We’re a Disney family. Not that that makes us special. I imagine Mickey and and his entourage have indoctrinated most red-blooded American families. Because we’re a Disney family living in Orange County, we spend a significant amount of time at Disneyland, which means that we’ve ridden Dumbo forty-seven thousand times, cruised through the jaws of Monstro just as many, and given so many hugs to Winnie the Pooh that that fat-bottomed bear has my kids’ handprints permanently impressed upon his upper thighs. This may not sound like an exciting day to some people, but the truth is this: nothing guarantees early bedtime for the offspring like a two or three hour romp through the postmodern sensory overload that is the Magical Kingdom.
While I love spending time with my kids and admittedly enjoy the Disney experience, the saccharin flavor of The Happiest Place on Earth is sometimes just too damn sweet, and I can’t resist cutting it with a little darkness. Please understand that this is an involuntary reflex, and resistance is futile. I don’t intentionally act out. In fact, if I were to be tried for the murder of the Disney spirit, I earnestly believe that I could only be accused of murder in the second degree.
Most recently, my darker inclinations crept up in the Disneyland petting zoo at the Big Thunder Ranch, which is situated on the Frontierland side of the the Fantasyland-Frontierland border. I point out the border-specific locale as something of a scapegoat. Don’t we all get a little extra moral latitude around a border town (I refer you to Orson Welles’ 1958 film noir classic Touch of Evil). If you’ve never moseyed into the Big Thunder Ranch, you’re missing an incredible opportunity. By comparison, other petting zoos are third world, overrun by rambunctious livestock all too accustomed to being hand-fed by Ritalin-deficient kindergarteners. For instance, a goat at Petting Zoo X will not hesitate to snatch a handful of shredded carrots right out of your hand, often times ingesting the better part of your epidermis in the process. Added to this, discerning between feed pellets and rabbit turds requires a PhD in zoology, and keeping your toddler from eating either the pellets or the turds requires a third and forth hand and a second pair of eyes that most parents don’t have.
At Disneyland, however, the goats have walked right off the set of Bambi or Snow White. They are endowed with the seven heavenly virtues, particularly the virtue of patience, as evidenced by the fact that they seem not even to mind when my daughter — on several occasions actually — has utilized her twisty straw to play veterinarian proctologist or to administer an impromptu zoological Pap smear. The goats merely look over their shoulders and offer a gentle albeit stern look that seems to ask, “Would you kindly not probe our goat rear ends with your twisty straw?”
Even more impressive than the livestock is the cleanliness. Most college dorms aren’t as clean as the goat corral. When the goats do their business, it’s handled in a New York minute, which is pretty damn fast for friggin’ Anaheim. And because the goats have never been hand-fed, they’re clueless to the fact that being hand-fed is even a possibility, so there are no goats bleating for your attention or ramming your bad knee to get a nibble of your churro or a mouthful of your heavily salted turkey leg.
Truly, the petting zoo at The Big Thunder Ranch is where lions lie down with the lambs, a little piece of the Garden of Eden. But if original sin crept up in the Garden of Eden, it can certainly creep up at Disneyland. And that’s where I come in…
...return next time for Anatomy of a Goat or Where Disneyland and Sex Ed. Intersect -- Part 2...