“Take me on a Trip”: The Architectural Styles & History Behind Disney’s Attractions

Neocolonial, Second Empire, High Victorian, Neogothic, Tiki Modern, Postmodernism, Googie, Art Deco - architectural historians recognize these styles and can identify them with ease, but what happens when a building adopts an amalgam? That's when identification becomes a bit more tricky.

Disneyland's iconic attractions elicit certain feelings based on their use of quintessential architectural styles, sometimes mixing styles to suit their purpose. In Anaheim's newest park, California Adventure, the state's most well-known architecture is recreated by imagineers in intricate detail. What can historic preservationists, architects, architectural historians, and interior designers learn from these facsimile versions of the past, and how do they demonstrate the character defining features of California - and the world's - most common and well-defined architectural styles?

This 90-minute webinar will take you on a visual trip through historic architectural styles by examining some of Disneyland's most iconic designed attractions and landscapes. Expert historians and architectural historians will help illuminate the design influence for these attractions and explain why "entertainment architecture" is effective because of its use of stylistic templates that we know and recognize. Throughout the presentation, we will quiz participants on architectural styles and panelists will reference particular architectural styles and planning strategies/patterns of development. The panel will close with a deep discussion about the design influence of Disney and its connection to our historic, built past, both in California and across the world.


Sasha Coles, PhD Candidate, Department of History, University of California at Santa Barbara and Founder of The Enchanted Archives; Phil Gruen, Associate Professor, Architecture, School of Design + Construction, Washington State University; Caitlin Hibma, Architectural Historian and Founding Principal, Left Coast Architectural History; Jonathan Haeber, Field Services Director, California Preservation Foundation; Jeannette Remington, MHP, Architectural Historian and Independent Preservation Consultant.

You Will Be Able To...

  1. Become adept at identifying common historic architectural styles in California and beyond
  2. Describe the historic origins and influences of Disney's park designs
  3. Unravel the complex origins and historic background of Disneyland's architecture and landscapes
  4. Identify the character defining features of specific architectural styles