A Cultural History of the Disneyland Theme Parks (Book)

Middle Class Kingdoms

The first comparative historical study of the six Disneyland theme parks around the world in five distinct cultures: the USA, Tokyo, Paris, Hong Kong and Shanghai. Sets the parks in their respective historic contexts at the time of their opening, and considers the part that class plays in the success or failure of these ventures.

Category: Cultural Studies


When the first Disneyland opened its doors in 1955, it reinvented the American amusement park and transformed the travel, tourism, and entertainment industries forever. Now a global vacation empire, the original park in Anaheim, California, has been joined by massive complexes in Florida, Tokyo, Paris, Hong Kong, and Shanghai.

Spanning six decades, three continents, and five distinct cultures, Sabrina Mittermeier presents an interdisciplinary examination of the parks, situating them in their proper historical context and exploring the distinct cultural, social, and economic landscapes that defined each one at the time of its construction. Mittermeier then spotlights the central role of class in the subsequent success or failure of each venture. The first comparative study of the Disney theme parks, A Cultural History of the Disneyland Theme Parks closes a significant gap in existing research and is an important new contribution to the field.

Sabrina Mittermeier holds a doctorate in American cultural history from the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich. She has been a lecturer and postdoctoral researcher in the Department of English and American Studies at the University of Augsburg in Germany and worked as a research assistant in the DFG-funded (Deutsche Forschsungsgemeinschaft) “Time and Temporality in Theme Parks” at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz.

Introduction: The Cultural Relevance of Disneyland

Part I: The American Disney Theme Parks

An Orange Grove in Anaheim: The Original Disneyland (1955)

Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom (1971) and the Age of Fracture

Part II: The International Disney Theme Parks

‘Is There Really a Disneyland in America?’ – The Unique Case of Tokyo Disneyland (1983)

A ‘Cultural Chernobyl?’ – EuroDisney (1992) and the Theme Park Public

Hong Kong Disneyland (2005): A Site of Local Pride and Conflict

‘Authentically Disney, Distinctly Chinese’ – Shanghai Disneyland (2016)

Middle Class Kingdoms: Then, Now, and Forever?


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