Return of The Happiest Signs on Earth
With so much dismal news in the world (unemployment, floods, oil spills, bomb scares, volcanos, you name it), thank goodness for places like Disneyland, where you can escape the news and the routine, at least for a few hours.
Yet even in the Happiest Place on Earth™, there’s no escape from advertising. It just takes on different forms. However, unlike most ads that detract from or clutter their surroundings, Disney strives to use advertising and signage to enhance the environment and the experience. More often than not, they succeed.
Over the years, Disneyland has reached out to various companies for financial assistance in sponsoring many of the rides and attractions in the park. Companies like Bank of America, Monsanto, Carnation, AT&T and many others have all helped to make the fantasy come alive.
Besides real-life sponsors, there are also make-believe ones. Perhaps you’ve noticed some of these faux ads for fictional companies. Which leads to the question, Why would Uncle Walt want to clutter up his magic kingdom with fake ads? The main reason: they help to create a sense of time and place, depending on which “land” of Disneyland you’re visiting.
So now that the Rivers of America waterway that surrounds Tom Sawyer Island is being refilled, it seems like a good time to revisit the park. Plus, a good friend just celebrated his birthday at the legendary Club 33 in New Orleans Square!
Here then, are a few of the more interesting and obscure billboards, outdoor ads, and signs found in various locales at both Disneyland and California Adventure.
There’s a story behind each of the window signs on Main Street, which feature the names of real people, sometimes paired with fictional businesses (Elias actually founded a contracting company in 1895). Each of the people named played an important role in making Disneyland possible. Elias Disney, Walt’s father, is featured on windows at both Disneyland and Disney World.
Architecture, costumes, music and, yes, even advertising and signage helps create the desired atmosphere for each area. Notice that even the restroom signs fit in with the surrounding motif.
Disneyland and Disney World offer great examples of how signage and advertising, even fake advertising, can be used to create mood and ambiance.
While other amusement parks have seen visitor counts drop over the past year, Disney’s attention to detail with everything from signage to sanitation helps account for the park’s 8% increase in attendance during 2009, despite the economic downtown.
Do you have any favorite examples of outdoor ads or signs that enhance their surroundings?