The blog of Richard Thompson, caricaturist, creator of "Cul de Sac," and winner of the 2011 Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year.

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.


Brian said...

And don't forget when you saw the sewer lids at Disney World and you starting yelling "A cartoonist did this, all of this! The power! The POWER!" And the baby changing station with the baby racing out on a harness...

richardcthompson said...

Ha! I'd forgotten the baby, though I remember the manhole cover with the little image of Mickey in the center of it. It was the only Mickey I saw at EPCOT. Just a little reminder that He is omnipresent, even if it's only in the sewer.

paul bowman said...

I thought I was more or less the only person out there (okay, and my mom) who found thrill rides less than thrilling.

Truthfully, you can't get me near one of those 'parks' any more, even to watch people -- though I guess it is hard to beat for that.

Ah, and I don't have kids. There especially amusement is so much less developed a requirement in my life than for many, I sometimes forget.

Stacy Curtis said...

I love that "Baby Shaker" sign hidden amongst the rollercoasters.

I think I have a "Heavin' Steven" t-shirt in the back of my closet somewhere.

Mike Lester said...

My kids are in college now but I remember going to Epcot and Disney. I remember being there not in terms of days but in dollars. I think Epcot was invented for people who will never or have no intention of ever going abroad. Why would you? Walk 10 feet in either direction and you can see people in leiderhosen or sombreros.

personally, I don't do rides. Veritgo inducement and disorientation do not equal amusement for me. And who decided that splashing people w/ stagnant water from a log flume equals keepsake memory cherishing moments w/ the kids? And who walks around gnawing on a turkey leg from King Arthurs snak-hut? Answer: Iowans.

Kid Shay said...

Were those roller coasters designed by Frank Gehry?

This is what you think about when you marry an architect.

bloggeranonymous said...

Umm... I love Disneyland.