It was very, very strange. I felt like I'd eaten 56 blue Smarties in one sitting and spent the first two hours just buzzing with the visual over-stimulation of it all. It must be what the real world is like to people on LSD, or perhaps just how children see everything. Everything was over-designed; simultaneously minutely realised and totally inauthentic. Under a freezing blue sky, we saw ponds with piped waves to make the water lap against the shore like they were huge, tranquil lakes; a fake Colorado-desert style rock formation that towered fifty metres into the air; a cartoonish version of a jungle clearing complete with Landrover, a cartoonish version of a German castle, a cartoonish version of a frontier-era saloon bar. Everywhere were structures that with slightly weaker contact lenses would have almost looked like what they were representing. No, not representing, I think, but embodying, in an alternate Disney universe, for example - a Southern mansion with verandah, an African tribal hut, a Mark Twain-era steamer. And the hotel! A confection of pale pink clapboard, fairy lights, turrets and cute wooden balconies, like the whims of a 5 year old, realised by a billionaire architect. It could have almost been pretty, but like everything to do with Disney, it just tried so hard to force a desired reaction from a viewer that it failed in its aim.
Disneyland is like a futuristic Earth-themed amusement park. I imagined I was in year 5607, on the planet of an advanced alien civilization for whom Earth was the home of many long-dead cultures and societies, only now good for providing decorative inspiration. It is the least French cultural space I've been in whilst in France, I felt like I was in America. At the end of a long day, we exited the park by walking down Main Street, its booming marching music bidding us farewell, its fake barbershop and fake ice-cream shop and fake theatre lit up with thousands of too-bright fairy lights. Everywhere, there was piped music. It was relentless! I have never understood the appeal of Disney. Obviously the place is for children, and I liked theme parks when I was a child. But that was because of the rides! I don't think I ever would have been into that saccharine ideal of happiness, no doubt because Mum never really liked Disney either and trips to the cinema to see the films were never a part of my childhood. Oh well. I have heard that for those who did see the films, they feel the same way about Disney now as they did when they first saw them. Lacking this emotional connection, I just find it saccharine, and moralistic, and verging on creepy.
Pretentious whining aside, the rides were good! Especially Space Mountain. And the Indiana Jones one. We screamed like children and bought photos of ourselves on Space Mountain pulling stupid faces. I had fun.
And I did take photos. Curly trees; sunset from Space Mountain; shadows through bamboo.
Snapshots of odd details from the most over-designed playground in Europe.