Masters Thesis

To All Who Come to This Happy Place: Cold War Ideologies and the Utopian Image of America's Past, Present, and Future in Disneyland 1955-65.

Walt Disney gave his opening address of Disneyland on July 17, 1955 claiming that Disneyland would “be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.” As Disneyland opened its gates to visitors from all over the world, the United States and the Soviet Union were engaged in a Cold War, fighting social, economic, political, and cultural ideologies. This thesis explores three “lands” located within the Disneyland park and how these lands respectively created sheltered vistas of a utopian society, a frontier past, and visions of a bright future. Main Street, U.S.A. provided visitors with a manufactured version of a “simpler” time in American history by allowing suburban white families a place to feel safe in their gender roles. Main Street, U.S.A. also provided visitors with a new outlet for consumerism that thrived under the disposable income model. Frontierland provided visitors with a simulated history that demonstrated the “successes” of spreading American democracy into foreign and uncivilized societies. Frontierland also used the American film industry’s craze of western films to provide an illusion of “otherness” with stereotypical images of Native Americans and African Americans. Tomorrowland created an illusion of a bright future. Centered on consumption and corporate sponsorships, Tomorrowland encouraged visitors to believe in a future full of space travel and devices to enhance home life.

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