Ever wondered how a theme park ride was made? Want to know why a beloved ride was shut down? Look no further than Defunctland.
The Defunctland videos are created by Kevin Perjurer, ostensibly taking retired amusement park rides to incorporate them into his very own amusement park (called, of course, Defunctland). There was no such park, of course (though Perjurer is creating a virtual Defunctland), but it was a great excuse to discuss the history of these strange, loved and sometimes forgotten attractions: the way they work, their reception, and the reason they closed.
The short (usually around 10-15 minute) videos focus especially on the history of the big names in amusement parks: Disney, Universal and Six Flags. But the channel sometimes branches out to lesser-known parks, as well. Kevin’s style is interesting, and it isn’t hard to see with his fascinating material why his channel has gotten so popular. He also incorporates witty humor throughout the videos and comments on decisions by theme park executives.
In addition to being pretty interesting, the videos celebrate knowledge and history. But it acknowledges that the past wasn’t always better or prettier or cleaner. It examines, for instance, how Disney’s leadership team was arrogant and even racist back of the day—poking fun at those former attitudes in a reasonable way that seems to promote positive change.
The level of content concerns in the videos are relatively low, and the videos with more problems are the ones that cover more adult attractions. Most of the videos are clean, they bleep out any language, and any adult content is so disguised and mentioned so quickly that it would go over the head of most kids.
We find a few exceptions, however. Videos covering the ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounterride at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, the Tomb Raider: The Ride at Virginia’s Kings Dominion park, the large-scale party Disney threw after the completion of the movie Snow White, and the the terrifying mystery tour in Tokyo Disney Land’s Cinderella castle are examples of videos that may be inappropriate for young audiences.
The Alien Encounter ride was intense and violent for a Disney ride, and the scenes from the video show a scene from the movie and images of the ride to depict that reality. In this video, Perjurer mentions that a man in an advertisement appears drunk. The ride features an alien being “burned” and aliens eating people. Perjurer also notes that an actor involved with the ride was convicted for child pornography.
The Tomb Raider ride, developed by Paramount Pictures following the release of the first movie, has similarly inappropriate elements. On the ride, a prop idol of the god Shiva is seen talking in Hindi. People riding the ride exclaim “What the?” and “Oh my God.”
The video titled “Defunctland: The Craziest Party Walt Disney Ever Threw” shows various forms of drinking. The video explains that people attending the party became extremely intoxicated to the point of surprised to be waking up in bed with the person with them. In describing men working for Disney at the time, Perjurer often mentions a man who commonly drew images of naked women, and those graphic drawings are shown with the sensitive areas blurred out. Another man is called a functional alcoholic and a womanizer. The workplace of Disney, according to the video, included sexual harassment of the women who worked there. The term h— is used in a vulgar way, and d–n is said. Walt Disney falsely accuses union men of being Communists, god–n is used, and sons of b–chs is bleeped out.
The video on the mystery tours under Cinderella’s castle in Tokyo Disney Land had some dark moments. The video opens with a humorous song that does make light of hell and supernatural evil beings. The video incorporates and attacks the casual racism against Japan, which is evident in some promotional materials. The darkest Disney villains are present in the ride and in the video, including Chernabog, who is a demon, and the nefarious Horned King, who turns skeletons into soldiers of death. The dialogue of the ride quoted in the video discusses dead bodies to feed the black cauldron of death, and the animatronics shown are creepy.
The detail of the Defunctland videos is remarkable, and many of Perjurer’s jokes enhance the content to keep it entertaining and informative. The channel has a lot of existing content, complete with adjacent podcast episodes and a spin-off channel, so fans of theme parks will be thrilled to find so many free videos to experience.
The appropriate age range for watching these videos typically mirrors well the appropriate age range for a person to enjoy the attraction the video is centered around. The style of presented content will probably be more enjoyable and fitting for teenagers and adults than kids, but the videos censor out anything that would be particularly concerning.
Marsella Evans is the Plugged In intern for Summer 2022.