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  • [Question] Why New Orleans?

    Did you ever wonder that? I have. Why not London, Paris, Tokyo, or Rome? Replicating a real American city, why, that's like building a California theme park in...anyway...

    All of the original lands represented themes which loomed large in the midcentury imagination: the frontier, the future, etc. In the mid-60's, however, there was no surge of interest in the grand old south.

    If Walt wanted to replicate one of America's great cities, why not New York, where he had just been involved w/ the 1964 World's Fair? Why not Chicago, where he was born? Why not Atlanta, which would be readily familiar from having appeared in "Gone W/ the Wind"? New Orleans isn't a big city as cities go, and it's not what people generally think of when they think of the south.

    Why New Orleans? I have an idea, but I'd like to see what you think first.
    Disneyland Historic Preservation Society
    Charter Member

  • #2
    Re: Why New Orleans?

    My guess is that the idea for Pirates came first then the idea for NOS came second as a place to house the ride (Walt seems like a guy who would be fascinated by Pirates!)

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    • #3
      Re: Why New Orleans?

      Originally posted by Broadway Guru View Post
      Did you ever wonder that? I have. Why not London, Paris, Tokyo, or Rome? Replicating a real American city, why, that's like building a California theme park in...anyway...
      LOL!!! :lol:

      Originally posted by TTN View Post
      My guess is that the idea for Pirates came first then the idea for NOS came second as a place to house the ride (Walt seems like a guy who would be fascinated by Pirates!)
      Hmm, I guess. But why didn't Walt place Pirates in Adventureland at Disneyland but at the later parks Pirates is always placed in Adventureland? They clearly had the space if they were able to build Indy in the 90's.

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      • #4
        Re: Why New Orleans?

        well new orleans square came as an extension to frontierland and it was walt's favourite city

        ---------- Post added 06-25-2012 at 06:33 PM ----------

        Originally posted by Broadway Guru View Post
        Did you ever wonder that? I have. Why not London, Paris, Tokyo, or Rome? Replicating a real American city, why, that's like building a California theme park in...anyway....
        well then why is Knott's the way it is? i mean theres ghost towns less than 3 hours from Knotts...
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        • #5
          Re: Why New Orleans?

          New Orleans was and is a perfect tie-in, historically and architecturally, with Frontierland's theme of the opening of the American frontier in the late 18th and early 19th century -- the Mark Twain riverboat, an antebellum mansion, and the once-planned Thieves Marketplace and Pirate Wax Museum. The romance of the south in general, and elements of New Orleans architecture in particular, were part of that section of the original Frontierland -- from Dixieland music to Aunt Jemima's Pancake House, from the Silver Banjo Barbeque to the French colonial decor of Swift's Plantation House Restaurant.

          Walt had a connection to New Orleans in his personal life. As lovers of antiques, he and Lillian shopped there. His love of mechanical miniatures meshed with a mechanical bird that he purchased in New Orleans -- one of the early steps on the road that eventually led to Audio-Animatronics.

          From the speech written for Walt at the dedication of New Orleans Square:

          "Disneyland has always had a Big River and a Mississippi sternwheeler. It made sense to build a new attraction at the bend of the river, and so New Orleans Square came into being - a New Orleans of a century ago when she was the 'Gay Paree' of the American frontier."


          Another take, decidedly more the sort of thing Walt would say, was reported by J. Mark Souther in The Journal of American History:

          "Walt Disney, referring to the city’s Bourbon and Royal streets, once remarked, 'Where else can you find iniquity and antiquity so close together?'"
          Last edited by Mr Wiggins; 06-25-2012, 06:05 PM.
          "Disneyland is often called a magic kingdom because
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          • #6
            Re: Why New Orleans?

            I have read that while touring Florida and New Orleans on November 22, 1963, he and Roy's plane landed in New Orleans to refuel, only to discover that President Kennedy had been assassinated that afternoon. Since NOS wasn't opened until 1966, maybe it was a special memorial to him?
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            • #7
              Re: Why New Orleans?

              Originally posted by boisemice View Post
              I have read that while touring Florida and New Orleans on November 22, 1963, he and Roy's plane landed in New Orleans to refuel, only to discover that President Kennedy had been assassinated that afternoon. Since NOS wasn't opened until 1966, maybe it was a special memorial to him?
              From what I understand Walt didn't get too involved with politics. If anything he might have supported Nixon but that is only speculation on my own part. One can argue that his war-time films had a political bent to them, but they were commissioned by the US government, so in a sense he had to produce them in a way that would support the war effort. And I've also heard that at one point in his career he was highly encouraged within certain political factions to run for Mayor of Los Angeles, but he turned down that idea.

              Sorry to digress. I think New Orleans was chosen because of its place within the American Frontier. New Orleans was a stopping point at the mid point in the American Wilderness where settlers could stop to rest and pick up supplies for the remainder of their journey. When Walt built Frontierland he similarly put NOS in the middle of it. From the developed Tomorrowland and Main Street you enter the frontier. As you proceed you enter New Orleans, and then Frontierland (later Bear Country) the frontier continues on from there. IMO the entire western half of Disneyland is the perfect metaphor to what the American Manifest Destiny was all about.
              Last edited by DisneyIPresume; 06-25-2012, 07:17 PM. Reason: spelling

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              • #8
                Re: Why New Orleans?

                Although it's history as the gateway to the frontier is certainly worth noting, I suspect that it's simply that Walt found the character of the city to be particularly interesting. Walt certainly had a fascination with Americana, and New Orleans is possibly the most exotic, colorful, and interesting city in America. There aren't too many American cities where one can simply conjure its image with merely a couple of two-story buildings in a certain architectural style (that is to say, without recreating entire Manhattan skyscrapers or the like). New Orleans' strong connections to the railways and riverboats also likely had very much to do with it.

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                • #9
                  Re: Why New Orleans?

                  Howdy Pards,

                  Walt Disney's love of New Orleans goes way, way back. As a boy growin' up in Missouri...you can bet that he heard stories of Mark Twain and life on the Mississippi. That big Ol' beautiful river...the Mighty Mississippi...was just filled with American history and folklore and romance and stuff. And way, way down at the south end of that river...well, there was New Orleans.

                  The truth is Walt Disney fell in love with this city the very first time he visited it. He fell in love with the history, the people, the food, the music, the riverboats, the horse drawn carriages, the plantations, the ghosts...and yes...the pirates. And, I reckon, he fell in love with the spirit of the place.

                  So...from openin' day at Disneyland...as Mr. Wiggins has said...New Orleans was represented.

                  There is just somethin' about this city...that enchants ya...captures your imagination you might say. And...well...taint no doubt Walt Disney had an imagination...yep...he surely did.

                  Walt Disney loved this country from sea to shining sea...a great many of the stories he told us were about our country's history...the Boston Tea Party...Davy Crockett...the story of a boy and his dog growin' up on the plains of Texas (Ol' Yeller)...he loved the spirit of America...the spirit of the pioneers blazing trails across the country (Westward Ho the Wagons)...and he loved the rivers of America...the folklore of America...much of it made famous by that Mark Twain feller from his ol' home state of Missouri.

                  Walt and Lilly did indeed love the antique shops, boutiques, and things around these parts. He loved good ol' Dixieland Jazz. And...let me tell ya, cause I live here, the food in New Orleans is...well...downright special...that ain't no tall tale...that's the truth.

                  So, I reckon it was only natural that Walt would want to expand a little on his love of that River...and that city at the extreme South end of it...shucks, it may have even been Lilly's idea, who knows...anyways New Orleans Square came into being. It was a dream that started out small and grew into somethin' mighty special...mighty special indeed.

                  You folks remember the Ol' Firehouse Five Plus Two? That there was Dixieland Jazz at it's finest.

                  The Haunted Mansion at Disneyland sure has the look and feel of a Southern Plantation to it. There are many, many stories of haunted places around these parts ya know...Walt may have heard one or two of 'em.

                  But, I reckon the real answer to the question "Why New Orleans" is cause Walt Disney loved the place...pure and simple...everything about it. And...course...New Orleans was always kinda fond of Walt Disney too.

                  Adios for now. Talk to ya on down the trail.

                  Wild Ol' Dan
                  Last edited by Wild Ol' Dan; 06-25-2012, 09:03 PM.


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                  • #10
                    Re: Why New Orleans?

                    Originally posted by Mr Wiggins View Post
                    New Orleans was and is a perfect tie-in, historically and architecturally, with Frontierland's theme of the opening of the American frontier in the late 18th and early 19th century -- the Mark Twain riverboat, an antebellum mansion, and the once-planned Thieves Marketplace and Pirate Wax Museum. The romance of the south in general, and elements of New Orleans architecture in particular, were part of that section of the original Frontierland -- from Dixieland music to Aunt Jemima's Pancake House, from the Silver Banjo Barbeque to the French colonial decor of Swift's Plantation House Restaurant.

                    Walt had a connection to New Orleans in his personal life. As lovers of antiques, he and Lillian shopped there. His love of mechanical miniatures meshed with a mechanical bird that he purchased in New Orleans -- one of the early steps on the road that eventually led to Audio-Animatronics.

                    From the speech written for Walt at the dedication of New Orleans Square:

                    "Disneyland has always had a Big River and a Mississippi sternwheeler. It made sense to build a new attraction at the bend of the river, and so New Orleans Square came into being - a New Orleans of a century ago when she was the 'Gay Paree' of the American frontier."


                    Another take, decidedly more the sort of thing Walt would say, was reported by J. Mark Souther in The Journal of American History:

                    "Walt Disney, referring to the city’s Bourbon and Royal streets, once remarked, 'Where else can you find iniquity and antiquity so close together?'"
                    This. Walt and his artists understood American history and New Orleans was already represented in the park before New Orleans Square. Consider New Orleans Square the "plussing" of what was already there in Frontierland.

                    Originally posted by boisemice View Post
                    I have read that while touring Florida and New Orleans on November 22, 1963, he and Roy's plane landed in New Orleans to refuel, only to discover that President Kennedy had been assassinated that afternoon. Since NOS wasn't opened until 1966, maybe it was a special memorial to him?
                    The expanded presence of New Orleans in Frontierland predates not only President Kennedy's assassination, but also his election to the presidency. The original Disneyland Fun Map of 1958 by Sam McKim does not even show the looming Tomorrowland expansion but it does show what became New Orleans Square.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Why New Orleans?

                      Originally posted by Mr Wiggins View Post
                      New Orleans was and is a perfect tie-in, historically and architecturally, with Frontierland's theme of the opening of the American frontier in the late 18th and early 19th century -- the Mark Twain riverboat, an antebellum mansion, and the once-planned Thieves Marketplace and Pirate Wax Museum. The romance of the south in general, and elements of New Orleans architecture in particular, were part of that section of the original Frontierland -- from Dixieland music to Aunt Jemima's Pancake House, from the Silver Banjo Barbeque to the French colonial decor of Swift's Plantation House Restaurant.

                      Walt had a connection to New Orleans in his personal life. As lovers of antiques, he and Lillian shopped there. His love of mechanical miniatures meshed with a mechanical bird that he purchased in New Orleans -- one of the early steps on the road that eventually led to Audio-Animatronics.

                      From the speech written for Walt at the dedication of New Orleans Square:

                      "Disneyland has always had a Big River and a Mississippi sternwheeler. It made sense to build a new attraction at the bend of the river, and so New Orleans Square came into being - a New Orleans of a century ago when she was the 'Gay Paree' of the American frontier."


                      Another take, decidedly more the sort of thing Walt would say, was reported by J. Mark Souther in The Journal of American History:

                      Mr. Wiggins is correct, New Orleans is the terminus for the Mississippi River geographically, it fits in perfectly with Frontierland and the Rivers of America w/ the Mark Twain slowly passing by........ New Orleans was the gateway to the "West", although some might argue St. Louis was more historically correct.......

                      OR....... was it more historically accurate to dream about Huck Finn going to St. Louis, or better yet, to New Orleans...... Didn't Abraham Lincoln himself travel the length of the Mississippi to New Orleans in his youth? Walt was greatly influenced by Abe Lincoln...... there were many historical reasons for Walt's affinity for New Orleans.......

                      BUT......... does anyone say they had a great time visiting St. Louis? Or would it be more "historically accurate" to say "what happens in New Orleans STAYS in New Orleans".............?

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                      • #12
                        Re: Why New Orleans?

                        New Orleans wasn't really the "Gateway to the West." It was the "Gay Paree" of the American Frontier.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Why New Orleans?

                          New Orleans Square was, technically, there opening day. It just wasn't called New Orleans Square. I think that they chose that particualar city in Lousiana because it was just different that all the other cities in America. It had it's own particular music in its day and its own food and its own culture. I just think that it was something different to remind people of. It was a unique city in America and I just think that Disney wanted to remind people of that. That was what Disneyland was all about, the past, present, and future of America.

                          The "original" New Orleans Square.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Why New Orleans?

                            I think there was a tie in to a Disneyland Davy Crockett episode. In the Disneyland TV series, there was a Davy Crockett episode in which he raced Micky Fink to New Orleans. This isn't the entire reason for a New Orleans, but one piece of the puzzle. It would have been more natural if Walt chose St. Louis.
                            I am old. But still love Disneyland.

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