Patriotism, Disney Style
Nearly five decades after Walt Disney's death, the company he founded continues his tradition of celebrating American exceptionalism.
May 31, 2013 - 1:00 pm
The Disney Parks carry on the legacy of Walt’s patriotism like no other area of the company, and Disney himself had planned on celebrating America all along. What became the great Disney resort destinations began as a concept for a travelling set of miniature dioramas. This exhibit, christened Disneylandia, would tour the country by train. The dioramas would depict everyday life in different eras of American history. The Disneylandia idea died out when Walt and his proto-Imagineers realized that people probably wouldn’t stand in lines for hours to look at tiny furniture. The concept then began to morph into the theme park idea that would become Disneyland.
Walt Disney wanted guests to see America at its best in his theme parks, and sometimes he wanted them to see America as it could have or should have been. Disneyland arrived on the scene first in 1955. The prototype for the Magic Kingdom parks elsewhere, it is the only park the company completed during Walt’s lifetime. Walt Disney World opened in 1971, and while the two American parks share some common characteristics, they are also distinct and original entities. Several of the lands in both parks reflect Disney’s American ideals.
Main Street, U.S.A. stands in for Walt’s recollection of growing up in Marceline, Missouri, and it also bears the stamp of set designer Harper Goff’s reminiscences of his hometown of Fort Collins, Colorado. Main Street represents the American hometown that used to be, yet never really was, and its setting takes place at the turn of the 20th century when idealism and excitement abounded.
There is an obvious faith in the American way of life at play on Main Street, where, according to The Imagineering Field Guide to the Magic Kingdom:
Horseless carriages share the road with horse-drawn trollies. Gas lamps are being replaced by electric bulbs. The place is all hustle and bustle.
Walt wanted Main Street to embody the American spirit. It is a place where people are friendly, hard work is rewarded, and everybody shares a dream for a better life. This is representative of Walt’s heartfelt patriotism and love for his country and is part of the message he always wanted to convey with his work.
Main Street, U.S.A. hosts a moving flag retreat ceremony every evening, and invites veterans to participate in it.