Travels with Walt Disney – A Photographic Voyage Around the World was an interesting journey back in time. The book chronicles the trips Walt Disney took throughout his life spanning from his early days on the railroad to filming location visits and scouting locations for Walt Disney World. In between were several leisure and work related trips. Walt utilized many modes of transportation including railroads, cruise ships, airplanes and automobiles. A point of consideration when thinking about Walt Disney and travel is the time period Walt lived in. Walt was born in 1901 in the Midwest. Travel in the early to mid 1900s was much less affordable, efficient and common than that of today. Many people from that time period did not travel far from their place of birth or travel that frequently compared to modern times. To put this in perspective, as was noted in the book, there were only a few cars in town as Walt was growing up and he was born before the first airplane flew. Travel evolved a lot over his lifetime. Walt passed away in 1966, when jet air travel was just becoming mainstream.
The chapter organization is by mode or type of travel which worked well but does lead itself to some overlap with trips that crossed into more than one mode or area. Riding the Rails, On the High Seas, and Taking Wing all look at various modes of travel and how Walt used them. Then Early Journeys, California Dreams, and On Location are by subject. The book concludes with Welcoming the World which highlights visitors coming to Disneyland. I found this to be a quick read in terms of the narrative with the focus being on the images and captions for them. Prevalent throughout the book are quotes from Walt and other members of the Disney family to give more context to the trips which I really enjoyed reading.
Many of the trips and stories relayed in the book have appeared in other works over the years but what sets this book apart is first that it pulls them together with a common thread of travel and second the large number of images used, many of which I do not remember seeing before. There are a number of full page and two page spread photos as well as numerous pages with multiple images. As you would expect given the time period there is a mix of color and black & white photos.
After reading the book the one wish list item I have is for a timeline or chronological listing of the trips, locations, modes so you can have a snapshot. It would be a different way to visualize and organize the catalog.
I would recommend Travels with Walt Disney to anyone interested in learning a little bit more about Walt Disney and seeing him in some different settings. If you enjoy biographies you may find this interesting too as it does chronicle many key moments in Walt’s life and career. Just note it is not an exhaustive text as the focus is a photographic voyage with Walt. If you are a photography buff you may find the period pieces interesting.