It happened again recently. I found myself in the unenviable position of having to defend why I like all things Disney. Unenviable, not because Disney is without merit, but because you can never defend things you enjoy and actually persuade anyone and change their mind.
I understand. Really. I used to be a complete “Life’s a bitch and then you die” sort of person. “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” and “Love is a warm puppy” put sickening long suffering looks on my face.
There is a wonderful quote by Osho, “Misery nourishes the ego.” Certainly I felt very superior in my hostile isolation bubble for one. Rather than try to shake off my gloom and unhappiness, I chose to wallow in it. Sad, when you consider I’ve been told my best feature is my smile.
I don’t know what happened. Time and time again I have tried to uncover what made me stand up and brush myself off, while so many choose to savor their bitter choices.
Maybe I’d just had enough.
Maybe I was lucky enough to encounter brighter, shinier people who gently led me out of the darkness.
No matter, I know if you hate all things Disney and see it as the menace that destroyed everything good and real in the world, I won’t persuade you any differently. Meanwhile, I discover that my new enlightened viewpoint on the world, requires a gentle maintenance and intentional mental thumbing through the nicer things in life. So, for my own delight, and hopefully the enjoyment of at least a few others, today’s deliberate scrutiny of things that make me happy will be 10 of my favorite things about Disney.
10. “Phineas and Ferb.” Like Twitter, I discovered “Phineas and Ferb” by noticing other people were talking about it. I had written off most of the Disney Channel material, thinking the shows were “strictly kid stuff,” but on a whim, I decided to give it a look. What I found, was one of those shows, like “Pinky and the Brain,” written for children, but with wonderful submerged adult moments and insights, usually delivered via Perry the Platapus or Dr. Doofenshmirtz.
Besides you could do far worse than greeting each day by singing along with the “Phineas and Ferb” theme song:
This could possibly be the best day ever,
And the forecast says that tomorrow will likely be a million and six times better,
So make every minute count jump up, jump in and seize the day,
And let's make sure that in every single possible way,
Today is Gonna to Be a Great Day!
And if you’re in a bad mood? Try singing any Dr. Doofenshmirtz song.
9. "Tangled" Sadly, Disney recently announced they had run out of princesses. So ends a tradition that began in 1937 with Disney's first feature length cartoon, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." No matter, there are enough princesses to go around and for every woman who knows her heart, there is probably a princess who secretly speaks to her. Mine is Rapunzel in "Tangled." Alternately enthusiastic and then shy and afraid because she was enthusiastic. I know her because we dance the same dance.
8. The Jungle Cruise. "I have a special treat for you, folks. You may never have seen this before ... there it is - the backside of water!" I think I've heard that very same joke every time I've ridden The Jungle Cruise. With it's animatronic attractions and schmaltzy jokes, the ride trades both on being a comfortable memory as well as a fairly cool, seated attraction when lines are long and the day is hot. But, because I once heard that John Lasseter got his start as a Jungle Cruise Captain, the ride always reminds me some very famous people started out as Disney Cast Members, among them : Steve Martin in Merlin's Magic Shop; Michelle Pfeiffer as Alice in the Main Street Electrical Parade; and along with John Lasseter, both Robin Williams and Kevin Costner probably once told visitors to check out "the backside of water." Each time after riding The Jungle Cruise, I'm sure I smile a little wider at all the cast members I meet, while wondering who they might be in their futures.
7. Pin Trading. Don't get me wrong. I've seen some seriously disgusting moments of greed and avarice surrounding Disney Pin Trading, Special Events, Limited Edition Pins, and those pins marked as only tradable with children. But I'm not here to shine a light on how humanity can unerringly turn something fun into something unspeakable. I'm here to celebrate Disney fun and Disney Pin Trading is fun. Don't believe me? Try it. If you don't travel to a Disney park using a travel service that entitles you to a free lanyard and complimentary pin, buy the cheapest lanyard you can find that includes a pin or two and start approaching Cast Members wearing pins. Choose some theme you will follow as to what type of pin you are trading up to. I usually go with the theme "Disney Cats." Pin trading adds an element of scavenger hunt to your visit and transforms you from simply another visitor to a slightly more involved and enlightened insider. You may find yourself engaged in some fascinating conversations, both with other visitors and Cast Members alike, that you never would have experienced simply walking from attraction to attraction.
6. " Kingdom Keepers." Have you ever noticed leaving a Disney park at night, that the characters aren't walking out side by side with you? Ridley Pearson noticed and developed an entire world around the notion. In the "Kingdom Keepers" series, a group of school kids chosen to portray holographic, interactive guides in Walt Disney World find themselves involuntarily traveling to the park at night while their body is at home asleep. Maleficent and a whole cadre of villains are determined to take over the parks and it is up to the Kingdom Keepers to stop them. In order to research his books, Pearson scored the mother of all Disney passes and made good use of it. The books begin in Walt Disney World, travel over onto one of the Disney cruise ships and end in Disneyland. Fun stories with lots of mystery, excitement and "Behind the Scenes" details, my only complaint is that Disney seems to have no intention of creating what would seem to be a "no brainer" series of movies.
5. The Haunted Mansion. As a child I coveted The Haunted Mansion. That's all there is to it. My parents wouldn't drive 50 miles to San Francisco, let alone go to Disneyland. If I mentioned it, they simply said, "You've already been there." Of course I was two-years-old at the time and remembered only having seen the Dumbo ride briefly on a family super-8 film. I was one of those kids who loved mysteries and Halloween, ghost stories and Creature Features. Every time I would see a commercial featuring The Haunted Mansion, my heart wanted to be there. As an adult, whether it is The Nightmare Before Christmas holiday version or the original, even though I know how all the tricks are done, I still find myself leaning ever so slightly out of my "Doom Buggy," craning my neck to see all of the tombstones, happy to be the 1000th ghost.
4. The extended Disney community. If there's a secret handshake, I've never learned it. But Disney lovers DO all have something in common. With an easy smile, they have a story to tell. Whether it is the first time their son or daughter visited a park; watching "Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color" as a child; or when they bought their first set of "Mouse Ears," Disney fans carry memories with them that can always brighten their day and they are almost always willing to share them. Across the internet, you will find all sorts of blogs and fan websites dedicated to sharing someone's love of Disney.
3. Pirates of the Caribbean, The Blue Bayou, and New Orleans Square. Some day I want to go to the real New Orleans, but until then I'm pretty content visiting the Disney version. I know that is the epitome of everything most Disney haters hate: the replacement of the "real" with the Disney version. I know. I know. I once made those same arguments. At the same time, for me, the most beautiful Christmas display Disney has to offer is at New Orleans Square and there is nothing quite like sitting in The Blue Bayou watching the Pirates of the Caribbean boats drift by or sitting in one of the boats on Pirates of the Caribbean as it passes The Blue Bayou. Even before the movie series, Pirates was my "must see" attraction and usually is the first and last ride of any Disney vacation.
2. Attention to detail. Everywhere you look, there is something to see. The queue areas for rides extend the theme all the way out to the entrance. Not only does each park have a castle with detailing like mosaics and carved wood, each park has a different castle honoring a different princess. The Haunted Mansion is in a different land in each park and instead of using the carbon copy mansion, each mansion is a unique and different mansion. Wait for a friend using the restroom off Main Street and you just may hear the a piano teacher addressing her students from a window somewhere above you. Both In Mickey's Toontown as well as Tarzan's Treehouse, there are ropes to pull and buttons to push which reward children with smoke or growls or horns. Hidden Mickey's grace manhole covers, tiles, and stair railings. All around you from the very ornate to the quietly simple, surrounding details remind you: This is a Disney park.
1. Walt Disney himself. By the end of nearly every trip, I have encountered something of Walt Disney which, I have to admit, has probably brought tears to my eyes in admiration of the man. In Walt's own words, "Why do we have to grow up? I know more adults who have the children's approach to life. They're people who don't give a hang what the Joneses do. You see them at Disneyland every time you go there. They are not afraid to be delighted with simple pleasures, and they have a degree of contentment with what life has brought - sometimes it isn't much, either."