When talking and reading about post modernism, you almost always hear or see a reference to Disneyland as the ultimate postmodern consumption machine. Disney’s ability to recreate Nostalgia embodies one of the leading ideas in the changing role of the consumer. As our society and market began to change, Disneyland saw the future of mass consumerism and capitalized on the new ideals. Postmodern consumption was defined by the changing belief that a consumer should become part of an active consumption. Disney dismissed the idea of consumers as targets, but rather engaged their imagination to alter their realities and initiate consumption through active involvement. Hyper-reality was Disney’s goal; to disconnect consumers from their current realities and transfer them into a suspended state of disbelief in nostalgia.

The postmodern paradox of escaping reality is illuminated in Disney. In order to visit Disneyland, people are already entering the fantasy world of Hollywood. The paradox occurs when the consumer believes he or she has escaped the grasp of a determined path of consumption and ascended into a world of endless possibility. The truth is that a process known as Disneyfication, is working to give visitors the thematic settings and aesthetic pleasures that encourage DISNEY’S predetermined consumption patterns.


While the harsh realities of life discourage and depress people, Disney flips the script and gives the consumer a upgraded consumption landscape in a predetermined fantasy world that becomes the stage for the Worlds cast of consumers. Consumers began to feel and embrace the hyperreality designed so brilliantly to captivate active consumption and suspend the constraints of reality all the way to your wallet.

critical thinking questions:

1. What factors brought about the creation of Disneyland?

2. Does Disneyland’s location play a large role in what it represents and transmits?

3. Have any businesses attempted to mirror Disney’s approach that you know of?




  1. Though I have never personally been to disney world or land (cue the miniature violin serenade), I find the interplay of the perceived expectations and the actual planned result of a place like Disney world to be fascinating; to clarify, in that a person perceives that they are going to a place outside reality, a place of unlimited imaginary possibilities only to be fed a predetermined, structured dose of entertainment; yet is the user of this medium aware of the structured consumer path laid before them? Since I have never been there, i can’t speak of any personal experience but I having gone to other theme parks, I feel that the idea is the same; that disney, or any theme park is a place or realm that people go to in order to escape reality. Yet I think that this is an impossibility since these parks have their own mock, but real society within, including countless economic barriers and rules and regulations of park conduct to follow; therefore, i reject the notion that disney or places like it can be a true escape from reality; or rather, it is something that people convince themselves, or are convinced, to think that it is.

  2. My family is currently planning a big trip to Disney World and this led to me looking into some Disney World forums for planning and resort ideas. The posters are all basically hard core Disney vacationers who manage to pay for multiple trips a year for the ability to escape and enter fantasy. The most interesting thing I noticed while looking around was their reaction to anything that breaks that fantasy. One thing that is invading the parks is branding. Their reactions to what products can be successfully featured in the parks seems to be very heavily based in nostalgia. (Just look at the whole thread on it right here: http://forums.wdwmagic.com/threads/why-do-the-fans-hate-brands.855760/ ) Most are very accepting of any sort branding that is not Disney seems to depend on how long that brand has been present. So while they no problem with Coke having their own store in Epcot called Club Cool, the fans are divided over whether or not it is okay for Starbucks to suddenly be featured in the parks. Their idea of the perfect escape is filled with brands being featured, but only the new is considered an intrusion.

  3. priyanka1293

    As a huge Disney fan, I never acknowledged the idea that Disneyland is a form of hyper-reality. However, after reading your blog post, I understand how it transports people back into their childhood and gives their innocence back. Based on my personal experience, each time I do visit Disney World or Disneyland, I do escape reality and enter the fantasy world they created for us. Even on my most recent trip to Disney World, at the age of eighteen, I was running around getting pictures with Mickey, Pooh, and every other character, totally forgetting that humans are underneath those heavy costumes. In that moment, Disney became my reality and I loved every minute of it.

    Regarding consumerism, Disney knows how to take peoples’ money. Unless one has a deal, coupon, or season pass, it is quite expensive to go to Disney theme parks. But upon entering the park, the value of money is diminished as everyone returns to their childhood. Not only do people value money less, but also the products being sold are even more expensive. Some consumers – at least the smart consumers – are aware of this and consider all of these expenditures as part of the Disney experience, which is absolutely incomparable.

  4. jgongola

    Interesting post about Disneyland. I found it interesting that you bring up the fact about Disneyland and how when you go to Disneyland you get distracted from real life experiences. I always found that personally to be the case involving sports although I can see why you think that also about Disney. In terms of businesses that mirror Disneyland I work for a small western reenactment theme park where everyone dresses as cowboys and shoots guns like in the Wild West. It is interesting to see comparison because like in Disneyland I see personally the customers enter a new reality like in Disney. They buy guns and shoot people in a place where it is ok to shoot people. However in normal society it is bad to shoot people.

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