in my book it is an amusement/theme park...my dreams and fantasies are not fullfileld while riding attractions. I do enjoy myself there, but I'm not so immerssed in a "fantasy world" that I forget about reality. I also don't go to relive my childhood or act like a child....I'm an adult and I go to enjoy myself and have fun. However, there are many places i go where I accomplish the same thing. DL is closer and with the AP cheaper though...LOL
Disneyland is the most elaborate form of theatre human beings have ever undertaken.
The audience is invited to pass through the proscenium arch or the invisible fourth wall to, then, step onto the stage where members of said audience spend entire days interacting with imaginary characters and fictitious settings and where audience members participate in a series of stories that all relate to each other in order to create a cohesive experience.
Theme Park.....or how about an Escape from the Real World Park?
I like your idea JiminyCricketFan, however, if one were to say that to have their dreams fulfilled they'd have to see Jurassic Park, then this concept wouldn't totally work.
That's why I'd lean more towards what the quote above states. Theme parks and amusement parks aren't the same thing, though many don't acknowledge it. As mentioned in this thread, an amusement park is just a place to go have fun. A theme park is like an amusement park, only it has something very magical that is added to it: immersion. Thematical immersion, which is what creates the magic.
If Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye was not set as an old temple buried deep within a jungle...if the ride was strictly for thrill and there were no visually immersive aspects to it, then one would call it a ride from an amusement park, not a theme park.
Disneyland is special, I think, because the theme is pushed more than in any other place really...that and it's history. People have a soft spot for Disney, they always have...and it's a fairly global thing, because most everyone raves about Disneyland. It's the feelings that you have walking into the gates that make Disneyland different from any other theme park...it's magical because it's always been intended to be magical. It's really more of a mental thing.
Most APs can't spend the whole day at Disneyland and fully appreciate the park. I'm an AP myself, and every trip to Disneyland that I have holds a special place in my heart (and I always stay from morning to evening), and the whole place just makes me so happy...want to know why? Because I think about it in those terms...I think about how wonderful it will be to share the Matterhorn with my little cousin for the first time, to spend yet another trip with my boyfriend for our anniversary...basically, Disneyland is what you make it.
If you go in there with a chip off your shoulder, you won't appreciate it nearly as much as you would at any other time. Yes, bad things can happen at Disneyland and nobody would blame you for getting upset, but most of the time anything that would cause disruption can be easily ignored. I'll see AP families walking together...it's nice that they are spending "quality time" together, but by the looks on the little one's faces, many a time I've been able to tell that they don't want to be there. You can't force the magic to happen. You have to be willing to make it happen for yourself, and if you don't come to the park with willingness, then you're automatically watering it down for yourself.
Disneyland is loved for many things, so it is special for many different reasons...but if I could sum it up in one small phrase, I'd choose "classic appreciation".
I want to address the issue of a "Theme" park. All the term "theme park" means is that there is a theme or unifying idea that is presented at the park. Epcot, Universal Studios, Bush Gardens, and Sea World are all theme parks. Epcot is a "worlds fair" style park. Universal is a movie themed park. Bush gardens is a zoo themed park. And Sea World is a aquatic park. I agree that it is a theme park. If Disneyland is a "theme" park, what is the theme? That is the question I am answering. I maintain that Walt's vision was fantasy, to fulfill dreams.
Now one quoted Walt's original dedication in which he mentions "the hard facts that created America." I believe what he was referring to way he wanted to represent American history. For example, he did not want to sanitize the history of the west. In the end, though, he did leave out the less desirable things. (Unfortunately, as the years have gone by, succeeding managers removed more of the warts of history. Pirates became less scandalous in their treatment of women. Tree stumps that Walt left to remind people that trees were cut down to build building were removed. A burning cabin representing Indian attack was removed also.)
Although, I believe that Walt wanted to present history accurately. He ended up presenting more of a "dream" of the past in which the unpleasant things are forgotten. There are no brothels in Fronteirland. Main Street is clean, without the horse droppings of the day. I think that the idealize result of Disneyland's version of history fits perfectly to the concept of fantasy. In fantasy, the difficulties and troubles are forgotten. Only the best remains.
The successors of Walt Disney have wondered from this concept, not understanding his original intent for Disneyland. Sometimes they have created rides based on Fantasy. Other times they have not:
Hit: Indiana Jones-- Fantasy of searching for lost treasure
Miss: Splash Mountain
Hit: Star Tours-- Fantasy of flying through space and fighting the Empire
Miss: Buzz Lightyear
Hit: Toontown-- Fantasy of entering the cartoon world
Now just because a ride is not based on fantasy, does not mean that the ride is not fun. It can be. It is just the vast majority of the rides Walt designed were fantasy rides.
Disney management has been reproducing the skeleton of Disneyland for Orlando, Paris, Tokyo, and now Hong Kong without really knowing what is special about Disneyland. They reproduce the structure, putting Main Street, the castle and Space Mountain in the right places. Putting the various "lands" around a hub. But those things do not make Disneyland magical. Those things did not make a "Magic Kingdom." What brings the magic is fantasy. What kind of theme park is Disneyland? It is a "Fantasy" park.
Bottom Line: What makes Disneyland unique and special is its attempt to place guest in fantasy that brings their dreams to life.
Jiminy Cricket Fan
OMG! You have just unlocked a hidden memory from my past! This is reeaaally weird.. I was just reading the link about "Children's Fairyland" in Oakland. I grew up in Berkely, CA from the age of about 4 until High School, when we moved back to L.A. I was thinking "gee I have never heard of Children's Fairyland I don't think, and Oakland is so close..." But as I was reading, they described these "recorded" stories activated by plastic keys... and I suddenly remembered going there!! I remember the plastic keys (I think they were yellow) and running up to each one to hear the recording. I must have been about 5. I would have never known where that memory came from if I hadn't seen the Wikipedia entry about it!
I would call it a theme park, or fantasy park, for one reason. None of the rides are meant to be paticularily thrilling, they are just meant to "fill you with joy" (I hate using the cliche) and give you a really great experience that you'll never forget. I remember getting really angry at this people while waiting in line for Big Thunder because they were griping about Space Mountain not being fast enough, they were expecting something like California Screamin'. If they wanted thrills Six Flags has way shorter lines.