By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2017, from the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever. Paperback available on Amazon here. Kindle version available on Amazon here. PDF version available on Gumroad here.



yourfirstvisit.net—Disney World Instructions for the First-Time Visitor



The Ducks of Walt Disney World



By Dave Shute

DISNEY WORLD IS GOOD FOR YOU

Welcome to those coming from The Disney Point as Magical Blogorail Teal writes about the “Disney Touch”–what makes something Disney.

Today I begin and end with the ducks of Walt Disney World–but really only as a symbol of something deeper.

Walt Disney World is filled with tame ducks.  Why?  Because they are safe there.

And so are you.

As John Hench said about the first Disney park, “the essential message [of the parks] is that there is nothing to fear.”

(Quoted by Charlie Hass in Disneyland is Good for You, 19.)

The sine qua non of the Disney touch is this sense of safety.  It’s the touch that makes every other touch possible.  From safety comes peace and well-being, and from those the ability to play.

THE DUCKS OF WALT DISNEY WORLD

I write this site for first time visitors to Walt Disney World, and so try to see things from their eyes.

This can be hard, though, as I’ve been so many times that what is foreground for first timers can fade into background for me.

One of those items is the ducks.

Tame ducks are everywhere at Walt Disney World, and I’m so used to them that I hardly notice them anymore (except outside of Casey’s Corner in the Magic Kingdom).

They are everywhere, and everywhere they are tame.

Why?  Because they know they are not threatened.

Same for us.  By the effect of design, according to Hench, the emotion of Disney is “you’re going to be OK.”  (Disneyland is Good for You 18.)  But it’s not just safety in the negative sense of the absence of threats.

Rather, as Frank Gehry noted in his introduction to Hench’s Designing Disney, “people respond to design on a deep level.”  It’s safety in the positive sense of “all is well.” This is Hench’s famous “architecture of reassurance.”

THE SENSE OF ORDER AT WALT DISNEY WORLD

Hench explains the reassurance effect of Disney by tying Disney to Gestalt psychology and Jungian archetypes.

That explanation is a little too 20th century for me–instead, I see the effects as coming from the evolution of perception and the resulting rewards of our sense of order.

We evolved as both predator and prey, so there was great survival benefit to being able to notice horizontal movement (perhaps prey) and changes in the basic scene (perhaps a predator, stalking us).

Detecting either requires the ability to tell what is stable and what has changed.  And a highly ordered background is so much easier to process for changes than a chaotic background that we evolved to be pleased by visual order–by a scene that could be processed and comprehended easily.

The visual cortex, where much of this processing happens, deeply feeds many of our most basic emotions. This sense of order is part of our sense of safety.

At Disney World, this sense of order comes from composition–what gets called, sometime without much thought, “theming.”

The key to theming is consistency.  Things fit together, and what doesn’t fit is left out (or disguised).  Here’s more Hench:

“…[E]very member of the thing, every facility, agrees on what the place is.  One building recognizes the existence of the other.  There’s plenty of diversity, but there isn’t contradiction.” (Good for You, 17)

More Hench: “The sense of order…works on people, the sense of harmony. They feel more content here, in a way they can’t explain…” (16) Thus “there’s something beyond an amusement park here.  Because it works on people.  It obviously works on people.” (17, emphasis in the original)

As a result, people leave the parks “feeling more self-assured, stronger, alert, and much more alive.” (Designing Disney 1)

Well…not everyone.

Tough crowds and summer heat can sap us all; and Disney World, while very good, is not even remotely perfect, nor is it an exception to the rule that people sometimes screw up a good thing.

The arrows of fortune–perhaps shot by Brave’s Merida–still wound us all, even the ducks, even in the parks.

Yet the essential Disney touch, the composition of Disney World–the theming–gives us a stronger shot at a sense of peace there than the most of the rest of this chaotic world.

MORE ON THE DISNEY TOUCH FROM MAGICAL BLOGORAIL TEAL

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is The Disney FAITHful.

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:

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6 comments

1 Rosanne @ The Disney Point { 05.22.12 at 10:37 am }

I love the ducks at WDW! (I especially enjoy the ducklings)

The “friends of Donald” have stolen more than one french fry and even a churro from me, but they are always so happy! And why not? They live at the happiest place on earth.

Thanks for welcoming me into Magical Blogorail teal this month!

2 Kathy Kelly { 05.22.12 at 12:54 pm }

Fascinating insight into the World of Disney through the eyes of a duck!

3 Dave { 05.22.12 at 2:55 pm }

Hi Rosanne, welcome to teal!

4 Dave { 05.22.12 at 2:55 pm }

Thanks Kathy!

5 Mary at Capturing Magical Memories { 05.23.12 at 1:53 am }

Wonderful post. You are right, I always think the Disney Ducks are the luckiest ducks in the world and you put that into words.

6 Dave { 05.23.12 at 7:33 am }

🙂

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