Of Mice and Madness

April 18, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Posted in Bun, Family, Giggles, Lollipop | 12 Comments
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Three weeks ago, we were in Paris. Ah, Paris.

And you can’t take your kids to Paris without going to Disneyland. (It’s in the expat rule book, I swear.) So we went. And stayed for 10 hours.

I’ve just now recovered enough to write something semi-coherent about it. I said semi. (You’ve been warned.)

It was a blur of waitingridingwalking, waitingridingwalking, waitingridingwalking. Of searching for bathrooms and benches. Of debating whether the hour-long line at the Princess Pavilion was ever going to get any shorter. (It didn’t. She waited. And loved it. LOVED — all caps, italics, bold.)

At the end of the day, we had acquired sunburns, a Tinkerbell tiara, a Buzz Lightyear gun that makes the most annoying sound in the galaxy, and these … Observations? Tips? Anecdotes?

Whatever you want to call them, they’re part magic, part mania, and entirely, insanely ours. (And now yours. You’re welcome.)


Ride the carousel. It’s still enchanting, whether you’re 2, 34, or 68.

“It’s a Small World” might just be the best thing ever. Better than Nutella. (Did I just write that?)

If your daughter (or son) wants to meet the princesses, if she spent the entire train ride to the park drawing personalized pictures for each and every princess, if she doesn’t even blink her baby blues when you tell her it’s a really long wait (like, a really, really long wait), take her. Wait with her. Get her picture. And pretend you think it’s every bit as amazing and fabulous as she does.

Don’t dawdle at the gate. (Yes, it’s Disney. Disney! Yes, there’s the castle. Castle! Yes, there’s merchandise to massage everywhere. Merchandise!) But go. Go, go, go! Get to the rides with the longest wait times. Your feet will thank you. [Also: there’s an app for that.]

Use the Fast Pass. Whenever, wherever, however you can. Use. It.

The baby will not nap. He won’t. The sooner you accept it, the better the day will be.

Rent the stroller. For your kids. For your bags. For extra support when your head starts spinning. Trust me.

Somebody will cut in front of you when you’re watching the parade. Accidentally step on his foot and lift those kiddos up on your shoulders.

Bring food in. You don’t even have to sneak it. A picnic lunch under a just-blooming cherry tree soothes the soul as much as the soles.

Some rides are lame. These are the ones your kids will want to do again and again and again. (“Lame,” it turns out, is relative.)

The teacups are still as nauseatingly fantastic as they were when you were a kid.

Nonchalant Europeans will blow smoke in your child’s face. Try not to punch them.

Ask people to take your picture. Offer to take someone else’s. It’s good karma.

Try not to think of the sheer volume of people coughing, sneezing, spitting, peeing, and touching stuff in the same space as you. All day.

On a related note, don’t forget your Purell.

Someone will fall asleep on the way home. It might be Daddy.

The kids will get to bed late. Alas, they will not sleep late. (And Coke for breakfast? Is totally acceptable for post-Disney parents.)

Have you been to Disney (any of them, anywhere)? Was it magic or madness? Care to share your tips?



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  1. We have done Disney World in Florida twice. The kids were pretty little the first time; the second time around was perfect. Great ages, we stayed in the park and took advantage of the free parking and shuttles and all you can drink buffet at Mickey’s Backyard BBQ 😉 My one suggestion: Peter Pan is NOT worth the line. Ever. Toy Story Mania, however, IS.

    Germs don’t bother me (weird, being a nurse and all), but the cigarette smoke? AHHH! I would’ve had to restrain myself, too.

    Disneyland in Paris, sleeping in an igloo…these experiences are gonna be pretty hard to beat!

  2. We just booked our first family trip to Disney World (6 nights) for this fall…I am both excited (daughter will be 4 1/2 and totally enchanted) and dreading it (son will be 19 months and totally exhausting) at the same time. Glad you survived; hope we do! Thanks for the tips!!

  3. Perfect timing — we just put down our Disney deposit this morning for a trip in November. It’s not going to be cheap so I’m thinking it better be magical!

  4. We visit Walt Disney World in Orlando with my husband’s entire family. Now that’s madness! But the place is magical. 🙂 Enjoyed “visiting” Paris with you. Yes, the teacups will never change.

  5. Hang on now, Peter Pan is my favorite ride! I worked at WDW in Orlando for a year and rode that thing every chance I could, I loved flying over London. I don’t think the Bear Jamboree is still there but I have a great story about puking in front of it when I was about 8. When I worked at WDW, I used to make kids sing The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers before they could buy a stuffed Tigger. If they didn’t know it, no problem. I sang it and acted it out (with the toy) for them. I am on thousands of ’80s era VHS tapes doing that. I also went to Disney in Paris…instead of the Louvre. Shhhh don’t tell the Parisians or they’ll never let me back into Paris. In my defense, it was a the tail end of a very long month of Eurrailing it. I had seen my fill of lovely and historic art and churches. Plus, I was very young.

    Can’t wait for you to come home!

    • I can TOTALLY see you singing/acting the Tigger song … How I wish YouTube had been around so the whole world could experience your WDW awesomeness! =>

  6. Paris? Yes. Disney? No. I’m absolutely terrified of it. Not an amusement park person and I hate lines. Sounds like a nightmare to me. But will I go because I know my girls will love it? Yes. Definitely. And when I’m there, I will bring out the printout of this blog post to help me survive my trip.

    Sounds like you guys had a great trip though. At least for the kids 🙂

  7. Oh goodness, your post brings back memories of our DW trip last Feb. 2011!! We cannot wait to take Tilli back. The look on her face when she met the princesses was priceless, and worth every bit of the money we spent there! It is such a “magical” experience there. But yes, the coughing, sneezing, etc. is enough to make you gag, you have to just “not think” about what you are touching. The parade and fireworks show at the end of the day were our favorites! Tilli just remined me yesterday of Tinkerbell flying down off the top of the castle when it got dark there. The memories linger in her mind too, can’t wait to go back!

  8. We’re on board for the Disney trip this fall, too. I nearly break out in hives just thinking about it, and I haven’t even gotten serious about the planning!

  9. Wow – 10 hours! Though you do have to get into that kind of mindset for a Disney trip. We took our son to the Disney Land in Japan when he was 3, while all the kids were still in school. The commute there – approx. 4 hours r/t via public transportation – was the hardest part. Now we’re waiting for the “right” time to go to FL. So great that you guys got to go in Paris! Hope you gad a magical trip!

  10. We did Disneyworld last year and absolutely LOVED it!!! Me, the kids, the hubby. Our teenage niece and nephew and my sister in law and her partner joined us and loved it too! I don’t think you are ever too old for Disney. The best part was going to The Magic Kingdom on the twins 6th birthday – they got so much special attention, especially with Charlotte in her Rapunzel dress. She met the princesses that day too – tho we didnt have to wait as long as you … and it was just the most fabulous thing for her … a real birthday treat. During the night parade half the characters waved at them, and spoke to them, it being their birthday and dressed up!
    Was it exhausting? Yes. Did we literally fall into bed every night?! Oh yes! Was it worth it? Yes! Will we go again? Already booking the villa for this July!! 🙂

  11. You got a lot of the good tips in, but if I had known you were going I would have made sure to give you the full monty. 🙂

    We had an excellent time on our super well-planned day at Disney.

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