Is Disneyland an Intermediary Between Cultures?

Introduction

When discussing the present tendencies related to cultural and social development, it is important to pay attention to famous companies that can influence the whole of society by attracting the audience that loves everything bright and fun, the audience that is ready to follow the examples of their favorite heroes: children. Everyone knows that Disneyland is the most popular theme park all over the world, but people seldom think about the enormous influence that this company has on our perceptions of life, our preferences, and our most cherished dreams.

There is no doubt that culture and cultural diversity play an important role in Disneyland. Nowadays, these theme parks represent a major source of cultural exchange as they promote specific values that are unique to Americans among the citizens of all other countries. Indeed, Disneyland represents several of the key values of American cultures, such as having a positive attitude about life, being kind, and spreading peace. In fact, the presence and spread of American culture are why a lot of people all over the world accept Disneyland and why the popularity of Walt Disney products continues to increase.

However, it is also necessary to note that Disneyland is so popular because the company’s specialists have managed to integrate newer elements that reflect and support local cultures. The cultural exchange supported by Disneyland is reciprocal; in respecting other cultures, it does its best to demonstrate how distinct elements of different cultures can coexist peacefully and even complement one another.

Among other things, Disneyland proposes a lot of activities that help unite children and parents, whose attitudes to life are usually quite different.

Reason I

Theme parks such as Disneyland are an important source of cultural exchange because they really help promote specific values supported by the population of the United States among people living in other countries.

As for the evidence in support of this notion, it is necessary to refer to the article written by Batala et al. These authors include the construction of theme parks like Disneyland into the list of factors that help people belonging to different cultures exchange information and extend their knowledge about the world and its great cultural diversity. Moreover, it is widely known that Disneyland is really popular in Asian countries despite all of the differences between the traditional views of Asians and Americans. The topic of cultural exchange between the United States and Asian countries is also discussed in the article by Tao and Lai, who consider the increasing popularity of Disneyland to be one of the most obvious manifestations of globalization (812). According to them, Disneyland in Hong Kong represents a mixture of two different cultures; therefore, it may be stated that American values can successfully integrate into the lives of Eastern communities.

The significance of this evidence is connected to the fact that it contradicts the opinion that many people have regarding the incompatibility of Western and Eastern cultures. Therefore, considering this evidence, it is possible to say that Disneyland may exist as a successful intermediary that encourages people belonging to other cultures to accept new ideas and see the world in a different light. Therefore, it may also be important to study the reasons why Asian people are more likely to accept the American values promoted by Disneyland, and I suppose that these two cultures round each other out despite all the differences between them. In the end, I believe that the role that these theme parks and the products of the company in general play in today’s process of cultural globalization is difficult to overstate. At the same time, some people are of the opinion that the company’s activity and its expansion of amusement parks pose a threat to cultural diversity in the world. To me, however, the evidence shows that the creators of these theme parks try to strike the right balance between American and other cultures.

Reason II

The cultural exchange encouraged by the expansion of Disneyland is reciprocal; by respecting other cultures, the company does its best to show that many elements of different cultures can coexist peacefully.

The evidence that can be used to support this opinion is presented by several different facts that show how Disneyland theme parks outside the United States are constructed with the local identity in mind. According to Hoon Hyun et al. who study and compare four Disneyland parks in Japan, France, and the United States, there is no doubt that the people engaged with organizing new events at these parks pay special attention to the use of imagery and symbols unique to the local cultures; indeed, incorporating local imagery remains an important factor that allows the company to increase its competitive advantage (247). As made clear from the facts discussed by the authors, the most successful attempt to reflect local culture has been made in Tokyo, Japan. The company’s significant attention to cultural norms is represented not only in the way that costumed characters look but also in the approach taken to place objects inside the park. For instance, because Japanese people find it inappropriate to eat while walking, the company chose to increase the number of seats in the eating areas of Tokyo Disneyland in order to meet the needs of local visitors.

This evidence is important for future research as it shows that Disneyland is a place where values supported by different nations and preferences unique to local cultures are respected. Indeed, it seems clear that visiting Disneyland may help representatives of different cultures outside of America feel that their national identity is respected and that measures have been taken in order to make them feel comfortable. Moreover, I suppose that the culturally sensitive approach used in Disneyland theme parks around the world may be beneficial for those who have left the United States recently. Due to the presence of elements of both cultures, it might be easier for them to get used to the new culture while also immersing themselves in the atmosphere of their native culture, a situation that might help increase their psychological comfort levels. Therefore, it can be stated that Disneyland parks are constructed with regard to local visitors’ preferences; the specialists who have worked on their design seem to have conducted substantial research in order to understand the specific needs of local people based on the notions of appropriate and inappropriate behavior unique to their cultures.

Reason III

In addition to uniting people of different cultures, Disneyland parks help to strengthen the links between children and their parents, who may hold extremely different attitudes to life.

Another important statement connected with the work of Disneyland theme parks in some countries is that it encourages dialogue not only between different cultures that may vary deeply from each other but also between people of different generations who sometimes fail to understand each other. For instance, according to research conducted by Aronstein and Finke, the Disneyland park in California acts as a kind of guide for children by encouraging them to get acquainted with the concepts and ideas used by their parents in everyday life. For instance, special zones are designed to reflect the differences between the two genders related to the traditional roles of men and women, which are still strongly supported in the United States despite people’s love of liberty (616). Also, it is necessary to incorporate the work of Lyon, who discusses the topic of religious symbolism in theme parks and the ways in which it influences people (17). Some people may believe it to be inappropriate to use religion in places where children are supposed to relax, but in fact, it may often remind children of religious values supported by their parents and encourage them to follow their example.

The discussed evidence is significant because these works help readers understand that many events and aspects of Disneyland are aimed at supporting the traditional values that unite generations of American people. Besides the fact that many of the events help children better understand the world in which their parents live, Disneyland also provides them with an opportunity to learn more about the religious beliefs and ethical principles of their ancestors. It is known that theme parks can do a lot in order to educate children while amusing them, and including the traditional elements of culture and the common notions of good and bad can really help make children an important part of society and its future. To me, the above-mentioned facts about these theme parks show conclusively that Disneyland is successful at promoting cultural traditions and strengthening the links between generations.

Acknowledgments/Responses

To begin with, not all of the arguments that I am planning to use are supported by all people interested in the discussed problem. Personally, I believe that there are few people who would disagree with the main claim, but the situation is quite different when it comes to the details. For example, it is commonly believed that Americans do not respect European culture enough, and this is why the Disney theme parks fail to meet the needs of visitors in Europe (Kaynak and Herbig 6). To some extent, some researchers view this situation as a cultural invasion on behalf of Americans and proof that Americans overestimate their culture and want to expand its influence even more.

As for minor tensions related to future research, it may be necessary to pay more attention to the cultural characteristics of Asians, Europeans, and Americans in order to prove that the elements of different cultures are preserved in theme parks outside the United States. In order to address these minor problems, I am planning to examine additional sources devoted to the cultural assumptions of the mentioned groups of people as well as visual materials that will help illustrate the ideas better.

Conclusion

When conducting research, I will try to focus more on examples related to the designs and plans of theme parks in order to make my argument more substantial and illustrate the concepts mentioned in the paper. As for the broader significance, the research paper will present a general review of the topic of Disneyland and culture.

Works Cited

Aronstein, Susan L., & Laurie A. Finke. “Discipline and Pleasure: The Pedagogical Work of Disneyland.” Educational Philosophy and Theory, vol.45, no.6, 2013, pp. 610-624.

Batala, Lochan K. et al. “Cross Border Cooperation through Tourism Promotion & Cultural Exchange: A Case Study along Nepal and China (TAR) OBOR—Prospective.” Open Journal of Business and Management, vol. 5, no. 1, 2016, p. 105.

Hoon Hyun, Kyung, et al. “Investigating Cultural Uniqueness in Theme Parks through Finding Relationships between Visual Integration of Visitor Traffics and Capacity of Service Facilities.” International Journal of Architectural Computing, vol. 14, no. 3, 2016, pp. 247-254.

Kaynak, Erdener, and Paul Herbig. Handbook of Cross-Cultural Marketing. Routledge, 2014.

Lyon, David. Jesus in Disneyland: Religion in Postmodern Times. John Wiley & Sons, 2013.

Tao, Teresa, and Shuk Man Josephine Lai. “Globalization and Theme Park: A Case Study of Hong Kong Disneyland.” CAUTHE 2013: Tourism and Global Change: On the Edge of Something Big, vol. 1, no. 1, 2013, p. 812.