Believe it or not, when Disneyland opened in 1955 it was a regional park. By today’s standards, a regional park is mostly designed to capture locals within about a three or four-hour drive. Sure, Disneyland (and all Disney Parks) have turned into an international destination over time, but it wasn’t always that way.
Once Disneyland became a success, others tried to replicate it. Some faded into our memory while others have withstood the test of time. How did regional parks get to where we are today? What makes a successful park? Is it intellectual property? Understanding your audience? Clever design and innovation? All of these topics are covered in great detail in the new book “Imagineering An American Dreamscape” by Barry R Hill.
“It was a story that needed to be told,” said Hill. “Everything out there is about Disney, of course, and little has been done in this direction.” This book is a breath of fresh air for a theme park enthusiast who loves history. While there are thousands of books on Disney and every facet of its evolution and impact on society and themed entertainment, regional theme parks are not talked about nearly as much as their bigger competitors.
According to Hill: “This project fills a big gap in the history and literature for this industry. Bringing these people’s stories to life is important so we know where all this stuff came from and appreciate it more. We can take these parks for granted because they’ve always been there in our lifetimes; but it took gutsy people to build them, and as we’re seeing this year, there are no guarantees for the future.”
One of my favorite parts about “Imagineering An American Dreamscape” was learning about the evolution of regional parks I have visited for years. The book covers not only Six Flags and Cedar Fair, but also smaller parks that were an important stepping stone in how we arrived at the design and themes of regional parks we have today.
If you’re looking for a thorough read on an angle of theme parks that hasn’t been covered before, I highly recommend “Imagineering An American Dreamscape”. You can purchase a copy by visiting Amazon at the link below or visiting www.rivershorecreative.com!
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