Monday, September 29, 2008

Disneyland - Resurrection, A Recurring Theme

As you drift through a day at a Disney theme park, it probably never jumps to the forefront of your consciousness that you are repeatedly encountering metaphors of renewal and resurrection in most of the attractions you enter.

What the heck am I saying?
Was that first sentence even mildly comprehensible?

Here's the deal:
You start with a sunny day enjoying yourself at Disneyland, Disney World, etc.
You decide to go on an attraction---let's pick the most obvious one, the Haunted Mansion.
As you enter the darkened foyer, the sunny day dims behind you. You are "dying." Indeed, before you know it, you are in a chamber with no windows and no doors (sounds kinda like a tomb or a coffin--gulp!). There's no way out except the famous "My Way" of our disembodied spirit host.
Lightning fills the chamber and then total darkness. For a moment, you are in the abyss---separated from your fellow guests and alone in the black.
As the lights come dimly up, the doors slide open and you are presented with a corridor. A corridor you must walk down. An endless storm clatters and blows outside the windows, and the paintings on the wall of the corridor graphically flash images of the speedy deterioration of flesh and earthly things.
Soul-less statues mechanically follow your movements with sightless eyes. You step aboard your "Doom Buggy" and fantastic otherworldly sights play out before you.
When you disembark in a dark corridor, you step onto a moving walkway ramp and are pulled upward toward "the light." As a ghostly woman beckons you to "Hurry Back," you turn a corner and literally walk from the door of a tomb and back into the bright sunshine of the world of the living.
As a child, I recall the wave of relief and the spark of joy inside me as I saw that I had made it through the darkness of the Mansion and back to the warm sun.
This "light-to-darkness-to-underworld-visions-to rising-to-return-to-light" drama plays out in many of Disney's most popular attractions.

Take the Pirates of the Caribbean: sunlight--murky swamp--a death's head warns "there be squalls ahead" and "dead men tell no tales"---a plummet down a waterfall into darkness---another waterfall---skeletons in a cave-like underworld---marauding invaders of a darkened seaport---fire, flames---a stony prison of iron bars---and then you rise up, up toward the light. As you exit the attraction, the sunlight from New Orleans Square almost blinds you, along with the upbeat pirate music.

Or next take Indiana Jones: sunlight--long dark corridor--enter your vehicle--see the eye of a deity--plunge into darkness--skeletons aplenty and snakes (why did it have to be snakes?)--fire and flames (is this hell?)--a boulder threatens to crush you into nothingness---a flash of light---more darkness--it is finished. You exit your vehicle and walk back up out of the darkness and return to the light---adrenaline pumping. (Thanks to disneylandcompendium for posting the Mara photo from Indy).

There are other examples, some more obvious than others: Snow White, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride (come on, we get hit by a train and literally drive through Hades---how's that for a kiddie ride?), Pinocchio (bad boys on Pleasure Island find out the hard way that blind pursuit of pleasure aint all it's cracked up to be, and Monstro is a living, breathing metaphor for death swallowing us up; an angel--in the form of the Blue Fairy--brings us back to life and it's back out into the sunshine again!), Alice in Wonderland (down a dark hole into a bizarre fantasy world and then back up and out into the day), and even Star Tours and Space Mountain (if you'll be kind enough to indulge a little poetic license with these two--still, on each of these attractions you go on a wild journey into dark space and then return to life and reality).

This concludes today's study in Adventureland eschatology. We now return you to your regularly scheduled program.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: We apologize in advance for Mike's sometimes meandering posts and random thought processes. We are aware of the problem and are working diligently to address it. We appreciate your patience and thank you for your continued patronage despite these occasional digressions into La La Land.]