I Found the Magic

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By AliceKottmyer
July 16, 2001

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I literally ran into Mickey Mouse yesterday morning in the Disneyland Hotel at Disneyland Paris. I was alone, looking at the artwork on the wall. He was, I guess, on his way to a character breakfast. I've seen other characters in the past roaming alone in that hotel -- there must be a room up there for them to get costumed. He stopped and looked at me.

"Salut, Mickey," I told him, surprised, and offered my hand.

He grabbed my hand in both of his, and shook it. There I was, face-to-face with Mickey Mouse, absolutely no one around. One part of me wanted to talk to the cast member underneath. The other part of me knew that was utter heresy, and I dismissed that thought quickly.

"Tu es mervielleux," I said. He held his heart with one hand, and blew me a kiss with the other.

"Tu sais, je suis une cast member, aux Etats-Unis," I said. He covered his mouth, surprised.

"A bientot," I said, waving goodbye. "Go break a leg." I stuck my hand up, he high-fived (foured?) it, and sauntered down the hall. I followed him until he was safely connected with his handler, and watched as they waded into the kids, who bounced up and down all around him, waving autograph books, shouting in half a dozen languages.

I watched him awhile -- all the utter joy he gave to everyone. And I was amazed that when he was with me, he never broke character -- he never broke the rules. Even though he (or she) was dealing with only one guest, alone in the hall, no one around, half a world away from Burbank.

I thought about the endurance of our Traditions, the permanence of our values.

Disneyland Paris this weekend was pure magic. Saturday night, watching the Main Street Electrical Parade in a heavy downpour (think about that for a minute), followed by the main fireworks show, set to music, the thousands of us bundled in ponchos, unperturbed. The cast was superb; the show never stumbled; it went on, like clockwork, perfectly.

There have been numerous little touches added since the last time I'd been there, six months ago. Every so often I'd see a pair of cast members in black, with first aid kits, flashlights, and walkie-talkies on their belts, roaming through the park, like cops on a beat, unobtrusively watching the guests, the shows. After a stage show, I watched one frantic woman grab one of them, and the walkie-talkie immediately was up to the guy's mouth -- I knew we had a lost kid. (The child reappeared within a few minutes.) Cast members with "Info" shirts on were everywhere, whose only function seemed to be to answer questions for guests. "Off-duty" ride cast members with brooms were everywhere, more so than in previous visits. Bathroom cleanliness was a problem before -- not this time. And of course the new Park looked SO tempting on the other side of that wall: The water tower topped with Mickey Ears; the main studio building ("Disney Studios Paris") which looks completed; the Disney Channel building, which looks like it's already operational. I could go on, but I won't. I'm going back this weekend -- Bastille Day. Should be a wild time.

I had seriously lost the Magic. I have found it again, thank you very much. Hopefully, I can retain some of it when I go home in a couple of weeks, assuming I can get it through customs.