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Book Review: The Imagineering Story by Leslie Iwerks

The Imagineering StoryThe Imagineering Story – The Official Biography of Walt Disney Imagineering by Leslie Iwerksis a deep dive into the history of this storied organization.  The book mirrors the six part Disney+ docu-series that shares the same name.   In this 700+ page hard cover book you will find the same information as the series plus additional stories and details that were not able to make it into the final program.

If you are unfamiliar with the series, The Imagineering Story, traces the history of Walt Disney Imagineering(WDI) starting at the beginning with Walt Disney and his initial thoughts on building a park and his formation of W.E.D. Enterprises.  It explores the creation of all five Disney Resorts around the world (Anaheim, Orlando, Tokyo, Paris, Hong Kong and Shanghai) as well as other projects including the Cruise Line, Aulani, and regional entertainment.  Several unbuilt projects are also included such as the Mineral King ski resort and Disney’s America.   The timeline goes through the COVID closures and reopenings of the parks around the world in 2021.

The stories are told through an extensive series of new interviews Leslie and her team conducted over several years and archival interviews.   You are introduced to many Imagineers, several of which you have heard and seen before and a number you may not have.     The story is a fair representation of WDI history talking about not just the ups but also the challenges and missteps over the years.

I really enjoyed this book, but be warned it was a lengthy read that took me quite a while to get through.   It is over seven hundred pages of text with no images or diagrams.  If you want visuals you need to watch the documentary series.   If you are looking for a great reference, to revisit the stories of the docu-series or some additional stories this book will not disappoint.  I think it is useful that these stories and events are captured now in both video and text form.   I would have liked to have seen an index and maybe even some way to cross reference the book to the series so you can use it as reference easier and jump between the two with less effort.

The Imagineering Story will make a great addition to a disneygeek’s library, especially if you enjoy Imagineering stories.  If you have seen the series and enjoyed it this book does cover a lot of the same ground.  With the hours of video and hundreds of pages plus other places you may have seen Imagineers or heard these stories over the years it is challenging to say exactly what is new/different but having them all in one place is a great plus.


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