Global Sound –
The Strange Sensation of Disneyland Paris
Somehow I can’t imagine it, it doesn’t seem possible, yet some how it is. Disneyland Paris sounds to me like a practical joke, a contradiction in terms; the combination of all American Disney with The all French Paris.
Yet since 1992 this peculiar irony has been not only been surviving but prospering for nearly 20 years becoming Europe’s most popular tourist destination attracting over 15,400,000 in 2009. It certainly seems strange how joyous this holiday resort is, you could easily imagine a maudlin Mickey Mouse with an omnipresent Galouise in his mouth, as he recites Baudelaire in that helium voice of his. Also easy to imagine is the Parisian staff making children cry with that stereotypical rudeness so commonly applied the French.
Somehow this isn’t the case, it delivers that ‘Disney experience’ without a hint of sarcasm, in fact there is a gung-ho American sincerity. The theme park seems to be simultaneously a worm hole in to the Cartoons and in to America’s pop-consciousness.
At first there was fierce resistance to the resort. While Disneylands have nestled comfortably in to Orlando, Anaheim and Tokyo, Europe have been less welcoming to these cartoon settlements. Now with the millions of visitors it brings in to France, it seems their complaints may be undermined by the tourism revenues. Though there will still be some grumbling amongst intellectuals.
The park is best viewed as notedly removed from France and Europe. A telling sign of its lack of European-ness is its misjudged first inception as ‘Euro Disney’. While this name played on America’s romance of ‘Euro’, to the continent the term is a banality. Therefore the romance of Paris served them much better at targeting their local audience.
To global Disneyland connoisseurs the Paris faction of the franchise is in fact the best. It is a much younger park than its transatlantic cousins, and many of the rides and attractions are more refined updates of the attractions state-side. Certainly for the thrill junkies this may very well be the best Disneyland for roller coasters, as they go faster than those in other parts of the world.
Though what is peculiarly perfect about the park is that juxtaposition with the nearby French capital, that is you have two locations for the price of one. You can be in the world of American pop culture in one moment, then at the very heart of French culture. You have two very distinct worlds side by side. One day you can be taking your photograph with Goofy, the next with the Mona Lisa.
There are hotels in the park, wild west and so forth, but it is best to be able to escape the cartoon to one of the lovely villas in France, allowing you the best of both worlds. America and France, pop culture and high culture in the space of two days.