This is a little story that I received via email from one of my readers, ‘anan’ and think it is worth passing on. I wasn’t there so I didn’t see it. I have never been to Disneyland and cannot confirm or deny the story.
How to Get Arrested In Disneyland – by Anan
This is a cautionary tale. You may want to excuse the children from the room; there may be parts of this story they may not wish to hear.
One month in early summer, much too many moons ago, my crazy friend Orah and I were journeying through California with a couple of friends, trying to forget our worries back home and not doing a very good job of it. Then one day, as we were driving through Anaheim, she suggested that we take a day off and go enjoy the wonders of Disneyland.
I had my doubts. Not only was I a trifle too large to be slapping palms with Daffy Duck, I’d been there as a child and found it boring. The only thing that had saved the trip back then was the visit my grandparents had made to an old friend of theirs, an animator for Walt who had his own hand-penned cartoons of Mickey Mouse on a wall. He’d hung Nazi memorabilia from his extensive collection on the back of the same wall. Somehow the image of Nazi daggers with dancing Mickeys had stuck. I was in no rush to go back to Disneyland.
But since Orah had never been, and since she was in charge of the car, we all found ourselves in the realm of Tinkerbell and Indiana Jones, fending off onslaughts from the waves of heat-addled preschoolers. I had no idea there were so many uses for cotton candy. But I was right to doubt the sagacity of going there; it’s not really for the four foot and up crowd. Soon we became listless and bored.
I don’t know who suggested it first, but on the spur of the moment, we decided to play our own games. Hopping onto our friends, we started a vigorous, clumsy piggyback fight in front of the Enchanted Castle. We soon became involved in the fun of it and didn’t even notice the police until we were completely surrounded by them.
Not regular police. Disney police. They wore spotlessly white uniforms with no designation on them whatsoever to show name, rank, or serial number… or even that they were police. They had clean blank faces like newly hatched insects, and were absolutely silent. Only one insect spoke. He informed us that we were under arrest because of our violation of Disneyland’s special anti-conflict bylaws. We would not be incarcerated at this time, he said, but our group would be escorted out of the park and refused entry for the remainder of the day. He stamped his disapproval on our hands.
Before we or anyone else realized what was happening, the Disney police had ringed us like antibodies and were pushing us out of the gates. They kept on pushing until we were far out in the Los Angelos-style parking lot. They dumped us without ceremony onto the moonies and dispersed. We stood in shock, a line of chanting and bellringing at our back. The whole thing had happened so quickly that we hadn’t had time to react. It was only afterwards that I learned the Disney staff inhabit a private world of their own, often marrying each other and raising their children in special schools. They couldn’t be expected to grant piggyback fights leniency.
Laughing, we acceded that it really is true; it’s a small world, after all.
Most of it does actually, ironically, have to do with a longing for public space. If you think about Disney, for instance — one of the most successful brand builders of all time — they really are selling an idea of a lost American town where there was a town square and your kids were safe to walk in the streets. And they first built that in their films, then brought it to life in their theme parks, and expanded it into cruise ships and things like that, holidays. And then they took it further, of course, with [the planned community] Celebration, Fla., where you pack up the kids and move inside the brand. I find it really interesting that Disney describes Celebration as a tribute, a celebration of public space. What’s interesting about Celebration, Fla., is that there are no brands there. Once you actually achieve brand nirvana, what you want to do is you want to seal the exits. There’s no competition, and you’ve got full synergy, full vertical integration, and there’s no need for marketing.