Disneyland Historically Speaking

The park has proven to be more popular than Washington D.C. as a family destination and continues to attract more adults than children to its concrete walkways and thrilling roller coaster rides in spite of numerous ‘copy-cat’ theme parks being erected such as the Six Flags parks or Cedar Point. Although the park has been widely criticized for its inherent plasticity and its remaking of the American ideals, Disneyland has stood as a cultural icon and popular pilgrimage stop for any and all who wish to feel they have ‘experienced’ America. While many may consider Disneyland to be too full of modernistic pop art meaninglessness, others taking a closer look at the amusement park have found an authentic response to the ideals Disneyland presents to the average visitor as compared with other amusement parks of its type.Disneyland had its origins in Walt Disney’s desires to create a world of his own, in which people could enjoy the good life and live, if only for a day, in a world of fantasy. Disney, a consummate entertainer, wanted to find a way to make his filmic creations come to life for his audiences, giving them a chance to live in the world of fairy tales. At the same time, he wanted to provide families with a vacation destination that was cleaner and safer than the types of amusement parks that were available elsewhere (King, 1981). Disney’s dream was to create a park that reinforced and validated middle-class values and a connection to the nostalgic past through the properties of play. This concept has been proven in sociological research. Implicit in Bateson’s work … is the notion that culture is built upon the playful capacity since playing is the first step toward learning that a sign is only a sign (Moore, 1980: 208). Disney largely succeeded. Mike Wallace (1985) proclaims that the park saw 33 million visitors in 1983, with visitor numbers climbing every year.