Wednesday 10 December 2014

Walt Disney: A Janus-Minded Entrepreneur

The Magic Kingdom, built in 1955, is a paradox:  Main Street USA preserves America in 1910 while Tomorrowland projects into the future year, 1986.  Walt Disney, a Janus-minded entrepreneur, was forever looking forward and backwards at the same time.  He longed for the days of his youth in turn of the century Marceline, Missouri.  However, he filled his amusement park with examples of the future:  the monorail, the people mover and the Carousel of Progress.

Main Street USA reminds us of America's past with its old town square theatre, barber shop, emporium and city hall.

Likewise, Fantasyland features buildings such as the Sleeping Beauty Castle fashioned after the 19th Century Neuschwanstein in Germany, and the Crystal Palace, modelled after the building from the London World Exposition in 1851.

Frontierland includes a shooting arcade, Swiss Family Robinson Tree House and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

Liberty Square features a Mississippi Steamboat, a Victorian style Haunted Mansion and the Hall of Presidents, which all harken back to America at the turn of the century.

However, Tomorrowland projects into the future with the Carousel of Progress, celebrating American inventions, the Speedway and the people mover.

Walt Disney himself contributed to the progress of America with his pioneering techniques in film and animation.  Disney debuted the first sound cartoon in 1928, Steamboat Willie, and the first technicolour cartoon, Flowers & Trees, in 1932.  Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, debuting in 1937, was the first full length animated feature film.

Walt Disney also contributed to the growth of American cities.  Anaheim, built on an old orange grove, grew from a town of 15,000 in 1955 to a metropolis of 336,000 today.  Orlando, fashioned out of a Florida swamp, grew from a small city of 99,000 in 1971 to a large city of 255,000 today. Orlando Airport is now one of the biggest in the United States thanks to Disney World.

Note:  To read about another Janus-minded entrepreneur, check out my post about Henry Ford Museum, "Light's Golden Jubilee" at

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