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  • Writer's pictureKarey Pohn

The Art of the Show—Behind the Scenes Tour

Disneyland is a fiction, a dream, a three-dimensional story, a world where we can enter and participate.  Disneyland is based on Disney’s films and ideas, and centers around happiness and the wonders and importance of childhood.  Disneyland could not have come about without the skills and talents of Walt Disney and his staff, which were developed and honed during their pioneering animation careers.  These same skills and talents were put in service of developing Disneyland, where like Alice in Wonderland, we step into a different world: Disneyland is a world that has a clean, caring, complementary environment, created through the architecture of reassurance and the language of vision—using cinematic devices of theme, narrative, scale, and the coordination of colors and backgrounds all in service to the story.  Everything in the park works together in service of fantasy and illusion.  It is all an illusion, based on illusions, because much of what is portrayed in the park never really existed in physical reality.  Even if what is portrayed at Disneyland did exist in some fashion, the Disney artists have tinkered with the real and made it their own, and somehow, in many cases, what we see and experience at Disneyland seems “realer than real.” Disneyland, like the animation that inspired it, is carefully controlled to make the illusion possible, making such an amazing play space was and is very hard work, not to mention extremely costly.  Disneyland’s brilliance also has a shadow side, which although I will only refer to as we go along, in passing, because the shadow side is not our primary focus, and also because it has been thoroughly discussed by many such as Bryman (1995, 2004), Shickel (1997), Fjellman (1992) and Ayers (2003) just to mention a few.  First we will explore Disneyland’s illusory nature and then we will go behind the scenes and see or “C” how they do the things they do.


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