Posts tagged “Disneyland

French Quarter Flattery Revisited

Posted on May 16, 2014

Two years ago I posted “Sincerest Flattery in Tourist Lands,” highlighting a few notable examples of places outside New Orleans that mimic the famed French Quarter. Since that time I have discovered so many more such examples of the “sincerest form of flattery” that it’s worth revisiting the subject. Ranging from careful replication of what is sometimes called the “French Quarter Revival” style in resorts and theme parks to hackneyed adornments on otherwise ordinary apartment complexes, French Quarter-style architecture dots the American landscape. Of course what we call French Quarter-style architecture is in fact far from unique to the French Quarter. Many New Orleans structures outside the Vieux Carré also have original ironwork, and many more have added it. Many cities in the South…

The Super Easy

Posted on February 3, 2013

The pageantry of New Orleans is on display for all the world as the Super Bowl returns to the Big Easy for the tenth time–tying the city with Miami as the most frequent host–and the first time since Hurricane Katrina. This year, with the game coinciding with the official twelve-day Carnival celebration (hence the nickname “Super Gras”), the city has pulled out all the stops in its savvy marketing of the New Orleans brand. The big show may be about the Ravens, the 49ers, and Beyonce’s halftime extravaganza, but tourism promoters have assured that the city will shine through it all and leave lasting impressions. To an even greater degree than on the eve of the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition, Super Bowl XLVII preparations…

Sincerest Flattery in Tourist “Lands”

Posted on July 14, 2012

Although tourist destinations often trade on their distinctive visual presence, often there is no lack of imitation to go along with the unique.  Replicas of other places have long been a hallmark of tourism.  Well before its renown for country music, Nashville, Tennessee, styled itself as the “Athens of the South” and even built a full-size Parthenon for its Tennessee Centennial Exposition in 1897.  In more recent years, Las Vegas has borrowed architecture unabashedly from places as far-flung as New York and Venice. Few places have inspired more imitations than the New Orleans French Quarter, one of the featured destinations in American Tourism: Constructing a National Tradition.  Much enamored of the Vieux Carré, Walt Disney added New Orleans Square, a miniaturized version of the…

A Not-So-Small World

Posted on June 11, 2012

The title of the Sherman Brothers’ tune, made famous by Disney’s use in its iconic boat ride that debuted at the 1964 New York World’s Fair before being rebuilt at Disneyland, aptly describes the small size of the Anaheim, California, theme park carved out of orange groves less than ten years earlier. As suburban sprawl engulfed Disneyland, its 160 acres began to seem a big too small. The reason Walt Disney wanted a clean slate when he contemplated a second theme park and the reason he chose central Florida are apparent – albeit less so than in the past – in these satellite views. Even with sustained development over the past four decades, the 47-square-mile Walt Disney World Resort retains substantial forestland that creates…

Touring Futurism

Posted on April 25, 2012

Seattle’s Space Needle turned 50 over the last weekend – a fitting moment, while standing on the cusp of “space tourism,” to cast our glance backward to historical visions of the future at tourist destinations. As NPR’s All Things Considered reported, its flying saucer-like, rotating observation deck retains its futuristic appeal desire the tower’s antiqueness (indeed, it is now eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places). Tourist attractions have long provided showcases for visions of the future. Nowhere has this forward-looking utopian sensibility been more carefully packaged than in the spate of world’s fairs between the 1890s and 1960s. Most of the visions simply expanded on emergent technologies such as electricity, but some were truly out of this world. The Pan-American…

Invention and Imitation

Posted on April 22, 2012

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but it is also highly lucrative. Imitation is an ironic hallmark of an industry that on one level is predicated on destinations’ ability to offer a unique experience. Tourists seek novelty for its potential to grant a sense of discovery, but it does not take long for entrepreneurs to recognize a good idea and attempt to replicate it as nearly as possible. Along with tourists’ restlessness when the extraordinary becomes mundane, imitation is a prime reason for tourist destinations to embellish their attractions or reinvent themselves. Early railroad-age travelers hoped to see “real” Indians as a way of eluding the reach of crass, market-oriented America (symbolized by the industrial cities from which many tourists hailed), but their…

Treetop Tourism

Posted on April 22, 2012

Just days before Earth Day, visitors to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, began lining up to experience the tourist destination’s newest attraction:  Zipline Hilton Head. As the Island Packet reported on opening day, the ride, which sends riders suspended from a pulley down gradually sloping wires tethered to a series of treetop towers, mixes family fun with a dose of ecotourism (zip liners can learn about the delicate balance of nature from the company’s hired ecologist/guide) on an island whose early developer pioneered an aesthetic blend of subdued architecture with Lowcountry nature that has until now provided mainly a sylvan backdrop for decidedly calmer forms of recreation. On the face of it, zip lines seem most closely tied to other, more “extreme” forms of…