Secret Pop

Oct 31, 2002

"I got chills. They're multiplying."

I guess it's part of the cosmic balance of things. Disney went all out to dress up the Haunted Mansion with a Nightmare Before Christmas theme -- which, if you haven't seen it, is much scarier and more of a sensory explosion than the original attraction by an extra-long mile...the kind of mile that is actually two or three miles -- but they also lame-ified Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln by adding this 3-D sound experience and the whole Journey to Gettysburg nonsense. It's gross and gimmicky and riddled with anachronistic humor (which is a precarious death nell for every cool bit of nostalgia still lurking at Disneyland), and the animatronic Mr. Lincoln doesn't even sit down anymore. He just stands in front of a picturesque sky and delivers his speech. If his jaw clacks at all, you miss it, because of the (suspiciously unsanitized) headphones you're forced to wear. They even got rid of the sentimental and moralistic folk music slide show with that ballad about two brothers, one of whom wore blue and the other of whom wore grey. I should have known it would suck. When you first enter the auditorium, the park employee instructs you to "pretend" that you're Private Somebody Cunningham, a soldier in the Union Army. Holy lord -- for the fee they charge you to enter the park, you'd think you'd be able to avoid "pretending" and actually rely on the Imagineers to work it all out for you. Next thing you know, they'll be ushering you into a dark auditorium and telling you to close your eyes and wish really hard for something entertaining to happen. And they'll call it something like "Imaginoventionamatronic," and it will be the first place you go when you enter the park to grab your Fast Pass and secure your future pleasure, proving that America knows nothing from fun.

In the new Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, you're supposed to pretend you're meeting the president. Then you're supposed to pretend you just got your leg blown off. Then you're supposed to pretend that you chose to live because the president told you to. It's a good thing my imagination is so keyed up. Otherwise I might have been bored and confused. Instead, as soon as I left the auditorium, I went and married a beautiful, Boston-educated southern belle and set about the business of rebuilding my life in the tumultuous post-Civil War world. I keep a daguerreotype of my leg above the hearth as a reminder of what we, as a nation, lost. And I hope that, when my children are old enough to choose for themselves, sometime around 1881 or 1882, that they will use their democratic liberties to keep our nation free from oppression and war.

That whole bit was a lie, by the way. I don't have any children. And I keep the leg picture in my bedroom so as not to freak out the guests.

I had actually planned to take a small nap during the Lincoln deal, which is something I usually do in there. But I was so jarred by the changes that I couldn't really relax. Especially during the part where they simulate Mr. Lincoln whispering in your left ear in far too familiar a way. I was on my guard for him to actually thrust his tongue in there at one point. Back up, Abe. A soldier needs a little personal space, if you know what I mean.

But I should reiterate that the seasonally-revamped Haunted Mansion is the bee's knees and worth far more than the price I paid to see it, which was nothing. Also, I didn't know until today that they sold turkey legs at Disneyland, which they apparently do. And apparently they are a satisfying snack. I didn't eat one, but I saw the foil bags they came in, and they looked shiny and insulating -- proof that their contents were warm and possibly delicious.

I hope I'm not catching a cold.

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