Disney's Land
A propulsive history chronicling the conception and creation of Disneyland, the masterpiece California theme park, as told like never before by popular historian Richard Snow.One day in the early 1950s, Walt Disney stood looking over 240 acres of farmland in Anaheim, California, and imagined building a park where people “could live among Mickey Mouse and Snow White in a world still powered by steam and fire for a day or a week or (if the visitor is slightly mad) forever.” Despite his wealth and fame, exactly no one wanted Disney to build such a park. Not his brother Roy, who ran the company’s finances; not the bankers; and not his wife, Lillian. Amusement parks at that time, such as Coney Island, were a generally despised business, sagging and sordid remnants of bygone days. Disney was told that he would only be heading toward financial ruin. But Walt persevered, initially financing the park against his own life insurance policy and later with sponsorship from ABC and the sale of thousands and thousands of Davy Crockett coonskin caps. Disney assembled a talented team of engineers, architects, artists, animators, landscapers, and even a retired admiral to transform his ideas into a soaring yet soothing wonderland of a park. The catch was that they had only a year and a day in which to build it. On July 17, 1955, Disneyland opened its gates…and the first day was a disaster. Disney was nearly suicidal with grief that he had failed on a grand scale. But the curious masses kept coming, and the rest is entertainment history. Eight hundred million visitors have flocked to the park since then. In Disney’s Land, Richard Snow brilliantly presents the entire spectacular story, a wild ride from vision to realization, and an epic of innovation and error that reflects the uniqueness of the man determined to build “the happiest place on earth” with a watchmaker’s precision, an artist’s conviction, and the desperate, high-hearted recklessness of a riverboat gambler.

Disney's Land Details

TitleDisney's Land
Author
ReleaseDec 3rd, 2019
PublisherScribner
ISBN-139781501190803
Rating
GenreNonfiction, History, Biography, Business, Biography Memoir, Culture, Pop Culture

Disney's Land Review

  • Justin Brendel
    January 1, 1970
    Richard Snow was quite ambitious with this informative book. There is so much information in here, but it doesn't read like a book report. The book is laid out in chronological order, from Walt building a train set on his property, to dreaming up the park, to opening day and beyond. They created so many parts and vehicles just from ingenuity. The imagineers have big shoes to fill when Walt just tells them to figure it out.A good book with a lot of snippets from the park. Good writing, good Richard Snow was quite ambitious with this informative book. There is so much information in here, but it doesn't read like a book report. The book is laid out in chronological order, from Walt building a train set on his property, to dreaming up the park, to opening day and beyond. They created so many parts and vehicles just from ingenuity. The imagineers have big shoes to fill when Walt just tells them to figure it out.A good book with a lot of snippets from the park. Good writing, good stories.
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  • Online Eccentric Librarian
    January 1, 1970
    More reviews (and no fluff) on the blog http://surrealtalvi.wordpress.com/ This is definitely one of the better histories of a Disney topic that I've read in a long time. Any good biography of a person or place requires a careful mastery of balances - how much information, how it is written, if the author has a bias or agenda, and if the book provides good information/perspective. There are many Disneyland books out there but author Richard Snow gives us a biography of the park that hits all More reviews (and no fluff) on the blog http://surrealtalvi.wordpress.com/ This is definitely one of the better histories of a Disney topic that I've read in a long time. Any good biography of a person or place requires a careful mastery of balances - how much information, how it is written, if the author has a bias or agenda, and if the book provides good information/perspective. There are many Disneyland books out there but author Richard Snow gives us a biography of the park that hits all the right notes for a very enjoyable (and interesting) read. While we've likely all heard the story that Walt dreamed up Disneyland on a Griffith Park wooden bench, upon which he sat while his daughter was on the carousel, in this book author Snow uncovered many inspirations for what would become the standard for amusement parks: themed lands. That segues into interesting information about how the park was almost built in Burbank (next to the studio) and the decisions to use Anaheim instead. There is an emphasis on the people involved - from Stanford Research Institute surveyors to the people behind the architecture, planning, landscaping, and constructing of the park. That humanizes what is often an over-idealized subjects, reminding that Disneyland was the result of a lot of hard work, sweat, tears, and risk by some amazing people.There were issues with the construction, of course, and not everything was finished on time. But the attention to detail and Walt's very pervasive presence during all aspects of the building were noted throughout the book. Problems during the opening day ("disaster") are discussed with amusing anecdotes from those who were there (both guests and cast members). The book ends with discussions about the first few rides to be added (or removed, in the case of the Circus) after the opening year.What I appreciated most is that the author does not have a hidden agenda nor does he lionize or demonize anyone, including Walt Disney. It wasn't all rainbows and pixie dust (e.g., Wood's grafting on top of promotional contracts) and Walt wasn't universally loved (he was often called the "Prince of Darkness" behind his back). But the author takes a tone of "this is how it was back then" without attempting to interpret anything in the past through a modern lens. Thus, the emphasis really is on how Disneyland was conceived and then created - and all the lucky timing, setbacks, risk, and smart thinking that made it happen.I suspect the author found enough information for 3 books on the topic. All the same, I've greatly appreciated that this isn't a ponderous tome of endless facts and instead is a lively and entertaining read that manages to be surprisingly informative. Read from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.
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  • Mary Pauline M
    January 1, 1970
    I really enjoyed every minute reading Disney's Land. This book was packed full of Disney history and was presented in an easy format where it felt like I was actually ' there '. Having read a few other book on Walt Disney, I can say that this one was enjoyed the most. Whether you are a casual Disney enthusiast or a veteran fan, you're sure to pick up a lot from reading Richard Snow's book.
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  • Claudia
    January 1, 1970
    More than you likely ever wanted to know about the creation of the renowned theme park, Disneyland, California. Seriously.Dozens of books have been written about Disneyland as well as Walt Disney but the author puts together a story that tells of the deals and contacts that kept the dream moving forward towards reality. Walt dreamed big and many of the attractions (the word 'rides' was not to be used) were created by some very innovative individuals and companies. t's not like Walt could go out More than you likely ever wanted to know about the creation of the renowned theme park, Disneyland, California. Seriously.Dozens of books have been written about Disneyland as well as Walt Disney but the author puts together a story that tells of the deals and contacts that kept the dream moving forward towards reality. Walt dreamed big and many of the attractions (the word 'rides' was not to be used) were created by some very innovative individuals and companies. t's not like Walt could go out to a some company and say I want this ride constructed - for one thing, he had his own ideas and disgust regarding the decaying Coney Island and for a second, many of the amusement ride construction companies refused to listen to this interloper. Of course, since they were new technology, the amount of problems were incredible but every one of those people rose to the occasion and did their part to make this game-changing park reality. Mr. Snow's tale flows easily and each chapter is a little bite of history before rushing over to the next idea, construction, situation, problem, person or company lured into Walt's dream. This isn't limited to just the Disneyland fans nor those that admire Walt Disney or are fans of theme or amusement parks. Disneyland has become park of American culture - from the days before the gates opened to today with all it's sister parks. Part of the appeal of parks that Disney created formed the basis of the massive amusement park industry across the world - the cleanliness, the idea of guests instead of customers, the attractions that change over years and more. Definitely a recommend.2019-184
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  • Cozy Cat Reviews
    January 1, 1970
    This is the best history of Walt Disney and the creation of Disneyland that i have read over the years. As a life long Disney fan I was thrilled to receive this for review. Thank you with gratitude to the publisher and to Net Galley for the opportunity. My review opinion is my own. This review will be cross posted across platforms. I highly recommend this amazing body of work for all Disney fans. What I found most profound here is the absolute perfection of the author's detail of every aspect of This is the best history of Walt Disney and the creation of Disneyland that i have read over the years. As a life long Disney fan I was thrilled to receive this for review. Thank you with gratitude to the publisher and to Net Galley for the opportunity. My review opinion is my own. This review will be cross posted across platforms. I highly recommend this amazing body of work for all Disney fans. What I found most profound here is the absolute perfection of the author's detail of every aspect of the brilliance of Walt Disney. I loved learning of the creation of Disneyland as a sketch on a park bench idea to creation of the park. This is brilliantly done as the author takes us into the mind of our beloved Walt and we learn his beginning struggles, his magical ideas from formation of a idea to creation. We learn here of the early imagineers , the developers and the builders that worked with Walt. It was so intriguing to read about how the rides were created and the lands came to be. The well crafted narrative here goes through the early years, the creation, frustration and series of difficulties that Walt faced building the park. How he stood against the many adversities that he faced with conviction and dedication. I was left with a more profound respect for Walt Disney. The author does a wonderful job here for all Disney fans this is a true testament to the man that was "Walt Disney" and how he inspires us today. I highly recommend this book for all Disney Fans and those who love Walt Disney.
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  • Jonathan David Botchlett
    January 1, 1970
    Although the summary promises “told like never before” a fair amount of this book is a rehashing of stories and information that is found in more original and entertaining sources. While it’s a decent book overall, but those with any basic knowledge of Disney history will find this books retreads familiar ground. In reality almost divided into 5 separate parts: 1) A brief history of Walt Disney’s career, 2) A brief history of pre-Disneyland amusement parks, 3) The building of Disneyland 4) The Although the summary promises “told like never before” a fair amount of this book is a rehashing of stories and information that is found in more original and entertaining sources. While it’s a decent book overall, but those with any basic knowledge of Disney history will find this books retreads familiar ground. In reality almost divided into 5 separate parts: 1) A brief history of Walt Disney’s career, 2) A brief history of pre-Disneyland amusement parks, 3) The building of Disneyland 4) The opening of Disneyland 5) A brief description of Disneyland’s early years and it’s impact. Section 1 is truncated version of the more entertaining and detailed biographies of Walt Disney. It’s hits all the high points of Disney’s pre-Disneyland career. This can be a bit boring for those familiar with Bob Thomas or Neal Gabler’s books. Section 2 is a brief history of early amusement parks like Coney Island. It then describes Walt’s formation of the idea of Disneyland. This actually quite interesting and new material. Section 3 is where the book begins to bog down. Much of what appears here can be found in a new streaming documentary, books by John Hench and others.Section 4 dealing with the opening of Disneyland is perhaps the most tedious. Much of this part of the book is dedicated to a word for word recitation of what occurred in the Dateline Disneyland program that aired on ABC. You are better of just finding the original program and watching it. Section 5 is about Disneyland’s impact and detractors. There’s really no information about Disneyland after the death of Walt. Instead it focuses on the academic impact of the park of the amusement park business, architecture, city planning, culture and its impact. While overall the book is okay. I think there are plenty of well written books on the subject including Sam Greenaway’s book.
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  • Jen
    January 1, 1970
    Disney's Land tells the complete story of Disneyland from concept to the present day. This novel is one of the best histories of Disneyland that I've read (and there are quite a few out there.) The tone of the book is so friendly and readable that you feel as if you are listening to a friend tell the story.One fact I hadn't heard before reading this was that Walt was pretty bored making cartoon movies and wanted a new challenge. I also diagnosed Walt with ADHD just by reading his behavior Disney's Land tells the complete story of Disneyland from concept to the present day. This novel is one of the best histories of Disneyland that I've read (and there are quite a few out there.) The tone of the book is so friendly and readable that you feel as if you are listening to a friend tell the story.One fact I hadn't heard before reading this was that Walt was pretty bored making cartoon movies and wanted a new challenge. I also diagnosed Walt with ADHD just by reading his behavior descriptions. :)There were so many challenges to create what was the first theme park anywhere, and to do it so well out of the gate was amazing. Not everything went as planned, and reading about the ins and outs of the details was fascinating.I'm tempted to purchase the audio version of this book. The chapter containing the transcript of the live broadcast of Opening Day would be fun to hear. It sounds like Ronald Reagan wasn't very happy that his role narrating the parade did not include a script.Overall this book will appeal to not only Disney fanatics but to anyone interested in building a creative business from the ground up. There is a lot to learn from the process of creating Disney's first Land.
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  • Rebecca
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to the publisher, via Edelweiss, for an advance e-galley for honest review.Clearly meticulously researched, this was a genuinely interesting history of the building of Disneyland- from the factors that influenced Walt's desire to build the park, to the realities of building something like this on a never before seen scale, to the let-downs at the opening of the park. This story will appeal more to those who are already fans of the theme park or Disney generally.
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  • Cait
    January 1, 1970
    This was a lot of fun to read, and just super interesting all around. I'm now going on the hunt for a book about how Disneyland became what it is today (the changes & expansions & the development of rides etc)
  • Lacey
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to Richard Snow, Scribner & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. "The Main Street lights coming on at dusk looked just as good to me in 2019 as they had in 1959, easing my gloomy wonder that sixty years had disappeared since Uncle Win and I had together watched them shine." I had fun with this novel. I am a huge Disney fan and it was easy to see that I would enjoy this. Richard Snow really went in depth about the stories and information about Disney Thank you to Richard Snow, Scribner & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. "The Main Street lights coming on at dusk looked just as good to me in 2019 as they had in 1959, easing my gloomy wonder that sixty years had disappeared since Uncle Win and I had together watched them shine." I had fun with this novel. I am a huge Disney fan and it was easy to see that I would enjoy this. Richard Snow really went in depth about the stories and information about Disney & Walt himself. I am someone who has never to been to California, only to Florida. It was very interesting to learn about the history of Disneyland itself, not just Disneyworld. Every word was thought out and informational. The only reason why I didn't give this a five-star rating is because it could be a little dry at times. However, when giving off that much information and knowledge about a specific topic like Disney, it's bound to happen at some point.I'd recommend this to anyone who loves Disney and anyone who loves history. Learning about everything that happened with Walt and how certain characters came to light, etc., was very intriguing and I'm glad I picked this one up!
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  • Book Him Danno
    January 1, 1970
    Are you a Disney Fan you will want to pick up your copy of Disney Land. If you know the history of Walt Disney this book will really not bring too much more information out but you will still enjoy the little bits that people have come to know as Disney Land as well as the man Walt Disney.Richard Snow gives readers a chronological order of Walt and his life along with the creations of the different Theme Parks that have changed the world of theme parks.The author did a wonderful job of giving Are you a Disney Fan you will want to pick up your copy of Disney Land. If you know the history of Walt Disney this book will really not bring too much more information out but you will still enjoy the little bits that people have come to know as Disney Land as well as the man Walt Disney.Richard Snow gives readers a chronological order of Walt and his life along with the creations of the different Theme Parks that have changed the world of theme parks.The author did a wonderful job of giving readers a inside look at Disneyland as well as the creator of the parks and how amazing and difficult it can be.This will have readers want to visit this amazing park.Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the advance copy of Richard Snow Disney's Land.
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  • Ray Palen
    January 1, 1970
    "I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing --- that it was all started by a mouse.""Disneyland is like Alice stepping through the Looking Glass; to step through the portals of Disneyland will be like entering another world."Those quotes, of course, come from the oft-quoted Mr. Walter Elias Disney. Personally, I grew up watching Mr. Disney come into my home every Sunday night on television, which continued for years after his death. He was iconic, extremely recognizable, and I came to "I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing --- that it was all started by a mouse.""Disneyland is like Alice stepping through the Looking Glass; to step through the portals of Disneyland will be like entering another world."Those quotes, of course, come from the oft-quoted Mr. Walter Elias Disney. Personally, I grew up watching Mr. Disney come into my home every Sunday night on television, which continued for years after his death. He was iconic, extremely recognizable, and I came to refer to him as Uncle Walt. When I was first brought to Disneyland as a toddler, it was magical. I was fortunate to have grown up in a time when Disney movies were still shown in local theatres throughout my NYC home of Queens, NY. As much as I loved and imitated those films, spun the records on my grandmother's turntable while acting out every scene, nothing came close to stepping foot inside Disneyland. It was like a portal to another world where I could immerse myself in all those films I had grown to love. It was pure magic.I can blame Walt Disney for making me an actor as it was watching and imitating those films of his that got me started on characterization, vocal training and becoming all sorts of different characters. I always had a penchant for the villains, and still do. I've also gone out of my way to read everything by and about Walt Disney. He was a complicated man who was driven by both a need to provide the greatest family entertainment possible while determinedly striving to see his vision brought to life. I'm proud to be a Disney Cast Member for the better part of the last decade. This included my uprooting my family from NY to Central Florida with a transfer to Walt Disney World where I currently work as in a leadership role in the Entertainment arena. It would be an understatement to say I was more than a little bit interested in reviewing this new book by Richard Snow about the creation of Disneyland. The full title of this work is actually: WALT DISNEY AND THE INVENTION OF THE AMUSEMENT PARK THAT CHANGED THE WORLD: DISNEY'S LAND. For the sake of brevity, I will stick to referring to it as DISNEY'S LAND. It opens with a quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald: 'Can't repeat the past?' he cried incredulously. 'Why of course you can! I'm going to fix everything just the way it was before.' That quote was taken from THE GREAT GATSBY and the speaker of those words could very well have been Walt Disney himself.Those who know the history of Disney Land will recognize that it was created primarily for two reasons. First off, Walt noticed on one of his Daddy day with his Daughters that there needed to be a place where the entire family could go and be together. Secondly, he wanted to create a place for the fans of his films to be able to step out of their own lives and into the stories that have been brought to life for them. We all know that he achieved both of these modest dreams, and then some. There are now 12 Disney Theme Parks around the world and, in true Walt Disney style, these parks will continue to change and evolve and eventually make way for additional Theme Parks as need and demand require.On July 17, 1955, the front gates to Disney Land opened. Initially, Walt and his brother Roy --- along with the rest of the Imagineering team and countless investors --- had no idea what to expect. They were all overwhelmed by the fact that their annual forecasted numbers for year one were actually achieved in the first month the park was open. Walt was so obsessed with the construction of the park that he had an apartment built for him above the Main Street U.S.A. Firehouse. There's a funny story about Walt being sealed in one morning as the Firehouse had been painted overnight which prevented his door from opening. A call to the construction crew got Walt safely free.Richard Snow recounts this and many other stories about Walt and the creation of Disneyland. One that I especially love is when Walt was approached mere hours before opening Day by the head of the plumbing crew who indicated that water access would not allow them to have both water fountains and working restrooms. For Walt the choice was easy as he indicated that 'people could drink Pepsi Cola, they can't pee in the middle of Main Street!' Opening Day did happen and it was a huge success. The countdown to that day began years earlier with regular construction updates given on the weekly Disney telecast. Art Linkletter was the host and Ronald Reagan the on-the-ground commentator as Day One was fully televised, inviting the American public to join the thousands who flooded through Sleeping Beauty Castle in Anaheim, California.Those who are intrigued by the Corporate side of things and the Organizational Development behind the Disney Corporation will find much to dig into with Snow's DISNEY'S LAND. Walt was a determined and sometimes difficult boss. He was also a visionary who surrounded himself with the best and brightest minds that would help make his vision a reality. He wished to operate without an Organizational Chart and valued every single Cast Member as all being an intricate part of the team that kept this Theme Park alive. In particular, it was Walt's long-time business partnership with a man named Van France that would be particularly valuable. France was an expert in Organizational Development and was the creator of Disney University, which still operates today providing education and training for all Cast Members. I'm proud to say that I am a regular Facilitator at Disney University and the place is world-class. For those readers who might want to dive deeper into this side of the business I recommend the book DISNEY U by Doug Lipp, which chronicles the work of Walt and Van France in great detail.Whether you are a lover of all things Disney, a Disney 'Fan'atic or simply interested in how the greatest Theme Park in the world came to be, DISNEY'S LAND is essential reading. Richard Snow details everything in chronological order, allowing readers to strap in and go along for this eye-opening trip down memory lane. Most of all, it will give readers a greater appreciation of all Walt Disney had to go through to achieve his vision --- never losing sight of that playful little Mouse who started it all!Reviewed by Ray Palen for Book Reporter
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  • Bookreporter.com Biography & Memoir
    January 1, 1970
    "I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing --- that it was all started by a mouse.""Disneyland is like Alice stepping through the Looking Glass; to step through the portals of Disneyland will be like entering another world."The above quotes, of course, come from Mr. Walter Elias Disney. I grew up watching Walt Disney on television every Sunday night, which continued for years after his death. He was iconic and extremely recognizable, and I came to refer to him as Uncle Walt. My first "I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing --- that it was all started by a mouse.""Disneyland is like Alice stepping through the Looking Glass; to step through the portals of Disneyland will be like entering another world."The above quotes, of course, come from Mr. Walter Elias Disney. I grew up watching Walt Disney on television every Sunday night, which continued for years after his death. He was iconic and extremely recognizable, and I came to refer to him as Uncle Walt. My first trip to Disneyland as a toddler was magical. I was fortunate to have grown up in Queens, New York, during a time when Disney movies were still shown in local theaters. As much as I loved those films, spinning the records on my grandmother's turntable while acting out every scene, nothing came close to stepping foot inside Disneyland. It was like a portal to another world where I could immerse myself in all those movies I had grown to love. It was pure magic.I can blame Walt for making me an actor. Watching and imitating his films got me started on characterization, vocal training and becoming all sorts of different characters. I’ve always had a penchant for the villains, and still do. I've also gone out of my way to read everything by and about Walt Disney. He was a complicated man who was driven by a need to provide the greatest family entertainment possible and was determined to see his vision brought to life. I've been proud to be a Disney cast member for the better part of the last decade. This has included uprooting my family from NY to Central Florida with a transfer to Walt Disney World, where I currently work in a leadership role in the Entertainment arena.It would be an understatement to say that I was more than a little interested in reviewing this book by Richard Snow about the creation of Disneyland. DISNEY’S LAND opens with a quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s THE GREAT GATSBY: “Can't repeat the past?” he cried incredulously. “Why of course you can! I'm going to fix everything just the way it was before.” The speaker of those words very well could have been Walt Disney himself.Those who know the history of Disneyland will recognize that it was created primarily for two reasons. First, Walt noticed on one of his daddy days with his daughters that there needed to be a place where the entire family could go and be together. Secondly, he was looking for a way for fans of his films to be able to step out of their own lives and into the stories that have been brought to life for them. We all know that he achieved both of those modest dreams, and then some. There are now 12 Disney theme parks around the world, and in true Walt Disney style, they will continue to change and evolve and eventually make way for additional theme parks as need and demand require.On July 17, 1955, the front gates to Disneyland opened. Initially, Walt and his brother, Roy --- along with the rest of the Imagineering team and countless investors --- had no idea what to expect. They were all overwhelmed by the fact that their annual forecasted numbers for year one were actually achieved in the first month the park was open. Walt was so obsessed with its construction that he had an apartment built for himself above the Main Street U.S.A. Firehouse. There's a funny story about him being sealed in one morning as the Firehouse had been painted overnight, which prevented his door from opening. A call to the construction crew got him safely free.Snow recounts this and many other stories about Walt and the creation of Disneyland. One that I especially love is when he was approached mere hours before opening day by the head of the plumbing crew, who indicated that water access would not allow them to have both water fountains and working restrooms. For Walt, the choice was easy; he indicated that “people can drink Pepsi-Cola, but they can't pee in the street.” The first day was a huge success.Those who are intrigued by the corporate side of things and the organizational development behind the Disney Corporation will find much to dig into here. Walt was a determined and sometimes difficult boss. He was also a visionary who surrounded himself with the best and brightest minds that would help make his vision a reality. He wished to operate without an organizational chart and valued every single cast member as being an integral part of the team that kept the park alive. It was Walt's longtime business partnership with a man named Van France that would be especially valuable. France was an expert in organizational development and was the creator of Disney University, which still operates today, providing education and training for all cast members. I am proud to say that I am a regular facilitator there, and the place is world class. For those who may want to dive deeper into this side of the business, I recommend DISNEY U by Doug Lipp, which chronicles the work of Walt and France in vivid detail.Whether you are a lover of all things Disney or simply interested in how the greatest theme park in the world came to be, DISNEY'S LAND is essential reading. Snow details everything in chronological order, allowing you to strap in and go along for this eye-opening trip down memory lane. Most of all, it will give you a greater appreciation for all that Walt Disney had to go through to achieve his vision --- never losing sight of that playful little mouse who started it all.Reviewed by Ray Palen
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  • William Dury
    January 1, 1970
    Engrossing narrative of the conception, planning and building of Disneyland. Disney incorporated the park separately from the film studio and went into television in order to finance and advertise it. Mr. Snow puts us in the carpeted rooms where it was financed and the concrete floor workshops where it was discussed and designed. Disney himself is a chain smoking, tightly wound man, sparing with compliments, but loyal and with a capacity for work only exceeded by his capacity for risk and his Engrossing narrative of the conception, planning and building of Disneyland. Disney incorporated the park separately from the film studio and went into television in order to finance and advertise it. Mr. Snow puts us in the carpeted rooms where it was financed and the concrete floor workshops where it was discussed and designed. Disney himself is a chain smoking, tightly wound man, sparing with compliments, but loyal and with a capacity for work only exceeded by his capacity for risk and his extravagant vision. He knew, somehow, this thing would be a success. Despite devastating reviews in local newspapers (place wasn’t exactly a finely tuned machine when they threw the gates open on July 17, 1955), he hosted 161,657 guests the first week, 1 million to finish out the year, 4 million the first full year and 4.5 million the next. The park cost $17 million to build. Mr. Snow tells us the park brought in $11 million in 1954 when it was still being built. (He doesn’t specify but this must have been due to payments from concessionaires, GE, Eastman Kodak, Carnation, et al). He continues his accounting “...in 1955, with it up and running the take was $24.5 million,” (p 315). With the advent of The Mickey Mouse Club in October of 1955 they began selling 20,000 pairs of mouse ears A DAY. Disney’s fear was that the public wouldn’t like his park and it would become a money suck that would take down his film studio. He’d already cashed in his life insurance policy. There wasn’t much left. Well Walt, I guess it all worked out.Mr. Snow narrates a wonderful story on p. 246-247 of a exhausted and frightened Disney’s exchange with TV assistant director John Rich. Rich had tried to say something about how the park would be great for children and Disney snapped, “Don’t you know anything? Kids don’t have any money.” An understandably hurt Rich is quoted: “If I had harbored any doubts about the American system of capitalism, that remark forever dispelled them.”All encompassing economic theories aside, it is an interesting exchange. Mr. Snow quotes park engineer Joe Fowler: “In all my association with Walt, I never heard him raise his voice.” And that remark rings true. As portrayed in this book, Walt wasn’t a really warm person, but he was not abusive or malicious.Mr. Snow also quotes Ward Kimball, illustrator and Disney’s train buddy: “If you want to know the secret of Walt Disney’s success, it’s that he never tried to make money.” That also rings true. He needed money to bring his ideas to life. They had to be profitable so that Walt could, in turn, bring their inevitable siblings to life. The park was enormous and expensive. It would either be a spectacular success or a devastating money pit. One never gets the impression that Disney personally cared about money. He seems to have been mainly interested in producing popular entertainments (by definition profitable) and in working very hard. The park’s first ad manager (and eventually, it’s first president) Jack Lindquist, had an office in City Hall on Main Street. He “found he liked Disneyland best late at night...’alone in my own little city.’ In those peaceful hours he was happiest on Main Street. The various lands ‘have their own character and personality when empty,’ but ‘Main Street is the most magical and pristine...We are not a cure for cancer, we are not going to save the world, but if we can make people that happy for a few hours a day, then we are doing something worthwhile,’” p. 316-317). One thinks of Walt and his apartment above the Fire Station. Sweating details, making it better. Yeah, I get it.
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  • Paul Miller
    January 1, 1970
    Confession - I love Disney. So naturally I was drawn to a well-reviewed, new book about the origins of Disneyland. What I expected was yet another paean to Walt’s genius… a comfort food type of read for my last book of the year. Instead, I got a nuts and bolts treatment of how Disneyland wasn’t “Walt’s dream” miraculously come to life - yes, he had a singular visit but it was arrived at through a lifetime of experiences - his own, ones borrowed from others, and a network of risk-takes he Confession - I love Disney. So naturally I was drawn to a well-reviewed, new book about the origins of Disneyland. What I expected was yet another paean to Walt’s genius… a comfort food type of read for my last book of the year. Instead, I got a nuts and bolts treatment of how Disneyland wasn’t “Walt’s dream” miraculously come to life - yes, he had a singular visit but it was arrived at through a lifetime of experiences - his own, ones borrowed from others, and a network of risk-takes he collected along the way. For example, “imagineering” was not a term he created as is often reported; in fact, it was a business buzzword of the day w/origins in chemical companies! You’ll leave w/an admiration for his pure GRIT in overcoming the myriad of challenges that went into creating something so brand new (and expensive!). Walt was 53 when Disneyland opened in 1955 so if you’re a middle ager like me, it’s also inspirational to realize the value all those years of past experiences if purposefully channeled towards a future vision. Net net - Disney history meets entrepreneurial biography, well-researched and snappily delivered. Lots to like!
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  • Joe Kessler
    January 1, 1970
    This is an informative history of the creation of Disneyland, with a few significant caveats. First is the scope: author Richard Snow mentions that his subject was intended by Walt Disney to be a continual work in progress, and indeed, it has continued to undergo modifications and expansions through today -- yet the book arbitrarily stops after the first five years of operation. Snow also includes several seemingly valid criticisms people have made about Disney (as a person, as a company, and as This is an informative history of the creation of Disneyland, with a few significant caveats. First is the scope: author Richard Snow mentions that his subject was intended by Walt Disney to be a continual work in progress, and indeed, it has continued to undergo modifications and expansions through today -- yet the book arbitrarily stops after the first five years of operation. Snow also includes several seemingly valid criticisms people have made about Disney (as a person, as a company, and as a theme park), only to peremptorily dismiss them as baseless. And there's one interminable section of the text that is essentially just a play-by-play of the opening day TV special, a recording of which can be easily found and more quickly viewed online. So although the topic is interesting, the delivery leaves a lot to be desired. Find me on Patreon | Goodreads | Blog | Twitter
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  • Elyse
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars: as a lover of theme parks, especially Disney’s, this book seemed right up my alley, and I quickly snatched it off the shelf. However, I found Snow’s approach to be at times overly detailed (most park nerds I know aren’t particularly in it for rambling discussions on mid-century train models, but maybe I’m wrong) and at others not detailed enough (re: the chapter spent dedicated to describing Dateline: Disneyland which is a video easily found online, without much commentary). The 3.5 stars: as a lover of theme parks, especially Disney’s, this book seemed right up my alley, and I quickly snatched it off the shelf. However, I found Snow’s approach to be at times overly detailed (most park nerds I know aren’t particularly in it for rambling discussions on mid-century train models, but maybe I’m wrong) and at others not detailed enough (re: the chapter spent dedicated to describing Dateline: Disneyland which is a video easily found online, without much commentary). The author hits his stride as the park opens and takes shape, and I quickly devoured the book’s latter chapters - only to be disappointed with its abrupt end shortly after Disney ‘59. The book does sell itself as a history of how Disney built the park, but surely the proceeding decades qualify under the umbrella of the park’s origins. I feel as though Snow could have easily expanded the scope of his topic. Still, an enjoyable read overall.
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  • Mike Kennedy
    January 1, 1970
    Very interesting book centers mostly around Walt Disney and his time building Disneyland. Mr. Snow did his research on this book. He had a lot of great stories and plenty of information for the reader. He gives you a brief background on Walt’s history, before diving into Walt’s inspiration for Disneyland.It was every interesting to learn about the risks Walt Disney took to open this park. The timeline of the build was also captivating, and it seemed to read almost like a thriller, hoping the Very interesting book centers mostly around Walt Disney and his time building Disneyland. Mr. Snow did his research on this book. He had a lot of great stories and plenty of information for the reader. He gives you a brief background on Walt’s history, before diving into Walt’s inspiration for Disneyland.It was every interesting to learn about the risks Walt Disney took to open this park. The timeline of the build was also captivating, and it seemed to read almost like a thriller, hoping the park would be done in time. My only negative on this book was the recap of the tv special for the park opening, Dateline Disney. This section almost was a recap line for line what was in the show. I thought it could have been written better.Overall I wholly recommend this book. If you are a Walt Disney fan or just interested in a business success story, this book is worth the read.
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  • Alex
    January 1, 1970
    4 out of 5 stars[[I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]]This was a very thorough and informative history of Disney Land. There were some facts that I already knew, but there were other facts that were brand new to me, which I smiled at and enjoyed. There were parts that were very heady and full of information, but it flowed well. There was also some information about trains and the process of making the cars for 4 out of 5 stars[[I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]]This was a very thorough and informative history of Disney Land. There were some facts that I already knew, but there were other facts that were brand new to me, which I smiled at and enjoyed. There were parts that were very heady and full of information, but it flowed well. There was also some information about trains and the process of making the cars for Disneyland which were confusing at times, but the information is necessary to be there in order to tell the "story". I don't normally read non-fiction, so this was a new experience for me. This read like a fiction book, which made it easier to read!If you love Walt Disney and the Disney company, then you will more than likely enjoy this book.
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  • Jennifer Schultz
    January 1, 1970
    Read if you: Want to learn more about the improbable origins of Disneyland. When Walt Disney proposed the idea for an amusement park, people thought it was an odd idea. In the 1950s, amusement parks had the reputation of being old, dirty, and not much fun. But Disney was used to people rejecting his ideas, so he paid them no mind. Disneyland revolutionized amusement parks (and created the "theme park") and the amusement/theme park experience. Although there are some minor quibbles to be made Read if you: Want to learn more about the improbable origins of Disneyland. When Walt Disney proposed the idea for an amusement park, people thought it was an odd idea. In the 1950s, amusement parks had the reputation of being old, dirty, and not much fun. But Disney was used to people rejecting his ideas, so he paid them no mind. Disneyland revolutionized amusement parks (and created the "theme park") and the amusement/theme park experience. Although there are some minor quibbles to be made (Snow objects to the Dumbo crows being labeled as "racist"), this is overall a fun and entertaining read. Disneyland's opening day was quite the disaster! Many thanks to Scribner and Netgalley for a digital review copy in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Lindsey
    January 1, 1970
    3 1/2 to 4 stars.It is completely fascinating to get a glimpse at how Walt Disney worked and dreamed through the eyes of his employees. It is equally fascinating to get to know these employees as they did something that no one had ever done before. From the easy to the near impossible, I loved learning about how Disneyland came to be and, subtly, see how things put into place at that time shaped the world as we know it. A little dry at times, nevertheless this was a quick read that I really 3 1/2 to 4 stars.It is completely fascinating to get a glimpse at how Walt Disney worked and dreamed through the eyes of his employees. It is equally fascinating to get to know these employees as they did something that no one had ever done before. From the easy to the near impossible, I loved learning about how Disneyland came to be and, subtly, see how things put into place at that time shaped the world as we know it. A little dry at times, nevertheless this was a quick read that I really enjoyed. Perfect for Disney fans who have heard the rumors but want to know more of the truth and detail behind how Disneyland came to be.
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  • Lisa
    January 1, 1970
    I'm a HUGE Disney fan so anytime I come across a book that has some Disney history in it, I am going to devour it. Disney's Land was no exception. Though I've yet to make a pilgrimage to Walt's original park (I'm an east coast girl), I feel as though I've already walked the path through this book. Disney's dream, from inception to creation to always evolving, is brought to life with first person interviews with those who helped Mr. Disney bring it all to life. This book is a must for anyone I'm a HUGE Disney fan so anytime I come across a book that has some Disney history in it, I am going to devour it. Disney's Land was no exception. Though I've yet to make a pilgrimage to Walt's original park (I'm an east coast girl), I feel as though I've already walked the path through this book. Disney's dream, from inception to creation to always evolving, is brought to life with first person interviews with those who helped Mr. Disney bring it all to life. This book is a must for anyone looking to learn more about the origin of the Happiest Place on Earth.
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  • Brian
    January 1, 1970
    I love Disney, especially Disney World. Yes, this book is about the building of a theme park empire starting with Disney Land in Anaheim. It offers some interesting anecdotes and I was able to get through up to the chapter Dateline: Disney at a moderate pace, however the language, paragraph layout and English usage is quite clunky. There were multiple times I’d have to read things again because of how disjointed the language was. I’d recommend reading Neal Gabler’s Walt Disney as opposed to I love Disney, especially Disney World. Yes, this book is about the building of a theme park empire starting with Disney Land in Anaheim. It offers some interesting anecdotes and I was able to get through up to the chapter Dateline: Disney at a moderate pace, however the language, paragraph layout and English usage is quite clunky. There were multiple times I’d have to read things again because of how disjointed the language was. I’d recommend reading Neal Gabler’s Walt Disney as opposed to this.
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  • Drucilla
    January 1, 1970
    Actual rating: 3.5 stars. I thought Snow did a great job of presenting Disney as a man who was a visionary, but who also could be extremely difficult to work with. And the amount of research Snow did for this book is admirable. I learned a lot about the people behind-the-scenes who literally helped build the park. The book goes until the 5 year anniversary of Disneyland, but I would have liked a small epilogue discussing the park today or how this park helped build the other ones.
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  • Patrick Macke
    January 1, 1970
    There are some interesting, nostalgically warm moments here and, of course, it is a pure wonder that Disney imagined this and had the bullheadedness to make it happen ... The book is mostly comprised of the gee-whiz facts behind the Park's opening, but then kinda devolves into "why Disneyland matters" ... Disneyland "does" matter, in a very simple human way, and though the book goes a little geeky in some spots there is a small part that feels like an old friend
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  • Brian
    January 1, 1970
    In this book we learn about Walt's idea for creating the most famous theme park in the world, from the inception to the execution of the park. The book is a bit dry at times but it does a good job of telling the overall story of the theme park. I recommend this for someone who enjoys the early history of the Walt Disney company and wants an in depth look at how Disneyland was created.
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  • Nikki
    January 1, 1970
    I'm a huge Disney fan and of Mr. Disney in particular. I find all things related to the building of his parks fascinating. Ingenuity at its finest can be found in these pages. Disney is still hiring the most wonderful "Imagineers" even to this day. This book is a wonderful read for any fan of Disney, the parks or engineering.
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  • Kimmie1
    January 1, 1970
    If you want to know all the details of DisneyLand, Walt Disney and how it all came to be, this is the book for you. I loved reading this book, and also listened to it on Audiobook- equally amazing. Every few pages I thought to myself “wow, what a cool thing to know!” Highly recommended !
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  • Mhughessc
    January 1, 1970
    This book is the definitive Disney guide for those who are fans of the Mouse and magic behind Disneyland. "Disney's Land" is packed full of information about how Walt Disney brought his vision of a magical amusement park to life. Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.
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  • Tara
    January 1, 1970
    Extremely interesting subject matter but I feel like it could’ve been pared down. The author included a great deal of minutia that probably could have been left to foot/end notes.
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