Are you sick of hearing that Matt, Sean and I are in Disney World for 10 days straight? Well tough patooties, that’s exactly where we are. Disney World has a Fast Pass program where 30 days before your trip, you wake up at 7am every day for 10 days straight to find out that all the rides you want to go on are already off-sale as far as Fast Passes go (stay on Disney property and you get a 60 day head start) and you’ll have to brave the long, long lines if you want to ride. The new Star Wars ride, Smuggler’s Run, in Galaxy’s Edge is so highly anticipated there aren’t any Fast Passes for it at all. If you want it bad enough you’ll wait the 120-240 minutes, and you’ll do it happily. Animal Kingdom’s Pandora also sees very high wait times, with its Flight of Passage ride (where you ride a banshee) that’s never under a 90 minute wait, and has been as high as 4 hours (with people still joining the line) – those Fast Passes are nearly impossible, even 18 months after its opening. And over in Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios, the Slinky Dog Dash roller coaster is another impossible Fast Pass 16 months later. But these rides are all relatively new, and they’re attached to relatively new Disney franchises. Peter Pan’s Flight, however, has continued to delight crowds and attract long lines at Magic Kingdom since the ride opened in 1971 (based on a movie from 1953!); over in Disney Land, it is one of the few original attractions operating since opening day in 1955. It’s a rail-suspended dark ride intended to make you feel as if you are soaring over scenes from the movie, not unlike Pan himself, although we take a pixie-dusted pirate ship. Even the queue has an impressive level of detail, which makes that wait time just a little more palatable.
The movie, of course, is an enduring classic, though I confess I was pretty much there just for the dog, Nana. It’s about the Darling siblings – Michael and John love to listen to elder sister Wendy’s stories about Peter Pan, and act them out, sometime rather boisterously, annoying their father. But one lucky, magical night, they are visited by the boy legend himself, who brings along his friend Tink. A liberal application of pixie dust and the Darling children learn to fly, and they do so all the way to Never Land. John and Michael take off on an adventure with the Lost Boys and Wendy spends time with Peter, driving Tinker Bell a little mad with jealousy. Ultimately, though, they all end up in the same place: as captives on Captain Hook’s pirate ship.
It’s an interesting story about childhood and imagination with a very complex protagonist. Peter Pan is cold, and a little unlikable. He’s jealous and controlling and he tends to want what’s best for himself. J.M. Barrie originally wrote him as a young sociopath, so I guess Disney’s not so far off the mark. But that means that other characters tend to overshadow him in his own story. Captain Hook, for one, a dashing villain flamboyant in dress. He was once a very serious and successful pirate but after being somehow bested by a boy (okay, a boy who can fly – I suppose that’s an advantage at any age), he lost his hand and forged a new identity (though I do wonder what his name was before it was Hook, which is surely a nickname for it is far too great a coincidence). Hook is obsessed with revenge and has left the pirating life in order to chase his obsession – and all the crew on his boat goes along with this with surprising devotion considering he kills them routinely merely for being annoying. But for all the blackness in his heart, Hook is also plagued by the crocodile who ate his hand. That croc’s got a taste for him and won’t relent, following him everywhere, tormenting him with his tick-tock-tick-tock. Captain Hook is unraveling psychologically but still manages to plant bombs and kidnap children while maintaining a very effective plank.
I’d also argue that Tinker Bell herself outshines Peter, an impressive feat considering she doesn’t even talk. For all her cuteness, she’s not overly nice, at least not at first. She’s mean and she’s jealous and she’s hot-headed. Only when she and Peter go through some shit together does she have a change of heart. But let’s not forget that she does try to have Wendy STONED. To death! But today Tinker Bell is her own pixie, transcending the movie which made her famous to become the unofficial mascot of the Disney company. She stars in her own movies, she has a 5.5″ waxwork figure at Madame Tussauds, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She’s also the highlight of Magic Kingdom’s fireworks show – check it out, a real person actually
ziplines flies down from the castle every single night, showing her cute little green underpants to the roughly 20K people gathered down below.
A woman named Tiny Kline did the stunt first, at Disneyland in 1961. She was 4’10, weighed 98 pounds and was 71 years old. Yes, you read that right. Today Tinker Bell must still be under 5 feet tall, and weigh no more than 105 pounds, but her age, I suspect, is rather younger. After all, form Cinderella’s Castle in Magic Kingdom, before her flight even starts she’ll have to climb stairs and a ladder 189 feet up and then crawl out a window that’s only 4 feet tall. On her cue, a tech person literally shoves her out the window, and depending on how hard the push is, and what the wind is doing, she flies anywhere from 20-35 mph. It takes 30 seconds for her to reach her destination, where 2 tech people literally catch her with a net. BUT, sometimes the wind is going in the opposite direction, which is a bummer. In that case, Tinker Bell gets stuck somewhere along the line. Protocol is: she first turns off the batteries that keep her illuminated so the guests can’t see her. Then she’ll have to pull herself hand over fist the rest of the way down. Once she reaches the tech guys, she throws them a rope and they pull her down. It’s a lot of work for 30 seconds worth of magic, but that’s what makes Disney so special, and it’s why the fireworks show never fails to make me cry AND I DON’T EVEN LIKE FIREWORKS.
If you check out our Twitter feed (@AssholeMovies) you might just catch me in my Tinker Bell dress eating a Peter Pan float or a Tinker Bell cone while we wait to take our flight.