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Carol Platt Liebau - Columnist
Platt Liebau is editorial director and a senior member of tOR and CRO editorial
boards. She is an attorney, political analyst and commentator
based in San Marino, CA, and has appeared on the Fox News
Channel, MSNBC, CNN, Orange County News Channel, Cox Cable
and a variety of radio programs throughout the United States.
A graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School,
Carol Platt Liebau also served as the first female managing
editor of the Harvard Law Review. Her web log can be found
[go to Liebau index]
Here’s to a Half-Century of Fantasy (and Americana) at
Platt Liebau] 5/2/05
As it prepares
for the celebration of its 50th birthday, Disneyland may not be “the happiest place on Earth.” But,
as it’s been for the last half century, it’s
In an age when Americans seem too balkanized by political
ideology, race, socio-economic status or even religion, Disney
(and its empire of movies, merchandise and theme parks) is
one of the last few cultural touchstones that all of us share.
The vast majority of Americans have grown up with Disney stories,
and then gone on to experience the thrill of walking their
own children or grandchildren through the gates of the Magic
It seems right that
Disneyland is one of the few remaining unifying experiences
of American life, because so many of the
films to which it refers honor traditional American values – the
importance of being good, and working hard, and daring to dream.
Even the park itself, with its emphasis on cleanliness and
customer satisfaction, reflects good, old-fashioned American
capitalist values. It likewise combines two prominent themes
of American life – nostalgia for the past, reflected
in Frontierland and the circa-1900’s decoration of Main
Street, coupled with excitement over the promise of progress
that the future holds, exemplified by the forward-looking Tomorrowland.
Cynics like to scoff
at Disneyland and the comfortable Americans to which it caters,
emphasizing the high prices and relentless
merchandising. But they – like the people who resolutely
refuse to believe in Santa Claus – are more to be pitied
than blamed. They are missing the entire point. Disneyland
is more than simply a theme park. It’s a place where
the characters we have only seen in movies actually come to
life. That, in itself, gives it an air of infinite potential
and irresistible charm. In a sense, it teaches children that
their dreams can come true; for adults, it suggests that – at
least occasionally – one can become a child again.
Walt Disney was
a staunch Republican, who believed in traditional values
and in the promise of America – much like Ronald
Reagan (who, incidentally, hosted the live coast-to-coast coverage
of the theme park’s opening in 1955). He created a park
that reflected his goodness and his patriotism. No, he wouldn’t
like all the films or all the choices that his company has
But half a century
after he converted Anaheim orange groves into a wondrous
and wonderful place for families to visit,
he would certainly be proud that the characters and the stories
that he brought to life with a distinctly American twist are
still treasured – and that the park he created around
them has become a cherished part of so many families’ lives
and vacation memories.
Walt Disney is a
blessed man, indeed. What more could anyone ask than to have
the place he conceived and lovingly built
become known to millions, without irony, as “the happiest
place on earth”?
Happy Birthday, Disneyland. tOR
Carol Platt Liebau is a political analyst, commentator and
theOneRepublic / CaliforniaRepublic.org editorial
director based in San Marino, CA. Ms. Liebau also served
as the first female managing editor of the Harvard Law Review.
Her web log can be found at CarolLiebau.blogspot.com