During our trip to Disneyland my younger brother recommended the Imagineering Story on Disney+. I enjoy behind the scene documentaries and looking into the writing process, movie-making, and other creative endeavors, so I decided to give it a try and brush up on my Disney history.
My wife and I watched the first two episodes last night. It’s an excellent documentary that takes an in depth look at the creation of Disneyland and the small team of creative geniuses who came up with all of the magic. It’s really cool seeing the creative chaos and almost manic creation that went into opening the first park. How everything was made custom, decisions happened on the spot, and everything was improvised or created from scratch.
The first episode focused on Walt Disney coming up with the Disneyland idea, getting it funded, and building the theme park in the middle of nowhere at that time, Anaheim. Interesting to look back at Disney as a small company, Orange County as a backwoods, and every Walt Disney idea as a far-flung pipe dream.
While watching these guys improvise and build this park basically by hand I was struck with the realization that Disneyland could not be built today. 1950-60s U.S. was at its peak or creativity and innovation. If Walt Disney tried to build Disneyland today he would never get past the basic pitch. The amount of red-tape, insurance, government interference, regulation, inspection, and obscene taxation, is unbelievable and insurmountable by anyone but the biggest multi-billion corporations. Opening a small restaurant or bar in California is a nearly impossible endeavor, let alone trying something like Disneyland with its massive scale and quirky innovation.
It’s sad to reflect on the fact that we live in sclerotic time, buried in bureaucratic over-regulation and creative stagnation.