Mr. Reinhardt goes to Disney
That’s the first word that came to my head as I set foot in the Magic Kingdom for the first time at the ripe old age of 27. I had heard legends of the place known as Disney World all the time growing up. Watching the Disney Channel, I would constantly see documentaries and events being broadcast from Disney World, or I would hear of it from friends, or my parents who went there once upon a time. As a kid, Disney World does indeed look like a dream come true, and I constantly would beg my parents to take me to this magical place in the far away land of Florida. The hype didn’t stop after childhood, as I’ve heard plenty of adults, my age and older, speak of Disney World like it’s a Mecca that we all must journey to before we die and be judged by the Mouse. Finally, after 27 years of living, I got my opportunity to visit the House of Mouse and see what all the hype is.
First of all, I was amazed that I couldn’t just fucking walk in like a normal amusement park. I had to take a tram, which then gave the choice of a ferry or monorail which would in fact take me to the Magic Kingdom. So there I was, on a ferry drifting ever closer to the spires of Cinderella’s castle, and that’s when the surreal feeling hit me. I realized then that this probably wasn’t the best age to be making my first trip to Disney. The world has done it’s damage and I’m jaded, so as soon as I stepped off that damn ferry and set foot onto the sovereign nation of Disney, I immediately started looking for the cracks.
Screaming children. That was the first crack. Screaming, bawling children everywhere. It struck me as odd that parents would take a child so young to a place like Disney because there’s no way in Hell that kid will retain any of this. In the screaming child’s mind, he’s hot and uncomfortable and in a place with lots of bright lights and loud noises, but the screaming child syndrome lead to my favorite game to play while at Disney, which is spot the unhappy parents.
I was having lunch at the Pecos Bill cafe and saw a child who leveled up from screaming baby to full on werewolf howl, and the look of defeat on his father’s face was priceless. At one point, the dad decided to give up and sat there texting on his phone while his child continued to voice his displeasure. Another time, I was walking past a Mother who’s child was in a stroller crying and she just gives up and exclaims “The happiest place on Earth still won’t make you happy!”
The highlight of all this was an entire family: A Mother walking a few feet in front and a Father dealing with TWO whining children. At one point, the Dad tells his kids that they only have to hold on for thirty more minutes.
"And God forbid you actually spend 30 minutes with your own children!" The Mother exclaimed as she kept walking.
I guess the moral of this all is that if you are going to bring your kids to Disney, make sure they’re old enough to appreciate it. Disney is a place that most people dream of going their whole lives. Obviously not all of them are going to wait until they’re in their mid 20s and cynical, but you never know.
But the thing that struck me most about Disney is the illusion they create. Disney is in the middle of a goddamn swamp and you have to cross a damn moat to get there, and the entire park has a narrative. From the get go you’re bombarded with stuff about “making your dreams come true” and living the fantasy, and other bullshit like that. Every ride has a story to it, however flimsy that story is, and not even halfway through, a strange feeling hit me-
I was getting caught up in it.
I found myself with a feeling of nostalgia for the old Disney cartoons that I hated as a child, mostly because I was a little asshole. I marveled at the damn good animatronics in the rides (except for the animatronic Sigourney Weaver in the Movie Ride, that thing was scarier than the damn Alien). I marveled at the projection technology used in The Haunted Mansion and then later used to light up Cinderella’s Castle (I’m serious, that shit is the future). I even enjoyed Pirates of the Caribbean more than I should have (even though it should be called Jack Sparrow: The Ride).
I only spent one day in Disney, so I didn’t get time to visit all the parks, but for the most part I did enjoy myself and do want to go back someday. I realized that Disney is a place I should hate: Crass consumerism, evil corporations, clueless tourists, people stopping every ten minutes to take selfies, etc. Maybe to some people, Disney is a place where dreams come true, but in the end, I saw it as a well done tourist attraction that sold shitty Star Wars merchandise (seriously Disney, I was hoping to pick up some cool swag). I’m glad I finally got there, and in the end I think it worked better because the Mouse couldn’t cast his spell on me, but Disney is really what you make of it folks. Just be considerate next time you decide to bring a small child there.