Walt Disney Builds Paradise
Chapter 3 explores Walt Disney’s desire to create his own Garden of Eden while aligning this urge with examples of landscape tourism. Landscape tourism is when one visits a place where natural elements were “corrected,” mapped, and marketed as respites from daily existence. Rising from the swamps near Orlando, Florida, Disney World enjoys a warm climate and an ample buffer zone, setting it apart from the everyday world’s imperfections. First, this chapter contains brief introductions to literary and artistic prototypes that established and propagated images of Paradise. Then, the chapter considers how the landscape has been cultivated throughout history to accommodate varying visions of paradise, such as formal gardens and ideal cities. These models for Paradise were designed to foster communities of like-minded people, improve upon daily existence, and intensify feelings of aesthetic pleasure and moral fulfilment. Disney World sits well alongside these models of paradise because Walt intended his theme park to prescribe and reinforce “proper” behavior, thus imbuing Disney World with utopian, if often unattainable, ambitions.
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