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April 12th, 2013
A Wee Vacation
by Bruce |
I’m just back from a brief, ad-hoc Disney World trip. This week was going to be a stay-at-home vacation. I’m helping finance a place to live for my niece for her last semester at college, so until July I have no money for big vacation trips. But pity me not. I have no kids of my own so it isn’t like I’m mortgaging the house to put any through school. I’m just helping out. So this was going to be a staycation but I made the fatal mistake of checking the weather in Florida and then I was off. Spring was darn cold here in Charm City.
I had to do it on the cheap. But I had some advantages. First, I have an annual pass. So I didn’t need to have spare cash for tickets into the parks. Then, passholders get discount offers. So I hit the Disney web site and looked in the passholder’s section to see if there were any specials. There were. I got a really nice price on one of their “value hotels” for three nights. Then I had just over a hundred bucks worth of reward points on my Disney card, which paid for half my eats and drinks in the parks for two and a half days. Then I had accumulated enough Holiday Inn reward points for one free night, so that helped out with motel charges on the trip down and back.
And then…there is my Mercedes diesel. Here’s a few notes from my trip computer, plus fuel chits. This was from Baltimore City to Walt Disney World and back.
Hours (actually driving the car): 32.34
MPH (average): 61
MPG (average): 40.1
That’s a tad over forty miles per gallon in a mid-sized German luxury sedan, and this trip my trip computer registered the best mileage ever, on the stretch from Baltimore to Richmond, Virginia: 44.9. Once I got on the higher speed limit stretches of I-95 my mileage went down a tad. But still. Forty miles per gallon in a car as big and nice as a Mercedes-Benz ‘E’ class is not bad.
Total cost of diesel fuel: $195.57. That’s the highway trip plus farting around in Disney World. The annual pass gets you free parking at all the parks, so having the car with me means I can go when and where I want and it’s not an extra expense. I started out from Baltimore on a full tank. Just over the South Carolina border is Dillon. In Dillon they have the best prices on diesel on I-95 between Baltimore and Key West. Half a tank gets me from Baltimore to Dillon. Another 2/3 tank gets me to Disney World. There’s are reasonably priced Hess stations in the park, one of which (the one on the way out of Magic Kingdom) sells diesel. So I fill up before coming back, hit Dillon again, and that gets me home.
Even though you don’t have to stop as often for fuel, when it’s bug season you still have to pull up to the pumps just as often to clean off your windshield. But that’s fine because it’s good to take a break. I have a Flying-J loyalty card that gets me breaks on coffee and snacks. So whenever I have to make a Clean The Glass stop I refill my coffee mug and hit the bathrooms, which are usually cleaner at the Flying-J travel plazas than the highway rest stops are.
So a short trip to Walt Disney World was do-able. And now that I’m back and all the housework I’d been planning to do with my stay-at-home vacation is still staring me in the face it was worth it. Sometime later this summer, after my niece graduates, I’ll do a longer stay at a nicer in park hotel. It’ll be dead of summer then…just right for fun in the water parks.
June 14th, 2012
Every Time I Try To Get Out, They Pull Me Back In.
by Bruce |
I figured I wouldn’t, because I just don’t see myself going back to Disney World as often in the coming year as I have in recent years (Hi Tico!). But then I did the nefarious Disney math.
They say if you do a couple weeks or more you’ve paid for your annual pass. But tickets to the Disney Parks are on a sliding scale and that’s taking into account the longer stay tickets. Base single day single park ticket is $89. Lets say you do a week, seven days, which (as of my writing this) is $41.14 a day or $287.98. Twice in a year that’s $575.96. The annual pass is $611.31, but if you’re renewing it’s only $574.00 so that’s a break even for returning guests. But that’s the standard ticket price and there are options.
The base ticket gets you into one park for one day. But let’s say you want to visit one park in the morning, and a different one in the afternoon. Then you need the Park Hopper option, which for one day is $35.00 or (again the sliding scale) $8.14 a day for seven days. That brings you up to $344.96 for seven days and if you do that twice it’s $689.92 for that year. When I first bought my annual pass I could add the park hopper option for a little more, but it seems now you have to get the Premium Annual Pass to get that (which I upgraded to last year to get the water park option…I’ll go into that in a bit…). The Premium Annual Pass is $744.44 or $649 to renew. That’s still close to break even for new purchasers, better then break even for renewers. But then there is one more option. The water parks and Disney Quest.
Disney Quest is an arcade like thing located in Downtown Disney. I don’t bother with it because it seems more a kid thing. But I like doing the water parks, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. Water park tickets are $55.38 a day and there is no sliding scale for those I can find apart from being an option on the park tickets. Let’s say you want to do a water park some afternoons and wander one or more of the parks others. Three days out of seven if you buy the tickets separately and it’s $166.14 you add to the bill. Or you can just add the water park option to a seven day park ticket and it’s $8.14 a day which is only another $56.98…just a tad more then a single day ticket. Of course you want to add the water park option.
Dizzy yet? Oh but there’s more!
Transportation to the Disney Parks is very well organized along bus routes into and out of and within the parks, and there are monorail routes you can use depending on where you stay and where you go. In theory you won’t be needing a car once you enter Disney World. But if you bring a car along like I do, and you’d rather keep to your own schedule then the bus schedule, then you will need to pay for parking. Parking is free for all annual pass holders of all types. Otherwise that’s $14 a day but it gets you parking at all the parks for that one price for that one day. So seven days of parking is another $98. Parking at the water parks is free, so it’s possible to just do one day or more at a water park for $55.38 a day and get fewer days on the park tickets otherwise. But that sliding scale means fewer consecutive days cost more each. And you can’t get by with saving some of the days on your ticket for a later visit. The tickets expire unless you add the “No Expiration Date” option. I am not even here going to go into that one, but it isn’t cheap. In fact it’s the only ticket option that gets more expensive per day the more days you buy. Otherwise the tickets expire 14 days after first use. You buy a seven day ticket, you have two weeks to use it all.
Now…add it all up (not counting the “no expiration” option) and you are looking at something like $499.94 just for one week if you do the park hopper option, the water parks option and the parking fees. Twice in a year and it’s very nearly a thousand bucks you’ve spent and that’s not even getting you the hotel and your food. Now the premium annual pass seems like an outright bargain. Plus, annual pass holders get discounts on in park hotels.
Now let’s cost out one measly three day weekend shall we? The base three day ticket is $80.67 a day or $242.01 total (notice how close that is to the cost of the seven day ticket). Add the park hopper for three days at $19 a day and it’s another $57 which brings us to $299.01. Add the water parks, also at $19 a day for three days and it’s $356.01. Add parking for three days and it’s $398.01. Do that long three day weekend twice in a year and you’ve spent $796.02.
Verses $649 to simply renew my pass for an entire year.
Okay…whatever…I renewed the pass. It’s actually cheaper to get the pass even if you don’t go that often. And of course, having a year of access to the Disney World Parks means I might just go more often then not…and spend more once I’m there. If I didn’t so thoroughly enjoy being in Disney World so much I might get a tad pissed at how expertly they manage to get my wallet to open up. But I do love being there, so…
Bear in mind the ticket price gets you not just into the park but also onto all the park rides and attractions (some special seasonal attractions, like the Halloween party in Magic Kingdom for instance, are extra however). You don’t buy separate tickets per ride like in the old days. Once you’re inside you just go get on all the rides you want, as often as you can, if that’s your thing (I did the new Star Tours ride in Hollywood Studios about a dozen times in a row one night). Should you question the ticket prices in spite of that I strongly recommend taking the backstage tour. Trust me, when you get even a small glimpse of how much goes into the operation and maintenance of Disney World, and it is a massive operation, absolutely massive, you will wonder that the tickets aren’t lots more costly then they are.
[Edited a tad...the renew price on my Premium Annual Pass was $649...the price I originally quoted $691.19 was the price plus Maryland state sales tax. All other prices come directly off the Disney World ticket pages.]
January 13th, 2011
All Together Mouseketeers…You Too Tommy…You’re One Of Us Too…
by Bruce |
This was a part of my childhood. Not a huge one, but an important one…
I never became a member…even at that tender age I wasn’t much of a joiner…but I watched what Walt Disney put on my TV screen regularly. Mostly it was for this…
His vision of the future was a big part of my kidhood dreams. I wanted to be there, to grow up into that world where a great big beautiful tomorrow was shining at the end of every day. Somewhere along the line I stopped dreaming it. Somewhere past adolescence, somewhere after the country as a whole, tired of the war in Vietnam, tired of the race riots, fatigued by so much inter generational conflict, lost interest in the frontier of space, so terribly soon after we’d just put our footsteps on the moon.
Though I never stopped dreaming about it, I stopped believing in Disney’s great big beautiful tomorrow. I put it down to fantasy…a beautiful story I was told as a kid that I wanted to believe in, but would never happen. The world just didn’t work that way. But I think there was something else that was missing from that dream. Something that, had I seen it, might have made me hold onto it for a little longer…maybe even leave childhood behind with a vow to work a little harder to make it real.
That something, was me. I was missing from that future. And so were a lot of other kids just like me.
In the original ‘The Flintstones’ series, the only characters of color to appear were natives of Africa who participated in a cave scout jamboree. Worse yet, far off into the distant future, on ‘The Jetsons,’ the universe seemed completely dominated by white people as well.
These were just signs of the times and while toon tones began changing in the 1970s, it’s almost blasphemous nowadays to have a television show that doesn’t include diversity, often to a point where it almost just seems forced.
So at four decades post-Stonewall and more than a decade into the age of ‘After Ellen,’ it wouldn’t be unnatural for one to wonder just where The Walt Disney Company draws the line at diversity. In all fairness, the company has teetered on the issue, having both progressive human resources policies for same-sex couples (which incited the infamous and rather seemingly innocuous Southern Baptist boycott) as well as just recently relenting on allowing same-sex commitment ceremonies at the theme park resorts under public pressure.
So where exactly does Disney draw the line when it comes to acceptance of gays in ‘everyday life’?
Well you already know the answer. Yes, Disney has been very progressive when compared to other media and entertainment companies. Behind the stage. On it…well we’re all still in the closet. And if we’re invisible on stage, we’re also invisible in the audience. To each other. To ourselves.
That’s a shame. Disney wholesomeness isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and in fact it’s only mine provisionally. I like it to be there, but a steady diet of it would suffocate me. And it would have when I was a teenager too. But that Disney-esq sensibility about life is more me then not. I like my visits to Key West, they relax and de-stress me nicely. But my visits to Walt Disney World rekindle something inside of me that I had thought long dead. That, it’s a small world after all attitude. That idealized Main Street USA. That Tomorrowland, where we would all live someday in a world where science and the pursuit of knowledge weren’t just good things, but a great adventure. Sniff at it if you like, but there are worse visions to have become attached to as a kid, to keep close to your heart as an adult, to hand down now to the kids among us.
I should have been a part of that vision when I was a kid. All of us gay kids should have. We were there in the audience, but invisible…even to ourselves. So instead of Disney’s future, we got told we were mentally ill. Instead of Disney wholesomeness we were taught that our desires were a sickness best kept hidden away from decent people, and especially children. Our friends got the happily ever after. We got the gutter. The great big beautiful tomorrow we could all look forward too would be a better place because we would not be in it. You can’t tell me that didn’t make a difference in the adults we all eventually became.
One of these kids will later come out of the closet…
I like to think that if Disney was alive today (yeah…he’d be 110 now…But if…), we Would be a part of that vision of the future. Walt Disney was a pioneer, who revered the old days and idealized them in his Disneyland. But he also never let the past keep him from moving forward. The caretakers of his vision today alas, aren’t the visionaries he was. But this world doesn’t get very many of those…
So according to [Disney Channel Worldwide President of Entertainment, Gary Marsh], if a character hasn’t had a crush on someone, it’s okay for the viewer to assume they character is implicitly gay and that should simply be enough. At least until the character develops an attraction for the opposite sex anyway.
Perhaps the correct answer is “we just aren’t ready yet.”
“A man should never neglect his family for business.”
Gay kids need to be brought into the Disney “family” audience too because they are part of the family too and there are worse examples out there to set for them then Disney. “Someday” should come sooner rather then later.
“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”
April 16th, 2009
Nice Idea…But You Need To Think Bigger
by Bruce |
Florida To Build Solar-Powered City
Posted by samzenpus on Thursday April 16, @07:57AM
from the sunny-side-of-the-street dept.
writes "The sunny state of Florida just announced that they will begin construction this year on the world’s first solar-powered city. A collaboration between Florida Power & Light and development firm Kitson & Partners, the 17,000 acre city will generate all of its electrical needs via a 75 megawatt, $300 million solar-powered generator. The city will also use smart grid technology to manage its power and allow all inhabitants of the community to monitor their energy consumption."
Nice idea. Sounds…vaguely familiar…
It’s not just about how the energy is produced. It’s about how it is used.
April 1st, 2009
The Kid I Used To Be…Who I’d Forgotten About…
by Bruce |
I was wandering through Disney-MGM Hollywood Studios yesterday when I saw him again for the first time in years. I almost didn’t recognize him. Then I knelt down and gave him a great big hug and told him it was all okay…
The Hollywood Studios park entrance way is playfully similar to the Main Street U.S.A. walkway everyone must pass though on entrance to the Magic Kingdom…only this is Main Street Hollywood, circa 1930s and it is as if you’d traveled back in time to when everything was art deco. For someone like me who adores the art deco style, in part I am sure because in my early childhood there were still a lot of buildings standing that were like that, it was like a kind of paradise. For like, the upteenth time here in Disney World, I could only just wander around with my jaw hanging open.
There’s a plaque in central park that explains what they were trying to accomplish with Hollywood Studios, but by the time I had walked up to it, I already knew…
This is similar in kind to the poster for Tomorrowland which reads: The Future That Never Was Has Finally Arrived.
I entered a replica of Gorman’s Chinese Theater and took a ride through the movies. You get on in a old sound stage set and a cast member dressed up as a 1940s stereotypical Hollywood talent scout hops on and informs you that you’ll not only be taking a tour through the great Hollywood films, but actually go inside them. And then you’re off…first through a Busby Berkeley dance film and then into Hollywood gangster land where the talent scout is chased off the ride by a gangster who informs you that he’s taking over the ride and oh by the way, please had over all your valuables. It goes on like that for a while and I won’t give it all away…there were the usual Disney animatronics, but of a better quality then the older Magic Kingdom rides…there was a trip through the Alien movie and for a moment you’re completely socked in a fog bank waiting for the beast to jump out at you. Eventually you end up back at the soundstage where a voice yells "Cut…that’s a wrap…" and you get off the ride and go back out into Disney Hollywood…which is not all that different from Disney Tomorrowland. It isn’t real. And yet, for the moment anyway…it is.
I am not one to be easily amused, and yet the whole time I am thoroughly enjoying myself…and I find my whole attitude is different here. I’m smiling at people. I’m patient with idiots. Small screaming children don’t irritate me. Morons who block the road as if they own it don’t bother me (When did America get so goddamned fat?) I just walk around them and the happy little smile never leaves my face. I’m living in a world that never was, that’s finally here. I can be a happy little nerdy kid here and It’s Okay. In fact, it’s Expected of you. All those relentlessly cheerful Disney cast members who are nowhere and everywhere with their perpetual smiles and earnest desire to make sure you "have a magical day" aren’t annoying me nearly as much as I was afraid they would. In fact they are a blessing. They’re my barrier between me and the world not two feet from the gates here, that voted last November to cut my ring finger off. They’re here to keep it off me for a little while. I wish I could give them all a great big hug.
And now the kid I used to be long ago, the one who smiled at everyone, the one with the big imagination, who wore his heart on his sleeve never thinking that people would take that as an invitation to cut it to ribbons, who trusted the world and in the goodness of people, has come back out of me. At least for a while. I thought he’d been beaten out of me in junior high school.
March 30th, 2009
Lite To No Posting This Week…(Updated)
by Bruce |
I’m in Orlando, visiting Disney World, and the damn Comfort Inn here charges for Internet which I refuse to pay (I’m posting this on my iPhone right now). So, expect very little posting here until I get back.
I’m already having a great time here in the park…but some journies are worth the trip, just to see someone smile.
[Update...] My bad… There seems to be no charge for the Internet after all. At any rate…I’m using the Motel wireless now and I didn’t have to plug in a credit card number like you usually do for Internet access when they’re charging. Just for kicks and grins I plugged in to see what the charge was, and instead of being taken to a buy it now page I got my Internet right away. Nice.
But posting will still be infrequent, because I am on vacation and I am trying to tune out the world for a while. Also, Motel Internet is seldom reliable.
March 28th, 2009
Off To Tomorrowland And Beyond…
by Bruce |
It’s raining here in Charm City and I’m packing my car and heading for what would have been the Experimental Prototype City Of Tomorrow had Walt Disney not been a cigarette smoker. But what’s there now is still very nice, and so is the rest of it. Disney World is Huge, and the first time I went there last November I spent most of my time just gawking at the immensity of it. Now I have a better idea of what I want to do, and more time to do it. I also want to wave ‘hi’ to a certain someone, and maybe see him smile one more time.
I’m spending a week, but not in the park this time, which will make it harder to just tune out the entire world like I did last time. But the hotels inside the park are way too expensive…even the so-called "value" hotels. There are so many other nice hotels and motels crowding around the entrances to the park that it’s not hard to find something even nicer then the mid priced Disney hotels at, I kind you not, about a third of the cost. But then you are not in the park the entire time, and being wrapped completely inside that park almost makes it worthwhile. You really can just leave the world behind for a while, and live in a place where it really is a small world after all, and there’s a great big beautiful tomorrow shining at the end of every day, and find yourself believing that dreams really do come true.
Once upon a time I viewed all that as nothing more then cheap escapism. But the world, and my life, just stresses me out too much now. I’m single, I’m desperately lonely, and I’m living in a world that never seems to let any chance go by to tell me it hates my guts. And there is still that sense in the land of Walt, of all those things I thought the world was, and the future would be. You can see it slowly fading as Disney’s handiwork is overlaid with newer things, some of which I doubt he would have liked, and some which just don’t hit the mark he would have. But even as it fades, it lifts the spirit. At least in someone of my generation.
You have to experience the parks to realize, again if you’re my age and remember watching him on television, how wide Walt Disney’s imagination ranged. People think of Disneyland and they think of the part of the park called Fantasyland. But there was Tomorrowland and Frontierland and Adventureland. There was the little Main Street where everyone entered the park. There was the hall of presidents, and the river boat and the monorail and the people movers. There was the ground breaking animation, but also tons of live action film, and nature series and documentaries. Look a little deeper, beyond all the eye candy and the rides and the exhibits, and you see, astonished, a park infrastructure that is still held in awe by architects. This operation is Huge and yet it runs smoothly. And Disney World in Orlando is several orders of magnitude bigger, and it Still runs smoothly. Chuck Jones once told Disney he wanted his job (Disney told him that position was already filled), and Jones was himself an fantastically creative animator. But there was no city of tomorrow in Chuck Jones, let alone a World.
Last time I walked through the parks down in Disney World, it all came back to me…that it’s a small world after all…that the search for knowledge is a great adventure…that tomorrow was something to look forward to with a smile. People told me after I came back home last November, how much better I looked, how more at ease I seemed. One person insisted I must have gotten laid. I hadn’t of course…but it was almost like that in terms of how good life seemed again. For a little while…
So now I’m packing the Mercedes for another trip south. Before I leave I briefly scan the web. I see Andrew Sullivan reporting the Rod Dreher has replied to Damon Linker, who has in turn replied back. Linker, you may recall, asked Dreher if he had something, anything, besides The Bible Says So to justify his obsession with the Homosexual Menace. Dreher gives the expected answer back…
If homosexuality is legitimized — as distinct from being tolerated, which I generally support — then it represents the culmination of the sexual revolution, the goal of which was to make individual desire the sole legitimate arbiter in defining sexual truth. It is to lock in, and, on a legal front, to codify, a purely contractual, nihilistic view of human sexuality. I believe this would be a profound distortion of what it means to be fully human. And I fully expect to lose this argument in the main, because even most conservatives today don’t fully grasp how the logic of what we’ve already conceded as a result of being modern leads to this end.
Note the hyperbole. The horror of individual desire being seen as more legitimate then his cheapshit barstool prejudices. The knee jerk slandering of that desire as essentially nihilistic. But what Dreher is afraid of here isn’t that the human heart is nothing, but that he is. In the end, the Homosexual Monster, like the Dangerous Black Man and The Greedy Jew represents nothing more then the abyss he stares into every morning in the bathroom mirror.
This is why I am going back to Disney World. I want to spend some more time in a place where I can have that vision of the world and tomorrow I had as a kid back again. Where it’s a small world after all. Where I can return a stranger’s smile and not wonder if they want to cut my ring finger off and stick a knife in my heart, so they can go to heaven.
March 23rd, 2009
Will My iPhone Kill My Blog?
by Bruce |
Probably not. But I haven’t been blogging as often as I have previously and it’s because I’m not sitting in front of a computer nearly as much. As I said previously, I’m finding I get a lot more done around the house when I’m not sitting down at my computer. But something else is happening. Something I was sort-of hoping would happen, though I hadn’t taken into account what it might mean for my blogging patterns. Slowly, but inevitably, my iPhone is becoming my all purpose communication – entertainment – information widget.
When it first hit the streets, the iPhone was lacking a couple of really important items in my personal information management toolkit: a sync-able notepad and ToDo tracker. But I have really great third party iPhone apps now that fill those slots. And as I get more comfortable with using them, I use Mowgli, my main household computer, less and less.
Last weekend, I had Mowgli off almost the entire time. I ran Bagheera, the art room Mac, to finish a couple of photography projects that I’d left on my plate for far too long. But Mowgli is slowly being relegated to finances and work related projects. I am keeping in touch with the world, and with my daily life, more and more with just the iPhone now.
And…there is this: My little patch of the good earth is on the cusp of spring, and I don’t want to be angry all the time. I read the news, in particular the continuing culture war on gay people, and I get angry. So I am avoiding the news.
This Saturday, I’m going to Disney World again, for a week. Mostly to just spend some more time in a place where it’s a small world after all, there’s a great big beautiful tomorrow shining at the end of every day, and dreams really do come true. Better there, then driving across the mid-west and listening to hate radio the whole way. My brother said they still have their YES ON 8 campaign signs planted in their front yards of houses all over Oceano, Pismo Beach and Arroyo Grande.
February 18th, 2009
The Strangeness Of Humans
by Bruce |
Andrew Sullivan posts a YouTube under the heading, The Strangeness of Germans…
You’d think he’s never seen Das Kabinett des Doktor Caligari. There’s nought so queer as folk Andrew. We Americans have our own strange little ways too. Take a trip into Sid and Marty Kroft land sometime.
You want strange Andrew…? Try a little…Walt Disney? Oh yes. This clip is from Alice in Wonderland, and some of the best animation ever produced. The animator who did the character of Alice was a master…simply a master. But the entire film is a masterpiece of animation. The eye candy is everywhere and it all moves and flows perfectly. This clip from the film starts off being your usual Disney cartoon slapstick but the strange comes in at about 2:15 into it. Remember, Disney did Fantasia too…
I’ll bet if I poked around British movies and TV I could find myself some grade ‘A’ strange in there too. We humans are a funny lot. Strange makes the world go ’round Andrew…
December 2nd, 2008
What California And Florida Could Not Bring Themselves To Do For Love, And Hope, And Dreams Come True…By God, The Mouse Could…And Did…
by Bruce |
When I was in Disney World recently, I made a point to ride the monorails. I’d been absolutely fascinated by those things ever since I saw the pictures of the first ones in Disneyland back in the early 70s. I’ve wondered ever since why more cities didn’t have something like them.
On the trip from Magic Kingdom back to the Transportation center, which is a transfer point from the Magic Kingdom and Resort lines to the Epcot line, you go past several Disney resort areas, and the voice in the cars narrating the journey takes note of a little wedding pavilion along the way, just between the Grand Floridian and the Polynesian resorts…
With all the grandeur of a classic Victorian summer home, Disney’s Wedding Pavilion offers many enchanting possibilities for the wedding ceremony of your dreams. With its palm-fringed solarium and views of Cinderella Castle across the Seven Seas Lagoon, this magnificent non-denominational chapel can accommodate your Escape Wedding ceremony with style and grace.
I was coming by then to really like Disney World, and the It’s A Small World After All mentality that pervades it. But I had to wonder if that wedding pavilion was open to all couples, or whether Disney would, to avoid controversy, stipulate that the marriages had to be legally binding in the state of Florida, which had just then passed an anti same-sex marriage amendment.
Well…know I know…
Gay couples given keys to the Magic Kingdom as Disney relents
The Guardian, Saturday April 7 2007
Disney’s theme parks are synonymous with the great American family day out, with the company’s traditional hospitality and characters having enthralled generations for more than half a century.
Now Mickey Mouse has taken a step away from protocol by throwing open the gates of Cinderella’s castle for same-sex partnership ceremonies. Gay and lesbian couples can, for the first time, stage their own commitment ceremonies anywhere on Disney property, a privilege heterosexual couples have enjoyed for decades.
"We are not in the business of making judgments about the lifestyle of our guests," said Donn Walker, spokesman for Disney Parks and Resorts. "We are in the hospitality business, and our parks and resorts are open to everyone."
The shift in position came after complaints that gay couples were specifically excluded from the Fairy Tale Weddings programme at Disney’s theme parks in California and Florida, and on its cruise liners. While others had a wide choice of marriage options, such as taking their vows on a white-knuckle ride or beneath a fireworks show with Minnie Mouse as a bridesmaid, gay couples had to organise their own private ceremonies in rented meeting rooms at resort hotels.
The Walt Disney Company has long been a tacit supporter of gay tourism. It has come under fire from the religious right for policies that include partner benefits for homosexual employees. In the 90s, rightwing groups held protests against the annual "Gay Days", when more than 100,000 gay and lesbian visitors go to Disney resorts.
The company blamed its weddings policy on laws in Florida and California prohibiting same-sex unions. But after pressure from the gay website afterelton.com, it dropped its requirement that Fairy Tale Weddings packages, which start at $8,000 (£4,100), have to include a valid marriage licence. "This is consistent with our policy of creating a welcoming, respectful and inclusive environment for all of our guests," Mr Walker said.
Michael Jensen, the editor of the website, had complained that Disney appeared to be hiding behind the law. Although same-sex wedding ceremonies were not legally recognized, he said, there was nothing to prevent gay couples holding their own ceremonies.
"Elton John, who had a civil union with his partner David Furnish last year in England, would have been turned away from Disney’s wedding gates," Mr Jensen said, pointing out that the singer had earned the company millions of dollars with his music for The Lion King.
Note that happened back in 2007. Nice. And I’ll say this…you can’t stay in the Disney theme parks for long without realizing there is a ton of gay talent there, working hard to make sure everyone enjoys their stay. From the "cast members" in character costume (including several really cute Peter Pan’s I saw during my stay) to the ones who were simply working support roles and keeping the whole complex running smoothly, my Gaydar, which has trouble going off around DuPont Circle, was going off like mad. And even though Gay Days for this year were long over, I still saw the occasional same sex couple strolling through the crowds, hand in hand, or arm in arm. Nobody bothered them.
The pleasant, Let’s All Get Along And Enjoy The Day attitude was infectious and disarming. You felt it everywhere. In Magic Kingdom I took a bad spill one night near main street, while hurrying to the monorail. I’d mis-stepped over a curb and tumbled hard onto a cobblestone pavement with my cameras dangling around me. Luckily neither they nor I were badly hurt, but instantly a crowd of about a dozen or so folks were all around me asking me if I was okay, and helping me back up. In another park I am certain they’d have just walked right on by.
We are in the hospitality business… That, really, sums it up. And it’s the right answer to give to bigoted louts who just can’t enjoy themselves unless other people are suffering. But there is more to it. It’s that It’s A Small World After All mentality. That really does seem to be the bedrock there. I wrote previously how refreshing, how exhilarating it was to see the story of life on earth, and the history of human progress told, not only matter of factly, but that the study of science and history and archeology was a grand adventure. There was something else in Disney World that genuinely lifted my spirits more, much more, then I would have imagined going into it. That, It’s A Small World After All mentality that pervaded everything there.
Sniff at the Disney-esq sentimentality if you like…but it gave my soul a much needed boost to face the real world outside the gates (where I later learned hundreds had been killed in by terrorists in India…). I’d thought of it as escapism. It isn’t. It’s taking a break. You just can’t let the world bear down on you constantly without going nuts. It’s good to have somewhere you can go to remember your dreams, and why they were good, and let the power of those dreams lift you once more.
So it should not surprise the Kultur Krieger that Disney of all mainstream American icons, is being gay friendly. For one thing, they’re in the hospitality business, not the beat your neighbor over the head with ballot initiatives business. For another, Disney has always believed in the better tomorrow, and in the power of dreams. If all that is a fairy tale, I’ll take it over the one George Bush, James Dobson, and the Mormon church are selling to America these days.
It isn’t cheap by any means, but same-sex couples can have that magic moment now too. They can exchange vows by the shores of a beautiful lagoon, with Cinderella’s Castle in the background. Everything will be just right, perfect even, like a dream come true.
Then they can go forward together, back into the world, breath their life into it, and make the dream real…
A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes Come True
by Harrison Ellenshaw
Visit The Woodward Class of '72 Reunion Website For Fun And Memories, WoodwardClassOf72.com