I fly to Disneyworld, Florida. On business, not pleasure. The next few days will be an agonizing Chinese water torture of endless Powerpoint slides in a conference aimed at the rather abstruse discipline I ply on behalf of Vertucon.
I have left my wife and kids behind, losing my Sunday in the process, in order that I can be bored witless by nerds while surrounded by happy families on vacation. My morale takes just the tiniest dip.
In the chaotically busy lobby of the hotel costumed characters are everywhere, exuding manic cheerfulness and carefully shepherding everyone into the approved sterile environment of the tourist areas.
The conference is in the Contemporary Resort, DisneyWorld’s first and original hotel, built to be the 1950’s idea of 2000. The vaguely pyramidal main building gives one the creepy feeling of having wandered onto the set of Logan’s Run, only digitally remastered for fat sunburnt people in obnoxious shorts. The excitingly futuristic Disney Monorail actually goes through the hotel building. This is exactly as much less fun as it sounds.
Like Logan’s Run, everything is dated, making a mockery of the name. It’s also creaky and inefficient, aggravated by the monstrous complacency of the staff (or “cast members”, as they’re officially titled). The lifts, for example, take forever, so I go in search of stairs. This unAmerican activity takes me abruptly off the set, so to speak. No-one in America uses the stairs, and the grim concrete stairwells are the refuge of the desperate and the excluded. I walk down three flights, past two six-foot chipmunks squabbling over a garbage can, and a Donald slumped in a broken armchair smoking a cigarette.
They stare after me with their cold, dead eyes.
The Contemporary Resort, yesterday. If you had to live there for thirty years, you’d beg for a visit from the Sandmen too.