Welp, I guess I’ll be buying a book this afternoon. This morning, Fast Company posted a review of “Walt Disney’s Disneyland” – a new volume published by Taschen, written and researched by Chris Nichols.
Reviewer Katherine Schwab, wrote:
Created by Walt Disney in 1955, Disneyland has been a magical destination for kids and adults alike for the past 63 years. It’s also a huge moneymaker. Disney’s parks and resorts brought in nearly $5.2 billion in revenue in the last quarter alone. Central to Disneyland’s success?
The history of that design is the subject of a new eponymous book published by Taschen. Written by Chris Nichols, an architectural historian, preservationist, writer, and Disneyland fanatic, the book touches on everything from Disney’s involvement in the park’s development to the famous designers and engineers who built it. But Walt Disney’s real feat was to create an immersive world that combined the familiar with the fantastic, laid out in an easily understandable way so that visitors always felt in control of the spectacle around them–all while persuading them to part with as much money as possible.
The look of the book, seen via the preview images linked above and below, is pretty impressive. However, I am a little concerned about the reviewer’s concentration on Disneyland’s designed ability to separate money from guests’ wallets rather than on its innovative architectural design.
And it’s true–unlike some other Southern California theme parks, notably Universal Studios, Disneyland doesn’t feel like a mall. Instead, its Main Street is a bustling, utopian dream of what Nichols referred to as the “last stable time,” before the two World Wars and the Great Depression. It feels almost prescient, as today’s cities move more toward revitalizing historic downtowns and malls sit increasingly vacant. It’s also good for business: Everywhere you look there’s something for sale. Even if Disney didn’t want his park to feel like a mall, the place was exquisitely gifted at convincing visitors to open their wallet–which remains true today.
However, having purchased Taschen books previously, no matter the content, the visuals are generally stunning
Furthermore, Fast Company’s Schwab did see fit to add, “Disneyland was different from the other theme parks 0f the era because it was designed to be more like a World’s Fair than a carnival. In fact, the famed ride It’s a Small World was originally built for the 1964 World’s Fair in New York. But rather than showing off different country’s achievements, Disneyland instead focused on some of the most foundational American stories of the last century–fairy tales, fantasy, and science fiction–all told through immersive experiences, decades before virtual reality became a thing. Disney’s genius was in making the otherworldly feel completely familiar.”
“Hear, hear!” I shout; k
After all, Fast Company quotes the book’s author as saying of Disneyland’s rides:
You’re not only experiencing someone guiding you through a story, but you’re the main character…”Chris Nichols, author, “Walt Disney’s: Disneyland”