Friday, July 17, 2015

Disneyland turns 60!

Walt Disney with Peter Ellenshaw's 1954 concept map of Disneyland.
Today is the 60th anniversary of the TV show and press preview that opened Disneyland. Tomorrow, July 18th, will be the 60th anniversary of the first day the general public was allowed into the park. To mark the occasion, the great architectural historian Alan Hess left a great post on Facebook. But since Facebook posts are (in some ways) so ephemeral, I am reposting it here, with apologies:
The single most important piece of Modern architecture and planning in the twentieth century opened July 17, 1955. Walt Disney's brilliant insight was to design it with his own studio animators and set designers -- masters of the 20th century's premier technology, the movies. They went far beyond International Style architects' fixation on structural expression to shape space and form using the techniques of film -- editing, sequencing, framing, imagery, color, story telling -- to tap into the heart of modern life.
In just three sentences, Alan manages to say what needs to be said. But I'll prattle on now anyway,...

It's disturbing how little substantive historical research/writing has been done about a place as important and beloved as Disneyland. But I'm very thankful for those who have provided us with what little meaninful work we do have. David Mumford, Bruce Gordon, the Jantzen brothers, Sam Gennawey, Werner Weiss and a handful of others come to mind. It's hard to research a corporation that controls its image and records so tightly. They manage their history like a valuable asset, which I suppose it is. Thus, anything written that goes beyond the depth of a press release is a notable achievement. Kudos to our Disneyland historians!

1 comment:

JB said...

I made my first visit at the age of 8 in 1959. We moved to Garden Grove in 1964 and of course I've visited many times through the years. I've seen many great attractions come and go over all those years too. I've been in Texas for 10 years now so I don't visit the park much anymore. About 5 years ago was the last time. I also didn't really realize how much of the park is covered with water until I saw the map that Walt is holding up. There're several good videos on Youtube showing the original construction. One of my first real jobs was as a busboy at the Disneyland hotel Gormet Room restaraunt.