Thursday, August 21, 2008
Long as we're talking about places of enforced mass fun, can I bring up amusement parks? I have a love/hate relationship wih them. I love going to them, mostly for people-watching and fried food, but I really hate rides, unless they're "amusing" rather than "thrilling". We've got four or five parks within driving distance, spread between Hershey Park to the north and KIng's Dominion to the south, and we hit one of them once a year, maybe. We're evenly divided in our interests; my older daughter and I stay on the ground, my wife and younger daughter get on the rides.
I've only been to the Grand Behemoth of amusement parks, Disney World, twice. Once eight years ago with my family and in-laws, and that was a lot of fun, and once, when I was about 25 with some friends, and that was ridiculous, though fun. Both times it was around Thanksgiving, and when we went as a family it was so crowded you couldn't swing a mouse, never mind a cat. But when I went with friends in the early 80s Disney World was, well, not empty, but pretty sparsely attended, so much so that when we got on the Jungle Cruise Ride, it was just the five of us and the tour guide in the little boat.
The tour guide was only slightly younger than us, and we gave him a hard time and kidded around with him because he wouldn't deviate from his script. I don't remember if he actually told the "my mother irons and my father steals" joke, but most of his patter was from one of Henny Youngman's older routines, like he'd been given a list of acceptable jokes that were approved back around 1928.
Finally one of us, probably Dana, was asking the poor guy what it was like working for Disney and his Tour Guide facade cracked. He said (and I'm paraphrasing from memory), "We get an hour break in the employee lounge and the employee lounge is RIGHT NEXT to the Tiki Room, and you go in there and try to relax and you hear this 'Tiki Tiki Tiki' coming through the walls the whole time". I don't know if you've ever seen the Tiki Room, but it's kind of a big nervous breakdown in animatronic form and the thought of these beleagured Disneyites trying to get some R&R anywhere in its vicinity was almost too much to bear. I think we all said wow that's rough, and slapped him on the back or something. But anyway, he shook himself and returned to his Tour Guide duties and when he emptied his pistol blanks into the rubber hippo I think he was mentally taking aim at the damn birds in the Tiki Room.
So like I said, I go to amusement parks to people-watch. Extreme conditions always bring out the most interesting responses. And unrelatedly, the tangle of rollercoasters in the second panel was maybe the most fun thing I've ever gotten to draw.