In the plaza between Disneyland and California Adventure, thousands of guests have paid in the neighborhood of $150. to commemorate the family name on a brick paver tile, a nostalgic memento to revisit in future years.
One could say they “own a piece of Disneyland.”
But what did they pay for, really, but a homely little tile? Unlike plaques at civil projects or hospital wards, the “donation” didn’t really contribute toward the creation of anything but the brick itself and some additional profit margin for Disneyland merchandisers.
Where is the lasting monument this kind of money could build?
With all the needed talk of Disneyland restoration and revival, the problem of finding budgets for atmospheric items like scenic locales, fountains and forts often comes up short.
Since it is assumed such details will not draw additional paying customers through the gate, but merely enhance the day for those already there, accountaneers don’t tend to see the necessity of aesthetic charm. While the purse strings appear to be loosening a bit these days, can we really expect this to change?
Does it fall on the shoulders of those with a passion for Walt and his artists to turn this bull by the horns? - - Not by begging, complaining or demanding the Company do something on their own dime (though that can produce some slow results as we have seen), but putting our monies where our mouths may be.
What if Disneyland were to draw up plans for the return of specific, historic park scenic elements, restorations or improvements in the manner of civic projects, soliciting funds for their execution?
If people will pay for a mere brick, wouldn’t they pay even more to own a piece of a mural, a tree house or a pirate ship? Especially a beloved icon they were reviving from their own childhood so it might last for generations to come?
Monuments for Walt Disney’s Disneyland by and for the people.
Donations could be solicited at varied levels, with a clear dollar goal set for work to progress. Donors would be noted on a bronze plaque at the location of the “monument”, just as it is in the real world outside the berm.
In this way, permanent artistic improvements could be made to the park's atmosphere, expenditures that don't always measure up to the Company reinvestment goals. And new WDC funds can then be dedicated to creating a roster of exciting new attractions, as they should be.
While this sort of plan would be impractical for the building of major attractions that require bigger budgets, constant maintenance and staffing, it could be just the thing for the little extra details that make Disneyland so special:
Mary Blair’s Tomorrowland Murals
Captain Hook's Pirate Ship and Skull Rock
The Swiss Family Treehouse
Cascade Falls on the Rivers of America
Sleeping Beauty Castle Diorama
The House of the Future
Tomorrowland Terrace Stage Design
Clock of the World
…would seem perfect for such a scheme, helping to bring back a bit more of Walt Disney’s wonderful world of color and design to the historic Magic Kingdom.
By online and in-park voting, the most popular icons could be selected. To avoid competitive, promotional or vanity projects, the focus would stay on historic Walt-era restoration projects – on which most can find common ground.
Are there a significant number of potential patrons… fans, animators, cast-members and common folk who would spend a little of their own cash to sponsor a Disneyland renewal project? To help bring back a bit of Walt and Mary and Marc and the rest?
To pay back to Disneyland a bit of the joy they have received from it over the years? I’d bet on it.
Who wouldn’t want to point out Captain Hook's Ship and proudly tell their kids that it partly belongs to them? And behind the ship, their named plaque awaits to prove it.
If Walt said, “Disneyland is your land,” why not let us all help to contribute to its future? After 50 years, Disneyland really belongs to us all.
Make that tile mean something.