Monday, January 26, 2009

The Happiest Place on Earth

Afton wanted to know what the deal was with my Disneyland remark on yesterday's Sabbath Leaves. It is complicated and has a lot to do with me being selfish, sounds like a good blog post...

We are having a family reunion at Disneyland this Thanksgiving. I am not excited. I have never really had a desire to go to Disneyland. I mean as a kid I wouldn't have said "No" to an offer but I never dreamed of Disneyland.

Reasons why I don't want to go:
The commercialism of it all. Yuck it just makes me want to gag. Disney everything all for sale! Don't even get me started on how ticked I am at Disney for getting copyrights for everything extended just so they could hold on to vintage Mickey.

I have issues with Disney movies, fun movies and all. I am a huge fan of the art in Sleeping Beauty and used to be obsessed with Snow White but the way they twist the original fairy tales really bugs me. It isn't the fact that they do it but the fact that after one of their movies is out it becomes synonymous with the fairy tale and the original is lost to the public knowledge. How many people know that the Little Mermaid really dies, that Beauty from Beauty and the beast had sisters, that the witch tricked Snow White with a poisoned comb, and tight corset strings before the apple, that Sleeping Beauty lay asleep for 100 years and many princes died trying to reach her?

I have problems with the values Disney teaches through their movies. Fairy tales by their very nature are made to teach virtue to children.
In the Disney version of The Little Mermaid Ariel disobeys her father, runs away, sells her soul to the sea witch and wins the prince in the end. In the original she dies because she did not listen to her father. Which would you rather your children learn that by disobeying they could be in mortal danger or that by disobeying and selling your soul you will win happiness?

There is also the universal theme of true love conquers all in their movies, and you know what sometimes true love isn't enough. Sometimes love at first sight isn't love. Often the Disney Characters think that they know better than their parents or caregivers.

And then there are the crowds. We are going in November so it probably won't be as bad as it could be but I hate crowds of tourists. I try to avoid them at all costs. I like to go to the Children's Museum on days when there will not be any field trips so we can have room to enjoy the experience and not be worried about losing people.

There is the whole carnival aspect of it. I can't shake the foreboding feeling that it will be like a big expensive carnival, hot, dusty and sticky.

Which brings me to the expense. The whole things seems to me like a gigantic HUGE waste of money. I can't fathom how much we will spend and couldn't that money be better used for practical things or many small, economical family vacations?

I am betting dollars to doughnuts that the costumes will not meet my exacting standards and that will annoy me.

And this whole "Happiest Place on Earth Thing" Really? I am pretty sure I will have sore feet, a headache and a hungry belly combined with cranky over tired children. I will be worried about kids running off. There will also be the family reunion stress of making sure 17 people are happy and getting to what they want to do. How exactly will this be happy? I think that seeing a happy Cinderella and Jasmine walking down the street will really tick me of in these moments.

And so in preparation for our family reunion I am striving to get a better attitude about Disneyland. Do you think they sell those in the gift shops?


Afton said...

Oh! Well, I didn't see that coming. Try not to associate the Disney movies with Disneyland. I don't like the movies either and we don't own them...except Mary Poppins and the Parent Trap (greatest kid movie EVER).

And, hate to say it, but thanksgiving is one of the most crowded times to visit Disneyland. Crazy, isn't it. But that's what you get for putting it in southern california where the weather is actually pleasant in November.

DL doesn't have to be expensive, other than the price of entry, which is crazy. I have tips, good tips. Tips I am willing to share. We brought in little tuna and cracker things ($1 each at the dollar store) that we ate for lunch along with a few other tasty morsels. We popped a bag of popcorn in our hotel microwave and transferred it to a zip lock bag. It was the THING when we were waiting in line for rides. Totally kept the kids whining to a minimum.

Anyway, you don't have to spend money at DL. We didn't. Actually, we told the kids not to beg for a single thing and then on the last day, on the last minute we were in DL they could each choose a souvenir within a certain price range. (No, $10 does not get you much, but the kids were happy to have something.)

I went to DL as a child and have many happy memories, so when I have been back with my kids, it's been full of happy memories. Sure it's completely commercialized, but it's also an American institution...the American dream really. Disney was just a midwest boy with a dream and he made it come true. The animatronics are so outdated now, but still fun. I remember going on Pirates of the Caribbean as a kid and thinking everything was so lifelike.

OK, enough. If you need more Disney encouragement, you know where to come.

Raspberry Leaf said...

Tell me how you really feel! LOL
I am not anti-Disney. I like Disneyland and want to take my kids... but the cost of admission has been holding me back. One thing I can say for Disneyland is I have NEVER been in a public place that is so incredibly clean.

Katharine A. said...

I have never forgiven Disney for making the Mary Poppins movie. I LOVED those books as a child, and although the movie is fine, it wasn't the nanny I knew and loved in the books.