Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Why I return to the Disney Theme Parks

Jeff Pepper wrote a great post about his views on the success of Ratatouille and the Disney/Pixar merger.  The comments on the blog had varying views about the movie, its success, and opinions about the perceived long-term relevance of this particular movie.

I made the following comment on this post:

To me whether or not a film can stand up to the test of time is moot. I very rarely ever watch a movie more than once or read a book more than once. Once I know the ending, I don't have a desire to go through the process again.

Jeff, responded to my comment with the following:

Just curious Ray--
How do you reconcile that dynamic with what seems to be your clear love of theme park entertainment, which is clearly overwhelming in its repetitive nature?
As with any form of entertainment, there always seems to be an enormous amount I miss on the first swing. I just discovered that most especially when I revisited Meet the Robinsons on DVD.

I have been racking my brain trying to think of a reason why this obvious error in logic exists.

When discussing this personal paradox with those people I talk to "in real life", I could only come up with one very sound, yet emotional, reason.

That reason is that I have developed a personal relationship with the Disney Theme Parks.  A kind of relationship that I have been unable to develop with movies and books.

This relationship drives me to want to keep going back and revisit the parks.  The only way I can describe it is that when I go to the parks it's like an awesome day with a beloved family member or a best friend.  After days like that, you just cannot wait to do it again.

emperorsnewgroovedvdcover In the name of full disclosure, I should state that there have been very rare movies that I have watched multiple times.  One of those movies was The Emperor's New Groove.  Now, I don't have an emotional tie to this movie, but there is something about Patrick Warburton's portrayal of Kronk that just made that movie for me........Riiiggghhhhttt.  I just couldn't stop laughing when he's in the movie.  The problem is that Kronk is so ingrained into the story, you must watch the entire movie to see his parts.  Kronk, is probably why I really enjoy The Emperor's New School on the Disney Channel.

The other movies were the original Star Wars Trilogy and an action flick or two.  But with those few exceptions, I mainly watch a movie once.

But, despite that, I have never really had that kind of relationship with a movie. 

But, if I was to offer a more analytical explanation as to why I will continuously go back to a Disney Theme Park....

When it comes to the Theme Parks, the only explanation I can give is that going to a Theme Park is like watching a movie in parts.  You have to keep watching to fill in the gaps of the story that were missed because you didn't watch in it's entirety. 

Now, I know that people might argue that you need to watch a movie multiple times to get the entire picture because there is new stuff to be seen with successive viewing.  Just read Jeff's DVD review of Meet the Robinsons as an example.  He does, indeed, highlight all the new things he observed when watching it again.

For that argument, I would respond that I guess I don't view movies the same way as a lot of my peers.  I am it in purely for entertainment.  If you are trying to educate me, change my way of thinking, or just plain make me The relationship Growing Strongerthink, I'm most likely not going to give the movie a second thought. 

I think one of the biggest reasons I failed to succeed in the Radio, TV, Motion Picture curriculum at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was because I could never see the movie for more than the surface story. 

I wasn't adept at picking up the subtle nuances of lighting choices, character development and choice of dialogue.  Imagery, metaphors, and other thematic devices always seemed to go over my head.  This could also be said for my weakness with books.

To me, when I watch a movie, I'm just in it for the story (and it doesn't even have to be well spun) and whether or not I'm entertained (most important).  I cannot really perceive all the other stuff unless someone points it out to me. 

An example was when a friend did a college term paper on the movie Terminator 2 for a film appreciation class (Senior fluff class).  He had noted in his paper that the bad Terminator always had red lights of some kind around him in confrontational scenes, while Arnold's Terminator character had blue.  In the climatic final battle, there were the blending of reds and blues throughout.  I never in a million years would've picked up on that unless someone told me.  In fact, I had to watch the movie again to believe it.

Now, with the Theme Parks, even when I feel like I've gotten the entire "story", the "story" is always changing.  New attractions and rides are added.  Old ones are sometimes removed (Horizons, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, Country Bears, etc).  Some are just re-themed (Journey in Imagination, Mexico Pavilion, Space Ship Earth, Haunted Mansion, etc).  There is also the well designed architecture and landscaping between the rides and attractions.

Please Respecting Our Temple AreaThis creates an environment where the story isn't the same when you start viewing it again.  I think only one movie franchise could come close to matching this scenario.  That was the original Star Wars Trilogy. 

George Lucas, on a couple of instances, added or enhanced the movie with new digital effects, scenes, etc.  This made for a new reason to watch the movies.  I'm sure this was as much of a marketing ploy as it was to allow Mr. Lucas to tell the story the way he originally intended but technology didn't allow.

But even with all that said, I was starting to wonder how I was going to maintain going to the parks every year after I got through everything multiple times.  After all, Disney loves to change things but not every year. 

I have managed to conjure up a renewed vigor in which I attack the parks mainly due to a few things:

My photography has given my eyes a new medium through which to look at the parks.  Now, I'm looking at it in a  Crate Appreciation Society more artistic sense.  I view it through my viewfinder and try to capture images that would look good hanging on my wall.

The podcast segments, the various blogs I have mentioned, and the Crate Appreciation Society give me things to look for.  Sometimes those things translate into new views to capture through my camera.

I'm trying to apply this newly found vigor for the parks to the huge Disney DVD Collection my wife and I have amassed.

My dad, the other day, suggested that maybe I view them again, not to be entertained, but to try and learn from them.  These successive viewings would allow me to see what is in the movie that I may have not noticed because I was too busy being entertained. That is going to be hard for me because it seems like work….haha.

I think I'm going to try it though.  But, I'm still perplexed about arguments about movies standing the test of time.

To me, if the movie was entertaining once, it will always be entertaining.....

Technorati Tags:


Anonymous said...

It's always interesting to see both sides of an arguement.... I have to side with Jeff on this one though. Their is so much you can miss with just one viewing of a movie. You can also see a movie in a whole new experience, after viewing it the first time. A perfect example, is the Sixth Sense. If you have seen it, watch it again.... trust me, you watch the movie in a totally new way.

What about holiday movies? I'm a Christmas nut, so I tend to watch the same Christmas movies every year. It's a tradition thing....

AKA Disneynorth

Unknown said...


As I said in my post, I probably view movies differently than most people. They are truly a vehicle of entertainment for me. More importantly, they are a vehicle of escapism. I don't want to apply too much cognitive ability into the process. I think for a living (solve problems). I don't like to do it on my free time.

I tried to watch The Sixth Sense a second time and it bored me to tears to try and sit through it again. Once the twist was revealed I couldn't even manage to watch it to view it from the perspective of the added information.

This is why I try to avoid spoiler movie sites for movies that I really want to see. Once I've been given too many of the details, I cannot enjoy the movie anymore and won't pay to see it.

As far as holiday movies. There is only one I watch repeatedly. It is A Christmas Story and it's because it's a tradition. Mostly it's on the TV as background noise. I don't sit in front of the TV to just watch it.

Tradition is just another word for Ritual in my book. Rituals are performed for other reasons than you would normally do the same activity. Typically there is some emotional or historical significance to it.

I don't watch A Christmas Story to be entertained. It is just a small part of the fabric of the Christmas holidays that I try to wrap around myself to try and remember the innocence of youth.

To try and remember those good times at Christmas before adulthood started changing it for me.

Unknown said...

What? A twist? What are you guys talking about?

So, you're in CAS, too? Jeff didn't tell me they were letting anyone else in.

Once again, left out in the cold...

I can tell you, though, my wife has seen the original SW trilogy more times than most people.

I have played video games repeatedly and read books several times. BK (before kids) we watched a lot more movies than we do now. With so many great Disney blogs, there isn't time for much more!

Unknown said...


Sorry, I didn't mean to imply that I was a card carrying member of the CAS. Membership requirements are pretty stringent...haha.

I'm just a wanna-be :)

Andrew said...


I find that I develop long relationships with movies that are enduring. I follow you though, because when it comes to art, to each his own. Some people may work on a tech relationship like blogging or video games while others share that thing with their garden or football.

As to the tradition point, all traditions are to evoke a feeling of some sort. Whether it is honor or humility or comfort, traditions like watching A Christmas Story every year are the currency of memories. Have as many as you can hold in your account...

Unknown said...


I never thought of Traditions as the way you stated them. I can see your point about traditions meaning to evoke some kind of emotion.

Unknown said...


Like MouseFest!

Princess Fee said...

I really liked this post - I find that I can watch movies over and over, similarly tv shows, but I find books a different matter - there are very few books that I can read over and over again - and funnily enough, the ones that I can are Disney ones!
In reference to the theme parks, I totally understand and agree with what you were saying - they are a story but they are constantly changing (new rides/attractions, etc). I think what has made me want to visit the parks over and over again has been a number of things, similar to yourself - I've recently got 'into' Disney podcasts; I've started to take my photography more seriously & I've just found the magnificence of Disney-based Blogs...
I also think the fact that theme parks are 3-dimensional, unlike movies - you probably never see the same thing twice in a theme park, but in a movie...
That being said, I do love to watch disney films again nowadays (with the release on dvd) and notice things I did not pick up on when I was a child - or, alternatively, have flash backs to when I was a child and watched that movie for the first time...