discovery island 2014-02-15-6145

Unnecessary Theming – Discovery Island

There’s a foul in football called Unnecessary Roughness, and there are times in the Disney theme parks like one ought to create a similarly-named “foul” called Unnecessary Theming. Except it’s not a “foul” – it’s actually a GOOD thing. These are times when Disney could VERY easily have skated by with a simple, plain, unadorned…

dino rama 2011-07-03-9590

Story Matters for Attractions, but not Lands

Immersion is not the same thing as theme, nor is it the same thing as story. The three terms may interconnect and overlap in various ways, but they imply different things. WDW visitors want immersion – transportation to another place/time via details that surround and with NO visual (or audio) elements that detract from the…

big thunder mountain railroad  2013-01-27-2176

Big Thunder’s Mixture of Reality and Artifice

Disney rides achieve their signature thrill (emotional and psychological) by appealing primarily not to physical thrills, but to intellectual ones. Call it a thematic thrill. We revel in the awesomeness of a Disney ride precisely because it manages to straddle that line so effectively between reality and artifice. We think things are real that are…

pirates of the caribbean 2014-01-04-4636

Jack Sparrow in PotC is feminized, too!

As originally conceived, Pirates of the Caribbean is a ride with a decidedly masculine bent. All the pirates we encounter are male. The only females in the entire experience are subordinated to stereotypical roles: running from rapist pirates, preening at the auction (HOPING for rape? this is pretty sexist), or standing roped together at the…

jungle cruise 2011-04-23-3546

Adventureland – Exotic for whom?

There are lots of ways to analyze the Disney parks. The tools from Humanities and Cultural Studies offer interesting angles on what these parks mean, why they work, and why we care so much. The interpretive approaches function a little bit like the lenses of a microscope; you click to change the lens and see…

Free online course in what Disney fairy tales really mean

There’s a completely free, fairly-low-work online class being offered soon (Feb. 10-Mar. 10) that will explain lots of things about Disney Fairy Tales you never considered before: Why does Cinderella’s prince not just look at her face to identify her? Why Snow White was originally a family drama in the worst way – and definitely…