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So you’re a leftist and a theme park fan. Yes, we exist! You have a unique ability to ruin any party by reciting upsetting factoids about which fast food brands use slavery tomatoes, which celebs come from generational wealth, and how we’ll all be dead from climate collapse in 30 years. And yet you choose to spend some of those remaining 30 years eating intellectual property-shaped ice cream bars.
You’re in a tough spot. Capitalism kills, and the Walt Disney Company may be the most capitalistic company to ever exist. But there is no denying that sparkly lights are sparkly, and that Goofy is truly your best friend. So here are the do’s and dont’s of turning off your brain for some of the most magical, unethical consumption there is to be had: The Leftist’s Guide to Disneyland.
DON’T think too hard about Uncle Walt’s views on unions
The Disney parks were created in part because Walt Disney was sick of his animation workers unionizing. Walt thought of himself as a Benevolent Daddy to his workers. And when they tried to collectively bargain for better pay, he kinda lost it. Worse than the “my subs have unionized” reddit guy. Hollywood was a union town, so Walt decided to make his own town, dammit! One where the streets smell like fresh baked cookies, drinking is banned, and employment is at-will. So push all of that knowledge deep down inside, like at the bottom of the Seven Dwarfs’ mine, when you walk down Main Street. DO look up photos of the guillotine animators brought to their strike in 1941, because it rocks.
DO admire all the public transportation
Walt Disney was the original NUMTOT. The boy was horny for trains! At Disneyland, you can ride two trains and a monorail, as well as a riverboat, a ferry, and a horse-drawn trolley. They even have a ride in ToonTown commemorating Los Angeles’ gorgeous, defunct public transit system. The very same one that was eradicated by Judge Doom, as depicted in the documentary Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Disneyland’s monorail was the first to run daily in America, and Walt wanted it to demonstrate how superior public transportation was to personal car ownership. Of course, now the company has a whole franchise dedicated to personal car ownership. But Cars Land slaps, so let’s not get too maudlin.
DO try to forget how many Nazis were involved in making the monorail
Okay, but the monorail was made in partnership with a guy that maybe laundered money for the Nazis. Ignore that. Oh, and all of Tomorrowland was shepherded by Wernher von Braun, who developed the V-2 rocket. Ignore that too. And this isn’t in Disneyland, but the guy who made the mosaics on Cinderella Castle was a leading Nazi interrogator. So, like, that’s not great.
DO think about the cast members in those character costumes
Remember, there is a fellow worker behind that Pluto head. So be kind and be chill. Except sometimes it’s a corporate higher-up. Everyone who works in Disney’s corporate structure has to spend a week as an atmosphere character. So if you can be sure he’s really the VP of Suing Daycares for Unlicensed Murals, by all means, be a dick to Donald Duck.
DON’T think too hard about Dole’s sponsorship of the Enchanted Tiki Room
If you thought the worst thing about the Enchanted Tiki Room was all the racist voices, or even the ‘ooga booga’ vibes re: Polynesian theology, you’re wrong. It’s that the attraction is now sponsored by Dole, the company that funded a coup to colonize Hawaii. The Dole Whip is vegan, though. So that’s nice.
DO try to transform your horror into camp appreciation
Hmm, it seems like there’s no escaping the grim knowledge of corporate greed that taints every ride and treat in this park. Oh well! Try and figure out how to find it funny. If you can adopt a love of the grotesque, then Disneyland’s pleasures will triple. Possibly even quadruple. Even the parking garages are funny from that lens. They pay the city like a dollar a year for that land! Cast members are paid a pittance! One ride is minstrel show themed! Hell is full and all the sinners go to Disneyland! HahahahAHAHAHAHAhahaa!
Oh, and bring your own water bottle.
Bimbo Summit podcast, reruns of The Nanny on PlutoTV, Desperately Seeking Susan, “Pooh for President” campaign ephemera, Confessions of a Yakuza by Junichi Saga