Sunday 19 April 2009

Er, Disney....

Last week Blackden, next week Walt Disney World. The contrast couldn’t be greater really. I’ve been invited (along with a band of other bloggers) as a member of Think Parents Network. I always do a double-take on being described as a parent as it’s not a label I think of applying to myself (likewise ‘mother’). I’ve never been archetypal parent material and never really ever imagined I’d become a mother. My mind and body went into severe shock when I was pregnant and neither has ever really recovered. I have blundered through parenthood by applying my standard response to any new challenge – a crash course of reading the textbooks then bluff like fury. It’s always worked in journalism. I don’t think I’m a bad parent (I don’t write books shaming my son – at least, not yet) but I hardly think I’m representative.
Also, and here’s the irony – I don’t really like theme parks. Part of being an odd parent is that we have never really done the parks – have never made the pilgrimage to Paris, have never faced up to Alton Towers. My odd excursions (to Legoland and Chessington) have been to accompany friends and their children. I get vertigo and motion sickness and have a very low fear threshold. Consequently I screamed all the way round the baby roller coaster at Legoland and got off (shaking) to a barrage of abuse from parents who had been patiently queuing for an hour only to find that now their children were all sobbing and refusing to do the ride. ‘That mummy was scared – me not doing it’ was the bottom line. Wise me.
I succeeded in getting round Chessington without setting foot on a single ride.

Given this antipathy, I’ve been reluctant to tell people about my forthcoming trip. But the response has been extraordinary. Seems the most unlikely people go gooey-eyed over Disney.
‘Oh, it’s fabulous, absolutely fabulous. You’ll love it!’ gushed one of the mothers from school, who I’d always had down as the ‘trekking across Patagonia by llama type’.
‘Don’t be such a snob,’ said a friend at the pub, rolling her eyes. ‘Suspend your critical faculties and you’ll have a ball. Ah, you’re soooo lucky.’ She went dreamy-eyed and floated off into fond memories of Mickey and the Magic Kingdom.

Even my mother-in-law went into full-on gush mode. Turns out she’s been to Disneyland, Disneyworld, Florida, Paris and Outer Mongolia with her friends (not a child in sight) and LOVED it every time. Now there’s the weird thing. Like MIL and crew, we bloggers (mothers all) are going without a child between us which, to my mind, rather defeats the object. But no. It seems that people (lots of people, adult people) go to the ‘worlds’ sans children. Strange but true.
‘We went without children,’ said another friend on the phone last night.
‘We did?’
‘Yup. Don’t you remember? We were in Florida and felt we ought to have a look. It was full of children screaming, ‘I wanna burger, I wanna nicecream, I wanna ka-ka.’
Silence. Did we really? Ah yes, it’s coming slowly back. I was twenty-something and lean as a reed, wearing cut-offs, a t-shirt and a baseball cap over cropped peroxide blonde hair. We walked down the beach and I noticed that three months of working out had paid off – my leg muscles were actually rippling. Full-on panic mode set in. Can I lose three stone in a week? Florida = sun + coast = swimming = costume = ritual humiliation. Having spent last week writing about the latest Hollywood beauty trends I am suddenly painfully conscious of my:
a) rippling flab
b) eerie gleaming white skin, pockmarked with cellulite
c) two inch grey roots
d) sprouting hair (sorry Milla)
e) grubby finger and toenails.

‘Oh, don’t be so ridiculous,’ said my pal at the pub. ‘This is Florida, not LA. You’ll be the skinniest there by a mile.’ Flicking through my photo album, refreshing my memory, I take comfort in the pics I took of the largest bodies in the world, standing like megaliths, fat-swathed ankle-deep in water, gazing out to sea. Let’s just pray that Florida hasn’t gone on a health kick in the last thirty years.

PS – have to say, full brownie points to Disney for taking along a self-confessed sceptic. ‘Can I write what I like?’ I asked. ‘Yes, providing it’s not libellous,’ came the reply. So that’s OK then. Of course, when someone is paying for everything it takes a hard nut to be totally and utterly rude but I will try my hardest to be honest and objective. Yup, even if hanging upside down vomiting. Whether that would be on Thunder Mountain or at the sight of a giant Mickey Mouse cosying up to small truculent children is yet to be decided.

PPS - image shows me and my fellow bloggers - see, I'm getting into the mood already....(he he)


maddie said...

You lucky blighter! But it seems pretty daft the kids can't go with you.

Maggie Christie said...

I echo Maddie: You lucky blighter! (But my kids would kill me if I went somewhere like that without them!) Pal At The Pub is right too. Have a truly, utterly, fabulous time. (Sighs jealously). Can't wait to see the photo of you in Micky Mouse ears. It's obligatory!

Erica Douglas said...

My husband and I went when we younger (pre-marriage, pre-child) and had a great time. It'll be fun, can't wait to meet you.


Tattieweasle said...

Don't tell anyone but as a child I always secretly longed to go but it was deemed "not on" by them in charge. Now as a parent myself I fear I deem it "not on" too but probably like them in charge back then it has more to do with LS and D than just plain snobbery. However, my parents preferred to be thought of as snobs than to admit to their children they could not afford it - something many parents suffer from still.
Have a fab time!

Frances said...

Oh Jane, I do look forward to reading what you will write about this Disney trip.

The closest I have come to any sort of Disney-landish experience is when I am in the Times Sq. area. Some blocks have gotten the Disney treatment ... something I did not view as an improvement, although thousands of other folks seem to love it.


Sally Townsend said...

Want to come with you !!

claire p said...

We went to the Paris one in '07 with the special needs group we belong to with Jamie. We wouldn't have gone if they hadn't been paying. But we loved it.

And thank you for saying what you said about being a mum, thought it was just me!!!

Milla said...

is this the thing run by LBB which, if it is, I seriously wish I'd joined! Have a great time you furry thing you.

blackbird said...

I have to say that I'm with you Jane.

Never been and don't want to go. My sister has suggested that I might like Disney World better since I have an interest in history. I don't know. I sound like a party-pooper.

Have fun and tell us all about it!

Unknown said...

I've never done a Disney, for much the same reasons as you. So... that said, I hope you have an excellent time - with or without rides!

Zoë said...

So glad it's not me! I did Euro Disney, and all I can say is I am glad I didn't pay for it (AOL did), the kids (then 9 and 10) where even more scathing. Endless queuing, dire food, and nothing but wall to wall commercialism. Like you I don't do the rides as I get hideous vertigo, himself and the kids didn't enjoy them either though, the thrill had worn off after 2 hours standing in line!

Bah Humbug.

Jane Le Galloudec said...

When I was a child, Disneyland was a dream, just far too out of reach for my parents pockets. When they opened euro disney we took our children and as we drove up to the entrance gates my eyes filled with tears I was so excited and I felt so emotional. And by the time we came home I was convinced that Walt Disney was the Anti-Christ!

Irish Eyes said...

Did Disney LA 30 years ago in July coming...thoroughly enjoyed it then, friend...are you aware that I can roll myself into a tiny ball to fit into the corner of anyone going anywhere interesting's suitcase? No? Well, no, you're in luck, the averdupois is over the legal limit, so you won't get to fit me into a holdall, but I will be with you in spirit! Looking forward to a great read of your report on everything.

You enjoy every minute girl!

Mopsa said...

Well, considering I'd rather eat my own eyeballs than go to a Disney park, I can't wait to hear what you have to say about it.

Fennie said...

I've never had the slightest desire to go either but expect I probably would enjoy it all the same, apart from the 'rides' that is which always leave me so wretched that I can never ever understand how anybody could possibly sell them as 'entertainment.'
I'm not too keen on crowds either so I would probably be a real party-pooper. Still enjoy the chances as they come along. Look forward to the after blog.

family affairs said...

I am so with you on this one - do you think they have done their homework? How have they managed to choose quite so many people with a major aversion to theme parks? I am worried. I too only agreed after being told I could write what I wanted....but as you say - that takes a hard nut. I wouldn't dream of taking my children after going when I was 15 and hating every minute of it - See you next week Lx

mountainear said...

At the risk of being a 'party pooper' it's my idea of Hell. Do look forward to hearing what you make of it though.

My only experience is of Alton Towers with youngest son and his friend - and friend's sprightly mother who insisted on tagging along and going on all the rides. (I'd planned a day with a book, letting the kids roam free). Greatest pain was having to pay 'adult' rates to watch people queuing up and eating rubbish food. And it rained.

Chris Stovell said...

Good luck with that, sounds like Hell On A Stick to me, but then I'm in that kind of mood. You, not doubt, will be much better behaved than I would in my current frame of mind. Hope it's bearable.

Elizabeth Musgrave said...

Oh jane, you are wonderful. My idea of hell on a stick too (as you could probably tell by my look of horror and incomprehension when you were telling us about this!). I am another like you who responds to any form of ride with severe motion sickness. I hate being jolly, won't queue even for things I like and am generally just a miserable git.
You might persuade me that it is worthwhile on the basis of a few days away but I would be so ungrateful I would probably just keep thinking of things I would rather be doing. You, I suspect, are more gracious and generous than I am! Have a lovely time if at all possible, xx.

Elizabeth Musgrave said...

Gosh, I have just reread mine and think I need a good kicking.

Pondside said...

Ah - you'll have a ball. Just go for it.......can't wait to read about it.

Tessa said...

Now there's a thought - Disney World sans children. Could be amusing to chuck all those responsibilites to the wind and only having to deal with your own vomit; eating as much ice-cream as you can muster; getting gloriously lost; hugging Micky with passion and ignoring the signs which forbid you to walk on the grass.... In other words, reverting back to your own childhood and to hell with the rules. Hmmm, sounds like mad fun - please may I come as well?

PS. I've tagged you over at my place for a fun 'meme of the moment' because I have a feeling your answers to the questions would be absolutely brilliant and would probably have us all rocking with delirious delight! Or they could be quite serious and thought-provoking.....anyway, I do hope you'll take up the challenge if you feel so inclined. xxoo

Minnie said...

Er, bon voyage ...?
Nice of you to go, so the rest of us don't have to. And if you don't enjoy it, why you can rubbish 'em in print (but seriously doubt you'd be capable of being so ungracious and ungrateful)!

English Mum said...

Ah don't worry, you're not the only one. I vomit if we drive over a hump backed bridge too far and my cellulite is slowly but surely approaching my knees. I'm sure we'll have a blast. Can't wait to meet you!! EM xx

PS: Oh god, and did we have to promise not to be libelous? I missed that bit ;0)

Anonymous said...

I have to say - it is my idea of hell as well. I don't react well to crowds at the best of times and come out in a nervous twitch when confronted wiht too much plastic in primary colours and "Forced Fun".

But I do hope you have a great time and will be very interested to read of your experiences!

Rob-bear said...

Oh, Jane. Oh, my. Oh, dear.

I knew of a woman who once went to a Disney park some years ago. A month later she was still suffering "Disney spells." Is that the risk you want to take? (I know we're both journalists, and are perfectly prepared to take on daunting challenges, but this seems a bit "over the top.")

If all else fails, I can write a nice obituary for you!


Look on the bright side Jane - at least Asbo won't be there (and Pluto can't possibly be worse behaved). Have a fab time (and can't wait to read about it).

Calico Kate said...

You must be mad but I also slightly envy you! At least it isn't summer holiday time, that would be murder.
And the MM ears looking forward to them already!