I can’t say I had a huge passion for Disney as I child. There were a few films I would watch, but I was a Pixar completist, and thus my primary Disney fix came from endless re watches of Toy Story and A Bugs Life. I was aware of the Disney canon, I knew the stories, I saw the books, I just hadn’t really seen many of the films.
In November 2008 my family and I went on our first big holiday, having only been to London before, and ventured on a coach trip to Disneyland Paris. That holiday was one of the best holidays of my life, and I’ve been to New York. After that, we returned in October 2009 and November 2010, before I went back with my girlfriend in December 2014.
Maybe it’s the child like nostalgia, but Disneyland Paris is still my favourite place in the world. I can’t quite explain it. I’ve seen probably 60% of the Walt Disney classics cannon, and I’d consider a few to be really great, yet, for me, Disney is the place that I can’t stop loving.
The first time we went, it was the best holiday I’d had. We went with a coach company, who picked us up from Portsmouth, took us onto the big Dover ferry and on to Disney. I have a strange nostalgia towards this sort of travel too, every time I pop over to Portsmouth I want to go back on holiday. I enjoy sitting on a coach journey and listening to music, stopping at a services, going on the big ferry, standing on the open deck and looking out.
On the coach the drivers would put on films, and when we were running late, we could look out into the night and it would relax me.
When we arrived at the hotel Santa Fe (Route 66 themed), I felt apprehensive, I felt far away from comfort and home. Once I woke up in the morning on that crisp December day and looked out over the grounds of the hotel, I felt wonderful, I felt at home, before we went for a continental breakfast of croissants and pain au chocolat and set off for the park.
I loved every second of it. Though I wasn’t yet ready to go on the big roller coasters, which would make my subsequent years more exciting, I loved the atmosphere, and I fell in love with it.
The old turn of the century American chic of Main Street, the cobbles and the lights, the style and the background music. It fills me with the warmest of warm nostalgias.
The old American west of Frontierland, the gothic Phantom Manor and the paddle boat steamer, all give the area a themed charm that captures the spirit of the era, or a Disneyfied version at least.
Adventureland is a Caribbean delight, palm trees and beaches, Swiss Family Robinson, Neverland and Pirates. ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ is my favourite ride out of them all. A warm, fire lit, chlorine smelling gentle ride, taking you through a delightfully imaginative world. If I smell the smell, I feel like I’m back there again, in the dim light, the water gently lapping, the music playing lightly in the background.
Then we go to Discoveryland, my favourite land. A futuristic, Jules Verne styled utopia of air ships and space flights and Star Wars. At night the lights are beautiful to behold and the sounds of the future echo around the surrounding area. The cafe Hyperion has hundreds of seats pointed at a large stage, which, when not showing shows, plays cartoons. Space Mountain is the great centrepiece of the land, and a fantastic and fast ride.
Like the lands before it, it captures the heart and soul of early American developments, both real world and fiction and enchants me with it’s sleek Sci-Fi bleng.
There is also Fantasyland, which I don’t love that much. It’s mainly aimed at younger children, and focuses on the older Disney films such as Cinderella or Alice in Wonderland.
Outside of Disneyland Park is Walt Disney studios. Less designed to resemble a specific land, it mainly resembles old Hollywood, and revels in old 20’s nostalgia. There’s a lot of Pixar in this land. Crushes Coaster is my highlight in particular. Other wonderful rides include The Tower of Terror, Hollywood chic and The Twilight Zone combined, and Aerosmiths Rock n’ Rollercoaster, which is simply a fantastic, exciting ride that shoots around a twisty turny track whilst you listen to Aerosmith music.
It’s a lot of fun.
A part of who I am is the way in which atmosphere affects me the most. The sound, the way the air feels malleable by the environment. I’ve always found this to be the most affective and evocative conjurer of memories, the thing that’ll make me return again and again.
I love the rides, I like the films, but it’s the combination of a friendly, warm atmosphere bolstered by a sense of childlike nostalgia, mixed with pleasing melodic sound and the flickering or neon light, buzzing through the dark, aromatic air.
It’s sort of like cinematography of the eyes. The glowing orange light in the darkness. That’s what I like, the mood.
I don’t know if this makes sense to anyone but me, I guess it’s difficult to put into reason why you like something when it feels so personal and specific to you. I just do love it, there’s no two ways about it. Disneyland Paris is my sort of thing entirely.
When I go to Florida in November I will go to the Disneyland there, and I will probably love it, but for some reason my nostalgia includes the French voices and words of DLRP, which adds an extra something for me, and I’m not sure why.
I think it is entirely to do with Nostalgia, created by mood and atmosphere, those seem to be the key words here. When I next go to Disney, whenever that is, I will love it, and I will continue to love it.
Just don’t try to ask me why.
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