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Neglected Villains at Walt Disney World

By Dave Shute


Welcome to those coming from Capturing Magical Memories!

This month, Magical Blogorail Teal focuses on overlooked villains at Walt Disney World–villains that we think should be more present in the parks!


In current literary theory, a “villain” is any white male, especially one who did not fight on the Loyalist side in the Spanish Civil War.

In more traditional poetics, a villain is a morally questionable antagonist to one of the lead characters.

The villain gets in the way of the lead character’s journey to what the lead character thinks it wants. However, in comedies, in the struggle that results, the lead character discovers through action with the villain what the lead character ought to have been striving for from the beginning.

And an “overlooked villain” is one less prominent at Walt Disney World than what its role in the history of Disney would suggest.

For example, Mr. Dawes, Senior, from Mary Poppins.


Mary Poppins Photo from MikeIn the index of any book about the history of Disney, “Mary Poppins” comes before “Mickey Mouse.” (Thanks to my friend Mike from My Dreams of Disney for the photo!)

And while the tyranny of the alphabet is of course the cause of this, there’s also some historical appropriateness to this order, when you consider the importance of Mary Poppins to Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

Mary Poppins was Walt Disney’s most critically and commercially successful post-war film.  The commercial success of the movie enabled much: investments in audio-animatronics inspired by the robin in Mary Poppins; funding of the final development and launch of Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland; and the funds that paid for what would become Walt Disney World.

If you wander through some of the more obscure corners of Disney history, you’ll find MAPO–for “Mary Poppins”–all over the place, from the monorails to electronic controls.

The first half of this movie might make you wonder why it was such a commercial success.  A sequence of largely unrelated (and not well-motivated) vignettes, this part of the movie would have a story problem if it had a story at all.

Yet the absence of a discernible story here is mitigated by the flow of exuberant and wildly playful scenes, many with show-stopping songs.

Mid-way through the film, one of the many themes introduced in the anarchic first half of the film is picked up and turned into the story arc of the rest of Mary Poppins.  This is the expectations of and relationship between the father, Mr. Banks, and the kids, Jane and Michael.

Mr. Banks begins the movie a martinet wanting the kids to behave like quiet and well-ordered little adults.  The kids want to have adventures and to play, and they want their father to be part of their lives and to play with them.

Enter the Elder Mr. Dawes.  Mr. Dawes, Senior, is chairman of the bank where Mr. Banks works–Dawes Tomes Mousely Grubbs Fidelity Fiduciary Bank.  In a tussle over tuppence, which Michael wishes to spend feeding the birds but the bankers, including Mr. Banks, wish to see deposited, a bank run is mistakenly precipitated.

Later that evening, Mr. Banks is called in to see Mr. Dawes, Senior, who sacks him. This–in addition to being a banker who sings about foreclosures!–is what makes Dawes a villain. Mr. Banks, in a state of heightened supercalifragility (take that, spell-check!) breaks down, finds his inner silliness, tells Mr. Dawes a joke, and leaves.  Later, when Mr. Dawes Senior gets the joke, he dies laughing.

Rather than being added to the list of his crimes, Mr. Banks is rewarded for this death with a promotion.  This happens because the son of the old banker, Dawes Junior, notes that because of his delight at the joke his father had never before been happier than he was at the moment of his death.

Mr. Banks learns something about himself from this encounter, and begins to become the kind of father these kids deserve.

Mr. Dawes Senior is a villain for today–a banker who sings about foreclosures, and whose industry is responsible for today’s biggest threat to Walt Disney World visitors: the ATM machines in the parks.

But he’s also a neglected villain: the transformations that came after he fired Mr. Banks brought the plot of Mary Poppins together into a single arc, and in doing so, helped create the commercial success that led ultimately to the funding of Walt Disney World.  But you won’t find him in the parks–and I think you should!  Perhaps near an ATM machine…

Because, as Mary Poppins says, “We are not codfish!”


Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is Heidi’s Head.

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail loop should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:



1 Heidi { 11.08.12 at 7:19 am }

Good one! I never would have thought of him!

2 Dave { 11.08.12 at 3:26 pm }

Thanks Heidi Kathy and Beth!!

3 Kathy Kelly { 11.08.12 at 8:59 am }

Nice tie-in to the ATM machines!

4 Beth D. { 11.08.12 at 9:27 am }

I definitely would never have thought of him either!

5 Christina { 11.08.12 at 12:03 pm }

I wouldn’t have thought of him, either. Great choice!

6 Dave { 11.08.12 at 4:58 pm }

And Christina too!

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