This past weekend, Steve and I went to DisneyWorld. His company was recently bought by another company that gives its employees an annual trip to Disney, so even though I had no particular desire to go there, I figured I might as well because it was free.
Well, I won’t be doing that again. There were a few things I enjoyed–like spending half a day bumming around the pool at our resort–but I just couldn’t shake the saccharine, sanitized, scripted soullessness of it all. The aggressive cheerfulness. The lack of any opportunity for the surprises and serendipities of travel. The constant insistence that this was “the most magical place on earth.” (Pro tip: places that are truly magical don’t need to announce it every five minutes.)
And worst of all: the bland, fake, horrifically depressing caricatures of places I love. Ironically enough, we stayed in a “New England-style” “beach” resort–whose “beach” was a thin strip of perfectly-raked sand, in which was planted a “No Swimming” sign, along the edge of a man-made lake.
From restaurants named “Martha’s Vineyard” and “The Cape May Café” to nautical décor, the resort tried hard to imitate the beach towns of my childhood summers–and succeeded only in inspiring a queasy mix of attraction, revulsion and homesickness. I kept thinking, “This is so pretty! But it’s a soulless cartoonified version of everything I love! But it’s so pretty!” and my head would spin.
The worst part was the “boardwalk” connecting our resort to another resort: a veritable Potemkin Atlantic City. There’s something uniquely disheartening about strolling the wide, non-splintery planks of a spirit-less boardwalk on an artificial beach. Continue reading