Sunday, February 21, 2010

And so we say farewell . . .

Epcot, then the Disney Hollywood Studios, then the Magic Kingdom again.

No, we may not be the ideal family for Disney, with the boys currently in that zone between the wide-eyed submission to charm displayed by the tots in the TV commercials and the ironic regression of the returning teenager. Not to mention my premature curmudgeonliness. (Okay, not so premature these days.)

However, it's hard to be cynical. To get an hour of entertainment, you may have to spend a further five walking, queuing, waiting, planning, snacking, etc. But the point is, it doesn't feel like five hours. You admire that. You admire the efficiency, the cast members' apparently genuine desire to please you, no matter how trivial their job. You admire the wit and creativity of the designers, the impossibility of finding any vantage point where Cinderella's castle doesn't look imposing (and I've tried). I admit I'd love to live in a town with storefronts like the art moderne fantasy facades of the Studios' Hollywood Boulevard. Okay, they're all shops. But so what if the whole enterprise seems to be a way to sell you crap, every ride designed to over-promote the latest Disney release? The commercialism is no less rampant and slightly more subtle than, oh, everything else in modern society. (And Toy Story 3 looks like it's going to be bloody good.)

We all loved Epcot's Soarin',  a gentle simulation of flying in a hang glider over well-chosen parts of California, although I wouldn't go so far as the lady I overheard exiting the ride, who claimed it was the best experience she'd ever had in her life. Hmmm. But that reminds me that while it's hard, as I said, to be totally cynical about an enterprise that really does try to give the punters a good time, it's almost too easy to get a laugh out of the guests. (Not that pervasive childhood obesity is funny.)

So I'll just end this entry with one overheard remark, as we were heading out of the park for the last time. A woman is inspecting the photographs on her digital camera. "My picture's blurry," she complains to an older companion, perhaps her mother. "Oh, it was blurry when I took it," the other woman reassures her.

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