My dear Kannu
here is something that is an interesting read about how two adults take their young child to Disneyland. As you remember, we have been to Eurodisney twice, once with you and once with you and Diya. I have to admit that I loved both the visits, even though at the second one, we had to sit and watch ManUtd lose to Barcelona which took some of the shine off. It was fun and games, i really enjoyed the time with you kids and loved seeing how you kids enjoyed yourself.
Disneyland makes people happy and as the old quote goes, Walt Disney has been responsible for more of human happiness than all the religious leaders of the world combined. Which is true. Disney cartoons, the amusement parks, the movies, they make people happy. And that's a very good life aim to go for, be happy.
As you read this article, you will see that both the parents are dripping with cynicism. I suggest you be careful of this feeling, son. People who are cynical are basically miserable people. You will notice that their cynicism is soul destroying and screws up everything else.
Look at the parents below. Their little child is having oodles of fun, playing with Mickey Mouse and having fun with eating ice cream or going on the merry go round. What is the predominant feeling of the parents? They are busy worrying about economics, about racism, about demographics, about liberalism and so on and so forth. They see every interaction with suspicion, every cheery wave with doubt and every smile as a hidden mechanism to exhort money. So instead of enjoying with their child, instead of looking at mickey mouse with the same wide eyed amazement like their child does, or running through the fountain of water or imagining the castle as a real one and telling their little girl that she is a princess and you are an ogre, they are miserable characters.
Try not to be cynical, son. While there is something in the philosophical school of Cynicism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynicism), this cynicism is different, it involves going around assuming the worst in everything and not having fun and not being happy.
Be happy son, life is fun and good, being cynical and constantly being miserable is best left to others, at end of the day, you want to be happy in your life. Cynical people make a hell out of a heaven.
Anyway, be happy son.
Attractions: U.s. Journal: Pinellas County, Florida Attractions : The New Yorker
The first thing I did at Walt Disney World was to take an oath not to make any smart-aleck remarks. A Disney public-relations man had told me that attitude was everything. So I placed my left hand on a seven-Adventure book of tickets to the Magic Kingdom and raised my right hand and promised that there would be no sarcasm on my lips or in my heart.
“And do you further swear or affirm,” I asked myself, “that you will not concoct any of those theories about how Disney World may reflect the escape fantasies of American Society or about how Disney World may be the symbol of the Final Plasticization of All Life, or any of that kind of thing?”
“I do,” I replied. “I certainly do. We’re just going to have a good time.”
I mention this ceremony in order to make it clear that I was committed to taking Disney World on its own terms even before my three-year-old daughter, Abigail, became a personal friend of Mickey Mouse—the two of them having become acquainted while posing together for a Paris-Match photographer and then, a day or two later, Abigail having been snatched by Mickey from a gaggle of children and taken on a private parade around the lobby of the Polynesian Village, one of the two resort hotels already built right on the grounds of the Vacation Kingdom of the World. My wife, who had not taken the oath, reacted to the picture-taking by expressing concern for whoever it was who had to earn his living by walking around inside a Mickey Mouse suit in eighty-five-degree weather making cute gestures.
“He’s a very nice mouse,” Abigail said when the posing was over.
We agreed that he seemed nice, but once Abigail had run ahead to investigate more of what she insists on calling Dizalee World, my wife was whispering about Mickey behind his back—pointing out that his face was a lot flatter than the faces of real mice, which can be taken as a corroboration of the flat-face explanation of Disney’s cartoon method. (“The human face is flattened, compared with most animals, and any species that resemble man in this way are at an advantage,” Ramona and Desmond Morris wrote in their book “Men and Pandas.” “Walt Disney has always made use of this fact when creating animal heroes. They are given exaggeratedly flattened faces, whereas the animal villains are given dramatically elongated snouts.”)
I knew, though, that she was still more concerned with who was inside Mickey than with how flat Mickey’s face was. All of the employees we had encountered at Disney World—the Lodging Hostesses, the desk clerks, the Serving Hostesses (my wife persisted in calling them waitresses), the newsstand cashiers, the street cleaners (I believe my wife wanted to call them Litter Hosts)—had been the kind of well-scrubbed, wholesome, eternally smiling young Americans whose reaction to being within fifty yards of any other human being is to shout a cheery hello and ask him if he’s having fun. Into the spirit of things from the start, I smiled whenever they smiled, and I said I was having lots of fun whenever I was asked. But my wife insisted on analyzing the hiring policy. She wanted to know, for instance, why an enterprise that had seven thousand new jobs available in central Florida hadn’t tried to retrain some underemployed black migrant workers instead of soaking up every clean-cut middle-class kid between Key West and Philadelphia. As she went on about how hot it must be inside a Mickey Mouse suit, I suddenly realized what she was thinking. Knowing that Disney would have to hire a certain percentage of blacks to avoid trouble, and being acquainted with the theory that too many black faces would spoil the fantasy of escape into the safe old days, she had figured out the logical place to put any black migrant worker who actually was hired: in the Mickey Mouse suit. My wife had probably been thinking that the Mickey Mouse who roamed the Magic Kingdom, waving and bowing and shaking hands, always remained silent not because speech would have broken the mood (the supposition of most of the people who feel compelled to analyze) or because mice can’t talk (my belief, under oath) but because visitors to Disney World would have been shocked to discover that Mickey Mouse had a heavy Southern Negro accent. Attitude is everything.
From then on, I tried to keep Abigail away from strangers, afraid that one of them would try to persuade her that her favorite Adventure, It’s a Small World, was not nearly as impressive as the Hall of Presidents, since making automated figures that seem like dolls is not nearly as much of a technical triumph as making automated figures that seem like Presidents. (Abigail happens to prefer dolls to Presidents.) I tried to insulate Abigail from that kind of thinking—I avoided the temptation to refer to Cinderella’s Golden Carrousel as a merry-go-round, and I shouted “Hiya, Donald!” every time we got anywhere near Donald Duck—but my wife was a consistently non-magical influence. Although I had been able to assure her, after making inquiries, that the man in the Mickey Mouse suit was a white ex-jockey rather than a migrant worker whose growth had been stunted from too much bending in the fields, and that the people wandering the grounds inside the skins of hairier Disney characters were cooled by a form of dry-ice air-conditioning, she persisted in viewing Disney World as if it were an enterprise constructed by a corporation rather than the magically ordained Vacation Kingdom of the World. As the sun grew hotter every day, she suggested that a truly forward-looking firm would have thought of doming Orange County. She constantly pointed out that the cars of the futuristic monorail system that was available to whisk us from the Adventures of the Magic Kingdom back to the Polynesian Village hotel were not as modern as those in the shuttle trains of the new Tampa airport. When we were entertained by a fine banjo group during a twenty- or thirty-minute wait for the monorail train one day, she did not attempt to lead everyone in a sing-along—as I had seen a woman do in a similarly entertained line in front of the Country Bear Jamboree, my own favorite Adventure in the Magic Kingdom—but merely sighed occasionally and mumbled something about the wait for the downtown I.R.T. local. I said, “Nice of them to entertain us while we’re waiting to be whisked,” but it sounded lame.
She did not seem to react well to the ferocious friendliness of the young Disney World employees, particularly when it came in conjunction with the service problems that any tourist operation is bound to have in its first few weeks—problems complicated by the fact that the young people manning, say, the Polynesian Village seemed to owe their cheerfulness partly to not having had enough experience in hotel work to have been turned sullen.
“But attitude is everything,” I tried to explain to my wife one morning as we had breakfast at one of the restaurants on the old-fashioned Main Street of the Magic Kingdom. “For them and for us. The next time our Serving Hostess asks me if I’m having fun, I’m not just going to say yes—I’m going to say, ‘I sure am, Serving Hostess! It’s real great to be here in the Magic Kingdom!’ ”
My wife stared at her plate. “If one more of those cute little girls smiles at me and asks me if I’m having fun as she serves me cold eggs, I’m leaving,” she said.
My attitude was bound to be affected by that kind of talk. I began to find that when I was dealing with a Walt Disney World employee my cheerfulness varied inversely with his cheerfulness. When I asked a shining young thing outside the Mickey Mouse Revile about the wait inside and was told, with a smile, that the show was continuous—a statement that I knew from a previous visit was somewhere between an evasion and a falsehood—I found myself resenting the smile more than the misinformation. One afternoon, I spent a few hours trying to prevail upon somebody at the Polynesian Village to fix the television set in our room, and I found it more and more difficult to answer that I was having fun as a series of talks with relentlessly friendly young people at the front desk resulted in nobody showing up at our room except a man who said he had been sent to fix the air-conditioning. Returning from one of my negotiating sessions late in the afternoon, I had to admit to my wife that I did not trust myself to return to the front desk. In my final conversation with one of the smiling young clerks, I had caught myself as I was about to pound my fist on the desk and shout, “I demand to see a grownup!”
I had to guard my attitude while standing in line. If we were standing behind a few hundred people who wanted to see the same Adventure, I would try to brighten things up by commenting that it was thoughtful of Disney to provide strolling mariachi bands that were free of those occasional sour trumpet notes and drink-cadging episodes found among mariachi bands in places like Mexico, but secretly I wanted to be in a shorter line to another Adventure—any Adventure. I found myself thinking that if Walt Disney Productions really does take over the country or the world (a possibility my wife kept raising), the way it would solve, say, the welfare problem in New York would be to put a huge line in front of the welfare office and have no waiting at all at the office in which people were signed up as busboys—signed up by smiling young things who assured everyone that busboy jobs almost always lead to middle-management positions. “No theories,” I had to remind myself.
By our second day in Disney World—a Sunday—I had devised a scheme by which we might take Abigail on the Skyway to Tomorrowland, a kind of ski lift across the Magic Kingdom, without having to wait in the line that always seemed to stretch halfway through Fantasyland. The key to my scheme was for us to be at the Fantasyland section of the Magic Kingdom when it opened, at ten o’clock. I knew there were relatively few people actually staying on the grounds at Disney World, since the two resort hotels were still not ready for complete occupancy. Very few people from the outside world could arrive early, I figured, because they all had to drive some distance and then face what I had heard was at least an hour’s wait at the main gate. At exactly ten o’clock, we rushed through Cinderella’s Castle into Fantasyland and headed past Cinderella’s Golden Carrousel toward the entrance of the Skyway to Tomorrowland.
Abigail stopped walking. “I want to ride the merry-go-round,” she said.
“But we can always ride on Cinderella’s Golden Carrousel,” I said. “Now is the best time to go on the Skyway to Tomorrowland, because the Skyway to Tomorrowland is even more fun if you don’t have to stand in line for an hour before you get on it.”
“I love the merry-go-round,” Abigail said.
People were streaming past us. I could feel my entire scheme threatened. “Why aren’t these people in church?” I said to my wife. “What’s this country coming to?”
I turned to Abigail and tried to explain the problem. “Look, Abigail,” I said. “Here’s the plan. We ride the Skyway to Tomorrowland over to Tomorrowland. Then, while we’re in Tomorrowland, we ride the cars on the Grand Prix Raceway before those damned little boys have a chance to line up for eight blocks in front of it. Then we trot over to Adventureland and take the Jungle Cruise—unless it looks very uncrowded, in which case we pop into the Swiss Family Island Treehouse and then take the Jungle Cruise. That still may give us time to hit Peter Pan’s Flight back in Fantasyland if a lot of those people take their time coming up Main Street.”
I looked at Abigail. She was thinking it over. “Then we go on the merry-go-round,” she finally said.
“Exactly,” I said, proud that my daughter understood how a little scheming might be necessary even in the Magic Kingdom. As we hurried off toward the Skyway to Tomorrowland, I looked forward to a cheerful afternoon in the Magic Kingdom—the rest of them lined up at the Skyway or the Grand Prix or someplace while Abigail and I rode the merry-go-round, almost as carefree as we are when we ride the merry-go-round in Central Park and don’t have to worry about how long the lines in front of other Adventures are getting while we’re going round and round.
Early the following morning, I happened to be in the Magic Kingdom without Abigail or my wife. Business hours had been more effective than church in keeping the early-morning quiet, and it was possible to take a peaceful stroll down Main Street. Our no-line sweep the previous morning through what I had dreaded as the most crowded Adventures had been great for my attitude; as I walked toward Fantasyland, I answered a popcorn vender and a street sweeper and the driver of an old-fashioned car by saying I certainly was having a good time. I knew I would soon have to turn more analytical in order to defend Disney against any criticism my wife might have that morning after she and Abigail had been whisked over from the Polynesian Village.
“This reproduction of an old-fashioned Main Street is just a way to get people to buy things,” she would say.
“But that’s what an old-fashioned Main Street was,” I would reply. I stopped in front of the old-fashioned Emporium and wondered if I had enough time to stop in and buy Abigail a Mickey Mouse luggage tag.
“If they want to be so authentically American,” she would say, “why do they have frozen orange juice instead of fresh orange juice in the Florida Citrus Growers’ stand and ‘Indian crafts’ from Hong Kong instead of real Indian crafts at the Frontier Trading Post?”
“Because there’s a bigger profit margin on frozen orange juice and Hong Kong Indian crafts,” I would say. “And a bigger profit margin is authentically American.”
As I walked through Cinderella’s Castle into Fantasyland, it started to rain. I suddenly realized that I had an extraordinary opportunity. It was a rainy Monday morning, the relatively few people in the Magic Kingdom were seeking shelter, and I was only a couple of hundred yards from the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Submarine Voyage, normally known as the Adventure with the most fantastic line in Fantasyland. There was bound to be practically no line at all. I would be able just to toss an E coupon from my seven-Adventure book at the attendant and walk right aboard. On the other hand, I had been on the Submarine Voyage at Disneyland, in California, and I remembered being so bored that halfway through the voyage I had considered asking the captain if I could possibly be shot to the surface. But could I pass up the opportunity to avoid a two-hour line? I walked slowly over to the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Submarine Voyage. “Sorry, sir,” the cheerful young man at the gate said to me. “We’re closed until noon.” Thank God.
Abigail arrived shortly after that, and, forgoing the opportunity to walk casually into a lot of Adventures we hadn’t seen—Abigail, it turned out, prefers old familiar Adventures—we returned to It’s a Small World and then had some more carefree rides on the merry-go-round. ♦