Why all the detail?
Why did Walt Disney care about adding so much Details to Disneyland ?
I’ve been asked many times why did Walt Disney insist on adding all the extra Details to Disneyland ? Most of the other parks that exist today don’t have so much detail. The amusement parks that existed at the time clearly didn’t have so much detail. Those two sentences answer the question. Disneyland was not to be like any amusement park that existed at the time and was not meant to be like an theme park that might follow. Walt Disney wanted his park to be better than that. He wanted his park clean, he wanted it to revolve around family enjoyment, he wanted his “guests” to be treated professionally by his “cast”, and he wanted people to have a smile on their face. Walt is quoted as saying to the original WED designers (later called Imagineers), “All I want you to think about is that when people walk through or ride through or have access to anything that you design, I want them, when they leave, to have a smile on their face.” (footnote 1) For Walt Disney, it wasn’t primarily about making money, it was about building a place where a family could really enjoy themselves together.
When they were building the Storybook Land Canal boat attraction, Walt Disney insisted on small details in the miniature houses, including stained glass windows. When he was asked by one of the builders, who would know if they didn’t include all the details, Walt Disney said I’ll know (footnote 2). Walt Disney knew from his experience with animation that along with a great story, great characters, and great artistic ability, you needed details. If you had a scene that took place in a bedroom, you could just draw a wall and a bed. But if you really wanted the audience to feel like they were watching a scene in a bedroom, you needed to include all the details. Night stand, water glass, cloths, etc. He had his artists watch live action models (people and animals) so they could get the movement correct. He wanted his characters to move as the human mind would expect them to.
I think even the development and use of the multiplane camera was apart of this attention to detail. Walt Disney could have continued to animate his films like everyone else did when they went into or through a scene. Walt Disney knew that in the minds of audience, they knew what was gong on, but that it didn’t look like real life. Different objects should move at different speeds based on their relation to the person moving.
All of this experience was used in the development and building of Disneyland. It is commonly accepted today that in part, Disneyland was Walt Disney’s next step in the evolution of movies. A true multi-dimensional experience of the story. This theory even holds that the layout of the park corresponds to the structure of a movie. So going right along with this theory is that Walt Disney would want all of the details to make the story more believable. And since you couldn’t hide any missing details from this live movie, you would need to include it all to maximize this wonderful experience called Disneyland.
1. Bruce Gordon and David Mumford Disneyland, The Nickel Your: A postcard journey through 40 years of the Happiest Place On Earth. (Santa Clarita. Camphor Tree Publishers, 1995), p. 16.
2. Mouse Planet, The Story of Storybook Land, (4/1/2013).