It’s been two weeks since we came home from Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney Studios, and life has returned to its normal rhythm and structure. Thank goodness, because nobody can compete with the happy happy joy joy of Disney on a daily basis. Nobody.
And this blog might sound different from my usual blogs, because I’ll mostly be addressing those of you planning to make a visit to Disneyland Paris at some point in the future. I should mention though, that this year was the 25th anniversary of Disneyland Paris. And Noah celebrated it accordingly, with cotton candy.
Check out the vendor staring at Noah. HA!
Happy Birthday Disneyland Paris!
Which brings me to my first observations…
What Surprised Me
Things both good and bad…
Everything Was In French.
Duh. Yes, I know, it shouldn’t have been that surprising given we were in FRANCE. And it certainly wasn’t my first time in the country. But yeah, the still US-centric Korean-American-Belgian in me was surprised to find out everything in Disneyland Paris was in French. The narrations, the signage, and the restaurant menus. That’s not to say things weren’t translated into English most everywhere, and anything Noah didn’t catch I was able to translate for him, but the mother tongue of both parks was definitely French. Which is why I haven’t been referring to Disneyland Paris as “Euro Disney,” like many people do, because it was definitely all about France.
Smoking, even smoking of electronic cigarettes, was only permitted in designated areas around either park. I realize this is also the case in other Disney parks, but I didn’t think this would be the case here because Europe has such a smoking culture in general. But I appreciated this given the fact that I just stopped smoking in October. And it settled my soul that children like Noah could take in all the glory that is Disney, without worrying about second-hand smoke entering their little lungs…
What Disappointed Me
Because there come letdowns to accompany all that wishing upon a star and dreams coming true stuff…
Which I’m sure is the case in every Disney park, but it’s been SO long since I was last Disney-fied that I simply don’t remember. Or maybe I’ve blocked it out. Even the “Fastpass” for the most popular attractions wasn’t of much help. Not to mention the lines at the ladies’ rooms all over the park. I would have thrown on an adult diaper for the day and just let myself pee my pants if that was an option.
Luckily though, we did the two parks on a Thursday and Friday and on Thursdays there are significantly less visitors, so we actually got to hit up 18 attractions. 18! I was pretty proud of myself, because I know it was a result of my OCD planning and mapping out each step of our Thursday that made it possible. #PatsSelfOnBack
But on the Friday we got a whopping 4 rides in, and a few shows and parades.
You can only get one Fastpass at a time, which reduces your wait time to only 15 minutes or so, unless two hours has passed since your previous Fastpass. But two hours in real time is like four hours in Disney time. So if you get to utilize two Fastpasses in one day, then you’re lucky. Because once the “quota” is met for each ride then that’s it. You have to wait in line for upwards of 75 minutes with the rest of the common folk. For example: At 11am on Friday morning we got Fastpasses for Big Thunder Mountain because it had been closed for most of the day before. We were to return at 4:45pm to get on the ride. At 11am!
And I’m not talking reservation-based restaurants, because who has time to waste on sitting down and eating like proper human beings when you have lines to wait on?! The counter service / fast-food type places were ATROCIOUS, and we tried several. It was airplane food minus the tropical destination you have to look forward to. I’d packed sandwiches to munch on during the day while we stood on lines, but we did try a bunch of the food at different grub hubs and… Not good. You can do better, Disney. Walt would not approve.
What Delighted Me
Besides the cheer and cotton candy…
Noah’s Belief In Disney
Noah’s innocence and purity and belief in all things Disney magic made this trip for me. Like, when we started off our day in the dungeons beneath Sleeping Beauty Castle. It was the perfect start to our day.
I did not tell Noah what awaited him. And so when we happened upon the dragon, Noah was quite unsure as to whether or not it was real. I mean, he’d never seen one before so he had no way to know either way. He kept asking me, throughout that day, whether or not the dragon we’d seen was “really real” or not. And I answered him the same words each time.
“Well, this is Disneyland. It’s up to you to decide if anything is real or not. If you want it to be real, then it was real, Noah. That’s the magic of Disney.”
He didn’t push it any further. He just let those words sink in each time. It was magical to watch him believe in Disney despite his propensity for rationale…
It’s A Small World
I imagine my parents also found joy in their hearts when I was Noah’s age, watching me hold that same wonder in my eyes. I do remember my first visit to Disneyworld in Orlando, but I don’t remember every detail. The one moment that stayed with me forever though, was on the “It’s A Small World” boat ride with all the dolls on display representing children from around the world. I remember so vividly, how I lost my damn mind when I spotted the Korean dolls standing there. It had felt like I was finally validated somehow.
It was before the Seoul Olympics ever happened, because that’s really when people learned that South Korea was actually its own country. Sad, but true.
So that experience really did affect me. I remember thinking, WOW THEY KNOW ABOUT KOREAN KIDS!
Even my momz still remembers. After all, I made her go on it with me FOUR TIMES that day just to see the Korean part again…
So I was particularly interested to see how Noah would react to seeing the Korean representation at Disneyland Paris, or if he’d even notice it at all.
As we made our way to our little boat, I started to got nervous. What if Noah didn’t even recognize the Korean display when we got to it? What if I’d failed in my duties as a Korean mother? Should I have drilled him more about Korean culture all these years? What if he hated the whole ride altogether?!
I started to actually stress. I imagined throwing myself over the side of the boat at the end of the ride in shame, and eventually getting kicked out of Disneyland Paris. Oh the tweets that would have ensued…
And then our turn came to board our cruise around It’s A Small World…
Noah loved it. To me, everything seemed smaller than I remembered. And then I realized, well, it’s truly its grandest and most magical when you’re a kid. And my heart was happy watching Noah take it all in. Then we got to the Korean dolls on display…
“FROM RICE HOUSE! Mama, look! Korea!” Noah shouted it loud enough for all the boats to hear.
I laughed, relieved and happy and grateful. It made me realize that although I had closed up shop at Rice House, Noah identified with so many things Korean because of it. Rice House had served many purposes, not excluding Noah’s Korean palate and recognition of the Korean flag.
Though it also probably helped that I dressed him up in traditional Korean garb once a year, for photos to send to my momz back in New York…
I won’t go into detail about every ride and attraction we experienced. If you’d like to ask specific questions, please do leave them in the comments below. I’ll be glad to answer you in detail.
Or you can also contact me privately with any questions you may have…
I will say though, that Noah was just shy of 1m20cm for a couple of “Not To Be Missed” rides. So we may just have to go back again once he’s a bit taller! Plus, if and when we go back, we will be sure to catch any shows we missed at both parks, because the ones we did catch were amazing!
Always planning our next adventure!