I Went to Disney World

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{{Title link: https://www.theatlantic.com/culture/archive/2020/07/disney-world-during-pandemic-extremely-weird/614617/ }}

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This article is amazing and wonderful.

I can’t trust any take on Disney from someone so clearly ignorant of what he’s talking about that he can say this with a straight face:

That is because in normal times you must choose perhaps four or five big rides, each lasting mere minutes, and spend hours waiting in line to be admitted to each.

Dude, just showing up at a major Disney ride and expecting to be seated is like just showing up at a fancy restaurant and expecting to be seated: in both cases *you are supposed to make a reservation*. When I went in the autumn of 2015, ride reservations (“FastPasses”) were quite flexible (one-hour usage window) and very often available on a same-day basis: while we *had* reservations months in advance, we made last-minute adjustments to them pretty much every day (you can do this on your phone, thanks to the complimentary Wi-Fi [link]).

(Also a part of me is going “you’re complaining about how expensive everything is and yet you stayed at the fucking *Contemporary*??”, while another part goes “why did the Atlantic send some poor dude with a COVID-19-naive immune system to fucking *Florida*? they’re a bunch of Americans in the summer of 2020: did they *seriously* not have anybody who’d had it already that they could send instead?”)

Still, it’s interesting to hear some reporting from the field. Just…with some caveats.

That is all relatively recent, though. Fastpass was introduced in 1999; I definitely remember the process he describes from when I was growing up. And the author is of course describing how Disney “usually” is off of secondhand reports, since he’s never been before.

But yeah, the article is great as a description of how Disney is now. And the observations about it as being part of the American civic religion aren’t original but they are fairly good points.

I *suppose* you could call 21 years relatively recent compared to the total span of Disney World’s existence, but it’s simultaneously a long time.

I guess a generational thing does add another layer to the bit about his parents refusing to go there: *I* grew up hearing Dad complain about “standing in line for hours for every five minutes of ride” as the reason he refused to go to *Six Flags*, and perhaps even specifically as a reason why Disney was better than Six Flags.

(A bit of context: I was born in 1993 to a family that *was* upper-middle-class at the time and a mom that loves Disney World. I’ve been five times: 1998, 2000, 2001 (we were there on 9/11, it was a hell of a thing), 2004, and 2015. Our trips were generally around 1.5 – 2 weeks long: trying to cram everything into a long weekend is a recipe for exhaustion and FOMO.)

In additional to the description of how things were going on the ground, I thought the bits about the Disney World government having legitimacy in the eyes of its constituents, in a way the American government does not, were an interesting way of looking at it.

Yeah, I think there’s something of a generational thing going on there maybe?

I was born 1986 and we went to Disney World like eight or ten times when I was a kid/teenager. I think we might have gone there, one way or another, every year from 95 or 96 to 2000 or 2001 or something like that? And then I wound up there again in 2004.

(And then I also went to Disneyland in August 2004 because it was effectively a compulsory part of college orientation, long story. I used my deep knowledge of Disney World to go around with a couple friends and maximize the time we could spend in air conditioning. I think we rode Small World multiple times becuase it was shady, air conditioned, and had short lines.)

Fastpass was introduced toward the end of that, so I definitely remember it as “that new thing they just rolled out that makes the lines easier to deal with”. But by the time they’d introduced it I was absolutely fucking sick of going to Disney World.

But yeah, if you asked me what Disney World was like, my gut reaction was “Standing in these awful lines constantly, although I think they did a thing to make that better recently.” Also, I don’t know how the system works now, but when Fastpass was new you could only have one at a time. So you’d get a Fastpass for a long-line ride like Space Mountain or something, and then you’d go stand in long lines for other attractions while you waited for your time to come around. So it let you do more things but still the dominant experience was “standing in line”.

But yeah, the bits about Disney’s “governmental” legitimacy were really interesting. I kept using the phrase “American Singapore” to a Disneyphile friend today, who eventually responded: “I think there’s a limit to my appreciation of the dystopian artwork in which we find ourselves.”

(see also)

As of 2015, there were three tiers of ride and you started off with one reservation in each tier. There were circumstances (I’m not sure of the exact rules now) where you could snap up extra FastPasses that other people had abandoned (and/or perhaps that Disney had added upon seeing the ride wasn’t full enough), and I remember them being fairly easy to find. But OTOH this *was* September, a month so slow that Disney bribed us with a free meal plan to schedule our trip for that time period.

(Joke’s on them: we were planning to go for September anyway. That meal plan was great: more credits than we could possibly use (presumably it was aimed to accommodate people with much higher appetites), and with prices denoted simply in “meals” and “snacks” rather than dollars. Being 100% price-insensitive in your food-buying decisions is a wonderfully liberating experience.)


#reply via reblog #Disney #politics cw #illness tw #covid19 #home of the brave #food #adventures in human capitalism #disordered eating?

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