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Disneyworld 2: The Reckoning

I just came back from Disneyworld, my second vacation there in two years. Most of my comments about that time are unchanged. Didn’t do much new this time around. Even stayed in the same resort (the Grand Floridian). Unfortunately, we went in the time between when they announced a huge amount of changes, but they’re all under construction. The only stuff of note that I didn’t do last time was the new Pandora land.

The Na’vi River Journey itself is pretty, and the Flight of Passage is a nice upgrade to my beloved Back to the Future: The Ride. But I have a huge criticism – they have no stories. Nearly any other ride in Disneyworld, there’s some kind of narrative to it, some kind of goal, or at least a mystery. In Haunted Mansion, you start in a dark and silent house, Madame Leota holds a séance, and then the ghosts start partying. Peter Pan’s Flight tells the sequence of the movie. Even the riverboat has the captain telling you about his time as a boy in Missoura.

But in River Journey, you just go down a river. You see some non-terran wildlife (that responds well to blacklight). There’s an impressive animatronic at the end, but… it doesn’t say anything. What’s his context here? He looks nice, but what’s that song he’s singing? Does it have a purpose? At least E.T. thanked you for riding.

Same with Flight of Passage. It’s framed around you attending a tourist attraction to “avatar” into someone riding on one of those dragons, but without that, all you do is look at pretty CG views. They give you a faux-motorbike to ride on, but you don’t even see your dragon’s head in your view. It’s style without substance, like eating frosting without any cake below it. Plus, I can’t reconcile the fact that the whole point of the movie is the exploitation of native peoples… and then the ride is you exploiting native peoples. Reminds me of the Wutai side-mission in Final Fantasy VII.

But like last time, I came back with such an overwhelming amount of positivity in my soul, I wish I could bottle it up and keep it all year long. It’s like going to a place where it’s always Christmas. There’s no Twitter there. No President Trump, no bullying or milkshake ducks or whataboutism. Just good weather and cartoons and dole whips (finally got to try one – yummy!).

Everyone is friendly, even people you don’t expect to be friendly, like the bathroom cleaner (who was singing as he worked and told me to have a good day). No one is mad, they’re all willing to help you. Yeah, you spend a lot of money to do that, but where else do you go to get this kind of feeling. Not South Dakota, not skiing. The only yelling you hear is from overtired babies (which I was having my fill of by the time we left, so there’s that). There’s beautiful architecture and people making candy and things to do while waiting in line and scavenging for short wait times and shops with that one thing. It makes me wonder if I could stay there forever.

There’s that old parable about it being Christmas forever (both Sesame Street and Disney did it), but I wonder what’d be like. It makes me want to work there (even though they’re notoriously authoritarian, but others seem to have a really good time, from cast members to executives). Does anyone know if they need an introverted software developer who doesn’t want to leave Minnesota? Or at least a company that sends people down there for conventions. My dad used to go to conventions once a year, and we got to vacation in those places with him. No company does that anymore.

And I’m trying to figure out how Disney got so good at delivering what they do. How did Walt Disney do all this? Come up with all this? What kind of man do you have to be to be an inventor, composer, animator, artist, businessman, architect, technologist, negotiator, theme park creator, TV show host. Jesus, how much ambition can you have? How did he ever find to do this AND have a family and all the things that are part of normal living. Did he ever have time to take out the garbage?

And not only that, but to be so inspiring that generations of people both still embrace your work AND continue it. Now Disney’s got dozens of little Disneys continuing all the things Walt started because they want to. Because it gives them the same joy they got as kids. My primary purpose as a writer is immortality. I’m hoping that my stories can carve a little sliver into someone’s heart, so that they carry it with them wherever they go. That it shapes them and their behavior. And they pass that onto others.

Eric Juneau is a software engineer and novelist on his lunch breaks. In 2016, his first novel, Merm-8, was published by eTreasures. He lives in, was born in, and refuses to leave, Minnesota. You can find him talking about movies, video games, and Disney princesses at http://www.ericjuneaubooks.com where he details his journey to become a capital A Author.

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