Disney is the world’s largest entertainment company, with films, movies, and other forms of entertainment that have amused families for years. Walt Disney, an animator, brought his idea of Magic Kingdom, an amusement park that appeals to both children and adults, to life. Any theme park or building with the Disney name attracts people from all around the world these days. The stories that we see are reinforced through architecture. Architecture has grown significantly in the entertainment industry over time. It transports you to different locations or eras through the cinematic experience. It helps to go virtually into the film or the television show and enjoy the experience.

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Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort_©Disney Hotels – Official site for Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin (swandolphin.com)

Entertainment Architecture 

So, what is entertainment architecture? It is the art of designing commercial structures with amusing themes in mind. The entertainment sector is promoting this method, with Walt Disney leading the way. The term is applied to any structure, regardless of its location or purpose, that is intended to engage the imagination and foster fantasy and whimsy. It is sometimes seen as postmodern due to the structure’s incorporation of familiar shapes and elements in unexpected ways.

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Walt Disney World Swan Resort_©Disney Hotels – Official site for Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin (swandolphin.com)

Disneyland opened in 1955, with some structures capturing the appearance and feel of the imagined past and others offering glimpses into the future. Forced perspective was used in the Disney structures to visually make the smaller buildings appear larger in scale. In a commencement lecture at Harvard School of Design in 1963, a city planner named James Rouse claimed that the greatest place of urban design in the United States today is Disneyland.

When Michael Eisner took over Walt Disney in 1984, he sought to alter the path of the company’s history. He intended to identify architects to create entertainment architecture as part of the process. In a meeting, Michael Eisner proposed a Mickey Mouse hotel, which would be difficult to create and operate as it was a bit unrealistic. In the beginning, Disney World had two hotels. He wanted to encourage more people to stay on the Disneyland grounds. As a result, Tishman Group, Marriott, and Walt Disney formed a partnership, which was later backed up. As a result, they decided to end their collaboration. Then, because he admired both of their architectural styles, Michael Eisner contacted two well-known architects, Robert A.M. Stern and Michael Graves, and asked them to collaborate. However, Robert A.M. Stern proposed holding a competition amongst many architects and then making a decision based on the results of the competition. 

The two hotels resembled a gigantic pyramid, and the other had a broad arc on the top. As a result, Michael Graves, the winner of the competition, chose to lighten up the two hotels by connecting them with a pair of gigantic dolphin statues on one side and a pair of giant swans on the other, resulting in the design of The Swan and Dolphin resort. The idea behind choosing these creatures was that they have classical antecedents while also being light-hearted and accessible.

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The Enchanted Storybook Castle_©The Enchanted Storybook Castle (disneyphotoblography.com)

The Crossovers 

There is a crossover between younger and older people who experience the same area in different but comparable ways, just as there is a crossover between Disney and Architecture. Younger children who are growing up quickly prefer to participate in activities designed for older children, and older children like activities designed for younger children. The entire Disneyland architecture is like combining the fantasy of familiar characters with ornate landscaping and wide walkways that artfully direct guests and one of the main features that make it unique is the high-quality control in the materials and attention to storytelling through attractions and architecture.

Disneyland’s Main Street City Hall 

It is the park’s information, reservations, and guest relations centre. Walt Disney wanted it to resemble Marceline, Missouri, where he grew up, but he couldn’t recall much about how it looked back then. As a result, the Imagineers chose to include Walt’s memory as well as the architecture of the courthouse in Fort Collins, Colorado, where imagineer Harper Goff grew up. The structure was designed in the Second Empire or mansard style. This architectural style dates from the 1850s in France, during Napoleon III’s reign, and was popular in the United States in the 1860s and 1870s. Classical architecture, including Greek and Roman styles, as well as a touch of baroque and mansard roof types, are all present throughout the building. 

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Disneyland’s Main Street City Hall_©Thomas Woolworth

Walt Disney Imagineering 

It is the Walt Disney Company’s research and development unit, responsible for the invention, design, and construction of theme parks and other attractions around the world. It consists of a diverse group of people from several professions, including architects. These are the folks who work to make a concept a reality for the benefit of many people. Some imagineers involved in the Walt Disney Company are Michael Graves, Robert A. M. Stern, Peter Dominick, Graham Gund, Herbert Ryman, Wing T. Chao, Ahmad Jafari, Raymond Watson. 

Aside from the attractions in Disneyland, several attractions draw visitors from all over the world and are situated in various locations designed by imagineers and other architects. Walt Disney Concert Hall in California, designed by Frank Gehry, Spaceship Earth at Epcot in Bay Lake, Florida, Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Park in California, Monsanto House of the Future in California, Enchanted Storybook Castle in Shanghai, Tokyo Disneyland Hotel in Japan, and many other incredible structures are just a few examples. Everybody’s dream is to visit Disneyland and other such lovely destinations at least once in a lifetime.

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Monsanto House of the Future_©Monsanto House of the Future – D23
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Spaceship Earth_©Spaceship Earth at Night 9 – Epcot Art | William Drew (williamdrewphotography.com)

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Tokyo Disneyland Hotel_©[Official]Tokyo Disneyland Hotel|Tokyo Disney Resort

Serratore, A. (2019). The beauty of the Disney beast. [online] Curbed. Available at: https://archive.curbed.com/2019/7/17/20695313/disney-design-architecture-history-michael-graves

https://www.facebook.com/thoughtcodotcom (2019). Disney Architects Who Design Fun. [online] ThoughtCo. Available at: https://www.thoughtco.com/who-are-the-disney-architects-175972

Building Magic (2021). Disneyland’s Main Street City Hall | History and Architecture. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APtQ9X3sjXA

Midway to Main Street (2015). Did You Know Disney? | Architecture! [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hc7Y5c4sHjM 


Dedipya believes that Architecture is like music to our eyes and Writing is a way of building those unforgettable spaces. She thinks that writing brings a connection between people and Architecture. Reading and sketching are something that she never gets bored of.