pull into our own garage.

It was all worth the truth revealed from a day at Disneyland Paris~~ magic is everywhere.