Unfortunately, there are no pictures here of the parks' buildings or landscape due to the fact that the Walt Disney Company has copyrighted many of the buildings and structures, so that even a tourist guide like The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World (Sehlinger, 1994) contains no photographs. In his discussion of the Disney parks, Sorkin turns these restrictions into parody by printing a photograph of the sky above Disney World to which the following inscription is added:
This is the sky above Disney World, which here substitutes for an image of the place itself. Disney World is the first copyrighted urban environment in history, a Forbidden City for postmodernity. Renowned for its litigiousness, the Walt Disney Company will permit no photograph of its property without prior approval of its use. Is there a better illustration of the contraction of the space of freedom represented by places like Disney World than the innocent sky (Sorkin, 1992:207)
All the Disney theme parks are united by a common approach which distinguishes them from conventional amusement parks. The share prospectus for Euro Disneyland provides a good account of their thinking and this forms a useful backcloth to the discussion that follows:
Rather than presenting a random collection of roller coasters, merry-go-rounds and Ferris wheels in a carnival atmosphere, these parks are divided into distinct areas called 'lands' in which a selected theme (such as exotic adventures, childhood fairy tales or the frontier life of the nineteenth century American West) is presented through architecture, landscaping, costuming, music, live entertainment, attractions, merchandise and food and beverage. Within a particular land, intrusions and distractions from the theme are minimized so that the visitor becomes immersed in its atmosphere.... Restaurants and retail stores at Disney theme parks are designed to entertain guests and support the theme.
Disneyland is situated outside Anaheim, a town to the south of Los Angeles. It is built on a 160-acre orange grove which Walt bought following a feasibility study by the Stanford Research Institute which had been hired to find a suitable site. It is said that Walt's original notion was for a small playground across the road from the studio, but as the vision grew this idea was eliminated. Schickel (1986) notes that Walt sent some of his staff to examine ideas which could be seen at existing amusement parks and to find manufacturers. Apparently, these informants felt that his idea of having a park without a roller coaster or a Ferris wheel or barkers was absurd. Nor were they impressed with his notions of not having outdoor hot dog stands or the sale of beer (he disliked the smells they created). But the exclusion of these symbols of the amusement fair may have been a deliberate strategy of product differentiation, whereby he could establish the distinctiveness of his enterprise and its market niche. Roller coasters were added in later years as visitors made it clear that they wanted more exciting fare, but the heavy theming of these rides disassociates them from traditional roller coaster rides. Disneyland opened on 17 July 1955 at a cost of $17 million. One problem with describing a park which has been in existence for 40 years is that it has changed greatly over the intervening period. Many of these changes are summarized in Bright (1987). When it opened there were 26