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Disneyland Article
How Disneyland Helps Show The Difference Between Fiction And Fake

Sleeping Beauty Castle
Mercury News
Robert Niles
May 5, 2020
June 9, 2020
When lazy writers want to dismiss something as fake, they often compare it to Disneyland. The implication is that theme parks are fake places — artificial creations that are not as worthy as something authentic and real.

I always wonder if such writers are as dismissive of Broadway shows, novels or motion pictures. Those are all works of fiction, as are most theme park attractions, but those art forms rarely get the same type of across-the-board critical disdain as theme parks do. So what’s the problem with Disneyland?

This is an important question at the moment because it gets to a conflict that’s driving a lot of the news right now: What is fake, and what is real?

To me, fiction isn’t fake. Sure, the characters, settings and actions in a work of fiction might spring from a writer’s imagination, but often they help us understand a truth in our lives. Great fiction can comfort us. It can challenge us. It can make us think or just help us feel when the “real” world has left us numb.

Fake, on the other hand, looks real on its surface but hides a truth rather than leading us toward one. Fake sows confusion, not insight. It promises comfort, but almost always delivers anger instead.

Disneyland might be fiction, but it’s never been fake to me. OK, I have felt frustrated trying to get a boarding group for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. But the exhilaration I feel after getting on that ride erases whatever frustration I might have felt trying to get on it. On the whole, a visit to Disneyland almost always comforts me. That animatronic Lincoln might not be “real,” for example, but his words ring true.

“At what point, then, is the approach of danger to be expected?,” Disneyland’s Mr. Lincoln asks us, reciting the future president’s 1838 address to the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Ill. “I answer, If it ever reach us it must spring up amongst us; it cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”

Which brings me to fake. Outside Disneyland’s gates, fake abounds. With a pandemic claiming the lives of more Americans than perished in the entirety of the Vietnam War, a national embrace of fake threatens to author the internal destruction that President Lincoln — both real and animatronic — warned about.

Fake is not a castle at the end of Main Street USA. It’s not a Yeti in the Matterhorn. Fake is an onslaught of ever-contradictory lies. It’s the surrender of reason to passion and of science to tribalism.

Fake is not fiction. Indeed, the damage it will inflict upon America is very much real.
Attractions Referenced

Disneyland Story Presenting Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln

Matterhorn Bobsleds

Sleeping Beauty Castle

Star Wars Rise Of The Resistance

Lands Referenced

Main Street U.S.A.

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