As a seasoned fan, I’ve become conditioned to expect great things from our friends at Disney. There’s the obvious of both good and bad – I expect the parks to be clean, if not immaculate (no Great America or Six Flags cleaning standards allowed.) I expect long lines on summer weekends for all of the Mountain attractions – Splash, Big Thunder and Space. And of course, I always expect Mickey to be smiling, Tink to be feisty and Goofy to live up to the whimsy that is his name and nature.
Blame it on a newly forming self-awareness, but lately, I’ve realized how my expectations of Disney often set things up for failure. Take the movie Up for example. I had plans on opening weekend to see it twice in one day – once in the morning with a dear friend and then again that same evening with two other friends. Twice in one day can be a bit much for any movie, and normally I would have said no, but my expectations were high so doubling up seemed like no problem. Monster’s Inc is my favorite of all Pixar films and since Up was from the same director I couldn’t wait to see it. Plus, how can you go wrong with a movie full of dogs and balloons?
After my first viewing that morning, I was so disappointed, I almost cancelled on my evening plans. Don’t think I can’t audibly hear your gasp in horror as you read that last sentence. Gasp away. Honestly, the only reason I kept my evening viewing plans was because the friends I was going with actually know John Lasseter, so I was hoping for some sort of inside scoop. (BTW, no such luck.)
What was lucky, was that forced myself to attend the second showing and emerged completely transformed from my negative morning experience. I loved it the second time which was in complete contradiction to the boredom and apathy I had felt earlier in the day. How could six hours and a second viewing have changed my opinion so drastically?
After a lot of contemplation (yes, I’ve actually thought about this a lot) I’ve realized that it was my own set of subconscious expectations that almost ruined Up for me. I had put it in my classic Pixar box labeled with bright, vibrant colors (think Cars and the Incredibles) an abundance of witty, clever jokes and gags (a la Monster’s Inc and Bugs Life) and a bunch of other labels that didn’t deserve to be slapped so carelessly on this beautifully made film.
Taking a step deeper into the universe of Disney expectations and awareness, I have to ask myself; what else have I subconsciously judged and shot down pre-viewing? New character additions to It’s a Small World? Dumbo taking flight over Sleeping Beauty’s Castle? The NBC Haunted Mansion Holiday overlay? Have I become that crotchety old woman proclaiming that I once walked 5 miles in the snow, uphill both ways to see the attractions that Walt himself built? That the only thing that needs changing are ticket prices which are way too high while I clamor for anything built after 1966 to be picketed, ripped out, or burnt down?
Up taught me a lot of things about my Disney self – who I am and who I don’t want to become. I’m not saying that everything created by Disney is holy. They have produced some massive clunkers over the years, but we all make mistakes. (If you’ve ever worn Hammer pants, bought a Milli Vanilli CD, dated that special someone who in hindsight had the ‘crazy eyes’ or anything of the like, you know what I mean.) We all have skeletons in our closet, but do we want those skeletons to rattle our faith in general or even worse, define who we are today?
So for now, I’m laying aside my stones of judgment and am consciously trying to remind myself to wait until after I’ve seen things to pick them up again. So for now, Princess and the Frog, new entrance to DCA, D23 Expo and all you other Disney things I’ve been skeptical about, you’ve been given a second chance. Disney, now is the time to show us your “A” game, but do so knowing you’ll get an extra dose of grace from me.