Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Forced Happiness at the "Happiest Place on Earth"

Hong Kong Disney
When my children were little, I admit I enjoyed both Magic Kingdoms. I liked watching my kids' faces when they found characters to scribble autographs and I enjoyed watching them take in the magic of the park; the firework displays and the joyful parades left us all awe.

When an opportunity arose to visit Disney Paris with my then 16 year old son, we jumped at the chance.  Little did I know that not all Disney properties are created equal. Disney Paris is a far cry from the massive entertainment complexes you find the in the US. What we found was far removed from the organized, well run parks; instead we found typical French disdain for....well...everything.  The Parisians that worked at the park seemed to think it was a favour for them to take your ticket or allow you on the ride.  You know, that under their forced anoxeric smile they were thinking, "Bourgeois peasants, stupid Anglophones, how I despise you."

After that horrible experience, R2 and I promised to never listen to another screaming kid or Mickey's falsetto in a park for as long as we are breathing.  Au contraire mon frère!

R2 just happens to have Honk Kong Disney as a customer and his company needed to send in the big guns.  To make our lives easier with the park being so far out of the city, the customer booked us in the DL Hollywood Resort.  We were Winnie-the-Poo hostages with no WiFi and all our food came in the shape of Mickey's head. The hotel had one bar and the drinks still had a Disney feel to them.  Your typical Manhattan became a "Mousehatten" and a Cosmo became a Pluto.

Can you spot the difference?
I had the luxury of leaving the park and taking three subway trains just to escape the screaming Cantonese children.  The distance seemed minor and I couldn't get off the property fast enough.  R2 was not so lucky. His meetings were conducted in the park and often he had to wait for the parade to finish so he could cross the street to catch the bus back to the resort.
Torture, I say torture

We made a mature decision that because we had come all this way, we should at least check out the park one afternoon.  In all fairness to HK Disney, the park was clean, beautiful and the Chinese were efficient at moving the lines.  We rode Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear and of course, saved the best for last - It's a Small World. The parade was decent if you could stand being pushed and shoved by thousands of photography Asians jockeying for the best photo op of Alice in Wonderland and I have to admit The Lion King was exceptional.  If that show is any indication of the broadway show, it must be a delight to watch.

The Disneyland bar - the happiest place on earth
Nevertheless, we left the park earlier than we needed to be at the airport but once we hit the lounge at United Airlines, alcohol never soothed the savage beast so quickly. After five hours with screaming, pushing, whining people - oh and the kids were annoying too, a turbulent four hour flight back to S'pore was a welcome relief.  It is good to be home.


  1. In the picture where Layna asks whether you can spot the difference, here is a clue: the guy on the right was a consultant that could not escape the magic.