Quick Reference

1960s term for a type of park devoted to a theme, idea, or ideas, which might have some historical, fictional, or other core. It was invented by the Disney organization at Anaheim, CA, where traditional American vernacular architecture and a main street of c.1895 were re-created (1955), together with buildings that evoked Disney's films. Charles Moore saw it as a powerful lesson in architecture, as a catalyst for a new popularist direction away from International Modernism, and as an antidote to the soulless and ugly environments created as a direct result of the Athens Charter, CIAM dogma, and slavish adherence to the principles of so-called Functionalism from which all delight had been expunged. Other ‘Disneyland’ theme-parks followed, e.g. at Orlando, FL (early 1970s), and Euro Disney, Marne-la-Vallée, near Paris (early 1990s): architects contributing included Graves, Moore, Predock, Rossi, Stern, and Venturi, and there is no doubt that the possibilities for creating charming vistas and an element of fantasy helped to promote certain aspects of the New Urbanism. The Disney theme-parks were precedents for European developments, e.g. Parc Astérix, Ermenonville, France.

Other types of theme-park include the museums where old buildings are re-erected, or historical architecture is reconstructed, e.g. the Avoncroft Museum of Historic Buildings, Worcs. (founded 1967—where F. W. B. Charles played a key role), the beautiful Meiji-mura architectural museum, Inuyama, near Nagoya, Japan, and the earliest of them all (1890s), the museum at Skansen, near Stockholm, Sweden. Jellicoe's garden for the Moody Foundation, Galveston, TX (begun 1983), was conceived as a park explaining the landscape-history of the world and the role of plants in human life. Many other theme-parks have been, or are being proposed, with a considerable range of allusions.

B. Dunlop (1996);Findlay (1992);Ghirardo (1996);Sorkin (1992)

Subjects: Architecture.

Reference entries