Book Review: “Maps of the Disney Parks: Charting 60 Years from California To Shanghai”

I received Maps of the Disney Parks: Charting 60 Years from California To Shanghai to review, it has been out already for over a month (it was a planned purchase for us). Reviews on it have been decidedly mixed in part because expectations were often different than the reality. I’d have expected park guidemaps if I’d not known otherwise ahead of time. This would be better titled as concept art of Disney maps through the years, from Disneyland to Shanghai Disneyland. There are also stories in this book  – it isn’t just photographs – including the well known one about Walt telling Herb Ryman that he was going to put Walt’s Disneyland vision to life over a couple of days. There are overview drawings of Disneyland park including Tomorrowland and Frontierland from 1954, a promotional art piece by Peter Ellenshaw from 1954, an Explorer’s Map of Tom Sawyer Island from 1956 and more.

The book is divided into several chapters, from “Opening an Atlas” that spans 1955 – 1965 to “Charting New Kingdoms” that spans 1966-1980 and “Unfolding Across the Globe” from 1981-1989. “Moving to the Next Millenium” is from 1990 – 2000, and “Leading with a Compass” from 2001 – 2009. The last chapter is “Constructing on a Grander Scale”.

“Charting New Kingdoms” includes a variety of Magic Kingdom concept art maps. “Unfolding Across the Globe” includes Epcot, Tokyo Disneyland, Typhoon Lagoon, and Disney MGM-Studios. “Moving to the Next Millenium” includes Disneyland Paris (Euro Disneyland at the time), Tokyo Disneyland, Blizzard Beach, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park. “Leading with a Compass” includes Disney California Adventure, Tokyo DisneySea, Hong Kong Disneyland and Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris.

“Constructing on a Grander Scale” is the final chapter, and talks about how this decade is one of marked transformation throughout the parks. But really, I think of every decade like that. And what could have been grander than Walt having Herb Ryman draw up Disneyland and then have it built from the plans? Each decade is different, with new attractions and parks. And I’d rather have seen a few more Shanghai Disneyland concepts than Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom and A Pirate’s Adventure (also a Magic Kingdom game) maps.

Maps of the Disney Parks: Charting 60 Years from California to Shanghai is beautifully presented and would make a nice coffee table book. I think I’d have preferred having each chapter offer its own book, delving more into the concept art and maps of each section of time (especially the first one, I can never get enough of Disneyland concept art!) – and a little larger book would have been nice, on the scale of Disneyland Paris from Sketch to Reality, which is one of my favorite Disney park books. But opening the book up was anything but disappointing, I look forward to spending more time looking through the 144 pages of Maps of the Disney Parks.

This review contains affliate links