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Donkin's World: Garden Of Earthly Delights

...Euro-Disney is too dreadful for words. If Dante had tried to pen his Divine Comedy on a Disney holiday this would be the model for his inferno...

Richard Donkin is far from being enchanted by a contrived world of supposed delight.

Do please visit Richard's well-stocked Web site

Details of his book Blood, Sweat and Tears which is acclaimed world-wide can be found here http://www.amazon.co.uk/Blood-Sweat-Tears-Evolution-Work/dp/1587990768/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1214554429&sr=1-2

Disneyland Paris is surreal at the best of times. I suppose that’s the point of it. But after a day on the Guinness in Dublin it was like entering a scene from Alice in Wonderland. In fact, walking in to Hotel New York somewhere to the south of the French capital was like something out of a Guinness-fuelled dream (or nightmare).

I had come here to talk to 1,200 sixth form students about God-know’s-what in back-to-back sessions. “Back-to-back sessions?”

“Yes that’s what you agreed,” said organiser Miriam.

We didn’t eat too late and I left with assurances that I would be with them at 8.30 am on the dot. Some time after 8.30 am my phone awoke me from another Guinness-fuelled dream. Bugger.

No time to shower, all a bit of a rush, but nothing spoiled. I turned up, I spoke, but did I conquer? It was difficult to tell. There was respectful applause but I couldn’t help thinking that it was the kind of respect afforded to a parent, a teacher or any other authority figure.

The other speakers were really interesting and seemed to engage well with the students. One was a chicken hut company and the other made bean bags that converted in to beds (what a stunningly simple idea).

Having said that, they didn’t get away cleanly. Three of the blighters in the audience had smuggled in laser pens and were training red beams on the eyes of the speakers. I escaped this punishment probably through fear that I would seek out the culprits and beat them up – which was good judgement.

I came away wishing I had thought of designer-made chicken huts and beds that converted in to bean bags and vice versa. But I didn't. The chicken hut kings are consolidating their swiftly expanding empire as I write and, mock ye not, it is a GREAT business.

Feeling rather jaded in the afternoon I went for a wander around Disney. What a dispiriting experience. Here is a company that has applied production line principles to the business of having fun. So anal are the Disney people that they tell you when to laugh and when you’re not laughing enough.

I joined the tour of the fake back-lot and sat there in protestant primness, refusing to respond to the flames, steam and water that issued from the fake destructive scenes. I felt self-conscious – a grey haired man sitting alone, unaccompanied among all the families. They might as well have branded my forehead with a capital “P” at the gate.

I sat alone but was joined on the bus by a little girl in a fairy frock who maintained a safe distance, retreating in fear to her father’s lap. “Don’t go near strange men,” she is drilled by her parents. Society demands such advice, however much it may pain the innocent.

Euro-Disney is too dreadful for words. If Dante had tried to pen his Divine Comedy on a Disney holiday this would be the model for his inferno. Even as I escape its clutches on the Eurostar, Mickey’s diabolical disciples continue their tormented cacophony of nursery chat all the way to St. Pancras'. Like a scene out of The Prisoner my way to the buffet car is blocked by a giant Minnie Mouse balloon. It’s all too horrible.


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