Love cap­tured in the land of for­ever af­ter

Oliver Smith is per­plexed by claims about the ro­man­tic virtues of a theme park.

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isney World named the most ro­man­tic place in the world to pro­pose.’’ Of all the du­bi­ous claims to have found their way into our in­box, this one surely takes the bis­cuit.

The per­fect place to ask your loved one to spend the rest of their life with you is not the Taj Ma­hal. It’s not the Span­ish Steps. It’s not even the Eif­fel Tower. It’s Dis­ney World. The sprawl­ing Florida theme park that teems with scream­ing chil­dren, grown men dressed as an­i­mals, and ram­pant con­sumerism. A land of long queues, greasy burger restau­rants and the Twi­light Zone Tower of Ter­ror.

What kind of per­son thinks it’s ‘‘ro­man­tic’’ to pop the ques­tion there – with Goofy, Don­ald Duck and a clutch of obese Amer­i­can fam­i­lies gaw­ping at the spec­ta­cle?

We’ll re­turn to that, but first let’s see how this sur­pris­ing con­clu­sion was reached.

Dis­ney World topped a list of 10 des­ti­na­tions, and some of the oth­ers were equally bizarre. Times Square, a busy junc­tion filled with neon ad­ver­tis­ing, came in at num­ber two, Dis­ney­land Paris came fifth, fol­lowed closely by Uni­ver­sal Stu­dios. So two of the 10 most ‘‘ro­man­tic places in the world to pro­pose’’ are theme parks in Florida?

Our scep­ti­cism reached in­cal­cu­la­ble heights when we found the source of the press re­lease: an on­line ticket spe­cial­ist called Flori­daTix.com.

‘‘[We] an­a­lysed* wed­ding pro­pos­als posted on YouTube since its launch in 2005,’’ the com­pany claimed.

Un­der the as­ter­isk, it elab­o­rates (slightly): ‘‘Flori­daTix an­a­lysed the data of all YouTube video pro­pos­als that have taken place at each des­ti­na­tion.’’

A spokesman con­firmed that a to­tal of 15 at­trac­tions were in­cluded in the study. Dis­cov­ery Cove Or­lando, by the way, was one of those that missed out on the top 10.

So es­sen­tially it drew up a list of 15 sites, ap­par­ently at ran­dom (but in­clud­ing three which it sells tick­ets to visit), and searched YouTube for pro­posal videos. Us­ing this highly sci­en­tific method, it was able to de­duce that Dis­ney World is ‘‘the most ro­man­tic place in the world to pro­pose’’. What a stretch. More ac­cu­rate would be: ‘‘At­trac­tion with the most pro­posal-re­lated YouTube re­sults of the 15 places we’d al­ready cho­sen’’.

Flawed re­search aside, the press re­lease begs an­other ques­tion – why are so many peo­ple (at least 60,000 in 10 years, al­legedly) propos­ing at Dis­ney World? Do some cou­ples re­ally think it is a ro­man­tic hol­i­day des­ti­na­tion?

The of­fi­cial web­site would also sug­gest so – it even has a ‘‘True Love’’ sec­tion.

‘‘Cel­e­brate your love with the princess or prince charm­ing who gave you the gift of ‘hap­pily ever af­ter’,’’ it says, sick­en­ingly. ‘‘Set an en­chant­ing stage for a pro­posal, hon­ey­moon, an­niver­sary or a ro­man­tic get­away’’.

For­get Venice, Paris or some Pa­cific Ocean atoll – it­would seem that there are peo­ple out there who as­so­ciate ro­mance with Mickey Mouse.

Some get mar­ried there, too. You can pur­chase spe­cial hats for the oc­ca­sion:

‘‘Con­grat­u­la­tions to the happy cou­ple! To cel­e­brate, pick up the new groom and bride ear hats avail­able at The Chapeau at Magic King­dom Park and other mer­chan­dise lo­ca­tions through­out the re­sort. The bride hat in­cludes a crown and veil and the groom hat is a mini tuxedo com­plete with bow tie!’’ Heaven’s above.

If any­thing, all this sim­ply con­firms that Dis­ney World must be one of the least ro­man­tic places in the world to pro­pose.

If it’s favoured by those who pop the ques­tion in public, on video, and then post it on to YouTube, then count us out.

Photo: REUTERS

Fan­ta­sy­land: Is Dis­ney World re­ally the place to pop the ques­tion?

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