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Seven Deadly Cynics

It's places like Disney that make you understand why some foreigners utterly despise American culture.

They wash the ground in the resorts. More than once I saw a worker pushing a floor-cleaner device, with soap and water and a big spinning brush, across the pavement, making it shine. Everywhere else in the world, they bring a street-sweeper along maybe once a week or so, usually less. Here, they have people scrubbing the sidewalks regularly, and it really shows.

There are places where they've embedded fiber-optics in the walkways to make the concrete tiles twinkle. There are water fountains everywhere. There are stands that spray mist to cool visitors off. There are laser lights and fog machines and sparkly glittery things everywhere. They must spend thirty thousand dollars on fireworks alone each and every night.

And then there's Downtown Disney, the shopping/dining/nightlife area. The spotlights from outside the nightclubs can be seen shining on the sky from anywhere in Disney World, each and every night. There must be a hundred miles of neon tubing and tens of thousands of other lights and LEDs used to illuminate everything. There are giant screens showing music videos and concert footage all night long, and inconspicuous security personnel everywhere to make sure everyone's experience is as safe as it can be.

It struck me at one point that pretty much any given ride or store or restaurant in any of the parks must have a monthly electricity bill fifty times that of the one I pay. To their credit, there's a nuclear power plant right nearby that hopefully supplies most of the power Disney uses, and nuclear power is cleaner and cheaper than many other forms. There must be terawatts of energy being pumped into the place every day.

Meanwhile, children starve elsewhere.

Sarah remarked at one point about how it's really easy to get completely cynical about the whole Disney World thing. The complete excess, the sheer overwhelming wastefulness of it all, is enough to make you sick when you think about it, except for one thing -- when you're there, the amazing wonderfulness of it all counters the effect almost entirely. It's frightening, but it's astounding. I don't know if anyone can understand it without having been there -- if you haven't experienced the sheer wonder that surrounds you the entire time you're there, you can't understand how all the wastefulness could possibly be justified. The moment you're in the park, though, you can't help but buy into the entire magical scheme, and once you do, you're hooked. It doesn't surprise me that the Make A Wish Foundation gives fatally ill children trips to Disney World so often, since once you're there you're completely enveloped in a sort of surreality that takes over your world.

The U.S. could have invaded Syria and North Korea at the same time while I was at Disney, and I wouldn't have known about it because of the faerie dust Tinkerbell was sprinkling in my eyes.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 25th, 2003 06:56 am (UTC)
They washed the ground in Mecca while I was there. Parts of Mecca are paved with marble, since the tiny city? town? hosting several million people have to accommodate for overflow, and people end up praying in the streets. I remember seeing one place being washed twice in the same day, and my cousin getting annoyed because she was sitting on the ground trying to eat lunch.
I felt the magic when I was a child in Disney...I wonder if I will still feel it now, or if I will just look at all the water and electricity being wasted.
Apr. 25th, 2003 09:09 am (UTC)
Apr. 25th, 2003 09:27 am (UTC)
I'm not sure I get the "meanwhile, children starve elsewhere" comment. Seems to me the main problem is that Disney uses a lot of depletable resources while arguably paying less than they're worth. But food isn't one of those.

Or are we just condemning Joe American for preferring to spend his money on a trip to Disneyland than on feeding a starving child?
Apr. 25th, 2003 10:43 am (UTC)
It was more of a "Disney is spending such a huge amount of money on all this needless glitz and glamour every single day, when there are so many morally-better things that the money could be used for" comment.
Apr. 27th, 2003 11:06 am (UTC)
nuclear power is cleaner and cheaper than many other forms

You can't be serious.
Apr. 27th, 2003 02:44 pm (UTC)
Oops, I made that statement without actually looking into it.

I didn't see any solar, wind, or geothermal power generators near Disney, unfortunately.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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