Sunday, December 16, 2012

A very Disney birthday

If you'd asked me a year ago, or basically at any time since my teen years, whether I would envisage myself spending a birthday, let alone my 30th, at Disneyland, the answer would definitely have been no. But when I saw Mary Kay's post on getting a special free ticket for your birthday, I thought I may as well sign up. And so it came to pass that, with parties set for the weekend before and after the big day, I livened up what would otherwise have been an ordinary Wednesday with a trip to Eurodisney with MK and her daughter Sara. I should point out that Sara is also a grown-up, just so you don't get a mental image of anything other than three adults setting off for a day of Disney fun.

Grown-ups we may be, but it was hard not to feel the magic of Disney as soon we arrived at the park. We popped into an information centre to plot out our route around the park and the shows we wanted to see, and MK mentioned that it was my birthday. Thinking nothing of it, I was busy studying the map when I noticed the attendant on the phone, saying, "What's that? Yes, she's here! Do you want to talk to her?" After a split second of confusion, I reached for the phone, saying "Is that Mickey?" It was Mickey, ringing to personally wish me a very happy birthday! I must admit, even my cynical heart was filled with delight, so I can only imagine how fun it must be for little birthday boys and girls. This also set off a bit of a running gag that Mickey and I had a "thing" going on, but of course a lady never tells...

I really didn't have many preconceptions of what I wanted to see and do, but luckily we had an experienced (and VERY enthusiastic) guide in Mary Kay. As well as going for her birthday this year, MK and her family visited 20 years ago when the park first opened, and she shared with us that it took some time for the Eurodisney staff to learn to provide service which was more sparkling than surly. We mostly let MK take the lead as we watched parades of the Disney characters, went on rides both gentle and heart-stopping, and watched a spectacular motor show which revealed the tricks behind cinematic car chases.

Highlights included the It's A Small World After All ride - it really is a lot like the Simpsons parody version (warning, do not watch this for more than 30 seconds to avoid insanity):

Probably the scariest ride was the tower of terror. As you've probably guessed, it's one of those rides where you go up a high tower and then drop down. However, this one was even scarier due 1) to the fact that we only had a not-very-secure-looking lapbelt holding us into our seats (it wasn't very tight either, leading to a disconcerting floating feeling when we shot up and down in rapid succession) and 2) the fact that the tower was enclosed, so that you couldn't see what was happening when you were falling. The "elevator doors" would open onto Twilight Zone scenes, and, at the very top, onto the outside world, but otherwise you were going up and down in total darkness. Scary stuff! The weirdest ride was probably the Aerosmith Rock and Rolla Coaster, a roller coaster which took place also in an enclosed space in near-darkness, accompanied for some reason by the strains of Love in an Elevator. You'd think if you were (for some strange reason) going for a rock star tie-in, you'd have a Red Hot Chilli Peppers theme, I mean come on now.

Finally, we capped the evening off by watching the fireworks/light show, which really was something special. Lights and video projections of Disney movie moments were projected on to Sleeping Beauty's castle in the centre of the park. It was freezing cold and sometimes difficult to see, especially when a grandmother and child literally elbowed (and plastic sworded) their way in front of Mary Kay, but definitely worth seeing.

On the phone with Mickey. Photo credit: Mary Kay (thought I should put this since she's always so scrupulous!)

Mary Kay and I try to climb the beanstalk. Photo credit: Sara

Sarah and me in front of Sleeping Beauty's (?) castle. Photo credit: Mary Kay

This photo possibly explains why Sarah got a much higher score at laser tag than I did. Photo credit: Mary Kay

Sarah and me in front of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Photo credit: Mary Kay

In case you can't tell, Sarah is "letting down her hair". Not so effective. I'm hovering about awkwardly after it emerged that there actually wasn't any space behind the tree to hide behind, as was my original posing plan. Photo credit: Mary Kay

It's cold in the Wild West. Photo credit: Mary Kay

Minnie telling me to keep my hands off her man

The exciting climax of the motor show

The lighting of the Christmas tree

Sleeping Beauty's castle during the light show

The next day, Mary Kay hosted a blogger's brunch, where I got to meet a great group of ladies, most of them for the first time. Unfortunately, I don't think anyone got any photos, but it was a lovely (and delicious) spread, with good conversation (and great champagne!) Ella Coquine and I were left unsupervised at the end of the table, so naturally we got up to mischief when it came to knocking back the champagne (and even the red wine that I brought as a gift for Mary Kay, whoops). What was meant to be a sedate couple of hours turned into a marathon six hours of chatting, eating (never believe MK if she tells you a dish is a "failure", because her homemade strata was delicious, and I had seconds) and drinking before we finally got out of MK's hair (and straight to the neighbourhood bar). I ended up having to run through Austerlitz to make my train with a couple of minutes to spare, so much for my plan to go to the Raphael exhibition at the Louvre. No complaints though, it was a very fun day, just hope we didn't outstay our welcome! (And I owe you another bottle of wine MK!)

PS Throughout the day at Disney, and especially when we were partaking of a (horrid) vin chaud in what would have been relaxing surroundings if it hadn't been for all the tired and sugar-crazed children running about, we joked that a birthday at Disney was a perfect way to put paid to any tickings of the biological clock that are supposed to kick in at 30. This might not be quite the place for it, but I didn't feel I could write a post about such a child-centric place without saying that, even if I'm not one to revel in the company of children, yesterday's tragic school shooting of course breaks my heart. How anyone could do something so awful to any other human being, let alone innocent children, is absolutely incomprehensible, and my thoughts are with all the families affected by this senseless tragedy.


  1. I've had a sick feeling in my stomach all weekend thinking about the families whose children were slaughtered. I just hope that all of them receive the support that they so desperately need after such an awful tragedy.

    Now I've lost all my thoughts about what I wanted to say about our day at Disneyland. I'll come back and write more tomorrow.

    1. I hope so too. I also really feel for the poor guy who was initially identified as the shooter, only to discover that it was his brother and he and his mother are dead. I can't even begin to imagine the shock.

  2. Sounds a lovely way to spend your 30th to me ( or any birthday)

    When I went to DLP with my then 5 year old grandson Junior, he did not want to go on any rides but we enjoyed ourselves anyway. Can't wait to go back.

    I agree about the Newtown tragedy. I look at the children when I pick up Geezer from school and just cannot imagine the mindset of the perpetrator. I have had to stop watching the coverage. Makes me cry too much.

    Love Denise.

    1. I bet when he's a little bit older he'll be raring to go on the rides! I remember trying to desperately prove I was tall enough to ride various rollercoasters etc. as a kid.

      I don't have a TV, so luckily haven't seen any news footage about it, because I'm sure I'd be the same way.

  3. The Tower of Terror sounds absolutely horrifying! How many times did you go up and down?? I was always under the impression that it was a one shot deal. AHHHHHHH. Freaky!! In Bastille now, they have a winter carnival going on and one of the "rides" (death traps) is the salt and pepper that is "controlled" by this 16 year old kid who was playing on his iPhone the entire time. I think he let the ride go on longer than it should because these people were rapidly spinning upside down for a good 15 minutes. Seemed a bit long, so I understand what you mean by not feel totally safe with your shoddy seat belt.

    Hahaha and I didn't know Aerosmith had a ride. I don't know why but that makes me giggle. So kitchy and silly!

    It was so great seeing you and I'm glad that I was unsupervised with you at the kid's end of the table! It was a blast. I'm still thinking of MK's, so, so good!! Happy Holidays, Gwan!

    ...and I feel such deep sorrow for what happened in CT. It is going to be a very sad Christmas for many families. It's just not fair.

    1. I'm not sure how many times, but it was kinda up halfway, down a bit, up all the way, down halfway etc. Oh yeah, I went on this fairground ride once at home where you were sort of in little a metal cage and there was literally nothing holding you in your seat and it went upside down! So you were just like crushed against the top of the metal cage. Super comfortable... NOT! (Sorry, I get 90s flashbacks sometimes.)

      Ha, yeah totally was the kid's end! Lots of fun, happy holidays to you too!

  4. I'm back.... Sara and I had such a fun day celebrating your birthday with you at Disneyland, Gwan! I've never been with anyone who received a call from Micky Mouse and felt very special by association.

    You didn't have to give me credit for the photos. The reason that I'm such a stickler on my blog is because Stephane always wants credit when I use one of his photos. There's a long story that explains his position but suffice it to say that I used a photo of his once and got lots of compliments for it. In my defense, it was a photo I practically begged him to take because I didn't have the camera in my hand at the time. Anyway, it provoked an ongoing discussion (joke) between us about who deserves credit for photos - the person who saw the shot or the person who pushed the button on the camera.

    We're off to Reims tomorrow to replenish our champagne supply. I'll be sure to get enough for the next bloggers brunch! I wonder whose birthday (or wedding?!?!) is next!

    1. Well in this case it was probably fairly obvious I didn't take the photos, but just to be safe!

      Have a great time in Reims - have you settled on a champagne house? Hope Philippe won't be too tired to enjoy a bit of champers!

  5. I can't stop smiling at the bit about Mickey calling your. That's pure magic, that it, I don't care how old you are!
    And throwing back champers with Miss Coquine sounds like a naughtily delightful way to end your weekend.
    Happy you had a fantastic birthday! x

    1. Thanks, they set it up so well, it was very sweet! Any champers is good champers, but great food and great company make it even better!


Feed the Comment Monster! Rawrrrr