Wow. So we’re in Disney World.
The rushed frenzy of the past couple of days has me yearning – desperately – for a quiet place, a good cup of coffee and some art materials.
I want to write… I want to draw… I want to think.
I want a bit of space and time to process everything I’ve seen and experienced over the past couple of days.
But Disney World isn’t a place of relaxing or peace or gathering one’s thoughts… Disney World is a place of non-stop, frenzied movement and noise. It’s like everyone here wants to extract inch of worth out of their Disney ticket. We’re all paying for the experience that is Disney… and it’s expensive… and we feel uncomfortable if we stop to rest (because isn’t rest… like… wasting money?). After all, there’s a massive kingdom to explore and an impossible number of things to see, do and experience.
Apart from the rides (and they really are very, very good!)… there are shows, parades, marching bands, fireworks displays, musical fountains, singers, jugglers, performers, live bands, interactive experiences, character greetings, games, acrobat shows…. and there’s swimming and playgrounds and adventure golf and water parks, shops, arcades, giant lego displays, movie theatres, treasure hunts… I could go on and on…. the (quality! – let me stress quality) entertainment options are endless.
It feels – in a sense – that we South Africans are plebs from another planet.
When I was growing up, my experience of “rides” was the annual rattling, rusted “Fun Fair” at the Rand Easter Show. That’s what I grew up with: the Big Dipper, the Looping Star, the House of Horrors… (and the vomit-inducing Roter).
The most my kids have been exposed to (when it comes to rides) is the worm ride at Lifestyle Garden Centre: a shabby fibre-glass worm that goes around in circles on a rattling parking lot track…
When I visited Disney World for the first time (at the age of 16) – I was absolutely gob-smacked by what was on offer. Splash Mountain… Big Thunder Mountain Railroad… Space Mountain… they made the Big Dipper and the Looping Star seem… ridiculous. Laughable.
The Haunted Mansion made The House of Horrors seem so feeble… so poorly executed… so lacking in creativity or excellence. It made the House of Horrors seem… embarrassing (although when we were kids, it was one of our favourite rides).
One of the things that Disney World does, I guess, is make you a bit dissatisfied with what’s on offer at home. I’m still trying to decide whether that’s a good or a bad thing.
One of the first shows we experienced in Disney was Festival of the Lion King at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
This (spectacular!) show is performed 3 times a day… every day… and they have the whole thing waxed to a fine art of perfection. Nothing could be faulted. The costumes were breathtaking… the performers (and their beautiful singing voices) – awe-inspiring… the sets had me gaping like one of those cartoon characters you see when their jaws literally drop on to the floor… the acrobats performed flawless stunts… the lights… the sound… were (for lack of a better word): perfect. Perfect!
When you go back home after experiencing such excellence… it makes other music and dance productions seem rather weak in comparison.
Our South African stuff seems so… I dunno… “meh”.
And again – I’m not sure if this is a good or a bad thing (for me to feel this way). It’s probably wrong to compare – and I realise that Disney has a small army of people – many of them the best in their respective industries (and a couple million dollars)… and most South African productions simply don’t have this kind of money or manpower.
But – we also seem to be so… satisfied… with our mediocre offerings. We pat each-other on the back at our Film, Theatre and Music Awards ceremonies – and everyone seems rather proud of their… mediocrity (and I’m obviously not inferring that everything that comes out of our creative industry is mediocre and sub-standard… but a LOT of it certainly is. And wonder why so few people seem to be pushing for something more… )
Anyway. Food for thought. Perhaps comparison can be both good and bad. Sometimes, comparison makes you feel really shitty about yourself – and instead of embracing your own uniqueness – you constantly try to measure up to a magical expectation (and either burn yourself out in the process or sink in to a deep depression). And – in this sense, I think comparison can be damaging and unhealthy.
But – on the other hand – doesn’t comparison PUSH us? Or INSPIRE us to better ourselves? Perhaps – if we can sometimes see what’s out there… see what’s possible… see what other folk are up to – it can motivate us to up our game and be better at what we do?
I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.