Disney World was never an illusion to me as a child; I could see right through it. "It's a theme park," my mom would explain to me. What an interesting idea. It was tangibility's final step in the evolution of imagination. First there were the playgrounds I knew as a child, consisting of swing-sets and slides, bare-boned tools that required our own minds to fill in the gaps if we wanted to be transported somewhere else with our playmates. Then there was the amusement park, requiring less imagination while still retaining all the valid symbolism. When we reached the top of the Ferris Wheel, it was as if we had conquered the globe, looking down on all the continents and the waters, all the life below us. The carnival games represented the "you-win-some, you-lose-some" aspects of our lives, demanding risk for rewards. The theme park, however, had the greatest edge. Whatever lied in our imaginations, whatever we took for granted on the page or from the screen, the theme park made these fantasies into visible realities in front of our eyes. The land of imagination existed; it was at the theme park.
I have been to Disney World in Orlando, Florida five times. I was four, seven, ten, eleven, and seventeen. I feel like it's been a big part of my life; I have memories of the shows, the rides, and the innovations. Disney World is not just a theme park; it's its own separate world of clean grass and trees, glossy highway strips and the warm glow of the sun. Indeed, a utopia hidden within the state of Florida. As we drove for twenty minutes through the resort, it was apparent how much land, how much space, the Disney empire had enveloped as its own.
[...] I love Disney because it is as large as it is. I love Disney because of the way it takes the American Dream, places it alongside all our other dreams, and mends those dreams into a perceptible place for humans at all different points in their lives. I love the excitement, the hard-work, the precision, and the magic Disney World so clearly (and cleanly) allows us to experience with all five senses. There's no way anyone can leave a vacation at Disney World without feeling happy because it has something for everyone. [...]
[...] Lethem's problem with reality is that all he can see is the truth of Hoyt- Schermerhorn: old-women jumping in front of trains, even a violinist's hand getting pulverized after being pushed from the train platform (435, 438). Hope is rare. Disney provides all we see as what we want, but what we want costs much of our own money, and we can never keep these exhibitions of imagination (and imitation) permanently. Our hope of the fiction comes from the idea that we might be able to quickly move from country to country such as in Epcot, or be in a hall with every president of the United States at once. [...]
[...] “When will the last of those three hundred who rocked the train car off the boy's pinned leg, or the last of those four hundred Negro boycotters, be (Lethem 438). Negativity is swept under the carpet at Disney. Those rides that people die on still work. The theme park is still happy, and Disney stands for never succumbing to what might bring it down. The philosophy of Disney is that happiness is always there for us if we want it. Disney remains timeless with joy because it has no time. [...]
[...] Hoyt-Schermerhorn remains the same in its timeline where lapping of human moments forms a pulse or current . like the Doppler-effect fading of the certain memories from the planet, as they're recalled for the penultimate time, and then the last” (Lethem 438). Hoyt- Schermerhorn, with its heightened security, is still dangerous. At times it gets safer, but then it just cycles and cycles with darkness and light. Night and day, but still functioning. It still does its job, but can only function in the present. [...]
[...] Works Cited Aciman, Andrew. “Shadow Cities” from False Papers. Copyright 2000. In Writing the Essay: Art in the World, The World Through Art. Ed. Darlene A. Forrest, Randy Martin, and Pat C. Hoy. New York City: New York University 365-371. Lethem, Jonathan. “Speak, Hoyt-Schermerhorn” from The Disappointment Artist, pp. [...]
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