Posts Tagged ‘disney’

Photo: Vitor Fontes/Unsplash.
Abandoned amusement park in Berlin, Germany.

In June, I read an amusing mystery in which an abandoned theme park on an island off the Delaware coast played a major role. The silent structures made a nice, creepy setting for a complicated story. Abandoned parks are inherently mysterious.

Brigit Benestante at National Public Radio recently shared some thoughts on theme parks of yesteryear.

“There’s something romantic, a bit sad, and strangely enthralling about the failure of a theme park,” she says. “Growing up in Houston, the memory of the AstroWorld amusement park loomed like a ghost. The park officially shut its doors a day before my 10th birthday in 2005, and it was soon demolished to make way for a parking lot.

“Something about the sight of abandoned and dilapidated theme parks was fascinating — and apparently I wasn’t alone.

“As it turns out, there’s an entire community of people captivated with defunct, abandoned or retired theme parks and attractions around the world. This community is inextricably linked with the broader abandoned community — enthusiasts of deserted structures of all kinds, including closed malls, shuttered Blockbusters, and crumbling Gilded Age theaters.

“My first encounter with this community was in 2014 when I discovered the YouTube channel Bright Sun Films, run by Ontario documentarian Jake Williams. Williams’ content largely centers around abandoned or canceled businesses, concepts and, yes, theme parks. It was here that I first watched a video about Disney’s infamous abandoned water park, River Country.

“River Country opened at Disney World in the 1970s as the world’s first fully themed water park. After closing in 2001, the park sat abandoned for years.

Dried-up pools, slides to nowhere and themed attractions overtaken by the elements allured urban explorers.

“Although Disney tried its best to keep people out, explorers and photographers found creative ways to break in, sharing photos that looked post-apocalyptic. I was hooked.

“I started watching other YouTube channels dedicated to amusement park failures, most notably, Defunctland. Defunctland, created and hosted by Kevin Perjurer, has videos covering all aspects of defunct amusement: former rides, hotels, parks, concepts and ticketing systems.

“One of Perjurer’s most recent videos, Disney’s FastPass: A Complicated History, is more than 90 minutes long and is truthfully one of the most well-rounded and comprehensive investigations I’ve ever seen. …

“So what makes this content about abandoned structures so fascinating to so many people?

” ‘For some, it can represent the conclusion of their childhood, but for me, I think it’s the unprecedented and truly surreal sight of seeing something that had been enjoyed by so many people just decay away,’ said Williams of Bright Sun Films. ‘People will always have fond memories of these places, and the idea that in some tangible way they still exist — well, that’s a really powerful and poignant concept I love exploring.’ …

“The pedestrian bridge I remember crossing each time I visited AstroWorld is one of the few original structures that remains. I have vivid memories of crossing over the bridge that connected AstroWorld’s parking lot, situated on one side of Houston’s South Loop freeway, to the main attractions on the other side. I remember seeing the roller coasters and flags in the distance as my heart raced with anticipation.

“There’s something so fascinating about exploring the life and demise of theme parks — the familiar taste of nostalgia, the fact that everything has an end, the unforgiving churn of capitalism and the loss of beloved structures.

“I can’t say what draws me to these videos and discussions. I suspect that it’s a way to properly say goodbye to something that so many people once loved, as Williams said; a way to honor the things that once brought crowds joy in the form of delighted screams and deep-fried treats.”

More at NPR, here. Please share any special memories you have of theme parks, defunct or ongoing. I have always been afraid of the rides so my visits to such parks is more along the line of the Minnesota Renaissance Festival, where I once bought a whisk broom I still use.

Read Full Post »


Although I’ve always been a fan of Dickens, his abjectly self-sacrificing women could get pretty cringe-worthy at times. Which is why I wondered how the character of Madeline would be handled in the Royal Shakespeare Company dramatization of Nicholas Nickleby back in 1980.

Madeline is at the altar with a miserable old codger she is about to marry to save her invalid father from penury when her father’s remorse causes a fatal heart attack. Saved by the bell.

But what would a 20th century audience make of Madeline?

Interestingly, the actor played Madeline as a mild but strong woman who was not being forced to a desperate act by anything but her love for her father and her sense of herself and her values. She immediately stepped away when the dreadful choice was no longer necessary.

Hmm. It’s hard to describe. But I was really impressed by the actor’s ability to convey a more modern woman without changing any of the words in the Victorian novel.

Meanwhile, at this year’s Women’s March, a group of 13-year-old girls transformed the typically self-abjugating Disney princesses into 21st century feminists. That caught the attention of BuzzFeed reporter Brianna Sacks and ultimately Teen Vogue.

De Elizabeth at Teen Vogue wrote, “Huge crowds gathered in cities all over the world [January 20] for the second annual Women’s March, and among the masses of people were plenty of colorful signs and creative outfit choices.

“One group of 13-year-old girls at the Los Angeles march took their posters and their wardrobe to the next level with a Disney princess theme.

“BuzzFeed News reporter Brianna Sacks shared photos of the Disney crew on Twitter, writing: ‘These 13-year-olds took “damsels in distress” and turned it around.’

“In the pictures, you can see the six girls dressed as various princesses — including Aurora and Belle — and carrying signs with powerful messages related to the classic fairy tales.

” ‘Bright young women, sick of swimmin’,’ one sign read, in an homage to The Little Mermaid‘s Ariel. ‘I will not let it go’ was the slogan of the girl dressed as Elsa from Frozen, while Peter Pan’s Tinkerbell carried a poster saying, ‘Pixie dust won’t fix this.’

“When Sacks asked the girls why they chose to dress as these iconic characters, [Ava/Sleeping Beauty] replied: ‘We’re sick of being seen as princesses, so we made our own take on it.’ ”

I am not surprised to see Teen Vogue pick this up: the magazine has become quite a cultural phenomenon in the last year, speaking truth to power. Check out its impressive array of topics, here.

PS. Kevin’s daughter is the lovely, new-world mermaid.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: