maura @ 10:29 pm
Over xmas break we went to Disneyworld. It was my first time and before we left I thought it would also be my last, but now I’m not so sure.
Let’s back up. If you were alive in America after the 1950s or so it’s impossible not to have some sort of history with Uncle Walt’s Corporation. I wasn’t a particularly Disney-crazed kid, but I do have lots of fond memories of the old movies.* I think Cinderella was my first movie in the theater ever, Alice in Wonderland (which I actually remember) my second. I still have the soundtracks to several of them — with a storybook built in to the sleeve! — that I vividly remember playing on my Fisher-Price record player.** I brought Dressy Bessy with me to see Snow White, because that evil queen was intense. But I was never really into Mickey et al.
* And why don’t they release the movies theatrically anymore, like when I was a kid? They could make boatloads of $ I’m sure, you’d think they’d be all over it.
** Would that I still had the record player, it was so cool!
We didn’t go to Disneyworld when I was little — it was too far away + expensive, so we went to Colonial Williamsburg + Busch Gardens instead (which was really fun and actually historical, so don’t feel bad for us!). When I was in college my mom + stepfather + sibs + stepsibs all went and I admit to a smidge of envy. Not quite as much as the jealous queens of old, but a tiny bit. As a college graduation gift my mom got us Disneyworld and Epcot passes, but we didn’t use them for a long time.
When I took a year off from archaeology grad school to work in the crazy internets trenches during those mid-1990s boom days, I spent some time working for Disney Online. The job was kind of wacky (in that Herman Miller chairs + unlimited espresso + late night redesigns kind of way), but I worked with some smashing folks. One of the perks was four 1-day passes to any of the parks every year (Happy Holidays!). My brother went to college in LA, so once when my mom + J + I were visiting we trooped out to Disneyland (with Tex, too).
Driving in CA is awful but the park was a blast. It was so cool to see the care + attention to detail — wherever you were it was almost impossible to see the other parts of the park. The illusion was intense, and it was easy to forget that we were right outside LA. I think we spent most of the day waiting in line, but they were so good at keeping us busy with stuff to look at that I can’t remember feeling down about it. We got to go on a few things that aren’t in Disneyworld, like the Indiana Jones ride and Mister Toad’s Wild Ride (one of J’s favorites; now gone from FL). I could swear we went on Space Mountain, but J says we didn’t.
Recently I’ve spent more time thinking of the dark side of the mouse. We spend lots of time in the class I teach talking about intellectual property and copyright and fair use, and Mickey et al. always make at least a token appearance when we discuss the Copyright Term Extension Act. I also watched Rip: A Remix Manifesto this semester (we screened it at work during Open Access Week) which takes pains to point out the plainly derivative nature of so much of Uncle Walt’s best work. I know there’s lots of money at stake, but it’s hard not to be disappointed and a little angry at the WDW Corp for those legal shenanigans.
Gus is not a big Disney kid — as is probably impossible to ignore, the company has invested heavily in the princesses for little girls (ugh). I can’t think of a newer Disney movie he’s been interested other than the underappreciated Lilo and Stitch. Lucky for all of us there’s Pixar. Lately, though, Gus had been throwing “those movies are for little kids” at us. We missed Toy Story 3 in the theaters and it sat in its Netflix envelope for weeks until I finally convinced Gus to watch it.
And now it’s late and I’m not even to the real story yet, but I think I need to stop for tonight. To be continued!