From Hollywood to Disneyland

Walt Disney’s Dream Park and the Influence of American Movies


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About the Book

From its beginnings, Disneyland was destined to be something entirely different from the standard mid-century amusement park. To sell his dream park to investors and the public, Walt Disney recruited Hollywood art directors and sketch artists to design the grounds around the mythic settings and high-minded ideals commonly expressed on the silver screen.
This book focuses on the initial planning of Disneyland and its first year of operation, a time when Walt personally oversaw every detail of the park’s development. Divided into chapters by park zone, it reveals how the five sectors were constructed using illusionistic tricks of stage design. Reaching beyond structure and design, chapters also explore how the sectors—Main Street, U.S.A., Frontierland, Tomorrowland, Adventureland and Fantasyland—represented themes found in Disney stories, familiar movie genres and American culture at large.

About the Author(s)

Robert Neuman is a professor of art history at Florida State University.

Bibliographic Details

Robert Neuman
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 278
Bibliographic Info: 35 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2022
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8625-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4880-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii
Preface 1
Introduction 13
1. Main Street, U.S.A. 33
2. Frontierland 61
3. Adventureland 96
4. Tomorrowland 126
5. Fantasyland 157
Epilogue 199
Chapter Notes 207
Bibliography 249
Index 261

Book Reviews & Awards

• “Robert Neuman’s latest book is a masterful deep dive into the hows and whys of Disneyland’s creation. The themed ‘lands’ and rides in the Magic Kingdom owe a huge debt, long overlooked, to Hollywood directors like Frank Capra and John Ford, and to movie moguls like Louis B. Mayer and Darryl Zanuck. Disney’s ‘fabulous playground’ tapped into storylines and cinematic clichés in motion pictures seen by millions of Americans in the pre- and post-war years. Disneyland’s subliminal ties to canonical film genres, combined with the imaginative genius and showmanship of the park’s master builder, are what made it the enchanting experience it was in the beginning, and remains still today.”—Garry Apgar, Trinity College, author of A Mickey Mouse Reader and Mickey Mouse: Emblem of the American Spirit

• “Robert Neuman’s study offers Disney scholars an invaluable missing link between the fantasylands of Disney and those of the Hollywood studios of the Golden Age. Organized around each of the themed sites of the parks, the book charts the meticulous way in which visitors are guided through film sets, and demonstrates the debt that Walt Disney owed to the movies. Accessibly written and diligently researched, this is a valuable contribution to the field, which will be of importance to students and enthusiasts of both Disney and Hollywood film.”—Deborah Philips, University of Brighton, author of Fairground Attractions: A Genealogy of the Pleasure Ground