globalization is not a unidirectional, destructive force.Another important strand of analysis of Tokyo Disneyland is the idea of the Disney experience as a post-modern one. The focus on fantasy and the hyper in all five Disney parks around the world offers a unique object of study. In describing Christmastime at Tokyo Disneyland, Karal Ann Marling remarks that, “For the price of admission, visitors could enjoy a transnational fantasy- somebody else’s memories of Christmas, American memories” (p. 103). Other research focuses on the actual experience of visiting a Disney park and how it resembles a trip to a completely different realm where time and space are not necessary considerations. When Walt Disney announced in his plans for opening Disneyland in Anaheim, California, he described it as a “place where you can’t get lost” (Bukatman, p. 57). I want to explore this type of scholarship more to see how manifestations of post-modernism, an entirely Western convention, travel to Tokyo. The cinematic nature of the whole experience, from its rows
Misner 5of faux buildings to the use of “characters” when referring to Disney employees allows scholars to analyze its meaning in the context of 1950s America, when Disneyland first opened (p. 61). Combing through past research of Tokyo Disneyland, it becomes clear to me that to fully understand it as an object of globalization means accepting all the contradictions, nuances, and theoretical lenses that come with such a profound cultural text. Aviad Raz’s book, Riding the Black Ship: Japan and Tokyo Disneylandarticulates how Disney has been exported, accepted, adapted and fetishized for the almost 20,000,000 visitors to Tokyo Disneyland each year. His approach of analyzing this cultural text from three different perspectives: the lived and felt experiences of every day visitors, the social structures of the park behind the scenes, and its situation in larger discourses about cultural difference and globalization (Raz, p. 7). These three spatial distinctions will help guide my research and analysis of such a complex phenomenon. Almost all other analyses of Tokyo Disneyland could fall into these three categories.My aim moving forward is to take into account what many other scholars have concluded about Tokyo Disneyland, while also looking at its media presence through the official website, visitor reviews, and advetisements. Other theories I am incorporating into my analysis are Roland Robertson’s thesis of glocalization in order to contradict Herbert Schiller’s concept of cultural imperialism. One gap I do find in the existing literature about Tokyo Disneyland is the lack of attention paid to the website and consumer reviews, two key components in understanding how the park is presented to the public, then experienced by the visitors. Many academics have examined this symbolic place as a site of imperialism, postmodernity, etc., all of which inform my theoretical
Misner 6understanding of it. However, my attempt in looking at TDL from both above and below help examine the specific implications of the lived experiences of the guests, while also analyzing the cultural proximity between Japan and the United States.