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  We live in a bizarre time in America, with competing memes  duking it out. The billionaire-financed Conserva-God types are pushing a tea party America down our throats, trying to re-create a country that never existed except in their fever dreams. The Randians are living in a fantasy where they are the heros who don't save the world - they're just waiting for it to self-destruct so they can be the winning cockroaches on top of the wreckage. (Except the collapse isn't happening fast enough, so they're giving it a helping hand.)

    Then you have the villagers, the hermetically sealed elites of the chattering classes. They're SO worried about standards and maintaining bipartisanshipiness because, don't you know, they're magically in touch what what ordinary Americans feel and think, and are so concerned those darn hippies will ruin everything again. And their brothers and sisters in the ruling political class are busy making sure business is happy and America is safe for bankers and corporations, although the really out of control marxist-socialists do occasionally throw a crumb to the parasite class of people who aren't corporate CEOs or think-tank intellectuals every now and then. (But to be fair, they do try to atone for it.)

      Real people trying to survive amid all this, despite the concentration of wealth, downward mobility, permanent unemployment, climate change, peak oil...whatever are you talking about?

      Well, once in a while reality manages to break through. Lurking in the New York Times magazine is what may be one of the more subversive articles to get into print in a long time, A Rough Guide to Disney World by John Jeremiah Sullivan - You Blow My Mind. Hey Mickey!  


   It's more than fitting that a man with Jeremiah for a middle name should write something like this, if you know your Old Testament at all - except Sullivan seems to be past the stage of sounding a warning to the deliberately deaf, and is instead trying to snatch what small pleasures he can amid the maelstrom. While it's something of a cliche, it can't be denied that A) Disney World was created to be an ideal version of an America (and the world), intended to educate as well as entertain, B) show what things could be like/were inevitably going to be like, and C) make a hell of a lot of money for the Disney family and their corporate empire.

        So how are things working out decades later? It's not like the U.S. lacks for utopian visions after all; setting Wall Street free to innovate, shrinking government down to where it can be drowned in a bathtub, making America a Christian nation once again, and so on. For some, these are consuming passions - with the emphasis on consume at several meanings of the word. You begin to get a hint of how things are going south - and I don't just mean Florida - when Sullivan begins his epic:

Something you learn rearing kids in this young millennium is that the word “Disney” works as a verb. As in, “Do you Disney?” Or, “Are we Disneying this year?” Technically a person could use the terms in speaking about the original Disneyland, in California, but this would be an anomalous usage. One goes to Disneyland and has a great time there, probably — I’ve never been — but one Disneys at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. There’s an implication of surrender to something enormous.

emphasis added

   He's not going this alone, of course. It's an experience for the whole family. (And does anyone ever Disney alone? It seems like a perversion somehow.) To make it even more of an experience, an old friend is getting sucked into the vortex along with he and his. Said friend, who has Disneyed before, brings his own insight into the experience:

He talked about how challenging it would be the next day, and during the next days and nights, in the park, not being able to smoke. That wasn’t high on my list of concerns — in fact, I was foolish enough to think that the fact of Disney, that we would be spending our time in the heavily surveilled park, might banish the very notion of smoking weed, easing Trevor’s miniwithdrawals and making my life easier, too, in that I wouldn’t spend too much time stoned, only a few puffs at night like this, it would be a nonissue in terms of domestic harmony. Trevor wasn’t trying to hear that at all. He was definitely stressed. “I’m gonna lose my mind in there,” he said. “Have you ever been in there?”

I had once, when I was 11. I didn’t remember much. It bounced off.

“Well, we go every year,” Trevor said. “And every year I feel like my skull’s about to split open.”

Ever feel like the only way someone can be happy and relaxed in America these days is to be stoned out of one's mind on something? The greatest country on earth? The light to the world? I'll admit to finding Sullivan's tale a little hard to get started - but it sucked me in the more I read. If you want to think about the absurdities of what America is becoming, the microcosm of Disney World  through Sullivan's eyes is like a window into a dark future where things are almost what we thought they were going to be. Almost....

    Wondering what America looks like to the rest of the world? The fountain of freedom, prosperity, and democracy? Here's a sample:

When I taught for a year at a school in Lima, Peru, there was no greater hero among the students than the kid who had just returned from Orlando. They didn’t want to hear about California or New York. I had one student, called Lucho. He came back from his trip with a thick stack of photos, in one of those paper wallets. He wanted to pass them around. And kill 30 minutes of class? Ah, you twisted my arm, Lucho. Unfortunately the pictures were entirely of women’s bottoms. It wasn’t “nice” or shapely bottoms that Lucho had been after, but gigantically obese ones. They’ve never seen people who look like us, most places in the world. I confiscated the pictures and stood red-faced, flip-booking through them in front of the class. Shot after zoomed shot of enormous, complexly dimpled bottoms shrink-wrapped into the most outrageously tight and revealing spandex. Young Lucho had found enough of these to fire through an entire roll. It was hard to come down on a student who showed such thoroughness of observation. I thought about him every time I saw one of these Americans go pounding by.

Want a metaphor for corporate-government partnership and the trade-offs?

From one point of view, the state had deliberately deceived its citizens in order to help a corporation seize a massive chunk of its territory; from another, they were safeguarding a deal that would do more for Florida’s economy than anything since oranges. People still argue over how smart a deal it was. Disney World has made a lot of money, but it’s not clear whether Florida has received a fair share. A lot of this has to do with unique and highly irregular tax arrangements Disney was able to arrange (or demand, to use the term Walt’s brother Roy accidentally let slip at that first press conference). These have only increased over the years. Today there’s even a sort of “Disney visa,” negotiated between the corporation and the U.S. government, in order to make it possible for Disney to fill its foreign-accent needs at Epcot.

And what about that brave new world we're building? You know, EPCOT, where corporations were invited to come in and show how an environmentally sustainable community could be developed? A place where people could live in a working prototype of consumer innovation harnessed to make a better tomorrow? Democracy and free enterprise working together?

The reality, as Foglesong shows, is that Disney never really meant for people to live permanently at Epcot. In the Disney archives, Foglesong turned up a memo, the Helliwell memo, drafted by one of Disney’s lawyers and annotated in the margins by Walt himself, and it makes this point quite plain. Disney crossed out every mention of “permanent residents.” The denizens of Epcot would be passing through, longer-term tourists, staying for a few months at the longest. How could Disney have it otherwise? If your town has residents, then those people are citizens of some local government of the United States — yours. They can vote. They can vote against you. That hardly made sense as part of a corporate development strategy. But without municipality status, Disney wouldn’t be able to secure the legislative fief it ended up getting, with ludicrous tax advantages, unprecedented oversight of land and water usage, of building codes, etc. For that you needed inhabitants. So Disney fibbed and said he wanted them. Foglesong’s point is that these maneuvers leave Disney World in an ambiguous category of legitimacy. It receives the breaks that an autonomous political settlement would have enjoyed (and then some), but it never has had any settlers. Strictly speaking Disney World shouldn’t exist.

emphasis added

(If you want an example in the real world of people trying to build a better future, one they can actually live in and govern themselves, forget Florida and go to Kansas.)

      I'm going to stop stealing from the article here - there's much more to be found in the whole piece. If you want to think of Disney World as a metaphor for the future of America (and W.E.D. certainly did), then looking at the reality experienced by Sullivan - drugged, exhausted, stressed in what is supposed to be the biggest family-friendly experience going ought to be taken as a cautionary tale. What's the phrase? "A nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there."

     I hope Sullivan retains the movie rights for this article. It could easily become the screenplay for an incredibly black comedy, a satiric look at the American Dream turned into nightmare. We're well on the way there.

Think of Disney World as the American Capitalist - Free Enterprise system's counterpart to Mecca, and the ritual trekking of American families to Orlando as some kind of surreal pilgrimage. They beggar themselves, scrimping and saving for a taste of paradise, undergo trials of the flesh, and return to their miserable mundane lives poorer but infused with an idyllic vision increasingly divorced from reality. They don't have jobs, they don't have decent schools or hope for their kids future, their local government doesn't work any more, and don't even think about healthcare or retirement - but by God! At least they've been to the Promised Land.

2:25 PM PT: Update: The Mouse Strikes Back! Checking this diary, what do I find above the comments but an ad for a free Disney trip planner DVD!?!! Surreal...

6:24 PM PT: Update again: The comments on the Sullivan article over at the NY Times are worth a look.  He seems to have made an impact.

Originally posted to xaxnar on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 08:25 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.


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Comment Preferences

  •  Wow, I had to stop to comment (28+ / 0-)
    The Randians are living in a fantasy where they are the heros who don't save the world - they're just waiting for it to self-destruct so they can be the winning cockroaches on top of the wreckage.

    This should be repeated ad-infinitum.  I have yet to see a more perfect summary of libertarianism's sociopathic ideals.


    by slippytoad on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 08:41:04 AM PDT

  •  Awesome article (18+ / 0-)

    I have in fact been to both Disneyland in California and Disneyworld in Florida.  The first for a family trip when I was 10.  The second because the hotels for the TechEd convention included several on the Disney campus . . . Mine was either the one with the seals or the one with the pelicans or some shit like that.

    It was an unbelievably disconnected group of people who I saw there.  I don't think any of them knew what it meant to work for a living -- affording a trip like that even with a decent tech salary was simply not conceivable anymore.  And the level of fake in everything around me was utterly sickening.  I would not take my kids to such a place -- they wouldn't enjoy it.  It would be terminally boring for them.

    Disney's vision, like the vision of so many right-wing social engineers, revolved around a complete disconnect from reality.  And the bullshit with Epcot should be canceled immediately.  What a fucking rig that was.


    by slippytoad on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 08:47:52 AM PDT

    •  Yeah, EPCOT is a Potemkin Village. (13+ / 0-)

      That's why I put in the link about Greensburg, Kansas. It doesn't have to be fake - we CAN actually use technology to make the world better.

      I will admit there are one or two places where I live/work that could use monorails as part of real public transit system.... But people can't get past the Disney mind picture that instead of making the future seem possible makes it seem like a fantasy instead.

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 08:56:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's the "whole hog" effect. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        xaxnar, SherwoodB, Dave925, SyntaxFeline

        When you see THE FUTURE depicted in front of you in its full splendor, it does seem like a fantasy, because (1) there's nothing in the depiction that's not brand new and (2) there's no sense of how to get from here to there.  

        Of course, now we have to get past the 20-year-long retro-esthetics trend, too (much of it apparently perpetrated by progressives who view futurism as necessarily some corporate plot, precisely because of things like Disney).

        The '60s were simply an attempt to get the 21st Century started early....Well, what are we waiting for? There's no deadline on a dream!

        by Panurge on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 09:26:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's the sterility of their vision (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SherwoodB, Dave925, SyntaxFeline

          If EPCOT was really based on useable technology, you'd expect to see Disney marketing it aggressively, and imitators starting up. Disney's vision of the future is about as realistic as the concept cars Detroit used to put out; flashy, exciting - but never going to go into production.

          "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

          by xaxnar on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 09:41:17 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  How to get from here to there... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Large and well trained security forces - mostly out of sight, but always watching and ready to pounce.

          The ability to exclude or to "disappear" those who don't fit in with, or disagree with,  your agenda.

          No time or incentive to observe, think, analyze  or be introspective.

          Psychological control over the people.


          p.s.:  Some groups of people believe that Disney and his creations are a bad or have a negative influence on children.  Many, like me, in general dislike the stifling artificiality and superficiality of things Disney, and others, like those on the religious right, abhor the acceptance of, and marketing of trips to Disney parks to gays, and the inclusion of magic (witchcraft) in Disney stories:  

          Walt Disney has always claimed to be "Family Entertainment" and most people have accepted this image wholeheartedly. However, syndicated columnist Don Feder has exposed Disney as dangerous to children specifically and to society as a whole!!

          The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking that created them - Albert Einstein

          by DaveVH on Sun Jun 12, 2011 at 10:30:35 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  That last statement (0+ / 0-)

        says it all.

    •  There are such better choices (6+ / 0-)

      New Orleans, Savannah, Charleston - real, picturesque streets and architecture, except that they aren't all false fronts. They are real places with real people living in them.

      Disney is all phoney, all plastic, all fake. It is a gigantic lie.

      My contempt for all things Disney is virtually limitless.

      Every day's another chance to stick it to the man. - dls

      by The Raven on Sun Jun 12, 2011 at 07:03:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Kind of like most politics today. (0+ / 0-)

        "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

        by xaxnar on Sun Jun 12, 2011 at 07:40:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Disney parks are a combination... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        The Raven

        ....of amusement park and historical area that fails at both.

        If I want an amusement park, I want thrill rides (the bigger and faster, the better), a midway, and lotsa fried food.  If I want history, I'll go to historical sites or cities like you mentioned...

        9-11 changed everything? Well, Katrina changed it back.

        by varro on Sun Jun 12, 2011 at 01:44:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Agree--both parks are totally sickening (0+ / 0-)

      They are everything that is wrong with this country.  I can't believe that both my daughters bring their children there at every chance.

      If you can't get out of it, get into it!--Outward Bound

      by moira on Sun Jun 12, 2011 at 07:45:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Been there, done that, won't ever go back. n/t (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, JeffW, RWood, SherwoodB, Dave925

    If it's
    Not your body
    Then it's
    Not your choice
    AND it's
    None of your damn business!

    by TheOtherMaven on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 09:37:33 AM PDT

  •  Was at Disneyworld and Disneyland a long time ago (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kimball Cross, SherwoodB, xaxnar

    Magic Kingdom was tolerable, Epcot was a joke (except for the food at the foreign pavilions), the water park was a blast.

    •  TJ, you nailed it! (0+ / 0-)

      I dug the food at the foreign pavilions and got very, very wet! Still was only marginally pleasured by the Magic Kingdom.

      Other than that, see below....

      I'm not paranoid, I'm just well informed--SherwoodB

      by SherwoodB on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 09:21:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I Disneyed.... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, xaxnar, Kimball Cross

    ....back in 1992, and managed to get free admission to Epcot by telling the kid at the front gate that we were Hurricane Andrew refugees.

    Disneyworld is meh.

    9-11 changed everything? Well, Katrina changed it back.

    by varro on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 09:48:18 AM PDT

  •  Another article you may enjoy: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I believe that in every country the people themselves are more peaceably and liberally inclined than their governments. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt

    by Blue Knight on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 10:29:29 AM PDT

  •  I don't know-- (5+ / 0-)

    I live in Southern California, and Disney is a big employer for a lot of my college students.  It's also an employer for some fine folks in the theater business: I know an artistic director for a Shakespeare company who was making some much-needed cash by appearing in one of the musical shows.  A lot of people--a lot of progressives--work for The Mouse, possibly whether they like it or not.

    People around here get season passes and just hang out.  Including some not-so-white people.  I think Disneyland is a bit different.

  •  The great Carl Hiaassen once wrote (5+ / 0-)

    a book length anti-Disney jab, called Team Rodent: How Disney Devours the World.  He points with pride to his banishment from Disney World; this is definitely worth reading.

  •  Well said -- Disney plays on American fears of the (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, Kimball Cross

    outside world. Same with Vegas. Blahhhh....

    •  Vegas is a bit different... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar, greengemini that they know they aren't authentic, and the outside world comes to them.

      I've met the most diverse group of people in Las get a pretty much random grouping of people, all wanting to see if they're going to be the one who escapes the slight house edge.  

      9-11 changed everything? Well, Katrina changed it back.

      by varro on Sun Jun 12, 2011 at 01:48:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  When my daughter turned 4 (6+ / 0-)

    way back in 1995, we took a week's trip to Disneyland. We got five day passes for $55 per person (adult); the child's admission was even less. It was a wonderful trip. I will never forget the look of delight on my daughter's face as she went on her first ride...Peter Pan, of course. We went in December, the park was empty, and we walked on to all the rides, no waiting.

    Now, of course, a single day's admission will set you back way more than the five day passes used to, and even at low attendance periods it will still be pretty crowded some of the day. The park cuts back on attendants and closes off attractions to save money during these periods, and the guest experience suffers as a result.

    Our family went to either Disneyland or Disneyworld fairly regularly while my daughter was a child and each year we saw the experience degrade while the cost climbed.
    Last January, we went for to Disneyworld to see Animal Kingdom. We enjoyed the zoo parts of the park, but that will probably be our last visit ever. Just not worth it anymore for adults.

  •  There are Disney ads (5+ / 0-)

    above and below the diary. I have seen some very sick juxtapositions of ads vs. diary content lately. The bots just find a keyword and run with it. They don't think. But I think the unfortunate ads only serve to illustrate the point of this excellent diary.

    Everything pastime is theme these days; family vacations, kids' birthday parties, weddings and so on.

    curious portal - to a world of paintings, lyric-poems, art writing, and graphic and web design

    by asterkitty on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 04:05:39 PM PDT

  •  I was on Disney (FL) property in 1985.... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kimball Cross, xaxnar, SherwoodB, IreGyre

    ....which, at that time, included EPCOT and the Magic Kingdom only.  I liked EPCOT very much, actually.  Yes, it's artificial, and yes, the corporations get to spin favorably towards themselves, but with all that in mind, it was still a good time.  I had been to Disneyland 3X that year and I found the Magic Kingdom to be a sprawling but pale imitation.  Then again, I went to MK at the end of my week, when I was already tired.

    Having said that, I moved back to Florida in 2000, left in 2006, and in all that time I never set foot in a Disney park other than one private party at EPCOT, and all I saw was  Living Seas.  The closest I came was to visit Downtown Disney, next to Lake Buena Vista Village, during breaks at a veterinary conference I was attending.  That was enough for me; it all seemed very overpriced for what one got.

    Also: Disney helped develop Celebration, the planned community just south of their property.  From what I understand, it is super-clean, sterile, and has an HOA on steroids.  That sounds more like the Disney vision to me.

    Alton IL

    Keep fightin' for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't you forget to have fun doin' it.--Molly Ivins

    by AAbshier on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 04:19:26 PM PDT

  •  Oh great thanks...... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, IreGyre, snazzzybird

    I will be in Disneyland Monday naturally I HAD to read this....actually, I love the diary, all of it, it is so true!  I will definitely be reading the link to the original Sullivan article before I go.  Looking at Disney through different eyes.  I like it.

    Oh, and I agree with slippytoad!  That is the PERFECT description of Randians/Libertarians.  Love it!  

    "Take away paradox from the thinker and you have a professor." Soren Kierkegaard

    by ohmyheck on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 04:47:34 PM PDT

  •  I was at Epcot last month (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, SherwoodB, SyntaxFeline

    For the first time in about 20 years I went to Epcot last month since a friend had free passes from his company.  It really it a bizarre place.  It's full of excess with everything from overpriced beers/drinks and $14 and up parking.  Then they have the sustainable living ride and my head exploded.  When I was 10 the place made sense to me.  Today it feels like bizarro world.

    The final straw was when I made it to the American exbhibit, which more of less seems designed by Ayn Rand herself.  There was even an Ayn Rand quote chiseled on the friggin was of the exhibit.  That was the last time I ever return.

    •  one trip to CA-Dis., ca. 1960-65 (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar, SherwoodB, northsylvania

      it was interesting, but packed.  Mom, 3 kids, after daddy died (ca. 1959/60) but before I was a very old teen...

      we went at least 2 days, I think, also Knotts Berry Farm, but that's about all I remember.  Of course, it's all 50 yrs ago now!

      I vaguely remember my little brother standing for like 6 hrs in the Matterhorn line, for one go(!).  I remember the Pirates of the Caribbean (maybe it was Pirates of Jean Lafitte NOLA?, certainly not Johnny Depp!!!) ride, or maybe that was a Congo river safari???  

      "real" work : a job where you wash your hands BEFORE you use the bathroom...

      by chimene on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 06:23:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  he misses the real analogy (8+ / 0-)

    america is like Disney because americans are conditioned to live the lie.

    Americans are conditioned to look , react, and think at the superficial level.

    Americans see a clean little make believe area with fake cartoon characters and fake little this and that, and they on some level just accept it and even enjoy it.

    But the reality of Disney is something quite different.  Goofy is really just a sweaty underpaid struggling actor.  That Mickey doll? thats cheap sweat shop slave labor crap bought for pennies and sold to you at a 2000%+ markup.

    For in reality, directly under DisneyWorld is another world, one of underpaid workers.  One of chinese slave made crap.

    Its all a lie, a lie that make while it could in the end life all boats, doesnt.  In the end for the lie we get Families swindled out of their hard earned money, workers in the park, and overseas paid little, and the huge profits all residing as they usually do in america, in the pockets of the few.

    To be honest, I admired and admire Walt Disney ( sure he had some character flaws, who doesnt), but he was a visionary, but his visions were not one of runaway capitalism.  I think he would take one look at what Disney has become today, and be very sad.

    Living the lie, its what americans do best.

    Bad is never good until worse happens

    by dark daze on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 05:05:24 PM PDT

    •  Thanks Dark Daze. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar, SyntaxFeline

      You summed up my feelings nicely, but I would like to add a few thoughts.

      Like many, my Disney World visit was in the company of some small children and their pleasure in all of this was ALL I enjoyed out of the whole experience. Their Mom and I were toxic to each other at that point and barely spoke the whole week. The kids were incredibly happy and grateful to us and that is what I remember most now.

      When we got back to NY, we separated and I have never seen them again, though the lady and I spoke on the phone a few times after. For me, Disney has always represented the death of a once wonderful relationship and I think my view of Disney will always be colored by that.

      I have done a little searching online and know that the kids have grown up great and Mom has done nicely as well.

      As I noted above I dug the food at the Epcot international restaurants and took some pleasure in some of the MK rides (some of which I had seen years before at the NYC World's Fair, btw) and the MGM Studio Park--I am a movie freak, so this was some fun for me.

      Overall, most of it seemed predictable and already very dated. It wasn't even that expensive at the time (1990), but I still felt fleeced when we left.

      I'm not paranoid, I'm just well informed--SherwoodB

      by SherwoodB on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 09:42:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Ever seen the TV show, 'The Prisoner'? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RWood, Futuristic Dreamer, xaxnar, Laiane

    That's Disney.  At least you can leave.  For now.

    •  Still remember it from the 1st time around (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Got the DVD set.  McGoohan was an optimist.

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 08:49:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Lived nearby, on the East coast of FLA (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    everything about the place was creepy.

    When my brother & his family went there for a week, I took them around my town first, saying "This is what Florida is really like. And nothing you will see for the next week is real. Nothing."

    I watched them get their tax deals, and all that stuff about their fake little town is true.

    Reality has a well-known liberal bias -- Stephen Colbert

    by ItsaMathJoke on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 07:59:27 PM PDT

  •  Been a while, but (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I remember thinking after the fireworks every night, the boats they use to bring them off, the ultra lights and hot air balloons in the day time, well....

    If Disney World wanted, they could probably field enough firepower to fight a small war - but they normally just use attorneys.

    And they probably rack up more railroad passenger miles than almost anybody.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 09:35:23 PM PDT

  •  NYT...your class is hanging usual... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, northsylvania, snazzzybird
    "Unless you are very, very strong, the time will come when you Disney..."

    Um...for most of us in the madding crowd, being very, very strong has nothing to do with whether or not we dip our toes into the filthy waters of the Disney pool..being very, very, unable to come up with the requisite five grand or so will be a far more determinate factor...I just love the underlying assumptions of so much of the shit I read in the Times...ah, the tewwible, tewwible travails of the upper-middle class...I don't know how they do it, I really don't...and seriously, if we ever, by virtue of some Biblical-level miracle, ever wound up with five grand or more to piss away on a family vacation (family in this case = me, the wife, three kids), Disney is the last place we'd blow it on...

  •  I Have Not Disneyed (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, northsylvania, snazzzybird, RWood

    And hell no but I grew up in Orange County and went to Disneyland throughout the late 50's and 60's.

    It was this idealized juxtaposition of a "1910" main street USA with that "Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" GE promised us was just around the corner.

    From the ludicrous autoanimatronics of Abe Lincoln lifted into that 1910 main street (I felt like  Pinko wondering why that didn't put him in Frontierland) to the robotic repetitions going on endlessly in the GE "theater in the round" in that oh so special Future GE promised us was every white Orange Countians birthright.

    And McDonnell Douglas chimed in "oh yeah" and the submarine fleet on tracks bleeding amorphously into the water showed us America's arsenal wasn't nearly as nasty as those pesky Vietnamese were telling the world it was.

    And those good folks at Dow brought us something or other, who can remember so much Future, but we weren't going to be getting any of what Dow was sending those same pesky Vietnamese telling all those tales on us- to the whole damn world.

    It was only a few short decades later these titans of American bidness who had been cheerfully selling us "the dream" were just as cheerfully sending all those dreamy jobs as far away from Orange County and a thousand other places in America as they could possibly go, all the time telling us it was good for us.

    Relax, we're going to have high tech jobs for you!

    Would that be like lubing up the ol' autoanimatronic Abe Lincoln still searching for his way out of a bizarre 1910 that only existed in the nostalgia fever warped mind of Uncle Walt?

    It was thanks to Uncle Walt and his "vision" I learned way back in the 60's that the "dream" and the "future" were big fat lies and I haven't believed a word of it or the Gubmint's poppycock ever since.

    And there's a lesson there, sometimes the whole lie is so sick, so twisted in its utterly false wholesomeness that it backfires and some of us catch on to it. Ever since then I have dreamt of a future where everyone knows about the lie and takes action accordingly and I have to say thanks Uncle Walt, I couldn't have done it without you.

    I haven't stepped into that sick place in 30 years. I never will again. I learned all I needed from there a long time ago.

    "The rich will strive to establish their dominion and enslave the rest. They always did... they always will. . ." Governeur Morris

    by Dave925 on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 11:52:03 PM PDT

  •  I love Disney for the same reason (5+ / 0-)

    that I love sff's fantasy and it's escapism. It's not the real world and I'm confused how anyone can think it's supposed to represent that.

    Sanitized...oh, yeah. But just as every virtue can be a vice in the right situation, I appreciate this vice-turned-virtue as a PTSD sufferer. I trust Disney to not trigger me and sometimes I just really need a break from the possibility of being triggered.

    We haven't gone in a long while 'cause of finances, but the last times we did we got a great package; stayed on property at the "budget" resorts and were transported by the system anywhere we wanted to go without limits.  

    I agree The Mouse can be many things, but my experience has been largely positive.

    •  I agree (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      freeport beach PA, mamamorgaine

      Disney is pure escapism for us. We live about an hour and half away. For many years my parents gave us annual passes as a Christmas gift. When my daughter was young we went up a lot. We visit just a couple times a year now but we always have a blast. For two or three days we don't think about anything troubling or serious. It's a break we really enjoy.

      •  Two things.... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        .First, Disney began as pure escapism.  Historically, a place to get away from the reality of poverty, hard times, the depression.  Things haven't changed that much!  People still need to escape from harsh realities.

        Please read "The Devil in The White City:Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair That Changed America" by Erik Larson.  It is two stories inextricably intertwined, but the "changed America" part explains the fact that a Disney worked on the Chicago fair, and wanted to make the magical feeling it brought to the world PERMANENT! It is fascinating reading! Very enlightening!

        Second, however, the spreading of the gospel of Disney has definitely taken a weird and twisted path, which are represented in the lyrics of "Amerika" by one of my favorite bands, Rammstein.

        We're all living in America
        America is wonderful
        We're all living in America
        America, America

        When there's dancing I want to lead
        even if you're whirling around alone
        Let yourselves be controlled a little
        I'll show you how it really goes
        We're making a nice round dance
        Freedom is playing on all violins
        Music is coming out of the White House
        and Mickey Mouse is standing in front of Paris

        We're all living in America
        America is wonderful
        We're all living in America
        America, America

        I know moves that are very useful
        and I will protect you from missteps
        And whoever doesn't want to dance at the end
        doesn't know yet that they must
        We're making a nice round dance
        I will show you the way
        Santa Claus is coming to Africa
        and Mickey Mouse is standing in front of Paris

        We're all living in America
        America is wonderful
        We're all living in America
        America, America

        We're all living in America
        Coca-Cola, Wonderbra
        We're all living in America
        America, America

        This is not a love song
        This is not a love song
        I don't sing my mother tongue
        No, This is not a love song

        We're all living in America
        America is wonderful
        We're all living in America
        America, America

        We're all living in America
        Coca-Cola, sometimes war
        We're all living in America
        America, America

        « back

        •  The irony is that the World's Fair... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          xaxnar, mamamorgaine

          ....left a legacy of the fledgling University of Chicago, a university that for good or ill, has contributed significantly to society, and will pick up the tab for students whose families are slightly below-median income for their family size.  

          9-11 changed everything? Well, Katrina changed it back.

          by varro on Sun Jun 12, 2011 at 01:53:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I will say (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    the first time I got really high it was in the skytram at DisneyWorld. There was always pot there. C'mon, it was the heart of Florida.

    "Those who can make you believe in absurdities can make you commit atrocities."

    by dancerat on Sun Jun 12, 2011 at 01:54:46 AM PDT

    •  so once things get legalized... 60s land? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar, snazzzybird, varro

      Someday in the future when hippies are quaint and non threatening like pirates are now.... sort of Woodstock nation Disney style? Overpriced made in China Hippie crafts, clothing and souvenirs etc. on sale; rides and restaurants that somehow recapture Haight Ashbury... LSD trips... Woodstock Acid rock shows... colorful Disneyized versions of stock counter culture 60s caricatures? Hey, given enough time ANYTHING is possible...

      They allow wine consumption in the Paris Disney location now... So maybe some choice herb selections will be available in the Dutch cafe section of a future Epcot...  ?

      Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

      by IreGyre on Sun Jun 12, 2011 at 05:21:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Animatronic Jerry Garcia... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RWood, IreGyre

        I think you're onto something.

        Fox News is to the truth as a flaming bag of dog shit is to a packed lunch. --MinistryOfTruth

        by snazzzybird on Sun Jun 12, 2011 at 09:25:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  aieeeeee (nt) (0+ / 0-)

          maybe we will all live on as ageless brains on life support wired up to a virtual reality world... but unlike the Matrix... we will know we are living in a video game... we use up our social security to two main expenses... the coop brain warehouse that we are "resident" in and to the VR provider of our choice. And the average person will live permanently in some sort of hedonistic Disney World... (of course the Magic Kingdom would try and corner the market on retiree VR for warehoused brains) and Jerry Garcia or anyone else can be your buddy... unlimited numbers of very real seeming totally electronic Jerry Garcias etc.... much cheaper than animatronix... and they can even have Virtual reality retro theme parks that have electronic simulations of animatronix Jerry Garcias and anyone else.. you want...

          More imaginative people will go indie for their VR.. maybe a more real 60s than a Disney version of it...or anything else you want...

          Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

          by IreGyre on Sun Jun 12, 2011 at 01:09:01 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  the aieee above now has text... ignore the nt (0+ / 0-)

          Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

          by IreGyre on Sun Jun 12, 2011 at 02:02:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Maybe.....the hippies of the 60s... (0+ / 0-)

        ....are as quaint as the Snidely Whiplash villains of early cinema, and as far away chronologically.

        And psychedelia hit mainstream advertising and childrens' cartoons and shows in the 70s.....anything by the Kroffts?  Any Levi's commercial?

        Hippies are now "Cool Old Guys", along with another archetype of that era, bikers.

        9-11 changed everything? Well, Katrina changed it back.

        by varro on Sun Jun 12, 2011 at 01:58:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  But what followed them? (0+ / 0-)

          Even older things, not necessarily newer ones.  They ought to be quaint, but given the cultural situation today they're plainly not.  Guys (and I do mean "guys") born in the '70s wear buzzcuts and khaki pants and spit out the word "hippie" bugs in their mouths, and they think they're being bold, rebellious, and independent-minded.

          The '60s were simply an attempt to get the 21st Century started early....Well, what are we waiting for? There's no deadline on a dream!

          by Panurge on Sun Jun 12, 2011 at 07:14:02 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  You'd think 40 years would be enough... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        xaxnar make them "quaint and non-threatening", but no, not in this Age of the Buzzcut Redux.  

        (NOTE 1:  Sometimes I think the incrementalists were right culturally, too; things happened so quickly back then people weren't able--or allowed, depending on the situation--to get used to the new scene as the mainstream.  I fully accepted it, but then the punk counter-revolution and the Reagan counter-revolution happened.  If things had gone more slowly, might they have taken better?)

        (NOTE 2:  Sometimes I think none of us would know what to do if weed were legalized...)

        The '60s were simply an attempt to get the 21st Century started early....Well, what are we waiting for? There's no deadline on a dream!

        by Panurge on Sun Jun 12, 2011 at 07:10:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  What everybody said... (3+ / 0-)

    Disney is also what people project onto and into it... our expectations of what it can or will be are not entirely dictated to us from outside... each person's experience of it is their own from epic to horrific, from sleazy to cathartic, from deep all the way to shallow... you can have it intrude and dictate to you or you can make it an adventure in anthropology and insights... it can be appalling or inspirational in different ways... even with the full knowledge of what was required to create it and what is needed to make it persist... it is a carnival reflection of humanity... that can be depressing or liberating or something in-between... but in the end it is not evil or blessed... it is just a very human entity...
    And yes, it would make a VERY good black comedy movie... But a true to life one actually set in D. World would never get permission from Dizzy World... they defend their "image" ruthlessly... but gee... these days you can re-create any world you like digitally, so  to avoid lawsuits... something like National Lampoon's Vacation "Wally World" can fill in with close simulacrums of the real thing... without copyright infringements... but that said armies of Disney intellectual property lawyers would nit pick the details and allege all sorts of ridiculous things relating to libeling their image or hurting or stealing their branding... sigh...

    It would probably take years of litigation for a freedom of speech for fair use parody case to get resolved and effectively kill the film ever being made. (just see how Disney CRUSHED "Air Pirates" comic artists over many years in fair use legal battles... battles SOUGHT by the underground artists themselves in some sort of Masochistic legal defeat wish).

    Maybe a softly softly approach could sell the idea... but the pot smoking element would be a deal killer so it would have to be done without Disney on board... Maybe a fake documentary done guerrilla film style could work legally and artistically...

     great diary and a great article in NYT. Thanks.

    Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

    by IreGyre on Sun Jun 12, 2011 at 05:12:40 AM PDT

  •  For more creepy, read this from a 1985 game: (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, northsylvania, publicv
    •  Interesting Link (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      northsylvania, publicv, martini

      And scarily prophetic. The Plan for Renewed National Purpose sounds like a Koch brothers fantasy. Unlike the game scenario, they're financing putting it into action in Wisconsin and elsewhere.

      Pity the game can't be updated into an iPad app - let people try implementing their own 'recovery' plans in a simulation. Crowdsource the results to build a database of ideas and simulation results to see A) what works, B) what people are willing to try, and C) get them reacquainted with the idea that the future is something created by the random operation of market forces, but can be shaped by planning and thought.

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Sun Jun 12, 2011 at 05:56:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oops, one small typo (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        northsylvania, martini

        should be:

        C) get them reacquainted with the idea that the future is NOT JUST something created by the random operation of market forces, but can be shaped by planning and thought.

        "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

        by xaxnar on Sun Jun 12, 2011 at 06:10:41 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  It sucks to know 'they' always (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:


      God is good. If it isn't good. It isn't God.

      by publicv on Sun Jun 12, 2011 at 09:30:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  No---we do not "Disney." (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    moira, xaxnar, publicv

    We do not need to "Disney."  Our children have no desire to "Disney."

    I've shown them the maps of the park; the websites, even the free vacation video---and they are united in one thing:  They do not wish to "Disney."

    Their own words include "It's messy"..."it's too big"..."it looks ugly."

    13, 10, and 6 years old---and even the 6 year old calls it "ugly."

    It would appear that a Panzer can, indeed, raise a child right....

    I count even the single grain of sand to be a higher life-form than the likes of Sarah Palin and her odious ilk.

    by Liberal Panzer on Sun Jun 12, 2011 at 07:01:06 AM PDT

  •  Disney is the place to do drugs. nt (0+ / 0-)

    I am the fellow citizen of every being that thinks; my country is Truth. ~Alphonse de Lamartine, "Marseillaise of Peace," 1841

    by notdarkyet on Sun Jun 12, 2011 at 09:17:06 AM PDT

  •  I've never Disneyed either and never (0+ / 0-)

    really felt moved to do so.  People do seem to love it though.  As an adult all I would be able to do now is focus on heat and the prices and Lord if I couldn't smoke......

    God is good. If it isn't good. It isn't God.

    by publicv on Sun Jun 12, 2011 at 09:24:16 AM PDT

  •  I went to Disney World many years ago... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    freeport beach PA

    I immediately noticed the purposeful scale, and the conversion of what should be standard architecture into "Disney" architecture that was emotionally hijacked in some way.

    And now, I see the architecture of many Faux Chateaus or McMansions, and I get that same feeling. It's like a doll house or some kind of plastic rendition of what a house should be.

    Designed for the eye but not for the person.

    Where are we going? Don't care anymore. I won't stick around to see the change.

    Current book: In The Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and An American Family in Hitler's Berlin (2011) by Erik Larson.

    That should explain it.

    Ugh. --UB.

  •  To those of you who smoke (0+ / 0-)

    Every time you buy tobacco, you're subsidizing scuzzy characters - tobacco lobbyist Haley Barbour (who should have been tarred, feathered, and run out of Mississippi on a rail instead of elected governor), current House Speaker John Boehner, Michelle Bachmann, Steve King, Eric Cantor, and many more of the Rethugs you hate most.

    The tobacco industry sends campaign contributions to Rethugs for their crusade to uphold "the sanctity of life" and "moral values".  The industry even subsidizes Blue Dogs like Ben Nelson.

    Your conservative friends shouldn't smoke either, because they're subsidizing immoral Hollywood directors who accept product placement money from the industry.  Those directors think it's OK to get rich by luring kids into nicotine addiction.

    You might be a Rethug if you join forces with the tobacco lobbyists but condemn abortion, birth control, and gay marriage as crimes against humanity.

    by jhsu on Sun Jun 12, 2011 at 10:25:05 AM PDT

  •  I can't bring myself to hate Disney (0+ / 0-)

    Yes, I agree that Disney is fake.  But I watched so many Disney cartoon specials (like the Christmas Carol adaptation and Chip&Dale living in Donald Duck's Christmas tree) and movies (like Mary Poppins, Babes In Toyland, and The Parent Trap) as a kid.  Even as an adult, I still like Disney entertainment.  I think Lizzie McGuire, Hannah Montana, and The Suite Life of Zack and Cody were hilarious.  I've been to Disney World several times as a kid, and I really enjoyed it.

    Yes, I read the book Fast Food Nation, which highlights the similarities of McDonald's and Disney.  Even though I hate McDonald's as a result of Fast Food Nation and the movie Supersize Me (and have been McDonald's-free since 2004), I still can't hate Disney.

    Wow, Disney is THAT powerful.

    You might be a Rethug if you join forces with the tobacco lobbyists but condemn abortion, birth control, and gay marriage as crimes against humanity.

    by jhsu on Sun Jun 12, 2011 at 10:33:15 AM PDT

  •  Strollers for big kids??? (0+ / 0-)

    It has been 20 years since I last went to Disney World.  I have looked at web sites on Disney World in recent years, and I was SHOCKED to see strollers recommended for kids up to age 5-7.  Many people who have been to Disney World have routinely seen even older kids (like those approaching a double-digit age) in strollers.  I've heard that walkways in Fantasyland are often impassable because they get clogged by parked strollers.  There are even flame wars over whether or not elementary school kids should sit in strollers.

    When did it become normal for able-bodied elementary school kids to sit in strollers?  Even in 1991 (when I was a teen on my last trip to Disney World), I don't remember seeing older kids in strollers.  Even though it was August (in the heart of the tourist season), I don't recall seeing any walkways in Fantasyland blocked by parked strollers.

    When I was a kid back in the 1970s and 1980s (not exactly the Stone Age or even the Horse and Buggy Age), the idea that an able-bodied elementary school kid would need a stroller was completely inconceivable.  I think age 3 or 4 was the time to ditch the stroller for good.  I was in Disney World at age 6 and never even thought of sitting in a stroller.  I wasn't athletic - in fact, I was usually one of the last to be picked for the team.

    I know that there are and have always been those with disabilities who cannot be expected to walk long distances under their own power.  But the handicapped are only a tiny percentage of the population, certainly not enough to justify the widespread use of strollers for big kids.

    Has the world really changed that drastically since I was a kid?  Are today's kids really THAT out-of-shape?  Would my younger self of the 1980s be considered a super athlete in today's world?  (Remember - I was usually among the last to be picked for the team.)

    You might be a Rethug if you join forces with the tobacco lobbyists but condemn abortion, birth control, and gay marriage as crimes against humanity.

    by jhsu on Sun Jun 12, 2011 at 10:49:26 AM PDT

  •  thanks for pointing out the article (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I've learned to bounce my NYT reading around to avoid their article limit.

    I thought the author nailed it in the last paragraph. The kid thought the rainstorm was the best ride. Sums up my feelings about theme parks.

    Some more random comments: Roller coasters: lines too long for the shortness of the tide. Waterslides: good/great. Best theme parks ever: a beach next to an ocean. Disney world: haven't been. Disneyland: remember it as being boring but too timid a then high school student to bring along pot. Now: too timid a parent to enjoy watching crazy young boys after weed or beer.

    If you didn't like the news today, go out and make some of your own.

    by jgnyc on Sun Jun 12, 2011 at 11:09:10 AM PDT

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