The Sorcerer's Apprentice

Forty-odd years ago, Uncle Walt Imagineered a new kind of escapism. And now there's no way out of paradise.

CP: To what extent would it seem that building a simulacrum of the kind of city he wanted coincided with the death of those actual cities in California?

KAM: It did. When Walt builds Disneyland, the Pacific Red Cars are still running around. He himself is part of the great suburban sprawl that's starting around Los Angeles when he moves to Holmby Hills. Yet we know for a fact that he liked walkable places. He liked intimate urban environments. Suburbia had already gone almost to pot by the time Disneyland opens, so it's clearly a response against that. There are ironies involved here too, because if it weren't for the freeway system, you couldn't have gotten to Disneyland in the first place, and Orange County real estate wouldn't have been accessible to Walt and the general public. At the same time, exactly that suburban sprawl and the use of the single family car is what's countered all over the place in Disneyland. I mean, Walt practically ruptured himself trying to find attractive means of public transportation that would make people feel good about that kind of thing. Most of the time [in Disneyland] you're going to take the monorail, because he's convinced the monorail is the wave of the future. And I'm half convinced the reason he thought monorails were going to be so cool is because they were so dramatic and fun to look at. There are just hundreds and hundreds of drawings of various monorail cars salted around in the Disney archives.

CP: So do you think the Disney conspiracy theorists are on to anything?

KAM: No. I think they're insane. I think they ought to get a life [laughs]. And I hope their children grow up to be normal and happy!

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