Walt’s Utopia

Disneyland and American Mythmaking


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About the Book

The “Happiest Place on Earth” opened in 1955 during a trying time in American life—the Cold War. Disneyland was envisioned as a utopian resort where families could play together and escape the tension of the “real world.” Since its construction, the park has continually been updated to reflect changing American culture. The park’s themed features are based on familiar Disney stories and American history and folklore. They reflect the hopes of a society trying to understand itself in the wake of World War II. This book takes a fresh look at the park, analyzing its cultural narrative by looking beyond consumerism and corporate marketing to how Disney helped America cope during the Cold War and beyond. Instructors considering this book for use in a course may request an examination copy here.

About the Author(s)

Priscilla Hobbs is a senior associate dean at Southern New Hampshire University. She actively researches Disney, American popular culture, and utopianism.

Bibliographic Details

Priscilla Hobbs

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 232
Bibliographic Info: appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2015
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9836-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2213-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Preface 1
Introduction 3
1. Dreaming, Designing and Building: Background 27
2. Main Street, U.S.A.: The Myths of Reassurance and Nostalgia 44
3. Adventureland: The Myth of the Spirit of Adventure 68
4. New Orleans Square: The Shadow of American Doubt 84
5. Frontierland: The Myths of Frontier and Destiny 104
6. Fantasyland: The Myth of Utopia, Part 1: Fairy Tales and Happily Ever Afters 127
7. Fantasyland: The Myth of Utopia, Part 2: Disneyfication, Disneyization and Globalization 141
8. Tomorrowland: The Myth of the Spirit of Progress 158
Epilogue. After Walt: Critter Country and Mickey’s Toontown 174
A. Key Attractions by Land 193
B. The Fantasyland Fairy Tales 195
Chapter Notes 202
Selected Bibliography 211