In Coupland’s novel Microserfs, one of the characters has relabelled his blender with pop culture references. One of the highest settings is “Disneyland when you’re 10”, and one of the lowest settings is “Disneyland when you’re 25”.
As a kid, I visited Disneyland in 1988, and Walt Disney World in 1991. The employees, called Cast Members, and themed attractions truly made them “the happiest places on earth”. At home, I devoured articles on Audio-Animatronics and Imagineering. To me, Disney was synonymous with limitless creativity and compassion.
Fast forward to 2004: When I think Disney, I see the Disney-CBS-Touchstone Pictures media conglomerate. A conglomerate trying to oust its own CEO at the moment. My Disneyland memories are tainted: what I once thought was cuddly is now cloying.
After reading MiceAge, it seems it’s not just the memories that are fading. The Skyway, Submarine Voyage and Main Street Electrical Parade are long gone. The Cast Members of the Jungle Cruise no longer carry muskets to “shoot” the marauding hippos due to political correctness.
And DisneyWorld’s EPCOT, my favourite of all the parks, is replacing its cerebral, Animatronics-laden attractions with more action rides. Horizons and World of Motion (which I rode on twice) are gone. I guess learning about alternative energy and world cultures is boring compared to thrills and chills.
Next year will be Disneyland’s 50th anniversary. Many of the attractions, such as the Tiki Room and Sleeping Beauty Castle are getting much-needed restoration work done. But people still care, and as long as they do, I’ll probably bring my future kids there some day. At least they won’t think it’s a Mickey Mouse operation.