Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Today we’ll focus on the grey area of women in the park.  Not guests, but the Cast Members of yesterday, designed to fulfill a theme in a certain Land.  Several examples include the hula girl dancers of the long gone Tahitian Terrace restautant in Adventureland, 

See: Link A

the mermaids who sunbathed and played a part in Tomorrowland’s Submarine Voyage show for a few years after its opening in 1959, 

See: Link B
and the cancan dancers in the Golden Horseshoe Revue in Frontierland. 

See: Link C
These are, in short, icons of the immersive environments Disneyland is known to create.  Of course you would find enchanting hula girls in a swanky mid-century Tahitian restaurant and of course there were actually racy cancan dancers in the saloons of the old west. 
But the fact of the matter is they were there to be looked at.  The male guests visiting the Park when these ladies still entertained certainly enjoyed their performances in a different way that women or children did.  But it was a common part of life in mid-century America, and now many would be offended if the dancers and mermaids still worked in the parks, regardless of the intention.

It seems it’s important to ask, is “politically correct” or “expertly themed” better for both Disney culture and society, and what is at stake?  The Disney culture has changed over time, becoming more PC in and of itself, and the lack of these entertainment girls is proof of that.  But in the popular argument, “what would Walt do,” the state of the Park when he was living is proof that he saw them as great immersion effects.

As society changes over time, so do our values and it seems the possible result of objectification of women may put them in danger or perpetuate stereotypes and male-dominant tendencies.  There is no “right” answer, and never will be but looking at a simple element of the Park’s history, such as this, can shed interesting light on social issues and changes.


A. TT Dancers
B. Mermaids
C. Cancan Dancers

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