The Disney Experience

This is the continuation of my previous blog post.

As I was reading on how Hollywood affected the development of television, the example of Disneyland stuck out as a successful experience that was designed using the emerging technology/medium at the time: television. And, no, I am not talking about the park, of course that is a part of it, but I am mostly talking about the television series that Walt Disney started with ABC at the time. As an independent producer who didn’t leave Hollywood behind while entering the television business, Walt Disney created the first full-scale successful integration of movie and television production in Hollywood. Disney’s primary goal in entering the television business was to produce the first Disney TV series that ultimately advertised the upcoming Disneyland park that was scheduled to be built in Los Angeles. Television served to create a both economic and cultural phenomenon that exceeded the boundaries of any single medium. By releasing a plethora of merchandising and promoting the upcoming park on television, Disney created a program that integrated advertising and entertainment, Of course, this is nothing new for us since we are used to television shows being promoted by ARGs, being bombarded with a bunch of plastic Yoda’s during the release of the Star Wars prequel, or having comic books of Matrix to read in between films… What is remarkable is when it happened. Right now internet or online games are being used to promote upcoming television shows or films, then, as the new technology, it was television that was promoting entertainment parks and films.

Television gave Disney unparalleled access to family audience (which was the target audience to begin with) and served as the primary exhibition site through which the development of the Disney empire was being broadcast. Not only did Disney showed/recycled his entire Disney archive from the beginning, thereby acquainting his audience with the myth of Disney (“It all began with Mickey. The story of Mickey is the story of Disneyland”), but also he was showing his audience how the park was developing. Through this show, the studio educated its audience to perceive continuities between the programs and allowed them to see certain parts of the production process, like the DVD extras that we have today. Ultimately, Disney’s movies were subsumed into an “increasingly integrated leisure market that also included television, recorded music, theme parks, tourism, and consumer merchandise (Anderson 135). It even timed the release dates of its features coincide with simultaneous promotion on the television program. In other words, Disney successfully mounted an empire on this first television series. In this sense, Disneyland created a much more successful experience than the Matrix franchise that has been the showcase for transmedia storytelling but hasn’t been as successful as it could have been. The last two movies didn’t receive much positive reviews and the MMO was lame at best, not sure about the other parts of the franchise…

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