The Generic Use of “Disneyland”

26 May

Mr Broke Hoedown (aka Collateral Damage) is fond of pointing out that Rhode Island has become a standard measurement of land mass. A few examples, courtesy of

Space-derived materials that survive entry into the Earth’s atmosphere are called bolides. The largest known bolide impact occurred 32.5 million years ago at the present-day Chesapeake Bay. It made a crater twice the size of Rhode Island and deep as the Grand Canyon.
Virginia Museum of Natural History, “Virginia trivia: Have any large comets ever hit Virginia?,” May 18, 2000.


[Hong Kong] is Earth’s most crowded place, a territory one-third the size of Rhode Island, with seven times the population.
The Commercial Appeal, “Ruling Likely To Stuff More Humanity Into Hong Kong,” May 2, 1999.


[Iraq’s] southern fields are spread across an area about the size of New Jersey, while the northern fields are smaller, about the size of Rhode Island, Pentagon officials say.
Associated Press, “Reviving Iraq’s oil empire a top U.S. goal for post-Saddam period,” by H. Josef Hebert, January 31, 2003.

Well, as a Google news alert subscriber, I’m always amused at the various contexts in which Disneyland is used as a standard measurement as well: A standard of cleanliness, beauty, and entertainment, either held up as a goal (“it’s gonna be just like Disneyland!”) or a contrast (“this isn’t gonna be Disneyland, kiddo”). This usage shows up in headlines a bit more frequently than in the body of the story. A few example from Google news alerts I’ve received:

[headline:} It’s not Disneyland, but tourists are coming
At contaminated Hanford site, nuclear history is the draw

[headline:] Peaks in the valley: mogul’s dream, ‘Alpine Disneyland’
[from the Otago Daily Times]

“Another shocking thing I hear from one official is that ‘[the funeral parlor] going to look like it’s Disneyland’. Come on, death is something that should be dignified, not a Disneyland concept. So that was another disappointment for the residents.”
[from the Singapore News]

Interestingly enough, the term “Disney World” doesn’t seem to have attained this sort of status, perhaps because Disneyland is of course the original, and because its image still retains a bit more of that 1950’s idealistic vibe.

One Response to “The Generic Use of “Disneyland””

  1. sambycat May 26, 2008 at 3:38 pm #

    1) didn’t know i lived near a crater!
    2)is quahog pronounounced “kayhoag”? i always say it wrong. “co-hog”? maybe thats it
    3) because DL is THE gold standard of fantasticness! and mass people. and all that other stuff.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: