Monday, August 07, 2006

Visiting America

I have many friends who work at Disney. It’s just part of the collateral damage of living in Southern California. And though they suffer (having to be at work at 8 a.m., having to work the day after Thanksgiving, having to work Christmas week)—the manager and higher level employees get a bottomless free pass to the theme parks.

When California Adventure opened a few years ago, I thought, “A new theme park...just what the world needs. Oh wait, there’s a ride where you sit in this chair and fly over the major sites of California in an IMAX sort of situation, but all up close and freaky and the chairs tilt and sway in the direction of the movement of the flick so you feel like you are hang gliding over the ocean, desert, Yosemite, San Francisco Bay, Los Angeles, mountains and housing tracts while little vents across from your face blow air at you that smells like where you are—the pine scent worked best—and everyone says it’s pretty cool? Okay, take me! I wanna go on Soarin’ Over California!”

We went there. Today. Mary and Bardo, our friends who both work at Mouseschwitz, came by at noon in their Hybrid vehicle, Disney Silver Passes in hands, and we drove down to Anaheim in Hellish I-5 traffic, parked the car, took the very long, cool looking escalator down from the parking structure, got on the tram to the main entrance of Disneyland and California Adventure which are right across from each other, and smacked our lips in fun anticipation. You know which one is California Adventure by the huge cement free standing letters that spell California about twenty feet from the entrance.

First thing we did, we went over to Soarin’ Over California in the Golden State section of the park and got ourselves fast passes. These are basically reservations to get on the ride at a prescribed time so you don’t have to go through the line.

Then, we thought we’d kill some time and go ride on the Grizzly River rafting company. Big attraction, center of the park. You know, that ride where you sit in a big round raft and go up a hill and then through water slides and such. The company that makes it can set it up anywhere and you can cover it with whatever you like. This one was a kind of Sierra Nevada thing. The plantings were great. They got the trees right—pine and oak. And the fake mountain and streams and waterfalls were pretty cool in that, “Sure, it’s all plastic, but I’m in the mood...” kind of way. We were on line for about forty minutes. Five minutes away from getting on, and the whole Magilla broke down. We waited while repairmen scratched their heads, started it up again for a bit and then it stopped again. In the park for over an hour and all we did was stand in that line. Cranky. I looked at the kid with the C.I.A. printed T-shirt that announced and stood for “Christ is Alive,” and I wondered, “Can he fix this thing?”

We left because our fast passes were ready for using. And use them we did. The Soarin’ over California was cool and pretty much like I described it above. Glad to have done it. Worth the drive down. The cool pine scent. The dizzy heights. The grand California scenery.

After our visual ride experience, we figured we’d go on the huge roller coaster over in the Paradise Pier Section, the other big ride in California Adventure. This area was kind of the best looking part of the park. It was simply a remake of a boardwalk. Like Santa Monica or Santa Cruz. And the rides were very carnival. We got to the entrance of California Screamin’, the coaster, and it, too, like the Grizzly Rafts, was broken.

So, the two biggest rides were busted. We left the park.

We went to Downtown Disney, the open shopping mall connected to the theme parks, with a movie theatre, stores, Disney stores, and ridiculous theme restaurants. We ate at The Rain Forest. The one where every half hour there’s a rain storm and the plastic gorillas and elephants move and make a lot of noise? They must have one in Nanuet by now.

You can imagine how delicious the food was.

It was here, in the Rainforest, where I discovered the most abundant (excepting rodents) American mammal: The humanoid cow.

Now look, none of us are thin any longer. And ten, twenty, even thirty extra pounds on someone isn’t so awful. If you ever get cancer in that condition, you might get a few extra weeks of life. But these people, these people were all between sixty and a hundred pounds overweight. All those planes that flew in all these monsters from all across the land! It was like a horror movie.

And there they were, gorging on huge plates of corporate food that all tasted like sugar and oil, in a plastic Rainforest, swallowing their disappointment for all the broken rides. Can you imagine spending your life savings to take your family to Anaheim and all you get to do is wait in line and then leave because the rides are all broken? And then the consolation prize is heaping mounds of imitation food?

Everyone was enormous. Those poor children! Drinking high fructose corn syrup out of plastic cups that actually flashed with electric rainbow strobe jewels.

After the ogita slather, we escaped from the jungle. Bardo had to go into the Disney store to use his discount to buy a present for a relative. Adam and I waited outside. We sat on a benchy-wall of a planted area and at our feet was a small, round vent about six inches in diameter. And rising up from the slits was the foulest smell of half treated sewage. We had to move over. Who manages the sewage treatment that it actually wafts up into the middle of the Disney food court? Goofy?

When we all piled into the tram and back to the parking structure, the cool looking escalator that we took down was broken, too, so the Disney visitors had to walk down a three story high, stopped escalator. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that the broken escalator was only the beginning.

Can you imagine being from some burb-o-America, slathering your enormous, mis-shapened body into a jet only to land in Anaheim where you will spend what little money you have on entrance fees to a theme park that is broken down and then eat terrible food that does nothing but make you sadder so you then have to work even harder at Walmart so you can save more money to take another dysfunctional, plastic vacation filled with corn syrup?

If Christ is Alive, why the hell isn't he doing something about all this?

God bless America? Raze it.


Rebecca Waring said...

Jesus, Don! This is just a brilliant piece of writing. I mean the symbolism of the food court masking the cesspool underneath - too much! As if I weren't already depressed from coming back to America from England!

Todd HellsKitchen said...

I feel fat!

Anonymous said...

ur fat, and im gonna kick ur fat ass!!!!!!!!