24 Jul 2009

Disneyland – Please Help Me

By Producer Gareth

As Jack has already mentioned, he was vehemently against our ultimately doomed trip to Disneyland from the get go. As it turned out his concerns were completely justified. With Nik (the only truly responsible adult amongst us) away for the weekend, that left Jack, Russell and me and to be honest it’s lucky that the worst to happen was a trip to an inflated theme park – he could quite easily have returned to a burnt-down house and one of our corpses (probably mine) face down in the swimming pool. So the naughtiest of the three was free to hatch a plan and that plan was Disneyland.

Initially in favour of going, my enthusiasm was mainly due to Nicola’s lovely little daughter. Around her I turn into a kind of pathetic Mary Poppins, bending over backwards to entertain, desperate to be approved. Granted, she is utterly adorable, but putting every drop of my energy into seeking the validation of a two year-old who has barely learnt to speak just isn’t sensible, and in this case led me to my first problem of the day – a ride.

I don’t like rides, they leave me dazed and queasy. I had a feeling I should steer clear of them when my first encounter of a fairground coincided with my first experience of dating. Aged 13 and against my better judgment I accompanied that poor girl onto the Waltzers. Within minutes I’d sicked up the contents of that night’s dinner plus half a bag of candyfloss. To compound my mortified embarrassment, the operator subsequently handed me a limp rag and ordered me to clean up my vomit. Suffice to say, that relationship did not endure.

So, back to Disneyland and before I knew it I’d found myself on, what I’m told was a kind of “history of Disney” ride and featured incidents from famous tales. Subsequently we all agreed that this “child friendly” ride wasn’t really suitable for kids, due to what was judged to be a rather macabre atmosphere. At one point I distinctly remember passing models of two mal-treated caged donkeys crying out “please save me.” Now, I’m not sure what effect that had on the children but it left me quite anxious. Also, what scary, upsetting film does that occur in and why pick that scene? Around the next corner I half expected to see representations from Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia and Schindler’s List.

Russell and Jack then decided that the boys should split from the girls and go in search of “proper rides”. So we ventured to another section of the park where we are invited to ‘Celebrate the magic of Tomorrowland.’ “Gladly”, I thought, “tomorrow is Sunday so my tomorrowland consists of sleeping in until midday then slumping myself in front of the telly” – which I’d happily celebrate over an afternoon hurtling around whirly, sick-inducing rollercoasters.” In fact, if we could celebrate the magic of nextFridaynightland, I’ll have got out of a week of work and be all nice and drunk – let’s go! Alas, Tomorrowland was not in the literal form I’d hoped for and in spite of my protests I was dragged on not one but two rides, the latter being Space Mountain.

In my quest to find any form of written evidence that would render me exempt from entry I noticed a sign that read, “Animals may not accompany guests on this attraction.” There are two problems with that, I think. Firstly, “accompany” makes it sounds like the animal and guest are on a date, and secondly, I’d hope that no one would even think of taking a pet on a rollercoaster because it’s cruel. That animal wouldn’t know it was on a ride, it’d just think this was its new life – a spinning, woozy, bewildering new life in the darkness. Even in the case of a guide dog, I don’t think it’s justified. Like working weekends or examining your flatmate’s genitals for signs of sexual diseases (both of which I’ve done), I think a guide dog accompanying their owner onto a rollercoaster goes well beyond the call of duty.

Directly in front of us in the queue are two 13 year-old girls. Unsure of what lay ahead I inquired, “Excuse me girls, is it scary?” They giggled, no doubt intrigued by the whiny questioning of a sniveling 30 year-old man. “No” they respond, confidently. Well, those girls lied. Because as we hurtled through the cosmos, past fields of shooting stars and celestial satellites, I encountered a lunging, rotating, nauseous existence that terrified me to the very core of my soul. One small step to a heart attack, one giant leap to soiling my underwear.

After that ordeal I barked at Russ and Jack that I could have died on Space flippin’ Mountain, to which they responded “No one dies at Disneyland – you’d hear about it.” Well, I have news for you boys, I’ve investigated and it turns out that people do die at Disney. Allegedly from 2005 – 2006, there were four deaths and nineteen injuries at its Florida parks. And prior to 2001, Disney was not even required to report incidents to the state authorities. Sorry, what? What kind of crazy cartoon get-out clause is that? God knows how many people have died at the hands of Disney, in that case …
“Is this ride safe?”
“Yep”
“No one has died on it or anything, then?”
“Er, no”
“Definitely not?”
“Nope. There’s been none of the old deaths here at Disney, no sir”

It was also probably the perfect place to go and do a murder!
“Inspector, all the evidence points to the victim disappearing at Disneyland”
“Forget it sergeant, there’s never been an incident in that place since the day it opened it’s innocent, harmless doors. Your two years of research were wasted, get back to the drawing board”

So, it turns out that Mickey and Co.’s pledge that Disneyland would be “Where Dreams Come True” didn’t quite work out for me. More like “Where Rides Still Make Me Extremely Sick”. Finally, while doing my crack research I also came across another example of Disneyland not quite working out for someone…

“In 1976, a woman filed a lawsuit claiming one of the Three Little Pigs ran up to her at the “It’s A Small World” attraction, grabbed at and fondled her, while exclaiming “Mommy! Mommy!” She claimed to have gained 50 pounds as a result of the incident. Charges were dropped after Disney’s lawyers presented her with a photo of the costume, which had only inoperable stub arms.”