In between personal, familial and financial failures, Mark Twain took time to see the world and insult the peoples, locales, and histories of the places he visited. It is in this tradition of being annoyingly unsatisfied and too smart for our own good that we present "Not So Innocent Abroad:" a deplorable, ethnocentric, at times hilarious, and always historically unreliable dump on every place we have ever visited.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Where History is Swallowed, Distorted, and Vomited Up in Technicolor by Skilled Teams of Designers to Walt Disney’s Anal Retentive Standards

The Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resorts in Orlando, Florida, USA:

In the few moments I was not trying to schedule a vasectomy during my recent trip to Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in September, I took some time to visit some quality historical sites at the almost 40-year-old amusement park.

Now before I am beset by shouts from the granola gallery that Walt Disney World and specifically the Magic Kingdom are not historical sites of merit let me just say this. When construction began Disney built miles of “utilidors,” tunnels designed for park “cast members”(a code for employees) to traverse unseen while dressed in costumes. This system prevents out of place characters from interfering in the illusion of other "kingdoms" of the park. Because of these tunnels the surface of Disney is in fact 107 feet above the original ground. The park features architectural facades inspired by Germany, Mexico, the Caribbean, the Chesapeake, the American Southwest, and Deep South. Also featured in the Tomorrowland Park is the "Carousel of Progress," a revolving exhibit from the 1964 New York World's Fair sponsored by General Electric that traces technological progress in the 20th century and into the future. The Magic Kingdom opened its doors in October of 1971.

In 2009 there were more than 17.2 million visitors to the park, making it the most visited amusement park in the world. A pretty good record for a tract of land that 40 years ago was an uninhabitable swamp. Plus Hall of Presidents! If that doesn’t convince you that Walt Disney World is a massive engineering and cultural landmark than you are probably a self-deluding elitist. Do me a favor, jump in your corn oil powered VW bus, the one with the bumper sticker that says “I Break for Al Gore,” and drive it off a cliff. For those of you who have a respect for Walt Disney’s astounding achievement in being a neurotic control freak of astounding grandeur please read on.

The number one historical attraction at Disney is the Hall of Presidents. Like all good Republicans before 1978 Walt Disney was obsessed with Abraham Lincoln, and like all megalomaniacal personalities he was also obsessed with the presidency of the United States. The result is the first hyper-realistic stage performance ever made featuring animatronic human figures. The 20-minute show features vignettes of historical moments that people unfamiliar with details associate with interference from the executive branch. Mixed in with these great man fallacies are mythical tales of everyone’s favorite overrated presidents. This is all set against the backdrop of articulate speeches by Washington, (Teddy) Roosevelt and Lincoln about the tenuous line America’s Chief Executive walks between power hungry madman and ordinary Joe. A noble and genuine lesson that is utterly destroyed by an ironic short video of George W. Bush at Ground Zero rambling on in breathless monosyllabic dribble. Equally perplexing is that in the midst of two wars, historically high unemployment and a financial meltdown, current President Barrack Obama found the time to record the speech delivered by his far more animated robotic counterpart, but I digress. The Hall of Presidents is a terrific place to visit if you want to learn the order of the Presidents and see zombie Abraham Lincoln rise from his chair and stare at you with black eyes, as dolls eyes.

Of course lost on most people is that there is far more German history wrapped up in Disney World than American. In fact nearly every Princess story is built on some Grimm Brother’s tale designed to scare the living shit out of German kids and discourage them from adhering to the values of the French Revolution. Fortunately however the 1990s feel goodery that pumped out titles like Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Lion King, and Mulan knew better than to thrust 19th Century German values on American children. So Grimm’s lessons of be a first rate version of yourself instead of a second rate version of someone else have fortunately been replaced with, you can be what you make of yourself and with enough money you can do fucking anything. That is as long as you are white, heterosexual, and good-looking. And if Magic Kingdom is not a testament to those American values I know no better example.

Finally let me just finish with two final criticism of Disney’s historical track record. It is difficult to truly appreciate Pirates of the Caribbean without being piss drunk on rum. Do the world a favor and lift the alcohol ban in the Magic Kingdom. Also having a character named “Red Fox” who jive talks you through Splash Mountain is a little racist, even for the South. 
Verdict: If ever given the opportunity, visit Magic Kingdom if only for the sake of proving your not a Communist. Also I am told that like me, children enjoy sugar, cartoons, and Space Mountain. Who would have known?

Dan Roberts,
September 2010


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