Disney critters at work and play

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IMG_1992-WDW-DTD-Cashier-grasshopper-ants🙂 I was in Walt Disney World (where else?), standing in line at the big World of Disney store in Downtown Disney, waiting for my opportunity to indulge in some rampant consumerism. The Cast Member who was ringing up the woman ahead of me was inexperienced, slow and giving out some really bad advice about where discounts could and could not be had. Bored, impatient, but trying to be nice and pleasant and Zen about it, I glanced at the ceiling and smiled with genuine delight – there, painted on the ceiling, were the subjects of one of my all-time favorite Silly Symphonies.

Disney’s Silly Symphonies are a series of 75 short, animated films produced over a period of about ten years during the 1930s. In fact, the very first full Technicolor film was a Silly Symphony called Flowers and Trees. Some of these short films were based upon myths, legends, morality tales and fables. One of Aesop’s best fables made cut – The Grasshopper and the Ants.

IMG_1991The story features a grasshopper who fiddles and sings his way through summer, when food is abundant, and scoffs at the ants, hard at work setting aside stores for the lean months ahead. Winter finds the grasshopper collapsing on the ants’ doorstep, starved and nearly frozen. In pity, they take him in and care for him, but the arrival of the colony’s queen strikes fear into his heart. He supplicates himself before her, knowing that he’s been lazy, has not worked, has scoffed at them, and doesn’t deserve their kindness. The queen hands him his fiddle and admonishes him… to play! At once, he realizes he just landed himself a position as court musician. He strikes up a jolly tune and the dancing commences. Soundtrack swells, fade to black.

I once took a sociology class called “The Disney Empire: Culture and Power”, where I learned that both as an employer and as an entertainment company, Disney tends to blur the lines between work and play. There are many examples in Disney’s films of work and play interchanging, but none so pointed or classic as The Grasshopper and the Ants.

It’s pretty rare in this world to have a job that feels like play. Sometimes, when I watch the young Cast Members, barely adults themselves, playing with the kids along the parade route in the Magic Kingdom to help them pass the time, I’m just a little envious. I know they don’t make much money, I know – I just like the idea of getting paid something, ANYTHING, for playing 😉

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8 thoughts on “Disney critters at work and play”

  1. I wouldn’t have recognised them! Although I have heard the story before – I wonder if Disney wrote it, or used an older folk tale..?

  2. Greetings from Rantings of a Woman, great shots I don’t think I have ever heard of this series, thanks for sharing.

  3. Great find Tink! I love the Silly Symphonies too.

    Pixar’s Bugs Life is based on the Grasshopper and Ants fable too.

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