Call Toll Free: 1.855.314.3368Happiest Place on Earth
As the bus from the airport slowly comes to a halt, I jerk back in my seat with a grin from ear to ear. The time has really come again as I peer out the window and see the Welcome Home sign I long to see every year, in Disney World. Surrounded by the pale shades of blue on the buildings, the starry sky, and palm trees, I am once again at The Beach Club, my favorite resort in the Happiest Place on Earth. With a silent and still beauty surrounded by the cool evening breeze, the anticipation of the waking morning is too hard to handle, knowing that the magical feeling of the Magic Kingdom the next day will surround me.
Beep! Beep! Beep! The no longer dreaded alarm clock sounds in the early morning. As I hear my parents groan, not wanting to get up, I jump on their bed and run around the room like the five year old I feel I am. As we pull up to the main entrance of the Magic Kingdom, I get a sensation of butterflies in my stomach, knowing that this is no longer a dream and I will see Mickey Mouse soon. Walking through the clinking and clicking gates, the time is approaching.
. middle of paper.
. heard. We descend down the 13 floors, bouncing up and down, seeing familiar landmarks of other parks buried in the trees in the distance. With the feeling of flight, I float in the air every time our elevator drops. The ride stops, and loud applauds and cheering come from the people who were in the elevator with us. As we leave the park for today, I know why Disney World is the best place on earth. It is not only for the rides, but the magical feeling and family time that comes with the making and sharing of these unforgettable experiences.
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The Happiest Place on Earth
A brilliant man named Walt Disney, who was full of adventure, fun and dreams once said “To all who come to this happy place:welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past…and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams and the hard facts which have created America…with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.”
Walt Disney had a vision. It was a vision of a magical kingdom where children and parents could have fun together. This vision soon became a reality and was built in Anaheim, California on a one hundred and sixty-acre land where all dreams came true. A land full of rides, shows, food, parades, shopping, Disney characters, rivers, waterfalls, mountains, flying elephants, giant teacups, a fairy-tale castle, moon rockets, and a scenic railway, all inside a magic kingdom called Disneyland.
Disneyland is a kingdom full of rides for adults and children. Rides intended for children are also extremely amazing that even adults are entertained. Rides such as “it’s a small world” which takes you for a boat ride through a world full of little robotic children that sing “it’s a small world” in many different languages depicting many different cultures. The ride is full of animals and children playing having a good time in a very peaceful, beautiful and united world. There are many other rides like this one at Disneyland. Children were the main target to please at Disneyland so when people are there, they all fill like a kid again. Great rides such as Peter Pan which takes the rider on a magical flight around the city. Roger Rabbit which takes the rider for a wacky twisted spin. Pinocchio’s daring journey which takes the rider for a ride in Pinocchios shoes. There are also some rides that are made for both children and adults such as the Pirates.
Happiest Place on Earth. (1969, December 31). In MegaEssays.com. Retrieved 23:19, August 06, 2016, from http://www.megaessays.com/viewpaper/84171.html
MegaEssays. "Happiest Place on Earth." MegaEssays.com. MegaEssays.com, (December 31, 1969). Web. 06 Aug. 2016.
MegaEssays, "Happiest Place on Earth.," MegaEssays.com, http://www.megaessays.com/viewpaper/84171.html (accessed August 06, 2016)
Dispatch from Disneyland: Stories and Essays from the Happiest Place on Earth
John Frost—who runs TheDisneyBlog.com and whose father was one of the original “Imagineers” that had a hand in the construction of Disneyland—has written a book full of essays that make you feel like you’re right there at the park. A lot of the stories are very touching, and there are several examples of “cast members” going to great lengths to make the Disneyland experience a magical one.
This is a great read for anyone who loves the Disney parks, and maybe even for people who don’t. $10 for the Kindle edition. and $12 for the paperback.You May Also Like
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“Nothing can possibly go wrong at Disney, because nothing can possibly happen”
- Elayne Rapping
The Happiest Place on Earth?
When Walt Disney was asked what his intentions were for Disneyland he stated, “I don’t want the public to see the world they live in while they’re in the park, I want them to feel like they’re in another world”(Wilson 158). This other world that Walt Disney is referring to is a type of utopia that resembles the best of the world we live in; it is an altogether different type of reality. As Alexander Wilson explains in his essay entitled, Technological Utopias, Disneyland/world “is at once every place and no place. It is on the land, but not of it” (Wilson161). We are shown only the best of what we experience in our lives, so that we may safely relate to this world, without having to experience life’s undesirable additives that so frequently bring us down.
Disney World is in Orlando Florida, the “Sunshine State.” It is an area called Reedy Creek. This community operates outside the jurisdiction of municipal and regional laws regarding traffic development, building codes, power, waste and has the authority to levy taxes. Such authoritative domination has never been given to a private corporation from the state as it has with Disney World. Reedy Creek is often referred to as “The Vatican with mouse ears”(Hiaasen 27). The government of Reedy Creek is composed of a supervisory board elected by Walt Disney Company. It is a self-contained community that relies on the outside world for nothing, and additionally is a community that welcomes no help from the outside world.
As the park is separated from Florida, so are the inner workings of the park separated from tourists. Underground corridors allow workers, supplies, laundry services, staff cafeterias, dressing rooms and garbage to remain unseen by visitors. “Pneumatic tubes ‘whisk away refuse like magic’ to compactors”(Wilson 160). The mundane machinations of utopia are not to be viewed.
Not even nature has a place within this sterilized utopia. Walt Disney often referred to Mickey as “the clean mouse,” so if we are to assume that Mickey is stripped of his innate mouse instincts, then all other animals and are either excluded or modified to be in a Disney Park. When black buzzards invaded the Orlando resort in 1988, the birds began turning up dead. They were clubbed, poisoned, shot, and starved to death. When a snake on a path took a tourist by surprise, the tourist realized, after close inspection, that it was a rubber audio-animate replica; snakes simply do not exist in Disney World. Disney’s approach to animals is a science fiction ideology, “All animal life has been exterminated, but replaced by the production of simulacra, so real in appearance that people have difficult recalling that real animals no longer exist”(Willis 124). Again, the Disney reality does not allow an outside reality to manifest itself within its walls.
The nature that is allowed in Disney is not exempt from strict revisions. The water in Florida’s heartland is usually tea-colored due to cypress bark. Disney wanted bluish water, so they drained Bay Lake, removed all of the cypresses, replaced the dirt with imported sand, and filled with water that is only seen on travel brochures. To authenticate this blue lagoon, they even added beaches (Hiassen 18).
The experience that one has at a Disney park is as controlled as the environment. As is typical with most utopias, people visit and leave. Most narrators of utopias always lament on their poor memories or inability to truly describe what they have witnessed. At Disney the memories linger with pictures that tourists/narrators treasure and integrate into their real lives. The Disney experience is visually juxtaposed with the vacationer’s real life; thus, Disney parks triumph over real life. There are a plethora of signs throughout the park that indicate where you should take your picture. The term “Kodak Picture Spot,” gives the admonishing more credos by assigning another brand name to talk you into the photo commitment. These signs are usually located in front of attractions or rides, so that you equate your good time with specific places; this kind of conditioning resembles a Pavlov’s dog experiment. When you crave happy times you automatically envision a specific place or location at Disney, and thus in wanting to recreate this feeling, you return to the point of origin. Furthermore, if you compare your spontaneous snapshots from other vacations, that sometimes contain random strangers or undesirable objects within the frame, to Disney’s planned photo spots, the Disney designed photo always looks better than an impromptu snapshot.
Disneyland is centered around Main Street USA, the four worlds that surround this small town sentiment are Fantasyland, Frontierland, Adventureland and Tomorrowland. The idea is that even in a small town atmosphere there are no limitations to reality, space, odyssey or time. This small town construct offers us a vision of an America that never was, and the possibility of tomorrow that may never be. This vision suspends the narrator/visitor in amid very disparate times, between two worlds that do not exist in real time, so where in time does Disney occur? The Utopian representations of yesterday and tomorrow leave little reassurance for today.
Many utopias problematize the distinctions between public and private, and Disney is no exception. Disney parks are very much a public domain; a visitor’s enjoyment is usually dependent upon the people surrounding them. Rarely are people seen alone at a Disney park, it is a shared experience that is only enhanced by the number of people you are with. At a Disney park, one cannot be alone. When a tourist is spotted alone, the Disney characters are told to approach them and make them happy. One cannot even be alone with the people he is with. There are very few spots within the park that offer any type of privacy. This communal arrangement of enjoyment rejects individuality and fosters consumer camaraderie.
This utopia is aimed at middle class families. The costly admission prices exclude a large amount of the population. Visitors between the ages of 10 and 59 now pay $43, children 3 to 9 pay $33 and people over 60 pay $41. It costs a family of four over $150 to go to the park for just one day; these prices act as deterrent by Disney to exclude the population that is simply not Disney appropriate. Disney parks mold family members into a family. Family members are so consumed with assuming the roles of the family unit that they neglect their roles as individuals, thus fighting and dysfunctionality is at a minimum. The real family unit is juxtaposed with the extended Disney family, and so each familial group grows by their associations with one another. Whether or not one attends a Disney park with a conventional family, he is immersed into a family atmosphere either by the other families in attendance or by the large family of Disney characters. Characters like Mickey and Snow White are never featured together within a cartoon, but they come together within the confines of the park. This intermingling frustrates the order of imitation: are families imitating Disney or is Disney imitating family?
As in most utopias, there must be a tour guide. The Disney tour guide is of course Mickey Mouse. Mickey appears to be the all-American boy. Although he is over 50 years old, his appearance and demeanor never demonstrate any sign of aging. His voice is often described as that of a “prepubescent child”(Lawrence 66) and his uniform that is rarely modified is illustrative of Mickey’s opposition to change and a prolonged youth. Elizabeth Lawrence explains in her essay, “In The Mick of Time Reflections On Disney’s Ageless Mouse,” that Mickey is neotenized; he retains youthful characteristics while in the adult form. Therefore, Mickey is more than just a tour guide of this utopia; he escorts visitors back to a more youthful time, thus offering this neoteny ideology to the masses. This disregard for age and time demonstrates that within this utopia there is no such thing as old and young.
Mickey’s human colleagues at the parks all attend on-site Disney University where they are trained to be efficient, cleanly and always friendly. Staff member can advance within this utopia after completing lower minimum wage jobs like street sweeping and ticket taking. The staff lives within the vicinity of the park and must commute to work via automobile. Break times are strictly scheduled and broadcast over an announcement system. Staff members wear uniforms that correspond with their duties, garbage collectors wear white outfits and caps. Ironically, the white uniform sends the message that even the dirt at Disney is not dirty. Wait staff and ride attendants wear colors and fashions that match the areas they work in. By outfitting the employees in fashion related to their functions, the person is literally becoming the job.
Even within utopias, good help is hard to find. In 1998, Disney implemented background checks on all perspective job applicants after many incidences of molestation or child abuse by staff members. While Disney can be a dystopia for parents of young children, it remains a utopia for preying pedophiles that are being paid to play with children all day.
The employees act out against one another as well as the tourists. A stagehand at the Cinderella Castle bore a hole into the dressing room of the dancers and spied on them changing their costumes for months. Whoever these crimes are against, Disney does not acknowledge any of them. Disney Security is a private agency that employs 1,250 “host” and “hostesses” that oversee the park. Disney controls the 911-dispatch system; therefore, they have the liberty to choose whether or not to report crimes. The book, Disney: The Mouse Betrayed, contends that Disney parks hide most of the drunk driving, domestic battery and assault/sex crimes from the police (Druin A2). The few times that Disney was not able to hide crimes and outside authorities were notified, Disney’s cooperation has been described as deplorable and outrageous.
Even in the face of an emergency or scandal order is always maintained, since the unexpected has no place in this utopia. “Every now and then reality intrudes – a shoplifter, a flasher, a fatal heart attackÃ¢Â?Â¦Such incidents are handled with astounding swiftness and discretion, the scene is usually cleared and back to normal within minutes”(Hiaasen 35).
Disney has its’ own vernacular that transforms ordinary terminology into magical thinking. A customer is a guest, an employee is usually a cast member, hiring for a job becomes casting and a uniform transforms into a costume (Giroux). Accidents are diluted to incidents and low-profile vehicles have replaced ambulances, because accidents and ambulances simply do not exist at the happiest place on earth. The term work has been deconstructed so that work as what it is usually understood to be does not mean that mean anymore. Henry Giroux describes in his book, The Mouse That Roared that the work premise at Disney parks is modeled after Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and thus the dystopian ideology of work is made obsolete. With songs like, “Whistle while you work” inextricably connects play and work.
All Utopias within literature are fictionalized; they present ideas that might complicate our natural way of thinking. However, as much as they might frustrate our concepts of society and place, they are safe, because they do not exist; they therefore pose no imminent threat on our way of life. It is the Utopias that we can reach that mimic the way our life should be that cause the most damage to our sense of reality. An endemic aspect of all Utopias, is that they offer an unattainable vision of life, sometimes it is an extreme vision with no plausibility of ever occurring. Other times it is plausible but too difficult to implement and no one would really want to live there. Then there are the Utopias like Disney that we can fly and drive too, and pay money to enter, because we realize that this is as close to a true Utopia as we will ever get.
Druin, Julia. “Co-authors raise ruckus in books attacking Disney.” The Washington
Times. November 4, 1998, A2.
Giroux, Henry A. “The Mouse That Roared.” Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc:
Griffin, Sean. “Tinker Belles and Evil Queens.” New York University Press: New York,
Hiaasen, Carl. “Team Rodent How Disney Devours the World.” Ballantine Publishing
Group: New York, 1998.
Lawrence, Elizabeth A. “In the Mick of Time Reflections on Disney’s Ageless Mouse.”
Journal of Popular Culture. Fall 1996, vol. 20, n2. 65-72.
Marin, Louis. “Utopics: Spatial Play.” Trans: Robert A. Vollrath. New Jersey: Humanties
Willis, Susan. “Disney World: Public Use/Private State.” The South Atlantic Quarterly.
Winter 1993, vol. 92, n1. 119-137.
Wilson, Alexander. “Technological Utopias.” The South Atlantic Quarterly. Winter 1993,
vol. 92, n1. 157-173.
by Beth on September 6, 2012
If you read the comments on my last post on the Wild Half, you may have noticed my friend Charrissa saying that she knew how this story ended. And while normally I would think about two races a week apart as separate events, in this case I think she’s right, this is one story for me. And as the title suggests, it’s one with a happy ending. But that’s getting ahead of myself, so let’s go back to the beginning.
Noel and I flew out to SoCal, land of sunshine and weather wimps on Wednesday night (more on the weather wimps later). It was a 6pm flight, so we got in fairly late–about 10pm PST or 1am EST. I basically faceplanted into the bed upon arrival, stopping only long enough to set an alarm so I could get up and run around the resort in the morning, since marathon training never stops. I got up the next morning, did a lap and a half around the perimeter of Disneyland, the proceeded to forget about running for the next two days. I spent a ton of time on my feet park touring, drank lots of delicious adult beverages and ate tons of junk.
And in my mind, this was all okay. The whole summer, I had mentally prepared to treat the Disneyland Half as just another long run, since my primary purpose for being their was to finish and collect my Coast to Coast medal. I had even offered to pace Noel. Why wasn’t I racing? Because I had just figured I would be exhausted from Wildwood and traveling (and I was) and that my legs would be dead from 3 days of pre-race park touring (they were). Before a normal race I would get lots of sleep and rest my legs, but since this was my first trip to the Happiest Place on Earth, I wasn’t willing to sacrifice a minute of it, even for a race.
It wasn’t until Saturday morning, when we headed for the Expo, that I started to worry a bit about how much time I was on my feet. So we made a plan for the rest of Saturday–we did minimal walking around California Adventure, opting for shows, parades, and anything else with a short line and a chance to sit down. After an acceptable pre-race meal at Storytellers Cafe, we popped into Disneyland for a Moment with Mr. Lincoln, then did the full circle on the train. We were in our hotel room by 8.30, and I think I was asleep by 9.15.
We slept until about 3am, since we were planning to be out of the hotel room by 4. We were staying on Harbour Boulevard, across the resort from the start, so we figured that would give us plenty of time to arrive by 4.30 and get in the corrals by 5. And it was plenty of time–probably too much time. Noel and I parted ways just before 5 to head to our corrals. Very soon I found myself in an almost empty A corral. I took a seat on the curb and watched as people that I assummed were MUCH faster than me filled in. Yes, I was negative talking myself pretty badly, telling myself that I didn’t deserve to be in A after my horrible performance the week before. Finally, I found a few people to chat with to distract myself, and then it was time to start.
The course for Disneyland is much different than the Walt Disney World Half marathon, mostly because only about 4 miles of the whole race are on Disney property. As we started off looping the resort down Disneyland Drive towards Katella, I felt like I was moving at a reasonable, maintainable pace for me–9.30. But shortly before the second mile marker, I realized I had picked up the pace and was now closer to a 9mm. I chalked it up to the excitement of being in the California Adventure park. Shortly before the 5k mark, I realized that my pace had dropped again, but I had seen my Dad and I was running through DISNEYLAND? Surely that must be the reason, right? I would certainly slow down once I was out of the park and on the (reportedly) boring streets of Anaheim, right?
Wrong. I left Disneyland and headed on my meandering journey towards Angels Stadium and my pace just kept getting faster. I was holding mile splits that were closer to what my 5k paces had been this summer. And the miles literally started to fly by. The day was cool, the sun was rising over the mountains in the distance, and I started to really enjoy the experience. When I hit the 10k mark in 56 minutes, I started to get excited, because I knew if I could keep this up, I could have a REALLY good day. But mentally I told myself to calm down and not get ahead of myself. Because I had faded at the end of good races before. So I needed to focus on here, not what could be. And I zeroed in. I sang along with my iPod (yep, I was the girl singing Lady Gaga to herself behind you). I enjoyed the mile of classic cars lined up in the Honda Center parking lot.
And then we were over the 15k marker. I looked at my watch, and saw 1.21. I knew at that point, that unless something really bad happened, I would have a PR, and I would probably finish in under 2 hours. I looked up, and suddenly we were in Angels Stadium, probably one of the single coolest race experiences of my entire life. We ran around the warning track of the stadium, and the entire first baseline was filled with people who were cheering. And then they put your picture on the Jumbotron and announced your name. I felt like a freakin rockstar!
After leaving the thrill of the stadium, I knew we were in the homestretch. We hit the mile 10 marker and it was pretty much a straight shot back to the resort. I was starting to feel tired, but apparently not too tired, because my fastest mile of the whole race was mile 12, in 8:24. Yes, my mile 13 was slower and I literally thought I was crawling, but I kept reminding myself that I wanted a sub 2 hour half, and I wanted it bad. But literally, I felt like I was slogging–one foot in front of the other. Yes, it was actually a 9:05 pace, but it didn’t feel like that!
And then, I could see the finish line. I could see the clock, and it read 1.56. I was really going to do this thing. I got emotional. And when I crossed that line–in 1.57.29–I was in shock. Total shock. A summer of hard training, and not only had I PRed, but I had broken my long standing goal to break two hours, and I had done it with time to spare. Redemption. Sweet, sweet redemption. I can’t quite describe the feeling of knowing that not only had I broken that goal, but I had also had such a comeback from a horrible race the week before. One week, 20 minutes off my time. Not too bad.
The look in that picture above. That’s joy. It’s disbelief. It’s pride. My faith in my ability to do anything I set my mind to restored. I can’t fully describe the feeling, but I’m still high on it, almost a week later. And now, back to the hard training to get ready for Marine Corps!
And I know this is already a really long recap (and I didn’t think they could get longer than the Wildwood recap!) but three more things. One, the pixie dust was really in the air that day, because Noel also had an awesome race, taking nearly 25 minutes off his time from the Walt Disney World Marathon in January. Way to go Noel, I’m so proud of you. And two, many thanks to Charrissa and Derek, who are the reason I have all of these fantastic pictures for this post. Three, many thanks to my awesome Dad, for flying across country to support Noel and me in this race! Dad, you’re the best!!
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That’s amazing! Congratulations. And I love your running skirt!