Disney’s California Adventure Reinforces Fictitious Narrative of Spanish Fantasy


Concept Artwork for Disney’s California Adventure Entrance (Courtesy of Disney)

Disneyland will never be completed.  It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world. —Walt Disney

Disneyland is exactly that, an imagined space.  Located in Anaheim, Disneyland is in the center of the Northern Orange County suburbs.  Sheltered from the harsh realities of Downtown Los Angeles, Disneyland provides “refuge” for the “assailed” middle-class family of four.



Disney’s California Adventure’s Buena Vista Street

Recently, Disney’s California Adventure remodeled its entrance to reflect the imagined Los Angeles Walt Disney experienced when he arrived in 1923.  Spanish Fantasy is the apparently “Spanish” architectural influence in Los Angeles.  The architectural design is applied to Los Angeles’s landscape to reinforce the false narrative that Los Angeles was founded upon Spanish culture.  Easier to swallow, Spanish fantasy was emphasized in Los Angeles due to its supposed European cultural roots.  As a cultural producer and supplier, Disney even recognizes its use of “Spanish influence.”  Writer for the Walt Disney Company’s Disney Park Blogs, Valarie Sukovaty described the context of installing the tile murals, which decorate the Buena Vista buildings.

Part of the décor includes colorful murals made of tiles that create a story, while also reflecting the architecture and the Spanish influence in California during the 1920s. The video below goes behind the scenes with Imagineers as they work with a vendor in Los Angeles to create each tile.¹ —Valarie Sukovaty


A Tile Mural Displayed on the Wall of the Carthay Circle Theater on Buena Vista Street

In the tile mural above, a lighter skin-toned man is captured in an exuberant dance move.  His clothing suggests a Spanish fandango outfit.  Such murals falsely reinforce the Spanish Fantasy narrative of Los Angeles.


Another Tile Mural Displayed on the Wall of the Carthay Circle Theater

Similarly, this tile mural suggests a Spanish flair with a women boldly dressed in red.  Posed in a swaying dance position, her exaggerated hand motions and turned head play into the exotic and beautiful image propagated by the so-called “Spanish influence” of Los Angeles.

Disney is reinforcing this false and fictional narrative that Spanish culture suppossedly influenced Los Angeles in the 1920’s.  From the Spanish Fantasy architecture of the Buena Vista Street shops to the Red Car Trolleys, the entrance to California Adventure reinforces a purified Spanish Fantasy narrative, distilled from the Spanish Fantasy architecture throughout Los Angeles.


I visited Disney’s California Adventure on 2/16/16

¹ Valarie Sukovaty, “The New Buena Vista Street at Disney California Adventure Park is a Blast to the Past,” Disney Parks Blog, April 17, 2012. https://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2012/04/the-new-buena-vista-street-at-disney-california-adventure-park-is-a-blast-to-the-past/ (accessed 2/18/16).

One Comment

  1. Anaid Gonzalez

    It is so interesting to know that Disneyland is not set as a determined place, instead it is allowed to grow. That being said it seems as though the park originated with one idea and allowed it to spread, even though the idea of the Spanish Fantasy was not accurate. I am sure that the people who go to visit the park are not educated on the Spanish and Mexican history in California therefore Disneyland spreads false ideologies all over the world through the power of tourists.

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