As much as I love Disney, I found myself agreeing with the protesters in this chapter. The citizens of Seattle, Long Beach, and Haymarket who opposed Disney’s involvement in their cities all had excellent reasons to do so. I think it is a matter of Disney helping to simply fix or renew a space, rather than taking it and transforming it into their own.
In the case of Seattle, I found myself wondering why city officials thought that Disney would be a good fit to redo the City Center in the first place. Seattle and Disney don’t really go hand in hand. The city’s population (especially in ’89, around the time the grunge movement was growing in popularity) and the people who visit or want to visit the city don’t strike me as particularly Disney-crazed.
Disney’s entire enterprise into architecture and urban planning just doesn’t seem to fit. But, as an empire of sorts, I suppose it’s only right that they would attempt to continually conquer and colonize other part of the country, and even the world.
Disney’s failed attempts for build up Long Beach in California also makes me sigh with relief. To dominate the landscape with Port Disney, and transform the bay- possibly damaging the ecosystem- would have been going too far.
Besides- California already has Disneyland. They don’t need two theme parks/resort complexes in the same state.
The one exception to this, for me anyways, is Times Square in NYC. I love Times Square. It feels like the city to me—not like Disney. Their involvement may not have been minimal financial, but as far as branding and controlling the space, it is hardly there at all. I don’t even think that Disney Store is there anymore. But, Times Square is still a wonderful place. Disney didn’t seize it and turn it into Disneyland NYC, they just helped it get back on its feet.
The other examples in this chapter were much more aggressive take-overs of a space, as well as much larger (in terms of physical space being developed). And that, I think, is where the problem lies. I think if every Disney project succeeded, eventually they would have buildings and attractions in almost every major city. And over time, Disney would cease to be a special place. The rarity of Disney spaces makes them precious to us. If the whole world became Disney’s, it would just be life- boring and uneventful. Disney attractions would become no more special than movie theatres or shopping malls. So, I think it’s a very good thing that people continue to deny Disney the opportunity to develop their hometowns.