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Walt Disney: A Life in Color

By Justin Sorensen

Disneyland, the happiest place on Earth. As you make your way through the world famous theme park, you are surrounded by a vast amount of history and stories, dating back to before the parks official opening in 1955. Many of these stories relate to the creator himself, Walt Disney. In this week’s Map Monday release, we’ll be focusing on a collaborative project developed for The Enchanted Archives, sharing the story of Walt Disney’s life and work through the presentation of an interactive walking tour.

Walt Disney: A Life in Color

In 2019, I had the privilege of meeting Sasha Coles, a graduate student of history at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and current University of Utah Fellow with the Tanner Humanities Center. At this time, Sasha was pursuing the development of her dissertation project, but was also working on another project having a deep, personal connection for her. That project is known as The Enchanted Archives, an online resource designed to explore and share the history and endless ways in which Disney parks draw on the people, places, experiences, and ideas from the past.

As founder and chief historian of this project, Sasha was seeking a method for sharing the collection of stories and history with visitors of the park through the creation of an interactive walking tour. This search brought Sasha to the Marriott Library, where she was introduced to our GIS Services department and the related services offered to University of Utah students, staff, and faculty. Combining the knowledge, resources, and ideas Sasha brought to the table with the expert GIS assistance I was able to provide, our collaborative partnership was underway.

Utilizing the powerful interactive and visualization capabilities of both ArcGIS Pro and ArcGIS Online, Sasha and I worked together to develop a ten-stop walking tour of Disneyland, taking visitors through the life and work of Walt Disney. Each stop of this interactive walking tour educates viewers on a different portion of Walt Disney’s life while incorporating a historical audio/text narration by Sasha herself. While available through a web browser, the interactive walking tour is also designed to be used on a mobile device within the park itself, allowing for GPS navigation to each stop along the tour. The walking tour as well as an interactive library map representing additional stories which exist throughout the park are available through The Enchanted Archives website.

Today, my collaborative partnership with Sasha continues with the development of a new interactive map focusing on the history and stories of the Magic Kingdom in Florida’s Walt Disney World.

Be sure to check out the walking tour and stories available through The Enchanted Archives…you never know what you might learn.

Learn more and view the collaborative output of this project:

Interested in creating or collaborating on a similar project? Please visit the GIS Services website to connect with me:

About Map Monday Releases from GIS Services

Throughout the semester, GIS Services will be releasing bi-weekly maps on a variety of topics, demonstrating ideas and uses for incorporating geospatial technology into projects and research you are developing. To view our collection of maps, projects, or to learn more about the geospatial services offered through the J. Willard Marriott Library, please visit the GIS Services website @

Happy Mapping!

Justin Sorensen | GIS Specialist
Creativity & Innovation Services / GIS Services

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