Held spellbound by the magic of Mickey

Occasionally stubborn and a bit of a stick-in-the-mud, it takes a lot to drag me out of my native Norfolk or to try anything new when it comes to Bullock Family holidays.

Occasionally stubborn and a bit of a stick-in-the-mud, it takes a lot to drag me out of my native Norfolk or to try anything new when it comes to Bullock Family holidays.

Disneyland Resort Paris was a classic example. Over the past few years Julie has regularly brought up the idea of us taking young Gregory to the massive theme park complex in France - and I've been doing my level best to delay the inevitable.

Why on earth, I argued, would any sane adult want to travel abroad to spend a small fortune on watching frustrated French dancers and actors dressed up as Mickey Mouse & Co while scoffing overpriced burgers in some soulless and commercialised manmade village?

“Let's think about it next year, perhaps,” I'd suggest, hoping that by the time the dreaded Disneyland came up for discussion again Gregory would have grown a little older and lost interest in cartoon characters and other such childish affairs.


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My other argument, albeit fairly lame, was that because Bullock Jnr no longer seemed too bothered about his Bambi, Dumbo and Snow White videos, he was unlikely to enjoy several days of non-stop Disney anyway.

As usual, of course, I was not only overruled but have since been obliged to eat my words in banquet-sized portions: Disneyland, dear readers, is in fact an absolute delight.

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Having spent three long, sunny days spinning around on fairground rides and being benignly brainwashed by all matters Disney, I am now one of Donald Duck's most fervent disciples. Call me crackers - or even quackers - but my aim is to spread the Word According to Walt with almost evangelical zeal.

Walt's world is full of shiny happy people of numerous nationalities who smile, laugh, have fun and co-exist in almost complete harmony (notwithstanding the odd jostle in the lengthy queues for fast food or rides).

The elegant streets are immaculately swept, trees and hedges are clipped with clinical precision and joyful jazzy music fills the air.

Unlike the bizarre, tattoo-spattered personnel on duty at some UK tourist attractions, Disneyland staff are courteous, ever-smiling, well groomed and smartly presented. In three days, I didn't spot a single body piercing - c'est incroyable!

As someone who prefers not to dwell too much on unsavoury and uncomfortable topics like global terrorism, warfare, violence and politics, I ought to have known that the cuddly, rather naïve Disney ethos would appeal to me.

Just as Mickey and his pals inhabit their own little unrealistic world, I don't want my Saturday morning readers to choke on their croissants and cappuccinos with anything too unpalatable.

When we emerged from Disneyland, having deliberately avoided news bulletins and daily papers, the Iraq conflict was rumbling on regardless and tiresome Tony was still showing no sign of giving Gordon the keys to No 10.

There had also been the horrific university massacre in Virginia, which had completely passed us by amid our cartoon capers. No wonder we preferred life inside Mickey Mouse's peaceful kingdom.

One of the highlights of our stay was a special breakfast attended by Disney characters, including Goofy, Pluto, Prince John, Pinocchio and Geppetto. Young or old, people's eyes lit up at the sight of such storybook favourites “coming to life” before their eyes - and coming to join them for a slap-up breakfast at Café Mickey.

Cameras clicked furiously and camcorders whirred into action as we made the most of so many close encounters with the Disney gang, and there was a wonderfully uplifting atmosphere throughout. Bumper helpings of Hollywood escapism and some high quality fancy dress can be a powerful combination.

I'm a 43-year-old man, I've got A-levels - I run a business, for goodness' sake. And yet I still queued patiently at Disneyland just to get a kiss from Minnie Mouse and have my picture taken with the glamorous rodent.

Yes, it's a blatantly commercial and contrived venture aimed at making rich people even richer. But there's still something enchanting about the make-believe castles, mocked-up shops, manicured gardens and the beautifully choreographed street parades.

When the cartoon king himself, Mickey Mouse, strolled up and shook me warmly by the hand, I will admit there was a hint of moistness welling up in my eyes and a lump in my throat.

Maybe it was the thought of the mounting credit card bill back home in Norwich after our costly jaunt - or perhaps I was simply smitten by that indefinable magic of Disneyland. . .

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