There is a story behind everything, including Disneyland. This summer, California Baptist University students will have the opportunity to learn the history behind this most magical place.
Dr. Jeff Barnes, dean of Academic Services, has designed a new history course for students planning to attend summer school. The class is titled “History 401: The History of Disneyland.”
“If money weren’t an object and I could have any job in the world, it would be a tour guide at Disneyland,” Barnes said. “This is the closest I’ll probably ever get to having the opportunity to do that.”
Barnes said this upper-level course counts toward a U.S. history class or elective credit. His inspiration for the class came from taking many trips to Disneyland and teaching the second half of his U.S. history course.
He teaches a lecture on Disneyland when the class learns about the 1970s and has found students respond well to it.
Main points that will be covered in the class are to understand the impact Disneyland had on the entertainment industry and the way it influenced California, U.S. history and to some degree, world history.
The class will be taught in chronological order and Barnes said he hopes to have multiple sections during the summer.
“Ultimately, I really want students to connect and engage with the incredible story of the history of Disneyland,” Barnes said. “What I want students to get is that there’s a story to Disneyland. Disneyland is about telling stories, and I want them to be so inspired that they then leave that class committed to living their own great story.”
Elizabeth Johnson, junior English major, said she took a U.S. history course with Barnes and enjoyed having class with him.
“Dr. Barnes loves Disneyland,” Johnson said. “He said that it’s his favorite place in the world. He goes there all the time, so he’s extremely passionate about it.”
Johnson said she remembers the lecture Barnes did on Disneyland for her class, spending about a week on the subject. She said the lecture was interesting and provided many facts she did not know.
Barnes said special guest speakers with information behind the park will come in and speak to the class. In addition, students will have the opportunity to visit the park during their field trip day and apply what they have learned in class.
“Students will benefit from this course, as the Disney Company has played such an integral part of American culture,” Johnson said. “Disney affects daily lives in many ways, and this class could lead to a better overall understanding of American culture and history.”
Barnes said he would like his students to know the value of dreaming and the value of having a vision and being a risk-taker, just like Walt Disney.
“Walt had a distinct vision of doing something completely new from start to finish,” Barnes said. “People thought he was crazy and literally called his idea ‘Walt’s folly.’ When everybody says no, everybody says you’re crazy and out of your mind, imagine a world today without Disneyland.”
Experiencing Disneyland in a new light, Barnes wants students to understand and realize that it is more than just a theme park, but a story.