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Disneyland theme park's significance draws from its development as the first themed park in conjunction with its position as representative of a 1950s suburban American psyche. In attending a themed space, a visitor supplements and completes the park 's narrative by acting as the protagonist. The continued popularity of this fifty-five-year-old park speaks to the significance of Disneyland as a cultural and social destination. This thesis focuses on the way in which the performance of a normative American identity coincided with Walt Disney's shaping of Disneyland. Focusing on 1955 and 1956, I examine the engagement of the audience with the narratives presented in Disneyland in order to explicate the performance of a postwar suburban American identity as idyllic and patriotic. I suggest that visitors ' emotional attachment to the theme park speaks to the idealization of Disney as well as visitors ' idealizations of their own suburban American identities through Disney. In the second chapter I consider the ways in which Walt 's conservative personal agenda transferred into his corporate persona and productions to identify with White, middle-class suburbia. Chapter three utilizes Robbins Barstow's amateur home filmDisneyland Dreamas a case study of one suburban family's response to Disneyland park and theDisneylandtelevision program. The fourth chapter employs Louis Marin 's postmodern view of Disneyland, interrogating the ways in which visitors create both nostalgic memories of idealization and hyperreal experiences of their suburban lives through Disneyland 's tropes. Indeed, by attending Disneyland in the 1950s, families created their idealized suburban America mythos as real.
1950s, Barstow, Disney, Disneyland, Suburbia, Theme Park
Date of Defense
April 25, 2012.
A Thesis submitted to the School of Theatre in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts.
Includes bibliographical references.
Elizabeth Osborne, Professor Directing Thesis; Mary Karen Dahl, Committee Member; Kris Salata, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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