Disney in a Time of Global Transformation

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference


Delivering paper 'Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas in Theme Parks and on Stage: ‘Ani-embodiment’, Celebrity, & the Disney Brand’

This paper examines Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas through its presence in physical locations including Disney’s theme parks (Williams 2020) and Film-with-Live-orchestra events (Sekar 2022). Exploring the importance of physical rooted places, the paper firstly moves away from US- centric considerations of theme park experience by examining glocalised events in Hong Kong Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland, particularly the opportunities for interactions with characters such as Jack Skellington and Oogie Boogie. It thus considers the importance of ‘ani-embodiment’ (Williams 2020) in moments where theme park guests meet figures who transcend their ‘animated origins, […] to blur the lines between the fantastic and the ‘real’ and to engage in imaginative play’ (Williams 2020).

Secondly, the paper examines the experience of attending the Nightmare Before Christmas: Live in Concert in London in 2022, considering how such ‘cine-concerts’ (McCorkle Okazaki 2020) can blur the lines between animated character, actor, and singer for the audience. The paper argues that such experiences and interactions allow imagination and reality, character, and actor, and physical and storyworld spaces to become blurred. Furthermore, it proposes  that Nightmare’s sometimes unstable historical status as part of the Disney brand (see Cuthill 2017: 89) can be used as a rationale for the limited temporality of its presence in the Parks. 

It is Nightmare’s status as an animated classic that enables Disney to utilise its iconography, brand recognition and loyal fan-following whilst also ensuring that its presence in the theme parks remains linked to a sense of exclusivity via its ties to seasonality and impermanence. Ultimately, by drawing on Nightmare for seasonal overlays and temporary attractions in the parks or one-off concert performances, the power of its recognition and popularity can be harnessed without ultimately threatening Disney’s family-friendly corporate brand and identity (Rahn 2011).


Period24 Jun 202428 Jun 2024
Event typeConference
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Disney
  • Disney Studies
  • Nightmare Before Christmas
  • celebrity studies