Picture Spot

05 Dec

This isn’t over.

Vultures continue to roost on the turrets of Cinderella’s castle.

For one month—October—we didn’t mind, and we even added a few fake vultures for effect. Our imagineers even managed to overstate the qualities that make a vulture so offensive, eliciting praise from our guests. “So lifelike,” they would say, “so gruesome.” We caught all these comments on tape, and hence we thought we had the problem licked. We made it all look like design, and who could blame us for thinking that once we took down the fake birds, the real ones would go simply because, well, they’d just get the idea from our masterful simulations.

No, the vultures still roost there.

So we tried poison next. We called it “Project Apple.” We even propped bird feeders shaped like apples at strategic points along the turrets. From the ground, they looked like tiny hearts. We did this in February. All this by design.

Hence, our second mistake. The birds didn’t fly away to die. They dropped dead—literally tumbling from the turrets and striking the pavement below.

As if that wasn’t enough to horrify (imagine little Johnny walking along with his mouseketeer hat when something like that falls at his feet) what we learned next positively chilled us: vultures will feed upon their own. Our imagineers could never have foreseen such an abomination.

So we had no choice but to take out the guns.

And yes, we do have them.

Our imagineers make them look like muskets.

Then we found a coonskin cap that fit perfectly on the head of Bucky Johnson, who’d been asking for months for something to do other than operate the Dumbo ride.

He wanted to add chewing tobacco to his characterization. We approved bubble gum. We have certain images to uphold.

Bucky shrugged and started working on his Tennessee accent, and for inspiration, he watched Davy Crockett over and over again. By June, he had it down. He even added a little frontier swagger.

By this time, the vultures numbered in the hundreds.

So we started Bucky from Frontier Land to help him get into character. On the way to the castle, he stopped and took pictures with the guests. “How ya’ll enjoying your stay?” he would say. “Well, I’m off to do a little hunting, if you know what I mean.”

Actually, few people did. Few even stopped him. Our DVD release of Davy Crockett did not sell well.

But, let’s face it, we did not pay Bucky to talk to guests, and besides, we have it on good authority that, just before arriving in front of the castle, Bucky spit something suspiciously brown and acrid onto the ground.

And if only chew could make Bucky a better shot.

I know what you might be thinking: All that time on the accent, and no time on the firing range?

To maintain fairness, we should note that Bucky did wound a few birds. Unfortunately, the loud report of the gun, slightly muffled to sound like a fake gun, still drew a crowd of onlookers.

Once again, vultures do not practice discrimination in their feeding practices. And worse, some of the birds managed to survive both their wounds and the fall. I do not need to tell you that we had to become quite savvy with customer relations after that.

And even worse, the vultures have spread beyond the castle.

In some cases, we have taken drastic measures. The roof covering the haunted mansion now maintains a steady flow of electricity. The guns on the Jungle Cruise now fire real bullets.

But mostly, we just try to adapt. When a vulture crosses Donald’s path, he jumps up and down and shakes his fist. When Minnie sees one, she puts her hands on her cheeks and runs away. Snow White, who possesses the power of speech, groans and asks if anyone has seen the Wicked Witch.

And then we deliver her. We started bringing out lots of villains: Captain Hook, Millicifent, Ursula, the Headless Horseman. Wherever the vultures went, that’s where we sent the villains.

Until people stopped paying attention to them and started taking pictures with the birds instead.

And vultures will do something else amazing besides eat their own. They will stay surprisingly still for a picture.

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