Book Review: “Walt’s Disneyland: A Walk in the Park With Walt Disney”

Hi everyone!

I received the book  “Walt’s Disneyland: A Walk in the Park with Walt Disney” to review. The book is from Marcy Carriker Smothers, who wrote the wonderful Walt Disney history book “Eat Like Walt: The Wonderful World of Disney Food“. She also co-authored “Delicious Disney: Walt Disney World” this year. Marcy is a wonderful researcher and a big Disney fan (and a very nice person who I first met a number of years ago).

Walt’s Disneyland” is a paperback book. I wish it was hardcover, but if you want to bring it around Disneyland while reading it, you can fit it in a backpack – it is sized like a paperback guidebook. The book is also very reasonably priced due to that. “Walt’s Disneyland” is almost 200 pages and has a great photo of Walt signing autographs on the cover. There are a lot of wonderful images in the book.

Walt’s Disneyland” is dedicated to Disney Legend Jim Cora, who passed away earlier this year. He authored a book scheduled now to release in December, Not Just a Walk in the Park: My Worldwide Disney Resorts Career. I would love to hear the story of how his book was named.

From the publisher (Disney Editions) about “Walt’s Disneyland”: Walt Disney’s personal imprint remains firmly intact at Disneyland. Walt’s Disneyland allows guests to walk around Disneyland identifying the attractions and landmarks Walt championed, touching what he touched, and seeing his original Magic Kingdom through his eyes. Walt’s Disneyland is organized land by land, clockwise, beginning with Main Street, U.S.A. then on to Adventureland, Frontierland, New Orleans Square, Fantasyland, and Tomorrowland. 

Marcy says that she wrote the book in Walt’s folksy style, and she “combined quotes culled from hundreds of sources”. Those include the Walt Disney Archives and Walt Disney Imagineering photo collection but also souvenir guides, museums, books and much more. Everyone she quotes in the book knew Walt (many quotes come from Walt himself as well).

The table of contents include “Before Disneyland”, the various lands and “Last Day at Disneyland”.

“Walt’s Disneyland” is like a grand circle historical tour around Disneyland park. The stories within it really emphasize how deeply involved Walt was in Disneyland every step of the way and include photos that I’ve not personally seen before. One of those is at the end of the book, with Walt and his grandchildren enjoying Mine Train Through Nature’s Wonderland in 1960. The joy on his face is palpable. He loved Disneyland as an adult and as an adult seeing it through the eyes of his kids and grandkids. Another photo is a rare one of Walt at a Medal of Honor event at Disneyland. It may be the last photo taken of him at Disneyland.

There are a couple of pages about Walt’s apartment and include why it’s Victorian themed, although most subjects are touched upon for a paragraph or two – on Main Street U.S.A. that includes the Elias Disney window, other windows, Carnation Cafe, Swift’s Red Wagon Inn/Plaza Inn and more. What I most took away from the book is the enthusiasm and love that Walt had for Disneyland until his passing. I enjoyed all the recollections and stories, including about Walt wanting to name locations on Tom Sawyer’s Island and why there are two drops on Pirates of the Caribbean. There are a few photos of Walt riding a Pirates of the Caribbean mock-up – he never experienced the finished attraction. Walt’s love of trains of course is apparent throughout, but he also took great interest in the Rivers of America.

I wish the book was a little bigger with larger print (I need my reading glasses for the text). However, “Walt’s Disneyland: A Walk in the Park with Walt Disney” is a wonderful read with a nice variety of photos (ones I’ve seen and ones I have not). It is an enjoyable and easy book to peruse and can be read in one longer sitting or chapter by chapter. It can be read at home or taken to Disneyland where you can read about the different locations while walking around the park as Walt once did.

There is a list of a few dozen Dream Doers in the back of the book with short biographies including of Mary Blair, Wally Boag, Claude Coats and Jim Cora.

I was in the room at Epcot International Festival of the Arts when Marcy first announced this upcoming book, it’s been several years since then and I’m excited to see it in print. I’m honored my name is in the “From Marcy” page, along with many others. She is terrific author and and enjoys her research and it shows.

 

 

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