Performance and the Disney Theme Park Experience: The Tourist as Actor
This book addresses Disney parks using performance theory. Few to no scholars have done this to date--an enormous oversight given the Disney parks' similarities to immersive theatre, interpolation of guests, and dramaturgical construction of attractions. Most scholars and critics deny agency to the tourist in their engagement with the Disney theme park experience. The vast body of research and journalism on the Disney "Imagineers"--the designers and storytellers who construct the park experience--leads to the misconception that these exceptional artists puppeteer every aspect of the guest's experience. Contrary to this assumption, Disney park guests find a range of possible reading strategies when they enter the space. Certainly Disney presents a primary reading, but generations of critical theory have established the variety of reading strategies that interpreters can employ to read against the text. This volume of twelve essays re-centers the park experience around its protagonist: the tourist.
Jennifer A. Kokai is Associate Professor of Theatre at Weber State University, USA. Her book Swim Pretty: Aquatic Spectacles and the Performance of Race, Gender, and Nature was published by Southern Illinois University Press in 2017. Her essay "Shamu the (Killer) Whale and an Ecology of Commodity" which focused on SeaWorld was published in Showing Off, Showing Up: Studies of Hype, Heightened Performance, and Cultural Power edited by Laurie Frederik, Kim Marra, and Catherine Schuler. (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2017), 81-106. She has also published articles in Theatre History Studies, The Journal of American Drama and Theatre, and The Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism (with Mary-Beth Willard). Tom Robson is Associate Professor of Theatre & Dance and Coordinator of Academics at Millikin University, USA. Recent publications include work on historical stage technology in both the journal Theatre Design and Technology and the edited collection Working in the Wings: New Perspectives on Theatre History and Labor. Other major areas of research interest include African American theatre and drama, musical theatre history, and inclusive theatre pedagogy. He has also published in Theatre History Studies, Theatre Journal, Ecumenica, and the film journal Jump Cut.