TCS Daily

Thy Kingdom Come

By Douglas Kern - April 18, 2005 12:00 AM

I just got back from Walt Disney World, that magical place where middle-class families from all over the world gather to wait in line. I snacked on popcorn and ice cream that cost more than my college textbooks and rode rides that were a little dated in the Nixon administration and stayed at a hotel festooned in colors and decorations carefully designed to render ADD kids inert with gibbering joy. I nestled in the warm, snuggly, and heavily-disinfected bosom of corporate America, drinking deep at the teats of massive multinational hospitality.

I loved every stinking minute of it.

Alas, my last few shreds of hipness are swirling down into the toilet of bourgeois uncoolness. Admitting to the blogosphere that you dig Disney World is like showing up for your ordination in drag: it raises questions about your credibility. (Unless you're an Anglican.) Everyone, at every end of the ideological spectrum, hates Disney World. Just think of Russell Kirk, Ayn Rand, and Ralph Nader riding together in a boat on "It's a Small World." They might still kill each other, but only out of mercy.

Well, nuts to that. I love Disney World. So tell your hipster buddies to go smoke a clove cigarette or something, and enjoy the following twenty-one hard-won nuggets of advice that I bring to you from Orlando.

1) Florida is welcoming to tourists. However, if you make any of the following statements at Orlando International Airport, burly men may beat you with sticks:
        a) "Orlando! Just the place for another right-wing Internet pundit."
        b) "Hey! I'm a lawyer with the Bush team. Which way to counting the votes?"
        c) "Wow! It just came on CNN - another exciting Florida Supreme Court 
        d) "Look out behind you - a hurricane!" You will be beaten as soon as the 
            natives stop wincing.
        e) "I'm Ron Miller, and I'm tanned, rested, and ready!" Ninjas leap from 
            the shadows and garrote you.

2) Trust me: You are not the first person to think of doing that while riding the Haunted Mansion ride.

3) Trust me: You are definitely not the first person to think of doing that while riding Spaceship Earth.

4) Ride operators run a lucrative side business selling security tapes of people doing just that.

5) A fun toy to purchase at the outset of your trip is the so-called "Pal Mickey." Pal Mickey is a plush Mickey Mouse doll that talks. Ordinarily, he can tell jokes, make quips, and play simple counting games. But when taken to Disney World, electronic sensors send signals to Pal Mickey that allow him to make surprisingly informed remarks about your location and activities. For example: "My pal Goofy is usually nearby right about now. Let's go see him!" Or: "The line at the Jungle Cruise is pretty short right now. Wanna go?" Sadly, though, the information programmed into Pal Mickey is a little dated, as you will learn if you park him in front of your USA Today business section ("Internet stocks are a can't-miss investment!"), and Pal Mickey does not react well if you mistakenly take him to Universal ("It burns! It burns! Oh, I can't stand the searing pain!").

6) You can get away with almost anything if you're riding in a wheelchair. But, if you're riding in a wheelchair, it is best to refrain from jumping up in celebration at the end of the fireworks shows.

7) Certain movies are favored at Disney World; certain movies are not. Cinderella, Snow White, the Little Mermaid, Aladdin: these movies are favored. They get rides, character visits, and merchandising. Hercules, Mulan, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, Lady and the Tramp, 101 Dalmatians (any incarnation): these movies are disfavored. They get few character visits, no rides, and precious little exposure of any kind. And certain movies have been appended to the Codex of Forbidden Flops. Do not look for Tron, the Black Cauldron, Pete's Dragon, or the Aristocats at Disney World. They have been airbrushed out of official pictures. History books have been rewritten to assign responsibility for these films to Universal. They are doubleplus ungood.

8) Says Pal Mickey, at the souvenir shops: "Only $50 on souvenirs? You tight-fisted monster. Why do you hate your family so much?"

9) Disney magic brings out the sentimental streak in some people. I saw a British fellow weeping tears of joy in Cinderella's Castle. He was just standing there in his wifebeater T-shirt, portly spouse and screaming kids in tow, the waitress calmly explaining to him that hard liquor was not served in the Magic Kingdom...and the wonder of Disney just overcame him!

10) If you're a grown man, and you scream and beg and cry like a little girl just before the Tower of Terror drops, they will stop the ride and let you off. I saw this happen to a guy who bore a strange resemblance to me. We laughed about it afterwards. "Ha, ha, strange person who resembles me!" I chuckled. "We sure wouldn't want anyone to confuse us!" I forget the guy's name.

11) No matter how provocatively she dresses, no matter how flirtatiously she talks to you, no matter how much she seems to adore your kids, Princess Jasmine does not like you That Way.

12) Says Pal Mickey, at the Great Movie Ride: "Too chicken for the Rockin' Roller Coaster, eh? Brock, bruk bruk bruk brooooooock..."

13) When endeavoring to be witty while riding the monorail, you are much more likely to survive your decision to sing The Simpsons' "Monorail!" song incessantly if you can remember the words to more than just the chorus.

14) Things not to say to Michael Eisner, should you meet him in line by accident:
        a) "Hey - you're that guy! That - that guy! The guy who's on The Shield!"
        b) "So, Mike, still glad you passed on Lord of the Rings?"
        c) "I hear you guys are opening sort of a Disney World Lite in Anaheim. 
        How's that working out?"
        d) "Ya know, my favorite California Adventure is the one I get when I 
            walk out the freaking door.
e) "Wow. Disney World. What a place. God bless that Roy Disney."
        f) "I've got the solution to all your problems! Just build another Tower of 
            Terror! That always fixes everything!"
g) "So, when's Euro Disney World gonna turn a profit?"

15) Eating at the Coral Reef is surreal. It's a seafood restaurant in an aquarium. What next? A steakhouse in a slaughterhouse? A KFC in a chicken coop? A granola shop in a hippie crematorium?

16) While at the Coral Reef, you can mess with the heads of nearby crumb-snatchers by taking an enormous bite of your cod and loudly announcing: "Mmmm....nothing like Frying Nemo!"

17) Budget-minded tourists should consider a stay at the All-Star Resorts, or, as they are affectionately known in Orlando, the Projects. Says Pal Mickey, upon entering: "Oooh, a poor person, eh? I think there's some good grub in the dumpster. Wanna check?"

18) If, during the waterfall drop in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, the chubby nine-year-old boy behind you shrieks and clutches for his mother, it is prudent and socially acceptable to turn around and remark in your calmest voice: "Madam, I am truly sorry that your son is a wuss."

19) Watch your head during the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Strange heavy objects may fly at the back of your head right after the waterfall.

20) Quantity of diapers sold at Disney World: Very High
        Quantity of swim-proof diapers sold at Disney World: Very Low
        Quantity of kids in baby pool: Very High
        Quantity of food provided to kids at Disney World: Very High
        Adequacy of chlorine level in baby pool: Debatable
        Reasons You Should Play With the Baby in the Baby Pool, Dear: Several trillion
        Degree of Irony That You Get Montezuma's Revenge and Your Wife Does 
            Not: Very High.

21) The Mission: Space ride at EPCOT creates the illusion that you are being propelled forward at blazing speeds, when in fact you're spinning around and going nowhere. Moreover, the ride pretends to give you a measure of control by assigning you buttons to push and a joystick to manipulate, but the ride works out the same way no matter what you do. If, upon emerging from this ride, you immediately exclaim "Wow! What a fantastic metaphor for the American political system!" it may be time to take a teensy break from the Internet commenting game.

Have fun this summer, folks, and remember: Walt Disney was hipper than you think. He busted the heads of Commie labor agitators in the forties. He discovered Annette Funicello. And oh, my supercool libertarian friends, he dug cryogenics way before you did.

The author is a lawyer and frequent TCS contributor.


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