For years I have held a grudge against Disney and to be honest, I am not even sure who started the fight. As a child in Kansas, I only had four channels to choose from so I grew up on “The Wonderful World of Disney” and reruns of “The Mickey Mouse Club” (at times I wish my children had such a wholesome offering). One would think I would be as smitten with all things Mickey as those obsessive pin collectors with their fanny packs full of treasures and their hawk eyes leering at the lanyards of every cast member they see. But somewhere along my time line, the magic spell was broken.
Perhaps the reason I lost interest in Mickey over the years was because my family never vacationed in Disneyland or Disneyworld. We were Silver Dollar City folks; Branson, pre-Jimmy Osmond. My family’s idea of vacation was watching pioneers make lye soap or dancing saloon girls playfully rough up my dad’s hair with their skirts. This destination fit very well with my sister’s obsession with “Little House on the Prairie” and she not only used the lye soap, but she bought, and for years wore, a night cap. On our various trips I bought a corn cob pipe and a pair of moccasins, but I never really bought into Silver Dollar City. I guess I am just not a very good tourist. I have a terrible knack for seeing the man behind the curtain.
Now that I have children, I have tried to put aside my cynicism and my differences with Mickey, especially since I still can’t pinpoint exactly what they are, and have taken my kids to Disneyworld…twice. Granted on our first trip, I didn’t see what all the fuss was about (See Loosing My Disneyginity) but on our recent trip for the Not So Scary Halloween Party, I felt like I was having dinner with an ex-boyfriend: why did we ever break up? Mickey was delightful (I swear they give cast members ecstasy), giving (insane amount Disney-good candy), spontaneous (wow a parade! look! The Mad Hatter! Wow fireworks!) and surprising (I am now sexually attracted to the Headless Horseman who charged through Main Street on a gorgeous, dark horse). I was becoming light headed, drunk off the magic and then Mickey did that thing…that thing that pissed me off and broke us up in the first place. Waiting in line to see Minnie’s kitchen, I noticed on her fake hallway desk a fake list of things to do each day and a grey ire began to pulse through my veins, pushing out all the pixie dust.
According to Walt, all Minnie (and China Doll, my daughter who is obsessed with her) needs to worry about each day is pleasing Mickey, losing weight, pleasing Mickey, dieting, pleasing Mickey…and recycling. Apparently, Minnie needs a low fat breakfast, but Mickey can eat all the cake she can bake. If the list wasn’t plastic and permanently sealed to a plastic desk, I would have ripped it up. Before we reached this list, we passed a room with an easel and impressive examples of her art. Notice, “Attend art class” or “Call Stefan about wine for gallery opening” is not in the top 9. I don’t want to draw any conclusions, but the last celluloid character to repress her passion for art was Mrs. Robinson.Compared to the Pirates of the Carribean ride, this infraction was slight. On that ride my daughters floated past an animatronic scene of women bound together with rope and an auctioneer selling them to the highest bidder shouting derogatory remarks: “Turn around and let ‘em see what they’re buying, ya wench!” When Rafael asked, “Why are they tied up?” it took several minutes for me to respond. “They’re playing a game,” was all I could come up with because “Disney is evil” would require follow up. There should be a disclaimer before entering, placed somewhere near the height requirement, that reads, “Don’t take your daughters. This ride is to teach boys to demean your daughters and treat them like possessions. Yo Ho!” Did no one in the planning session see that this was a terrible choice? And why weren’t there any African American pirates? Since when has Disney chosen historical accuracy over good storytelling? (I know it is too much to ask for responsible storytelling)
I feel had, like being conned in to sleeping with the ex-boyfriend because the tequila was too good. Now we have season passes and two children who think Disney is the cloud before heaven. I am sure people will think I am overreacting, but those people think Ariel giving her voice away in order to marry a man is a cute story and believe Aurora is as affective a heroine as Paris Hilton is a member of society. They probably wouldn’t notice that in a recent “news” program, discussion focused on who was the fairest First Lady: Michelle Obama or Carla Bruni. They wouldn’t be concerned that on the release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Platinum Edition, society hasn’t progressed very far.