When readers pick up a copy of The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland, they expect to get the best independent, in-depth information available on the Anaheim resort. But as an added extra bonus, they get a dose of the authors’ irreverent sense of humor. Planning the perfect Disneyland vacation seem like deadly serious work, but it’s our intention to remind you to look on the lighter side of the little lunacies you’ll happen upon at the happiest place on Earth.
In that spirit, Bob Sehlinger started the tradition of including a short comical essay in the introductory chapter of the Guide. Titled “The Importance of Being Goofy,” these brief pieces feature friendly spoofs of what we imagine goes on behind the scenes at the Mouse house.
As co-author of the 2012 and upcoming 2013 editions of The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland, I’ve continued that tradition with some silly satire of my own. Right now we are hard at work on the new edition of the book, but I wanted to bring our blog readers a “backstage” look at the process by previewing an unedited version of this year’s Goofy essay. A slightly shorter version of this will appear on shelves later this year, but you can read it here first. Please enjoy, and share your thoughts in the comments below.
The Importance of Being Goofy (Disneyland 2013)
Disneyland’s director of Nomenclature for Entertainment and Retail Domains hovered over his mahogany desk, delicately extracting a shard from a stack of splinters, when his assistant’s explosive entrance toppled the tower.
“Dang it, Wally! How many times to I have to tell you to watch the paneling?” huffed the director as he dug under his desk for wandering wood. “And I just had this new Jenga set whittled out of scraps from the Carnation Plaza Gardens stage.”
“That’s some mighty respectful recycling, chief. But you said you wanted to know as soon as the results of our latest guest survey were in.”
“Excellent!” The director bounded back into his chair, grimacing sharply as his missing stick was suddenly rediscovered. “Sock it to me,” he squeaked, shifting slighting in his seat.
“Certainly, sir. After only spending the annual salaries of our entire hotel housekeeping staff, our crack statisticians have scientifically determined that today’s top two theme park draws are Cars Land here at Disney California Adventure, and that Harry Potter hullabaloo over at Universal.”
“Precisely my prediction! This conclusively proves my theory on what our marks — err, valued visitors — really want.”
“Mega-budget E-Tickets with innovative effects in an elaborately detailed, immersive environment?”
“Nah, they want lands based around individual intellectual property franchises! Today’s Twitter-addled tourists can’t take more than a single topic simultaneously. They want their fantasy worlds one theme at a time.”
“Well, I suppose…” demurred Wally, skeptically, before the boss barreled on.
“Just look at the cognitive dissonance all over Disneyland! Pirates next to phantoms, princesses mixed up with pachyderms, a railroad with dinosaurs…can imagine anything more confusing?”
“It’s astounding our guests’ heads haven’t imploded,” Wally gulped. “What do you suggest? We don’t have the budget to re-brand the park, after blowing a billion next door.”
“No problem! I’ve got a cost-effective plan, and a raft of sponsors lined up to foot the bill.”
“Wow, sir, where do we start?”
“Well, Main Street USA is a cash cow, so we’ll largely leave it be, except for a sponsorship from our new social media network, MiceSpace. Every souvenir or snack guests purchase will instantly be posted on their “wall,” the Cinema will screen cute kitten videos from YouTube, and animatronic Old Abe can recite the audience’s latest blog comments instead of his tired ‘four score’ shtick.”
“A solid start, sir,” Wally brown-nosed. “What’s the angle on Adventureland?”
“Our studios have a Jungle Cruise flick in the works starring Tim Allen. I can’t see how it won’t be an even bigger blockbuster that that Country Bears masterpiece. So let’s get ahead of the curve and make Allenland! We’ll toss a “Tool Time” t-shirt on Trader Sam, rename Tarzan’s Treehouse to Jungle 2 Jungle, and replace Indy’s fedora with a Santa Clause cap. ABC is eager to ante up; they say it’s their best advertising angle since the Desperate Housewives dating service.”
Wally made a note to erase Wild Hogs from his Netflix queue, then pressed ahead. “Any notions for New Orleans Square?”
“You know how popular those Princess and the Frog Mardi Gras parties we put on were? Well, I just found out that Mardi Gras is a real thing they do every year! Way! That’s the kind of family atmosphere we need more of in the park. So Pirates of the Caribbean is becoming Princess Tiana’s Bead & Booty Bonanza. All that’s required are short green gowns and some really cranking disco tunes.”
“But, boss,” stammered Wally, “isn’t that, um…inappropriate?”
“Better than that, it’s interactive! Kids will get beads to toss at Tiana and the wenches will shake a tailfeather like you’ve never seen. We’ll rev those animatronic booties up so high we’ll be lucky not to blow the circuits.”
“That’ll never go over!” objected the assistant. “Tiana’s not a “Girls Gone Wild” type.
“She may become one. Our new sponsor is a cosmetic surgeon out of San Fernando who’s,…er, plumped Tiana up a bit, actually a good bit. All the other princesses are jealous, too. Ariel’s talking about upgrading her shells from Abalone to Conch.”
“Fine boss, but where does that lead the Haunted Mansion?”
“Don’t change a thing, we’ll just say it depicts Bourbon Street on the morning after Lent begins.”
Wally sighed. “Fair enough. I suppose we’ll annex the attraction next door as Flash Mountain?”
“No, I’ve got bigger plans for Critter Country. No one here remembers what film these Br’er characters came from except our big boss Bob, and he won’t blab. Meanwhile, Winnie is still a winner in the merchandising wars. So I’m spreading the bear everywhere. We’ll put Pooh on the mountain, Pooh in the river, Pooh in the shops, even Pooh on the menu! Everywhere guests look, everything will be covered in Pooh!”
“How appetizing, chief,” croaked Wally. “Who is our sponsor?”
“A 24-hour plumbing service. Next stop is Frontierland, which we will re-imagine as JohnnyDeppland, in honor of our studio’s most profitable star. Our new Lone Ranger film is the perfect fit for Big Thunder Mountain; we’ll put a feathered headdress on the dynamite-eating goat and call him Tonto. Guests will ride reefer rafts on a trip to Raoul Duke’s Lair on Fear and Loathing Island. And wait until you hear our new musical act, ‘Benny Joon and the Joonbennys!”
“Let’s move on to Fantasyland, boss,” Wally blanched.
“Now we bring out the our big guns: Burton. Since Tim’s take on Alice in Wonderland was so successful, I’ve granted him free reign to remake all our original fairy tale rides in his image. All the black-light sets will henceforth simply be black, and the classic soundtracks will be replaced with atonal Danny Elfman outtakes. His plans for it’s a sweeney todd world are very exciting: the dolls spurt actual blood while singing Sondheim! Everything is being underwritten by a major manufacturer of black nail polish and eyeliner.”
“Exactly as Walt would have wanted, I’m sure. What about Toontown?”
“Remember that mortgage mess the Big Cheeses got mixed up in? Well, MinnieMae and MickeyMac finally foreclosed on Roger Rabbit; he defaulted after falling back into Dip addiction. His ride is going to become the Negative Equity Spin, an educational attraction about variable interest rates. And the neighbors have all short sold, so downtown Toontown’s storefronts will shill credit cards and timeshares.”
“Can we pass on to Tomorrowland, p-p-p-please?”
“Ah, my triumph of artistic accountancy! Behold: the Wonderful Tax Writedown of John Carter. Insert scenes from the sci-fi flick into our existing rides, and we can claim the whole land as a loss on next year’s returns! Simply set Star Tours to only visit Tatooine and tell folks it’s Barsoom; even Lucas won’t notice the difference. Show the movie on repeat instead of Captain EO, stick a shirtless Taylor Kitsch figure inside Space Mountain, and start counting the refund from Uncle Sam.”
“What do we do with Buzz Lightyear?”
“Stitch is an alien with extra arms, just like Carter’s Martians, right? Let’s bulldoze Buzz and bring in that Great Escape show they’ve got in Florida. I’ve heard it’s brilliant!”
And so it goes…
Photo by Seth Kubersky