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Friday, March 15, 2019

The Answers To DISNEYLAND: Nara Dreamland

You might be forgiven for thinking that the above map is of DISNEYLAND. Sure, a closer look might show a few strange things (#7 on the map appears to show Boris Badenov cavorting with Elvis) but certainly that’s just the way things were in the 1950’s, right? Wrong- this map is of Nara Dreamland, the most bizarro DISNEYLAND you’ll ever see. Nara Dreamland wasn’t so much an “answer” to DISNEYLAND as it was a cheap photocopy.

The magic of DISNEYLAND brought excited guests from around the world to Anaheim, California; it still does today. One of the most excited guests from the early years was Kunizo Matsuo, who ventured to the Magic Kingdom from Japan. Matsuo was amazed at the wondrous showcase and asked Disney representatives if he could speak to Walt Disney about opening up a franchised DISNEYLAND in Nara, Japan. At the time, Walt Disney was not interested in building another DISNEYLAND. So Matsuo bought every book and postcard he could and went home to begin planning his own version of DISNEYLAND.

Imagine a DISNEYLAND built on the cheap, designed by people who only had postcards and pictures to work from. There was a Matterhorn replica that looked like it was built out of cardboard boxes, a cut rate castle and even a “Screw Coaster”. Shortly before Nara Dreamworld opened, Walt Disney had actually started talking with Japanese authorities about building a DISNEYLAND in Japan. Upon hearing of this ersatz tragic kingdom, Walt Disney became incensed and stopped all discussion of building anything in Japan. The company wouldn’t begin talking again about locating a DISNEYLAND in Japan for twenty years.

Amazingly, the park would last until 2006. The real Tokyo Disneyland and Universal Studios Japan would put the final nail in the park’s coffin. It was eventually demolished.