Mid-Century Disneyland

Disney History Institute (DHI) recently release some never-before-seen footage of Disneyland in 1957, two years after it opened. The House of the Future makes an appearance, but I think the true stars are the clothing and the mid-century paint colors. DHI makes a special note about the colors:
The color values here are so much brighter than those presently used in the park, leaning in places toward a florescent vibrancy. (And yes, it does look like the film has a slight color shift in the reds, but overall, I think the colors are pretty spot on.) During the early days of Disneyland Walt was often focused on color, particularly in Fantasyland and on Main Street. As with his animated films, he saw color as a key element toward affecting a guest's emotional experience. Over the years, I've interviewed many of the original art directors for Disneyland, who have told different versions of this story: that Walt used to walk through the park, making notes to repaint various buildings with a slightly different hue; that Walt sent his animators and background painters (such as Ken Anderson) into the park specifically to review the park's use of color. Here, Fantasyland holds the dreamy qualities of a children's storybook and Main Street is washed in tones that, for me, suggest nostalgia. During Walt's lifetime, Disneyland had many imitators, but none of the other parks understood how Walt controlled environment to create mood.


  1. It really is interesting that you can look at a handful of paint chips and almost immediately assign them a time frame. Everything about that video says 1950s.

    1. I know. It's almost too perfect. I half expected to see Don Draper or Kevin Arnold walk through one of the shots.

  2. This was really fun to take a look at! It all seems so mundane in our current culture but it was cutting edge for it's time. I considered out Disneyland in Orlando very surrealistic until I visited NYC last year. Now that's some fun reality surrealism for you!!