The happiest place on earth?

21 May

“Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, in a most delightful way.”

~ Mary Poppins

Most people have heard Disney described as the happiest or most magical place on earth. Technically Disneyland’s official slogan is The happiest place on earth, whereas Walt Disney World’s tagline is Where dreams come true.

I can’t speak for Disneyland, but after our week in WDW I can tell you that even in the Magic Kingdom happiness isn’t always on the cards. Look a little closer and you’ll soon see signs of dreams turning into nightmares.

While lining up to enter the Magic Kingdom, the family behind us slowly began to implode. Tersely barked orders soon graduated to threats of leaving the park. At one point the mum shoved her hand in her son’s face, talk-to-the-hand style, and hissed:

“You! You don’t even talk to people. Hush!”

(This naturally became Sarah’s and my catchphrase for the rest of the trip.)

It wasn’t even 9am and tempers were fraying and mum and dad were cracking. And to be honest, the kids weren’t misbehaving that badly. They were struggling to stay quiet and still while standing in a queue, but most children would find that difficult.

And the way the mum freaked out over the daughter crinkling her ‘good’ map of the Magic Kingdom seemed a little out of place when there was a whole bookshelf full of pristine, crinkle-free maps only two metres away.

Disney World appears to bring out both the best and the worst in parents and children alike. The crowds, queues, hot weather, early starts and late nights all combine to create a Disney Dystopia that probably wasn’t what Walt had in mind when he dreamed up the Florida Project.

Screaming children, frazzled parents, youngsters terrified by supposedly fun attractions, mums and dads frustrated by long waits, overtired kids, stressed out adults… It’s a small and tense world after all.

There were several times during the week I thanked the Disney gods we were enjoying the parks kid-free. We had no tantrums to deal with, we could go on whatever rides we wanted, we didn’t have to stop every time Mickey or Goofy crossed our path, and we weren’t on a constant hunt for restrooms.

I tip my Mickey Mouse ears hat to those parents that tackle Disney with kids under five. Gawrsh, I tip my hat to those who tackle it with kids under 15!

I’m not quite sure if the joy of seeing your little one’s face light up when meeting their favourite character is enough compensation for all the other trials and tribulations you’re likely to endure.

Besides, there’s a 50-50 chance they’ll actually run away screaming in fear when Minnie suddenly looms over them. A bizarre mixture of elation and trauma accompanies the life-size Disney characters as they roam the parks.

There’s even a whole blog dedicated to Kids Crying at Disneyland. The below shot is one of my favourites.

Disney_1

The happiest place on earth? Not always, my friends. Not always.

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4 Responses to “The happiest place on earth?”

  1. froylan May 21, 2013 at 5:33 pm #

    funny story….very nice experience!! welcome home..

    • honduranhiatus May 22, 2013 at 8:11 am #

      Thanks. It was a great trip, but it’s nice to be back too. Disney is exhausting!

      • froylan May 22, 2013 at 1:13 pm #

        Em..I called you & send a sms to your mobile. for Nacho tour..should be on Thursday or Friday?? I m in a small vacation this week, bye.

      • honduranhiatus May 22, 2013 at 1:21 pm #

        That’s weird, I didn’t get an SMS. I’ll flick you an email this afternoon.

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