“Awright!” the airline lady at John Wayne Airport bawled as we moved closer to the security checkpoint. “You need to have ALL YOUR PERSONAL TOILETRIES in a CLEAR, ONE-QUART ZIPLOCK BAG. That’s LOTION, TOOTHPASTE, BODY WASH, HAIR GEL, EVERYTHING. And you need to SHOW YOUR PHOTO ID with your BOARDING PASS. Have those out NOW!”
I had the urge to drop and give her 20. Instead, I leaned to Husband and murmured, “I don’t think we’re in Disneyland anymore.”
We had just spent three glorious days in the Magic Kingdom – four, if you count the fact that we stayed in park’s Grand Californian hotel – and I had become used to Disney Culture. Disney is all about putting on a great show. Disney workers aren’t employees, they’re cast members, and their scripts are heavy on phases such as, “Yes,” “I can help you,” and, “Sure, we can accommodate that.”
Wherever we went, cast members practically did back flips to make sure our stay was great. One evening at dinner, the Princesses brought back full-size carrots from the buffet table. A smiling waiter quietly dropped by our table and offered to peel and cut them into carrot sticks. It was only later that we found out the girls had inadvertently swiped part of the buffet’s artful display of fresh vegetables. I’m guessing the Disney people don’t often have to worry about kids actually being interested in eating a real carrot. I was rather proud.
I’ve heard people complain about how heavy-handed Disney folks can be; how they wouldn’t let their cast members wear facial hair until recently, for instance; how nearly every blade of grass is fenced off and the topiaries trimmed within an inch of their bushy little lives; how street sweepers practically throw themselves on discarded churro wrappers as if they were live grenades.
I love it. Bring on the control freaks, the litter Nazis, the men behind the curtain at the Most Artificial Place on Earth. I like clean streets and people who will cut my kids’ carrots for me. I like being smiled at when I’m reminded to keep my hands and feet inside the ride at all times. It’s really nice to be treated like it’s a pleasure to see me today, that people came to work just for me. If the Disney people have to put you on hold, you can bet they leave you feeling like your call really is important to them.
I found myself trying to bring a little Disney home with me. I smiled more. I said “Sure,” and “Yes, I can help you,” and, “Let’s find a way to figure that out.” I let people get ahead of me in traffic. I thanked the clerk at Walgreens for finding me a coupon. I tried to take the extra minute with anyone who needed my time.
It’s wearing off, though. Better get to me fast if you want anything. Or else get me another Mickey infusion, stat.