"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 21 July 1997. Updated every WEEKDAY.

Tomorrowland's Parties


[When I was a kid I wanted to be an astronaut.  It was a good dream.  Now I work in the Internet industry.  Hmmmm.  Now kids dream of making websites and playing videogames.  It sure seems like that's a lot less lofty of a goal.  Poor simple kids.  My kids are gonna be farmers.]

There was a hidden poignancy in

Toy Story's Spaceman-vs.-Cowboy

theme. While NASA debates manned

missions to Mars, Frontierland

thrives - and Disneyland's

Mission to Mars attraction sits

idle, shut six years earlier.

The ride's original destination,

the moon, was upgraded to Mars

in 1975, but it couldn't survive

the flow of history.

Disney-watchers say it will

reopen in 1998 as Pizza Planet.


[Hi.  I was in Las Vagas a couple of weeks ago, and you know there are a lot of dance shows there.  I hate dance shows.  In fact I dislike watching people dance.  They look silly.  Just plain old silly.  In Vegas they wear furry  costumes and gold underwear.  It just seems that it would be all the more silly. Maybe my kids will be Las Vegas Dancers.  Maybe.]

Those who watch the imagineered

park catch reflections of a

changing society. While the

Carpenters serenaded park

visitors in the '70s,

mouseketeer Doreen Tracy posed

nude for Gallery magazine.

Postmodernist cynicism

progressed, and by 1984 Kenneth

Anger was ready to point out

that the boy who gave Peter Pan

his voice overdosed on heroin

and was buried in an unmarked

grave. Today, Baptist boycotters

find themselves on the wrong

side of change - political winds

have already taken their toll on

the Indian Village, the Pirates

of the Caribbean, and Insane

Clown Posse.


Times change. Though the park's

original Mars vision became a

real space ghost, it would

probably be no less bewildering

to Walt than the Cartoon

Network's talk show. As the

thawed visionary wandered our

Beavis and Butt-Head Do America

world, what would he make of,

say, the suburban apocalypse of

Heaven's Gate? ("This is



America sings, but the tune is

different - and Disneyana forms

a handy gauge to measure the

progression. Granted, visions of

the future will always look

different when you get there -

whether it's 1984, 2001, or Space:

1999. The cold war was NASA's

raison d'être ("Whatever

mankind will undertake, free men

must fully share.") - and Walt's

technology-oriented boosterism

was a Cold War relic in more

ways than one. During World War

II, 94 percent of the company's

footage was made for the

Department of Defense. And Walt

himself was caught in history's

tides, mingling with Mussolini,

quartering US anti-aircraft

troops through the duration of

World War II, and testifying

before the House Un-American

Activities Commission against

union organizers. The

Eisenhower-era park represented

a kind of technological Manifest

Destiny. While Moscow hosted

Nixon's Kitchen Debate with

Khrushchev, Disney delivered the

first functioning urban

monorail in the United States.


[This guys name is Otto.  I wonder if he dreamt of being a Las Vegas Dancer.]

In the '90s, it plays host to

Weird Ferd's Monorail Girl, and

pitiless zines count the park's

fatalities. The signs were on

the wall in the '80s, when a

recalcitrant drug-using teenager

in "Cartoon All-Stars to the

Rescue" sneered "Tell Pooh Bear

to mind his own business." Now

CD-ROM artists promulgate a more

postmodern vision - an amusement

park where all the visitors die

of plague.


Maybe Disney's spurt of optimism

was the aberration. In the

19th-century book version of

Peter Pan, Tinker Bell dies, and

in Carlos Colidi's original

book, a conscience-less

Pinocchio kills that pesky

cricket. Today's animators may

have inherited Walt's sugar-eyed

optimism - Disney's Hercules

ends before the Greek demigod

murders his wife in a fit of

insane jealousy, and FOX's

animators no doubt have a happy

ending lined up for Anastasia.

("Share the fun" goes the

trailer....) But there's no

sugarcoating in the boardroom.

Untouched by sentiment, Disney's

merry profiteers leverage the

dead animator's name, not just

with stores and cable channels,

but online services, planned

communities - and luxury liners.

Forget monorails - the money's

in cruise ships.


Disney isn't the only visionary

who missed the boats. Ponder the

cashless society Gene

Roddenberry envisioned as you

exit the Deep Space Nine

promenade at the Las Vegas

Hilton. Seeing the online

revolution as a new opportunity

for Mickey Mouse merchandising,

resilient Disney capitalists now

offer a line of T-shirts with

the rodent's email address.

Fantasy stops there - mail sent

to m.mouse@disney.com is

answered by guest_mail

@ccmsmtp4.online.disney.com -

animatronic killjoys who

announce that "Mickey Mouse and

all of his Disney friends live

in Toon Town and do not have

email addresses.... The shirt

that you saw was for fashion

purposes only."


[Another thing I didn't dream of when I was a kid was naked cartoon stars.  What kind of sick individual fixates on naked cartoon stars?  Huh?  My kids will not be allowed to fanatsize about naked cartoon stars.  Nope.]

Electronic carpetbaggers

notwithstanding, marketing

sprees are part of a movement

forward - a sign of the Disney

Corporation's relentless

evolution into the all-too-real

cutthroat 1990s. And ultimately

that's a good thing. No one

wants to turn the clock back to

the days when the black

centaurette shined the other

horses's shoes in Fantasia.

Dumbo's circus-clown tormentors

were said to be caricatures of

union organizers, his crow

friend was named Jim, and the

slaves in Song of the South were

all happy.


Things change - and it's

revealing to see who the

e-ticket of history leaves

behind. After less than six

months, Disneyland closed their

"Toy Story Funhouse and Hamm's

All-Doll Revue." And in an

unnoticed corner of the park,

the control room for "Mission to

Mars" has fallen into disrepair -

mysteriously targeted by


courtesy of Destiny

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