(Yeah, this post won't be controversial )
I've been doing a lot of thinking recently about the purported erosion/destruction of theming around the park. Sure it's been rather obvious lately what with Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, A Bug's Land, Pirate's Lair at Tom Sawyer Island, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, etc., but hasn't there always been some sort of that crossing of themes/not quite in theme experience at Disneyland? Consider, for example, the Matterhorn. When the Matterhorn opened it was in Tomorrowland. There's nothing especially "tomorrow" about bobsledding down a mountain. Later it was moved to Fantasyland, and until the addition of the (geographically inaccurate) Yeti to the attraction, there's nothing especially fantastical about it either. The Matterhorn generally gets a pass, though, because its a classic attraction and very enjoyable, as well as being very popular throughout the years.
Moving over a few feet into Tomorrowland, we look at the flying saucers. Flying saucers weren't particularly futuristic, either, but rather were tied into popular science fiction and space fantasy social imaginaries of the time. Sure, people associate space aliens and flying saucers with the future, but it's not a possible future, it's a fantasy future. Remaining in Tomorrowland, let's look at the Autopia, which has never really fit in my mind as especially tomorrow either, though in 1955 it was touting the advent of widespread freeways, it was a very close goal. Ditto with the original Submarine Voyage. Nuclear powered submarines were real at the time the attraction was created. Toss in the inclusion of mermaids and sea serpents and you've got a little bit of the fantastic in the ride.
Using the Autopia as a bridge, we move over into Fantasyland and the now defunct Fantasyland Autopia. What does driving a car have to do with Fantasyland? Moving further over into Frontierland, we don't find much that's misthemed in the past. The anthropomorphic cacti in the Rainbow Ridge Mule/Mine Train/Through Nature's Wonderland are pushing it a little, but I chalk that up to a little bit of whimsy.
Traveling into Adventureland we come across some more problems. Originally Adventureland was to be based on true-life adventures. In other words anything in adventureland was at least supposed to be within the realm of possibility. The Jungle Cruise was very much possible and rather realistic for the animatronic technology of the time. The Swiss Family Robinson Tree House was also realistically presented as being within the realm of possibility. However, with the inclusion of the Tiki Room, that theme began to fall by the wayside a bit. There's not much true-to-life about talking tiki birds unless you're doing lots of acid. And of course later we have additions such as the Indiana Jones Adventure and Tarzan's Treehouse stretching the bounds of reality again, but those come much much later and this post is dealing with early Disneyland.
Passing into New Orleans Square we have a bit of a juxtaposition of eras, though it's been my contention that New Orleans Square has never represented a particular time period. It's true the buildings are styled after 19th-century Bourbon Street style buildings, but since almost the beginning of the land jazz music has been featured there, which did not exist in the 1860s. Moving finally into Bear Country, what do the Davey Crocket Explorer Canoes have to do with Bear Country? They still don't make sense in Critter Country.
And I'll close with Main Street. Main Street has lost a lot of its theming over the years, starting with all the real businesses such as the pharmacy, corset shop and bank. I attribute those to necessity, because like I said, how many people would go to Disneyland to get a prescription filled? I think that was one part of Walt's dream that was ultimately impractical and doomed to an early grave. However, I think Main Street remains one of the better themed areas of the park to this day despite some infrastructure changes and the addition of light towers, etc. I overlook those and allow myself to be immersed in the aura of the past.
I welcome any addition to this discussion. I just felt that this was an important thing to discuss. I look forward to hearing from you, particularly Steve, PragmaticIdealist and fo'c's'le swab. Anyone else is welcome to butt in, of course.
EDIT EDIT EDIT: I am not equating past episodes of mistheming with the current bout of weird theming such as PLaTSI and Monsters, Inc. Just having a discussion.