I Love Disney

August 27th, 2011 at 1:16 pm | 10 Comments |

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I just—five minutes ago–arrived in Orlando ahead of the storm.  It’s my summer vacation this year and I’m heading for Disney World. I think this is my tenth trip there. I’ll be honest: I’m at least slightly snobby in my personal tastes day-to-day, click but I can’t help but as to really like Disney. For me, illness  riding Pirates of the Caribbean ranks up there with seeing legislation I wrote pass the United States Senate, for sale getting the first finished copy of the book I edited, winning big research grants, and re-reading favorite novels like One Hundred Years of Solitude and (lowbrow alert) Alas, Babylon. I’m serious.

(Nonetheless, I’m quite a bit less enthusiastic than the guy—who I’ve seen a few times—with all those Disney tattoos and don’t actually own a single piece of Disney clothing.) I’ll also be the first to admit that some criticisms of Disney—you’ll have to wait in line sometimes, the best located hotels have  Manhattan-like room rates—are absolutely true. But the criticism I hear most often from people who have some reason to dislike “Disney experience” is that it’s “plastic,” “fake,” or “manufactured.” seems to me to be utterly meaningless. Of course it’s manufactured. So is everything that human beings have created. Chartres is a self-contained environment, Hamlet is a made up story, and all architecture and art are all human creations. A major part of civilization is the creation and re-creation of the environment. And, by that standard, Disney World stands as a symbol of true genus.

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10 Comments so far ↓

  • kccd

    Me too.

    I grew up in the 50′s watching Disney’s show. I visited Disneyland when I was about 25, and in every picture I have a big grin.

    We took our kids to Disneyworld a few times and while the highlight of one of those Florida trips was watching the shuttle take off, we also loved the parks. Overpriced, yes. Pedestrian food, big crowds and long lines. Kitchy junk for sale. But otherwise a nice family experience that included, on one trip, a naturalist-led exploration of wetlands for kids. Disney is a real contributor to American culture and art (although presenting a sanitized and idealized view).

    Not analogous to Chartres, though.

  • jakester

    The trouble with Disney is that it is geared to the ten year old and that is it. It is at the fairy tale level. Aside from that, it is a lot of fun.

  • Graychin

    My four-year-old granddaughter is obsessed with the various incarnations of Disney princesses – Cinderella, the Little Mermaid, Snow White, Rapunzel, on and on and on. Her favorite color is “princess pink.”

    We used to hope that our granddaughters would grow up knowing they could do anything that boys can do – and more. I’m not sure that the Disney princesses are the best role models.

    Meanwhile, the Disney princess industry is raking in a fortune.

    • kccd

      They have made an effort to update the princess model. For example, the Beauty and the Beast heroine read books and rejected the handsome dolt who wanted to marry her.

  • Slide

    I’m somewhat amused that an adult would love Disney so much. I really don’t get it but different strokes for different folks.

  • cporet

    The best vacation I ever took was to Disney World. Once we deplaned in Orlando everything was taken care of for me and we just enjoyed the hell out of ourselves.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    Of course it’s manufactured. So is everything that human beings have created.

    Wha??? That is like saying a Yugo is the same as a Porsche. Disney is fine for kids of a certain age and the adults that go with them (who enjoy their enjoyment) but without kids I would not go into Disney, not even for free. At some point you will discover that a kid paradise can be an adult hell. I discovered that when I went into a roller skating rink that was reserved for a large pack of children to pick up my 2 boys.
    I take my kids to Six flags or Dorney for them, but I don’t get anything out of it except to enjoy watching them have fun. I really can’t see spending 10 times as much for what would be the equivalent. (I felt the same way about Dorney as a kid as I did about Disney, just that Dorney was local and I could go there a lot more) 15 years ago when I used to take my nephew I enjoyed the rides as much as he did but you will see what time will wrought.
    Let me also say I really don’t mind.
    My guess is that in 15 or 20 years Eli will feel the same way.

  • MSheridan

    Alas, Babylon is lowbrow? Compared to what, exactly? James Joyce’s Ulysses or Tolstoy’s War and Peace? If so, then sure. But if it’s not great literature, it’s at least a great story. It’s not Pat Frank’s fault that his work did a lot to inspire a genre, post-apocalyptic survival, that is largely trashy wish-fulfillment.

    • Graychin

      I noticed that too. He’s just trying to present his intellectual bona fides. Which is only necessary for someone who doesn’t have them.

      • MSheridan

        I figured it was probably just the insecurity of the relatively young (quoth the graybeard in his early 40′s). He’s honest enough to own up to reading speculative fiction, but feels vaguely as if he needs to make excuses for doing so.

        I give most writers on this site credit for being “intellectuals” (i.e., people who engage problems and issues using their intellect). That may not be particularly high praise, as over the course of history the majority of intellectuals (however you’d choose to define the word) have been wrong about something and frequently been wrong about everything. It is still better than being someone who doesn’t engage problems or issues at all or who does so purely on an emotional level. Even in religion, an area in which gut feelings are or may be relevant, the greatest teachers have actually thought about their message.