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DISNEY-(LAND) From Screen To The Structure How does Disney Apply The Immersive Dialect Used In Their Children Targeted Media, To Give Credence To Fantasy and Allow For It To Be Experienced In A 3-Dimensional Space?

A dissertation submitted to the Manchester School of Architecture for the degree of Master of Architecture (MArch)

By Irvine Toroitich 18051379





I declare that the work in this dissertation was carried out in accordance with the Regulations of the Manchester Metropolitan University. The work is original except where indicated by special reference in the text and no part of the dissertation has been submitted for any other degree. The dissertation has not been presented to any other University for examination either in the United Kingdom or elsewhere.

Copyright in the text of this thesis rests with the author. Copies (by any process) either in full, or of extracts, may be made only in accordance with instructions given by the author and lodged in the John Rylands Library of Manchester. Details may be obtained from the librarian. This page must form part of any such copies made. Further copies (by any process) of copies made in accordance with such instructions may not be made without the permission (in writing) of the author. The ownership of any intellectual property rights which


may be described in this thesis is vested in the Manchester School of Architecture, subject to any prior agreement to the contrary, and may not be made available for use by third parties without the written permission of the university, which will prescribe the terms and conditions of any such agreement. Further information on the conditions under which disclosures and exploitation may take place is available from the Head of Department of the School of Environment and Development. Word Count: 13190

I would like to express my utmost gratitude to my supervisor, Dr. Stephen Walker, for his continued support, constructive comments and mentorship for its was invaluably helpful to the completion of this dissertation.



ABSTRACT Since the early 20th century, Disney had become a uniquely cultural phenomena embedded in societies education, spatial and consumerism routine, within adults and in children. The trip to Disneyland is a pilgrim most yearn to venture and is an excitement that first begins in the vicinity of the television. This Dissertation will look to examine the unwrinkled implementation of the Disney’s television content into Disneyland. This dissertation first pursues to establish a historical framework necessary in understanding the theoretic arguments that will be brought forward as the dissertation unfolds. This framework will be split into three main categories, exploring childhood as a topic, theme parks, and a contextual introduction into Disneyland.

In the main body of the dissertation, the first few chapters seek to establish to the reader the beginning of a gain in authority of Disney in its media platform. Disney had strategically set measures in place to gain the confidence and loyalty of its audience, who just like their media content, were transferable to Disneyland. The dissertation then seeks to understand the specific architectural connection between animation and reality as Disney portrayed it, and the form it might take in the real world. Once established, the last few chapters look to clarify and understand the demography that Disney was projecting towards in both their media platform and in Disneyland, and if indeed there is a correlation between the two.



CONTENTS i. INTRODUCTION........................................................................5 4. RULES TO THE PARK.........................................................28 4.1 Planning The Fantasy.......................................................28 ii. LITERATURE REVIEW............................................................6 4.2 The Perfect Picture..........................................................29 Children.........................................................................................6 4.3 The Utilidors........................................................................33 Theme Parks.................................................................................8 Disney..............................................................................................9 5. INTERNATIONAL AUDIENCE .........................................34 5.1 Global Audience Project...................................................34 1. MOUSEKETEERS....................................................................11 5.2 Cultural Folklore...............................................................35 1.1 Mickey Mouse Club............................................................11 5.3 Disneyland’s Context......................................................35 1.2 Disney Philosophies..........................................................12 1.3 Main Street............................................................................13 6. DISNEY BABIES AND DISNEY ADULTS......................38 6.1 Cuteness...............................................................................39 2. ALICE IN WONDERLAND...................................................15 6.2 controlling The Fantasy.................................................39 2.1 Hyper-Realism.....................................................................16 2.2 A Utopic Transition............................................................17 7. CONCLUSION..........................................................................43 3. DISNEY’S IMAGINEERS.......................................................19 BIBLIOGRAPHY.........................................................................44 3.1 The Master Plan...................................................................19 3.2 Pirates Of The Caribbean................................................22 FIGURE REFERENCING........................................................45 3.3 Tomorrowland.....................................................................26 APPENDIX A...............................................................................48



i. INTRODUCTION “I was 18 years old when I actually started out on my career,” -Walt Elias Disney Born in 1901, Walter Elias Disney, from his teenage years, had always been fascinated in drawing cartoons and illustrations for different newspapers, and his first ever job, with the help from his brother Roy Disney, was for Pesmen-Rubin Art Studio in 1919, where he worked as an artist. It is in his move to a company in Kansas a few years later, where he first took up the role of an animator, learning and making the necessary connections that helped him in creating the Disney enterprise that he shared with his brother equally. In this new company formed in 1923, did his first ever successful series get distributed, The Alice Comedies. I will hence discuss in this dissertation why this particular series was particularly important to Disney, providing society the utopic fantasies bestowed upon Disney is today. The 20th century invention of the television, that first appeared in 1927 proved to be a technology that directly influence the way people organised their daily lives as David Gauntlet (1999) suggests, making it the centre of our homes and replacing the firewood as the point to which the family gathers around. The television for Disney created a direct access to people never experienced before, to which they took advantage of to enhance the media experience of their audience, both in family entertainment and children targeted media. Disney’s media provided them the ability to influence the audience in different ways, not only towards the Disney’s animations, but directly towards Disneyland, as it opened in

1955. This discourse will study the extent to which Disney’s broadcast media, influenced the credence of fantasies within children’s realities, and the role in which Disneyland plays, as a 3-Dimensinal attempt into these realms. Examining the concept behind fantasies as an escape to a utopian interpretation of our experiences, this piece will determine to make explicit the extent to which the sequential immersion dialectal of the television, is realised in Disneyland and its various degrees of success. This will inevitably bring out the themes of identity and hyperidentity, reality and hyper-reality questioning how broadcast media and Disneyland aim to manipulate them, to enhance the way in which they tell their stories. Increased exposure to media content, especially for children, has been an issue discussed in most societies today, and Disney, often being at the epicentre of these conversations, with some of authors calling Disney “teaching machines,”[1] has been a huge influence in children’s media. Disney, however, is strategically at a very specific position, where the media content is not only demanded for in the television, but as a reallife experience as well. It is in the interpretive dialogue between Disney’s media and Disneyland that this discourse focuses on. The success of Disneyland has conjured up a lot more Disney theme parks around the world, with six in America, two in Japan, two in France, Two in China and more being 1 Valkenburg, P. (2004) Children’s responses to the screen. Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum.

planned currently. Due to the specific focus in this dissertation, it does not intend to outline one specific theme park, but a language they all adopted from its television network. When I hence mention Disneyland, I use the term not to reference one the original theme park in California, but as a collective term encompassing them all. It is almost guaranteed that in any decent library, there will be literature focused on Disney as a media animation company, or on the Disneyland theme parks, but very few specifically focus on the crossover between the screen and the structure, creating a potential gap in research painting a different overview on Disney and Disneyland. This dissertation therefore attempts to instigate a conversation between the relationship people have with architecture and television. Perhaps the success of a space is not only in its aesthetic and function, but in the relationship it builds outside the direct experience of its structure.



ii. LITERATURE REVIEW In order fully comprehend the relationships between Disney’s children broadcast media and Disneyland, the reader must first understand the different themes that encircle this question, and the different debates that were happening at different periods leading up to the construction of Disneyland.

Fig 1

Figures 1 and 2 shows medieval paintings of children who were illustrated to look like adult men

Fig 2

It is impossible to talk about Disneyland without first understanding the literature around children and how Disney construed the idea of childhood. Looking through the lenses of different authors on their take on childhood, the first part of this literature review gives a summarised account and insight into the origin of the perceived model of childhood we adhere to today. It is also just as important to know the studies and debates around the influence of television on children, giving a foundational understanding to how Disney used the same medium to gain its influence, which will be covered in further detail throughout the dissertation. Disneyland as a theme park was not conjured out of nothing but took a lot of precedent from its preceding exhibitions, world fairs, and theme parks. In order to realise the success of Disneyland as a different kind of themed park, I must first give account of the earlier theme parks and, through this chapter, explain to the reader what Disney took from the theme parks and what made it different. The last part of this chapter gives the reader a brief insight into Disney, setting the context to which the rest of this dissertation will explore. This segment intends to give the reader an

overview summary unveiling different areas this discourse covers, placing the context to which the question on Disney is considered.

Children. “One could leave childhood only by leaving the state of dependence, or at least the lower degrees of dependence (p.26).”[1] The state being a child has always been regarded with the child’s ability to be independent. The closer one gets to independence as a freedom of action and decision making, the closer one gets to the stages after childhood- at least in the model of childhood we know today, but the same cannot be said for children in the medieval period. The first clue we get of this in the medieval society is in their art. Here we can observe children were almost never captured in the pieces drawn at the time, and those that did attempt to illustrate children, drew them as little men. One of these pieces as seen in figure 1 was a “scene in the Gospel in which Jesus asks that little children be allowed to come to him. The Latin text in clear…Yet the miniaturist has grouped around Jesus what are obviously eight men without any characteristics of a child…on a smaller scale. (p.33)”[2] In that age of great artists, the neglect, or rather chosen perception of the child cannot be seen as an incompetent act, but a deliberate insight into the ideological minds of that society. The simple child we are well 1 Aries, P. (1962) Centuries of Childhood. London: J. and J. Gray. 2 Ibid



accustomed to now was not a demographic category that held any prominence in the middle ages and the French medievalist Philippe Aries acknowledges this perception in his book Centuries of Children. Being a child meant beating the odds and surviving long enough to be a recognise member of society, otherwise, a dead child would be but a number, accounted for by the mother who had many children in the hopes that a few survive into adulthood. Patti Valkenburg builds this research trajectory, putting out two different models of childhood. The first model, which responds to the type of society Aries discourses, is childhood as a period leading to adulthood, where there isn’t a clear difference in the treatment of content provided between the child and the adult. The material this child would be exposed to in the available forms of media at the time, was the same material the adults grasped with. The censorship between a grown man and a child was not yet a viable idea, and a result, “Children were confronted with what happened in reality, rather than educated about it, (p.2)”[3] and childhood was hence the training period for adulthood. Valkenburg’s second model of child hood began to manifest itself in the 1770s, through to the 1800s. The child was now being recognised a sensitive member of the community, and for the first time ever “childhood was regarded as a period in its own right and not solely a period of preparation for adulthood,(p.3)”[4] and the potential effects the forms of media would have on the child was now a debate of consideration. Valkenburg outlines that it was at this point, that media created for children became a niche market. Because of the need to protect children from the media content available to the adult community, censored/ 3 Valkenburg, P. (2004) Children’s responses to the screen. Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum. 4 Ibid

watered-down literature deemed fit for children, was widely distributed to protect the innocence of the child. Story books such as the little red riding hood, which originally contained nudity and sexual content, and not a very happy ending, was altered to suit this new model of childhood the 18th and 19th century was raising. The main reason driving this change towards children, was the noted negative impact the adult content, containing the evils of the world, had on the children as they grew up into pessimistic less motivated grownups. The rise of media content for children, as print copies and the broadcast media platform, also had its own impact on the children. The book Media and the Make-Believe Worlds of Children explores the impact media has had on the imagination of children, expressing that not only do children fashion their own paradise in their head, but often semiotically dwell in them as well. The book outlines that these imaginary places can be used by children, often in emotionally challenging situations, as an escape from their real-world problems, in an attempt to detach themselves from their actuality into their fantasy. “Fantasy play is a common venue through which children act out their fantasies…These patterns of behaviours are most common for children between the ages of 3 to 6, starting from about the age of 2½ years and reaching a peak of about 5 years of age. (p. 8)”[5]

while. “One of the most remarkable of [the results] was the fact that Notel children rated higher on the tests of creativity in comparison with children in two other towns, and these scores went down in the 2 years performed after the introduction of television. (p.12)”[6] This study seems to conclude that television has a negative effect on the creativity within the children of this town. Creativity however, compared to imaginative play in children may be targeted differently, as we investigate more studies done on this. Investigating the effect of television on fantasy play, the university of Yale, Van De Voort, and Valkenburg each conducted their own independent research experiments on this to which everyone’s results came to similar conclusions, complimenting each other. They stimulant of imaginative play they found out, is “the type of content children watched [rather] than the quantity of time spent viewing… fantasy violence in television may inhibit or take the place of imaginative play, where… educational prosocial programming may actually encourage it. (p.13)”[7] Considering the different kinds of tests and different results obtained, it is difficult to pin point what the exact relationship between children and television is, but the one thing that is clear, is that this is apparent, perhaps more so within the Disney televisual media directly aimed to trigger fantasy and imagination.

This book also highlights a study done on children in the city of Notel, Canada, testing their creativity with the variable being the introduction of television. The city was studied 2 years before it got any signals to television, and 2 years after, and for comparison Notel was put against two other cities in Canada that already had a television signal for a

Valkenburg, as she goes through her models of childhood, recognised the impact of a televisual culture on the perception of childhood in the society. The introduction of television in the early 20th century recreated a merger of content last experienced in the 18th century literature, where children were now exposed to the harsh realities of the world again and “it cannot be denied

5 Götz, M., Dafna, L. and Amy, A. (2005) Media in the make-believe worlds of children. Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum.

6 Ibid 7 Ibid

that television informed children of issues of which they would not have come into contact in the past. (p.6)”[8] With the range of content easily accessible to anyone, children were able to gain access to the content they were sheltered from for so long in the name of innocence. Suddenly society was then able to critique the model of the innocent child, asserting that it was “wrong to show children a dream world, and it was important to confront children with reality in order to make them aware of their environment, (p.3)”[9] as Valkenburg highlights this conflict in society. On one hand, the innocent naïve child is being protected too much, and should be educated on the issues of the world, and on the other hand, the televisual society argues that television is robbing the children off their childhood, by bringing them into contact with the problems and issues of the world. Then, just as had happened in the 17th Century, television also divided its content, serving the adult and the child separately, in the form of different programmes designed for the perceived model of childhood, as “changes in the ideas about childhood go hand in hand with changes in the media content designed for children. (p.12)”[10] These programmes either fed into the innocent child model, stimulating fantasies and utopic possibilities, where others fed into the model of childhood, where the infant was to be educated about certain life issues. “Some researchers, for example, feel that Disney animated films are teaching machines that form young children’s understanding of issues such as patriarchy and racism. (p.11)”[11] Disney perhaps, has had the biggest impact in the early days of children targeted media, with its stories and ability to stimulate imagination and fantasy play, specifically with the model of childhood 8 Valkenburg, P. (2004) Children’s responses to the screen. Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum. 9 Ibid 10 Ibid 11 Ibid


Disney-Land that had evolved to date. From this account of childhood, this dissertation will aim to uncover Disney’s perspective on the model of childhood they seek to address in their films and in Disneyland.

Theme Parks.

Fig 3

The Vauxhall pleasure gardens

Years before Disneyland manifested itself in the world, there were different models of the themed park i.e. the amusement park, the fair, and perhaps the oldest of them all, was the pleasure gardens as seen in figure 3. These were perhaps the first instances that fantasies, were represented in a 3-dimensional space to become experiential, as Michael Webb argues that “It is hardly remarkable that adventure and fantasies have overflowed the minds of dreamers and have crystalized to become real cities or at least imaginary parts of them, (p.8)”[12] The experiential fantasy was not something Disney invented, but catalysed a conversation that was ongoing many years beforehand however, they early “amusement parks increasingly promoted themselves as sites of leisure, attempting to redefine the experience they offered in the face of a rapidly growing changing commercial entertainment industry.(p.11)”[13] Josephine Kane helps us understand this by arguing that amusement parks were driven by commercial entertainment, targeting a mass audience, “offering an alternative model of democratic urban recreation to that of civic institutions such as parks, museums.(p.23)”[14] The idea of an alternative urban landscape was something amusement parks and Midways from the 17th Century were grasping with, fundamentally creating a formula to be used for future amusement parks and a narrative from which Disneyland adopted.

12 Fox, T., Asensio Cerver, F. and Webb, M. (1997) Theme and amusement parks. New York: Hearst Books International. 13 Ibid 14 Ibid

“The first great exhibition was to be divided into two distinct zones, (p.22)”[15] as Kane continues about the 1893 Colombia Exposition. The amusement entertainment side was one zone, and other was the main exhibition, exhibiting the White City, “advocating the potential growth of science, technology, education and high culture in a vision of urban utopia, (p.22)”[16] a utopic ideology presented to its respective consumer, much like Disneyland. Kane highlights that this exhibition, “despite giving an impression of gleaming marble, the huge white city buildings were wood and steel structures covered with staff, a plaster and fibrous binding, (p.22)”[17] suggesting the fake nature of the buildings, a nature commonly regarded to with Disneyland architecture. Despite the thematically and to a certain degree, constructional resemblance to Disneyland, perhaps the most antonymous character between the exhibitions and Disneyland, was in their ephemeral nature. Peter Bruce argues, that “buildings of pleasure were required to be ephemeral, and obsolescent so that they could continually be re-invented to provoke desire and feed demand. (p.18)”[18] Bruce associated the volatility in entertainment industry to the architecture that was used to represent this entertainment, exclaiming that it had to be transient to quickly change as “such new attractions would require new forms of architectural expression in keeping with…the modern spirit. (p.26)”[19] It was because of this reason, that these early exhibitions and fairs, were only events and not places, much like Disneyland is a place. Bruce, however, did not restrict his scope of pleasure architecture to the fairs and amusement parks, but throughout the urban 15 Kane, J. (2013) The Architecture of Pleasure. London: Routledge. 16 Ibid 17 Ibid 18 Peter, B. (2007) Form Follows Fun. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis. 19 Ibid



landscape, including cinemas, theatres and the like. Karal Marling picks up this argument affirming that “despite the powerful institutions that flowed out of expositions, fairs were basically events rather than places, memory pieces, performances, once-in-a-life-time experience. (p.22)”[20] and because of this, for a long time, these structures pioneered in the construction of fantasy for its society. Marling continues that “fairs and expositions moulded the fantasies and sharpened the expectations of several generations of Americans, (p.19)”[21] but this hierarchy would soon be altered, with the emergence of the broadcast media. With a sudden rush to the cinema, the radio and the television, the fairs faced their biggest threat and were losing traction in the market they served for so many years and Marling confirms that “by the 1920’s, the rural Americans were feeding their dreams in movie places rather than carnival midways. (p.23)”[22] Without any type of intervention, the amusement park, and the fair were on a downhill trajectory, losing their market to mass media. Disney at the time, was arguably part of this new illustrative media pointing the direction to which people looked to project their fantasies from. “The fairs of the 1930s, acknowledging the potent appeal of the new mass media, indeed employed deploying radio and film within their enormous systems of publicity and public relations, (p.26)[23] and suddenly, the ephemeral fair that helped drive the utopic regeneration of people’s lives, was a now looking to media for clues on what people fantasised about, and implementing it in their three-dimensional spheres. Marling continues by illustrating that “despite their national popular success in the 1930s, international fairs went into 20 Marling, K. (1997) Designing Disney’s theme parks. Montréal: Flammarion. 21 Ibid 22 Ibid 23 Ibid

eclipse in the United States, experiencing a twenty-two-year hiatus, (p.27)”[24] media had taken over. Advancements in broadcast media had become the single biggest stimulus to peoples fantasy however, Marling claims that the appetite to feed fantasy in a three-dimensional space was not completely forgotten, and some attempts were still being made where the “experienced showmen often said that the best rides were participantdirected. (p.27)”[25] The fair had to take a new approach in order to be able to feed into fantasy the way media could not. By making the audience active participants in the show, in the illusions, the fair would then have an advantage over the 2D content being offered: “the Disney parks accepted this notion. (p.27)”[26]

Disney. Before the phenomena that was Disneyland, we have seen discourses of the fairs and amusement parks and the models of childhood in society, being actively stimulated into fantasy through various two and threedimensional mediums. These medium often acted independently, and it is in the attempted cohesion between the mediums that a market gap lay. Disneyland was an inevitable consequence.

them to life in the movies, and so powerful was his imagery that his animated films have become, for many people, the authoritative version. (p.13)”[28] The Disney brand undeniably begun in Walt’s animations.

and content, and no longer took refuge in elevating popular taste by honouring high culture, (p.27)”[31] as Marling illustrates that Disneyland was indistinguishably different from the expositions the preceded it.

The book, Inside the Mouse also recognised the influence Disney had on this platform comparing Disney to Henrik Johan Ibsen, who is considered to be one of the most influential play-writers of his time, being held in the same breath as William Shakespeare. Winning numerous film related awards, from the creation of Mickey mouse, to Cinderella and snow white and the seven dwarfs, Disney undisputedly dominated the broadcast media in the animation category from its very early days. With such a ‘monopoly’ as the Disney brand, altering the way its audience fantasise would have been quite easy, with Walt himself claiming that, what they were selling was a belief in fantasy and storytelling. Michael Eisner, who became the Disney company’s chairman in 1984, speaks about Disney’s animation films possessing the ability to emotionally affect its users, saying that “[he doesn’t] think anyone watching can help but be affected…and that too is true of our architecture as well as our art. (p.14)”[29]

“His landscapes, moreover, were far more specialized and efficient than the sprawling, comprehensive settings that were fairgrounds…Disney outdid their polish and proverbially intensive maintenance… The Disney Parks celebrated not Columbus, the Panama Canal, the Louisiana Purchase, or any other the building of bridges, as had some earlier expositions. They celebrated themselves and their audience. (p.27)”

Walt Disney is considered to be one of the greatest story tellers of his time, and still considered so up to date, with Bet Dunlop calling him “the supreme storyteller, the master of a new art. (p.13)”[27] There is no hesitation in most literature inscribed about Walt Disney, about his astounding ability to script a story in the media platform he dominated. Dunlop says, that “he took the fable and fairy tales of the past and brought

As mentioned earlier by Marling, people were flocking into broadcast media to satisfy their fantasy, and Disney played a large role in this shift from the fair to the film. Despite such a recession to the fairs and expositions, “the appetite for fantasy had not disappeared, nor the special ability of a three-dimensional space to feed it, (p.27)”[30] but it needed to be different, it couldn’t embody the same philosophies and implementations as the traditional fair grounds. “The challenge was to design a product that matched form

24 Ibid 25 Ibid 26 Ibid 27 Dunlop, B. (1996) Building a dream. New York: Disney Editions.

28 Ibid 29 Ibid 30 Marling, K. (1997) Designing Disney’s theme parks. Montréal: Flammarion.

Walt sought to translate his illustrations into an experiential space, of which the audience willing to participate in were created by their broadcast media. The very first concept of said translation, Disneylandia as Beth Dunlop illustrates for us, miniature tableau model with themes taken from the American life and folklore. The second attempt, which was designing of the actual park but on a different initial site, right across the road from the studios. The site however proved to be too small, as his ideas soon outgrew the site. The orange grove site in California was later located with the help of the Stanford research institute, and Disneyland was set to be designed and built. Through these attempts, into which I will discuss in further detail in later chapters, get an insight into Walt’s vision, that he had a “growing determination to build something tangible and true, something perfect, a place where nothing could ever go wrong. (p.35)”[32] From its early years, scholars have deconstructed Disney’s utopic outline, with some authors supporting this outline, while 31 Ibid 32 Ibid



other being more critical. In the journal Dazzled by Disney, Jacques Guyot, conducted an audience research with the aim to investigate people’s response to the values they think Disney promotes, or discourages. In the everyday real world, good doesn’t always triumph evil, but in Disney’s world, it always does. It is here that we first glimpse a direct reference to one of the models of childhood we glimpsed earlier, a child that needs to be protected from all evil, as David Buckingham suggests, that the “fantasy world of Disney somehow reflected children’s view of the world… that’s why kids love [Disney] so much, because it is just perfect, and there isn’t all this shit that’s going on outside. (p.282)“[33] Luis Marin gives an account on how Disneyland successfully achieves utopia inside our real world, where utopia cannot exist. In the planning of the park, Marin says that, “the most obvious axis of Disney’s utopia leads the visitors not only from the circulation limit or perimeter to the core of the closed space, but from reality into fantasy, (p.245)”[34] proposing to us that in order to live in utopia, we must first abandon reality as they cannot exist together. I will expand further on Marin’s proposal of Disneyland, utopia in later chapter.

of fakeness and ultimately death. (p.459)”[35] Serra brings out the same point Marin used to argue for Disney’s utopic success to account for its emphasis on death, where the whole idea of creating “a perfect world, one must erase all its unpredictable, rebellious, surprising elements-all that makes it alive. (p.467)”[36] This perfect Disney world, according to Serra, cannot exist with regular object that decay and go bad, they cannot be alive, because being alive means death is inevitable thus, “only dead objects can populate the hyperreality of Disney world. (p.468)”[37] The focus of this dissertation is not to debate on the utopic or dystopic nature of Disneyland, but in the translation of Disney’s media platform into the build from of Disneyland. Disneyland is often described as the story telling theme park, perhaps most fitting due to stories being the epicentre of Disney, and I will investigate if this story also played a role in the construction of Disneyland.

Some authors although do not agree that Disneyland’s ultimate result was a utopic appeal, but a dystopic one, emphasising fakeness and death. Ilaria Serra’s article in the journal of the fantastic in the Arts, recalls her visit to Disneyland exclaiming that “was no longer sure what was real, and what was fake, what was alive and what was dead. [She] nourished the strange sensation that what waned with all its might to appear as the happiest place to live was instead a triumph 33 Wasko, J., Phillips, M. and Meehan, E. (2001) Dazzled by Disney? London: Continuum. 34 Marin, L. (1990) ‘Utopic degeneration: Disneyland’. Utopics: the semiological play of textual spaces, Contemporary studies in philosophy and the human sciences pp.239-257.

35 Serra, I. (2004) ‘Disney World: A Plastic Monument to death: From Rebelais to Disney’. Journal of the fantastic in Arts, 14(4) pp.459-470. 36 Ibid 37 Ibid

Fig 4 Silhouette of Walt Disney holding Mickey Mouse’s hand



1. THE MOUSEKETEERS Mouseketeer Noun- (plural Mouseketeers) • Any of the child or teenage performance featured in the American television variety show The Mickey Mouse Club. • One of a group of children appearing on the television program The Mickey Mouse Club in the 1950’s.

Fig. 5

Figure 5 shows the original cast crew who begun as Mouseketeers

“I don’t want to go to any of those professional schools. I don’t want those kids that tap-dance or blow trumpets while they’re tap-dancing or skip rope or have curly hair like Shirley Temple or nutty mothers. I just want ordinary kids” - Walt Disney -Santoli, L. (1995) The official Mickey Mouse Club book. New York: Hyperion.

Disney’s control of their experiential illusion is a theme I will continue to explore as this discourse unfolds, from which this investigation first begins in the television as this chapter focuses on its children audience discovering the monopoly Disney was said to have on childhood. This chapter will look to explain how Disney earned the trust and loyalty of their children audience through their films, examining the type of stories and messages Disney saw fit to tell children and the use of the television medium, used to create a sense of unity and a shared experience through mass media, where Disneyland is the place that promises to fulfil these experiences. The first exposure to Disneyland is not in the park itself, but in the various Disney products and services available before the trip to Disneyland, which had to play such an enticing role in order to create the need for a collective of children’s fantasies to be fulfilled in Disneyland. The arrival to Disneyland’s ticket booths is the extension of an experience that starts every time a child tunes in to the Mickey Mouse Club on television, or watches Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The Disney experience starts in the television.

1.1 Mickey Mouse Club The era in which the Disney shows erupted was unique for television. From the early 20th century, the effect of mass media on the general public was a topic being discussed at the time. Television’s early audience is said to have been “more naïve and vulnerable to influences from media than today’s public… The early media public let themselves be influenced in a way that is inconceivable

today.”[1] People are now more cautious of deceiving propaganda and distorted stories being transmitted to them and might not as susceptible to the messages being shown, as much as the early to mid-20th century audience. This mass effect was then theorised as the uniform effect model, stating that the receivers of this information from mass media were deliberately made to experience the same emotional reactions. In the backdrop of the second World Wars, using mass media to sway public opinion was a means already being used, and in recognising the influential effect of television, Disney started their own weekly television show, the Mickey Mouse Club, the same year Disneyland opened, in 1955. The format of the show was a daily 1-hour segment, with each day having a different theme, from “Fun with music day, guest star day, anything could happen day, circus day, and talent day round up day.”[2] This kind of children’s programme in the 1950s, at a time where the children’s shows were populated by “re-runs of old cartons and puppet shows,”[3] was very different and unique on television. This type of audience engagement in television, especially with the children, prompted thousands of children to feel like they could be part of the show, be part of Disney. Disney wanted to cast children that would cause other children to be drawn to the product, Disneyland. In Disney’s navigation through the hundreds of children they auditioned and sought after, 1 Valkenburg, P. (2004) Children’s responses to the screen. Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum. 2 The Mickey Mouse Club Story. (2011) YouTube. [Online] [Accessed on 9 March 2019] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1r-ufjAIfE. 3 Ibid


Disney-Land the type of child (who would be soon called a Mouseketeer) that was to be selected had to be an ordinary child so as to make the Disney dream seem attainable to anybody. Walt wanted to cast children that other children would draw towards in the playground, exclaiming they had a certain “star quality,”[4] acting as peer role models to their fellow children. The casting, the intentions of the show, the date of release and its time-period, all worked in synchrony, acting as an advertisement to a living fantasy in Disneyland. So real and attainable did the illusion seem, that “showing episodes of The Mickey Mouse Club…enticed 14-year-olds into pressuring their parents to take them to Orlando.”[5] The children audience loved the Mouseketeers, and wanted to be like them, or rather, be where they were, in Disneyland. Disney is recalled having been so persuasive over its audience through a “process of mass identification children were powerless to resist.”[6]

1.2 Disney’s Philosophies Fig. 6

Within this audience study, the participants were asked to respond to a set of values, assessing if the Disney films promote or discourage it, or it does not talk about it at all. This table shows us that Disney the respondents mostly agreed that Disney encourages a lot of positive values, such as love/romance, optimism as well as other utopic values, like magic and good over evil.

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Participating in a Disney product didn’t only mean going to Disneyland, but encompassed the process of imagination and fantasy play, to which Disney is argued to have an almost absolute control in the minds of children. David Buckingham also comments on this, accusing Disney of having a “monopoly over childhood,”[7] as it has been so synonymous with childhood, that it was seen as a tool to guide society to what children were fantasizing about. With Disney attaining such a mass audience on television and asserting a certain level of authority over childhood, it was able to imply an array of ideologies about childhood through its media platform. 4 Santoli, L. (1995) The official Mickey Mouse Club book. New York: Hyperion. 5 Carmona, M. and Tiesdell, S. (2007) Urban design reader. 1st ed. Oxford: Routledge. 6 Wasko, J., Phillips, M. and Meehan, E. (2001) Dazzled by Disney?. London: Continuum. 7 Ibid

As I pointed out in the literature review, the stories Disney told were for a specific type of child, the innocent juvenile to whom all evil in adult content must be filtered out for. There are certain ideas that the Disney films and television programmes were trying to portray, perhaps making a statement of what the child should be. The table in figure 6 was the result of Disney’s audience’s reaction to the different themes being pushed forward within the show. The idea that Disney, and therefore Disneyland, is a place where nothing bad happens and hence safe for children is something that can be traced from its media platform. Evil in Disney films, is only present to be overcome by good and noble actions, establishing Disney to be the embodiment of good in children’s media. One could also argue, that this push towards the virtuous, recognises the naïve child’s mindset of a reality in which they are not fully aware of its evil, living in a perception of it that allows for imaginative play and fantasy, and that “the fantasy world of Disney somehow reflected [the] children’s view of the world…that’s why kids love it so much, because it is just perfect.”[8] Regardless of the direction of which the utopic perfection of reality was derived from, Walt knew that Disneyland had to be the actualisation of this, allowing everyone’s fantasy to be imagined within this space. Just as the stories Disney appropriated had been filtered out of all things Walt saw as evil, such as the Snow white narrative, where the original version by Jacob Grimm scripted Snow white to be tortured and murdered by the evil queen, and Walt admitted having suppressed these violent scenes “because it was too cruel for an animated film,”[9] so too did Disneyland aim to suppress different 8 Ibid 9 Forgacs, D. (1992) ‘Disney animation and the business of childhood’. Screen, 33(4) pp.361-374.


Disney-Land aspects of it to fit within the Disney brand. Main Street, USA is one of these aspects of Disneyland that had been victim to this censorship.

1.3 Main Street Fig. 7

Fig. 9

Figure 7 shows the old American town that inspired Walt Disney to create his Main Street, to which the first set of concept drawings by the Imagineers can be seen in figure 8. This Image shows us that from the beginning, the street was meant to be a mainly pedestrian walkway. Figure 9 shows the Disney version of this street, which went of to be called Main Street, USA.

Fig. 8

Beth Dunlop describes the street in its very essence, as a series of “stage-crafted façades in front of continuously connected shops.”[10] This street as Walt sought to describe it, is a “fantasy version of a turnof-the-century-small-town Main Street,”[11] mimicking old American towns post-war as shown in Figures 7-9. However, upon closer inspection the one element missing from the real town to Disney’s Main Street, is the all the stereotypic bad, undesirable features of a real street. The dark alleys, the dirt, the garbage and the homelessness, to which Disney’s Main Street resembling another Disneyfied story, filtered out of all evil to suit the brand’s narrative shown in television as shown in figures 10-13. The architecture first exposed to the visitors is this street, which hence became a very significant statement to Disneyland, as it fed directly to the fantasy it portrayed in television. Richard Francaviglia, “believes that Disney’s Main Street is one of the most successful pedestrian environments in the world, [calling it] a remarkable effective design for reinforcing experiences, heightening anticipation, and moving traffic,”[12] as the fantasy is developed on screen is emphasised on this street. So successful was the street that Disney got “letters from Nebraska or Iowa wanting to redo their Main Street”[13] just like the Disney version. The street was not only a threshold getting people from one part of the park to another, but an experience heightened by the architecture around it. 10 Dunlop, B. (1996) Building a dream. New York: Disney Editions. 11 Ibid 12 Ibid 13 Ibid

Because of the constraints of this essay, I cannot explore the significance of Main Street to the external real world, as the focus here is in the translation of the televised fantasy realised in Disneyland, and in this case, the exclusion of the harmful, the unwanted and the evil in the real world. I will speak again about Main Street in the next chapter, highlighting a different aspect realised from this street on the Disney fantasy.



Fig. 10

Fig. 11

Fig. 12

Fig. 13

Figures 10 to 13 are different angles of the same street in Disneyland, as we can see it has been well maintained off all evil and unpleasant things characteristic to a normal city urban landscape.




Fig. 14

Fig. 15

Fig. 16

Fig. 17

Fig. 20 These set of drawings were drawn by children, in the book Media and the Make Believe Worlds of Children, as the book investigates the creative freedom and expression of children fantasy play through a non verbal form of communication. Figure 20 is accompanied by the artists description of the fantasy they imagined.

Fig. 18

Fig. 19

“My favourite place is an imaginary amusement park, a really big one. There is a candy tree there a clubhouse, and an animal amusement park…This amusement park is in my backyard and it is invisible. Only kids that are my friends can see it. Others just walk through it. The animal amusement park is floating.” -Ben (B, US-1)


Disney-Land Fantasy play, like in the case of Ben and his friends in figure 20, is an adaptation of a real tangible space into a fictional one, changing its scale, function, opacity, elevation and habitation to whatever the child imagines. Fantasy play, as a suggestion of utopic possibilities, can therefore be defined as a fictional event, performed in a real space. The two, reality and fiction, must co-exist together, creating a hyper-reality, where the two elements within their own dimensions affect each other. For Disneyland, where its entire realm was in the unrealistic, “realism was the prize. Disney could not abide to any other goal: Every leaf must quiver and every blade bend.”[1] Within this brew of realism and unrealism, the Alice shorts, which was Walt’s first successful series, played a major role in defining fantasy play for the children in the 1920s. Walt used Alice in one of the more unique ways of the Disney animations, blending the cartoon world and reality, which was to a substantial component in defining fantasy and imaginative play. Alice in Wonderland also provides us a dialect we will observe in both the animation and Disneyland. This language is a clue into the sequential transitioning from the outer real world to the inner fantasy world of Disneyland where everything that makes the world real is abandoned, to gain access to the animated space, just like Alice did in her wonderland. This chapter purposes to unpack the extent in which Alice and her Wonderland played in the imaginative space of Disneyland.

Fig. 21

Fig. 22

Figure 21 is an illustration, drawing a cartoon out of the features of a real girl, expressing the hyper-realism that Disney pursued during this time. Figure 22 is an extract from on of the very first Alice Shorts, showing the direction Disney was exploring in animation, using a real actress and combining cartoon and reality, resembling the format in which children perform their fantasy play.

2.1 Hyper-Realism The use of technology cannot be unheeded when talking about the Alice shorts, as the creativity needed to combine reality and the cartoon needed to be innovative, however I confer not in the innovation of technology but the significance it brought Disney over the 1 Willis, S., Kuenz, J. and Waldrep, S. (1995) Inside the Mouse. Work and lay at Disney World. North Carolina: Duke University Press.

authority of the child’s imagination. “Disney’s attempts to use media technology to envision the freedom of childhood imagination can be traced back to…the Alice Comedies,”[2] and is the first time we see Disney gaining authority over the imaginative realm of children. Disneyland appropriated a crucial narrative from the Alice comedies, envisioning a different realm of stories and characters as the foundation for its physical appearance, feeding directly to the children’s own ability and willingness to create their own world with their own creatures as illustrated in figures 14-20. “Alice was the gold standard for the representation of childhood and imaginary worlds,”[3] because she mimicked the way children inhabit their own creative space, and perhaps paved a way to exemplify and modify imaginative play within children, as “her pre-adolescent innocence, combined with her high-spirited willingness to explore her imaginary world, made her the perfect representative of an idealized childhood.”[4] The idea of leaving reality and entering a different world was not unique to Disney, (certainly not was the Alice character) where the Wizard of Oz, and Peter pan written along the same fantasy were also popular among children’s literature by the time the first Alice Comedy short was aired. “Alice has Wonderland, Dorothy has Oz, and though Peter Pan lends his name to the work’s title, Wendy, who decides to follow Peter to Neverland, provides the focus of the play and point of identification for the audience. Something in this narrative configuration spoke to audiences in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and if an intrepid entertainer could translate it into contemporary terms, precedent suggested 2 Elza, C. (2014) ‘Alice in Cartoonland: Childhood, Gender, and Imaginary Space in Early Disney Animation’. Animation, 9(1) pp.7-26. 3 Ibid 4 Ibid



that fame and fortune would follow. In the 1920s, Walt Disney embraced this challenge”[5] Alice was not a new character invented by Walt, but an old story that had already been accepted into society as a precedent of child’s play and adopting this character and literally turning her into a Disney character, Walt unlocked two aspects with his audience. The first being an authenticity towards Walt’s interpretation of imagination. Taking an already recognised character, Walt took advantage of his audience’s nostalgia to authenticate his own ideas of a cartoon universe, to first establish “the authority of his universe as coming from a little girl’s imagination, then make it independent.”[6] Walt’s audience may not have accepted his own version of fantasy had it not been for his clever interpretation of the Alice Comedies. The original 1865 literature by Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland, was already a staple within the minds of children and adults, and Disney’s Alice comedy series fed off the momentum of its popularity, to impose Walt’s vision of the hyper-realistic. “Alice’s role over the course of the series changed as Disney’s confidence in his own implied imaginative authority (or, rather, the audience’s demonstration of their investment in it) overtook the need to use the point of view of a culturally significant little girl like Alice,”[7] paving the way for Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and other Disney characters to act as citizens of this realm in the imagination. Once this authority over the imaginative realm was attained, “Disney placed emphasis not only on the free-wheeling space of the animated world, but also on the way ‘real’ space could be transformed by children’s imaginations,”[8] where Disneyland, as we will see in later 5 Elza, C. (2014) ‘Alice in Cartoonland: Childhood, Gender, and Imaginary Space in Early Disney Animation’. Animation, 9(1) pp.7-26. 6 Ibid 7 Ibid 8 Ibid

chapters, placed a strong emphasis on the interaction of these imaginative domains, giving the children the freedom in their own minds to interact with a space designed to accommodate imagination. The second aspect Walt unlocked with the Alice comedies was the “ability to give audiences entertainment that was familiar and comforting, yet new and exciting at the same time.”[9] Disney’s Alice reinvented the known literature, giving a transformed aesthetic to the imaginative space, unlocking different potential utopic narratives within the minds of the children. The original book was no longer enough to support the growth brought about by Disney’s Alice, and people sought to Disney’s Alice to project to them something more stimulating from a very familiar narrative. This ability is also expressed in Disneyland, as the visitors already know what to expect from their visit due to their previous interaction with the two-Dimensional Disney in media platform and the meticulous planning needed to visit the park, but once there, it feels completely new, “from the front gates, it unfolds, as once utterly familiar and yet otherworldly, a storybook come to life.”[10]

2.2 A Utopic Transition Luis Marin suggests that “utopia is the reverse image of this world, its photographic negative,”[11] and in order to attain utopia, one must first transition from our world and into another, for “there is an insuperable gap between our world and utopia.”[12] Marin proposes that in order for Disney to reach the illusion of paradise, it must first take its audience out of the real world and only 9 Ibid 10 Dunlop, B. (1996) Building a dream. New York: Disney Editions. Print 11 Marin, L. (1990) ‘Utopic degeneration: Disneyland’. Utopics: the semiological play of textual spaces, Contemporary studies in philosophy and the human sciences pp.239-257. 12 Ibid

then, can they experience the utopic vision of Disneyland. Just as Alice transitioned from her real world to the carton world down the rabbit hole, so too must the visitors sequence a set of thresholds taking them into their utopic experience, as Disney realised that a simple entry and exit gate, although necessary, is not enough to transition its visitors from reality into fantasy. Marin gives us three limits to which a sequential entry into Disneyland is realised. The first threshold, the outer limit, is the open area directly connected to reality, “weakly structured by the expandable geometrical net of the parking lot.”[13] It is at this point, to which the visitors gesture the abandonment of the instrument that brought them there because they cannot operate in this new world. Loosing control of their navigation, the visitors are now “no more than possible performances of a certain number of trajectories,”[14] imitating Alice as she falls down the rabbit hole, her navigational freedom is lost as she now has to follow whatever tangent the story leads her to. This initial surrender to the new journey is the first strip from the real world, into utopia. The second threshold, the intermediate limit, is constructed of the ticket booths, a boarder everyone must cross in order to enter Disneyland. It is here that the first instruction is given on how to navigate the new world, where “the visitors buy Disneyland money, with which they can take part in utopian life.”[15] A monetary exchange happens, where the visitor must learn the discourse used in this utopia to navigate through it, abandoning their real money to complete their citizenship into this new world. The first barrier Alice faced once at the bottom of the rabbit hole, was a miniature door when she had to adhere to the rules of that world, taking her first instruction to drink a potion altering her scale 13 Ibid 14 Ibid 15 Ibid

in order to fit through that door. The adoption of the utopic constitution for both Alice and the visitor happens at the first barrier, to which they must pledging their patriarchy in order to access the new world. The last threshold, the inner limit, does not act as a barrier or take any more reality away from the visitor, but provides the beginning of every possible narrative. This threshold takes the form Disneyland’s Main Street, on which the “visitors to Disneyland are onstage themselves…they are captured like a rat in a maze and are alienated by their part without being aware of performing a part.”[16] The street animates the visitors, giving them a set of potential curated possibilities to act out their narrative within the new world they just gained citizenship to. The Alice equivalent is the first location she arrives in her wonderland, a forest, from where her story is allowed to take a series of tangents, she intuitively follows. This forest, like Main street USA, gives Alice the choice to follow a number of trajectories that she can choose from in order to tell her story, and so too does the same apply to the visitors of Disney. So significant was the Alice Character, that Walt used her as reference to describe the experience of Disneyland in his application letter to the bank asking for a loan to build the park. (See Appendix A)

16 Ibid



The Outer Limit

The Intermediate Limit

The Inner Limit

Fig. 24

Fig. 23

Fig. 26

The outer limit of the fantasy, is the connection to the real world must be abandoned as your surrender your navigational freedom to the story.

Fig. 25

Fig. 27

The Intermediate limit requires the actor to obey the first set of rules in order to gain access into the utopia. In Disneyland it is a monetary transaction to buy

Fig. 28

Disney dollars, and in Alice’s Wonderland, it is drinking a potion, where the end goal in both scenarios is to pass through a barrier

Fig. 29

The Inner limit is the number of possible trajectories the story directs you, making it a path to which all these stories start from.



3. DISNEY’S IMAGINEERS “You won’t find it in the dictionary. But any Imagineer can tell you the word is both a verb and a noun. To imagineer. To be an Imagineer. Like supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, Imagineering has become a purely Disney word. The name combines imagination with engineering to describe both what we do, and who we are” (Eisner, Michael 1996)

Imagineer (Noun)- Plural (Imagineers) A person who devises and implements a new or highly imaginative concept or technology, in particular one who devises the attractions in Walt Disney theme parks. (Verb) - To Imagineer (Origin)- 1940s: from imagine, on the pattern of engineer. -Oxford Dictionaries.

In order to build Disneyland, Walt did not want to hire an external master plan consortium with architects and engineers, as they would not completely appreciate the spirit of what it is to be Disney, at least not in the way Walt wanted it. He therefore “hand-picked a small group of movie makers from his studio, asking them to dedicate themselves to the design and development of his new unique family fun park.”[1] Walt did not see his theme park as an architectural project, but as an extension of his film making process, and therefore animators were the specialists needed for the job, creating a new division inside Disney from these hand full of animators, calling them Imagineers. Walt understood the need of “a clear visual message: he would tell the Imagineers in charge of creating the park that if people didn’t understand what they were saying, it was only because of poor design,”[2] for the story was already told and proved effective in its media platform, which in turn fabricated a demand for a space that allowed the same story to be experienced in a three-dimensional reality, the concept was good. If the audience didn’t understand Disneyland, then its not the concept that would have failed, but the design: thus, the process of Imagineering was developed. This chapter will investigate this process, and how these trained animators managed to turn the Disney characters and stories into a 3-Dimensional space.

1 Eisner, M. (1996) Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind The Dreams Look At Making The Magic Real. New York: Hyperion. 2 Dunlop, B. (1996) Building a dream. New York: Disney Editions. Print

3.1 The Master Plan “Everything [they] do at Imagineering is driven by story,”[3] for the first and primary purpose for anything designed in Disneyland is to tell a story, and “the obvious functions of a building is secondary”[4] to this. The physical form of the structure serves to narrate the context it dwells in and therefore, “its foundation not only supports a physical structure, but it also supports a story structure.”[5] The architecture is hence transformed into a specific type of character in a plot-line, and not just a backdrop to match the wider context. The team of Imagineers understood the message Walt put out to them, that if they audience didn’t relate, it was the fault of the design and not the story, hence instead of creating a design to fill it with a story, the story was created first, and the design had to then submit to the stories integrity. The Disneyland we are accustomed to, had not been the first attempt in creating this space, the very first attempt came from a miniature tableau, modelled from paintings by artists Walt hired to produce, based on “themes taken from American life and folklore,”[6] a project Walt dubbed Disneylandia. The tableau would have moving pieces, where “people would pay a quarter a turn to set them into motion… Disneylandia died but bequeathed its name to the grander scheme.”[7] Because of it limited structure, the stories told were also limited, and therefore did not gain the traction needed for it to be a Disney success. Disneylandia was decommissioned, but the pursuit for 3 Eisner, M. (1996) Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind The Dreams Look At Making The Magic Real. New York: Hyperion. 4 Ibid 5 Ibid 6 Dunlop, B. (1996) Building a dream. New York: Disney Editions. 7 Ibid


Disney-Land Map 1 shows the original site across the road from the Disney Studio at the time, as they Imagineers first attempted to create a master plan incorporating all the ideas they had been working on. Map 2 shows the same site a map 1 however, the site boundary had been expanded into the neighbouring plot of land, as the Imagineers attempted to expand the site fro better flexibility.


a suitable translation of the fantasy into architecture was a growing desire in Walt’s’ mind. Years later, once the Disney Imagineers had been formed in the 1950s, a second effort was attempted to envision Disneyland. As the development of the master plan continued on first site as shown in Map 1, on a plot of land across the actual studio in Orlando, Florida, the design team realised that the story they needed to tell was congesting the site and needed to expand the site as shown in map 2. “As the ideas for the park grew, so to its size…It soon became apparent that this site would not be large enough to accommodate the things Walt and the first Imagineers were dreaming,”[8] for the integrity of the story had to shape the architecture around it without compromise. The size of the story needed be told was too large for the original set of tableau as well as the initial location, which then lead for the search of a new, big enough site where the dreams and fantasies were allowed to be fully projected within Disneyland, to which they settled on the 160 acre piece of land originally filled with Orange groves in California, shown in map 3.

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8 Eisner, M. (1996) Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind The Dreams Look At Making The Magic Real. New York: Hyperion.



MAP 3 Final Disney master plan illustration, drawn by Herbet Ryman


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3.2 Pirates Caribbean



“The first step of developing a threedimensional world is to see it in twodimensional story-boards,”[9] which was a standard animation technique used in the industry, where “uniformly-sized boards are hung in a logical sequence on the wall for a continued story development,”[10] as shown in figure 30, which is exactly how the Imagineers conceptualised Disneyland, as a continuous story development. It is therefore suitable that the design of the park and therefore its architecture, were all created in the form of story boards, that “for each ride, show or attraction, a logical story sequence is created.”[11] The next sequence of images will explore this story board sequence for one particular ride, The Pirates of the Caribbean, looking in detail how the character and architecture around a Disney ride is created, using this traditionally animator’s skill for creating scenes.

Fig. 30 Figure 30 is an example of story board used my the Imagineers to create a different concepts for Disneyland.

9 Eisner, M. (1996) Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind The Dreams Look At Making The Magic Real. New York: Hyperion. 10 Ibid 11 Ibid

23 Disney-Land Pirates Of The Caribbean Story Board 1 2










Figure 31 illustrates a select number of drawings by Marc Davis, who was the was the Imagineer responsible for creating the storyboard behind the Pirate of the Caribbean ride, exploring at a conceptual level the narrative to which the eventual ride would follow. The story follows pirates as they invade and destroy a town, runsacking it for all its valuables and its women, drinking alcohol and having a good time whilst battling the towns locals.

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It is in this form that the story around the ride is built and from which everything else that is added on must support this story, or it is removed from the park. Fig. 31

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Disney-Land Once the story was established, the Imagineers then modelled the respective story board in different scales. After a detailed research into the appearance of Pirates, the characters were each given a distinct personality to keep the authenticity of the story, which was then further explored in the model making process. Figure 32 shows the initial stage of modelling, where the characters are taken directly out of Marc’s drawings and given a 3-dimensional aesthetic to them. Figure 33 is the next step, when a scale model of the entire story is built from the perspective of audience, where once the characters within their storyboards are developed they are placed in their respective spaces, and the respective architecture is hence built and designed around the characters and the story. It is at this point that the architecture materialises, once the story is complete.

Fig. 32

Fig. 34

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In this particular ride, in order for the audience to grasp the finer details of the stories development, they are taken directly into the story as it unfolds around them, by means of a boat, floating through all these scenes. The scale model is then constructed in such a way that Walt could inspect this experience from the point of view of the guests, making the necessary adjustments. From the perspective of the audience, the story needs to be just as clear as in the story board, directing the architecture to take form around this perception. Figure 34 shows the final inspection of a 1:1 scale model of the final characters before they go out to the ride. This image illustrates Walt inspecting the model of a pirate, with the reference of the original storyboard it was materialised from. The story-board, as the Marc Davis drew it, remains supreme to the very end in its function, aesthetic, story structure and clarity.

Fig. 33


Disney-Land Marce Davis Drawings

Scale Model

Actual Ride


Pirates dunking the mayor of the town into the well trying to get him to reveal the location of the towns treasures.

Fig. 35

Fig. 41

Fig. 44

Fig. 50

Having raided this town, the pirates have captured their women, of which they are conduction an auction to selling them to the highest bidder.

Fig. 36

Fig. 42

Fig. 45

Pirates have found the cities rum supply, but are more interested in the auction of the towns beautiful women that is happening across the river.

Fig. 37

Fig. 43

Fig. 46

Setting the scene at the entry of the ride, Marc drew a skeleton pierced with a sword in its back, which was also adopted in the film for the same purpose, to set the mood of the scene.

Fig. 38

Fig. 47

Fig. 51

As the guests move along, they encounter a three pirate band scene singing an original piece written by the Imagineers.

Fig. 39

Fig. 48

Fig. 52

Jailed pirates are trying to sub-dew the dig that is keeping the key to their cell, so that they can escape.

Fig. 40

Fig. 49

Fig. 53

This sequence of comparative images and illustrations from the story board, the scale model, the built ride and to the Pirate of the Caribbean film franchise, shows the commitment to which the construction of each scene followed almost exactly as it was drawn in the story board. From the scene shown in the Marc Davis drawings, it is clear that throughout the entire design process to actualise the ride, the original reference scene in the storyboard keeps its integrity, and is the basis of all architecture built by the Imagineers in Disneyland. The storyboard behind the ride was so successful and convincing, that the ride was later turned into a franchise of films years after it was built, with the film working off the original story line of the ride. The Pirates of the Caribbean films kept a strong and direct link to the different scenes in the ride, sometimes quoting the direct script written for the theme park in the film. The Imagineering process was so powerful in its narration and authentic to its method that in itself, it added a great deal of significance and meaning within the Disneyland architecture. That the sheer process used to create the rides, resulted in creating the Pirate of the Caribbean film franchise, which went on to make a total of five successful movies, off the same concept brought to life by the original Imagineers. The Pirates of the Caribbean section of Disneyland was the last ride Walt Disney oversaw the design of before he died. Walt never lived to see the success of this story board, and the loyalty and integrity it held across the construction of the rides in most Disney parks across the world, from California to Paris and China.


Disney-Land Like the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, the built environment inside Disneyland is created to support a storyline invented or adopted from the foundation Disney built in its media platform, and Imagineers knew how to make a good story for they “came from motion pictures [and] that’s the reason the park is what it is, like stage design. [they] designed the environment for activity, for action,” [12]

3.3 Tomorrowland There is one part of the park however, that the Imagineers have always had a harder time in creating a story that will last the test of time in people’s imagination, and that is the construction of Tomorrowland.

Fig. 54

Entrance to the Pirates Of The Caribbean Section of Disneyland

Moore’s law roughly states that, the overall processing power of computers will double every 18 months, providing us a lot more opportunities to reach new innovations all the time, and this is no exception for the Imagineers, who have “been granted more than 300 company-owned patents in areas including ride systems, special effects, interactive technology, live entertainment, fibre optics and advanced audio systems.”[13] As the world technologically advances, so does the imagination of the people affected by it, imagining far more complex fantasies than before. What seemed like a dream yesterday may be a reality today and cannot therefore be classed as fantasy if reality has caught up with it, which is why “the future, as a theme, has caused Disney more problems than any other.”[14]

12 Dunlop, B. (1996) Building a dream. New York: Disney Editions. 13 Disney Blends Imagination and Technology to Deliver Landmarks in Theme Park Innovation. (n.d.) Walt Disney World News. [Online] [Accessed on 15 April 2019] https://wdwnews.com/ releases/disney-blends-imagination-and-technology-to-deliver-landmarks-in-theme-park-innovation/. 14 Willis, S., Kuenz, J. and Waldrep, S. (1995) Inside the Mouse. Work and lay at Disney World. North Carolina: Duke University Press.

The early concepts of Tomorrowland as shown in figure 55 soon became outdated as the initial interest soon became a reality as Moore’s law took effect and the fantasy was suddenly probable. “Tomorrow has a distressing habit of catching up with daydreams about it. Or the daydreams prove wildly wrong. Either way, building a simulated future is a risky business,”[15] and this section of the park built specifically for this simulation, has had to go through numerous changes and redesigns as result of this unpredictability of the future. From the original concepts, drawing inspiration and anticipation for the first moon landing then became outdated once the reality of it was actualised, and the narrative then “become the mission to Mars,”[16] which the audience also caught on as technology advanced. The Tomorrowland section as Disneyland “soon become an intergalactic space port for arriving aliens.”[17] The constant change perhaps unique to this particular part of Disneyland, shows two things about the ambitions of the park. The first is the deliberate distance Disneyland tries to detach themselves from reality, keeping the fantasy within the park collectively utopic. The second thing we learn from Tomorrowland is the importance of a clear foundational concept from its television platform, as a key ingredient in the success of its architecture. Because Tomorrowland was the only part of the park that went beyond its television narrative the audience were programmed to love, the reception of this part of the park has therefore always been problematic for the Imagineers, Walt “mastered the past in the fictional worlds he created for Disneyland…The future turned out to be far more difficult to predict.”[18] 15 Eisner, M. (1996) Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind The Dreams Look At Making The Magic Real. New York: Hyperion. 16 Willis, S., Kuenz, J. and Waldrep, S. (1995) Inside the Mouse. Work and lay at Disney World. North Carolina: Duke University Press. 17 Ibid 18 Dunlop, B. (1996) Building a dream. New York: Disney Editions.



1st Concept of Tomorrowland. 1955

2nd Concept of Tomorrowland. 1967

Fig. 55

Fig. 56

Current Tomorrowland. 2016 Figures 55 to 57 shows the evolution and significant changes Disney’s tomorrow land has had to make, as peoples fantasies of the future change at a very rapid rate, as technology advances. The tall white rocket ship that once anchored the Disney Tomorrowland’s has been replaced by gyrating Astro Orbiter today.

Fig. 57




Fig. 58 Figure 58 shows a map, keyed with all the different places to visit in Disneyland, to which depending on the type of fantasy chosen, will determine the combination of destinations available to you.

In creating a habitable fantasy in Disneyland, where visitors are immersed in an exploratory journey through their childhood nostalgia and utopic interpretations as I have shown, it became very apparent that Disney had to keep a certain level of control on how the audience interacted within Disneyland, and how the staff members, especially those wearing the character suits, appeared in front of the visitors. Just as they had complete control over what and how the audience watched their media, so too did this reflect within the park, as Disneyland “had its own rules, its own vocabulary, and even its own script or currency.”[1] The rules to the park all had one goal, to keep the visitors within the bubble of fantasy they had created from their media platform and into the three-dimensional space, that “by visiting each land, one enjoys a set of preordained emotions much as one might in a staged pilgrimage of religious ecstasy, only here one is not crossing a real terrain but an artificial one though one’s own childhood (Fantasyland) or national memory (Liberty Square).”[2] This chapter seeks to explore these suggestive rules to the visitors and clear regulations to the staff that seem to govern the park, demanding a loyal adherence in behaviour.

4.1 Planning the Fantasy When planning a Disneyland trip, one must consider the copious options Disneyland has to shape your fantasy experience, like different episodes of a series, each with their own special climax. The pre-determination to the experience locks and unlocks certain 1 Carmona, M. and Tiesdell, S. (2007) Urban design reader. 1st ed. Oxford: Routledge. 2 Willis, S., Kuenz, J. and Waldrep, S. (1995) Inside the Mouse. Work and lay at Disney World. North Carolina: Duke University Press.

environments depending on the type of fantasy selected, of which Disney “presents itself as a never-never land of unlimited possibilities,”[3] with the only constraint being a financial barrier to be overcome by the planner. Disney hence released a booklet detailing out the types of trips and what they all entail, such as the ‘Resort Magic’ package and the ‘Resort Romantic’ package, where “every decision activates a specific set of programmed options, which in turn activate and exclude others.”[4] This booking process informs the visitor what to expect to participate in and not, pre-determining a set of behavioural roles to play once in the park. Once immersed within the environmental atmosphere through a sequence I explored in the previous chapters, the visitor then becomes an actor, being placed where the story structure of their visit/act leads them. The road network system as Karen Klugman recalls, not only “confound one’s sense of direction, but they also discourage any impulse to get there faster…The point is that you are no longer in control, so you might as well sit back and enjoy the ride.”[5] The deliberate planning of the paths the visitors/actors use to go to their respective destinations is not one done for convenience, but to consciously shape their fantasy experience, slowly submitting themselves to the character they adopt whilst at Disneyland. Susan Willis, a researcher aimed to investigate the family vacation in Disneyland, found herself in the situation where her very focused ambition, determined not to become a Disneyland act and only observe, failed as the atmospheric 3 Ibid 4 Ibid 5 Ibid



Fig. 59

Fig. 60

regulations scripted her to act in a particular way, not planned by her itinerary, but by the shear fact of her availability to be used by the architectural environment. She was “hypnotically drawn into Disney World’s gigantic shopping mecca…actively participating the construction on one of Disney’s Themed environments. [she] might have shopped all day had [she] not run into [her] companion in research,”[6] Klugman who also fell victim to the appropriation of Disneybehaviour, getting annoyed at herself for “being a participant rather than an observer.”[7] Here are two examples of people, who’s main objective was to observe and record their research data in Disneyland, and they couldn’t resist the Disneyland atmosphere prompting them to align into their assigned actors role in their context. These atmospheric Disney guidelines, however, can have a more direct and impact on its visitors/actors in the scene they set.

4.2 The Perfect Picture

Fig. 61 Following an agreement with Disneyland, Kodak was the official film and camera sponsor since the park opened in 1955, but has not been replaced by Nikon as the films and camera sponsor.

Dotted around the park, are well curated scenes to which the visitors/actors are instructed to perform a specific act: to take pictures. Disneyland, scripting the desire for people to take pictures of their fantasy, spread suggestive signs across the park, as shown in figures 59-61 labelled ‘Kodak picture spot.’ The simple act of stopping in your journey to your destination to take a picture, which “can severely impact traffic patterns,”[8] creates a significance to that moment by these markers. The visitors/actors placed in a scene created by Disneyland for the specific purpose of taking pictures, of which then by occupying that space, you willingly accept to be the actor and perform as instructed. Like the Imagineering process, these Kodak picture spots can be seen as part of a story 6 Willis, S., Kuenz, J. and Waldrep, S. (1995) Inside the Mouse. Work and lay at Disney World. North Carolina: Duke University Press. 7 Ibid 8 Ibid

board, where the story is based around taking pictures. The architecture around it is then optimised for the perfect picture to be taken, which in turn creates the perceived image of Disneyland the visitor/actor experiences, edited by the park. In addition to this, the visitors/actors are gifted a brochure detailing out guidelines on how to take a good picture, putting emphasis on filling the frame of the picture with the subject in matter, and detailing out the setting to use on each specific part of the park as seen in figures 62-63. Not only is the visitor/actor told what to do and where but is also trained on how to perform their act in this space. This way, the frames captured in each camera collectively homogenise the Disney experience where it needs to be not only with the people directly in the park, but the rest of the public who will see these highly curated and edited photos of Disneyland. This control is also reflected internally, affecting the Disney employees. Once a contract is signed to work in Disneyland, there is an exchange of a non-negotiable deal, that employees have to play the character assigned to them at all times as long as they are in the face of the public, especially those in costumes and masks. The shear emphasis of a happy Disney opens the question to the contrary and we begin to wonder what Disney does with all the unhappiness and imperfections, for “to have a perfect world, one must erase all its unpredictable, rebellious, surprising elements-all that makes it alive.”[9] A cautious inclusion of only happiness implies a deliberate exclusion of unhappiness, to which has sparked some controversy within Disneyland, with the employed workers claiming that “behind the scenes there is a lot of unhappy people.”[10] The workers become actors and must embody the 9 Serra, I. (2004) ‘Disney World: A Plastic Monument to death: From Rebelais to Disney’. Journal of the fantastic in Arts, 14(4) pp.459-470. 10 Ibid



Fig. 62 Figure 62 and 63 show the guidelines put out by Disneyland and Kodak, helping people capture each section of Disneyland with their cameras, by telling the visitors/actors they setting to place their cameras in depending on their fantasy. Taking a photo in Adventure land is not the same as taking a photo in Tomorrowland, demanding a change in behaviour. This helps Disney control how people perceive their environment.

Fig. 63


Disney-Land Mickey Mouse, Goofy and Cinderella attitude, as their human nature, which encompasses sadness and cruelty, cannot be expressed in Disneyland as it is not accommodated for in its surface architecture. “When actors are in sight, they cannot remove their mask according to the Disney policy, or they will receive an automatic dismissal. The illusion cannot be broken.”[11] This illusion affected the neighbouring buildings as well, buildings not located within the boundaries of its fantasy. “Disney successfully fought to have an ordinance passed, limiting the height of buildings around Disneyland,”[12] to keep its visitors/actors within the three-dimensional scenes they animated through their storyline.

Fig. 64 Taking a narrative from animation, figures 64 and 65 show the level of obedience the vegetation is expedited to have towards Disneyland’s story structure. The tree is made to look like the animation, or rather, part of the animation chosen to be in Disneyland.

Fig. 65

The tight control of the habitable spaces within the visible park aims to keep the child and adult within an imaginative sphere, without any distractions from external influences, which bring with it “all signs of decay, crime, confusion, discontent, pains, poverty, or struggle.”[13] If it is not scripted, it is done away with, to the point that the “native species of plants and animals have been exterminated because they did not fit the picture, and gallons of insecticide are spread nightly to eliminate mosquitoes and other pests.”[14] As illustrated by figures 64 and 65, the vegetation is also scripted and must perform their designated roles. The native orange groves did not fit within the planned story and therefore were cut down, to be replaced with various exotic plants, which better suited the story created by the Imagineers. Once again, the story is the primary force behind all other secondary aesthetic decisions the visitors/actors see.

11 Serra, I. (2004) ‘Disney World: A Plastic Monument to death: From Rebelais to Disney’. Journal of the fantastic in Arts, 14(4) pp.459-470. 12 Pike, D. (2005) ‘The Walt Disney World Underground’. Space and Culture, 8(1) pp.47-65. 13 Ibid 14 Ibid


Disney-Land Within Disneyland’s landscape, the ground and forest cover, especially that located in Adventure land, is entirely scripted and almost no part of it left from its original state. The structural and vegetative components of Disneyland are all used exactly the same way, and we therefore cannot differentiate their purpose, of heightening the fantasy the intended guests are scripted to experience. Figure 66 shows an extract from a scene created adventure land, where an audio animatronic bird is placed in full view of the audience, where the kind of plants needed for this bird to exist had to be very specific. The people who therefore maintain the forest, make sure the plants do not interfere with the animatronic animals that guests see. The use of animatronic animals inside Disneyland had been part of an obsession throughout the park to create a sense of realism as a ploy to influence the visitor/actor to temporarily forget that they are in a fabricated fantasy, and be fully immersed inside Disneyland. The first of these Audio animatronic automations took the form of ‘the enchanted Tiki birds’ at Disneyland, as expressed in Figure 67 and 68, as we observe the Disney fantasy in the hyper-realism that every visitor/actor must experience.

Fig. 66 Animatronic bird in Disneyland’s Adventureland

Fig. 67 Disneyland’s enchanted animatronic Tiki Birds

Fig. 68

One can then resemble the heightened experience to that first seen in Disney’s television series, Silly Symphonies, where the rigorous pursuit of the specific technology of synchronising video and sound created for the consumer a different kind of immersion into this fantasy never before experienced in animation. The Enchanted Tiki birds were of similar importance Disneyland as the technology gave the visitor/actor a new kind of interaction to the environment around never before experienced outside Disney’s hyperreality, and is an investment still embalmed in each new replication of the theme park. Realism, not in the deliberate attachment to society, but in the authentication of the fantasy blurring the reality to the fiction.



4.3 The Utilidors

Fig. 69 Mickey and Minnie Mouse going for their break in the Utilidors

Although the surface structure of the park does not accommodate the expression of anything else other than fantasy, the substructural park is the only place that does. Intentionally placed underground, “almost all of the workings of Disney World are hidden from the spectator… concealed in the image of the commodity.”[15] These network of tunnels, known as utilidors (utility corridors) act as the set behind the scenes, where the staff and the architecture get to be themselves, before resurfacing to continue their act. The utilidors exist for the sole purpose of hiding away all the human elements behind the masked characters, all the monetary transactions that attach Disney’s currency to a real-world value and all the transportation and deliveries used to create the fantasy between different sections of the park. In simple terms, everything that breaks the story structure of the perfect visible world above ground, are held in the utilidors underground. The architecture is also allowed to take a break, expressing its true building nature, in its mechanical, electrical and structural dialogue that had been supressed over ground, in order to take on the role the Imagineers had given it. The building is therefore treated like a staff member, who above ground in the visible fantasy, all staff must support the story structure and adopt the Disney behaviour, and only within the utilidors, can both they speak the dialect that accentuates their characteristic nature.

restriction to the utilidors, creates public interest and imaginative interpretations of what happens underneath the Disney park, as they do not allow “photography anywhere backstage, arguing that it risks ruining the magic, thereby maintaining if not increasing the mystery surrounding the area.”[17] For this same reason of maintain the Disney Magic, the tours are also age restricted, highlighting a gap between the naïve child and the knowing adult as they “tailor the experience of its magic to both types of spectator, the naive and the knowing.”[18] This age distinction gives us a clue into the type of audience Disney is targeting. The fantasy that begins in its media platform is maintained into the carefully controlled Disneyland environment, where the children are restricted to. This fantasy can therefore be argued to be targeting children, however, the theme parks subterranean environment, where the illusion is temporarily broken, is a niche for the adult audience only, who might not be as engaged with the fantasy from the television. We see here a deliberate argument being placed by Disney on the model of childhood they decided to adopt. As mentioned in the literature review chapter, the naïve innocent child wasn’t always a model catered to but is one Disney seems to appropriate in their parks, as their children’s content is kept naïve to the fantasy, away from its reality that the adult is allowed to experience temporarily.

Once a place never to be visited be the public, “Disney has offered an ever-greater variety of behind-the-scenes tours for both regular visitors and industry groups… the success of the tours demonstrates, it is also a site of fantasy and play.”[16] The mere 15 Pike, D. (2005) ‘The Walt Disney World Underground’. Space and Culture, 8(1) pp.47-65. 16 Ibid

17 Ibid 18 Ibid




Fig. 70 Opening ceremony of the Hong Kong Disneyland

The all-inclusive fantasy Disney recreates cannot be ethnically grounded, as it aims to appeal to everybody in the same regard. The model of infancy being addressed does not have a specific origin but is a child in their own right of the term, a homogenised stage of life not represented with an ethnic identity, e.g. a British child, or a Mexican child, but is characterised as a “period in its own right.”[1] This form of childhood is hence carefully marginalised from interference with the adult realm and separated from societal and cultural identity, where the single distinctiveness of being a child in itself, is enough to programme an event. This chapter seeks to explore the way in which Disney was able to adopt and exploit the idea of a homogenised form of childhood and fantasy to gain its appeal in their international market.

5.1 Global Audience Project Table 6.4 from the first chapter gives us our first clue in the direction Disney took to create a global community of Disney citizens. The themes and principles projected by the films were lessons applicable anywhere in the world, such as romance and courage. To test whether this was actually the case around the world, we can refer to the Global Disney Audience project (Wasko, Philips, Meehan, 2001), aimed to investigate the impact of Disney in different countries around the world. Within this study, “93 percent of the respondents agreed that Disney promoted fun and fantasy, while another 88 percent agreed on happiness, magic and good over evil,”[2] proving the stories and fantasies 1 Valkenburg, P. (2004) Children’s responses to the screen. Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum. 2 Wasko, J., Phillips, M. and Meehan, E. (2001) Dazzled by

being shown in Disney are convertible to the same principles in any of the cultures represented in this study. The ethnic ambiguity of Disney can also be signified in their, “use of animals as their main characters, which are not necessarily American,”[3] both in the films and in the theme parks. Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck have been embedded in the children’s creative processes, “without feeling any need to reflect on national identity,”[4] as the animals the Disney characters anthropomorphise can be found anywhere in the world, creating a freedom of expressive personal interpretations between the audience and the characters. Within the Global Disney Audience study, one recipient from Denmark likened Donald Duck to a Danish personality, claiming that “Donald Duck suits the Danish mentality…Donald is so politically incorrect, that he seems Danish.”[5] It is not in the aesthetic of the Duck that makes it Danish in this instant, but in the story line and personality of the Duck that this Danish recipient can relate with. This deliberate openness to personal interpretation creates an easier integration of Disney’s media and therefore its threedimensional counterpart to the society it dwells in.

Disney?. London: Continuum. 3 Ibid 4 Ibid 5 Ibid



5.2 Cultural Folklore

Fig. 71 Disneyland California

Fig. 72 Disneyland Hong Kong

Fig. 74 Disneyland Florida

Fig. 75 Disneyland Paris Cinderella’s castle shown in different Disneylands across the world remaining fairly unchanged. It is Characteristically Disney

Fig. 73 Disneyland Tokyo

“Storytelling was one of humankind’s basic and earliest method of effective communication- and one of the first ways we learned about the world as children,”[6] resulting in a plethora of stories and folklore from all around the world. Some of these stories were rooted in a specific culture that Disney couldn’t escape from. Here, Disney takes these myths and legends and twists them, creating a Disneyfied version of the story, and as Disney did with Alice in wonderland, it often becomes the authoritative version through its media platform, like the Legend of Hercules, from Greek mythology. The Greek respondents from the Global Audience study show evidence that they are were not pleased with the particular version of Hercules Disney popularised, although appreciate that “they are using a Greek myth and they [had made] it known all over the world.”[7] For the sake of its globalisation, Disney had to re-interpret the story just as it did from the French Culture (The Hunchback of Notre Dame), the Danish (The Little Mermaid), English Literature (101 Dalmatians) and even Arabic mythology (Aladdin) in order to mediate it to the rest of its audience. The Greek respondents in the study “did not mind, and even appreciated the distortion”[8] of these other Disney stories in the name of globalisation but offended at the Disney branding of their cultural reference. All in all, “even though some respondents were insulted by representations of their own culture… they were forgiving and even amused by other disneyfied stories and characters from other cultures,”[9] to which was important to Disney as they gained 6 Dunlop, B. (1996) Building a dream. New York: Disney Editions. 7 Wasko, J., Phillips, M. and Meehan, E. (2001) Dazzled by Disney?. London: Continuum. 8 Ibid 9 Ibid

acceptance into a vast number of cultures around the world. Once they had a perceived global acceptance on the screen, the parks could hence create vague references to different places across the world from its media platform and depending on your interpretation and relation to the Disney stories, your narrative would slightly differ. The themed shops containing merchandise from different parts of the world suggest Disney’s implicit authority to sell suggestions of various cultures, an authority obtained from the audience’s acceptance of its media. The combined effect of merchandise on display “creates a themed environment…vague in its reference to real places and cultures,”[10] making the merchandise themselves stage props themselves, as they help aid the story of an all-inclusive Disneyland.

5.3 Disneyland’s Context In the Imagineering chapter, we followed a journey through a master planning exercise where the story was as the only brief for the site chosen Disneyland and everything else is retrofitted. The context in which is lives therefore does not matter, as the same concept can be applied around the world, in an almost identical architectural form, and accepted anywhere. Because the basis of Disneyland is derived from the stories which been worked into cultures around the world from its mass-media, its architecture from this story is given access to almost anywhere across the world, with parks in America, Europe and Asian countries, all relatively successful. Although Disneyland’s Main Streets architectural form is based of old American towns, to which has resulted in some 10 Willis, S., Kuenz, J. and Waldrep, S. (1995) Inside the Mouse. Work and lay at Disney World. North Carolina: Duke University Press.






Fig. 76 Disneyland Main Street in Hong Kong

Fig. 77

Fig. 78

Disneyland Main Street in Shanghai

Disneyland Main Street in Paris

Map 3 Map of Disneyland Hong Kong

Map 4 Map of Disneyland Shanghai

Map 5 Map of Disneyland Paris

backlash from different cultures like the “French intellectuals for not incorporating more local culture,”[11] Disneyland has been able to specifically adapt some of its elements to the culture it dwells in without compromising the story it tells. The “opening ceremony in a grand Chinese style”[12] in 2005 for the Hong Kong Disneyland is one of such adaptations (figure 70). This Disneyland incorporated “Feng Shui and traditional Chinese elements into its design,”[13] directly affecting the spatial organisation of the theme park and yet, as shown in figure 7678 comparing the different Disneyland’s Main Streets, there is almost no difference between the different parks across the world, as well as their master-plan layout. As they had accustomed to do in the television platform, the reference Disney borrowed from Chinese cultures had to be adapted for the global audience, for anyone visiting this Disneyland from anywhere in the world, would be accommodated for in the same fantasy. The television platform provided Disney a cultural independence needed in Disneyland.

11 Tang, P. (2012) Different Disneylands around the world. BBC. [Online] [Accessed on 01 April 2019] http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20121213-different-disneylands-around-the-world 12 Tang, P. (2012) Different Disneylands around the world. BBC. [Online] [Accessed on 01 April 2019] http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20121213-different-disneylands-around-the-world 13 Ibid


Disney-Land Figures 79 to 84 show Mickey and Minnie Mouse across the globe, as to many cultures, because of the television platform, have accepted he into their entertainment and fantasy platform.

Fig. 79

Fig. 81 Fig. 83

Fig. 84

Fig. 80 Fig. 82



6. DISNEY BABIES AND DISNEY ADULTS Walt Disney is noted describing his park as an experience for the entire family to share, a fantasy both children and parents can experience together. This chapter determines to investigate the emergence of a family viewing culture brought about by the careful release of the Disney shows in television, and how the success of this matured into its Disneyland platform. David Forgacs describes Disney babies as children born after 1925 (When the Alice comedies debuted) who watch the Disney films and are exposed to Disney products, owning “Disney merchandise such as a Mickey Mouse watch.”[1] These children then grow up and become Disney adults, who take their children to see the Disney films and buy for them Disney merchandise, effectively creating more Disney babies, and the cycle continues. It is precisely this cycle that would benefit Disney the most across all their major streams of income, from the selling of merchandise, their filmed entertainment and the theme parks. It is then for this reason, that Disney’s emphasis of family entertainment cannot be ignored, and the first traces of their ultimate plan for an all-inclusive family fantasy dates back the early 1900’s. Fig. 85 Figure 85 shows a service Disney provide for Disney adults, where they can get married on Disneyland.

Children are undoubtedly a major source of income for the company, “but only indirectly: it is adults who spend money on them. Disney promotions, whether for films, theme parks or consumer goods, are therefore 1 Forgacs, D. (1992) ‘Disney animation and the business of childhood’. Screen, 33(4) pp.361-374.

targeted at the family unit,”[2] but in an era where family entertainment was nonexistent, Disney had to create this family entertainment in order to supply it. The Alice shorts, of which Forgacs suggests as the beginning era of Disney babies, was not actually intended to be just for children, or even family viewing as we know it today as “there was no such thing in that period - but for a general audience which included some children.”[3] Like a child ask their parents’ permission, before participating in fantasy play with each other, Disney too needed the adults approval before stimulating fantasy play with the children. The focus on adults needed to have such an impact and understanding that they would let their soon-to-be Disney babies participate in this fantasy. “Many of the gags [from the Alice Shorts] reused items from the silent comedy repertoire which were known to work well on adult audiences,”[4] creating a general feeling of acceptance with the adults, as they also needed to be convinced to a certain degree of the story Walt was telling through Disney. It is also important to note the extraordinary impact made “on adult audiences at the very beginning of the sound era by the perfect synchronization between syncopated music and animated drawings which was the chief innovation of the Mickey Mouse and Silly Symphonies cartoons,”[5] marking a milestone in Disney cartoons, changing the course of their production forever, and this technological breakthrough appealed 2 Ibid 3 Ibid 4 Ibid 5 Ibid


Disney-Land to the adult audience. Once accepted by the adults, Disney then looked to appeal to children more where in the same Silly Symphonie shorts, we see “the first signs of Disney cuteness [beginning] to appear”[6]

6.1 Cuteness

Fig. 86

Figures 86 and 87 are shows from the Silly Symphony series, when Disney begun their move towards cuteness in their characters. Fig. 87

The move to attain cuteness in the Disney characters was a feature heavily implemented in the drawing and animation at one point, as Walt often pointed “out that the animators must always try to feel the cuteness in the personal treatment of all these characters,”[7] for their aesthetic and personality in the show to be immediately appealing to the viewer. Cuteness in this instance is described as having a baby-like resemblance, to which can be interpreted as a deliberate lure to both the adult and the child. To the children, the familiarity given to the characters of another child delivers a relationship born out of a sense of relatability. The fantasy as mentioned in the mouseketeers chapter, had to seem attainable or at least relatable, and the move to attain more cuteness helped emphasis this relationship with the children audience. To the adult audience, this aesthetic choice played a different role, an emotional trigger, resembling the feeling of “nurturant affection for [the characters] as one does for a baby.”[8] Konrad Lorenz, one of the founders of modern ethology, argues that people “use the characteristic differences in form between babies and adults as important behavioural cues,”[9] highlighting a very strong primordial reaction of affection in humans to the site of infantile features, that “when we see a living creature with babyish features, we feel an 6 Forgacs, D. (1992) ‘Disney animation and the business of childhood’. Screen, 33(4) pp.361-374. 7 Ibid 8 Ibid 9 Gould, S. (2008) ‘A Biological Homage to Mickey Mouse’. Ecotone, 4(1-2) pp.333-340.

automatic surge of disarming tenderness.”[10] The “reverse evolution”[11] of Mickey Mouse in pursuit of more youthful looks as seen in figures 88-102 suddenly becomes a lot more deliberate as the characters create their own personal bond with both the child and the adult, therefore the entire family in their own way participates in the newly formed Disney family entertainment, from which the theme parks becomes a shared family fantasy first experienced in the comforts of their own living room.

6.2 Controlling the Fantasy As Disney slowly gives rise to the idea of family viewing, the like of which had not been precedented before, it was for a period of time the only source to feed this new market gap, creating the specifications of the type of entertainment suitable for all ages. As in the controlling Disney fashion that I have revealed throughout this discourse, the simple provision of the family fantasy was not enough, but Disney also controlled how their films were watched within the home and in the cinema, as their monopoly remained unquestioned having won the hearts of its loyal audience. Creating a global outreach, the strategy to control the fantasy had to start in the very beginning, at the releasing of the Disney shows, where “the strategy [had] been modified so as to stagger theatrical and video release dates in different countries and to synchronize merchandising operations with these releases,”[12] a move which was also influenced by the emergence of the home video. Disney saw this advance in technology for the general public as an opportunity to also suggest how their films were to be watched at home. The release of Peter Pan (1953) in the USA, did not mean that 10 Ibid 11 Forgacs, D. (1992) ‘Disney animation and the business of childhood’. Screen, 33(4) pp.361-374. 12 Ibid




Fig. 88

Fig. 89

Fig. 90

Fig. 91

Fig. 92

Fig. 93

Fig. 94

Fig. 95

Fig. 96

Fig. 97

Fig. 98

Fig. 99

Fig. 100

Fig. 101

Fig. 102




Fig. 103

Fig. 107

Mickey Mouse 1937

Fig. 104

Mickey Mouse 1955

Fig. 109

Mickey Mouse 1960

Fig. 108

Figures 103 to 110 show that just Mickey Mouse did in the television, the character in Disneyland also underwent through various changes through the years i pursuit of more youthful looks

Fig. 105

Mickey Mouse 1962

Mickey Mouse 1958

Mickey Mouse 1978

Fig. 106

Fig. 110

Mickey Mouse 1959

Mickey Mouse 2004



the audience in the UK enjoyed the same privileges, as the production and shipment of the merchandise relating to the Peter Pan story was not ready to be released in the UK, and the fantasy was hence incomplete. The totality and complete immersion into Disney’s magic expressed in the Disneyland environment was first pursued after within the films they released, training the family in their behaviour so that when they visit Disneyland, the family intrinsically know how to interact with the story. The advertising strategy implemented by Disney played a very influential role in instilling the fantasies into the Disney babies and Disney adults, “greatly assisted by its publication of books, colouring books and other merchandise which [popularized] its versions of the stories and characters over others.”[13] “It is very important, with what is after all a limited stock of classics, to control releases carefully and to add new elements to the release strategy, such as limited editions (videocassettes available until a certain date and then withdrawn from stock), special editions (the Fantasia videocassette packaged with a book), and new editions (Fantasia Continued, a version with some of the original segments replaced with new ones, which is due for theatrical release later in the decade) “[14]

13 Forgacs, D. (1992) ‘Disney animation and the business of childhood’. Screen, 33(4) pp.361-374. 14 Ibid



7. CONCLUSON “I am not Walt Disney anymore. Disney is a thing, an attitude, an image in the eyes of the public. I’ve spent my whole career creating that image, and I am a great believer in what Disney is. But it’s not me, the person, anymore.” -Walt Disney

From very early on in this discourse, there has been a consistent ostensive devotion towards a systematic relationship with Disney and their target recipients in almost all aspects of the Disney experience, from the literature, short films, full length films and Disneyland. Widely accepted into our television standards for children’s viewing, I have shown the emphasis that Disney had played in stimulating children’s imaginative spheres, going a step further and giving implicit suggestions on how to create these imaginative worlds and play in them. It is unclear exactly when Walt started thinking about Disneyland, but the experience of it started long before the park opened, from the personalised imaginative translations children had after their exposure to Disney’s media. Alice from the first chapter pioneered in attaining this affiliation and could be the reason why Disney pronounces in his letter to the bank (Appendix 1), the experience of Disneyland being like that of Alice in Wonderland. We see that fantasy is hence catered for very distinctly, giving it enough realism to be taken out of older literature and into media, and finally into the real world, where Disneyland carefully curates this fantasy. I believe I have also shown that the demography Disney targets in its media platform are the same people targeted in Disneyland, making the curation of

Disneyland’s performative space easier. Effectively learning how to behave from their interaction with the characters and how to watch the films and shows, the architectural environment within Disneyland is prudently staged for this particular viewer, to be given roles to play across different scenes in Disneyland. The visitors/actors once in Disneyland, are not differentiated by their cultures, because Disneyland’s context is not in the real world, but in fantasy, a fantasy projected to everyone exactly the same, giving the freedom to create personalised interpretations across the world in nearly identical structural forms. Described as a “cultural Chernobyl,”[1] Ariane Mnouchkine suggest to us the conclusive fact of Disney’s objective to give everyone a citizenship into Disneyland. I began writing this discourse investigating the particular influence of Disney within children, however, it became very clear that because of the child’s dependent nature on the parents, as Disney implies, the family unit as an entity is also a very important consideration that the Disney fantasy experience accommodates. It is very important to remember the strong emphasis on the story by the Imagineers in the construction of the different sections of the Disney theme parks. Rooted in cultural 1 Mnouchkine, A. (2003) Disneyland Resort Paris, France: 1992. TIME. [Online] [Accessed on 10 March 2019] http://content.time.com/time/ specials/packages/article/0,28804,2024035_2024499_2024904,00.html.

history anywhere in the world, telling a story has been engrained in society, and building architecture from this development, perhaps uncovers a level of success overlooked by architecture in the modern world, especially in the public realm. The story told had to be experienced in the same grandeur as in the media, to which the architecture had to be confined to strict regulation becoming a performative character. To keep the visitors in the bubble of fantasy experienced in the media platform, I have shown a sequential immersion dialect used in animation employed successfully in Disneyland, as well as the measures taken to keep the audience in this state of fantasy during their stay. “How many children…know Barrie’s play or book of Peter Pan or the A. A. Milne Winnie the Pooh characters as drawn by E. H. Shepard, as opposed to the Disney versions?”[2] Simply telling the story was not enough but taking an authoritative position was the goal, and as a result able to autocratically configure people, architecture and the vegetation in Disneyland, to the benefit of the story. Given a longer time period and a larger word count, this research would benefit more in visiting any Disneyland, as they are all built to the same strategy, and dissecting each section of Disneyland, Adventureland, Frontierland and Tomorrowland, looking for traces of specific input from its animation 2 Forgacs, D. (1992) ‘Disney animation and the business of childhood’. Screen, 33(4) pp.361-374.

network, just as I explored with the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. The discourse would also benefit from an interview with an Imagineer, who was directly involved in the construction of any section of Disneyland at any one point. Although supposedly similar in the process, for Walt “Disneyland was satisfying in a way making films was not,”[3] providing his audience with the ability to experience a fantasy outside the imaginative construct of our mind, and into a tangible space built to accommodate fantasy. It is a strange feeling for some, occupying such an animated space, however I would argue that it provides the architecture the deeper level of understanding of the human mental experience needed for its success. As an aspiring architect, the duration of this research has instigated, as I hope the same to the reader, the idea that a personal relationship to a public space is crucial for its public engagement, a relationship that has to be considered and built upon through different mediums outside the vicinity of the direct space. Can we hence take Disney as a model city that can be scaled up into a fully functioning experiential urban landscape?

3 tions.

Dunlop, B. (1996) Building a dream. New York: Disney Edi-



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Map 1-3- Eisner, M. (1998) Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind The Dreams Look At Making The Magic Real. New York: Hyperion. Map 3- Zwanzger, S. (2008) Hong Kong Disneyland. TheThemeParkGuy.com. [Online] [Accessed on 22 April 2019] http://www.thethemeparkguy.com/park/hong-kong-disneyland/photos. Map 4- Printable Map of Disneyland Paris Park Hotels and Surrounding Areas. (2018) Best Map of World. [Online] [Accessed on 23 April 2019] https://bestmapof.com/map-of-disneyland.html. Map 5- Shanghai Disney Resort, Shanghai Disneyland Park Location & Map. (n.d.) Chinadiscovery.com. [Online] [Accessed on 25 April 2019] https://www.chinadiscovery.com/shanghai/ shanghai-disney-resort.html. Front Image- Disney’s 50th Anniversary Mickey Mouse Portrait. (Hench, 1958) Back Image- Disney’s 80th Anniversary Mickey Mouse Portrait. (Felix, 2008)



APPENDIX A The following images are the original letter written by Walt Disney himself to the Banks in an attempt to gain financial helps through a loan to build Disneyland. In the letter, explains what he imagines Disneyland to be, long before it was finally built and ready to be used. “Dreams offer too little collateral.� Walt Disney.
















Profile for Irvine Toroitich


​How does Disney apply the immersive dialect used in their children's targeted media to give credence to fantasy and allow for it to be expe...


​How does Disney apply the immersive dialect used in their children's targeted media to give credence to fantasy and allow for it to be expe...


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