About Those New Disney Bracelets . . . .

The Walt Disney Company is ready to roll out an interesting new initiative.  This spring, at Walt Disney World in Orlando, park visitors will have the option of using new “MagicBand” bracelets.

These aren’t your normal amusement park bracelets that show that you paid the entrance fee.  Instead, they will be embedded with radio frequency identification chips that will allow visitors to enter the park, enter hotels, and buy food and souvenirs.  The bracelets also would tell that approaching Disney character your child’s name before they are introduced and would allow a visitor’s path around the park to be tracked.  They are part of a broader Disney digital initiative to allow visitors to use the bracelets, their smartphones, and other devices to customize their trip to the Magic Kingdom and provide for a better park experience.

00019715Privacy advocates are concerned about the information that is collected as a result of use of the bracelets and whether it could be misused.  The privacy issues doesn’t worry me, however.  The bracelets are optional, and the reality of the modern world is that vast amounts of our personal information is already accessible to corporate America as a result of our smartphones, apps that push data to our locations, Facebook postings, and countless other newfangled devices and contraptions that know as much about us as our family members.  If people are leery about wearing a bracelet that adds to the data mix, they can just say “no.”

I think the bigger issue is that the bracelets allow Disney characters to know your toddler’s name and use it as they approach.  Isn’t that kind of . . . creepy?  How will little kids react if a large plastic-headed creature, much bigger than the delightful character they’ve seen on their TV screen, comes marching up saying their names?  Will they be terrified, or will it feed into the “I’m the center of the universe” mindset that makes some kids intolerable brats?  Or, will it give kids an overly trusting view of the world?  I’m not sure I’d want my kids to think it was normal that some stranger wearing a colorful costume knows their name.

On the flip side, this development has got to make the job of being a Disney character even more painful.  Now, you not only have to wear that stuffy Goofy head and hot, furry costume on those broiling Florida days, you also have to correctly call out the names of MagicBand-wearing tots — all the while keeping a watchful eye out for the brats who want to kick you in the knee or even more tender areas.  How do you think the doting, smartphone-obsessed parents who paid for that MagicBand bracelet to ensure their gifted child has the perfect Disney experience will react if you call their little Timmy little Tommy instead?

Parenting In Laundromat Hell

During our trip to Columbia, Kish and I went to a laundromat to give Richard a hand with washing and drying.

It’s the first time I’ve been in a laundromat for several decades, and I hope I never have to go back.  This laundromat had the standard sticky furnishings, tired decor, and tattooed patrons, but what really made the experience unbearable was the appalling conduct of a annoying boy.  He kept shouting for his ridiculously inattentive father, who seemed perfectly happy to play old video games and let his kid ruin the days of everyone else in the establishment.

On that day, the laundromat could easily have passed for one of Dante’s layers of hell, and the experience moved me to compose some bad verse:

Parenting In Laundromat Hell

We went to local laundromat

Some clean clothes to be had

But there we met an awful brat

Always yelling: “Dad!  Dad!! DAD!!!

The snotty kid, his Dad ignored

So he decided to be bad

He leaned back his head and roared

“Hey Dad!  Hey Dad!!! Hey DAD!!!!!

At first I laughed at Papa’s plight

But then my thoughts grew mad

As hellion crowed, with all his might

“Hey Dad!  Hey Dad!!  Hey DAD!!!

He ran ’round washers, dryers too,

That misbehaving lad

And sent us to hell’s raging fires

Screaming:  “Dad!  Dad!! DAD!!!

I wanted to give the kid a swat

But I felt like a cad

For fault was not with the tot

But with his Dad!  Dad!! DAD!!!