The Mouse and the Myth

The Mouse and the Myth

Sacred Art and Secular Ritual of Disneyland
Dorene Koehler
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 04/24/2017
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-861-96727-8
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Rituals mark significant moments in our lives—perhaps none more significant than moments of lightheartedness, joy, and play. The rituals that bond humanity create our most transcendent experiences and meaningful memories. Rituals of play are among the most sacred of any of the rites in which humanity may engage. Although we may fail to recognize rituals of play, they are always present in culture, providing a kind of psychological release for their participants, child and adult alike. Ritual is central to storytelling. Story and practice are symbiotic. Their relationship reflects the vitality of the soul. Disneyland is an example of the kind of container necessary for the construction of rituals of play. This work explores the original Disney theme park in Anaheim as a temple cult. It challenges the disciplines of mythological studies, religious studies, film studies, and depth psychology to broaden traditional definitions of the kind of cultural apparatus that constitute temple culture and ritual. It does so by suggesting that Hollywood’s entertainment industry has developed a platform for mythic ritual. After setting the ritualized "stage", this book turns to the practices in Disneyland proper, analyzing the patron’s traditions within the framework of the park and beyond. It explores Disneyland’s spectacles, through selected shows and parades, and concludes with an exploration of the park’s participation in ritual renewal.

Author Bio

Dori Koehler, PhD holds degrees in Mythological Studies with emphasis in Depth Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute. Her main area of research is American popular culture, particularly Disney studies. She presents periodically at the Popular Culture Association’s National Conference and the Film and History conference through the University of Wisconsin at Osh Kosh. She also presented at the first Discussing Disney conference held in 2014 through the University of Hull. Her most recent article on Walt Disney as a manifestation of the trickster archetype grew out of that presentation and will be published in a forthcoming collection of essays. Dr. Koehler writes a blog fusing popular culture with archetypal theory at


“[T]here is much to commend in Koehler’s study. The Mouse and the Myth does exhibit a very deep understanding of Disneyland history as well as the park’s myths and rituals. . . . Surely, her work should encourage others to examine myth construction and sacred-secular rituals in popular culture.”
 — H-Celebration

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Tell Us a Myth, Wendy-Lady!
Introduction; Why Disney Studies? Why not?; A Land of Golden Dreams?; Nostalgia and Transcendence at Disneyland

Chapter 2: The Pilgrimage to Psyche-Land
In the Beginning…; How Did We Get Here?; A Campbellian Hermeneutic of Disneyland; The Soul’s Hidden Mickey; Lost Parents? Children Inquire Within; The Animated Shaman; Welcome to Pixie Hollow; A Fairyland Filled With Dreams; A Pilgrimage to Heart

Chapter 3: The Evolution of Disney’s Temple to Entertainment
California’s Animated Axis Mundi; A Thrilling Ride on the Top of the World; Mythic Timelessness at Disneyland; Animating Disney’s Temple to Entertainment; The Imitation of Life; Revealing the Animated Stage; The Illusion of Life; Animating the Backlot; The Living Room’s Lens on Life; Television Builds the Park; Disneyland as Ultimate in Transformative Narcisissm

Chapter 4: Disneyland as the Work of Worship Archetypal Liturgy
Touch a Turnstile, Touch a Relic; With a Smile and a Song; The Animatronic Priesthood; Across the Small World and the Bayou; The Spoken Recitation; Collecting the Sacred Souvenir; Selfies, Snapshots, and Icons of Light; Holy Fluffiness; Mickey’s Animal Totems; The Princess Bloc and The Wicked Cackle; Donning the Vestments; Tradable Icons; Identification Through Ears; Digesting Mickey; The Disney Attraction as Feast; Sitting There With a Churro in Your Hand

Chapter 5: Spectacular Spectacle
The Crafted Communitas of Disneyland; And Now, Disneyland is Proud to Present A New Kind of Spectacle; Parades; Exclamation Point / Disney’s Point:
Fantasmic!; On with the Show: World of Color

Chapter 6: Renewing the Magic
Re-animating Tradition; The Tenth Anniversary Special; Dancing with Heresy in Fantasyland; Mickey’s ’Hood; When Tomorrowland Becomes Yesterdayland; The Disneyfication of the Golden State; Disney, You’ve Got a Friend in Pixar!; A Whole New (La La) Land: Renewing Walt’s Los Angeles; Disneyland in the

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