A Millennial Lurks Inside Peppa Pig Theme Park
The Peppa Pig cinema was the Elysium of this theme park, a respite from chaos not unlike the cartoon itself. Sweaty parents filtered into a dark, cool room and thrust bags of Froot Loops upon their children, slumped over beanbag chairs.
Peppa Pig played on a big screen. Specifically, "Digging Up The Road," an episode in which Peppa's family heads to the playground and encounters a water leak in the street.
"Is it going to take long?" Mummy Pig asks.
"It will take as long as it takes!" huffs Mr. Bull, the construction worker. Later, Peppa repeats the same line to her ungrateful little playmates.
Ah, there she was, our confident hog! Our pink princess! Our pop-culture porker! She can confront any cross-species situation, soothe nearby toddlers, even transcend preschool to fascinate a generation beyond her intended target.
But can she carry a whole attraction? For everyone?
I, pushing 40, ventured suspiciously alone to lurk at the plainly named Peppa Pig Theme Park (guess they wanted those Google hits). The park opened in Winter Haven, Florida in February, steps from Legoland. On a Wednesday afternoon, small humans ran roughshod over the hallowed grounds of their hero.
My first Peppa Pig exposure came years back as a new stepmom. I hadn't watched kids cartoons since I was a kid myself in the clunky, pre-digital 1980s. But Peppa was different, and the show fascinated me as much as it did the child.
"Peppa Pig" chronicles the exploits of Peppa, her brother George, Mummy Pig, Daddy Pig and a cast of mammalian friends. It's almost punk in simplicity, aggressively two-dimensional and pastel, wry and clever compared to, say, "He-Man." Describing the aesthetic requires a virtuosity unto itself. Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in a rambling speech, once compared Peppa's visage to a "Picasso-like hairdryer," which isn't wrong.
It's addictive, not just for American children adopting British accents. In one episode that went viral, Peppa struggles to whistle. She calls Suzy Sheep to feel some schadenfreude. But when Suzy easily whistles into the receiver, Peppa hangs up, wordless, with one wicked, porcine finger. It's high art! It's permission to leave toxic relationships!