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  • Writer's pictureKarey Pohn

New Orleans Square

New Orleans Square sits between Adventureland and Frontierland, and as Marin (1984)  maintains mediates between the two.  Marling (1997), in her discussion of Adventureland describes New Orleans Square as a “demi-land . . . a transitional zone mediating the juxtaposition between Adventureland, and Frontierland” (p. 114). 

Although New Orleans Square was not part of the original Disneyland, and was carved out of the Adventureland section of the park in 1963, Real (1977) in his study found that it was the favorite land of most visitors.  The most famous ride in New Orleans Square is "Pirates of the Caribbean," which debuted in 1966, while the "Haunted Mansion" opened in 1969.  Since New Orleans Square didn’t open with the rest of the park in the 1950s, the archetypes that it plays with more closely reflect the Uranus-Pluto conjunction of the mid-Sixties.  The feeling here is decidedly more liminal and carnivalesque—it has a more Plutonic nature—but a Disney kind of Plutonic which is playful, and is not related to the Disney character Pluto, although the Disney Pluto and the planet Pluto did arrive on the scene at about the same time. 

New Orleans Square evokes the Dionysian spirit of this city that is the home of Mardi-Gras—Fat Tuesday, the one last fling before the austerities of Lent.  New Orleans is the most carnivalesque city in America, because Bourbon Street and the French Quarter retain their carnival identity year round.  Other cities in America have carnivalesque qualities to them only at certain times of year, such as New York City on New Year’s Eve or Florida’s beach cities during Spring Break.  Las Vegas, too, has become more carnivalesque over the years, borrowing heavily from the Disney theming playbook.

In "Pirates of the Caribbean," we are transported from the bayou and thrillingly taken below ground, as the boats go down water slides and drift through underworldly caves filled with riches, treasure and skeletons of dead pirates.  We also witness a pirate battle, drunken revelry, and suggestions of raping and pillaging as the ransacked city burns and loot is hoarded. 

In the "Haunted Mansion," we are guided by ghosts and descend again underground and go through graveyards and again a celebratory Dionysian spirit abounds.   Eco (1986) reports that in the "Haunted Mansion" we “cross a hill enlivened by a witches Sabbath complete with spirits and bedlams . . . involvement (always tempered by the humor of the inventions) is total” (p. 46).  It doesn’t get more “third matrix” (BPM III) than this.  The "Haunted Mansion" doesn’t follow the familiar narrative form present in other attractions.  Like its liminal compatriot, "Pirates of the Caribbean," points of view are switched from interior to exterior haphazardly, which acts to decenter and disorient us and is like, as Marling (1997) notes, “a cinematic jump cut.  Continuity and reassurance are first established and then abruptly denied for an emotional effect that floats free of narrative and hovers in the air like the disquieting scent of a burning city” (pp. 114-115).  This feeling of free-floating disorientation is a hallmark of Caillois's (1958/2001) categorization of ilinx, or vertigo, archetypally associated with Grof’s Basic Perinatal Matrix III (BPM III), the Death-Rebirth Struggle and the planetary archetype Pluto.  ∆RC[dl11]

As was noted in the "Cosmic Game" chapter, Pluto, Dionysus, and Shiva are equated, and the planetary archetype Pluto corresponds to Grof's "third matrix—BPM III. Although in all of New Orleans Square, this Plutonic theme is inflected with the Dionysian revelry, Plutonic overtones are especially reflected in "Pirates of the Caribbean," when one remembers that Pluto is the god of the underworld and the god of riches, while the Shivanic overtones can be seen at the "Haunted Mansion," since one of Shiva’s favorite haunts was the graveyard. 

Both "Pirates of the Caribbean" and The "Haunted Mansion" became movies in 2003, thus reversing the usual sequence of Disneyland attractions being based on Disney films. Interestingly enough, parts of both of these two attractions also extend outside of the berm.  They were the first attractions to ever do so, although you never realize this when you are in these attractions.  The timing of these movies is also interesting to note; Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion were both filmed and released synchronistically during the Saturn-Pluto opposition of the early 2000s.  [The "Antistructure" excursion located here in New Orleans Square/Adventureland looks at the liminal nature of Disneyland—a playful pilgrimage center centered around carnival and communitas.]


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