Magic and Imagery #9

Every year, we return to Orlando. Instinct makes us do this. We are like the salmon who must swim upstream to spawn, and die. They are lucky. We must go to theme parks.
A theme park is an amusement park where you pay one blanket admission fee, which is quite steep, but once you’re inside, everything is totally free, except all the other stuff you end up buying, which will run you around $11,000 per child. Every few yards you find yourself stopping to buy high-priced theme-park food, theme-park merchandise, theme-park clothing and theme-park photographs of yourself looking theme-park ugly.
Sometimes you stop and just spontaneously throw money into the theme-park air. You can’t help yourself! You’re theme-park stupid!
Everybody’s IQ drops at theme parks. Really smart people, Mensa members, will stand in line for two hours so they can go on a 90-second ride with a name like “The Runaway Turnip.” They do this because everybody else is doing it, and because they paid for it, and because they’re going to have FUN, dammit!
Orlando, of course, is Fun Central; it’s infested with theme parks. Thousands of Orlando residents make their living looking out through the eye holes of giant smiling character heads. At quitting time, they go to the Theme Park Workers’ Bar, where you see everybody – Pluto, Popeye, Bugs Bunny, Piglet, etc. – pouring martini pitchers directly into their mouth holes, trying to forget about a day that consisted largely of having small, highly excited children run into them at exactly crotch level. Around 2 a.m. everyone staggers out to the parking lot to watch Chip and Dale pound each other senseless. Those two HATE each other.
Dave Barry

Looking back at yesteryear . . .

My first trip to Disney World was in 1972, when I was 14.  Today, a room at the Contemporary Resort will cost you about $400.  That year, it cost $42 . . . and it was so expensive, my father threatened to cancel the reservations.
I remember standing on Main Street, disbelieving that I was actually there.  I still have that feeling every time I visit.  I remember my first time in the Haunted Mansion, hoping to be scared, but knowing it would just be fun.  And it was way too short.
And I remember this book, the first book I ever owned with an absolutely fascinating, absolutely wonderful die cut: a hole in the middle of the friggin’ cover that let me see the page just inside!
I don’t know how many times one can read a book, but I certainly beat the record with this one, mostly concentrating on the pages about the Haunted Mansion, and the hotels, and how they built the place . . . especially the photos of the Jungle Cruise elephants and the Nautilus submarines on flatbeds as they’re being carted down Interstate 4.
This book reflects what Disney World means to me: that it takes imagination to make unreality become real.

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