Monday, April 4, 2011
The Unwilling Suspension of Disbelief
I was never a big fan of Disney growing up. Too cute, too soft, too cuddly. I liked the Warner Brothers cartoons: Bugs Bunny, Foghorn Leghorn, Wile E. Coyote. They were anarchists. Trouble-makers. Anti-social slackers. Not a cute one in the bunch (well, maybe Tweety Bird, but even she was pretty cruel to that cat).
I decided Disney was evil with a small "e" after learning that they hired an army of lawyers and lobbyists to change copyright law so they could own their creations for over a lifetime (overturning the notion that artistic work falling into public domain contributes to the public good).
Disney became evil with a big "E" to my admittedly biased mind with their hyper-sexualization of pre-teen girls and glorification of celebrity on shows like Hannah Montana.
But I digress.
Disneyland is great fun (to help insure this, I left my prejudices at the gate). It's great fun because they do several things very well. Lines are long, but they get you on and off the rides quickly and efficiently. And while you're in line, there's stuff to do, things to look at (the people watching alone is worth the price of admission). It a well-designed park, laid out with crowd-handling in mind, and something for everyone always within eyesight. It's cheaper than I expected (much cheaper than, say, a major league baseball game). And everyone there does their job very well. They are knowledgeable, polite, well trained. The Mad Hatter and Alice even knew why a raven is like a writing desk!*
Most of all, though, they make sure that the illusion they want you to buy into is so wildly appealing you are willing to suspend your disbelief. The costumes and makeup and sets and animatronics are all so detail-perfect you are more than willing to throw reality out the window and just go with it.
There was a moment, at the very end of the first day, with the fireworks display lighting up that famous Disney castle, when Tinkerbell appeared over the castle, amid the fireworks. I couldn't figure out how they did it. She was higher than the castle! How were they doing this? She must really be...flying!
Minutes later, all the cordite in the air revealed the cable tethered between the Matterhorn and the castle, and you could kinda see how they pulled it off. But it was too late by then. I had already bought into the illusion, hook, line and sinker. I was a kid again.
Damn you, Disney.
*because Poe wrote on both