Or more importantly, where do they go when they don’t?
Having grown up in the 90s idolising the likes of Cinderella, Jasmine and Sleeping Beauty, I, among tens of thousands of other kids, shared the global dream of visiting the delightful land of Disney. Reflecting upon it now, I feel a faint sense of nostalgia for my childhood infatuation. Disney on Ice was undoubtedly one of the highlights of my youth and not a day went by where my friends and I wouldn’t dress up as our favourite movie characters and pretend to be from some other magical realm.
It was a 1 in 101 opportunity that came to pass when we were told we had to dress up for the ballet school’s Christmas Concert.
Disregarding my visit to the original Disneyland in Anaheim at the age of two (although believe me, I managed to boast the visit throughout my entire childhood), at the age of fifteen I finally found myself on Main Street of the wonderful world of Disney once again, this time in Paris. The year of my visit marked the release of Ratatouille, Cars, Meet the Robinsons and to my somewhat dismay, High School Musical. As you can surely imagine, with theme park’s need for constant evolution in order to suit consumer demand and to essentially continue to provide a “unique” experience for all, it was not the Disney experience that I had in mind.
There were definitely the old favourites –
It’s a Small [and annoyingly repetitive] World, Rapunzel’s Tower and the iconic Magical Kingdom itself but the excitement and joy of the place was somewhat lost in translation. And by translation I don’t mean the French aspect of the park.
The small city of abandoned hotels surrounding the park inspired an unofficial Casper exhibition and the grandeur of the park was being steadfastly diluted by more than the drizzling rain of Autumn.
At the end of the day that left me feeling somewhat cheated, I walked past the ironically empty Peter Pan exhibition and immediately noticed a quote upon the wall:
“all children, except one, grow up”
And that they do. For me, it was much easier to blame the global expansion of the Disneyland enterprise for the dilution of ‘magic’ it encompasses, rather than to admit that Disneyland was not a place where all dreams come true. After all, EuroDisney was a bit of a flop from the start.
But on a more serious note, as I think of the children of this era, I find myself struggling to imagine how different it is for them. Despite Disney still holding the top eight positions for most visited theme parks worldwide, times are most certainly changing. While I’m nostalgic for my own childhood experience, the nostalgia really lies with this generation in wondering how many children these days would choose to visit Disneyland over owning an iPhone with unlimited Candy Crush lives.
Candy Crush – combining two delightful addictions in one!
But hey, in the spirit of Disney, “you’re never too old to wish upon a star”
… or a balloon.