Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Happiest (and Scariest) Place on Earth

If the phrase "Buyer's Remorse" doesn't have its origins in Disneyland, then I'm surprised.

Understand that I'm not the biggest fan of the Mouse on the planet. I have openly mocked Disney for many years. Early in our relationship myself and Cathy filled out one of those online quizzes to see if you're compatible. One of the questions was "Disney cartoons or Warner Brother cartoons?" For me, this was a no-brainer - Warner Brothers, of course. How could one resist Bugs, Daffy, Willie E. Coyote and company. No contest.

Cathy, of course, choose Disney. She's a Disney girl. Always has been.

And yet, despite all of this, I spent what I consider to be an obscene amount of money at Disneyland. Cathy was worse, but that was to be expected. Yet there I was, buying a retarded sorcerer's Apprentice hat that lights up at night when you turn it on. (Yes, there are photos. And yes, you'll see them later)

Terrifying. And it's a miracle I didn't buy some of the Grumpy (the dwarf) clothing that was there.

And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this is what Disney does to you. The science behind Disney. I mean, I went to the San Diego zoo and there is science on display there. But it's mostly about ecology and education and biology.

The science at Disney is human. And more terrifying when you think about it. It's psychology and sociology. It's population control and economics. And it works, whether you realize it or not. The park has basic purposes: to keep people moving and to keep people happy. Because as long as they do that, they'll keep doing the main purpose of Disney - to keep people spending.

Everything is tightly controlled and efficient. It's ridiculously clean. The lines for rides are always moving. They might be a mile long, but they're always moving so you feel like you're getting somewhere rather than just standing around. The exits to the rides always exit into a store where you can buy stuff. Hell, even getting into and out of a ride is efficient. You're rushed in, you're rushed out. Politely, of course, but make no mistake they get you in and out pretty quickly.

Even the food and beverages have gotten better, long a sore point with the patrons at the park. Yes, it is still overpriced, but not as badly as before and it's of better quality. The attitude there is not to gouge you on a few items, which might piss you off, but to slightly over-charge you on everything so you keep buying more and more.

Honestly, the person who can walk out after spending a day at Disney without dropping $100 after the price of admission is tapping on will power reserves that most of us don't have. I think it's actually impossible if you have kids. The whole atmosphere of the park practically compels you to reach for your credit card (They only take Visa, by the way).

Of course you want to spend $20 on the Mickey Mouse ears with the Pirates of the Caribbean rag and dreadlocks. Of course you need a Goofy sweatshirt. Yes you need the Tinkerbell Christmas ornament (sadly, we apparently do). There are so many ways to make you part with your money. You have to constantly chant to yourself "Do I need this and will it ever be used again after I leave here?" If not, well, I pity you when you get the Visa bill.

It's astonishing. I'm a touch in awe of it, to be honest. Because somebody did the science on this. People sat around, commissioned psychologists, sociologists, people familiar with how to get people to move and created this park around their suggestions. It's as brilliant a creation as it is terrifying. It says something about humans. I'm not quite sure what, and I'm not quite sure I'll like the answer, but it certainly says something.

Does this mean I didn't have a good time? I did have fun, although I was aware of something oddly creepy about my enjoyment around the edges of my subconscious. The rides were fun and there is something about watching the kids run around and have fun. Other people's kids, mind you. I think Disney is best enjoyed without kids. Less stressful and certainly cheaper. You can enjoy the wonder the kids have in Disney...just make sure it's watching other people's kids....


John Mutford said...

I have the same sort of love/hate relationship with MacDonalds.

SkylarKD said...

I agree - Disney IS best enjoyed without kids! Hubby and I went to Disney World for our honeymoon, and we had a fantastic time. We saw a lot of miserable parents though. And kids, come to think of it.

I'll never forget one crabby mother who was dragging a little girl into the bathroom, and the child was saying "Mommy, I'm sorry! But I had a lot of orange juice!" The parent was obviously ticked because the kid heard the call of nature while they were in line for something.

I think we'll wait until our kids are 8+ before we take them! Less stress and more enjoyment for all involved!

Anonymous said...

Should not
Early in our relationship myself and Cathy filled out
Early in our relationship Cathy and I filled out???

Owen's Mom said...

Anonymous -

Only if this is a grammar exam. Is that you, Nibs? ;)

TB -

Glad to hear that you had a good time. Personally, I prefered the studio parks over Disney, but mostly Hubby and I end up fighting over whether or not I'm going to join him on some completely insane ride or not. I like mid range rids, not a big fan of anthing that boasts a G-force rating. Hubby, prone to doing things like jumping out of perfectly good airplanes in his spare time, loves that crap.

As for kiddies - we've decided that my entire family is going to meet up at Canada's Wonderland in the summer of 2010. Little man will be 5, so should be able to ride most things, or at least some things, and there will be teenage neices to assist in the child care!

His Nibs said...


No, not me, which is odd as I thought I had a monopoly on anonymous posts to TB's blog. And I haven't edited anything of Craig's in ages. :)

Hey, shouldn't rids read rides?

towniebastard said...

Anon...you are probably right. One of the great ironies about me being a former associate editor of a newspaper is that I never took a formal editing or grammar course after high school. Even in journalism school. I asked for training in that regard while with my various newspapers, but it never happened.

I am not a natural editor. People like Corey see mistakes in spelling and grammar as if they were highlighted in red, flashing neon. My brain doesn't work like that. I hope Corey doesn't take offence, but I'm more of a writer than an editor. And many writers are notoriously bad at picking up spelling and grammar errors.

I write most of my posts, try to walk away for a little bit and take another look at it. That's when I'll do a spell check (although bloggers spell check is a joke. It doesn't even recognize the word "blog") and try to pick up on any errors.Or, for that matter, decide if it should be posted. More than one blog post has been deleted because I changed my mind.

But this isn't a newspaper. If there are mistakes, I'm annoyed, but I'm not severely pissed off like I was when I'd catch stuff in the newspaper.

So yeah, there will be mistakes. But honestly, I don't really have the time to fine tune most blog posts as I would a newspaper article. Nor am I getting paid enough (or anything, really) to do so. Those with delicate grammatic sensibilities might want to look elsewhere.

towniebastard said...

Skylarkd, one of the fun aspects of the day at Disney came early in the evening when Cathy went off shopping for a bit and I just sat on a bench and watched people. You really can't beat Disney for people watching. You get a fascinating mix of cultures, religions, ethnicity...the whole works. Happy, sad. I think I saw a marriage pretty much desolve in front of my eyes.

However, I have absolutely no idea why you would bring a child of less than 5 (I would actually go 7) to this kind of park. It's too much for them to handle and odds are they aren't going to remember it anyway.

The first time I went to Disneyworld in Florida was when I was 7. I went again at 12. And I had fun and I can remember most of it. if I had been any younger, I think it would have been a waste. And certain a damn sight more stressful on my folks.