Family travel with flair

Disneyland Paris’s 20th anniversary celebrations: my top tips

TweetJenography is never known to miss a party, and Disneyland Paris’s kickoff of its 20th anniversary celebrations were no exception. My daughter and I were among a contingent of bloggers and journalists to the launch of the park’s year-long celebrations, which feature a gussied up Main Street, a new parade and a dazzling evening light and fireworks show. When Disneyland Paris opened in France 20 years ago, there were many cries of “Zut alors!” and speculation that Mickey Mouse and the land of fromage just didn’t go together. Twenty years later, the park is a standard stop on family breaks to the Paris area, whether it’s a once in a lifetime trip or a regular favourite. This was our second visit and the special events and touches the park is putting on for its anniversary definitely make it worth scheduling a trip over the next 12 months. We went over on the Eurostar, which is always so civilized, with the departure from St Pancras International station, the comfortable seats with power outlets, the bar car (ahem). (We sat opposite English Mum and her charming son (pictured right), tweeting each other from across the table. Why talk when you can social media?) From there, a quick transfer to the New York hotel, which is about a 7 minute walk from the gare, to drop off our bags, then onto the park. I was quite nervous about not having developed a “strategy” in advance. While Disneyland Paris is smaller than Disneyland in Orlando, there are still tricks you can employ to get the most out of a short visit. We quickly picked out rides we wanted to experience and for the next three days ticked them off our list. (See my recommendations for 8-year-old visitors below.) When my daughter said there was a ride she “really really” wanted to go on or something she was “desperate” to see, we went back to the list to see what it would replace. As a result, there were no tantrums or tears about missing out, even though we could have spent three more days exploring. Without a doubt, there were three 20th anniversary highlights that I recommend for any visitor: The new daily parade. All the Disney characters have new duds for the anniversary and the Disney Magic on Parade put them all on display. It incorporates new music (I defy you to stop humming the tune afterward), includes Rapunzel and Flynn Rider for the first time, features fun choreography and a new final...

‘Tangled’ and the challenge for Disney heroines

Tweet(Press screening – see note below*) This is going to be a week of Disney posts, as I’m in Orlando, being hosted by Disney for the christening of its new cruise ship the Disney Dream. More about that in upcoming posts. For now I want to write about the latest Disney film Tangled. We were invited to a screening in London, but actually the kids had seen the film a couple of weeks earlier in our hotel in Santa Fe over Christmas – where they watched it three times. Disney animated films, under the helm of John Lasseter who also oversees all the brilliant Pixar films, has been going back to its roots and focusing on the quality of hand-drawn animation. You can’t fault the look of the movie. We saw it in both 2D and 3D and it looks fantastic, with beautiful “sets”, great action and exciting set pieces. The songs by the baddie Mother Gothel were the highlight of the movie for me. But is the Disney-style heroine still endure? I know when my daughter was 4, 5 and even 6 she loved Disney. She had all the costumes for playing dress-up and debates could be heard with her friends on who was the best princess from the machine that Disney Princesses have become. But at age 7, my daughter is over these little cuties. Her favourite character in the film isn’t Rapunzel but Pascal (pictured), the little chameleon sidekick. She loves his cheeky humour and his cute size. Now she’s debating the merits of Pascal versus the film’s funny, opinionated horse character with her brother. The problem is the Disney heroines. They are all spunky and they’ve become more self-sufficient in recent times (Rapunzel has taught herself a kind of hair-incorporating martial arts reminiscent of the drum scene from House of Flying Daggers), but mostly these ladies all seem about the same. Spunky. self-sufficient but still tantalised mainly by love. Pretty in a very certain way – small noses, tiny frames, huge eyes. (They all also still hover in age around 18 years, which is amusing – still the perfect age to get married according to the studio, I guess.) Of course, lots of Disney classics are based on longstanding fairy tales. I realise also that this type of story is, in a sense, the Disney trademark. But I think this one-track story template – however well-executed and entertaining and high quality – gives Disney films a built-in obsolescence with kids. My 12-year-old enjoyed watching it...

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