Love them or hate them, Disney theme parks have become some of the most culturally significant locations of collective memory of the American experience. Rather than focus, as most discussion has, on whether this should be viewed as “good” or “bad,” this essay seeks to lay a groundwork for understanding how Disney parks gained their cultural authority. In doing so it will suggest that public historians could benefit from framing the interaction between history and the public at Disney parks as a location-specific process by which the public and a corporation are engaged in a cultural ritual of transforming historical fact into the national narrative.

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