For as long as I can remember knowing the word ‘Disney’ I have wanted to visit Disneyland/world. The majority of my childhood was spent begging my parents to take me to Disney World Orlando to fulfil my dream of seeing that castle. The castle that bookended most of my dreams. Unfortunately that never happened. Until June this year.
It may have taken me almost 20 years but it finally happened. I still haven’t quite made it to America yet but I’ve found my way to a Disney site – Paris. In June 2017 I spent a magical week in Disneyland Paris and I’m going to share it with you. Although I would’ve loved to visit and experience the magic as a child, I still found it to be everything I’ve ever dreamed and more. For those of you who, like me, are waiting to visit Disney for the first ever time as an ‘adult’ (questionable term at best 😉) hopefully this will put you at ease.
Disclaimer: Not only was I visiting Disneyland for the first ever time and therefore reverting to my inner 6-year-old, I was also visiting alone. I am a big fan of solo travelling – more on that another time. Based on that, anxiety/embarrassment levels were at a much higher than comfortable level…
Under the guise of attending a two-day convention at the Newport Bay Club Hotel – the less said about that disaster the better – I sucked it up, fulfilled a childhood dream and bought 5 days worth of tickets to the two Disneyland parks in the Paris complex. From the plane I jumped straight onto the Disneyland magic shuttle, raced to drop my luggage and ran around the lake with my booking confirmation in hand. I marched into the Disney Village and bought the first pair of Minnie Mouse ears I could find and they remained attached to my head, almost surgically, for the next 5 days. Finally I was there. I could see Disneyland and the famous Disneyland Hotel out front. It was real and I was about to go in.
Seeing the Castle for the first time
I’d be lying if I said there weren’t tears in my eyes.
The overwhelming emotion after waiting my whole life for this was a kind of happy relief. It was like some kind of accomplishment, like I’d made it. I don’t think I would have been able to fully appreciate that as a child. Although magical at all ages it’s definitely a different kind of magic. Experiencing Disneyland now, seeing that universal symbol of happiness after the innocence of childhood has gone, it gives you the magic of returning your childhood. For that one moment you’re just a little girl again, eyes wide with wonder, filled with hope that a better tomorrow is possible.
Yep, deeper than I expected too 😂
It all started with a mouse
Those famous words spoken by Walt Disney many years ago, or you might say ‘once upon a time.’ But it’s true. Disneyland and the six other sites around the globe (California, Florida, Hawaii, Japan, Hong Kong and China) would not be complete without Mickey and Friends. So naturally there was no way I would be visiting Disneyland without meeting some of the most famous mice in the world.
You know what? They interact with the adults just as much as they interact with the children. They made a cute fuss over my Minnie ears, they asked for a kiss on the nose, they messed around pretending to steal my phone for selfies, they were just great. I didn’t mention that it was my first visit and I didn’t have to because true to the magic promised each visitor, no matter their age, is made to feel wonderful.
Special shout out to Mickey and Minnie who gave a million percent to everyone despite it being 35 degrees celsius for the entire 5 days I was there 💙
The Disneyland Rides
For me this was 100% the biggest advantage of visiting as an adult. I’m still only 5ft (152cms) despite having ‘finished’ growing 🙃 (which I personally find unfair as 90% of the 10 years olds I saw on this trip were taller than me 😂). As you can imagine I only just clear the height limits for half of the rides now so imagine how much my holiday would’ve been ruined if I had visited as a child…
Some of the rides also managed to pull at my cords of emotion because they really are like being in part of that world…(I’m not even going to apologise for that 😉). Again, I don’t think I would have fully appreciated that as a child. Peter Pan’s flight was a definite trip highlight for me. It was absolutely stunning.
Let’s be honest, we all want to experience the Disney parade and I was definitely that person that scouted a spot and sat down an hour before it started to secure a prime photo spot. The best thing was there were plenty of us doing the same thing and much to my delight a lot of them were young adults just like me rather than families with kids. The young adults were clearly having the best time – probably because we were all so desperate to relive our childhoods.
This was probably the only time in my holiday where I truly wished I had already seen this as a child. As much as I was enjoying it I was overcome by this huge almost melancholic feeling for what could have been – which I 100% blame Mary Poppins and Burt for. When they danced along I realised that had I been here 10 or 15 years before I would’ve been certain that they were actually Mary and Burt. Just like when Rapunzel, Merida, Tiana and Cinderella came along, years ago I would’ve ‘known’ it was actually them (although only Cinderella existed from that list when I was at that magical age of blind, innocent belief). At that point I really had to look around at the children lining the route because the look in their eyes is really want Disney is all about. However as with Mickey and Minnie, they all interacted with the adults as much as the children so that was soon forgotten. Yet again Disney magic prevailed.
As I was fortunate enough to visit Disneyland Paris in their 25th Anniversary year, the park closing fireworks have just been remastered and renamed ‘Disney Illuminations.’
I have left this part until last because, for me, this I what I had been most excited about seeing. I already knew this was going to break me so I had my tissues ready.
My advice to anybody visiting Disneyland or any of the parks to see the fireworks is to please make sure your stay last for at least two evenings. This is because you need to watch the show for the first time ‘pure.’ By this I mean no recording, no photos, nothing. Just your eyes and your memories. Then watch it a second time and capture everything you want to and more.
As with everything else, Disney did not disappoint. I’ve decided that the fireworks are actually for the adults. The children were all enjoying the display and ooing and ahhing accordingly however one glance at the adults and more than half of us had tears of joy running down our faces.
All in all I really think that you will never be too old to experience Disney. If visiting was something you always wanted to do as a child then please visit. Don’t be put off by the fact you don’t have children or you think you’ve passed the age to enjoy it because if you’re open to the magic it really makes no difference.
This holiday was one of the best weeks of my life and I would happily spend many more days there 💙