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.