Home CommentaryStudent Life Silencing your inner cynic at Disney World

Silencing your inner cynic at Disney World

by Archives March 10, 2009

I want to confess something to you. I secretly love Disney movies: the classic cartoons like Cinderella, the ridiculously unrealistic ones like Lizzie McGuire and the, actually cool ones – the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy and National Treasure.
Sometimes I like to take a break from the textbooks of McLuhan and Adorno and enjoy turning my brain to mush while watching High School Musical (I’m not going to lie. I have seen all three. And Camp Rock). So as midterm break, otherwise known as Reading Week, approached, Orlando seemed the perfect place to misplace my brain for a week, enjoy the sun and fall back into childhood memories in two of the lands of Walt Disney World. Especially as my Mum flew in from Oz and was bankrolling the entire expedition.
Walt Disney World, Celebration, Florida is 110 square kilometres of pure, commercially-adulterated Disney. The “world” is split up into four-themed parks, two water parks and 23 resorts within which are rides, shops, restaurants, shops, characters, shops, entertainment venues and, of course, shops. Each year, on average there are 17 million visitors to Magic Kingdom, and this is just one of the parks. Overall Walt Disney World employs over 65,000 “cast” members, with underground tunnel systems to transport them within each of the parks. On this trip, I headed to just two of the parks, Epcot, a more adult-orientated park (that was for Mum) and Magic Kingdom (that was purely for me).
I’m going to be honest. I was excited. Small child, hyped-on-sugar-and-nutella-and-birthday-cake excited. My inner cynic dismissed my excitement, trying to put on a Fonz-like facade of cool, but the child-dreamer in me jumped all over the Fonz’s cool facade like the Pointer Sisters jumped for their love. Tuesday morning came and the day was brilliant – a bright shade of blue with a gentle wind, sun shining. We got to the turnstile, zipped our tickets through and hallelujah! I was in.
What struck me first was the colossal Cinderella castle, rising up from the slightly tacky and idealized pastels of Main St., USA, a beacon for what I imagine to be Walt Disney’s original dreams. The castle was by far my favourite part of the entire place because it’s such a link to my childhood. I’m sure Freud or someone would have something interesting to say right about now. I was weaned on a diet of classic, real Disney, back in the days when the films they created were actually good and the music award winning (none of that Hannah Montana or Zac Efron fairy flossed rubbish). Sunday night in Sydney was spent around the television within the wonderful world of Disney with its signature castle signalling the beginning of a new fantasy.
The best thing about Magic Kingdom was the number of rides and entertainment options. There are three main roller-coaster rides for the adventurous, though I maintain a strict no roller-coaster policy. I did have one lapse regarding this policy when a friend recommended the Splash Mountain ride, a fun (read: terrifying) experience. After this I was more than ready to head to the gentler rides such as the Magic Carpets of Aladdin or the famous Mad Tea Party. Then there were the entertainment shows. Within Magic Kingdom, there are a good number of these shows (live, film or interactive). My favourite one was the Mickey’s Philharmagic in 3D, a 15-minute film with Mickey and Co. The 3D aspect was relatively new for me, so watching kids trying to reach at gems right in front of them or feeling like a champagne cork has been shot at you was pretty funny. What made this experience amazing was that they created a physical world outside of the film – when the champagne popped we were sprayed with water; when there was something baking, the room smelt of cinnamony goodness. Another show I particularly liked was the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor Comedy Show, in which (unbelievably) an animation Mike interacted with people in the audience, called them by their names and reacted to their jokes. The technology here was amazing.
Throughout the day, the sun shined, children laughed and parents’ wallets emptied. Despite my attempt at cynicism, I was in awe of the imagination and the vision that Walt D. must have had to imagine a place such as Magic Kingdom. And the guts he had to pull it off. Although, for the most part the entire experience is a commercial enterprise, set in place to send children crazy and their parents’ with them, the attention to detail that each area has is mind blowing. In Magic Kingdom the “cast” costumes, the architecture, even the plant life changes according to the land it’s in. In Epcot’s world showcase, the Canadian area even boasts a faux Frontenac Hotel. I was massively impressed by the efficient flow of people that Disney maintained throughout the day. I didn’t have to wait more than 15 minutes for any one ride and I got to do everything I wanted to, with time to spare.
But all good things must come to an end. Around 6 p.m. the wailing chorus of small children set in. It was as if all the kids under the age of 10 suffered a Disney-orchestrated collective drain of their energies, whilst parents, determined to get their money’s worth and watch the fireworks, juggled ice-creams, Mickey balloons, strollers and stoic determination.
To be honest, to me all fireworks are kind of the same – burning lights in the night sky – but if you have the staying power, stay for the fireworks. Not only is it quite a show, but standing with thousands of people in Main St., watching the fireworks over Cinderella’s amazing castle is an awesome experience.
So, if you need a break from reality, head down to Disney World, embrace your inner child, shut out your inner cynic and give Mickey a hug. You know you want to.

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