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Visitors ride the Tatsu roller coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, California, in 2015. 

Visitors ride the Tatsu roller coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, California, in 2015. 

Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

CityLab
Culture

How the Amusement Park Conquered America

From the trolley parks of the early 20th century to the theme parks of today, these spaces of shared pleasure have been both a reflection of urban life, and an escape from it. 

In November 1965, Walt Disney gave a press conference in Florida. He announced his vision for the new amusement park and resort development he planned to build on an expanse of swampland twice the size of Manhattan near Orlando. Crucial to his project, Disney explained, would be his ability to have complete command over his surroundings."

“That’s the one thing I learned from Disneyland — to control the environment,” said Disney, standing with his brother and company co-founder Roy Disney, and then-Florida Governor Haydon Burns.