Your Souvenir Guide

Disneyland Ex Machina

This week in Disneyland news: Disney ex machina

Disney Ex Machina

Nearly every Disney-focused bl-gger — including your obdt. scribe — writes about Disney’s corporate-made culture as if it were a religion. We defer to Walt Disney’s opinions, even though the man’s been dead for 41 years; we evangelize for animated movies that we don’t personally like because we want the animators to keep their jobs; we get our Tinkerbells in a bunch whenever Imagineering fucks with Something Walt Made; and we fill our bl-gs with pious rhetorical questions like those found on the back cover of a Dianetics paperback:

What would Walt Disney think of the Walt Disney Company of today? Page 25

What if the bare necessities of life don’t come to me? Page 93

Is John Lasseter, like, the reincarnation of Walt Disney? Is he? IS HE? Because that would be totally awesome omigod I wet my pants. Page 119

According to Jennifer Porter, a professor of religious studies at Memorial College in Newfoundland and Labrador, the deification of Disney is as normal as the worship of Yoda, Buffy Summers and the Federation of Planets. This January, Porter will introduce “Religion and Disney: Not Just Another Mickey Mouse Course,” a program which will presumably indulge your passions for both animated features and Theodor Adorno. Porter described the course in a news item:

“The theme park productions, fireworks displays and so on always involve a morality tale and a requirement of the audience to believe in the power of good, and believe in the power of wishes,” she said.

“So I’m interested in that – does that affect Disney audiences? Does that affect how they see the world?”

The answer seems fairly obvious to me: No one cares, except for religion majors who have already explored every corner of the “Buffy Christ” syllabus and Disney freaks (like meeeee!) who are already soaking in pixie dust. Until the age of 18 I was a Jehovah’s Witness, and Disneyland was one of the few “worldly” pleasures accorded to those of us who didn’t celebrate birthdays or Christmas. (Even parts of Disneyland were off-limits to some Witnesses: Many would avoid the Haunted Mansion, which they believed to be “demonic.” Fortunately, my parents didn’t hold with that notion.)

I have to admit that I’ve wondered, at least once or twice, if I re-forged my belief system while waiting in line for the Matterhorn, but I suspect Prof. Porter isn’t the one to help me figure that out. That particular information I will share only with mental health professionals, certain bartenders and this bl-g’s 45 readers.

In happier, irreligious news, Disneyland took possession of the first of its new fleet of monorail trains, the Mark VII, this week. You can’t ride it yet, but you can admire its paleo-futuristic lines and deep-burgundy paint job. It recalls Bob Gurr’s original 1957 “Flash Gordon”-inspired design so completely that you have to wonder why the Park ever switched to the jet-inspired design that’s still in use at Walt Disney World. Evidently, more than a few Imagineers believe they nailed it the first time, and sweet mother of Walt, they’re right. Everybody’s gonna want a ride on this beauty once it starts regular trips. It’s the new iPod. The Orange County Register has the story and a few photos.

Finally, Werner Weiss at Yesterland has written a review of “Disneyland: Secrets, Stories and Magic,” a new, limited-edition two-disc DVD from the Walt Disney Treasures collection, and with it he demonstrates two things: Exactly what fans and non-fans can expect from this Disneyland documentary set, and why Yesterland is the ne plus ultra of Disneyland websites/bl-gs. Mr. Weiss never puts the burden of understanding on the reader, nor does he pretend to airs; he simply talks about Disneyland past and present in a way that really, really makes you want to go there. I have a dear friend who enjoys Pixar films because “They just tell the story,” and I think that’s an excellent way of describing what Yesterland does better than any other Disneyland site, including this one.

Finally, a few housekeeping details: I’ve changed my bl-g’s comment status to OpenID, so that my TypeKey, WordPress, AIM and LiveJournal readers may comment on this stuff. (LiveJournal, I love you! Spasiba.) I’ll be happy to receive your compliments/threats/lunacy, and I’ll even take requests: One of my readers, a former roller derby queen and all-around fierce rulin’ diva, has asked to hear my thoughts on Disneyland’s security force. I’ll spill that info soon enough, seeing as the statute of limitations has expired.

I should probably also tell you that I’ll be posting less through the holidays, but if you’re reading this, you’ve probably figured that out by now. Happy holidays to you, and may the new year bring you joy and contentment.



1 Comment

  1. It just came to me as I was watching Santa's progress on NORAD…



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