So, a few weeks ago, just before Re’s fourth birthday, we had an unexpected present lined up for us – a trip to Disneyland, Hong Kong.
The thing is, the sweet people at Disney, whom we later labeled Goofy, Dewey and Minnie, were taking winners of their JetSet2 contest and their families to Disneyland Hong Kong. They asked if mommygolightly and babygolightly would like to come along. I checked with Re, and he asked me where “HongPong” was. I showed it to him on the map. After some thought, he agreed. Can we go by choo choo train, he asked. “No, we have to take a plane!” I said. He nodded.
In order to take part in the contest, kids had to enter by watching the Disney Channel from April 13 for a month and spotting an animated Disney branded Jet Airways aircraft which appeared on the screen. They could accumulate points each time they spotted the aircraft by dialing a toll-free number flashing on the screen and leaving a missed call. Those who spotted the aircraft the maximum number of times per day earned the maximum points and at the end of each day, the highest scorer was announced as the winner on Disney Channel and one winner was picked each day! The campaign generated 8.3 million entries from across the country on the channel at the end of which, there were 30 winners from across all corners of the country, from cities like Guwahati, Amreli, Patiala, Jagdalpur, Jabalpur, Nagpur, Nashik Bangalore, and of course Mumbai.
On the night of our departure, Re asked me if Cinderella and Snow White were coming too. I said yes of course, we are going to have breakfast with them. And then he threw a googly. Is Chhota Bheem coming? I muttered a yes although I knew it was a lie. It was too early to tell him that Chhota Bheem was from another channel, and therefore wouldn’t be allowed entry. So I later made up something about Cinderella not wanting Chhota Bheem to come to her house in just a dhoti and Chhota Bheem refusing to wear clothes (The things you have to do as a parent!)
So we packed our bags, got daddy a ticket, as we didn’t want to leave him behind and joined the gang of kids and their respective adults on this exciting trip.
It was a fairytale come alive, not just for the kids, but for the mommies and daddies as well. Be it the rides, the live shows or just the atmosphere, everything added to the enthusiasm and excitement of the kids and families. There were surprises for the winner families at Fantasyland, Adventureland, Toystoryland and Tomorrowland. The Mystic Manor was the newest highlight at the park and it had the best of animation and pictographic genius on display.
So we saw the grand parade what unfolds everyday at 3.30 pm in the Main Street of the Disney Park. Our local Friends Edwina and Ray took us around, getting us a fast pass so we wouldn’t have to queue up everywhere. Every other corner, adults and kids were found shrieking in delight at the gimmicks, mystery and wonder that unfolded.
The Mickey Philharmagic Show was also one of the most enjoyable shows. It was a 4D Show which had, among other things, water being sprayed on us, and weird things flying at us, that we had to catch. It had a lot of stories dovetailed beautifully in one theatrical show making it an excellent piece of entertainment. But Re’s favorite was The Lion King show. It had him entranced.
There was of course the mandatory shopping stop, and Re got some Disney goodies, including a ‘Pwincess’ balloon, which followed him like a lamb everywhere. This was also the point at which daddy promptly got lost. He was later found posing near the fountain, pretending to hold the world in his palms. Kids!
To add to the dreamy experience, the next day, we were invited to the Enchanted Forest Hotel to have breakfast with the stars- none other than Mickey, Daisy and Pluto. We of course spent a lot of time planning what to wear and then daddy got late as usual, and lost (again!). We briefly considered making announcements, and then decided Mickey and Daisy were waiting, and we could always find daddy later. When we reached the venue, I realized who was the child among us all. Daddy was so eager to have ‘breakfast with the stars’ that he showed up at the Enchanted Forest half hour before us (we were busy looking for him in the Hollywood hotel, you see!) and then daddy was puckering his lips for Daisy and pulling Pluto’s ears. Re was too busy attacking his fruit bowl to pay Daisy any attention.
Who said child is the father of man? The father is the child of the child. The small small world was the cutest experience, like having an enchanted boat-ride through the many many cultures across the world, through elaborate sets, creative costumes and music that makes you want to never get off the boat. And of course, all the Disney darlings like Pinocchio, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Aladdin and around 38 others in doll costumes to complete your experience. I think I may have been more riveted than Re.
And then the grand finale, the fireworks at Cinderella’s castle at 8 pm which lasted a whole fifteen minutes (my hand got tired holding up the video camera and I stopped taping after 8 minutes). No words or pictures can describe it, it was truly a sight to behold against the backdrop of the beautiful night sky.
Soon, it was time to go home. But not without my balloon, Re said.
When we got to the airport, we were told the balloon wouldn’t be allowed, and so we were faced with the ordeal of deflating it without Re’s knowledge, and you know how that goes. Back in Bombay, I did try to get it refilled once again, but somehow the magic was gone. Once the backdrop of Disneyland was no longer there, the Pwincesses in the balloon looked like ‘they wanted to sleep’. So said Re. And so we nodded.
And now, whenever we think of Cinderella’s castle, all Re has to do is open his umbrella.