The use of language as it pertains to theme parkdom can be an interesting study. As with any specific, targeted genre there are grammatically correct uses of certain words and phrases as well as the acceptable use of the "spoken language." In other words, there may be appropriate times when the spoken language does not match up with the grammatically correct usage. I am not referring so much to "insider language" known among theme park enthusiasts, but rather the more common use of language known by the average theme park fan.
The point of this article is to ask the question of what is deemed acceptable as spoken language when it breaks the correct use of terminology. It seems there must be times when even the colloquial use of terms is considered "out of line." In other words, when having a conversation over dinner with a friend who makes a grammatically incorrect use of a word or phrase in spoken language, when do you "let it go" and when do you feel the need to correct them?
This question came to mind when watching a recent "Behind the Scenes" documentary of the Walt Disney World Resort. Several times throughout the 60 minute documentary the host and even the Disney Imagineers would reference the resort's premiere park, Magic Kingdom, by using the definite article. For those of you too far removed from language studies in school, the definite article in English is the word "the." Thus, they would refer to the park as "the Magic Kingdom." For example, at one point the host said, "one of the most spectacular nighttime elements of the Magic Kingdom is the SpectroMagic Parade. . ."
Is this an unacceptable use of the park name, especially from a source such as a documentary? Let's consider a parallel. Kings Island in Cincinnati, OH is a wonderful thrill park with a name similar to "Magic Kingdom." The second word is a noun (island and kingdom) and the first word is the modifier. The only difference between the two is the plural nature of the modifier "kings" opposed to the singular use of "magic." The word "magic" really has no plural since it is a part of speech known as a "mass noun" – that is simply a word which cannot be modified by a number without using specific measurements. I'm not sure if that plays into this discussion or not, but I do not think I have ever heard anyone say "the Kings Island." Yet, the definite article is used all the time for Magic Kingdom. I find even myself using the definite article from time to time. Is this ok? I'm not sure.
Related to this discussion is the tendency to turn Cinderella Castle into the possessive, Cinderella's Castle. This is done even more frequently than the definite article but seems to be a losing battle to correct. Will there ever be a group that will sing the correct lyrics to "America the Beautiful?" Here's a hint – it isn't "purple mountains majesties. . ." This seems to be in the same vein as Cinderella Castle; correcting folks on this one is just a waste of breath.
And what about folks who still refer to Magic Kingdom as "Walt Disney World?" What are we to do with these poor souls?
You get the picture. I would be interested to hear from you guys as to what you think is an acceptable misuse of terms and what is necessary to correct.