Dr. Paramita takes us through the trials and tribulations of a visit to the Disneyland in Paris, with her daughter. Read more, in the weekly column, exclusively for Different Truths.
As a child in school many times we had to write an essay ‘on a day gone wrong’. I really didn’t ever experience a day where everything went wrong, until I landed up in Paris Disneyland on a bright and sunny Friday morning, in May 2016.
We were staying in a lovely apartment on the 28th floor just beside the Eiffel Tower. What a view! Dawn to dusk, we were mesmerised with the beauty of the Eiffel Tower. I had booked two tickets to the Paris Disneyland, one for my fourteen year old daughter and the other for me. It was 94 Euros for the two online tickets. Our hotel gave us printouts of the online tickets. They assured us that these printouts were enough. My daughter was very excited although she has visited almost all Disneyland theme parks all over the world including the original Disneyland made by Walt Disney in Los Angeles. That is why they say, “A child is a child”. I had a backpack with light woollens and bottled water in the outer water holder.
We walked down to the Bir-Hakeim metro station and booked the M6 Green Line to the Charles de Gaulle station. From there we took the A line underground and reached our ultimate destination Marne-La-Vallee’-Chessy after about fifteen stations. This was in the outskirts of Paris. The train was full of excited children. Just outside the station was Parc Disneyland Paris. The liveliness of the place with kids all around had caught on me. It was about 10.30 in the morning and I was looking forward to a day full of fun and joy. I was feeling happy for my teenage daughter. Like all doting mothers I cherish her moments of happiness. I try to capture these precious moments in my memory.
We stood in the queue and on reaching the entrance was told that our printout won’t do so we need to change them into valid tickets at the guest relation counter. At 10.45am we were at the said counter behind a long queue. Yes, that was the ill fated time our ordeal began. After 15 minutes, a staff instructed us to go to a different counter after looking through our tickets. There was another queue but a shorter one. As fate would have it, we were directed back to the previous line. The queue had become huge by then.
The people out there were very slow, maybe some had a language problem. We reached the counter in the next 40 or 50 minutes. Another Indian family was facing the same problem so we had to stand with them. The lady knew how to speak French well so she could make the girl at the counter understand our plight. They told us that the travel agency is not sending confirmation of our tickets. We waited and waited. We showed them the SMS of the 94 Euros that I had paid. We showed them our passports. The young boys and girls in the counter were saying that they did understand that we had booked our tickets but they were helpless as the travel agency did not confirm. We repeatedly told them that if they were sure they could give us the tickets. But no! We had to stand in the heat for hours, the sun beating down on us. My sun hat, which I had bought a few days ago from an open market in Aix-en-Provence came in handy. The children of the other Indian family and my daughter went and sat under the shade. They were very hungry and thirsty, in fact we all were. It was nearly 1.20pm and we have had our breakfast at 8am. I took out toffees and distributed them to the kids. It was almost three hours that we were standing for our tickets. At 1.30pm, the other Indian family got their tickets. They had a very young child who had already missed out on meeting Disney characters. The girl at the counter faced us and again started checking the computer. Our tolerance level was almost failing…my daughter told them to refund the money and I was near tears. At 1.45pm, they at last gave us tickets. They gave us vouchers for coffee and vouchers for buying things from the Disneyland shops. It was their way of apologising for the harrowing three hours we had at the Park.
Now, we went to the entry gates with the tickets. What do you think happened there? The tickets were not valid. By then I had lost all patience. I was shivering with anger and felt like breaking their guest relations counter. A staff took the tickets from my hand and at last at 2.30pm we got our valid tickets. We got into the Disneyland at 2.45pm, four hours after we reached the park. All the interesting rides of the Frontier land, the adventures of the Adventure land, the shows of the Fantasyland and the dreams of the Discovery land were closed by then. I am not even adding the Toons coming to life as my daughter was quite big for those then. We just roamed about aimlessly… disenchanted, discharmed. Our stomachs were rumbling with hunger, our throats were parched with thirst. Add insult to injury, our bottled water was pick pocketed out of our backpack. All the restaurants had meandering queues. We were famished…food was the only thing in our minds then. At last at 5pm we had our lunch. Me, the eternal romantic did not even look at the decorations in the restaurant or feel the taste of food. It was just some life giving substance going into our tummies.
My husband, who was back at the hotel was very worried about us. He was repeatedly calling to check how we were. He told us the Disneyland Park is open till 11pm and the Walt Disney studios close at 6pm. On hearing this we quickly went to the latter. The only saving graces of the day were the Studio tram Tour: Behind the Magic and the Cine Magique in the Studios. The tram took us to the studio backlot where catastrophic scenes of fires and floods and splashes of water entertained us. The Cine Magique was amazing! It was a 30 minutes show featuring some of the world’s most iconic films.
We again took a quick walk around the Disneyland Park and just when we decided to go back it started raining. The sky was lighted up by lightning and the thunders scared us out of our wits. We were totally drenched. We sauntered to the underground station in our sloppy socks and shoes.
As if the whole day’s plight was not enough, as we reached Charles de Gaulle station while going to the M6 line we unmindfully went out of the station. So our train tickets were no longer valid. We didn’t know what to do. It was almost 8pm and all the ticket counters was closed. We bought tickets from the machine and then got back to our apartment where my dear husband had kept yummy food for us.
I bet Sanjay Leela Bhansali couldn’t direct a worst day than this! Even the book, A Series of Unfortunate Events, seems like a fairytale when compared to our horrible day.
©Paramita Mukherjee Mullick
Photos by the author
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