Disneyland, A Pictorial Souvenir, 1976
It’s amazing to me when I meet another Los Angeleno who has never been to Disneyland. Are the communists? Did they grow up with abusive and cruel parents who built a Carrie closet? Do they hate the idea of fun? Of course, they typically tell me “It’s not my kind of thing.” Or, “I don’t understand the attraction of contemporary mass market spectacle.” Boring, boring people.
When I was a kid, I had a copy of “Disneyland, a pictorial souvenir”. I know every detail of every image. The images paint such a nice story of a lazy day with family, rock and roll fun with teens, and exciting (but not overly exciting) adventures. When I looked through this recently, I began to decode the images. Yes, OCD, yes geeky, yes, too much emphasis on deconstruction in art school. I found several running themes.
1. Old people and People with hats.
Hats signify an exciting time. There are many matching hats on old people and kids. Old people let us know that Disneyland can be enjoyed by everyone. I know this is true. I’ve been there with my grandparents. Although they preferred that we visit each land in a counter-clockwise direction and never jump between sides of the park.
“I’m cranky, and old-fashioned, but nice to my odd grandson and will wear a funny hat.”
“I’m just like my grandfather, and we love the same things. Hats."
"I'm Nikita Khrushchev and old, but we still enjoy Dumbo.”
“I’m a foreign sailor, and I like to go on dates with American girls."
“My grandmother has some wacky hat fashion sense, but she bought us these hats.”
There are nuns all over the place in the Disneyland visual landscape. They show up on preliminary sketches, and in souvenir books. I don’t think there is any hidden religious subtext. This has more to do with the supposed cruelty of nuns who slam rulers on Catholic school children. Nuns are not thought of as carefree, anything goes, kinds of women.
“We’re nuns and we’re hardcore. But even we love Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.”
3. Blurry motion
These say “speed.” Disneyland can be a crazed, fast paced, and thrilling place. Everything is fast: a hip dance scene in Tomorrowland, Rocket Jets, America the Beautiful Circlevision, the Peoplemover, and the Mad Tea Party Teacups. The Teacups are, and Rocket Jets (now the Astro Orbitor) were, indeed, too fast for me. All that spinning. But the Peoplemover and Circlevision were fairly slow paced. This was good. The Peoplemover had a hard fiberglass interior. I would not want to be in a Peoplemover whipping around the bend that fast, slammed against the hard seat, or in a Circlevision theater with guests throwing up.
"Stop fidgeting, I am not trying to throw you out"
"For the love of God, slow this thing down."
Nobody drives this fast in D.C., except a Mission Impossible scene
4. Leg details
From a child’s point of view this must be what Disneyland looks like. These tell us that cast members are cleaning, the costume characters will interact with children, and there are horses. We also don’t need to involve ourselves with details such as individual people.
"No we don't work here."
Many images show people meandering and lingering. They stare into a shop window on Main Street (why, I don’t know. The door is two feet away). Others look at unique items in the One of a Kind Shop, or watch the The Royal Street Bachelors in New Orleans Square. This tells us that there is time to relax, saunter, and discover stuff to buy. Unlike most of the stores I visit, here I can and linger and not be asked to leave. The downside of these images is the message that it’s okay to walk really slowly down Main Street, 8 abreast. It’s not. Some of us need lunch.
See, again, a boy with freaky feather hat. This is a Fascinator in England.
"I don't think I've ever seen anything as interesting as these, um, huge pepper mills."
"Oh my Fred, so exciting. Stand away and don't think about touching my wig!"
Whether it’s real night outside, or simulated night in the Blue Bayou, these images are indicators that Disneyland is not just for kids. You can have dinner with your middle-aged friends or neighbors. You can take your spouse on a special dinner date while the kids hang out in Fantasyland. Or you can throw caution to the wind and get groovy with the young adults.
What is it with people who used to have coffee with dinner?
I believe the women on the left is the wig woman. These people are square.
If you're Tricia Nixon, this is your wicked sick scene