The 55ers – The Pioneers Who Settled Disneyland by David Koenig takes us back to the first year of Disneyland and gives a detailed description of how the park was organized and operated, the people who brought it to life, plus some great pictures of the early years.
The main narrative of this book visits each area of the park discussing the stores, dining locations, attractions and operations plus backstage departments that bring put on the show. It describes each and then some details on the personalities that started there. He also goes into some detail on how the area/department operated and a little on th leasing agreements. This main narrative discusses the big picture and some of the key cast.
The “heart” of the book are the short biographical pieces on the cast members that surround the narrative. These varying length pieces showcase over 700 first year cast members. A few are Disney Legends you have heard of before such as Marty Sklar but most I would venture to guess you have not heard of. They are the unsung cast that worked in the park throughout the opening year. These biographical pieces include some basic information about the person then some go on to share funny or interesting stories of the person’s time at the park or what they went on to do after they left Disney.
For me a highlight of the book is the over 300 images from the early years showcasing the park and the cast. Most of these images have not been published before and many come from the personal collections of the cast members.
If you are looking for something to read for Disneyland’s 65th anniversary this week, want to take a trip back to 1955 to learn more about how Disneyland operated the first year and who brought the park to life or just to occupy yourself while on lock down David Koenig’s The 55ers: The Pioneers Who Settled Disneyland should be on your list of books to consider. It is a well researched and interesting read. I enjoyed taking a trip back in time and learning about the park’s early days, meeting many of the people involved and seeing some great pictures of how the park used to be. A warning that the book is a dense read. There is a lot of information, especially if you read all the biographical pieces and take time to look at the pictures in detail.
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