by Rogue Dash
J.R.R. Tolkien famously hated Walt Disney’s fairy tales. It wasn’t just that Disney changed the particulars of the tale, or dumbed it down for children. Disney also changed the spirit of those old tales. Disney was telling his fairy tales to Americans, and Americans are a relentlessly optimistic people. Colonists and pioneers, explorers and entrepreneurs, Americans believe hard work and determination can overcome all odds. This is very much at odds with the warnings and tragedy of the European fairy tales.
The Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World is the American fairy tale. Comprised of six lands, each one tells an American myth.
You enter on Mainstreet USA, a mythical version of the early 20th century, small, Midwestern town. This was the culmination of the American dream. The frontier 100 years earlier, now it was tamed and prosperous. It was the quotidian payoff of all the hard work their pioneer ancestors had done. And when Disneyland opened in 1955, it was obvious that small town America was dying to the post war urbanization. By the time the Magic Kingdom opened in 1971, it had become but a memory. Today, Mainstreet USA is now a century into America’s past.
Traveling clockwise and further into history, we come to Adventureland. Spanning the 18th and 19th centuries, it is exactly as the name implies, tales of high adventure. While they took place in exotic locales, and often didn’t even involve Americans, the tales were beloved by Americans. From the pirates of the Spanish Main to the expeditions of Dr. Livingstone, the tales of heroism and daring-do spoke to the American spirit. Here is romance and adventure.
Continuing on our journey, we come again to America’s mythologized history in Frontierland. Set in the mid 19th century, here is the wild wild west of the American tall tales, with their cowboys and Indians, prospectors and pioneers. If Adventureland was adventure for adventure’s sake, here was adventure for the sake of America’s posterity. Manifest destiny sowed the seeds whose mighty oaks we walked under on Mainstreet USA.
We come now to the last of the historical lands, Liberty Square. Set in revolutionary New England, we have come at last to the birth of our nation. Conceived in liberty and the blood of tyrants, the American colonies threw off the old spirit of Europe and adopted a new one. Here, at last, is the core of the American fairy tale: the belief in self determination, the refusal to simply accept your fate, the belief that you can always overcome.
The final two lands are not based in history. The history may be the fairy tale version, more symbolic than anything else, but those symbols speak to a spiritual truth far better than dry, historical accounts can. But the last two lands are all story and spirit.
Fantasyland is pure fairy tale. Based off of Disney’s retelling of classic tales, this Americanization allows them to fit within the overarching American fairy tale of the Magic Kingdom. The fear and resignation of the old world is replaced with wonder and innocence. This is why Fantasyland has to be the Americanized version of the old tales. That “happily ever after” is the reward for America’s “can do” attitude.
The final story in the American fairy tale is Tomorrowland. All the optimism and technological wonder of the space age combines with adventure and conquest to create a very American vision of the future. Taking the pioneers of Frontierland and the swashbucklers of Adventureland to the stars, Tomorrowland promised that Americans would eventually build Mainstreet USA on Mars and other planets.
So there it is, three lands of American history, one land of colonial adventurism, and two lands of imagination.
But there is something missing from this great American tale. Churches and churchmen make no appearance in the Magic Kingdom. Despite being founded by Protestants, the effects of Christ on the American spirit are ignored. This is the only real failing I find with Walt Disney’s American mythos.
The lack of Jesus notwithstanding, the rulers of the United States hate Americans and the American spirit. Walt’s American fairy tale still hews too closely to the good, the beautiful, and the true. It still reminds Americans of who they were and what they can achieve. That is why the Disney company is woke-washing everything. And removing the immersiveness while they are at it. The redone parks must tell false narratives, with half finished sets, in service to Satan.
The Disney company is given over wholly to Satan. The parks can no longer coast on nostalgic inertia. But the truth of the American fairy tale is still there.