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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Disney World: Not All Play

“I like working here so much, I don’t like to see the holidays come,” said Megan, who doesn’t wish that her real name be used. She is an attractive and articulate undergraduate at Florida Central University. She currently works concessions at Disney World at the moment, but expects substantial advancement. “A lot of the kids who work here are in school. I used to think it was just a place to visit, but it’s been a great place to work also.”

This sort of positive spin was a recurring theme in talking with employees and cast members in a variety of positions at Disney World. The recent graduate who played the Disney character Princess Jasmine noted that she trained to play a Disney character by first attending Disney University, an on-premises training program.

“There are internship programs that you can get college credit for, like in theater arts, and things related to the hospitality industry,” she said. She also takes for-credit university courses while working at Disney. Numerous colleges and universities accept or consider certain Disney internships and training programs for academic credit.

One older worker stated, “Here they treat you good. Everybody’s nice. I’m a single mom. My kid got sick when he was two. He was in the hospital for weeks and I had to be out with him for two months. My boss said, ‘Don’t worry about your job, it’ll be here when you get back. Just take care of the kid.’ I’ll never forget that.”

When asked how the medical and retirement benefits are for Disney workers, she paused a moment, then replied, “Good, better than I’d have other places.”

Information about employment and educational opportunities at the Disney theme parks can be found on the Disney web page.

The founder of the Disney phenomena, Walt Disney, was born into an emotionally barren and nomadic family. His work became known as being “safe” in its content, a form of entertainment to which fearful parents could entrust their kids. No matter how Captain Hook swaggers and bullies, in the end, youth, goodness, and light will defeat him. Even if the T. Rex is both realistic and dreadful, it is nothing but a finely wrought simulacrum.

The streets of Disney World are reminiscent of small town America, but a small town America devoid of the pettiness, gossip, lock-step conformity or boredom of many real small towns. It is a place of bland celebration of American tradition without the rough edges and missteps that characterize humanity’s progression. In a similar way, Disney’s fairy tales are stripped of any grotesque or controversial content. In the process, nothing but a tapioca recalling of their ancient myths, legends and historical events remain.

The benign and bloodless stories that remained have become the gold standard for children’s stories. Yet Disney World is fun, serious, big-time fun. It is also a vacuum system that sucks up money like a Hoover sucks up dust bunnies from beneath the bed. And certainly it’s worth doing a time or two. Fantasy, after all, can show us what could be. The monorail, for instance, is quiet and efficient. It is clean. There are no homeless and destitute persons on the platform. With a train whooshing to a stop every few minutes, it beats the T any day.

There is a great pastiche of a tableau on the piazza of the Magic Castle each hour with Cinderella as the protagonist. She interacts with a flock of furry and feathery creatures and is variously captivated by a charming Mickey and perky Minnie, frustrated by an intellectually challenged but endearing Goofy, charmed by tail-wagging Pluto, and vexed when dissed by the curmudgeon Donald Duck. To add to her dilemma, she and all of her four-fingered friends are threatened by a procession of villains ranging from Captain Hook and his anti-social friends to Cruella DeVille. Yet despite all this and a dysfunctional family-of-origin, she is finally swept away by her handsome prince, resplendent if slightly effeminate in a military dress uniform that suggests a small but colorful monarchy right out of the Baltics.

Finally having escaped her world of thwarted expectations and world-class sibling rivalry, she sings of her ecstasy, calling out in the finale with all the exultation of a snorter of cocaine, “I never though I could be so happy. Is everybody happy? I hope so.” And at Disney World, everyone, the university students and recent graduates who work there, the older workers including a grateful single mom, and the throngs of visitors, usually is.