30 Days of Disneyland – Day 10

It’s hard to believe we’ve already finished 10 days in a row at Disneyland. Looking back it seems like such a whirlwind of activity.

For the past two days, we spent time hanging out with other people at the park – two people on Wednesday and one on Thursday. The social aspect was a nice change of pace.

On a typical day, we’re spending about 11 hours at Disneyland. Yesterday we walked 12.2 miles, so the mileage adds up too.

Overall we’re doing a good job of pacing ourselves. All the jarring from the rides can create a lot of tension in the body, especially in the back and shoulders, so doing just 5-10 minutes of stretching each day really helps.

At this point it seems pretty easy to do another 20 days here. It’s just a matter of taking it one day at a time.

Taking Action

One thing I’m really enjoying about this Disneyland experience is that it keeps me in the flow of action. Throughout each day we flow from one activity to the next, and there isn’t much downtime.

I like the stimulation of all this action, and I have a feeling that I’ll take some of this extra energy home with me.

I also feel that being around people all day long is making me feel more extroverted. During the first few days of this experience, I really craved some quiet time alone, but now I don’t feel like I need that so much. I can handle being amongst swarms of people all day, every day.

Disney Values

In the past few days, I’ve been noticing how Disney’s values are expressed through their theme parks. Obviously they express fun, playfulness, happiness, romance, and nostalgia for the past.

For the most part, however, I feel that the values they express are outdated. I keep thinking how much more interesting this experience could be if their values were on the leading edge of society instead of the trailing edge, but I also accept that Disney isn’t that kind of company. I’ve never seen them as a leader when it comes to values; they’re more like a trip to an idealized version of the past. I guess I’m a little disappointed that their values aren’t more edgy and experimental, but this isn’t an area where they seem to take risks.

You could say that the way Disney expresses relationships in their movies and characters is rather childlike and innocent, but I also see these values doing a lot of damage to people when their real-life relationships don’t fit cleanly within the “Once Upon a Time” and “Happily Ever After” brackets. Sexual repression combined with the whole one true love forever fantasy really doesn’t serve people today. It’s disappointing to see that Disney is still implanting such values in children today.

Perhaps the most dysfunctional aspect of Disney values is their treatment of animals, which reflects (and even lags behind) the rest of society in this area. In Disney movies animals are often depicted as cute, lovable characters. If an animal is violent, it’s probably in self-defense or because it’s a villain.

Snow White doesn’t go around hunting rabbits, skinning them, and cooking up rabbit stew for dinner. But if she did, that would be a more honest depiction of what Disneyland actually does.

At the Disney parks, animals are just products for sale. This includes toy animals and real ones. For instance, Disney sells the legs of turkeys at kiosks around the park, so you can literally purchase an animal’s dismembered limb. It’s just another consumable. Rachelle and I usually smell these locations before we see them, and the smell is sometimes nauseating.

Disneyland also sells the body parts of pigs, chickens, cows, fish, and other animals. In one of the gift shops, you can buy Indiana Jones hats made from the skin of cows.

Is this reasonable? It might be if Disney wants its values to include violence and domination over other species. But alas, Snow White’s values are not Disney’s values. So then why does Disney create a vegetarian shark or a Lion King that doesn’t eat other animals? If you’re going to advocate violence towards animals, then why not sell it wholeheartedly instead of pretending?

This is an incongruent and rudderless message to send, especially to children. I can’t help but wonder how awesome Disneyland could be if it actually became a leader in human-animal relations, making all of its parks vegan. Another option would be if Disney shared a more honest message, with Snow White boiling up her animal friends in a stew, Woody and Buzz roasting Hamm for dinner, and Jafar eating a bucket of Iago wings.

It looks to me like Disney wants to be seen as a compassionate company, but they don’t actually want to be a compassionate company. This makes me wonder what it would be like to work for such a company with such a glaring misalignment. Does it feel as incongruent to work there as it does to visit?

I can’t speak to how Disney treats its human workers since I haven’t personally looked into that. But human beings are animals as well, and if it’s okay to treat animals as products, then it’s not much of a leap treat human beings as products as well. There are plenty of humans at the park who are acting as products; you’ll see this in every Disney parade. But is that just for show, or does it run deeper?

By contrast I couldn’t see any misalignment in Disney’s health values since those land squarely and shamelessly on the side of anti-health. I don’t think Disney even pretends to be a health conscious company. Given the vast quantities of junk food laden with artificial ingredients they sell, it would be ridiculous for Disney to even pretend that health is a core value. I think people would just laugh if they tried to do that.

On the other hand, I also respect and even admire Disney for going big. Running its massive theme parks so smoothly must be a huge logistical challenge every day. We all have incongruencies in our values, and it would be a monumental task for a large corporation to create genuine congruency in its values.

Time to get started on Day 11…

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Steve Pavlina

Steve Pavlina is an American self-help author, motivational speaker and entrepreneur. He is the author of the web site stevepavlina.com and the book Personal Development for Smart People.

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