I recently got back from a 7 day vacation in the Caribbean. I’ll write about that part later, because writing is hard. But since we were leaving from Florida, we made a stop in the Magic Kingdom for a whole day. Yay, I thought. I’ve only been there twice before, the last time being 8 years ago. Going as an adult is still enjoyable, but it’s not quite the magical utopia you remember. Now I’m old enough to realize:
1. It’s Creepily Sterile
Every amusement park I’ve ever been to has always been covered in trash. Candy wrappers, puke, napkins, spilled food, empty lube containers…it’s always everywhere all the time. And there’s one simple reason: it’s impossible to keep that much space clean when you sell the very stuff that gets thrown all over the place in the park. You just cannot hire enough people. I don’t care how many trash barrels you put at every corner and every ride, I guarantee you there will be a pile of shit right next to it. And somebody will put a plastic bottle in the clearly marked paper bin. I’m trying to come up with an appropriate punishment for these violators other than “Merry-Go-Round Castration” but I’m honestly struggling.
At Disney World, not only did I see almost no litter, but I can’t remember seeing anyone picking up any trash, ever. No janitors, no prisoners, no costumed vigilantes. My question is this: Where the hell does it go? Is it like one of those restaurants where after you’re done eating you just push everything onto the floor and it’s absorbed by the carpets and fed to the gnomes or something? It defies physics how thousands of people could consume so much in such a confined space and not leave a mess. Additionally, none of the rides were dirty. I considered licking the safety bar of the space mountain roller coaster, but decided against it because it was moving too fast.
2. It’s Creepily Isolated
When you drive into Disney World, you’re really driving onto the Disney complex, which is just a huge network of highways connecting all of their shit. Not surprisingly, the landscaping is impeccable, but the really weird part is that once you go past the gates, it’s like there is no outside. All of their highway signs point to just Disney stuff. So if you speed away from Animal Kingdom needing a hospital because you got mauled by an animatronic crocodile, you will end up in EPCOT.
The weirdest incident proving this point happened on the train ride. Not Thunder Mountain, I mean the literal train ride that brings you to a different area of the park (shut up I was tired). For some reason they fill the route up with fake scenes of Native American camps and animals as if to remind visitors what nature used to look like before Mickey civilized the place with magic. Just to be clear, they put up motionless scenes of animals. There are deer that look real, but don’t do anything. And people take pictures of them. So, it was kindof incredible to watch people’s reactions when they noticed a real live squirrel sitting on a fence post eating a nut, facing the train. People went berserk, like “holy fuck NATURE!” They literally gasped at a squirrel. The whole park is built on a fucking swamp, what the hell do you think lives here? It was like they were being conditioned to expect to only ever see fake animals.
Speaking of conditioning:
3. It’s Creepily Controlled:
Have you ever wondered what EPCOT stands for? When I first heard it as a child, I must have realized it was a nonsense word, but I never questioned what it was. To be honest, I don’t think anyone visiting ever has. They could have named the park anything they wanted and people would have showed up.
EPCOT stands for “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.”
That’s literally what it was supposed to be. See, before he died Walt Disney envisioned a fabricated Utopian city where corporations could test out ideas for urban living – on actual people who lived there. He chose Florida specifically to build this place alongside the Magic Kingdom. He bought all the land with dummy corporations and petitioned the government to give The Walt Disney Company municipal rights, which would allow him to build anything he wanted. EPCOT was supposed to be Disney’s ultimate vision. Then he died, and the corporation decided they didn’t want to be in the business of running a city, and abandoned the project completely, while still maintaining the land rights. This means, right now, that Disney could build a nuclear power plant inside Cinderella’s castle and it would be perfectly legal. The board of supervisors for the district is full of Disney executives. Who’s gonna complain?
Plus it’s not like Disney keeps this a secret. A model of the original plan is shown on the People Mover in TomorrowLand.
EPCOT Center was instead converted to a sort of world’s fair. This might clear up some confusion as to why there is a big sciency ball dropped between Mexico and China.
As for the fake utopia? It’s totally goddamn real now. Celebration, Florida is a town located right near the Disney Resort. Going off of Walt’s original vision, it’s completely run by the Disney Corporation. It has it’s own handpicked shops, a huge hospital, and even a fucking public high school. 3,000 people live there, in little villages.
So, we have a whole town and the entire surrounding area that is literally owed by Disney. If they wanted to, they could build a Chocolate Factory that spews toxic waste all over some Celebration residents’ backyards and no one can do shit about it.
Do the math. There’s nothing to celebrate here.
4. It’s Creepily Staffed
Remember in college going to career fairs and seeing booths from all these different companies desperate for your just-graduated attention (if you haven’t been yet, you will definitely see this)? Remember how Disney was always there touting the Disney College Program? Wow, you get to intern at Disney World, how awesome is that! And you can live there? Sign me the fuck up!
The Disney College Program is one of the largest internship programs in the U.S., employing over 8,000 students per semester. Personally, I think a lot of internships are bullshit, but these students get paid, right? And they do get to live at Disney.
In apartments with 7 other people.
And they pay for housing.
And they basically get paid nothing.
In order to even get into the program, you have to pay $300 in fees. Then $100 per week in housing, docked from your already meager pay. In fact, it’s so meager, that full-time veteran employees have complained that Disney uses college students for cheap labor, paying them half of a regular employee while not giving any benefits. That is atrocious. Disney makes billions of dollars, and they charge college kids a couple hundred bucks in bullshit fees. And if you’re stuck living with the ones who have to dress up as costumed characters? Imagine sleeping near 7 other college kids who all think they are professional actors.
Ok, so you paid your dues, and now you finally go to work for Disney. So what exactly do you get to do? Well…anything. They use the college kids as sales people and food vendors, and as mentioned, the costumed characters. And yes, they do get to operate rides.
When we decided to take the tiny raft over to Tom Sawyer Island for some reason (don’t bother, I literally don’t know what that has to do with Disney or what it’s purpose is.) I had a realization. When we got off the boat back on the main shore, there was a girl whose job was to grab the rope from the guy driving the raft, and tie it ashore. Then, once it was safe to dismount, open the gate and let everyone off. That was her entire job.
AND THIS WAS HER INTERNSHIP.
She just tied the raft, every 2 minutes, all day long, in the heat. I looked her straight in the eye, and gave her one of the most sincere thank you’s I had ever given anyone up to that point. For opening the gate for me.
It’s the classic “grass is greener” scenario. Remember when you were a kid and you thought about how cool it would be to live in Florida so you could go to Disney World all the time? Newsflash: you would hate it after the third visit. These college kids probably grew up adoring everything Disney, and jumped at the chance to work there. And I’m guessing after serving their 200th Goofy Burger and coming in contact with their 1000th sweaty tourist, they probably don’t want shit to do with it anymore.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe she legitimately enjoyed letting people off the raft. And I get it, somebody has to do these jobs. I’m just saying that if it were me I would drown myself in Pirates of the Caribbean.
5. It’s Creepily Dated
When I went to Magic Kingdom, there were 3 rides I had to go on: Space Mountain, Haunted Mansion, and Pirates of the Caribbean. Space Mountain is insanely fun, even though the line length was double what they wrote on the sign. The Haunted Mansion has a silly-yet-scary vibe to it, and the special effects hold up. (I still can’t figure out how they do the thing where the ghost messes with you in the mirror.) But Pirates? Pirates of the Caribbean is an objectively terrible ride.
There I said it.
Ya, some of the set pieces are neat looking, but they have worse special effects than Sharktopus vs. Supergator. The iconic scene of the pirates and the wenches running around like a cuckoo clock looks so stupid in 2012. Most of the animatronics have gone unchanged since like, 1971, yet there’s a pretty realistic Johnny Depp thrown into some of the scenes. It looked like a real person got lost in a toy store who thinks all of the singing dolls are out to get him.
This would all be pretty forgivable, except the ride feels really short. Then I looked it up and realized why. Apparently the original Disneyland ride is WAY longer. The detailed description talks about at least 5 scenes that I didn’t see, including an entire beginning where you float through Louisiana, an ending in which a bunch of pirates start fighting in an armory, and more scenes in the wrecked ship – all of which are included in the Disneyland video I linked earlier. I don’t remember seeing any of that. And I wasn’t that drunk.
Despite all that, I still felt like I HAD to go on the ride. It was just something you do. And I would do it the hell again, even though I read rumors one time that Disney cast members are forced to pee in the water in some sort of hazing ritual.
Well, since I ranted too long about Pirates, I ran out of time to say what I really wanted to say, which was that it’s creepy how you feel like women suddenly shouldn’t be allowed to vote when you walk down Main Street, and that TomorrowLand looks like what some guy in 1962 thought “tomorrow” would look like, when in reality it’s been “tomorrow” for 5 decades and nothing’s ever looked like that.
6. It’s Creepily Affordable
So you’re stuck in the isolated park, and you need to eat. Every other amusement park in the world charges you up the ass for a churro because they know you can’t leave and you biologically have to consume nutrients. It’s supply and demand. Disney’s food prices, though, were…actually pretty good. A soda is like a couple of bucks. An ice cream costs the same down the street from me. The reason it’s creepy is because you know there is some sinister motivation behind this. It’s Disney for fucks sake, they hid penises in the cover art of the Little Mermaid VHS. Something just doesn’t add up.
But then at the end of the night you realize that you just paid $90 to wait in 3 hours of lines for 5 rides, including one where wading around in urine while you watch male robots sell female robots as sex slaves to other male robots is a normal part of the ride.
– – – – –
I recommend learning about how Disney controls your nose here and how all the costumed characters share underwear here. Oh and I forgot one more thing: fuck It’s a Small World. I will never go on it, so stop trying to make me.