For weeks leading up to our Disney trip, 20 years after my disastrous EPCOT trip, I had some reservations going back. I was 42 years old and thought I was too mature, too jaded to enjoy Disney any more. To use the English vernacular I thought it was “naff“. Even though I loved Disney’s animation as a teen, somewhere while I was moving to Bittertown, I lost my love of Disney as a whole. Though secretly, way down inside, I still wanted to go to The World.
My first impression of Magic Kingdom was manipulative. It stripped me and fed me and made me happy like some bizarre Star Trek episode where the crew is fed by parasitic aliens.
When we got to the Transportation and Ticketing Center (where all major monorail lines converge to the different points in The World
PROTIP: Ask to sit at the front of the monorail, up with the pilot. They have room for 4 people!* see comments) my excitement was like a lava bubble, pushing up on the crusty exterior of my stodginess. The monorail ride itself was an item off my bucket list, so the rest of the day would be more of the same, right? We came down the ramp from the station, passed the security/ticket gates and walked towards the Magic Kingdom’s gate.
And as we approached… a steam engine pulled in, all bells and steam and hooting whistle. Wow…!
We passed through the archway into Town Square and HOLY CRAP THERE’S A PARADE GOING ON!! A real American parade. Know that if you ever wanted to actually see the difference between a Canadian and an American, watch their parades. The US parades are regimented, all pomp and ceremony. Canadian parades are loosey goosey and may or may not include uniforms, rarely do they have pageant queens on a tractor dressed up as a pig. I digress. The parade we walked into was a full on AMERICAN PARADE. Red white and blue everywhere. Bands playing, dancers, characters, flags, the whole bit.
I realized something quickly – that reality was being folded here. That this wasn’t the outside world. It was another world. And as soon as I realized that, I let go of the outside world like it was a hot rock and immersed myself in this new place. Disney’s reality was so much more vivid. I’m sure this is what the first audience who screened Wizard of Oz experienced when Dorothy left her destroyed house.
And then I saw the castle. An utter anachronism rising out of an old American main street. I had seen it so many times before, electronically. Burned into my consciousness like a plasma TV set to CNN. A balloon managed to free itself and floated up into the blue sky…
I gulped back a sob and felt my heart surge upward – the magma crested the crusty exterior and I cried a bit. Thankfully SharkBoy didn’t make a thing of it. I was happy.
The point of this post has morphed over a couple days. Originally I wanted to say how Disney physically and emotionally manipulates you when you enter a park. Then I wanted to write about how SharkBoy has manipulated me into loving Disney. Now I feel I’m trying to manipulate you, dear reader, into experiencing the “magic”. I sort of feel like I’m trying to put an alien brain slug on your cranium. And in some ways Disney acts like a virus – spreading joy and happiness like mindless zombies, outward into the cultural world. But it’s a good thing. Seriously. Come here. Let me put this on your head.