Wednesday, December 26, 2012

What Makes A Disney Culture? Part 2

I apologize for my absence over the past month.   Between finishing my grad school application and the holidays I had to put my little blog on hold.  But I’m back now, and I should be posting more regularly.

Moving on through my fun little analysis of how our Disney community is in fact a culture, let’s take a look at a few of the other characteristics we share.

We absolutely share physical/material traits.  This is seen in our Disney collections, whatever they may be - Pins, movies, clothing, figurines, even Disney antiques or tickets.  Often our Park visits consist of souvenir shopping or even consuming Park-specific food, such as Dole-whips, or Mickey pretzels, furthering our way of physically connecting ourselves to Disney.

Mouse Ears, a classic material shared trait! 

Fitting hand in hand with material practices is behavioral rituals or norms.  Again, visiting the Parks in and of itself is a behavioral trait.  You may have an attraction you always ride first, or a spot you always sit in for a show.  You may split off and meet back at the hub for ice cream.  Or if it involves the films you may watch your favorite Disney movie whenever you are home sick.  Each norm or custom you develop is familiar to the rest of the Disney community because even if we do things differently, we know the magical (excuse the cliché) feeling we get when we fall into that normativity and familiar routine.

The last shared characteristic of the Disney culture is that of symbolism.  In other words, the language we share and the institutions we have formed over certain aspects in Disney culture.  For example, when communicating in social media we often adapt acronyms of abbreviations for things that occur often.  During the New Fantasyland construction and previews the term FLE sufficed as Fantasyland Expansion.  The Parks have become DLR for Disneyland Resort, or DCA for Disney’s California Adventure, and MK, DAK, DHS, WDW, etc.  We do love our acronyms, especially on Twitter where characters are limited.  We also share affinities for certain other symbols, such as the iconic castle image for Walt Disney Pictures before each Disney film, the famous Disneyland Opening Day speech by Walt, or the theme song from any certain fireworks show we have come to know and love. 

You have to love this one.

All of these things work together in the definition of our culture.  If it feels like we are one big family, it’s because we kind of are!  Of course we all see certain things in different lights, as I noted in Part 1, but that’s just another part of belonging to this complex and beautiful culture of Disney.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

What Makes a Disney Culture? - Part 1

I’ve been referring to Disney Culture since the beginnings of this little blog, and I’d like to take a little time to explain the ins and outs of Disney Culture.  Commonly identified criteria in the definition of a culture include shared subjective, material, behavioral, and symbolic characteristics.  The Disney community meets these criteria, and this post will focus on the “subjective” characteristic, which includes our beliefs, values, and attitudes.

We, members of the Disney Culture, share the belief that Walter Elias Disney created works that have not, and will not be matched and can’t be surpassed in terms of creativity and forward-thinking.  Between his animation feats and his theme park innovations, his creativity has inspired us all.  We also have emotional attachments to Disney and certain things can inspire that emotion in us.  Because of this we believe anything with his name attached to it, even today, must be of the highest quality and must reflect his ideals.

Now within this group of people who share this belief are undeniably two separate parties.  There are those who believe everything the Walt Disney Company puts out maintains the aforementioned qualities, and these people are generally very optimistic about the directions of the parks, products, and films.   The slang term for these people is “Pixie Dusters,” suggesting they are so absorbed by Disney Magic that they cannot see any faults Disney may actually make.  The other group is extremely particular about the current state of the Walt Disney Company.  Very rarely do they believe anything current measures up to the things Walt himself put into action and are extremely skeptical.  The slang term for this party is “Foamers,” suggesting they are, on the other hand, absorbed in nostalgia and cannot see the good in new ideas because they are not like the “old days.”  

Now just like any community culture, these two parties are the two extremes.  Most people fall somewhere in between, leaning to one side or the other, rather than completely taking on one of these identities.  But inevitably this distinction leads to frequent debates and disagreements in the Disney community.  It's important to also look at what we share with our fellow Disney fans, however, when we come across dissonance in our opinions.  We are all one Culture, differences and all.

"There's so much that we share that it's time we're aware it's a small world after all"

I’m excited to address the other criterion on future blog posts, but the subjective traits of Disney Culture are what I find most interesting and so I shared them first!  Keep an eye out for what brings us together in this community as well as what makes us different in our tastes.  Stay tuned for parts 2-4 and feel free to share some examples of today’s topic in the comments!  With today's grand opening of New Fantasyland and Test Track in WDW I know I've seen plenty :)