Sayonara Amerika, Sayonara Nippon

Scary Disney Rides

Posted in Music,Putting One Foot in Front of the Other by bourdaghs on the February 7th, 2010

It must have been 1998 or thereabouts. Walter was 7 and Sonia was 2, and we were living in Los Angeles. One winter Sunday morning, we got up early and drove down to Anaheim, timing it so we arrived at Disneyland just as the park opened. The thought, of course, was to beat the crowds.

We rush in through the entrance gate and there is no one, I mean NO ONE, there. I tell the kids, quick, let’s jump onto as many rides we can before the long waiting lines form. I don’t care what rides: just anything, while there is no waiting. Without thinking, we rush into the Peter Pan attraction. It isn’t a good choice: we end up riding through the dark with mechanical pirates popping up and threatening to attack us. Sonia breaks down into hysterical wailing. Even big brother Walter is a little shaken up. Who would have thought a Peter Pan ride could be so intense?

After that, Sonia is leery of any rides. It takes a good deal of coaxing and persuading, but we get her to ride the spinning teacups, the flying Dumbos, and one or two others. And then I think: “It’s A Small World.” What could be safer?

By now the park is pretty crowded. We have to stand in line at “It’s A Small World” for maybe twenty, thirty minutes. All the while, I’m telling Sonia how much she’s going to like this one. Finally, we get into the little boat. We start moving forward through the channel, slow and gentle. Everything’s fine. But then we enter into a dark room. Sonia tenses up. Next we turn the corner and are suddenly surrounded on all sides by hundreds of little horrific dolls, all singing in diabolic voices, “It’s a small word after all…,” all of them swiveling in this robotic jerky back-and-forth movement. Sonia screams in terror for the rest of the ride, completely inconsolable.

I’ve learned this week that Sonia isn’t the only one to get freaked out about “It’s A Small World.” Greg Kot in the Chicago Tribune interviewed rising UK singer Ebony Bones this week. He asks about her striking look, and she describes her style as being like “a dark Disney ride.” Kot pursues this issue further:

Did she ever experience a dark Disney ride?

“Absolutely! My parents took me when I was 9 and it was vile. I hated it. The ‘It’s a Small World’ ride terrified me: All these kids from strange countries staring at me. I wanted to jump off the ride.”

I don’t know if St. Vincent had any bad Disney experiences while growing up. She seems pretty well adjusted. Anyhow, I really like what she does to the Beatles’ “Dig a Pony.”

One Response to 'Scary Disney Rides'

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  1. Linda said,

    on February 8th, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    Thanks for sharing the St. Vincent video–it’s great. Shoot, she’s playing at the El Rey tonight, too.