The Powerbear Press

A peek into a perhaps non-typical California mind


Fantasylands Converging

The most interesting events are those that bring together people from very different worlds, so when someone posted a “Burning Man Day at Disneyland” on Facebook, I knew I had to reply. More than that, I went on Socializr and set up a local bears day at Disneyland the same day. When my friend Chuck (a big Disney fan who used to live in SoCal but moved to ATL for work) heard about it, he planned a weekend trip. Chuck is also a square dancer, so we had that base covered. All we needed was a powerlifting competition to complete the intersection of my worlds (No, that never happened).

Last weekend was when this all came together. Chuck flew in on Saturday and picked Dan and I up at the park. Then the three of us went out to lunch at a place that specializes in burgers that are half beef and half ground bacon. Yes it is as good as it sounds and as bad for you as it sounds. Back in Anaheim the parks were really crowded because of a cheerleading convention, so we didn’t get on too many rides, but still it was a lot of fun just hanging out and catching up. John drove up after his massage class. We shared Chuck’s room at the Grand Californian, so I finally got to stay at a Disney hotel. It’s very nice and so wonderfully convenient – I could run back to the room to change clothes when the weather changed. A minor complaint – the hot tub was just lukewarm.

We got up early on Sunday so Chuck and I could take advantage of the hotel guest’s early admission to the park. Only one person had replied “yes” to the bear invite, and he was a no-show, so Chuck and I rode some old favorites. He took a nap when it was time for the Burners to meet for a picture.

Although two of us actually showed up at the appointed hour, several other Burners were on Playa Time, and it was about an hour before we actually got the two pictures that I posted back to the Facebook event page. In the mean time, we met a security guard whose name tag said he was from Black Rock City, which we all thought was pretty cool. We split up after that since Chuck and I had some Fast Passes to use. We were supposed to meet up again at ElecTRONica (a dance party at DCA that is a promotion for the new Tron film), but Chuck and I missed everyone but Robert. I brought a bit of the playa to ElecTRONica – I wore pants with El-Wire sewed in some of the seams.

At one point when the Burners were gathered, someone referred to going “From one Fantasyland to another”. That got me thinking…. On the surface, it seems Disneyland and Burning Man couldn’t be more polar opposites: one is an extremely tightly controlled corporate environment and the other is a free for all no-commerce-allowed environment. After all, the Burning Man organization didn’t want to post this event in the e-mail newsletter, presumably because it didn’t want to appear to promote a company. And except for the aforementioned security guard, it’s likely that few Disney corporate types would have anything to do with Burning Man. So why are there some of us who like both? Is it an oxymoron to do so?

I think not. I see similarities. Both have high admission ticket prices. They have similar structured activities – rides, shows, parades, etc. Both are environments that purport to be separate from the “real” world; you are encouraged to leave your normal existence behind and enter a special themed environment for a limited time. Moreover, both are places of imagination – you can be a pirate, have wings, ride a spaceship, glow in the dark, or any other of a multitude of things. Both are highly stimulating worlds with larger than life artwork. Both are idealized visions of urban life, yet neither vision would be sustainable for the long haul.

Are they both primarily an escape from the routine? Yes, but both are also magic places that allow us to look at the world with a new perspective. So, you see, I have no problem being fans of both Fantasylands.

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