Selling Happiness? A Disney Insiders Thoughts on “Escape From Tomorrow”: Part 2
“Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”
Wesley – The Princess Bride
Just shy of 50 years ago in November of 1963 Walt Disney flew over a swamp and said “I’m going to make that place the happiest place on earth and people from all over the world are going to come to it.” Realizing that most people don’t equate happiness with festering stench holes filled with snakes, Walt decided he was going to make Walt Disney World on top of that place. So, he snatched up 43 square miles of land using false names (you can see those names in the windows of Main Street), started building, and now that swamp is 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, 20 Resorts, 5+ complexes, golf courses, and only the occasional snake. (True story: I saw more snakes at Walt Disney World than I did living 6 years in Australia. One of those fanged nogoodniks actually bit me in the Canadian pavilion at Epcot. )
When you become a cast member at Walt Disney World the first thing you do is take a course called Traditions which tells you the story of WDW. In that class they show you a video from long ago of Walt all duded up with a grey suit pointing a ridiculously long stick at various places on a floor to ceiling map promising a place dedicated to the happiness of everyone who would come to visit. (You can check out the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxC_a7qnGi8) The new cast members are then told that they are going to help make his promise true. No pressure new cast member, you’re just responsible for making people from all over the world happy. Here’s a puffy Mickey glove – good luck!
The thing with people, and I know because I am one, is that people are fickle things. Last night I stood paralyzed in front of the refrigerator 5 minutes trying to make a choice between a Poptart (chocolate fudge) and an apple. Most people have no clue what will make them happy and even when they do experience happiness it may be gone as quickly as a pop tart at midnight. Too quickly delicious Poptart … *sigh* … too quickly.
So getting back to Mr. Randy Moore and Escape From Tomorrow, Randy apparently has a beef with this happiness deal and how it all goes down at the mouse house. You see, Disney World in general is a larger version of Disneyland which is itself a place Walt Disney created for the purposes of having a nice place to visit on a Sunday with his daughter that didn’t involve carnie folk. (Another true story: Walt was a bit afraid of carnies.) Disneyland grew from that idea to become a safe place for amusement that people everywhere could come to to be enveloped in stories told by people who love telling stories. Every part of the parks and surrounding areas are built to tell stories from the ground you walk on to the music you hear. Every person working is called a “cast member” because they all become an actor playing a role. I’m going to get back to this in the next installment, but Disney approaches that fickle thing called happiness by letting people physically interact in stories associated the world round with happiness and excitement for children.
As a child, Randy was affected positively by this story telling. Then, Randy’s relationship with his dad, who took him to WDW, disintegrated and when Randy returned with his child he felt conflicting emotions surrounding the positive memories he had as a child and the one’s that replaced them. As an adult, Randy found himself weirded out by these conflicting emotions and came to think that maybe Walt Disney has insidiously constructed some false land where people are brainwashed into living completely in the moment of those constructed, false values by the 60,000 + cast members that are all Manchurian Candidated into propagating. Get ready for some upliftment, friends, because your soul will certainly be soaring after these inspiring Randy Moore quotes about Walt Disney World and his feelings toward it now!*
“It’s kind of madness. Everyone’s saying, “Celebrate the magic, believe,” that kind of stuff. There was a moment when we were at the phantasmic show in Orlando. It’s at their MGM studio park. At one moment in the middle of the show, there was this hail of pyrotechnics, and all of a sudden, Mickey just appears on the stage at the top of this mountain. There are lasers everywhere. Adults all around me literally gasped as if a god had appeared before them. This was genuine emotion. Somehow they had been brought back to whatever it was they felt when they were kids. At one point when we were shooting one day we were riding to the park and a mother was telling her kids, “Listen, for mommy, Disney World really is magic, so you guys have to behave.” My director of photography and I were listening to this and thinking, “This is the weirdest thing we’ve ever heard.” This woman has been just deeply affected. She believed the magic.”
Ah, what a gem. Believing that wonderful things beyond your imagination can happen is “madness” and “weird”. Thank you, Randy! More please.
“I’d gone on the first real Disney World trip with my wife, who’d never been there, and my two kids. She’s a nurse and goes between floors at hospitals. At one point she turned to me at some princess fair or something and said, “This is worse than working the psych world at the hospital.” Which is not the easiest floor to handle. So I started seeing it through her eyes, from a foreigner perspective: She’s from Kurkistan, part of the former Soviet republic. “
I love that he clarified that the psych ward is “not the easiest floor to handle.“. I have always wondered about that. Finally a formerly Russian nurse came to sate my curiosity. I don’t know about you, but I just need more from Moore! I’m hooked on these soul filling and not-at-all-insulting-to-millions-of-people quotes! How about these dandies?
“I don’t consider myself a rebel, but I have kids, and you cannot keep Disney from invading their minds.”
“I’d like people to come out of the film thinking about the hidden nature of all things.”
Man, Randy is depressing. But is Randy right?
Please allow me a response.
Continued in Part 3 tomorrow.