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Dalton Ross on taking the kids to Disney World

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Disney World: Reuters

Dalton Ross on taking the kids to Disney World

I love double issues. They’re thick, filled with glossy photographs of attractive, half-naked celebrities, and occasionally even have one of those smelly cologne or perfume ads that you can spread on a friend while they’re sleeping. Another good thing about double issues at Entertainment Weekly? After we do them, I get to take a week off! So after we wrapped up our Summer Movie Preview issue, I packed up the Tylenol and the kids and headed down to Disney World. What better place to get away from it all than somewhere I could be surrounded by hundreds of thousands of obnoxious tourists wearing hats with mouse ears on them?

Okay, so it wouldn’t be relaxing, but I work at an entertainment magazine, for crissakes. I crave entertainment! And isn’t this supposed to be one of the most entertaining places on earth? Last time I was there I was only 5. I don’t remember much, but there is a picture of me rocking a powder-blue leisure suit, so I must have been having a good time. (No doubt Minnie Mouse was all over my ass.) However, many things about this trip signaled disaster. For one thing, I was going with a 5-year-old boy obsessed with seeing only animals and scary rides, a 3-year-old girl obsessed with seeing only anything involving princesses, a wife obsessed with avoiding theme parks altogether, and no one even remotely obsessed with the concept of patience. Not only that, but there were in-laws involved (although no names will be mentioned to protect the innocent, as well as protect me from being uninvited to Thanksgiving). In addition, our plan of ripping through four parks (Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Disney-MGM Studios, Epcot) in four days sounded exhausting, to say the least. And let me just say…it was.

But it was also kinda dope. Don’t get me wrong: The whole thing was ridiculously expensive (especially considering we stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, which offered us crazy-close views of giraffes, zebras, and wildebeest from our hotel balcony), the food outside said Lodge was not exactly world-class, and walking around in 90-degree heat gets old pretty fast. However, I learned a few things while I was there:

1) Going to the Magic Kingdom on Easter day makes you a bad Christian…and a savvy Disney shopper. We were petrified about the crowds during what we had heard was the busiest time of the year (spring break), but Easter Sunday was a dream, with little to no lines for most of the rides. Granted, we were doing kiddie crap like It’s a Small World, but imagine how annoying standing in a two-hour line to hear robot dwarfs singing would have been. Okay, so maybe I am going to hell (via Fastpass, no less), but it was worth it.

2) The Pirates of the Caribbean ride has been closed for a few months to add Johnny Depp and other characters from the movie version, but apparently the same consideration has not been given to Eddie Murphy for the Haunted Mansion, which is rather odd because that film was far scarier than anything on the ride, albeit unintentionally.

3) Robot presidents are creepy. My wife insisted on checking out the Hall of Presidents show, which basically consists of all 43 U.S. commanders-in-chief in robot form nodding, blinking their eyes, and occasionally making a speech about how awesome we are. My son has been having nightmares ever since. And I’m a tad steamed that my man William Henry Harrison (who died after a mere 40 days in office) didn’t get much play.

4) Beware of the ringer. At Disney-MGM’s Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, volunteers were chosen from the audience, including one nincompoop who was obviously a plant. Almost amazingly, no one around seemed to notice or care, laughing in hysterics every time he screwed something up. I sat there not laughing, content in the knowledge that my jaded, doubting nature had allowed me the supreme comfort of ruining the show for myself. I also don’t quite understand why the ”Karen Allen stunt double” had blond hair.

5) Chip and Dale are not very popular. We ran into these two chipmunks everywhere we went, and — unlike Mickey, Ariel, and pretty much any other Disney character out signing autographs and posing for pictures, there was always no line to meet them. Hell, my son’s name is Dale and even he didn’t want anything to do with the poor bastards.

Sure, there were many elements of the trip that were creepy (chief among them being the employees — or ”cast members,” as they are called — who walk around with big mouse hands), but I think we were all sufficiently entertained. And we only trampled over a few small children along the way.

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OBSESSION OF THE WEEK

Truthfully, M. Night Shyamalan’s American Express ad just confuses the bejesus out of me — kinda like his movies, actually. But Wes Anderson’s new one is a quirky delight. I could tell you more about it, but why don’t you just go see for yourself. Look, it’s Jason Schwartzman!

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THE LIST

Arrested Development is more than the title of a criminally canceled TV show. It also describes my musical tastes, which, for the most part, tend toward old, obscure punk-rock bands that most people outgrew by the time they hit college. I have always been a big Prince fan, however — even when he didn’t have a name and wrote weird messages all over his face. Which leads us to:

The Top 5 Prince Songs of All-Time
1) ”The Beautiful Ones”
The end of this song, with the Purple One screaming and writhing around on the floor in his lace, is about as intense — and odd — as it gets.
2) ”I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man”
Pretty much a pure pop number. I would totally cut up the rug to this one — if I knew how to dance, that is.
3) ”Joy in Repetition”
Graffiti Bridge may just be the worst movie ever made, and the soundtrack is not much better, but this ballad features a killer arrangement as well as some of Prince’s most thoughtful lyrics. ”Holding someone is truly believing, there’s joy in repetition,” he sings, and I get a little lump in my throat. Yes, I’m a major-league sap.
4) ”Gett Off”
From Diamonds and Pearls, an album that would have been great if there wasn’t some joker attempting to rap about halfway through every song. This number still has an insanely catchy riff, although the bit about ”23 positions in a one-night stand” kinda scares and confuses me.
5) ”Erotic City”
Put the kids to bed, because Prince is about to get nasty! Leave it to Prince to have one Purple Rain B-side titled ”God” and then have another one about doing every ungodly act in the book. Bonus points for this being the 12-inch flip side to the excellent extended version of ”Let’s Go Crazy,” complete with wacky piano solo.

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READER MAIL

A lot of mail this week, most of it centering on my Top Five Sparderish James Spader Characters. Some people felt I should have included his fine work in Baby Boom and Bad Influence. To those people, I say… what the hell are you doing watching Baby Boom and Bad Influence? And then there was this letter:

While I agree for the most part, I have to say that instead of putting Wall Street (where, let’s face it, he is ”almost” a virtuous character; Bud really has to tempt him before he caves to insider trading), you should have put this as #1: Wolf! Not only does he have the temerity to backstab his mentor, but he truly shows his Yuppie Fangs by sleeping with Jack’s wife. Granted, wrestling in hairy makeup isn’t particularly Spaderish, but I would say being able to maintain his icy-cold demeanor while being urinated on more than makes up for it. — Scott Hoffman
Nice call, Scott. I totally forgot about that film. Most likely because it’s completely forgettable. Also, let’s be honest — all movie werewolves pale in comparison to Michael Jackson at the beginning of the ”Thriller” video. Now that’s some scary s#%&!

Why is it when the first awful Pussycat Dolls song finally leaves the radio, they start playing it in the beer commercial? — Steffany
Steffany, you read my mind. I saw that last week as well and thought I had traveled back in time to 2005. I think it was a Heineken ad, if I remember correctly, which I probably don’t because I was too busy chugging down some other cheap American swill. See, if Wes Anderson had directed that ad, we wouldn’t have to worry about such matters.

Here is something I’ve been wondering for a while but never thought enough about it for an actual letter: What is EW’s fascination with Sarah Michelle Gellar? It seems disproportionate to the average viewer’s interest in her. I mean, she hasn’t done that much but has been featured ad nauseam in the magazine. Makes me think there is an editor with a thing for her. Maybe it’s you? — Carol Price
Carol, how dare you?!? How dare you insinuate I have a ”thing” for anyone on TV or in the movies. I am an objective journalist and take my duties very seriously. (Unless the people being covered happen to wear knee socks and compete on Survivor — that’s a totally different story.) Yes, we here at EW were all big Buffy fans, and as a result, she received a healthy amount of coverage for that show. As for her post-Buffy career, I haven’t really followed it, but if I ever feel the burning desire to take my kids to a movie with a farting dog, I suppose I may check out one of the Scooby-Doo films.

Pick your favorite movie and favorite TV show. I know it’s hard, but decide. Now pit them against each another. Which wins? — Anne Northgraves
Damn you, Northgraves! That’s a tough one. For favorite movie, I have to go Empire Strikes Back (just edging out four other entries which I will reveal in next week Top 5 list — oooooh, teaser!). For top TV show, I used to always say The Simpsons, but instead of getting better with age, the show has actually fallen off my radar somewhat the past few seasons, so (for now) I have to go with the one-season wonder Freaks and Geeks. As for who would win in that epic battle, well, no way I’m ruling against a Sith lord.

Let the second-guessing begin! Send you comments, questions, and quibbles to theglutton@ew.com, or just fill out the handy-dandy form below. See you next week.

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