Eyes wide open, heart racing, body shaking, and grinning from ear to ear – I’m here. I’m really here. Standing in front of the gates at Disneyland Paris waiting for the park to open; every child’s dream. The only difference is that today is the day of my 21st birthday. The day I officially become an adult. And what better way to start life as a grown-up than by paying tribute to 20 years of childhood and adolescent dreaming of finally standing in the magical land of Disney.
The gates finally open and I, amongst countless parents and hyperactive children, are let loose into a world of fantasy, allowed to run around all day, fully engrossed in all the magical things that Disneyland has to offer.
As I dash down Main Street I can hardly contain my excitement as I see shop after shop exploding with exclusive (albeit ridiculously overpriced) Disney merchandise. Toys, sweets, kitchenware, more toys, bed linen, stationery, more toys, Christmas decorations, jewellery, and, believe it or not, even more toys! Just absolutely everything that a child would want to cram into their bedrooms, which is why I can now fully comprehend my parents’ wise decision to have not taken me here when I was the same age as the lawless children running riot around me.
Facing me as I eventually reach the main centre plaza of the park is the Disney castle with its grand pink and blue structure glistening in the morning sun. As I skip merrily towards it I’m distracted by booming sounds coming from my right over in Discoveryland, Middle-Eastern melodies coming from my left over in Adventureland, and the excited screams of children as they see even more Disney merchandise coming from just about everywhere; I just didn’t know where to start!
Unable to deny myself beating the late-morning influx of people into what can only be described as the best photo opportunity in the park, I continue on into the castle. Following the story of Sleeping Beauty, and delving in to see what previously unseen merchandise I can find in the castle shops, I carry on into Fantasyland. Following the crowd onto one of the most popular rides, I hop onto a boat along with 19 other people to captivate the reality that it is, in fact, “A Small World”. Embracing the happy smiles of puppet dolls from all over the world singing that repetitive tune over and over again, I join in joyfully whilst getting snap-happy with my camera, determined to get photos of dolls from every single country.
Following the park round, I find myself in the queue for Space Mountain: Mission 2. Waiting patiently for 45 minutes as we meander round and back on ourselves over and over again, I’m eventually strapped in and told to brace myself. My hands grip and my eyes shut tight as the voice-over counts down to 1... Blast off! As a lover of rollercoasters I enjoyed every second of being thrown around in the pitch-black 3D space atmosphere, not knowing whether I’m coming or going, but what really made the ride memorable was the girl sitting next to me who obviously wasn’t quite the fan that I was! Screaming from start to finish, honestly thinking that this ride would be the end of her, I couldn’t help but laugh till my face hurt and my cheeks started to ache.
But the fun times didn’t stop there! The next ride was Phantom Manor – the infamous haunted house of the Corpse Bride. 3D ghosts and skeletons, mechanical zombies and talking orbs coated in cobwebs and creepy crawlies, all sent a spine-chilling tingle throughout my body. No detail is spared in Disneyland, and this ride fully pays tribute to all the effort that is put into the park.
The rest of the day was spent running around trying to fit everything in before closing time; spinning around in the Mad Hatter's Tea-cups, getting lost in Alice in Wonderland’s Labyrinth, taking a boat ride through Fairyland, watching mid-afternoon shows with Mickey and Co., and most certainly not forgetting Buzz Lightyear’s Laser Blast – quite possibly the best laser shooting ride in the world – to name only a few.
As the day drew to a close, my legs and feet caving under the pressure of walking around all day, I finally make my way to the exit. With a smile on my face and hundreds of photo memories, all I can think about is how everyone, young and old, should experience the magical land of Disney. There really is no better place to let the child inside of you run free! So if you’re ever in Paris, or even if you’re not, it’s most certainly worth the effort!
Have you ever been to Disneyland? Would you like to?