The Disney Utopia

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Five years have passed, and I was again on the Hong Kong Disneyland Line. The little sculptures of cartoon characters and the Mickey-Mouse-head-shaped handlebars and windows no longer thrill me. I’m a young adult now. Five years ago I would be jumping at them, but now I just sit calmly on the blue armchair, watching younger versions of myself doing so.

Disneyland, the place that had been drawing me for the past ten years, lies at the end of this train journey. I dreaded the approaching of this destination. Disneyland was far more than just a theme park for me. Dreams were its base, with magic being its delight and genius being its sparkle. Magic Kingdom I once called it. It was the vastest of all lands, beyond the boundaries of possibilities and the measurement of my own little feet. All the happiness I had longed for for so very long, all those fairy tales and characters I loved dearly would come before my very eyes. But now I had grown up. I had seen and felt enough to know that magic was fake. The earth means to keep us here and no Space Mountain can take us far away. When I’m down no furry Donald Duck would come with a big hug. In a few minutes I will return to Disneyland and smash every single dream I ever had as a young girl, with my own hands.

Knowing the possible outcome perfectly well, I still long for this second journey to Disneyland. I had a faintest hope of being able to lay down all the pressure and solitude upon my mind and be a child once more. I want to be carefree again, hoping that would make me fearless.

Following this hope, I walked on the train. Here and there I saw a thing familiar. There was a golden sculpture of Snow White, one feet tall and labeled Snow White at the base of it. The voices over the radio was that of Mickey Mouse, so shriek and so delightful. I walked on. And then I saw him.

An old black-and-white photo of Walt Disney was hung on the corridor. He was riding a train that is relatively small considering how a grown-up he was. The little train which he squeezed himself into was running merrily on a rail. But when I first caught sight of the photo I saw his eyes. He was gazing at nothing in particular. He probably didn’t even realize there was a camera shooting him. He looked up as if he saw something fascinating in the distance, but I knew he did not see anything afar. What he did see is a vision of a utopia in his mind, one he would spend the rest of his life to on see it come true. As a young boy Walt Disney never had the privilege to go to a theme park near his house. He could only gaze at the fantastic lights forming a dreamy effect from outside the bars. He could only envy the children within on a merry-go-round. He could hear the music but he couldn’t make any sense out of it. He was not the one for whom the music plays. So he had his own Magic Kingdom.

But when he was building his kingdom he had something bigger than himself in mind. A perfect society was his goal. He had insisted on post office, residential areas, grocery shops as well as entertainment facilities in Disneyland. His plan which was disapproved by most of the theme park planners. He never meant Disneyland to be a business. It was his dream.

And then, there I was. The station I saw first, then the Resort Gate, and at last the park. The ground is not covered with dull grey alphalt but decorated with carefully matched colored bricks. Orange, yellow and light purple are the main colors, making the place warm and hospital. The trees and bushes had shapes of animals or screws. On bars, benches and street lights there are Mickey-Mouse heads. The music was a song from Beauty and Beast, and then it changed to the theme song from Aladdin. “I can show you the world, shining , shimmering, splendid.” Splendid it was. Golden was the color in the air. The dark green street lamps had Victorian style and seem old but elegant. The benches were plentiful, whenever you are tired you can pick one and sit. What makes Disneyland special is that everything in it is carefully designed. Nothing was the same with your expectation because everything goes beyond that. All the beauty and comfort you have given up dreaming Disneyland had it built ready for you to enjoy. If anyone had put a little more thought into our streets in “real” life to add a few original fountains and sincerely caring pavilion for pedestrians to rest rather than shop in, no one would have complaint that cities are awful outcomes of human civilization or that cities are cold and isolate humans from one another. What Disney wanted was a world that is full of love and care and ultimately happiness.

Returning to Disneyland, I said to myself, “This is what the world is supposed to be.” Disneyland needs no Mickey-Mouse shapes or pictures of cartoons to stay Disneyland. No matter what color is your skin or what background you come from, you only have to walk in the streets for two minutes to encounter people you’ve never known before saying hello to you and handing you candies or, best of all, smiling at you to know what a impossibly wonderful place you are in. Then you know it’s a utopia-perfect but unreal. But for an instant you forget what the outside world was like, and you thought happily that the world had been this way all the time.

All this started with the man who dared to remain a dreamer. I knew it was not cartoons or entertainment facilities that drew me there. It was very likely that, for the past ten years, I had kept the sparkles of his eyes some where in my memory.





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