Notes on the Geography of Fantasy

Hollywood: Reality and Fantasy -- Sorting out the Difference
· CBS eliminated poor people from TV soaps because too many viewers sent packages of food and clothing.
· Marcus Welby, MD -- a TV doctor -- received tens of thousands of letters asking for medical advice.
· 53 percent of viewers of the TV show ER say they learn important health-care information from the program.
· Rural small town residents who experienced no crime, named "crime in the streets" as the major problem in their communities.
· The average person in United States watches 4 hours of TV per day.
· TV is a powerful medium: it substitutes fantasy for reality.

Where and what is Hollywood?
· "Chiefly between our ears!," according to Erica Jong, How to Save Your Own Life, "in that part of the American brain lately vacated."
· Hollywood is a metaphor for Beverly Hills--many of the TV and movie stars and the people associated with these industries once lived there.
· Ben Stein, The View from Sunset Boulevard: "U.S. life on TV represents the distorted view of an elite of guilt-ridden Los Angeles-based writers and producers."

Disneyland: "The Happiest Place on Earth" (76 acres; opened 1955)
· movie sets that people can actually play on .
· heights of buildings are 5/8 (63%) of real structures .
· workers are trained to be actors.
· movie landscapes and places actually become real!
· best of imagined and plastic history--Germany's most famous 19th century castle is in Disneyland!
· best adventure from the world over (without real danger and effort).
· vision of technological utopia.
· escape from drab, corrupt, inefficient reality.
· a place without racial and income clashes, confrontation, environmental problems .
· a world of white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant, middle-class values and behaviors.
· one vast vanilla-flavored American melting pot.
· entertainment is education; education is ideology (see, Herbert Schiller, The Mind Managers).

Popularity of Disneyland
· attendance in 1955: 3.8 million visitors
· attendance in 1972: 21 million customers -- more than the attendance at all major league baseball games; twice the attendance at all NFL football games
· one day record: 82,000 in 16 August 1969
· total up to 1983: 250 million visitors have passed through Main Street

Disney World, Orlando, FL: Reality and Fantasy
· Florida legislature created Reedy Creek Improvement District in 1967
· district is exempt from local and state zoning laws, land use, building codes
· district has power of eminent domain
· controls all services: water, sewage, roads, transportation
· tax-exempt bonds issued to build park--lower interest rates than from banks
· tried to keep as many economic activities (hotels, golf, camping, restaurants) as possible within the park (28,000 acres, size of Liechtenstein)
· whereas in Disneyland, a much smaller park, most economics outside park
· only 100 full-time residents: Disney officials and top managers
· no schools, huge savings for district
· yet 30,000 employees in park: must commute long distance for affordable housing
· contradiction: Walt Disney Company espouses free enterprise, except in its own markets!
· company state
· EPCOT: experimental prototype community of tomorrow--one planner said: "I have seen the future and it does not work."

Japan, Tokyo:
    1) Disneyland
, licensed by Walt Disney: 10% royalty of tickets; 5% of food sold
    2) Western Village, a Japanese theme park: 80-foot replica of Mount Rushmore cost $30 million to construct!

France, Paris: Euro Disney
open in summer of 1992
about 33% of initial development costs paid for by government
500,000 visitors per year yet lost $ 514 million in 1993
attendance much less than expected because of
1) 1990s recession; and 2) French dislike U.S. culture.
wine is now finally sold in restaurants to attract visitors!

Disneyland in Shanghai, China
construction started in 2011 and will be finished in 2015, costing over $5 billion dollars. it will have the largest Disney castle.

Florida, Orlando: Splendid China

Germany, Ruhr valley: Warner Brothers' film-leisure park is planned

London, United Kingdom: Vinopolis

Other theme parks: over 30 large-scale theme parks in United States alone
Tennessee, Nashville: Grand Ole Opry or Opryland [torn down about 1997]
  • 400-acre park
  • five music towns: jazz, blues, country, folk, western, contemporary
  • attendance: 1.2 million (1972)
  • owned by National Life & Accident Insurance
  • visitor names used by agents to sell insurance

Southeast Ohio: Bibleland

  • camel rides, fishing in the Sea of Galilee, rides in the land of milk and honey