In this paper, I will discuss the ³The Family Vacation² in comparison to the typical Swedish Disney experience and ³Working at the Rat² as it relates to my own personal experience in Disneyıs employ.
Travel to the United States for Swedes is very expensive. I have done a lot of research how to get the best price. Similair to what, Susan Wills did in here article and discovered it was hard to a good price ticket. The average plane ticket from Sweden during traveling season is approximately 2000-3000 American dollars, almost twice as expensive as a ticket from Europe. This is due largely to Swedenıs high tax on leisure travel, and the result for most Swedes is that when traveling to America, they try to see as much as possible. There are for Swedes a few ³must-see² American destinations, including New York City, San Francisco, the ³Wild West,² and, of course, Disney World. As you will notice, Disney is the only specific tourist attraction on this list, and it earns that distinction because to Swedes it is so symbolically American, and on our visits we want to feel like ³Outrageous American Cowboys² and have an all-in-one American Experience.
In ³The Family Vacation,² Susan Will notes that most families [or individual] vacationers ³weigh the relatively expensive convenience of a package that includes air travel, accommodations at a Disney resort hotel, admission to all the Disney attractions. convenient transportation to and from the park.² Which we all do when we go on vacation trips. I tried to get a package that had the hotel in walking distance and a low cost ticket into the park. However, I discovered the more convenience the more expensive it got. A trip to Disney World alone can end up costing a Swedish family nearly 15,000 American dollars. This includes the hotel cost, food, souvenirs, and any other essentials cost for travel. While this is very expensive, ironically, it is only half of what it would cost to fly to Istanbul, Crete, and other tropical southern Europe resorts because the Swedish government sees less what you can learn by traveling to these places than to America.
Swedes learn is that shopping when you travel is almost a crucial duty for the
Western tourist. A few have even
stated the belief that when you shop in a foreign land you learn how to become
one of them by tasting their cuisine and wearing their clothes. At Disney World, this attitude is even
stronger because Swedes see the stereotypical American clothes as having the
Disney logo, which is one the worldıs most recognized symbols next to the
Olympic rings. So when at Disney
World, many Swedish tourists shop like crazy until they become ³true American
capitalists² who can buy their way to becoming American. Upon their return to Sweden, they use
their new Disney wardrobe to show off that they have been to the USA. I myself
have been victim from shopping at Disney and hoping to look like an ³American
90210 kid,² when I was younger.
Susan Will suggests that Disney World/EPCOT gives Americans the opportunity to shop from one culturally coded geography to another. However, Swedes do not see this when visiting Disney. Instead, they see Disney/EPCOT as part of the American ³melting pot,² since many Americans proudly claim they are from one heritage or another. In their more general view of the United States, Swedes see that the much of the architecture and customs are inherited by the Worldly culture and therefore become American. At Disney, Swedes find it amusing much of the architecture is copied from Europe, such as from mad King Ludwigıs castle in Bavaria, called Neushwanstein.
EPCOTıs international showcase does not feature a Swedish pavilion. When asked to be a part of the
showcase, the Swedish Government refused because it would have required a 10
million dollar deposit and for Sweden to be responsible for building its own
pavilion. From Prime Minister Olaf
Palme lamented the decision, saying, ³this could have been a great chance for
Sweden to be on a World Stage.² This has caused Swedes a great deal of
consternation over the years, especially because Norway said yes, giving them
instant recognition throughout the world.
I myself have noticed the difference. For instance people often get
confused when I say I am from Sweden, replying, ³ah Switzerland,² or ³donıt you
mean Norway, like at Epcot?² Especially American people can now recite the
capital and numerous interesting facts about Norway while remaining unclear
about Sweden. Steven Watts
says, ³[Disney can help a] company to become very [wealthy] and world
recognition on by having Disney logos.²
The same is true for a country.
While Disney World is a very popular place for tourists from all over the world, most of whom have a wonderful time there, I have also seen and heard some very unhappy stories. For instance, my ex fiancé, who is Japanese, had a very mixed experience at Disney. When she was very young, she visited with her family, and she was very excited to meet Mickey Mouse and the entire Disney cast. When she finally met them, however, no one would pay attention to her or give her a hug, with the notable exception of Tigger. Tigger came up and tapped her on her shoulder, gave her a hug, took a photo with her, and gave her his autograph (he had bad handwriting). Ever since then she the only Disney products she will buy are ones with Tigger logos. To this day, she still buys Tigger dolls, blankets, and any other Tigger logos she can find. She accuses the Disney characters of being racist and ignoring the non-American looking children. She said her Japanese friends had similar experiences by having the Disney cast ignore them. It is not true that the Disney characters are racist, but the people in the costumes might sometimes be. In any case, both articles are correct in their analysis that creating good experience at Disneyland increases the sale of merchandise and we get hallucinated from believing that the characters are real.
similar to what Jane Kuenz describes in her article, I myself saw and heard
some very unusual stories such as beaten bodies found in bushes, stealing,
armed robbery, prostitution, Disney characters getting high (cocaine and speed)
so they perform longer, sex behind the scenes, rapes, smashed windshields, and
many more things. Some stories I found were true while others seemed a little
too extraordinary, but from hearing them, Disney transformed in my mind from a
fantasy land to a modern metropolitan city with out of control crime.
It is very true that Disney does have their own set of laws similar to city ordinance (such as no spitting), as well as banks, hospitals (or clinics), and many other things of a real city. Given the number of employees and the parkıs clean image, this is perhaps not surprising. What constantly amazed me while working at Disney, however, was that I kept seeing tourists think they were indestructible. For example, I once saw teenager climb a light post and dive head first, probably thinking he could fly. Instead, he fell straight down to the ground and busted all his front teeth. This was not true only of children but of adults, too. ³After all, this is Disney,² they think, and they allow themselves to engage in behavior they would never do elsewhere. They go off by themselves, dangle from and climb various structures, and generally take risks that are no longer regarded as such. Karen Klugman maintains that our ³critical capacities are replaced with childlike trust² (POD) at Disneyland, and parks employee Larry Holmes, agrees. ³Guests get lost in their own world,² he remarks. ³I canıt tell you the number of timesat least once weekemployees routinely save someone from serious injuryand sometimes itıs so subtle the guest doesnıt even know it happened.² (Steeves)
In my experience, I have found that Disney can be a very exciting place to visit as a tourist. In both cases, the best approach is not to analyze everything and look for things that are wrong or erroneous. As Michio Kaku, professor of theoretical physics says, ³it is not fun for me to analyze the science fiction movies and try to find the laws of physics cannot be violated. I leave my physics brain at home and enjoy the movie² (Visions 2002). The same was true for me when I worked at Disney. I left my artistry brain at home and took only the kinds of photos they wanted to see. However, there are some things that are possible to ignore. Disney is a company that is trying to make the most money possible, and therefore we must make the judgment that Disney is will do anything to maintain its image and protect its profits. This is often bad news for the employee, but because Disneyıs success is so dependent upon customer relations, it is often good news for the average visitor.