Can Disneyfication and Environmental Consciousness Coexist?


Disneyfication – the transformation (as of something real or unsettling) into carefully controlled and safe entertainment or an environment with similar qualities (M-W)

Theming – the use of an overarching theme to create a holistic and integrated spatial organization of a consumer venue (Lucas, Scott. The Themed Space)

The term Disneyfication originated from the environment of Disney theme parks. These parks are highly controlled, made to appear natural, but they are actually mostly artificial. There are robotic animals, electronic nature sounds, smellitzers, fake rain, and life-like nature components (grass, trees, and rain cycle). The thing about all of this is not that Disney is fooling us into “purchasing” this outdoor experience, it is that we don’t care that we are being played. By doing this, they establish nature as a commodity to serve human needs.


To rope us in, Disney incorporates all aspects of entertainment into their parks, including amusement, food, drink, lodging, and merchandise. This represents how commodification and consumerism have crept into all parts of our society. Shopping, in these instances, is seen a play or recreation, rather than essential acts. Other entities besides Disney have started using these techniques to provide a ‘full experience’ for their consumers. When you go to many outdoor stores, you will find much more than products – you will find ‘nature’ displays sometimes even including real animals. Just look at Bass Pro Shops, REI, L.L. Bean, or Cabela’s.

What I find interesting about this concept is that Disney promotes both conservation principles (messages in Wall-E, their website, Disneynature) and mass consumerism. These two principles cannot coexist in an entity’s mission. Every Disney film and show has hundreds of pieces of merchandise than can be purchased and which Disney markets toward children who then beg their parents to buy it for them. The actions of Disney make it clear that they believe human advancement of technology can save the world from the detriment it is facing environmentally.




4 thoughts on “Can Disneyfication and Environmental Consciousness Coexist?

  1. This is awesome! Everyone seems to think that Disney is such a ecofriendly company with all of the films and promotions that have been created through the company. But, we tend to forget that every one of their theme parks are completely artificial. Also, can we take a minute to think about all the plastic needed to produce that mass consumerism? Or even how much energy is used to provide the entertainment at every park? It’s insane. This article was really eye opening.

    Andrew Ebding


  2. I never really stopped to think bout how almost hypocritical Disney was. I support the message they were trying to promote, but then they harm the environment to produce merchandise for profit. Just like WALL-E shows that the Earth became trashed to the point it wasn’t habitable, other companies keep producing products to meet our desires which when then throw away. It highlights the problem but then realizes it is part of the problem.

    – Josh Obermeyer


  3. This is so interesting to read. I never thought about how hypocritical Disney and other corporations are. It interesting to see how the really are selling “nature as a commodity to serve human needs”.


  4. This blog was really interesting to me because my family and I go to Disney world probably once a year. Its been a tradition every summer or spring since I was a kid. I totally agree that Disney is hypocritical. Its disheartening now as an adult, especially as an Environmental student, to see all the insane amounts of trash and how just absolutely gluttonous and disgustingly wasteful people are there.
    But what keeps me going back is the fact that although it is just a huge consumerism driven totally unrealistic picture of what vacation should be, that’s kind of the point. Its an easy vacation. You don’t have to plan anything to get the most out of it. Would I go there more than I already do? Definitely not. I love backpacking and I hike at least once a week, so going to Disney world doesn’t distort my view of what nature really is. It’s a break from worrying about anything which is nice every once in a while.


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