Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Observations from Disney World

I'm back from vacation and during the Disney Death March (tm His Awesomeness), I noticed several things that I thought I'd share.

But first, wait, what? Disney? Yes, To celebrate her retirement, HA's mom took us all to Disney World for a week. So it was me, HA, his mom & aunt, his brother & sister-in-law, and nieces, almost 8 year old R and 5 year old Eeeeeeeee, so named because the entrance to The Pirates of the Caribbean Ride scared her so much that she made a run for it. Actually ran away from her parents who she decided she could no longer trust not to take her towards peril.

We couldn't take The Kid with us, because it's too soon. We haven't even had an overnight stay with her yet. This trip has been in the works for a year and a half or more and the adoption timing just didn't work out. We did a Skype chat with her while we were away so she could meet with family. So we suck, but hopefully she doesn't hate us too much. We've been discussing future vacations with just the 3 of us, which will probably work out better since 5 year olds and 13 year olds tend not to want to go on the same rides.

My parents took my brother and me to both Disneyland and Disney World back in the day and they both firmly believe that Walt Disney hated kids. Between the intentionally scary rides and the unintentionally creepy animatronics, was Walt trying to make kids happy, or freak them out? We'll have to leave that to corporate historians to decide.

Speaking of my 1970s trips to both Disneys, I'd like to take this opportunity to publicly apologize to my parents for making them take me on the It's a Small World ride 10 times. It was probably a violation of the Geneva Convention and I thank them for not turning me into the Swiss, or the UN, or whoever enforces the Geneva Convention. In my defense, there weren't as many other rides to distract me with back in the 70s.

If you're unfamiliar with the It's a Small World ride, it's the most adorable circle of Hell. As much as I'd been looking forward to it this time, my initial reaction was "Gah!" There's a LOT to look at. It's a pleasant little boat ride past little animatronic puppets representing the children of the world as "It's a Small World" plays over and over again. We spent the whole ride pointing out the different nationalities - "hey, Spain! look, Germany!" and so on.

Oh, here, just watch:

When we went on it as a group, R and Eeeeeeee had already done it. R was unenthused because "the song goes on too long," but Eeeeeeee did an interpretive dance of joy when we told her she was going on it again. If a 7 year old finds a ride kind of annoying, you can only imagine how much the parents are into it. But it was awesome. So there.

Random Observations:

There are many awesome things about going on a vacation with 7 other people. Having to inform all of them when you need to go use the bathroom is not one of them. And having to ask a teenager in a ringmaster's costume to let you out of the waiting area for the Dumbo ride because you have to use the bathroom and weren't going to go on the ride anyway is as un-awesome as it sounds.  

Walt said that what Florida had over California was space to build. You know why that is, Walt? Because it's humid as, oh let's say, Timon and Pumbah's crotches. It's where they invented humidity. It's the perfect weather for the Disney Death March rushing from ride to ride to line up for a show 30 minutes before it starts because otherwise you might not get a seat and if you don't get a seat, it sure as hell isn't Disney's fault for building the theater too small. If you show up only ten minutes early you get shut out and your children burst into tears, that's all on you. Hmm...maybe Walt hated parents too.

Happiest place on earth, my grandmother. Stop and look around at any second, and someone is losing this mind. A kid is pitching a fit, parents are losing patience with their kids, or couples are having full blown arguments in front of their kids and hundreds of strangers. How is it the homicide rate at Disney World so low?

At our hotel, I saw kids get excited over pushing the elevator buttons. As kids do. Considering all the delights that Disney World offers, if they showed the same level of excitement for the elevator buttons that they had for meeting Mickey, it's a wonder their parents didn't strangle them on the way up to their room at the end of the day.

All the cast members are required to be aggressively friendly. I even suspect that it comes naturally to many of them. I wonder how many harried parents snap at them. Lord knows I wanted to by the end of day one. 

This place is excellent birth control because there are so many opportunities to see someone else's kid lose their shit and since you don't know that kid, you have zero sympathy for them. But it's also terrible birth control because seeing a child lose their shit over seeing Winne the Pooh may cause spontaneous ovulation. So much. cuteness. Such as the It's a Small World interpretive dance of joy mentioned above. 

There are Mickey Mouse logos everywhere - in the carpet, the soap, EVERYWHERE. I imgine Mickey sitting in a bar somewhere moping like Don Draper - "I used to be a star and now I'm only good as a freaking logo! That's all I am to these people." But the ubiquitous Mickey head shapes are effective brain washing - after just one day you start to see things in gift shops and think that you actually need a mickey shaped salt & pepper shaker set. I was so far gone that I almost bought the car antenna topper pictured above even though I don't own a car. But that was only because it looks like it was designed by an insane person and I loved that.

Main Street USA in Magic Kingdom is based on mainstreet in Walt Disney's actual hometown. In his movies, he fetishized the turn of the century USA, aka his own childhood and the childhood of his parents. Now imagine Disney World if he'd been raised by hippies. No, really. Think about it. Woodstockland. LSD-themed rides. Animatronic war protesters. I wonder if it would be really poorly run because everyone would be too laid back about organization. I mean, the whole Fast Pass thing is pretty awesome. Or would they go out of their way to make the park guests be laid back and chill? Thoughts?