Yesterday, Tomorrow, and Fantasy is an unofficial guide to the world beyond Disney, exploring the original stories and sources of beloved films and attractions. Sometimes, the inspirations for Disney’s theme parks are Disney’s own films and cartoons. In this article, we’re going to take a look at how Disney parks have always been part of Disney’s larger corporate strategies, even since the beginning. – Cory

A visit to any given Disney fan forum will often suss out complaints about how talentless and corporate Disneyland has become. Every new “kiddie ride” and attraction based on a hip current franchise rather than an original concept brings it out, as does every new Starbucks that opens in a Disney Park. I’m not immune to it myself, since I could certainly do without Tomorrowland being reduced to a Universal Studios-style patchwork of Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm. However, the oddest tack taken by these complaints is that “it weren’t always that way”… The false impression that this sort of activity is something new. While the pain of its obviousness may have gotten worse over time, there is no greater example of corporate synergy than Disneyland itself.

I’m sure we all know the story of Disneyland’s growth from a tiny historical village adjacent to the Burbank studios to the Magic Kingdom in an Anaheim orange grove. In order to gain the necessary funding to pursue this vision, Walt and Roy were forced to cut a deal with ABC to provide them with a television program. That program was… Disneyland. Let’s grab our copies of Walt Disney Treasures: Disneyland USA (or do a quick search on YouTube) and take an hour to go back in time to watch that first episode from October 27, 1954.


“The Disneyland Story” a fascinating program to watch for many reasons. For one, it demonstrates that Disneyland is not just a theme park, but a conceptual space. Frontierland, Adventureland, Tomorrowland, Fantasyland and Main Street USA are not just places but states of mind. The theme park itself reinforces and is reinforced by presentations on the Disneyland program that embody each of these conceptual spaces. Though I am speaking of it in terms closer to cultural studies and art critical theory, make no mistake about what this is from the other side of the ledger: a multiplatform, multimedia brand.

Whereas other filmmakers were afraid of how television would cut into the profits of cinema, Walt Disney saw it as a powerful means to promote his work, not the least of which was Disneyland. That first episode of the longest-running weekly television show in American prime-time begins with a peek into the Disney Studios and the projects under development, like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Sleeping Beauty. Promotion for 20,000 Leagues would feature in two further episodes in the first season, “Operation Undersea” and “Monsters of the Deep.” The former program would go on to win two Emmys, for best television editing and for best individual television program of the year, despite being an hour-long advertisement about the filming of 20,000 Leagues in the Bahamas. When Disneyland opened, one of Tomorrowland’s key attractions was a walk-through of sets from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.


On the original drawings for Disneyland, Adventureland was known as “True-Life Adventureland.” This synergy with the True-Life Adventure documentaries was bridged during the Adventureland episodes of the Disneyland series, which typically featured one of the True-Life theatrical shorts and a promotional piece on an upcoming True-Life feature. For example, the third episode of the series had “Prairie,” about the making of The Vanishing Prairie, paired with Seal Island. Later in the season, the short Beaver Valley was wed to a promotional piece on The African Lion entitled “Cameras in Africa.” In “The Disneyland Story,” producer Ben Sharpsteen talks extensively about these upcoming films and shows off some early footage.

When the park opened, Adventureland featured only one attraction: the Jungle Cruise. This was inspired by a contemporary film, though curiously not a Disney movie. A scant few years before, Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn starred in the tale of a rugged African riverboat adventure called The African Queen, which Imagineer Harper Goff referenced frequently in his designs for the ride.


Next door in Frontierland we see some of the most obvious catering to corporate synergy. Fess Parker was on hand during “The Disneyland Story” to sing the title song to the trilogy of Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier episodes to air later in the season. These in turn inspired a national craze that notoriously took Disney by surprise. To have a whole section devoted to the myth of the Wild West and not have their newest Western star would be unthinkable, but plans for the park were already so far along by the time Davy Crockett: At the Alamo aired on Feb. 23, 1955, that no attraction featuring him could be whipped up. That did not stop Fess Parker and Buddy Ebsen from doing a performance, in character, at Disneyland’s opening ceremonies. They did manage to fit a small Davy Crockett Frontier Museum in the space currently occupied by Pioneer Mercantile.

Another guest at those opening ceremonies was Irene Dunne, on hand to christen the Mark Twain Riverboat. Dunne was one of the stars of the 1936 film version of the Kern and Hammerstein musical Show Boat. Though remade in 1951 – the same year as The African Queen – it was the 1936 version with its iconic performance by Paul Robeson that would have been most fondly remembered by the adults intending to visit Walt’s new park.


Incidentally, a cinematic version of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was released not long after Show Boat, in 1938. Given the classic status of America’s Bard and his greatest novel, it might be a stretch to ascribe Tom Sawyer’s Island to any one film. Nevertheless, here we have another case of Disney adapting a work to his own park. As in the cases cited above, and those to follow, there is no direct corporate synergy in the sense of directly drumming up tickets at a movie theatre or merchandise sales. There is, instead, a definite attempt to align the Disney product with the American cultural zeitgeist and ultimately subsume that zeitgeist into itself. There is no African Queen or Show Boat or The Adventures of Tom Sawyer ride, but Disneyland will provide one very much like it.

Films of the Thirties had a profound influence in another section of the park: Main Street USA. It’s often touted that Main Street was inspired by Walt’s recollections of his boyhood home of Marceline, Missouri. Some more astute Disney fans have noted that Walt spent only four years in Marceline between the ages of 5 and 9, and that Marceline’s historic main street looks nothing whatever like Disneyland’s version. Therefore, Harper Goff’s hometown of Fort Collins, Colorado, has been looked to as another influence. Like every other part of Disneyland, though, Main Street is not inspired by any one place, but by the idea of a certain setting and time period. That setting – the “Gay Nineties” – was cemented by a series of nostalgic, idealized films in the Thirties, Forties and Fifties, entering into the American cultural zeitgeist to be subsumed by Disney. A movie called The Gay Nineties was made in 1933 and remade in 1942. Cinema seductress Mae West practically made a living off of these films, with such pictures as She Done Him Wrong (1933), Belle of the Nineties (1934) and Klondike Annie (1935). Show Boat was a part of the same movement, as was the 1935 Will Rogers comedy Steamboat Round the Bend. Disney himself romanticized the era in films like So Dear to My Heart (1948), the Mickey Mouse short The Nifty Nineties (1941) and its conceptual sequel Crazy Over Daisy (1950), Casey and Bat (1946) and Casey Bats Again (1954), and others. Abbott and Costello released their comedy The Naughty Nineties in 1945, which included their famous “Who’s on First” routine.

So rooted was Disneyland to the Mid-Century impression of the Gay Nineties that even the in-park advertising reflected Fifties pop-art rather than anything authentically Victorian. A perusal of the marvelous Poster Art of the Disney Parks tome reveals many gorgeous – but very modernist – posters developed for the Disneyland Railroad, Red Wagon Inn and Candy Palace. It wasn’t until Disney’s European park that “The Disneyland Paris team researched popular American illustrations and artwork from the period for inspiration,” according to Danny Handke and Vanessa Hunt, the book’s authors. Main Street is also where we see some of the most obvious corporate sponsorship in Disneyland, such as the Carnation Cafe, for instance. There was also the Santa Fe and Disneyland Railroad, Coca-Cola Refreshment Corner, Maxwell Coffee Shop, and the Market House and Red Wagon Inn (now Plaza Inn), both run by Swift.


But I digress. Back to Frontierland, one of its signature attractions was Nature’s Wonderland, a multi-faceted area with a mine train, stagecoaches and mule ride. In 1960, new animatronics were added that tied directly to the True-Life Adventures films. Now riders on the mine train could see Beaver Valley, The Olympic Elk, Bear Country and The Living Desert in three dimensions.


Tomorrowland was a unique situation in that its own reference points were tied in equal parts to the fervor over the American Space Race and the Disneyland program. One of the last episodes of Disneyland‘s first season was Man in Space, which evolved into a trilogy over subsequent seasons with the episodes Man and the Moon and Mars and Beyond. All three episodes were directed by animator Ward Kimball, who introduced them in “The Disneyland Story.”  The attraction Rocket to the Moon was realized concurrently with Man and the Moon, which aired on Dec. 28, 1955. Dr. Heinz Haber was one of the guests at the opening of Disneyland the park, and during that program performed (with limited success) an experiment that he would replicate in the episode Our Friend the Atom from 1957. That episode also revisited footage and themes from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. For want of attractions and money, most of Tomorrowland was turned over to corporate showrooms, including the Monsanto Hall of Chemistry and later Monsanto House of the Future, Kaiser Hall of Aluminum Fame, and the Crane Bathroom of Tomorrow (I could only imagine the complaints if Disney did that today).  In 1959, Tomorrowland was updated with a new set of attractions including the Alweg Monorail, the Submarine Voyage inspired by the actual quest for the North Pole via nuclear submarine, and the Matterhorn Bobsleds, which evolved out of the filming for Third Man on the Mountain. The 1967 renovation of Tomorrowland brought Monsanto’s Adventure Thru Inner Space and the General Electric Carousel of Progress.

Cover of the “Our Friend the Atom” textbook, published simultaneously with the television program and pitched by Walt on it.

There is virtually no need to bring up Fantasyland, with every one of its opening attractions being based on one of the films from Disney’s oeuvre. Sleeping Beauty had not even been released yet when the castle was ascribed to her in “The Disneyland Story.” Corporate sponsorship could not be escaped there either: it was not the Jolly Roger that occupied the former lagoon, but the Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship.

All of this is, I think, sufficient to demonstrate that the specter of sponsorships and corporate synergy is nothing new. There never was a golden age during which Disneyland was run as a non-profit charity. The misty eons of nostalgia seems to have done much to excise the fact that Disney has always been perfecting the concept of multimedia branding, and indeed, constructed one of the most fascinating examples of the type. This is not to say that every single example of franchise-building and corporate sponsorship is a great idea, but a critique loses its weight when it is a rote complaint about what Disney has always done. Whether one loves it, hates it, or merely endures it, it cannot be denied that among the many things Walt Disney pioneered, the concept of corporate synergy was one of his greatest triumphs.

Join us again in two weeks when we examine another part of the American cultural zeitgeist that Walt tried to subsume into his park, when Yesterday, Tomorrow, and Fantasy runs off to the circus!

  • Wagi

    This is a great series, it’s simply fascinating (and very well written).

  • soundhound

    I think a big difference is that in the 50s, corporations were generally not looked upon with as much disdain as they are today, so their sponsorship was more benign during the earlier days. Today, this same activity looks much more money-grubbing (especially when Disney does it). I haven’t been to Disneyland for a few years because more and more it isn’t a park for me, but is now for the kiddies (the character mania for one).

    • sonnyk155

      I think you’re right about the contrasting view of corporations, soundhound. It’s sad. The Supreme Court hasn’t helped.

  • Jeff Heimbuch

    This is a fantastic article, Cory. Well done.

  • Cousin Orville

    A big part of the “Gay Nineties” revival that was in full swing in the late forties and fifties can be seen in music. The “Firehouse Five plus Two” (fueled by Disney Animators) was part of that in their revival of Dixieland Jazz, same for the “Banjo Kings” and German honky tonk sensation “Crazy Otto”. Number One hits among the fading Swing and emerging Rock music. Carnation’s Ice Cream Parlor had the same nostalgic analog that a “Ruby’s” or “Johnny Rocket’s” would today. Like the pictured train poster, most of Disneyland early ephemera was modernist gay nineties too, like the Carnation menu. Stylistically reminds me of the sets from the Mickey Mouse Club. “Nifty Ninetie’s”, a Disney Cartoon captured that enthusiasm as well.

    The big “90’s love letter” movie that was not mentioned was “Meet me in St. Louis”.

  • DuckyDelite

    I think the difference is that Walt Disney used corporate sponsorship to pay for *his* dreams, not the corporation’s dreams. It was the Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship, not the Chicken of the Sea Tuna Ship. Even with the self-promotion of Monsanto, it was about dreams of the future, not what you can buy in the mall today.

    Previously, even with sponsored rides and food, it felt like Disneyland was trying to sell me ideas (past, present, and future). With the introduction of the McDonald’s fry cart, it felt like Disneyland was trying to sell me a product.

    • ayalexander

      Or could it be perhaps that since McDonald’s was popular with children and adults that maybe it seemed natural to pair McDonald’s with Disneyland park? As a kid it seemed like a natural pair at the time, though today with the direction that Disneyland is going with its food, they seem to be looking toward better quality than what McDonald’s can provide.

      • DuckyDelite

        For $100 I want something different than what I can buy on any street corner in America.

      • ayalexander

        I don’t think you can get a Monte Cristo, or Jambalaya on any street corner. Nor can you get a corn dog quite like the one at little red wagon, or a chicken sausage dog in a pretzel bun. Don’t forget Disneyland is an American Icon, most foreigners want American food. They always ask for burgers, fries, and corn dogs. (most foreigners spend more money than Americans and so their food preference gets first pic) and since we’re Americans and we like American food, it benefits Disney in both ways.

      • DuckyDelite

        I can get a Monte Cristo at two of the diners in my neighborhood. I think jambalaya is a standard menu item at CPK. What I can’t get at those places is a Disney-specific Monte Cristo sandwich inside one of the best attractions in the world. Or have a jazz band play while I eat the Disney version of jambalaya. Both feel entirely appropriate for the theme and uniqueness of the area inside the park.

        Kodak, Coca-Cola, and Maxwell House were all entirely appropriate for a turn of the century main street. Starbucks, I’m not so sure.

        Again, it’s not so much the actual product sponsorship, it’s the packaging and marketing of the product. The Golden Horseshoe sells pretty generic amusement park food, but until recently it came with a great little Disney dinner show. Since Disney axed that, I’m concerned they’re going to turn it into an Olive Garden. Because, you know, synergy.

      • ayalexander

        Well you said “street corner” not street diner; so I gave you examples you can’t get on a “street corner”. Main Street is supposed to be an idealized small town street. Maybe having a Starbucks in every small town street is ideal 🙂 (I know that was a cheap shot, but c’mon, the guests wanted Starbucks. Walt said, “give the public what they want”)

      • billyjobobb

        My #1 beef with the Starbucks, summed up pretty well in the article, it was the Star Kist Pirate Ship, not the Star Kist tuna boat.

        That Starbucks looks like a Starbucks. Why they can’t simply add Micky ears to the logo.

        It’s like Starbucks is leasing the space, and they designed it. It should have been that Disney made something different, that fit better into Disney. But what do you expect from a park that is going out of it’s way to lose any uniqueness? No more “Disneyland” merchandise, but instead it’s all “Disney Parks” merchandise.

      • ayalexander

        billyjobobb, it wasn’t Star Kist at all. It was Chicken of the Sea. Star Kist never had a presence in Disneyland. It was the Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship.

  • Erik Olson

    Thank you for this article. I have very fond associative memories of Monsanto, Carnation, Sunkist, McDonnell Douglas, Goodyear, among many other brands, because my first experiences with them were during my childhood in Disneyland park. As a grown-up, I realize these companies were often far less perfect than I could have imagined at the time. But the sponsorships worked precisely as they should have – generations of young people were introduced to benevolent brands and their products through a day at Disneyland. Kodak? Love them! Dole? Delicious.

    When threads wax too nostalgic for a Disney park experience that NEVER WAS – vis-à-vis the recent and unprecedented invasion of the Starbucks evil corporate empire into the park – it will be nice to kindly point to this article that accurately depicts the various tie-ins that have existed since before Day 1. Yes kids, before Starbucks, there was Maxwell House Coffee House and, on its heels, the Hills Bros. Coffee Garden.

    Don’t worry, your children will have fond memories of the drinks, smoothies and pastries that come out of Starbucks. Don’t let it cause you too much pain.

  • C3PO

    Excellent article – this has really given me a new perspective on the matter.

  • Mousekagal

    It almost seems the real issue isn’t whether Walt Disney or Disney today uses sponsorship or not. It’s that Walt Disney put the guests and the integrity of the park first before profit. Show me one Disney exec today that would take money out of his own pocket to have a Mark Twain be built to perfection and exact specification or care enough to have guests only pay 25 cents for parking because they have to pay enough just being in the park. So sponsorship or not, whether it’s Starbucks or Maxwell House on Main Street, let’s make the Market House look more like something from the turn-of-the-century rather than having a budget framed photo here and there and a hidden potbelly stove. Walt’s philosophy… Quality and attention to detail first and then profits will automatically follow and let’s put forth the best ideas to represent the lands in the best possible way. I know they want to profit but do you really think Walt would turn all of Tomorrowland into Star Wars just to make money off of a recently acquired franchise , possibly not. It would be as if all of Fantasyland was just Peter Pan. Ubiquitous yuck. Getting off the subject, I think we can all see there’s definitely just plain corporate greed.

    • ayalexander

      But Disney doesn’t want to make all of tomorrowland into Star Wars to make money off the franchise. They wanted to turn it into Star Wars because Disneyland research showed that guests wanted to traverse the expanded universe of Star Wars, being that many guests approved the concept, Disney knows that since it would be popular, profits would follow. -The same concept that Walt excercised. The only difference is that Walt isn’t at the helm of this idea, and therefore fans thing this is just simply another money grab instead of an opportunity to provide a better experience. Besides… I think everything will be alright, I think that Disney will drop the idea of a full Tomorrowland/Star Wars Land conversion all together anyway. I used to be a Cast Member and I was given a survey that asked about what I would like to see in the Star Wars universe and if I thought tomorrowland was a good fit for the “Star Wars” world. I said no, in my comments I said that Tomorrowland should be Tomorrowland, but I wouldn’t mind a section of it being dedicated to a “Star Wars” district. I went and asked the guest research team what people were saying about the survey, I forget the exact percentage but I think a good 60-70% of park guests said they wanted Tomorrowland as Star Wars Land.

      • Mousekagal

        Oh totally, I agree. I didn’t mean that I knew exactly what they were going to do to tomorrowland ! I heard about that survey too. I was just referring sarcastically to the hopes that they would just keep Star Wars to a small section and keep tomorrowland being tomorrowland because we all know that Disneyland doesn’t have the room to do a huge Star Wars project and keep tomorrowland as Walt had intended. as the dedication plaque says “a vista into a world of wondrous ideas, signifying man’s achievements… a step into the future, with predictions of constructive things to come ” Walt hoped it would be a living blueprint of our future. I’m pretty sure we hope that each land has diversity and not just one theme of course

      • Mousekagal

        I’m sure you can also agree that Disney has a tendency for over commercialization of a popular product for example the princesses yes I know they cater to what the people want. I love Cinderella snow white etc. but I get tired of seeing them everywhere and I can’t even remember what they are really supposed to look like I have to turn on their movies just to remember! Being funny again!!

    • billyjobobb

      The big problem though is that Tomorrowland was a mistake.

      • ayalexander

        How was Tomorrowland a mistake? It was a functional, successful land in Disneyland with the only flaw being that the future is always changing.

      • Marko50

        I agree that Tomorrowland WASN’T a mistake, but I think that it might be a mistake now. The future is just rolling into the present too fast.

      • Cory Gross

        I don’t think Tomorrowland is a mistake, now or ever. It just needs a decent refocusing.

        Tomorrowland was never exclusively about futurism, despite the name. It was more a blend of science fact and science fiction that spoke to the idea of scientific discovery and progress. I still think there’s a lot they could do within that idea that would make a satisfying Tomorrowland. I would love to see them keep the subs but take out the Finding Nemo theme and instead use all those fancy projections to show footage of real animals, rebranding it as the “Disneynature Submarine Voyage.” I’d like to see them make the Autopia cars clean energy, and replace the Captain EO theatre with a version of Dinosaur (which was one of the plans for 1998). Bring back the NASA exhibit, make Starcade into a DisneyQuest, restore the Peoplemover, make Innoventions into a permanent ElecTRONica-style attraction. Stuff like that. I’m not going to get mad at Disney for not reading my mind (it seems like a lot of people do that), but suffice it to say that there is a lot of potential there they could use.

  • Kimkatkim

    Excellently written. I for one think that we all occasionally lose sight of the core reasons for which Disneyland was built: making money through the genius branding of nostalgia and a positive look into the future.

    • Cory Gross

      A fascinating bit of viewing is the 1963 interview that Walt Disney did for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. It’s very candid and he talks very frankly about Disneyland as a business. It’s an enlightening look behind the curtain, as it were.

      • Mousekagal

        Yes of course it’s a business like anything else but his love for Disneyland itself and it’s guests came first

      • Mousekagal

        There’s another quote that goes “Walt Disney had three children, Diane, Sharon and Disneyland” i’m sure he didn’t start it only just to make money it was the love of it. First and last

  • Big D

    As Ducky Delite said, Walt used it to pay for his dreams, which were the park itself and later more and more ground-breaking attractions. Today a ride like Star Tours, while fun, feels more like exists just to get you into the gift shop to buy stuff. Walt knew how to do corporate synergy in a more subtle way that didn’t make it feel like they were clawing and scratching at your wallet. The current Disney company today does not.

  • ayalexander

    I really enjoyed this article. Even with most of today’s new Disney attractions being Pixar or animated film related, I never felt off-put by having all attractions being synergistic. I like the synergy because I like to explore the worlds of Disney movies. I love Carsland, Mermaid, Toy Story, Ratatouille, Indiana Jones, and many many more. Therefore I love that I could go into a Disney park and experience the realms first hand, like I was living IN the movie.

    And with the whole Starbucks thing, I never felt like a corporation was trying to “sell” me something. (I actually like better quality coffee than Starbucks could provide but once in a while I don’t mind indulging on their mocha-like, crap coffee, sugar pumped milk drink they call a Mocha (iced latte). Simply put: Starbucks is there because the guests have been asking for it (that’s not a lie. Guest research has proven that most guests would enjoy having a Starbucks conveniently located in the park) and you know what? I thought Disney did a pretty good job implementing the franchise without disturbing the “look” of the Disney parks. And even if there is an attraction I don’t like *hint* Monster’s Inc. in Hollywoodland *hint**hint**wink* -I know one thing, nothing in Disney parks are permanent. Walt Disney likened Disneyland to a piece of clay that he can keep molding and shaping all the time. Just because an attraction lasts sixty years due to popularity, doesn’t mean it will always be there.

    • Cory Gross

      “I like the synergy because I like to explore the worlds of Disney movies.”

      Whhhhaaaaaaaatt?!? *rabblerabblerabblegrumblegrumble* 😉

      • ayalexander

        Did I faux pas?

      • Cory Gross

        You’re ENABLING! *rabblerabblerabble* 🙂

      • ayalexander

        haha… well maybe I am enabling… but that’s how I feel. When I go into a Disney Park, especially Disneyland, I know I’m gonna step into my favorite movies. But I still respectively enjoy the classics: Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean still top my favorites. (people will hate me for saying this, but…) I like the addition of Jack Sparrow because its better to see him pop out of that barrel and hiding from the pirate with the map, than to see that pirate scarfing down a turkey leg.

      • Cory Gross

        What?! You have an opinion about a ride that I disagree with! You must be a bad person!

        Okay, okay, sarcasm mode off…

        I don’t disagree in principle with having Jack Sparrow in the ride, it’s just HOW it was done that I objected to (i.e.: making the whole ride ABOUT him, adding in the squid monster, making his animatronic SO different from all the other ones, throwing in the movie soundtrack, etc.). If he was made to blend in better, or even if it was only his head popping out of the barrel, I wouldn’t have minded.

        You totally hit it on the head with “When I go into a Disney Park, especially Disneyland, I know I’m gonna step into my favorite movies.” Going to a Disney park isn’t just about going on some rides. It is about entering an imaginative world, either of the films they’re based on, the nostalgic past, or a wholly original setting. You CANNOT understand Disney fandom if you don’t understand that this act of immersion is the PURPOSE, not a defect.

      • ayalexander

        Cory, I like that last paragraph about immersion being the purpose of a Disney park. Well said!

  • BradyNBradleysMom

    This series should be compiled into a book. It is that good. Each column can be a chapter. I would buy it!

  • Mousekagal

    Thanks! There’s an old saying that goes “necessity is the mother of invention”. We know that Walt had sponsorship in the parks like Coca-Cola and Maxwell House because he needed the money to sustain these shops but he was not fond of it. They were independent from the park and he struggled have them open every day and to have them keep consistent hours. Even the vendors didn’t believe the park was going to last. He would have preferred that everything be in-house. Although today i’m sure Disney doesn’t need funding to open a coffee house on Main Street now but maybe more so because of familiarity and and for want of big profits. Even I couldn’t imagine MainStreet without seeing the words Coca-Cola, whether it be because it’s been a part of the park for so long or partly because it actually suits the time frame of the 1900’s. In addition to the fact that Coca-Cola already fits the turn-of-the-century theme, even if it didn’t, in contrast,when you look at the Starbucks window that says “batch roasting coffee since 71 “, do you really want me to pretend that Starbucks has the year 1871 attached to it instead of 1971 ? It might be cute but it’s just kind of silly as if they’re trying to pass it off as a poorly themed turn-of-the-century coffee house when all they really want are just long lines. Cha Ching!

  • Mousekagal

    Looking at all these comments and what everybody is saying, there’s one thing I’m sure we can agree on, regardless of how Disneyland started or how it is today, this goes to show that we love Disneyland so much that were willing to go on and on about it and learn from one another whether we are right or not 😉

    • You are absolutely right. Regardless of point of view, it’s the love of Disneyland that unites us.

    • Cory Gross

      Absolutely! Loving Disney and what it does is what brings me here! 😀

  • Mousekagal

    Hey, maybe a different subject but you know what I would love, a Cinderella Dark ride in Fantasyland! She’s missing from there and it’s definitely a celebrated classic. Also, here’s what would be perfect, a Lady and the Tramp themed restaurant. I think Walt Disney World has one and Fantasyland could use another eatery besides the Village Haus and pasta is cheap. Attached could be a gift shop with pet related items which is seemingly missing from the park. I would love to buy Pluto, dalmatian or an L and T replicated or themed doggy items. Keep in mind I know it’s a very small space to work with but it’s fun to think of these things. For Tomorrowland they could put Star Wars where Autopia is and do a new flying car version of Autopia where the old people mover track is. Bring back the Mary Blair murals etc. I don’t know, it’s just fun to think what if… Maybe…

    • Cory Gross

      Lady and the Tramp? Like this place in Disneyland Paris?…

      • Mousekagal

        Yeah kind of like that but not on such a large-scale more of a small intimate cozy feel kind a like in the movie and definitely outside seating with that cozy nighttime Alley feel and not so fancy maybe more rustic

    • ayalexander

      Maybe not bring back the Mary Blair murals per se, because they no longer look futuristic, if anything they’d set tomorrowland back almost fifty years, but perhaps they could move what is left of the murals (since they were severely damaged in order to make way for the supports of the current murals) and place them somewhere in the resort where people could see and appreciate them (*perhaps in the lobby of Disneyland Resort’s 4th hotel to be built someday*)

      • Mousekagal

        Good thought on the Mary Blair murals. What I was thinking was another view of Tomorrowland in being “futuristic” is The hope of a perfect tomorrow and where things grow perfectly, food is in abundance etc besides having a Jules Verne, go to the moon type futuristic feel

      • ayalexander

        Well Disney has a good start I think, the steam-punk paint scheme is gone entirely. And most of the garden features across the land are inspired by an “edible future”. You know what I liked? That Epcot boat ride that showed the process of hydroponic plant farming. I thought that was really cool. I’d like to see that in Tomorrowland, except I’d think I’d prefer to see a second Star Wars themed ride, before that. I don’t want all of tomorrowland to be “Star Wars Land” but maybe do overlapping. I mean Star Tours fits because Tomorrowland is a culmination of stories and themes. What if the people mover track was given a light-weight, high speed Star Wars “speeder bike” conversion, where each ride vehicle is actually 2 speeder bikes side by side (like those rollercoasters that are themed like motorcycles)

  • Mousekagal

    wanted to say great article I love how movies Disney or not Disney have influenced the creation of rides and attractions at the park. Walt was a genius at implementing what would work. I remember when I was a kid I used to think that Disney made up all the stories that influenced the rides not knowing it was from a book or story from long ago. That was the brilliance of their translation and presentation in making classics their own.

  • JCSkipr79

    Wow. Again with this revisionist history? Did we all miss the original DL proposal that hit the ‘net this week? There is NOTHING about cross promotion and “riding the movies”.

    The Jungle Cruise BOATS were inspired by the steamer in The African Queen. THATS IT.
    IN Frontierland there was no “Davy Crockett The Ride”. There was the museum and then that moved to TSI. The biggest attraction in Frontierland for decades was the Mine Train, nothing Crockett related. There’s a difference of what DL was from 1955- say, 1999 when they started “we’re gonna retell Tarazan’s/Nemo’s/ etc story in book report form and put it wherever we need it”

    • Cory Gross

      Well, I pointed out in the article that there was no Davy Crockett ride, only the museum and personal appearances by Fess Parker and Buddy Ebsen in character. I would agree that specific show scenes in the Jungle Cruise were not taken from “The African Queen,” but in the course of correcting me you pointed out what was, which was sufficient to the point I was making. I would argue that the whole concept of “embark[ing] on a colorful Explorer’s Boat… for a cruise down the River of Romance” is heavily inspired by the film.

      While the prospectus was great to see in large scans (, the information in it was already well known and, I would argue, fully supports my thesis. It is in the prospectus that Adventureland is called “True-Life Adventureland” and Tom Sawyer’s Island was originally “Mickey Mouse Club Island.” The rides listed for Fantasyland include Peter Pan, Snow White, an Alice walkthrough and “Pinocchio Square.” The participation of “Industries such as: Transportation, Rubber, Steel, Chemical, Electrical, Oil, Mining, Agriculture and Foods” in Tomorrowland is explicitly stated as a guiding intention (not just a monetary quick-fix… people tend to forget that Disney was not a begrudging capitalist, he was a full-bore ideological believer in “American Free Enterprise”).

      I would agree with you, however, that attractions like Tarzan and Finding Nemo are inherently weak, because they and ones like them (Little Mermaid, Pirates 2.0) reduce guests to passive spectators of tableaux from someone else’s story. The best attractions make the guest the protagonist of their own story.

      • ayalexander

        You tell ’em, Cory. Walt said that the Jungle Cruise was supposed to be like a boat ride through an episode of True-life-Adventure. Plus the sponsorship of the Santa Fe and Disneyland railroad wasn’t coincidental. Walt wanted his trains to bare the logo of Santa Fe because it seemed more realistic (and he valued the Santa Fe company). And we don’t even have to mention Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. Fantasyland was all about Disney movies, while tomorrowland was a giant infomercial featuring different companies and their products.

      • Mousekagal

        Here’s another great tidbit. if you watch the movie Calamity Jane (1953)with Doris Day you’ll notice that the saloon in the movie is identical to the Golden horseshoe. That’s because they were designed by the same person. Thats something else that’s made it from a movie to the park. I love it I think it’s great. I also love the old Pacos Bill cartoon from Melody time and how they put in the character, sort of portrayed by Wally Boag, at the Golden horseshoe as well as Slue Foot Sue! Good times!

  • Mousekagal

    ayalexander, I love the whole idea of the speeder bike thing. I was only thinking of a more futuristic version of a Autopia on the old people mover track because I thought it would be great if an original ride be in a section of a traditional tomorrowland toward the front and Star Wars could be put toward the back and the speeder bike thing to be on the old Autopia track. Autopia needs to be brought into the future and I think flying cars would be great. Besides the foliage around the Autopia area now would be a great backdrop for Star Wars I personally would love that because it would satisfy the traditionalists and the Star Wars fans at the same time. Just a question though forgive me because I haven’t been on Star tours in a long time but would the speeder bike ride feel just like an outside version of Star Tours in a way? And how I would love tomorrowland to be,that would probably mean that they would have to move Star Tours toward the back or maybe not have it. I know, how dare I say that. I know it would cost a ton of money but they could definitely afford it. And it seems for sure that they definitely can’t afford to not do tomorrowland right this time. There are always new inventions and futuristic things happening all the time it would be great if there was a section toward the front as well where people could come in and sort of demonstrate the newest things happening it wouldn’t get old because it would always be new and different and they could come and maybe on their own dime because they’re getting to introduce their ideas at Disneyland. You know, scientific stuff. Don’t knock the last sentence because I may not be explaining it quite the way I imagine it. Maybe also stuff like that really super old film La Voyage dans la Lune I miss 20000 leagues too!

    • ayalexander

      Well the speeder bike idea wouldn’t be like Star Tours, it would actually be like a very mild rollercoaster (of course it would be mild because it would utilize the same guide-way as the people mover, so it can’t have drops, dips or sharp turns. It would zoom you through tomorrowland like rocket rods did, except this time it would have mild Star Wars theming (that way its not so “in your face”)

      Here is a link to a roller-coaster in Great Britain that gives you an idea of what the speeder-bike ride vehicle could look like (except not so bulky). Remember this wouldn’t be a full-on roller coaster, just a fast-paced ride. You could also substitute the “speeder-bike” idea with a Tron Light-cycle. Take a look:

      • Mousekagal

        Thanks I’ll take a look