The Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History opened the exhibit "Mirror, Mirror: Reflections of American Stories in Disney Parks," curated by Bethanee Bemis. I'm hoping to get to Washington, DC to see it.
Attractions Magazine previewed the exhibit.
"Inside the gallery, Bemis and her colleagues showcased photos that told several compelling narratives from throughout park history. Those include stories from families who felt out of place or unsafe elsewhere but could vacation safely in the Disney Parks.
"'We saw that a lot in these stories that people sent us – particularly among immigrant families – what it meant to get to go to Disneyland',' Bemis said .'It meant, "we've made it, we're part of the American Story.'''
"Some examples include a biracial family who safely vacationed at Disneyland when the parents' marriage was illegal in their home state of Texas and a featured Japanese family who had been in a concentration camp just a decade before snapping a photo with Walt himself at Disneyland."
The exhibit seems to celebrate the Disney World and Disneyland's inclusivity, and its increasing sensitivity to inclusive issues (or, as Ron DeSantis would derisively call it, "wokeness."), including changes made to the Pirates of the Caribbean and Splash Mountain rides.
But I wonder whether it deals with the implicit cultural exclusion that has existed in the parks since their inception, and has only really been mitigated in recent years. And of course there is the huge issue of financial exclusion that less wealthy Americans of all types have felt not being able to afford to get to and/or gain admission, which has been greatly exacerbated in recent years.
I was surprised to learn that Bob Gurr, one of the very most important Imagineers in the history of Disney, spent much of his career, starting in the 1950s, as a closeted gay man. Bob is truly one of the seminal creators of Disneyland, credited with designing the ride vehicles for Autopia, The Haunted Mansion, the Submarine Voyage, the Matterhorn Bobsleds, and many more vehicles, rides, and ride elements. Here is Gurr being interviewed about his career:
Gurr eventually drove the Omnibus he had designed for Disneyland in the Los Angeles Pride Parade in 2019, officially representing the Walt Disney Company. That's the kind of progress DeSantis wants to obliterate.