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|
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.