I took my girls to see Disney’s new Beauty & The Beast film on Sunday. Good job too. Our home life would have descended into anarchy if I hadn’t. Ever since the trailers emerged last year my two daughters have been tiny pinwheels of excitement.
But embracing Disney is a lesson in patience. And money. Have you visited your local supermarket recently? The aisles are awash with yellow now that Belle has arrived. Merchandise is big business for Mickey. The rather pained expression on the new 9” ‘plush’ Beast toy (ahem) could almost be mimicking my own when I clocked the price tag… I still bought it though. The same way I bought into Disney long before my daughters were born.
But just what is Disney’s enduring magic?
It’s pretty simple. Mickey makes memories. Whole generations have become inextricably linked through a shared appreciation of all things wide-eyed and big-eared; watching Bambi for the first time with Granny, laughing indulgently as your kids sing their little hearts out to ‘Let It Go’, taking a trip down Main Street U.S.A…
I was 13 when my parents first took us to Disneyland, California. My brother was 17. We were moody, difficult, at totally separate ends of the teenage spectrum (my parents must have been bonkers.) As it turned out, we checked in our sulks at the front gate and had one of the best days out as a family. We were like little kids again, rushing up to each new ride in excitement, nattering away during the endless queues. Our four-year age difference seemed to melt away in the sunshine, along with our Mickey-shaped ice creams. We even bribed dad onto Splash Mountain (there are pictures to prove it!) Now, when I look back on that day I feel nothing but warm and fuzzy.
I wanted to recreate some of that magic with my own family so two years ago we took the girls to Disneyland Paris for Emily’s 4th birthday. It should have been a disaster. It was early February (the temperatures were -3/wind chill: -9) and poor Jess had the flu, yet somehow we pulled a woolly hat down over the bad and let the Mickey Magic do its’ stuff. I’d pre-booked a three-course lunch at Auberge De Cendrillon (Cinderella’s banquet hall) as a special treat, and at the end of the meal Emily received a birthday cake and kiss from the princess herself. She still talks about it in awed, hushed tones, as if she can’t quite believe that it actually happened.
With the girls now hooked, our addiction is spiralling. Holiday season is nearly upon us and Disney ads are everywhere. Matt and I are forever inundated with pleas for a return visit and it’s only a matter of time before I cave. Hmmm. California or Florida? To me that seems the more pressing decision…
My husband’s a little more cautious about the whole thing (he’s the levelheaded one amidst our Disney madness.) He’s all for making memories, and he secretly loves the movies as much as me (I caught him singing along in the cinema yesterday), but he doesn’t quite ‘get’ the fascination. Sorry Matt, it’s only going to get worse, especially now that Han Solo’s landed the Millennium Falcon in Mickey’s back yard – did I mention that I was a massive Star Wars fan as well??
But I’ll forgive him. See, he’s yet to experience the full on, de-corked, dazzling euphoria that Disney has to offer…
Trust me, I’m working on it.