Disney On Ice? You Complete Me.
Once, a long time ago, before I had kids, I went to see Ariadne auf Naxos at the Met in New York. Yeah, opera. I like opera. It was an awesome evening: dinner at the Plaza, then opera at the Met, then drinks, then back to hotel to sleep it all off before heading out to skulk around SoHo with a credit card the next day. One of the best weekends I've ever had. And it's highly unlikely that I'll do anything like that again for, oh, say, the next 7 to 10 years. What with the children and all.
Instead, we do stuff like go to Disney On Ice and stay at hotels that have amenities for families.* Which, compared to the Met and the Plaza, might sound entirely unappealing, except for the fact that it's not. Seriously. Would I lie to you?
We went and saw Disney On Ice the other night. I was fully expecting to be underwhelmed. I was expecting my husband to be out-and-out bored. I knew that the girl would love it, and that the baby would clap a lot, but I figured that it would be the sort of thing that my husband and I would just, you know, endure, in that loving parent kind of way where you really aren't at all interested in whatever it is that's going on but your kid is and so you get a bit of a contact buzz off of your kid's enthusiasm but that's about it.
I was wrong. I loved it. And even more remarkably? My husband loved it.
It helped, I suppose, that the opening spectacle was all about cars - cars from the movie Cars, that is - whipping around in formation on the ice. The husband liked that, a lot. But he also liked the live-action ice-dance performances of The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, and Tinker Bell, too, so we can't put it down to ice-rink derby action. Dude was clapping, loudly, at mermaids. And fairies.
What it came down to, really, was that it was spectacle, of the highest order. The skating was awesome - breathtaking at moments - skaters doing leaps with giant giraffe heads - but it was spectacular even beyond the skating. Fairies flew down from the 'sky', giant treehouses and underwater caverns appeared out of nowhere, flames burst into the air, flowers bloomed atop the ice, an explosion of paper flower petals rained down from over our heads - it was, even for a set of jaded grown-ups, magical.
My husband said later: I was a little bit weepy through the whole thing.
Me: like when Simba's dad died during the ice-stampede?
Husband: yeah, but also when Ariel got her voice and when Tinkerbell saved spring and when the Zamboni cleaned the ice at intermission.
It's the exuberance of the thing, I think: the almost manic joy with which the performers perform and the music blares and the fireworks fire and the flowers burst out of the ice. It's the thing that Disney has down in spades, and which I cannot - despite every cynical effort - turn up my nose at. It's fun. It's let's-imagine-the-world-as-a-crazy-joyful-magical-happy-ending-kind-of-place fun. Sure, they're selling Cars toys and princess tiaras at ridiculous prices and there're all sorts of things I could say about the corporatization of joy, but who cares? It was fun. And we loved it.
I'll take Ariadne auf Naxos for cultural enrichment any day. But on those occasions when I want to share, with my kids, the experience of unrepentant silliness and wow? I'll take Disney or Barnum & Bailey or Ice Capades or whatever family spectacular is on offer.
And I won't regret it for a second.
*Delta hotels, if you're interested, have pretty awesome family amenities, by which I mean, waterslides and play centres and babysitting and free meals for kids. We stayed at the Delta Chelsea in Toronto for an overnight treat last month and I would not be exaggerating if I said that given the choice between moving into the Plaza a la Eloise or moving into the Chelsea with its Family Fun Centre with the arts and crafts corner and the rabbit (not even kidding), I would very probably lean very heavily toward the Chelsea. I KNOW.
This is an original post to Canada Moms Blog. Catherine Connors blogs at Her Bad Mother, where she tries to convince anyone who will listen that bad is, indeed, the new good.