Tuesday, July 1, 2014
I thought I was a serious Disney fan. Turns out, I'm just a pixie duster with mildly naughty aspirations.
That's okay, though, especially since I landed in the world of warped Disney fic--that is, stories set around WDW, often involving rather adult themes, such as drug use, trespassing, physical violence, and assorted mayhem. My portal to the chaos was Leonard Kinsey's The Dark Side of Disney, a non-fiction, sort of Alice-down-the-rabbit-hole look at the World:
Now, I've been to WDW six or seven times in the last twenty years, and I must admit that while I love it, I do often wonder about what I'm not seeing, or not knowing, if you will. What other dimensions am I missing?
Apparently, a lot. Utilidors, ticket scams, the truth behind the cast members' (what Disney calls its employees) cheery, semi-permanent smiling faces. Aaaand more. Dark Side is essentially a tourist guide to WDW, though many of "tips" aren't for the vast majority of travelers, but for those seeking a... different perspective on the happiest place on earth.
Kinsey wrote Dark Side after having spent a good part of his misspent youth at WDW; he grew up nearby, and when other teens are sneaking into movie theaters, he was attempting to sneak into DisneyWorld. Kinsey can tell you the best rides to go on while stoned, where to attempt a furtive grope--and more--and how to save money on food. Yeah, how did I not know you could get groceries delivered to your frickin' room?
I loved it, not just the tips and advice, but the endlessly entertaining misadventures of Kinsey and his friends. He's got great "voice," as they say, but be forewarned: the man drops f-bombs like my neighbor's oak drops helicopters all over my lawn. Yo.
Wow, I did say I was a pixie duster with aspirations, right? Or maybe just one who likes to live vicariously through far more daring, and interesting, people, people like Leonard Kinsey.
Uh, it should go without saying that the entire book The Dark Side of Disney is NSFW. Language, subject matter, pics, you name it. And a couple of those included links, whew! I have been educated, yes, sir, I have.
After Dark Side, Kinsey wrote an entirely fictional book called Our Kingdom of Dust. Blaine McKinnon is disillusioned, depressed, and filthy rich. He decides to return to Walt Disney World, a place where his happiest childhood memories were made.
And here, I relate. Personal story: my entire childhood, I wanted to go to Walt Disney World, but my parents couldn't afford it. When I got my first job at age 14, washing dishes in a restaurant, I knew that I wanted to save up for a trip. At 18, newly graduated from high school, I was able to do just that.
And it was everything I expected and more. I fell in love, hard, and I will never forget that trip. It was 1990, the era of Horizons at WDW, and it spoke to me and filled my heart to bursting.
I've been back a number of times since, but I will say this: I will never recapture that initial overwhelming joy. Yes, it is my favorite place to vacation, and yes, I adore it as much as ever, but as they say...
You can never go home again.
Someone tell that to Blaine McKinnon.
Blaine sets up camp at one of the Epcot resorts in a swanky suite, and immediately makes a few acquaintances of dubious character. In fact, the book is filled with colorful characters, all of whom are making vastly poorer choices than Blaine. Not the least of those choices is their drug use, a designer drug called "Pixie Dust," which recreates the feeling of being in the parks, that incredible joy, when one cannot be there. He becomes intricately involved with this group, and very quickly, things reel out of hand.
OKOD is a fast read, and capitalizes on Kinsey's unique voice. Exciting, it never fails to hold the reader's attention. And of course, it's loaded with atmosphere--WDW is as much a character as any of the humans in this book.
I'm a bit on the fence with this one due to some editing issues, which honestly, seem like first-time author issues. It's stuff I can grant a pass on. Kinsey has talent and voice, and you can tell he's really learning to hone his craft.
Where he's strongest, though, is in the unwritten lessons he's imparting, about learning to accept your past, and more than that, to accept each day as it is. Not all of them are going to be pixie dust. Some are going to be Tinkerbell's asshole after a Taco Bell run. And whether it's drugs or, in my case, yearning to be in DisneyWorld because that's "where I'm happiest," you need to realize that it's all in you. Nothing can fill that void.
My own reflections sometimes made this an uncomfortable read. So, hey, the guy swears a lot. And the writing is sometimes a tad rough. It's rare that a book really makes you think and feel. This one did.
Kinsey does have a new book out, Habst and the Disney Saboteurs. You can listen to the Creepy Kingdom podcast with guest, Leonard Kinsey, and hear him read some of it. I wanted to keep listening! Yes, I've got the book, so I'll be reading that soon. And Kinsey's a great guest; sometimes, podcasts make me cringe, and I have to turn them off, but this one was intelligent and interesting and, well, made me want to buy the guy a tequila some night and keep him talking.
By the way, there's a whole universe of "Dark Siders," as I call them. You start with Dark Side, and you're going down the rabbit hole too. See you there.