BooksJason's Thoughts & Observations

Book Review – Magic Journey: My Fantastical Walt Disney Imagineering Career by Kevin Rafferty

Magic Journey: My Fantastical Walt Disney Imagineering Career by Kevin P. Rafferty CoverMagic Journey: My Fantastical Walt Disney Imagineering Career by Kevin P. Rafferty is a compilation of stories and experiences from his over 40 year career with Disney starting at Disneyland and becoming an Imagineer.   If you do not recognize his name you surely will recognize the projects he has been involved with over the years.    These include Cars Land, Test Track, Mickey’s Philharmagic, Toy Story Midway Mania!,  Tower of Terror, and Tough to Be a Bug! to name a few.

I received a pre-release copy of the book to review.  It will be widely available on September 10th.  It will also be available during the D23 Expo August 23-25th in Anaheim. There will be a signing session with Kevin as well as a presentation on the book during the weekend.

Kevin’s Disney Story starts off like quite a few cast members working in a park while in College.  He started his Disney career at Disneyland in a backstage/support role.   Through hard work, perseverance, and taking advantage of opportunities that were presented he was able to move to Imagineering and thrive in Glendale.   He arrived at Imagineering as they were in high gear with the development of Epcot & Tokyo Disneyland Projects.  At this time many of the original Imagineers, who are now Disney Legends, were still with the company and were mentors for him and his fellow second generation Imagineers.  Through a lot of hard work and learning he was able to keep expanding his role and taking full advantage of the opportunities and challenges presented to him.   His story is a great example of what can be achieved with hard work, determination and a lot of talent.

Kevin’s writing style is very easy to read. In many cases you can picture him telling you the story.  The experiences and projects he discusses revolve heavily around people. The people he collaborated with or happened to have the great fortune to cross paths with on his journey.   His stories center around the people and not so much the how or descriptions of the projects.

An example is his story about the Pan Galactic Pizza Port in Tokyo Disneyland.  For those who have not visited this is a pizza place in Tomorrowland that features a multimedia show visible from the second floor dining area with an aa figure named Tony Solaroni making pizzas.  In addition to sharing an overview of the project and his role on the team he then goes on to discuss how over the course of the show installation he and his team dealt with the weather in Tokyo and how they befriended the Japanese construction team.

In addition to sharing about the projects that we all have come to know and enjoy in the parks Kevin relates some background information and stories about concepts that did not get built such as Toontown Transit Attraction for Disney’s MGM Studios Expansion.  He also shares how sometimes an idea evolves such as how Carsland became Cars Land.  His original concept of the California car culture becoming based on Pixar’s Cars film.

I really enjoyed reading this book, it was almost as if you were sitting listening to him tell stories.  Some of my favorite presentations over the years at various Expos and events are listening to Imagineers share their memories and Kevin does not disappoint.    In this book he shares a little peek behind the curtain of what it is like to work at Imagineering.  He gives a much more in depth look at the people that help to bring many well-known attractions to life and what they are like (including himself).  In the 300 pages he packs a large number of tales and adventures in.   One complaint I do have about the book is with its average format size the images are on the smaller side and the font size seems smaller than many books too.

If you enjoy listening to Imagineers talk about their projects and adventures or if you have never had that opportunity and are curious what it is like, Magic Journey: My Fantastical Walt Disney Imagineering Career should be one you consider adding to your library, you will not be disappointed.  Well you may be disappointed since it leaves you wanting more…

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