Mickey's Magical Tales: Wembley Arena

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The Independent Culture
Various elephants and ducks skate around the rink. Four-year-old girl, her blonde hair in bunches under a large pair of Minnie Mouse ears, gazes instead at the lights rising on the gantreys. 'Is that magic?' she says.

Cleopatra does lots of pirouettes and jumps.

Three-year-old sitting on steps: 'Why is that lady doing that?' Pause.

Hopeful thought. 'Will she fall over?' Roger Rabbit appears wrapped in bandages. Minnie Mouse ears points at him. 'Silly]' she says. Rastafarian crab leads skating animals in song. 'Sea] Sea]' says three-year-old.

After an hour the audience is let out to eat supper. Mother in pink anorak to eight-year-old daughter in purple anorak: 'What would you like? Pop corn?

Ice cream? Chips?' Passing parent from muesli-eating classes in Barbour to very small boy, in desperate tones: 'There's frozen yoghurt, darling.'

There is a crowd four deep round the Walt Disney merchandise stall. Two sisters aged two and three in sticking-out skirts are chanting: 'Mama I wanna wand] Wanna wand] Wanna wand]' Wands cost pounds 8. A Walt Disney mug containing crushed ice is pounds 4. 'Breaks your heart, dunnit?' says tired-looking father. Child below the height of counter, confronted with ghastly reality of mug her mother has just bought under her pressure. 'BOO HOO OOO HOOO HOOO] I DON'T WANT IT]'

The rest of the audience is in the lavatories. Small child, very loud over cubicle wall: 'I've done a little one, Mummy, but you've done a big one, haven't you?' Mother's voice, faintly: 'Shush, dear.' Child, louder still: 'Yes, but I'VE done a LITTLE one and you've. . .' Mother 'Hurry up darling, you'll miss Minnie Mouse.' Waiting to enter the second half, a thin lone father with two bespectacled boys. Small spectacled one: 'OWWWW] OOOOO]'

Father 'You STUPID boy. Mucking about]' Small one: 'OOOOOO.' Father 'You'll 'ave to go 'ome.' Small one: 'NOOOOOOO]' Small one is eventually led in to his seat, just as Roger Rabbit on the ice is throwing water all over a man in a suit and tripping him up. Everyone applauds wildly. Small bespectacled boy stares gloomily at baffling world of adult values.

Seven pm: the lights are dimmed for an astronaut skating display. At this familiar signal on the dot of bedtime most of the four-year-olds keel over into their parents' laps and place thumbs in mouths. At 7.30pm all are led or carried out, pale-faced. Tender parent to little girl with pink, heart-decorated socks. 'What was the best bit?' Pink socks, in very small voice: 'The End.'

Mickey's Magical Tales: Wembley Arena, daily until Sunday 30 October.

(Box office 081 900 1234).

(Photograph omitted)

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