GateHouse — There are things in life that by design must be regularly amended and upgraded, if not replaced entirely — things like computers, TVs and Howie Mandel. These are created to be temporary (except Mandel, who cannot die except through the use of dark magic) and users understand that their fleeting nature is part of the deal; when you invest in one, you know that in a few short months you will be re-investing in it again, probably while biffing yourself in the head with a stapler wondering why you could possibly spend this much money on the same object. I’ve had to do this just recently with my phone, some tires and a horse.
Conversely, there are other things that, if they are changed in even the slightest, whisperiest, most insignificant manner, will cause a great deal of the American populace to spot-cease being reasonably calm, obedient “Idol” fanatics and instantly erupt, en masse, into a fierce, primal mob of roaring, pitchfork-and-torches rioting, and they are things like income taxes, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s number of children, the removal of Bobby Knight from anything, the scene where Greedo shoots first, the national anthem at monster truck shows, federal economic stimulus plans and It’s A Small World.
Of those, I am concerning myself today with It’s A Small World, because the stimulus plan has math in it, and because It’s A Small World has just undergone a massive redesign/overhaul out in Disneyland, and judging by the Internet, which is generally a haven for reasoned, thoughtful objection, people from casual fans to those weird 60-year-old Disney fanatics who shower in mouse ears are going Goofy about it. Wait, hold on, I’m sorry (shuffling papers) … that’s a misprint. They’re actually going Pluto. Huh, how about that. The other one made more sense.
According to Disney, the new Small World has merely been “renovated and enhanced,” which are two adjectives, equally meaningless and horrifying, that mean that basically that the entire thing has been exploded with some of that awesome Yosemite Sam-style TNT and rebuilt in a manner in which the sole purpose is to sell Space Mountainloads of DVDs, which is of course what has happened. The new ride finds some of those old dolls dressed in “fashions from around the world,” according to news reports, except that by “around the world” they mean “like Disney characters,” like Aladdin, the girl from Aladdin, Stitch the Hawaiian Alien From Mars Or Something, Tom Hanks a few times, Tinker Bell, William “Refrigerator” Perry, Jar Jar Binks, Beyonce and two of the Jonas Brothers, who are Terminators anyway. In all, 29 Disney or Disney-Pixar characters are now in the ride, which I imagine requires attendees to disembark in a 350,000-square foot gift shop with no noticeable exits.
OK, so sure, on the one hand this is the kind of needless, eye-rollingish and close to obscene sort of quote-fingers progress that no one asked for and fewer people need, like every time they put up a Cracker Barrel in the actual South (guys, listen, they already have stuff like that, they’re called stores and restaurants, and they don’t have to mess with those NAILS YOU CAN’T GET APART NO MATTER HOW LONG YOU TRY).
But having recently been to Disney World in Florida, I find myself in the position of playing the Disney devil’s advocate and saying, yes, It’s A Small World could use something, because right now it’s a 48-minute long aquatic snoozefest with creepy puppets (there’s a go-go dancer somewhere in Japan that I swear every time I ride it looks right at me and mouths “REVENGE”). It’s not as horrible as the Carousel of Progress, but it’s getting there.
Listen, I am all about the Disney magic, with the considerable exception of when it requires you to pay nine non-magical dollars for an extremely non-magical hot dog, but It’s A Small World looks basically like a flooded robot-doll warehouse right now, only with worse music than, um, whatever they usually play in robot-doll warehouses (probably Steely Dan). So sure, upgrade it, fix it, polish it up, do what you have to do. If it makes you feel better, I’d even be OK with Stitch shooting first.