Culture

Someone at Cracked Thinks You Should Be Terrified of Disney Theme Parks

Photo via AP Images

Photo via AP Images

Not long ago, I wrote about Cracked.com‘s unfunny TED Talks parody of Walt Disney. The writer of the video filled it with so much knee-jerk character assassination that it took me two posts to refute the abject lies, all of which were meant to make Walt Disney look like a bigot and all-around bad guy.

It turns out that somebody in the Cracked organization apparently has some sort of ax to grind with Disney, because their site is littered with list posts intended to smear Disney as some sort of horrible organization. A friend of mine forwarded me an email from them a couple of weeks ago entitled “Disneyland Is Secretly Terrifying For Visitors (And Worse For The Staff)” which features two articles from 2010 and 2012 that seek to paint the Disney Parks as, at best, tacky and, at worst, downright evil. The two posts are not particularly funny nor do they unearth much new information.

The first one I clicked on tells readers about “The 5 Most Unsettling Disney Theme Park Easter Eggs.” Before I go into much more detail, suffice it to say that none of these “Easter Eggs” were unsettling at all — unless you paint them with an anti-Disney agenda. The post begins talking about the Utilidors: the first-level corridors underneath the Magic Kingdom’s surface that make for unobtrusive passage from one land of the park to another (so guests don’t see a Frontierland cowboy hoofing it through Tomorrowland) and house cast member break rooms, storage, and the computer systems that run the attractions and parades. According to the author, the Utilidors take on a “sinister” tone because Disney’s custodial crews can move quickly from one place to another to clean up messes. That’s right — to Cracked, Disney’s cleanliness is “sinister.” Let that sink in for a minute.

The next section of the article discusses Club 33, the not-so-secret “Secret Club” (the author’s words) at Disneyland, which isn’t really a big deal to anyone who isn’t obsessed with class warfare — so we’ll skip over it and move on to what the author refers to as “Scent Based Mind Control.” (Conspiracy wacko much?) What the phrase “mind control” really refers to is Disney’s innovative use of scents to help immerse guests in the experience of specific lands or attractions (my favorite examples are the pine and orange scents that Disney uses to great effect on Soarin’).  Much to the author’s presumable chagrin, retail giants use this tactic as well to enhance their customers’ shopping experiences — and to entice them to spend more money. But it’s only “unsettling” when Disney does it.

One of the most absurd examples of the author’s horror at Disney’s innovation occurs when he reveals the terrible truth that the Tree of Life at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is based on the design of an offshore oil rig:

But here’s the catch: The whole thing is constructed from an offshore oil-drilling platform. Which is like secretly using an animal carcass to symbolize your vegan restaurant, except not really, since that sounds like something PETA would totally do.

The Imagineers struggled to figure out how to construct the park’s iconic structure in a way that would allow it to support what was initially a restaurant, but later became the theater for a multimedia attraction. So, after watching a documentary on oil rigs, they found the perfect base for the Tree of Life. It’s clever and not creepy or unsettling by any means. Finally, the author apparently just gave up at the end and tried to insinuate that hidden Mickeys are some nefarious plot rather than playful inside jokes that reward observant guests.

It got worse when I checked out the next article, “6 True Stories About Disneyland They Don’t Want You to Know.” (Why do I even dignify them with a hyperlink?) These authors throw their Disney hatred out there with boldness — it’s right there in the intro when they write, “We’ve said that Disney movies teach bad lessons” and “Disneyland is the combination of the only three things that matter: cartoons, rides and thinly concealed evil.” But all they have to show for their vitriol is half-truths and urban legends.

Photo via AP Images

Photo via AP Images

The authors kick things off by repeating the old saw that costumed cast members must share communal underwear. Not only is this assertion disgusting, but it’s not quite true. On a Snopes message board, more than one former costumed cast member reiterate that the company did provide undershirts and gym shorts for cast members — and those garments were thoroughly washed before reusing — but that the underwear did belong to the cast members. Gross myth: debunked.

Next, the authors tackle two rumors that have some truth to them. Yes, women have flashed the cameras on Splash Mountain, and yes, a couple of randy cast members published some of the photos on the web, but how can this be Disney’s fault? Should Imagineers change the “no flash photography” spiels to “no flashing the photography”? Yes, people have tried to scatter their deceased loved ones’ ashes at the Haunted Mansion (and apparently on Pirates of the Caribbean), and yes, Disney frowns upon actions like that. But who can blame them? And why does that contribute to the Disney Parks being such bad places? The authors don’t answer; they just keep on with their anti-Disney bias.

Now that we’ve rehashed stupid legends and confirmed some weird rumors, let’s spread some half-truths, shall we? Next the authors take on the story of the feral cats that roam Disneyland at night, ridding the park of its non-cartoon rodents. While it sounds creepy on the surface, with a little research, the story take a charming — shall I say Disneyesque? — turn. It just so happens that Walt had the cats banished at first, until he realized that they could help control the rodent population. These days, the cast members at Circle D Ranch actually take care of the cats, keeping them healthy and helping feed them. They’ve turned into a welcome part of the family — and they leave Mickey and Minnie alone.

The authors don’t mind embellishing a story if it suits their narrative. In August 1970, a group of about a hundred Yippies descended upon Disneyland. Their day started out as a parody of a rally, with a fake agenda and everything, but the Yippies did take over Tom Sawyer Island and engaged in a little disruptive behavior (their typical countercultural street theater tactics). So Roy Disney had security guards escort them out — but not without creating a scene — and closed the park early. But that’s not what the authors would have you believe. Instead, they tell the story of some harmless kids and how Disney called in the “f***ing riot cops” on them. They also relate an account of “a girl with her ‘head split open, blood dripping all over her face,'” as though they have Disneyland and Kent State confused.

Last but not least, the authors tackle the infamous Gay Days story. They don’t use the opportunity to bash Disney, however — they spend the bulk of this section of the article making fun of people who support heterosexual relationships. But while we’re talking about Gay Days, I’ll set the record straight. Disney does not officially sponsor the Gay Days. An organization promoting travel for same-sex couples holds trade shows every year, conveniently enough, in Orlando and Anaheim. Disney seems to be fine with the gay couples spending time in their parks, as they would with anyone who’s willing to spend money there. (Food for thought for those fundamentalists who just love to boycott Disney: Walt Disney World hosts a Christian music festival every year.)

At the close of the post, the authors state:

To see how else Disney absolutely hates its customers, check out 7 Classic Disney Movies That Taught Us Terrible Lessons and The 9 Most Racist Disney Characters.

I haven’t even touched those articles, because I only have so much righteous anger in a day. But these articles make it abundantly clear that someone, somewhere in the Cracked organization has enough vitriol aimed at Disney to continue spreading lies, half-truths, and slanderous rumors like these.

I’ve written many times before that these bits and pieces of disinformation exist because Walt Disney’s commitment to American, Judeo-Christian values threatens the Left. I’ll continue to expose the lies, and I’m not going to stop until I find out who is behind them even today.

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