More notes from Walt Disney World:
- I felt bad for Cinderella. The wait to see her and Rapunzel was only 10 minutes; if you wanted Elsa and Anna, the line was an hour and a half. If I were Cinderella I’d be pissed. “Enjoy it while you’ve got it, Flavor-of-the-Month, but in ten years, I’m still here, and you’re Mulan.”
- Speaking of deprecated Disney Princesses, you know who’s totally absent from Disney World? Pocahantas. That was a pretty big movie! Is Pocahantas absent because of newfound cultural sensitivity about depictions of Native Americans? Highly doubtful, given the fact that the heap racist Indian Chief is still front and center in the Peter Pan ride. Also, a little digging reveals that Pocahantas can indeed be seen at WDW, in the Animal Kingdom park. Because, you know, state of nature!
- Disney World at Christmastime is very, very Christmasy but not at all Christian. This is a delicate tightrope to walk and I think they do a nice job. No cross, very little use of the word “Christmas.” Lots of trees, lots of secular carols. One small nativity scene tucked away at the back of Hollywood Studios.
- Most underrated attraction: The Hall of Presidents. Animatronic Abraham Lincoln delivering the Gettysburg address is authentically moving. And it seems a nod to modern ways of doing history that Andrew Jackson is singled out in the movie as one of the most important Presidents, by virtue of being the first non-aristocrat to hold the office. (Though not much is said about Andrew Jackson’s record in office, which brings us back to the “sensitivity to Native Americans” issue.)
- Epcot was the weakest of the three parks we went to. Too much shopping, not enough riding. It would be improved by having fewer massively packed sit-down restaurants and more snack stands of all nations.
- Speaking of the future: it’s weird that the cars on the Tomorrowland Speedway aren’t futuristic at all, but rather big gas-guzzling go-carts. Why not go electric? In general, Disney seems content to let Tomorrowland rest in a nostalgic “what the future used to look like” mode. In 2014, could they really build something that felt like the future and also felt like Disney?
- Finally: lost in all these words is the fact that Disney World is actually pretty fun. Especially if you go with somebody like my brother-in-law, who knows the place inside and out and can dodge lines with expert efficiency. We spent 16 straight hours in Magic Kingdom on the first day and it didn’t feel like too much. I wouldn’t be inclined to go again, but I’m not at all sorry that we went. And my kids, by no means Disney freaks, loved it. CJ is still talking about the roller coasters and the tech of Soarin’. And AB was just happy she got to see Olaf and R2D2 and bring home a stuffed Mickey.
Growing up close to Disneyland meant that most of us in Southern California (no matter what age we were) owned an annual pass at one point. So yeah, it’s actually pretty fun.
Hall of Presidents was something I appreciated a lot more once I was older, not so much when I was 8, but I agree, definitely underrated. Not sure what Soarin’ is like in Disney World, but in the California version, the ride is called Soarin’ over California with views of California scenery. It definitely induces a sense of pride in the Californians.
As a native of CA, I went to Disneyland a fair amount, and only made it to WDW a couple of years ago. We did one day each at Magic Kingdom, Animal (and Pocahontas) Kingdom, and EPCOT. I liked Animal Kingdom a lot, if only because we got in early and rode the Everest ride about 5 times in a row. EPCOT was a huge disappointment. Its only redeeming feature was really the availability of alcohol.
So we enjoyed it, but frankly, we had at least as much fun at the Universal parks. And I still like Disneyland better, if only for the Matterhorn.