The gridlock in Congress (still no budget, as of this writing) seems like a strange topic to bring up on a Disney fan site, but I think there are parallels to the online world of mouse-fandom. In both Congress and in the Disney fan community, we seem to have reached a point of speaking completely different languages. I think ultimately the problem is that we as a nation seem to have forgotten how to disagree with each other civilly… and I see echoes of that national problem right here in our own little pond of Disney fan sites.

I started internally musing on this topic last week when I saw a comment on my Meet Minnie report that expressed some disdain for Disney once again rolling out a new character interaction. I realized several things right away:

  1. Part of me wanted to politely reply that Disney has good reason to offer such character interactions – there are audience segments that really love this stuff.
  2. But I also recognized that the commentator had an absolutely valid point: Disney has offered so few E-Ticket rides lately, while the competition up the road has been seemingly unstoppable. Disney looks like it’s standing still.
  3. A visitor to MiceChat might see the exasperation of such comments and think we’re a bunch of whiners and complainers.

And that’s when I realized: we already have that reputation among some Disney fans, and even some podcasters and webmasters. Naturally, I don’t think of myself as overly negative. I try to be honest–if something is good, I say so (the Meet Minnie addition), even if it comes one week after noticing some bad (the declining conditions at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party).

Not at this year's party
Not at this year’s party

I don’t think it’s contradictory to be full of praise one week and lamenting the next, since these are two completely different elements of the Disney park experience. In fact, the opposite is true. I think having ANY knee-jerk reaction is a bad thing.

GREAT tributes on this addition at Meet Minnie
GREAT tributes on this addition at Meet Minnie

Unfortunately, and ironically, having a knee-jerk reaction about other Disney fans and websites seems to be a growing fad. I see it in my Twitter feed. I see it in my Facebook feed. I see it in comments on websites and discussion boards. I’m not going to get into specifics, but there is a fair amount of it. And it seems to be flying in all directions–by no means is this just about me.

On one hand, you have those who staunchly defend Disney, and see no wrong no matter what Disney does. On the other hand, you have those who think Disney has slipped irretrievably and can now do no right.

Sure, it’s a classic “he said / she said” situation. But it also points out that some folks want to view reality as a simple canvas painted with just ONE broad brush. Everything is black and white. “If you’re not with me, you’re my enemy” said the soon-to-be Darth Vader in the more recent Star Wars movies (now a Disney property!), which everyone back then understood as George Lucas’s political critique on George W. Bush’s presidency and his take on terrorists that hide in other countries. But this kind of thinking seems to permeate today’s Disney fan culture, too.

It occurs to me that the partisan fights in Washington are at least partly due to the fact that no one seems to know how to get along together anymore. Time was, senators and representatives would disagree with each other loudly in the chambers of Congress, but then have drinks together that same evening like civil beings. They don’t do that anymore. Battle lines are drawn. It’s complete gridlock, with positions just becoming more entrenched all the time.

A touch of that has crept into the Disney fan universe. And it’s a shame. There is all sorts of room for us to disagree with each other, and I think it’s healthy to have the debate. Let’s disagree with each other. Loudly, even! The debate is how we actually get to the heart of the matter–often the truth lies between entrenched positions. But let’s leave the name-calling out of it.

And let’s all go get a drink together afterward. This *is* about our shared fascination with Disney, after all. One hates to quote Rodney King since it’s done so much, but the plaintive question has a certain appeal to it. Why CAN’T we all just get along?

Oh, and let’s try to steer clear of divisive politics in the comments. I think it’s possible to restrict the metaphor to “Congress in general” rather than identify EITHER political party.

Chase VISA Lounge in American Adventure Corporate Sponsor Area

Last year during Food and Wine, Chase VISA opened a tiny lounge with free sodas in one corner of the Festival Center. It was packed! So this year, they moved to the 3rd floor of the American Adventure – an area normally off limits to mere mortals, it’s the “corporate lounge” that most pavilions in Epcot have for when they have a sponsor.

Once again there was free soda – this year, it was TWO Freestyle Coca-Cola machines – and this time plenty of space to stretch out and flop onto sofas. The place was still crowded, though, and has a line to get in. Maybe this is because they allowed you to bring several (was it up to ten?) guests for each Chase VISA card you have.

I loved the view from up there out the front windows. And it was just fun being in some place I’d never visited before. Enjoy the photo tour!

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