The questionable charms of Disney World

One television show that kept me up at night was Westworld.

The show is about Westworld, an amusement park/insulated world for the rich, in which humanoid robots are manipulated and forced into story lines of the human creators’ liking. The robots exist to serve the guests, who can do anything they please. Killing or raping robots is standard practice – if you can get away with your violent instincts in a space that encourages you to do so, why not give in. The robots’ memories are erased frequently, so they continue to live out the loop written for them. There is much more to say about this show, which I might do later. It is a fantastic thought exercise about how we create sentient beings just so we can behave terribly to them with no consequence.

When in Orlando, I spent two days in Disney World and came away feeling we are not very far from Westworld. Disney is a whole world by itself, shut off from the outside, a place you get to by their train or ferry. Disney pushes you to forget the outside world and exist in the vast spaces they maintain with great care. Rides aren’t just rides here, they are¬†Experiences with effects that intend to immerse you – sounds, lights, animatronics, 3D projections, robots. They even built that castle we recognize, with fireworks going over it just like in the movies. Mickey Mouse, Cinderella, the princesses from Frozen – these are all people you can meet. Families with children stand in line for hours to make real the fantasy that movies peddle – the parades, characters, and songs help them in their quest. Employees are called Cast Members, and they can never frown. They aim to make guests happy. Disney World is not careless about wanting to create the Happiest Place on Earth, an island where childish dreams and curiosity about magic could come true.

If you have watched Westworld, you might think I am creepy for making this comparison. My brother called me weird and insisted I do not ruin the experience for others. But I came back home and performed a Google Search: Disney World is like Westworld. Look what I found here.

P.S. I suspect I might have gone over the edge after a ride modelled on Finding Nemo. I couldn’t decide if the dolphin in the aquarium was real or not. Alarming.

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