But my recent trip there caused me to think about the reason for the universal appeal of Walt Disney's "Happiest Place On Earth", and what is underneath the multi-billion dollar empire. Disney is currently worth somewhere around $35 million. What is behind it all?
My latest trip came about because I recently got a job accompanying a junior high choir that has had the privilege of performing at Disneyland for many years. This was their 19th trip!
My epiphany came inside the 'Haunted Mansion'. This ride is not nearly as scary as it could be, which could be said of most of the rides, but in case you haven't been (and chances are you have) the entire experience simulates a haunting in which the rider hears and sees the dead in various states of decay and suffers apparition like appearances, from a body trying to escape its cobwebby coffin to the lively dancing among the ghosts in the haunted dining room. There is a seance, with objects floating around in the air, and finally a long hallway where mysterious knocks are heard at every door.
Just before the exit a clever mirror trick allows us to see a projected image of a 'hitch hiking'ghost sitting beside us in our 'doom buggy'. Presumably narrated by 'the deceased', the experience culminates in a voice from a hologram admonishing us as we leave, "Bring your death certificate next time, in case you decide to join us!"
Despite the macabre tone of this attraction, the Haunted Mansion is a popular ride for all ages and never ceases to lure us all to stand in line behind scores of people to get in. Even though the entire ride would be a complete nightmare if real, it still mirrors the reality of death which no living person ever escapes. But the caveat.
SOMEONE is in charge. SOMEONE will make sure we don't actually end up in the coffin or the hearse or even see a real ghost. SOMEONE is protecting us from our worst nightmare while displaying it to us in living audio-technicolor.
I think it is the knowledge, or call it a wish to know that no matter how horrible things appear, SOMEONE is in charge. SOMEONE will keep us safe in the happiest place on earth. Who wouldn't want that?