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Exemplary Disney: An Afterword

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Performance and the Disney Theme Park Experience
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Abstract

This Afterword to Performance and the Disney Theme Park Experience: The Tourist as Actor synthesizes the chapters and arguments laid out throughout the collection. Bennett argues that Disney’s theme parks offer many provocative and illuminating theatrical scenes that speak to those critical issues with which theatre and performance studies are regularly and appropriately concerned: performance genres and practices; representations of race, gender, and sexuality; affect and engagement; history and time; and movement and embodiment. She proposes a turn to what she terms “Exemplary Disney,” building upon the case studies laid out in the anthology, in order to think more about how the theme park has provided a stage for conceiving and realizing (as well as regularly updating) performance practices, contexts, and markets.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Wickstrom, Maurya. 2006. Performing Consumers: Global capital and its theatrical seductions, 66. New York: Routledge.

  2. 2.

    Bennett, Susan. 2005. “Theatre/Tourism.” Theatre Journal 57.3, 410.

  3. 3.

    See, for example, Machon, Josephine. 2013. Immersive Theatres: Intimacy and Immediacy in Contemporary Performance. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

  4. 4.

    Alston, Adam. 2013. “Audience Participation and Neoliberal Value: Risk, agency and responsibility in immersive theatre.” Performance Research 18.2, 130. See also Alston’s 2016 monograph Beyond Immersive Theatre: Aesthetics, Politics and Productive Participation. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

  5. 5.

    Allen, David. 2012. “Seeing Double: Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.” European Journal of American Culture 31.2, 133.

  6. 6.

    See Tom Robson’s chapter in this volume where he suggests that Tomorrowland fails to deliver on its name but, rather, reveals a marked nostalgia for an idealized, American past. Jill Morris’ chapter reminds us that this past is imbricated in a “white morality.”

  7. 7.

    “The Walt Disney Company Reports Fourth Quarter and Full Year Earnings for Fiscal 2018.” https://www.thewaltdisneycompany.com/the-walt-disney-company-reports-fourth-quarter-and-full-year-earnings-for-fiscal-2018/. Accessed December 28, 2018.

  8. 8.

    See Bennett, Susan and Marlis Schweitzer. 2014. “In the Window at Disney: A Lifetime of Brand Desire,” TDR 58.4, 23–31, for a case study example. Our essay looks specifically at the Disney Princess makeover at Walt Disney World.

  9. 9.

    Christen Mandracchia’s chapter in this volume, for example, discusses the surprisingly enthusiastic marketplace for Disney villain merchandise.

  10. 10.

    http://broadwaymerchandiseshop.com/stores/meangirls/. Accessed 20 January 2019.

  11. 11.

    https://mckittrickhotel.com/about/#gift-shop. Accessed 20 January 2019.

  12. 12.

    https://shop.rsc.org.uk/?utm_source=rsc&utm_medium=web. Accessed 20 January 2019.

  13. 13.

    Wollman, Elizabeth L. 2002. “The Economic Development of the ‘New’ Times Square and Its Impact on the Broadway Musical,” American Music 20.4, 446. She is right to identify the dangers that this model produces, although corporate ownership of Broadway theatres has a long history: the Shubert Organization started acquiring theatres at the start of the twentieth century.

  14. 14.

    Ibid. 449.

  15. 15.

    See my “The Lion King: An International History,” forthcoming in Elizabeth Wollman and Jessica Sternfeld, eds., The Routledge Companion to the American Stage Musical: 1970 and Beyond. New York: Routledge for full discussion of the show’s global circulation.

  16. 16.

    https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/en_CA/entertainment/animal-kingdom/festival-of-the-lion-king/. Accessed 2 January 2019.

  17. 17.

    See https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/en_CA/entertainment/animal-kingdom/hakuna-matata-dance-time-party/ for a description. Accessed 2 January 2019.

  18. 18.

    Laura MacDonald’s chapter here reviews Shanghai Disneyland as an exercise in training Chinese children to become exemplary Disney consumers.

  19. 19.

    Sassen, Saskia and Frank Roost. 1999. “The City: Strategic Site for the Global Entertainment Industry,” The Tourist City, 153–54. Eds. Dennis R. Judd and Susan S. Fainstein. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.

  20. 20.

    Kennedy, Dennis. 1998. “Shakespeare and Cultural Tourism,” Theatre Journal 50.2 (May), 183.

  21. 21.

    Ibid. 178.

  22. 22.

    Siegel, Greg. 2005. “Disneyfication, the Stadium, and the Politics of Ambiance,” Rethinking Disney: Private Control, Public Dimensions, 300–301. Eds. Mike Budd and Max H. Kirsch. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press.

  23. 23.

    Joseph D’Ambrosi’s chapter suggests the extraordinary security demands that might have come with the addition of President Trump to the set of animatronics in the Hall of Presidents.

  24. 24.

    See Lyon, David. 2001. Surveillance society: Monitoring everyday life Open University Press for a full examination of how surveillance controls our experience of, and participation in, urban landscapes.

  25. 25.

    Brown, Mark. 2015. “Banksy’s Dismaland: ‘amusements and anarchism’ in artist’s biggest project yet” The Guardian, August 20. https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/aug/20/banksy-dismaland-amusements-anarchism-weston-super-mare. Accessed January 20 2019.

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Bennett, S. (2019). Exemplary Disney: An Afterword. In: Kokai, J.A., Robson, T. (eds) Performance and the Disney Theme Park Experience. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-29322-2_14

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