Before civil rights were expanded in recreational spaces, a great many amusement parks used to be segregated in the U.S. They were "white spaces that signaled their purity and safety through racial exclusion." (Wolcott, 2012). Their target group was the white middle-class family, an ideal many minority families were excluded from (Hawk, 2004).
Nevertheless, when Disneyland opened in Anaheim in 1955, it was "notable for the absence of hot spots of racial conflict - swimming pools, dance halls, and roller rinks. There were no rock 'n' roll dance parties in 1950s Disneyland. Disney chose the park's location, inland from the beautiful Pacific coast, because he recognized the dangers of racial mixing at bathing beaches. Within the park there were no spaces where men and women could dance or swim together, eliminating concerns about interracial sexuality that sparked internal park segregation throughout the North. (...) The Disney example demonstrates the extent to which segregation was never simply about the law. Walt Disney's greatest accomplishment may have been creating a regulated, controlled, and clean space without conflict" (Wolcott, 2012) at a time most of the amusement parks had a clear "whites-only" policy (Nathan, 2011).
::: Related posting: Sharon's First Merry-Go-Round Ride
- Hawk, A. (2004) "Disney-fying" Mother Nature in the Atomic Era: How Disneyland's Portrayals of Nature Reflected Post-War Ideals of Family, Child-Rearing, and the Home, 1955-1966. Explorations: An Undergraduate Research Journal, 7-28.
- Nathan, A. (2011). Round and Round Together: Taking a Merry-Go-Round Ride into the Civil Rights Movement. Philadelphia: Paul Dry Books.
- Wolcott, V. W. (2012) Race, Riots, and Roller Coasters: The Struggle Over Segregated Recreation in America. University of Pennsylvania Press.
- photos via and via