Saturday, 5 March 2011


Children, queues, cartoons, junk food, piped music, souvenirs everywhere, annoying English teenagers shoving into each other in the aforementioned queues... yes readers, I went to Disneyland Paris. It wasn't really my thing, but my sister wanted to go while she was visiting me, and my German flatmate Sandra who works at the hotel there let us in for free, which saved us a cool 80 euros, so vielen Dank Sandra.

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.

Sorry, Bethany.

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. 


  1. The word "purgatory", derived through Anglo-Norman and Old French from the Latin word purgatorium has come to refer to a wide range of historical and modern conceptions of postmortem suffering short of everlasting damnation,and is used to mean any place or condition of suffering or torment, especially one that is temporary.
    Sound like your description of EuroDisney!
    Blame your Mother for "not getting" Disney, why don't you! Got something right then!
    Loved this post!!
    Laska x

  2. This has made me even more sure that I never want to bother with Disneyland - and I was always so annoyed I never got to go when I was little!
    Yeah it's definitely always good to hear other Language Assistant stories. Haha, I had virtually nothing to say about Watford, but it was a class with really limited English so I kept it simple, mostly pictures, told them about the park and the cinema and mundane things like that...I could have been teaching them about any town really...
    Lol at your 50 cent story! Yeah quite a lot of my pupils are my age, some probably older. Luckily I only really do conversation with the older ones, so we just talk and I don't have to be too much like a teacher (which I have established I can't do to save my life, I literally just can't tell people what to do).
    And my French is appalling, I've forgotten most of it. I discovered this when one of my old flatmates persistently tried to speak French to me and I persistently failed to speak any proper sentences back. xx