Book Review: “Travels with Figment: On the Road in Search of Disney Dreams” by Marty Sklar

Hi everyone!

We received Travels with Figment On the Road in Search of Disney Dreams by Disney Legend Marty Sklar to review. The book does not release officially until November 5th, 2019, but it will be at the Disney Publishing Worldwide booth at the D23 Expo this month and I wanted to review it before that. This will be Marty Sklar’s final book, it’s hard to believe he passed away 2 years ago now – just days after he spoke at the last D23 Expo. But while this will be Marty’s final book, I realized when reading Kevin Rafferty’s Magic Journey: My Fantastical Walt Disney Imagineering Career that there can be great stories left untold for decades about the incredibly talented Imagineers, artists and others who have created what we enjoy today. So it’s not the last we’ll hear new stories about Marty, those will continue for a long time from those he mentored and was friends with.

Travels with Figment is about the same size as Kevin Rafferty’s book but the print is much larger. Marty is on the front with an illustration of Figment. It’s an easy book to read.

President of Walt Disney Imagineering Bob Weis handles the preface. He adds 7 more “commandments” to Mickey’s (Marty’s) 10, which are gleaned from Marty’s advice over the years.

Next up is “A Word from the Sklars”. These couple of pages in part talk about how the family decided early on – just after Marty’s passing – that they would have the book published. And in the next two pages, Disney Editions Editorial Director Wendy Lefkon expounds on that, saying that they left the book mostly as he wrote it, just filling in the blanks and then choosing images.

The Introduction is called “A Word from Marty”, and he first mentions about being a featured speaker at the first Epcot International Festival of the Arts (we were there for that, it was a very popular talk). He realized that Disney fans want more stories about Disney and that is how this book came about.

Marty was tasked in 1966 to write the statement for the media about Walt’s passing (in the name of Roy O. Disney). That entire statement is in the book.

There are a lot of short stories in Travels with Figment On the Road in Search of Disney Dreams, including a flight delay where Marty met Bo Derek, and they both had a Euro Disney connection (this was when the park was being built). Marty talks about the inspiration for his hat of pins, and the story behind 9 of his favorite pins. One story talks about Eastman Kodak and the creation of Figment while Kodak eventually filed for bankruptcy. How GE restored its image by associating with Walt Disney. There are stories about the early days before Walt Disney World was created, about how the Orange Bird came about, and how drawings he made of Orange Bird ended up on Ebay (not his intention). There are several pages about Disney’s Contemporary Resort. The book is a collection of stories, just like the book by Kevin Rafferty is and they really make great companion reads. I received them at the same time and there are so many great stories within the two.

One chapter covers notables including Ray Bradbury, from when Walt met him and then through the Epcot period (and his first ever airplane flight, which John Hench encouraged).

On page 150, Marty’s request to Imagineers and others about how they used “Mickey’s Ten Commandments” – and how it impacted them, is shown. The following pages after that are Tony Baxter, Bob Gurr, Garner Holt, Kathy Magnum, Kevin Rafferty, Joe Rohde and more giving their thoughts.

Marty also shares some advice he’s learned along the way. The end of the book includes tributes to Marty.

Travels with Figment On the Road in Search of Disney Dreams is a worthy title for anyone interested in learning more Disney history, hearing more Disney stories. We won’t be listening to Marty anymore at D23, or IAAPA or the Disney parks. This book contains the last stories he will personally tell. As I get older, I learn more the importance of having stories from those who lived them – whether it is from family, friends, or Disney Legends.


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