Yesterday, we spent all day at the Animal Kingdom park, and our bones were tired. After walking around on cement for three days, we just wanted to sit down, in the shade. It's been 85 degrees and sunny every day, and all the little kids in the place seemed to be misbehaving, and I was cranky about having to be anywhere near them and their whining.
The park was interesting, and some of the attractions were fun, but something seemed to be missing. I kept thinking we should wander over to "fake" Asia, and maybe then we could go to "fake" Africa for the safari through the "savanna." I overheard a little girl say to her father, "Dad, look at this fake bamboo?" He assured her it was real, but she had become accustomed to assuming everything fake. It's all very clever, but it gets to you after a while. You start to question the validity of everything. Because the moon is bright and full every night, Eustacia and I have concluded it's actually a light attached to the dome up above, like we're vacationing in The Truman Show.
But then something interesting happened. After dinner at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, which was marvelous, we took a bus back to the Magic Kingdom in order to grab a ferry to our own hotel. As we approached the parking lot, a classic Disney song began to play on the bus speakers—Jiminy Cricket with his familiar voice and well-wishes, and Eustacia and I both grinned and said, "aahhh."
That's what we have been missing these last two days at EPCOT and the "fake" world park with real animals—we have missed the nostalgia and the sense of well-being that we associate with the innocence and goodness of classic Disney characters. Say what you want about the passive woman-needs-man-for-survival message of Cinderella—she is lovely, and the songs and singing mice who are anything but passive remind you to find something at least tolerable in the least desirable situation.
Snow White finds solace in the company of the seven dwarfs. Pinocchio learns what it means to be human, that responsibility, sacrifice and strength of will go a long way to keep a person from wasting his life.
Tinkerbell is a punk, but seeing her image reminds me of being a bright-eyed child sitting in front of the TV on Sunday nights and watching the opening to the Disney program and wishing that I could one day actually go to Disney Land. Well, here I am, and while you can blame Disney for cheapening our culture if you want—you might be right on some level—for me and Eustacia, it provides a breather. It's not just a respite from reality, it's a reminder that reality need not be so harsh.
It's OK to be happy about simple things and cute things and fantastical things—a giant mice with four fingers and no malice, a talking floppy dog in a hat who just wants to make you giggle, a feisty duck with no pants and a flying elephant with ears the size of Never-Never-Land.
So, without apology, we will spend one more day enveloped in the shadow of a magical castle. And tonight, we'll sit on the beach under yet another full moon, wiggle our toes in the sand, and watch Wall-E on a giant screen.
Have a magical day.