One world or two ?

click on images for full-size:

The Seven Dwarfs on the Disney corporate headquarters, designed by Michael Graves

The experience of a theme park is not an immersion in fantasy or spectacle. Our inhabitation is doubled.

Walt Disney is reported to have said that he wanted the public to feel that they had entered another world, with no sight of the real world. Despite such propaganda, the Walt Disney Company does not really want us to become totally immersed in its fantasies. If we were totally to become Mississippi steamboat passengers or Star Wars characters, immersed in their concerns and goals, we would not have the concomitant awareness that the experience was "fun" and "different." A theme park is an attraction, not a conversion to a new identity. For the themed place to exercise that attraction, we need a doubled inhabitation, one that plays at being in the theme, but is also aware of the theme's difference from everyday life, and enjoys the difference and the ways in which the themed effect is brought about.