Seven Times The Simpsons Has Lampooned Disney
The marriage of The Simpsons and The Walt Disney Company is finally official. A quick look at Disney+ will confirm that the beloved television series has become the most popular item on the entire streaming service.
Although the union didn’t become official until November 11th, The Simpsons have seemingly known their fate for years, frequently joking about Disney and the Happiest Place on Earth. Here are seven times that The Simpsons lovingly lampooned Disney and its theme parks.
Itchy & Scratchy Land
The most famous and most quoted of all Simpsons theme park episodes takes place in season six. During Itchy and Scratchy Land, Bart fakes his own death with Lisa as his willing accomplice. Their goal is to persuade their parents to visit the theme park during its grand opening.
Homer and Marge are understandably reluctant to take their kids to the “violent-est place on earth.” However, they relent upon learning about Parents’ Island, a place where adults have their choice of “dancing, bowling, fashionable shops, over 100 bars, and saloons…” and themed lands like “TV Town and Hammock Land.” There’s even a ride called Recipe-Related Bumper Cars.
What’s impressive about this episode is that it came out more than 25 years ago in 1994. Disney Springs wouldn’t add bowling until 2012! I’ve always wondered whether Disney executives got the idea from The Simpsons.
I could actually populate the entire list with nothing but Itchy & Scratchy Land references. However, I’ll just pick one. When Bart wants to get a license plate with his name on it, he’s frustrated to find only ones with Bort. On more than one occasion, I’ve noticed a Disney guest carrying some sort of identification that says Bort on it. I always want to fist-bump that person.
PS: You may not realize it, but The Simpsons also lampoons Westworld in this episode. The idea of the robots taking over the park was taken straight from the 1973 movie, which HBO would later reboot in 2016.
In January of 2003, The Simpsons returned to Florida for some season 14 shenanigans. This time, the storyline involved (unlikely) Teacher of the Year candidate, Edna Krabappel. In an episode entitled Special Edna, she receives a trip to Orlando for the awards ceremony. The Simpsons tag along because that’s what they do.
During the trip, the family wanders into Efcot. Lisa describes the experience as “what people in 1965 imagined what life would be like in 1987.” She and Marge ride Future Sphere, a clear send-up of Spaceship Earth. More than anything, this scene proves that it’s best that Eastern Airlines closed in 1991. They had grim plans for society’s future straight down to imagining a world without Coca-Cola.
A Sad Truth at Splash Mountain
In season 16, Homer unintentionally causes Marge to have an emotional affair with Moe. Yes, that’s gross, but it thankfully doesn’t last through the entire episode. Homer’s co-workers, Lenny and Carl, are the ones who must break the news to their friend.
When Homer realizes that he’s about to hear a sad truth, he asks to “learn it at a happy place.” The three of them head to Itchy & Scratchy Land’s equivalent to Splash Mountain. Before they descend, Homer comes up with a plan to save his marriage and demands that the Squeaky-Voiced Teen stops the ride. There are…repercussions.
The Eyeballs of Death? Gross!
While many fans of The Simpsons lament the lost days of seasons six through eight, I think the show has provided consist laughs for decades. In fact, one of my favorite two-episode combos came in season 23. The Food Wife and The Book Job have provided me endless entertainment over the years, as I’ve watched both at least 50 times. Don’t judge me!
In The Food Wife, Homer has earned a reputation as Fun Dad, but Marge displaces him when she becomes a foodie. Papa tries to lure the kids back with tickets to the grand opening of the new attraction, The Eyeballs of Death. It’s actually a quick joke about the horrifyingly unsafe conditions at Krustyland, but it never fails to crack me up.
Soarin’ Over Springfield
During season 26, The Simpsons crafted one of the most detailed Disney ride parodies ever. In the episode, Bart’s New Friend, Homer gets reset into a childlike state and loves all kiddie activities. Bart takes him to Itchy and Scratchy Land to ride the hottest new attraction, Soarin’ Over Springfield. The music is so pitch-perfect and the camera angles so realistic that only a true Soarin’ fan could have created this bit.
By the way, here’s a bit of trivia about this episode. Famous producer/director Judd Apatow wrote it as a spec script when he was 22. Years later, he would appear on The Simpsons in season 25’s Steal This City.
During Apatow’s discussions with the show’s producers, he mentioned the long-forgotten script. They re-read it and decided to film Dad Behavior 25 years after Apatow first created it. Soarin’ didn’t even exist when Apatow first wrote the episode!
A Trip to Dizzneeland
Clearly, season 26 is when someone tipped off the producers that Fox might eventually sell their content to the Mouse House. How else can we explain the heightened interest in all things Disney?
The episode, The Man Who Came to Be Dinner, represents the most extensive theme park visit in 12 years. At the start, the family travels to Dizzneeland and proceeds to ride Mr. Bug’s Slow Crawl. Anyone who has ever felt trapped on It’s a Small World can undoubtedly relate to this sequence. Poor Bart even tries to escape, only to get stuck back at the beginning of the ride.
Somehow, the situation degrades from there. The family discovers Rocket to Your Doom, which they believe is a state-of-the-art Diznee ride. In reality, it’s alien spacecraft that kidnaps and imprisons them, a fate even worse than two trips on Mr. Bug’s Slow Crawl.
The Slowest Car Chase
Believe it or not, Autopia is one of the most storied rides in Disney theme park history. Back in the early years of Disneyland, Imagineers constructed three different versions of the attraction. It was so popular that Disney needed one in operation at several different spots.
At the time, the thought of driving was new and exciting to park visitors. Today, cars are no big deal, and rides like Tomorrowland Speedway are…somewhat lackluster, although the Christmas version is pretty great.
Anyway, Disney mocks the ride experience in a season 28 episode, Dad Behavior. Homer and Kirk Milhouse are feuding over Bart. The three of them, along with Milhouse, settle their differences at Itchy & Scratchy Land. They race on Itchy & Scratchy’s Injury 500, which seems to go about 1.7 miles per hour. It’s not much of a race, although the ride name unexpectedly proves correct.
Do you lovee when The Simpsons lampoon Disney? Well, I’ve got terrific news! Every episode that I reference here is now available on Disney+! You can watch them whenever you want! Here are the exact episode numbers if you’re interested:
- Itchy and Scratchy Land – Season 6, Episode 4
- Special Edna – Season 14, Episode 7
- Mommie Beerest – Season 16, Episode 7
- The Food Wife – Season 23, Episode 5
- Bart’s New Friend – Season 26, Episode 11
- The Man Who Came to Be Dinner – Season 26, Episode 10
- Dad Behavior – Season 28, Episode 8