The Royal Theatre Presents: Echoes of Melodrama in the Magic Kingdom



In March, 2013, Disneyland opened the Royal Theatre, condensing Disney films like Beauty and the Beast, Tangled, and Frozen into 22-minute stage adaptations. The decor of the theatre, the language of the characters, and the costuming of the performers all work together to evoke a nostalgic and loose sense of history that calls on guests to interact with the story in the style of an “old-time melodrama,” booing, hissing, cheering, and singing along to the story. In this essay Maria Patrice Amon argues that tourists are taught how to perform as actors and given a new hybrid identity as both performer and audience that extends to the parks as a whole. The essay explores the theatrical genre of melodrama and asserts that the Royal Theatre’s use of this genre gives the audience a way to exceed their assumed passivity and interact with the performers as actors themselves.


Disneyland Melodrama Nostalgia Royal Theatre 


  1. Ang, Ien. 2005. Watching Dallas: Soap Opera and the Melodramatic Imagination. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  2. Aronstein, Susan L., and Laurie A. Finke. 2013. Discipline and Pleasure: The Pedagogical Work of Disneyland. Educational Philosophy and Theory 45 (6): 610–624.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brooks, Peter, and Henry James. 1976. The Melodramatic Imagination. New Haven, London: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Cross, Gary S., and John K. Walton. 2005. The Playful Crowd: Pleasure Places in the Twentieth Century. New York: Columbia University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Glover, Erin. 2017. Rivers of America Through the Years at Disneyland Park. Disney Parks Blog, July 24.
  6. Guiver, Mathew. 2015. Does Disney Jail Really Exist? BuzzFeed, August 6.
  7. Korkis, Bill. 2018. WDW Chronicles: The History of Disney Topiary. AllEars.Net. Accessed 14 Aug.
  8. Macdonald, Brady, and Christopher Reynolds. 2015. Disneyland: 60 things you might not know about the Magic Kingdom. Los Angeles Times, Travel, July 17.
  9. Martin, Hugo. 2015. Disneyland Prepares for Crush of Visitors During 60th Anniversary Celebration. Los Angeles Times. Business, May 19.
  10. Mumpower, David. 2015. Five INSANE Reasons People Sued Disney. Theme Park Tourist, April 9.
  11. Olya, Gabrielle. 2018. Running Disneyland for Just One Day Costs an Insane Amount of Money. Go Banking Rates, April 12.
  12. Park, Seunghyun B., Hyung J. Kim, and Chihyung M. Ok. 2018. Linking Emotion and Place on Twitter at Disneyland. Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing 35 (5): 664–677.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Postlewait, Thomas. 1996. From Melodrama to Realism: The Suspect History of American Drama. In Melodrama: The Cultural Emergence of a Genre, ed. Michael Hays and Anastasia Nikolopoulou. New York: St. Martin’s Press.Google Scholar
  14. Randall, Charles H., and Joan L.G. Bushnell. 1986. Hisses, Boos & Cheers, or, a Practical Guide to the Planning, Producing, and Performing of Melodrama. Woodstock, IL: Dramatic Pub. Co.Google Scholar
  15. Schenker, Heath M. 2003. Central Park and the Melodramatic Imagination. Journal of Urban History. 29 (4): 375–393.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Smith, James L. 1973. Melodrama. London: Methuen.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CSU San MarcosNational CityUSA

Personalised recommendations