23 November 2008

Là où les rêves deviennent la réalité

OK, go ahead and judge me. Just get it out of your system now.

Being closer in my life than I ever have been or than I really ever anticipate being to a Disneyland, I decided, after some convincing from my friend Jamie, to go to Disneyland Paris – as I was informed by Ben, citing Wikipedia, it is no longer called Euro Disney, but officially known as Disneyland Resort Paris – this weekend.

Yes, it’s a very American thing to do, but (1) it’s culturally interesting to consider how the French conceptualize Disney and (2) it’s fun!

Even though it was absolutely freezing yesterday (probably the coldest day since I’ve been here), I still had an amazing time. Thanks to Jamie and Christine, our Disney specialists, we maneuvered expertly through ride after ride, experiencing it all. I am thoroughly impressed by the effort and craftsmanship that appears to have went into the creation of each detail on each ride. And it was impossible not to have a great time. My favorite ride was the old-standby Space Mountain, but I also loved a brand new attraction called Crush’s Coaster with a Finding Nemo theme and enjoyed such classics as the spinning teacups, Peter Pan and the haunted mansion – unfortunately, It’s A Small World was closed for renovations.

I was equally entertained by noting the little details that gave the parks – we visited both the Disneyland Parc and Walt Disney Studios – a unique esprit français [French spirit]. We saw a crêpe stand amongst the Hollywood magic, and they sold French bread alongside Mickey-shaped pizzas and cheeseburgers. Best of all, a mock-up of the boutique from my favorite movie Les Parapluies de Cherbourg had been constructed for picture-taking purposes. This movie is a tragic, nearly operatic French musical from the 1960s, not your typical Disney film.

It’s hard to compare a fictional Sleeping Beauty castle to the live historic artifacts dotting the French countryside, but it’s true that Chenonceau certainly did not have a dragon.

The magique of the weekend continued as a handful of glistening white snowflakes fell from the sky outside me window just before noon this morning. My host mom’s gleeful declarations of “Il neige!” reminded me of how rare the event is here.

As the few flakes transitioned quickly into frigid rain, a mixture of homesickness and pure contentedness washed bittersweetly over me.

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