The Empress Lilly, this is the funniest and most perceptive post I've read on here.Why go to hell? Why not go to hell?
Vintage MK was a very different beast from today's park. The castle looks the same and some other stuff looks similar, but the MK has changed immensely in character. Today's park is a girlie, kiddie toddler playground. Vintage MK had a subversive edge, was an adult park.
The Jungle Cruise skipper fired at the animals with his pistol. The pirates pillaged and burned and raped.The Mansion was scary. Snow White was a horror movie. 20k was a claustrophobic death trap under actual water, fighting undersea beasts. Above was the Skyway. Small kids dangling 50 feet above ground in open buckets. Main Street had actual cars. Ariel was topless, bare breasted. If You Had Wings had boys and girls dancing in skimpy bikinis and trunks. Lots of replica toy guns were for sale in Adventureland and Frontierland. You had to physically row your canoe. Psychedelic bands played in Tomorrowland. And Toad was a drugged up DUI ride to hell.
Now I have a better understanding of why my own kids don't love Disney like I did when I was their age: because it IS a kiddie playground with very little that's unexpected or subversive.
Your post made me think of my first trip to WDW in the late '70s when I was in third grade. I remember a contraption in the Penny Arcade where you grabbed two doorknobs to see how long you could hang on. You didn't know ahead of time what was going to happen which was part of the appeal. They started vibrating, gently at first and then with increasing intensity. It was so violent you had to let go because it actually hurt. My horrified mom said, "Did it electrocute you?" Then we all laughed and my younger sister wanted to try. I still remember it 40 years later.
I also remember running into Donald Duck (this was before you had to wait in line or book an appointment to see characters) and tugging on his tail. He quacked and spun around. I kept doing it and at one point he spun around and swatted my hand, making contact. It was gentle, of course, but I was momentarily stunned until everybody laughed. If that happened today there'd be a lawsuit for assault.
The subversive edge you so accurately and vividly describe is not just appealing to adults. Kids like those thrills and surprises too. Thrills and surprises that are more subtle, unexpected, and subversive than rollercoasters or free falls; thrills like a beloved character that might hit a bratty kid or innocent-looking doorknobs that could shake a little boy's arms right out of their sockets.