(Published by The Malay Mail on 17 September 2013)
The magic of Disneyland Paris is just one queue away.
And I am still feeling cheated a week on from the “experience”.
Euro Disney, or Disneyland Paris as it was renamed, featured high on the kids’ list of things to do during “the stay-cation”, our very first summer in our new hometown of Paris.
Maybe I was just having an off-day? It certainly wasn’t much fun. And I’m not normally one to complain, but to fork out 442 Euros (1950 MYR) to get into an amusement park only to spend the day in queues, upon queues, upon more queues, just seemed totally ridiculous.
Every ride had its own “wait time” board. Most showed a 60-minute-wait, with a minimum 30 to a maximum of 75-minute-wait for rides, some of which (like the so-called, so-unspooky, “Phantom Manor”) were pretty crappy, really, and lasted no more than five minutes.
Very little entertainment was provided for the queueing masses, hot and irritable, unless you include falling out with your neighbour in the lineup. And I did this quite spectacularly when my youngest was accused by one uptight Italian woman of: “Stepping on her daughter’s feet, all of the time”. I eyeballed her, and her skinny tattooed hubby, hard, trying desperately to avoid using the choice expletives racing through my head. The glance, I hope, conveyed: “Back off lady, I’m flying solo with five kids.” Unhinged mother written all over my face, I then returned to our umpteenth game of eye spy.
We also managed rides on Space Mountain Mission 2 and on Big Thunder Mountain — now these two rides were something to write home about. We eventually worked out the “FASTPASS” ticketing system, and secured a second ride on Space Mountain guaranteed between 20:25 to 20:55hrs. But by the time five hours had passed, the ride had broken down and remained out-of-order for the rest of the evening. Seriously: is this some fly-by-night seaside fun fair, or the world renowned Disney resort?
Four rides in the entire day. Bargain. We arrived at 11am and left at 1030pm missing the fireworks at 11pm for fear of being trampled into Tinker Bell dust (the resort is tiny compared to Disney’s counterpart parks in California and Florida) by hoards of neon-lighted Mickey Mouse-eared revellers.
It’s not just about the rides though is it? Although my girls, 10 and 11, and their friend, also 11 and visiting from New York, are beyond wanting their photo taken alongside real-life versions of Princess Belle and rags-to-riches Cinderella (not that we saw them mind you). And my boys, eight and six, thought Fantasyland was: “A bit babyish mum.”
Other attractions we visited included walk-around masterpieces like “La Cabane des Robinson”, a fabricated treehouse, or “Captain EO”, a rather bizarre 3D short film featuring Michael Jackson (made in 1986) and his alien crew of musicians venturing off to another planet.
In the midst of watching this film, my eight-year-old asked: “When is the water going to come out of the chair in front, mummy? ”. He still remembers the water sprays during the 4D Shrek film (used, I think, when Donkey sneezes), we saw at Universal Studios Singapore a couple of years ago. Now this is a pioneering theme park; very entertaining, even for us parents.
But the real question was why on earth were they showing this ancient movie of this singer at all? So young that his skin was still ‘black’, not yet the wacko ‘white’. Has anyone told the powers that be that Jackson has passed away? This family experience was so not Disney; it was just “Bad” taste to my mind…
I rather hope that the grand fromage of Disneyland Paris puts all those Euros extracted from my purse that day to replace this freak-attraction with something more appropriate.
Okay. Rant over. The good news was that we didn’t have to pre-book, the parking was ample and the twenty-year-old park still looked fresh and spotless. The multiracial Disney staff managed the obligatory “Have a nice day”, there were plenty of ugly, lardy-arsed tourists (probably American) and stacks of expensive, yet comforting, junk food stalls; provided you didn’t mind queuing for it, like for hours on end.