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Imagineering America: Disney's View of the USA in its Theme Parks

Weaver, Emily Michelle (2023) Imagineering America: Disney's View of the USA in its Theme Parks. Master of Arts by Research (MARes) thesis, University of Kent,. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.100839) (KAR id:100839)


One of the largest, and most influential entertainment companies, the Walt Disney Company has effectively created its own 'Disney's America' which is represented through its theme parks by producing an immersive experience for guests in both the past and future. With the influential power of the Disney company, they are able to form and present their own vision of America, through the various attractions and architectural designs which create an immersive experience. What began as simply Walt Disney's visions of America through his fascination with the past and promise of the future, has become corporate controlled, with Disney controlling the perceptions of America through the theme parks through the use and presentation of a Disney history and future within the parks. Through the Disney theme parks, a 'Disney's America' of both the past and future is created. These representations of both American history and the future are typically Disneyfied, representing the Disney vision of both the past and future by altering perceptions of America to fit the typical Disney image of family-friendly fun and happiness.

A sense of Disney history is created through Disney's representations of the past which is found within both three lands at The Magic Kingdom: Main Street USA, Frontierland and Liberty Square, and the failed planned Disney history theme park. With the company providing representations and recreations of history which are edited, solely positive and idealised versions, history is altered within this vision of America. The darker, less appealing aspects of American history are typically excluded from this Disney vision to ensure only a positive version of America's past is represented.

The vision of the Disney future is presented through Tomorrowland, Walt Disney's original plan for a new community of tomorrow and the Disney theme park, Epcot. These present a future filled with optimism and advancements, working towards creating a better, improved future. There are multiple visions of the Disney future: the fantasy future of Tomorrowland, Walt Disney's personal vision and the vision of the Disney company itself. These are similar in that they represent a future of advancement and optimism with negativity removed, still fitting with the Disney image.

The 'Disney's America' is created through the immersive experiences provided throughout the Disney theme parks where guests first-hand experience the Disney vision of the past and future, entering the world of a Disney's America. Disney creates these experiences through the attractions and architectural design of the parks which effectively result in enjoyable, unforgettable guest experiences. Disney has become an integral part of American culture and America has become Disney.

Item Type: Thesis (Master of Arts by Research (MARes))
Thesis advisor: Wills, John
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.100839
Uncontrolled keywords: Disney, ThemeParks, Past, Future, America
Subjects: E History America > E151 United States (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of History
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 11 Apr 2023 10:10 UTC
Last Modified: 12 Apr 2023 10:33 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Weaver, Emily Michelle.

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