Walt Disney never minced words. He loved the nostalgic and knew the value of celebrating the ‘things of the past’ in his films, television shows and later Disneyland.
It was from this appreciation for the nostalgic that Main Street U.S.A. was born, the central thoroughfare by which park visitors enter the lands of fantasy, adventure and tomorrow at Disneyland. Here Walt hoped the older generation of the day could relive their “fond memories of the past”.
It cannot be over-emphasized how much these senior Disneyland citizens delighted in this loving recreation of their childhood days gone by during the first couple decades of the parks existence. Nor can it be overstated how revolutionary the concept of catering to older visitors alongside younger ones within an outdoor amusement enterprise was.
And, being that Grandma and Grandpa weren’t staying at home while the kids played, how profitable.
The generation of Disneyland guests who were alive during the turn of century and took special pleasure in Walt’s nod to it are long gone now and consequently the very cornerstone philosophy that welcomed them to the Magic Kingdom as well. As the years progressed Disneyland stopped catering to the grandparents altogether, valuing more the thrill hungry teen market and the attention deficient kiddy quotient. Today Grandma and Grandpa are more likely to stay home.
Power players at Imagineering would be wise to lure this long ignored yet vital market share back to Disneyland. But how? What’s the Main Street equivalent for the Baby Boomers in the here and now? What could Disneyland do to embrace their nostalgia for days gone by?
One need not look any further than Disneyland itself.
Here’s the living embodiment of mid century mainstream; a park built on the back of that wild new gadget, the television, and exploding into the American consciousness alongside coonskin caps and Mickey Mouse ears. Those 60, 70 or 80 would remember that time fondly. For them Disneyland IS today’s nostalgia.
Seems that along with the death of Walt’s generation, so too went much of the entertainment that catered to their high regard for whimsy, charm and nostalgia over visceral thrills. Current management would benefit immensely by bankrolling attractions that take their cue from these neglected classics; Circlevision 360, The Golden Horseshoe Revue, the Peoplemover, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, America Sings and many more.
Though much of the appetite for Disneyland nostalgia was sated with Disneyland’s 50th, a few thousand cans of paint isn’t enough. Those that grew up watching Annette grow out are going to need the reassurance that if they visit the park much of that corny flag-waving because-we-love-you Disneyland will still be there, a place happy to make room for Rocket Ships and Pirate Ships, singing birds and singing bears and leisurely rides high in the sky.
To embrace the heritage of Disneyland today is to embrace a long neglected member of the Disney family as well, individuals who would spare no expense to reconnect with some of those fond childhood memories of the past.
It’s time to give seniors their Disneyland citizenship back.
"You know, I have the strangest feeling I've seen that ship before - - a long time ago, when I was very young."
-Mr. DarlingPeter Pan