Magic Simulacra

Despite being educated about the evils of the Disney corporation in my post-adolescent years, the family and I had a memorable day at Magic Kingdom yesterday thanks to AM’s Papa and Nana (no way could we afford such fun on GA or contingent faculty $). We were there briefly in May, but we packed in a whole lot more yesterday: photos with characters, three parades, several rides (i.e. Small World, Mad Tea Party, Tomorrowland Speedway, Dumbo, Peter Pan’s Flight Swiss, and Jungle Cruise) and and handful of shows and evening fireworks.

Fam with Mickey and Minnie

Having been to Disney World a few times as a kid (4th grade was thee trip I remember most) I think what I found most remarkable about visiting the park as an adult and with my 2-y.o., is how classic everything is. Many of the attractions — Small World, the Tea Party, Dumbo, Peter Pan, the Treehouse, Jungle Cruise — haven’t changed at all (or perhaps more honestly, I don’t remember them differently). I still have an LP of music from the park from the early 80s (so used and scratched up it barely plays) and the music for the Electrical Parade and the Tiki Room were instantly recognizable (the wiki for the Electrical Parade sketches its history in more detail than you can possibly imagine). It’s not that there haven’t been upgrades: the fireworks were preceded by a mega-tech, dizzying program of mashed up photos and animations that were projected on the castle. And they’re developing an entirely new Fantasyland for 2012. And while I imagine my impressions have more to do with desire, nostalgia, and my daughter than anything actual or material, many of the rides looked and felt as new as they did before 1987: a powerful display of simulacra upon simulacra.

Emily and AM on Dumbo

Aside from all this wow, I have to say that the staff and services were impressive. Unlike Seaworld, where you could feel yourself being shaken down at the turn of every park corner, one could imagine that bacon bringers might feel like they actually got something for their money: a clean park, happy children, and accommodating, professional staff everywhere. Since my dad shattered his heal in September, he had to use an ECV all day; surprisingly, we found most attractions accessible and the employees accommodating (designated HC spaces for parades, separate lines for rides, etc.). The only problem were the fellow tourists who would rarely give way or acknowledge his scooter (which closed in on their ankles).

Disney is obviously abominable in a number of ways (in fact, my students and I will look at the company’s ugly, aggressive, hypocritical stance toward intellectual property in WRT 205 this spring), and the park is unfortunately prohibitively expensive for most, but I was fortunate to have a great day with my family, and for that I am thankful.