Slate has a five-part travel story on a grown man, no kids, visiting all the parks in Disney World, accompanied with photos. The visitor is a bit incredulous at the entire thing, and seems a bit perplexed as to why people love it so much. Being myself a closet Disneyphile, I thought I might try to explain it, risking my street cred in the process. (If I ever had any to begin with, totally unclear.)
I’ve been to a Disney park a handful of times as an adult, both Florida and California. I really do prefer Epcot so Florida is a clear winner, although I have never gone to the animal park or the movie one. I adore Downtown Disney. I love the shops that they have there and the restaurants and bars. I love staying in a hotel close enough to wander over for an adult beverage, preferably enjoyed sitting outside. I love the fact that anything with the Disney brand on it is likely to be clean and well-organized.
My contrast to Disney comes in that I hate Las Vegas. I know there are many reasons why people like to go there, but I cannot get past the seedy side of it. For me, Disney parks are like Vegas without the gambling and hookers and filth. Great people watching, a slice of America that I never otherwise see. A place where I truly feel like I’ve escaped my real life and my day job, where I know that I’m on vacation because I can go on rides and eat strange things and shop in the souvenir stores. Ironically, of course, I’m almost always in Disney proximity because I *am* working, my job takes me to conferences and trade-shows that tend to be in places where Disney parks are located.
I do the whole Disney consumer thing. I buy a shirt, purchase the photograph of myself making a silly face on some ride or another. And I love every minute of it.
Now where I think the important difference comes in–from what the Slate author was so concerned about–is that I also like to travel to places in the real world. I love the fact that my job takes me to places far more exotic than Disney World. I like the gritty reality of trying to navigate in Budapest or Singapore. But there is a special place in my heart for Disneyworld. It’s been a few years, and I’m itching to head over on the train to Paris and check out the local flavor. Of course, I also desperately want to go to Legoland in Windsor.
While on the Disney confessional, I love the princess movies and I watch them often. I hated the Lion King. Okay enough. That’s definitely enough potential humiliation for one day.