Returning from Florida and a couple of jaunts through Downtown Disney, I wonder what happened to the Disney magic. I have wonderful memories of past visits and that sense of wonder and excitement, but now those feelings are memories. Two walks through Downtown Disney, and I am convinced, magic has been replaced with the quest for profit.
Perhaps the saddest realities for Downtown Disney are the number of toys, T-shirts, Christmas ornaments and other items that clearly say Made in China. Gone is the pride of Made in America, the security of knowing the goods purchased have the Disney and American dream woven within them. To pay $24.99 for a Disney character T-shirt that says Made in China somehow destoryed the fun of bringing back something Disneyish to my family and friends.
I grew up on “The Wonderful World of Disney” each Sunday night. Walt Disney taught me so much about the wonder of nature, the magic of imagination and the greatness of America, rich in history and accomplishment. Walt Disney loved America and presented wonderful stories about Davy Crockett, and many of us felt him to be the uncle we wished we had. He promoted American values, the American family, and had pride in America. I cannot help, but wonder what he would think of his dreams today.
Today, Disneyland, Downtown Disney, and other attractions are incredibly priced. I wonder how an average American family can afford to bring their children to Disney or downtown Disney. Downtown Disney offers wonderful sights and activities. Cirque de Soliel is in residence, but at over one hundred dollars a ticket, was priced beyond my budget. I wonder how parents can ignore the pleadings of a child to be dressed like a princess with makeup and hair extensions, when the dresses start at $59 each. Add the rest of the experience and the experience is costly.
At the Orlando airport, I overheard a father tell his son they had to share their drink because he ran out of money. I joked and said he was fortunate he didn’t have to “sell” one of the children. He replied that they were too costly for most, and at least he didn’t need a second mortgage to pay for his children to have fun at Disney. Although we may laugh about this reality, when a vacation starts costing thousands of dollars to take children or the child in you to Disney or Downtown Disney, something is quite wrong.
I am amazed that with so much emphasis on banning smoking from public places that smoking is not only permitted, but encouraged at Downtown Disney. If cigarette smoke isn’t annoying, Downtown Disney added the sale of cigars, large smelly overwhelming cigars. The stench of both cigarette and cigar smoke can knock the breath out of anyone. And if you look around carefully, to bushes and other not as obvious areas, there are butts galore as smokers toss their garbage, too lazy to discard the butts correctly.
Before leaving Downtown Disney, I noticed a young turtle struggling on a rock in the water by Fulton’s. The turtle was too far away to be able to use a cane or other pole object to help the creature. Pathetically, it moved its four feet, but could not free itself from the rock. I went to ask a vendor to call someone as the turtle was dry and needed help. This Downtown Disney security woman came up to me and said that someone had been called and its best I not wait or waste my time worrying about this turtle. I was appalled she was so callous about this turtle. I checked awhile later and the turtle was gone, but I left upset that a representative of Disney would tell me to NOT care about a creature at Downtown Disney.
I grew up on Disney and remember watching Walt Disney on Sunday nights. I will always have a fond spot in my heart for Mickey, Goofy and a thousand and one other Disney characters. What I no longer have is an urge to return to Downtown Disney or Disneyworld, because I believe the magic is gone. Profit replaced true happiness, true Americanism and the true magic of childhood.