Book: “Inside the Mouse”

Inside the Mouse: Work and Play in Disney World, Duke Press, 1995. 

My contribution: All photos and three essays “Reality Re-visited,” “Under the Influence, ” “The Alternative Ride.”

From Duke Press: This entertaining and playful book views Disney World as much more than the site of an ideal family vacation. Blending personal meditations, interviews, photographs, and cultural analysis, Inside the Mouse looks at Disney World’s architecture and design, its consumer practices, and its use of Disney characters and themes. This book takes the reader on an alternative ride through “the happiest place on earth” while asking “What makes this forty-three-square-mile theme park the quintessential embodiment of American leisure?”

 “The Alternative Ride” is a method of constructing visual drama that mocks a vision that is prescribed and stereotyped.  It takes the backside view of life, one that recognizes that fantasy and reality do not always match.  Focusing attention NOT on the scene that is attracting other people’s interest, but aiming it, instead 180 degrees the other way, this backward vision reveals the social process that occurs during the interludes between the memorable events — the unposed forgettable moments — when people are eating, waiting, watching, or shopping.  It’s these commonplace acts, not the Disney-approved attractions, that can provoke thoughts about history, science, technology, and sociology.  But they don’t just pop out at you like plastic dinosaurs in the “World of Energy.” You must think of yourself and other people not as passive consumers of entertainment but as individuals acting out a larger social drama — one that takes into account how contemporary cultural issues interact with the highly programmed culture within