June 15, 2007

Disney Landed

Four fun highlights to enjoy in Anaheim California.

• Watching a freeway pursuit in a bar

Australians go to the cricket and run across the pitch naked, and Californians steal cars and try to evade the police while television choppers spotlight them from above. I like to think of LA freeway pursuits as the purest form of reality TV. The line between art and life has been removed completely and we are left with the pure entertainment of one man’s struggle against the LAPD. Like any good reality TV show the contestants are poorly equipped to succeed, setup to fail from the outset. The fascination of their inevitable demise is enjoyed in bars and hotels across the city, providing stimulating distraction while you sip on a pre-mixed margarita.

• Freaks on show

I felt like I had entered a theme park before I even got to Disneyland. The main attraction in Freak Show USA are the hideously obese families – Blobs. Society in America is tolerant of the obese, yet never grows to truly accept these misfortunate people who manage to keep their gene pool very exclusive. Blob meets Blob, marry in front of an Elvis impersonator and have Blob children who will go on to raise their own Blob families. Everyone thinks that Americans don’t travel outside their own country because they don’t know the names of anyone else’s, but the real reason is that most of them can’t fit through the security gates at the airport. Blob culture has reached its critical threshold, the point at which society is so accustomed to Blobs that people no longer recognise the life threatening condition for what it is. Blob has been normalised, just build bigger cars.

• Queue on cue

The main reason you need a five day pass to truly experience Disneyland is because you spend at least two of those days standing in queues. The park reaches capacity at 60,000 people, but once you get to 20,000 even the spinning cups of the Mad Tea Party require a little patience while you stand in line and watch everyone else enjoy the magic of Disney. We’re not really talking about the kind of queue found at a McDonalds counter either, no no no. Some of the most talented people on the Disney payroll are employed to invent new ways to cope with the miles and miles of congo lines created by the bigger attractions. Human lemmings are shunted along ramps, down spirals and spilt in different directions – all designed to conceal the true length of the queue. I waited over 60 minutes at Splash Mountain to enjoy a 7 minute ride, after which I joined a 15 minutes queue to order lunch.

• Parade of Dreams

In spite of the crushing crowds, mountains of merchandise and incessant broadcasting of “It’s a small world after all” Disneyland is still a place where dreams come true. If you think it’s about the rides you miss the whole point of Walt Disney’s creation. Walt’s dream was a place where everyone is happy, everything is fun and anybody is welcome. Gualos, Cholos, Skips and Chinks all hang out together at Disneyland, all soaking up the love and suspending reality for those precious hours spent inside the park. Muslims dads take their sons on the pirates ride and Japanese newly weds snap bridal photos with Cinderella. What kind of world would we live in if the United Nations moved their headquarters to Mickey’s Toontown? The showstopper for me was the Parade of Dreams, when twice a day the main thoroughfares are transformed into a cavalcade of stories and dance. It’s a great show, it’s a family show, and it finishes with Mickey Mouse robed in royalty atop his castle – which is kinda nice because as Walt Disney always said, “It all started with a mouse”.

June 10, 2007

Walts Dream

Disney Land is a place where dreams still come true, where young children are immersed in a world of fantasy. This is not an amusement park, the rides are about fantasy instead of terror. It's the traditional themes that still make Disney a unique destination.

The looks on children's faces as they stand in line for a ride says it all. They're bursting to get onto a ride and the excitement is infectious. Children of all ages, races and religion patiently wait in line, trying to figure out how many turns before they get on.

The Mad Tea Party is what finally gave me a personal connection with the park. A simple cup and saucer spinning around in colourful circles, with families and couples sitting inside spinning the wheel and making themselves dizzy. There were just as many teenagers on this ride as any other, enjoying some Disney inspired romance at the happiest place on earth.