The 40-year history of Disneyland is that of a feudal dictatorship riddled with gore, and though the author goes out of his way to try and give an evenhanded account of the park, the truth wins out and the evidence for Disneyland as a dystopian Circus of Death is damning. How else to account for the insidious People Mover (or “remover” as dubbed by employees), which at a deceptive speed of 2 miles per hour has managed to crush several skulls in half or cause numerous injuries resulting in multiple foot and toe amputations? Or America Sings, which ground 18-year-old hostess Deborah Gail Stone into paste between two counter-rotating theater walls?
But the rides are not the only malevolent entities: Disneyland seems to bring out the worst in people, or at least make them criminally stupid. Otherwise, why would employees ingest alcohol-spiked punch, pot brownies, and guacamole laced with PCP at a potluck birthday party and then operate the Matterhorn (which has been known to eject patrons under the best of circumstances)? And what goes on in the minds of those patrons who decide to squirm out of their lap bars and stand up in the middle of Space Mountain?
On the lighter side, mishaps which don’t end in death or disfigurement usually result in ugly lawsuits, like the sexual-harassment suit filed against one of the Three Little Pigs by an obese female midget who claimed that the alleged horny hog tweaked her breasts and squealed “Mommy, Mommy.”
And then there are the occasional riots, like the one staged by the Yippies in 1970, who stormed up Main Street chanting “Free Charlie Manson” and held a “Black Panther Hot Breakfast” at Aunt Jemima’s Pancake House. Add to this already Bruegelesque scene the multiple shootings, stabbings, drownings, bomb scares and Tongan vs. Samoan gang wars, and one can only conclude that Disneyland is an encumbered minefield straining its boundaries as its minions work at constant breakneck pace to stave off terminal devastation.
Paperback: 239 pages