Book Review: Walt Disney’s Disneyland
Walt Disney’s Disneyland by Chris Nichols was published in September 2018 and has been on my list of books since I first heard about it. The large format book (9.4×12.9 inches) by Taschen is over 300 pages of Disneyland history. The first section, Walt’s Dream (1901-1954), shares a concise biography of Walt Disney and the parks original concepts and creation. The Park Comes to Life (1955-1963) is the centerpiece of the book, spanning half the page count, and takes a detailed look at each of the original lands and attractions that were built during Walt’s time. The Vision Continues (1964-2018), the final section, includes the World’s Fair, Disneyland Expansion and a little on Walt Disney World, other Disney Parks and attractions added after Walt.
I really enjoyed this book. The number of images taking advantage of the larger format is a key differentiator for this offering. The narrative was easy to read and covered a lot of ground without getting too dense or in the way of the images. It included quite a few stories and quotes from Disney Legends and others involved in the parks. If you have read other Disneyland histories or heard presentations by some the Imagineers (such as Marty Sklar, Bob Gurr or Tony Baxter) you may not find that much new or unique in this book but having them documented with images is a plus. The picture and concept art assortment includes selections from the Disney Archives as well as some other collections. It is always interesting to me to see what makes it into a book and what is left out. Also what is chosen for large spreads and foldouts vs smaller interior size images.
Walt Disney’s Disneyland will make a great addition to your Disney Library if you find Disneyland photographs and concept art interesting. If you are looking for a good history of the park that covers the key milestones this will fit that bill too. If you are looking for more behind the scenes or in depth study you may find this a bit thin.