Claudia Winkleman: I've found the best place in the world

Take It From Me: 'The Grand Canyon will make you marvel at the planet. But it won't make you high-five a man selling waffles'
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The Independent Online

I've worked out where the best place on earth is. Seriously. I'm not pulling your leg. This isn't a trick column. I actually know where people are really, really happy, where people have massive lopsided grins and want to hug each other all day long. I know where the sun shines and the food smells great. I know where I need to go the minute the boiler breaks and the baby gets chickenpox and I think I might pull my hair out. I know the one place I need to get to to make it all better.

Now, I know what you're thinking – and no, sorry to rain on your parade and call your bluff, but I'm not talking about the Taj Mahal. Sure, it's majestic and memorable and will take your breath away, but will it make you laugh out loud? Will it make you hold your side and brush away a tear of joy and make you cuddle a 6ft dog?

Same goes for the Grand Canyon. Yes, it's AWESOME (I am not being sarcastic – it actually is awesome), but it won't make a grown man skip. It won't make a couple of parents pick up their toddler, throw them in the air and shout, "Life is great!" Instead it will make your jaw drop and undoubtedly you'll think your life isn't worth living unless you own a cowboy hat. It will make you wonder at the marvel of the planet and you'll think that Nature/God are really clever. But it won't make you high-five a man selling waffles.

I could go through all seven wonders of the world, but you'll yawn and say, "She's gone off," and turn the page. Ahem.

I'm not talking about a spa. Yes. Indeed. Certainly. I'm with you. A dark room with some low-level whale music and a flat bed and a woman pulling your shoulder back and forth is a happy place. It's in the top five, and it probably comes in at three or four. Being hummed at by someone with magic hands while they knead your neck is good for the soul, but it won't make you giggle for days afterwards. In fact, the second the smiley therapist stops and says, "You can put your robe on now, the hour is up," the joy and wonder sort of leaves the room. All you're left with is oil in your hair and quite a big bill.

I'm not talking about a fancy restaurant, either. There's no doubt a bit of chicken in a creamy mushroom sauce with a side order of garlic mash will put a smile on your face. A delicate tarte tatin will certainly put the diner in a good mood. A particularly good plate of risotto has led some to punch the air and offer their compliments to the chef. But no, a great restaurant still isn't the happiest place on Earth.

And I'm not talking about the world's greatest bar, either. A low-lit long room and a glass stool and a cocktail made with precision is undoubtedly a nice place to be. No one can whang on about the true joy of an ice-cold vodka and tonic accompanied by a small silver bowl of jumbo cashews more than I. But it doesn't make you scream, "I want to go faster," (well, in some cases it does, but that's usually because you're on a second date or because they've put something extra in the drink) and it doesn't make you look up to the heavens and bellow, "This is hilarious, I never, ever want to leave." (Again, maybe it does, but then you probably have to think about, uh, leaving.)

The place that will bring you the most joy is none of these places – it happens to be a small, purpose-built theme park. No, of course I'm not talking about Alton Towers (no one over 18 wants to drink four pints of Tango and then crap themselves on a 120mph ride) – I'm talking about the place where Mickey lives.

Disneyland – the place to go if you want to smile. Who knew? You get on a train with people who are wearing Mickey ears (truly, in the cold light of day grown-ups are wearing hair bands with massive ears stuck to them) – think Hogwarts without the owls and the scary guy whose name begins with a V. There's already high excitement on the train while people chat feverishly about whether Goofy is a dog or a man or perhaps a bear (a three-year-old said this – I did want to point out that of course he's not a bear, but you know, he was three, so I let it slip).

Then you get there and there's a CASTLE, and it's all Cinderellas and real-life (work with me) princesses and cartoon characters wandering around. I met Snow White AND Eeyore within five minutes of each other. The food all comes in the shape of Peter Pan and if you take someone small with you (I would suggest this – it would be slightly odd if you went alone) you will see their face light up. A bit like an adult with a box of Terry's All Gold.

So – happiest place on earth. The Magic Kingdom. I guess the clue's in the title.

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