Tuesday, January 7, 2014

To Bavaria

I like the angle of this shot, since it's not necessarily the typical overview poster in typical Disney photographs. But it does hone in on that sense of space and the articulation of the Fantasyland facades that make this area among my favorite architectural spaces in Disneyland.  Originally, Fantasyland was composed of flat carnival-like facades with castle block walls and simple battlements and looked more like a Renaissance Faire setting than the Bavarian Village motif it takes on today.  It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't the immersive Disney-type look we have come to expect.

Of course, there was a perfectly good explanation for the relative plainness of the original Fantasyland facades--money.  There was a lot of park, and only $17 million to build it.  Sure, that's $137 million in today's money, but even that is less than the cost to build Radiator Springs Racers.  So clearly, not everything could be perfect in Walt Disney's original Disneyland.

Fortunately, the Imagineers rectified this in the early 1980s.  This involve shutting down all of Fantasyland--a practically unheard of feat back then. But when things opened back up, the results were immediately noticeable, and most certainly acclaimed.  That charming German village feel is cozy, welcoming, and sheltering.  It is immersive, both in its theming and in the way it cuts in and out of the space of the public pathways.  This spatial texture contributes to those sentiments and are a major part of why Fantasyland just feels like such a wonderful place to walk around.

Spires and rooftops in Fantasyland harken back to a charming German town.

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