20 Nov The Enchanted Archives
Sasha Coles enjoys Big Thunder Mountain and the Haunted Mansion as much as anyone, but her walk through Disneyland takes a different turn than most visitors’.
A graduate student of history at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Sasha is here at the U as a Fellow with the Tanner Humanities Center, working on a dissertation project titled “Homespun Respectability: Silk Worlds, Women’s Work, and the Making of Mormon Identity, 1850-1910s.”
But Sasha is being highlighted for another project – one that and she has had to carve out some time for; it’s a walking tour of Disneyland that’s centered on historical facets of the park and the life of Walt Disney… with the help of the library’s Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) Specialist Justin Sorensen.
“We have a larger than life image of who Walt Disney was, but I hope through this walking tour we can appreciate him as who he was as a person and learn a bit of history along the way,” explains Sasha. She has done this by creating an interactive map, which uses 10 stops in the California amusement park to share a bit of historical info about Walt’s life and career. For the Golden Horseshoe Saloon in Frontierland, for example, Sasha has given some history on Walt’s wife, Lillian, and her role in bringing his visions to life. It was her idea to call Disney’s most famous animated character “Mickey.” Architecture. At Goofy’s Playhouse in Mickey’s ToonTown, Sasha expands on the controversial Disney animators’ strike of 1941, a much less savory part of Walt’s past.
“None of this would have been possible without Justin’s help,” says Sasha. “Having an expert in GIS has been paramount to this project,” comments Sasha, “Justin has made it possible to move from stop to stop using the map..”
Sasha is planning on launching the project on Dec. 5, Walt Disney’s birthday. She is currently seeking funding to create an app.
The tour is just one part of her digital public history project, the Enchanted Archives, which uses the Disney park experience to teach historical lessons. To learn more about The Enchanted Archives, please visit EnchantedArchives.com. You can connect with Sasha on Instagram or Twitter @herhistoryland.