The Happiest Signs on Earth

The mane event.

Mock advertising for your amusement.

After writing about advertising-related movies recently, it’s only fair to touch on movie-related advertising. And since our theme here is “Love Hate Advertising,” there are few things that inspire more of all three than Disneyland.

Disney is in the details.

No matter how many times you’ve been to Disneyland, there’s always something new to see. From the architectural details, to the rotating casts of roving entertainers, to the “hidden Mickeys,” the park pays great attention to details.

Being a native Californian who grew up going to Disneyland as a kid (I always wanted to go for my birthday), I enjoyed discovering different aspects of the place each time. Now, after a couple of decades in the ad biz, I’m one of those odd parents who takes pictures of signage and buildings at Disneyland. (I still take pictures of my kids, but they get annoyed too easily.) Here’s an old one with Yours Truly in it:

Disneyland Skull Rock

Disneyland 1968. Love how Mom got the Kodak sign in the shot.

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign.

Now for a brief musical interlude all about signs. (It’s not the original Five-Man Electrical Band, but this version has the best signs.)

Disneyland is filled with signs.

There’s no escape from advertising, even in Fantasyland. But no one does it better.

Even if it’s faux advertising for fictional companies, Disney signage is always designed to fit the environment. (Actually the fake ads complement their surroundings better than the real sponsor ads do.) The signs blend in naturally without disappearing, minimizing the clutter effect.

Lest we forget, Disney was a movie studio first.

Before Walt opened Disneyland in 1955, and way before the company bought ABC in 1995 and became a gigantic multimedia conglomerate, the Disney brand was all about films. Now it’s more broadly about storytelling. Or the synergy of vertically integrated content marketing, as they say in the buzzword biz. But the company still maintains and pays tribute to its film heritage.

Backlot signage.

In the “Hollywood Pictures Backlot” section at Disneyland’s California Adventure, there’s a street that features faux storefront advertising with movie puns built into the names of fictional businesses. The titles and the displays are all very clever, at least if you’re old enough to be familiar with the classic film references. See if you can recognize the films on which these signs are based. (Shouldn’t be tough.)

Hitchcock wouldn't be caught dead in a gym.

"I don't know nothing 'bout no Botox, Miss Scarlett."

The Souvenir Itch

Gentlemen prefer bargains.

Ok, it's a genre, not a movie title.

When my son was about seven years old, he made an interesting observation after going on rides like The Tower of Terror, Pirates of the Caribbean, Indian Jones and the Temple of Doom, and the Haunted Mansion.

He said, “There’s actually a lot of terror and death at the Happiest Place on Earth™.”

Hmm. Good point. That means either the Disney slogan is false advertising or the mock terror is all part of the fun. It just depends on your perspective.

Coming soon: Disney billboards and Main Street USA signage.

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7 responses to “The Happiest Signs on Earth

  1. What a nice, clean, well-designed site! Such a rare pleasure in this virtual world 🙂

  2. Pingback: Save Are Teachers! « Love Hate Advertising

  3. I have enjoyed the signage at Disneyland for years. Thanks for pointing out some of the newer ones that I have not seen on recent trips. Since we generally go in a “pack” these days, I am more of a “whatever you want to do” attendee than anything else. I suspect I would benefit from an annual pass and several days by myself just wandering the lanes and back alleys there. Or maybe a part-time job…… Guess that bird has flown!

  4. Lots of those signs made me LOL and some were my favorites! Thanks, Mitch!

  5. Thanks, Adrienne & Patti!

    Adrienne, you’re right about the annual pass. We did that for a couple years until one free day when the kids just wanted to stay home and play with friends instead of going to Disneyland! Too much of a good thing.

  6. Pingback: More Fictional Outdoor Ads at Disneyland « Love Hate Advertising

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