Eleven New Books
for Disney Park Fans


Books for your 2016 wish list

Because 2015 was a banner year for books about Disney theme parks, I featured an overview of Twelve New Books for Disney Park Fans.

It’s now 2016. Authors and publishers have given us another banner year. Today, I’m highlighting eleven titles with 2016 publication dates. Some of them focus strictly on parks; others include parks as part of a broader scope. I have not yet read most of them, but they are all promising.

Be sure to scroll down to the final three titles—which were just released this week.

To learn more about a book, click on its Amazon link. Just a reminder… “Yesterland is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to” That means I benefit financially if you buy any of these books (and any other items at Amazon) using these links.

Werner Weiss, Curator of Yesterland, October 21, 2016.

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How to Be a Disney Historian:

Tips from the Top Professionals

by Jim Korkis

Publisher: Theme Park Press

Publication Date: March 9, 2016


Over the years, Disney historian Jim Korkis has helped many others who want to follow in his footsteps. This led him to an idea. Jim would put his guidance into a book—and he would invite other Disney historians to join him. How to Be a Disney Historian has my name on the cover. I’m honored to be among the esteemed Disney historians who each contributed a chapter.

Jim didn’t assign specific subjects to us. Around 40% of the book is by Jim. The rest of it reflects each writer’s unique perspective and approach to Disney history. The book turned out very well.

It seems to me that there’s a much larger potential audience than just future Disney historians. In this age when anyone can be a blogger, podcaster, author for any medium, or Wikipedia contributor—on any subject—the wisdom in this book applies far beyond the field of Disney history. Although it was not written as a textbook, it would be a great textbook for college classes that deal with new media and citizen journalism, with the Disney angle serving as an example that can be applied to any subject matter.

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From Horizons to Space Mountain:

The Life of a Disney Imagineer

by George McGinnis

Publisher: Theme Park Press

Publication Date: May 21, 2016


Nine of the eleven books in this list are from Theme Park Press, where publisher/editor Bob McLain specializes in books that involve Disney parks, other aspects of Disney, and other theme parks. The nine titles here are a fraction of the output from Theme Park Press this year. McLain has done a great job seeking out authors with firsthand knowledge who can share inside stories.

One such author is George McGinnis, a retired Disney Imagineer. McGinnis was the last Imagineer personally hired by Walt Disney. His three-decade Disney career included such high-profile projects as the Mark V and Mark VI Monorails, Horizons, and Space Mountain.

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A Historical Tour of Walt Disney World,

Volume 2

by Andrew Kiste

Publisher: Theme Park Press

Publication Date: June 1, 2016


Of all the books in this list, this one has my favorite book cover. The attractive, distinctive design alludes to Walt Disney World ticket book paper and graphics from earlier decades.

Author Andrew Kiste is a high school history teacher in Greensboro, North Carolina. Kiste focuses on the many historical topics that the Imagineers have woven into Walt Disney World attractions. In other words, the theme of this book is history at WDW, not the history of WDW (although there’s some of that too).

This book is a sequel to A Historical Tour of Walt Disney World, Volume 1.

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The Vault of Walt, Volume 5:

Still More Unofficial Disney Stories Never Told

by Jim Korkis

Publisher: Theme Park Press

Publication Date: June 24, 2016


The last time I reviewed a volume in Jim Korkis’s popular Vault of Walt series was back in 2013 when Volume 2 came out. The series is now up to Volume 5.

The volume is divided into four parts, each with five chapters (or stories, as Jim calls them)—Walt Disney Stories, Disney Film Stories, Disney Park Stories, and Other Disney Walt Stories. Jim is, after all, a storyteller. That means he knows how to present a narrative in a way that’s entertaining and holds your interest.

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The Unofficial Disneyland 1955 Companion:

The Anecdotal Story of the Birth of the Happiest Place on Earth

by Jim Korkis

Publisher: Theme Park Press

Publication Date: June 25, 2016


I can’t believe I haven’t bought and read this book yet. Considering that the subject is the opening year of Disneyland and the author is Jim Korkis, I’m sure I’ll enjoy it.

Here’s part of the description from Theme Park Press:

And what a year! In 1955, Walt Disney’s dream of a theme park, the first of its kind in the world, came true. Disney historian Jim Korkis’ entertaining tale of an American pop culture icon is power-packed with details, and the most thorough account of Disneyland’s early days ever published.

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Magic Kingdoms:

A History of the Disney Theme Parks

by Stephanie Barczewski, Ph.D.

Publisher: Theme Park Press

Publication Date: July 7, 2016


From Theme Park Press:

Clemson University professor Stephanie Barczewski delivers a scholarly but accessible comparative history of the Disney theme parks, from Anaheim to Shanghai, with a focus on the engineering, cultural, and political challenges that Disney overcame to build its “happiest places” across the globe.

That’s right. It’s a history of all Disney parks.

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Building Magic:

Disney’s Overseas Theme Parks

by William Silvester

Publisher: BearManor Media

Publication Date: July 15, 2016


Disney historian and author William Silvester’s website offers this synopsis of his newest book, Building Magic: Disney’s Overseas Theme Parks:

This is the exciting, behind the scenes story of the overseas Disney theme parks. Discover why they were built where they are, who wanted them constructed and the problems and controversies that were faced in the building and expansion of these magical places.

This seems to be an opportunity to take a tour of Disney parks worldwide, without leaving your living room.

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MORE Secret Stories of Walt Disney World:

MORE Things You Never Knew You Never Knew

by Jim Korkis

Publisher: Theme Park Press

Publication Date: Sep. 7, 2016


Jim Korkis asked me to write the foreword to MORE Secret Stories of Walt Disney World. It’s an honor I accepted gladly. You can read my foreword and glance inside the book here. Allow me to quote myself:

As you read this book, think of it as walking all over Walt Disney World with Jim. You’ll find yourself in corners you never knew about. Sometimes, you’ll travel back in time. You’ll meet some of the people who created the “World.” You’ll experience places that never escaped from the planning process. And you’ll see familiar spots in a new way.

The book is organized as succinct, fun-to-read, two-page articles.

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How Jay Stein, MCA, & Universal Invented the Modern Theme Park and Beat Disney at Its Own Game

by Sam Gennawey

Publisher: Theme Park Press

Publication Date: Oct. 16, 2016


Of all the books in this list, JayBangs has the most cryptic title. “JayBang” is a noun. Jay Stein, the driving force behind Universal Studios Florida, made sure his new park would have plenty of “JayBangs”—“rides and attractions that stunned, shocked, and surprised guests, dousing them with water, blasting them with air, heat, or cold, and giving them what the Disney parks of that time lacked: fear and visceral delight.”

A few years ago, Disney historian Sam Gennawey became Universal historian Sam Gennawey when he wrote Universal vs. Disney: The Unofficial Guide to American Theme Parks’ Greatest Rivalry. For many readers, it was their first introduction to Jay Stein, who was in charge of the Universal Studios theme parks for almost 30 years.

I liked Gennawey’s book very much. Jay Stein must have liked it too. The book’s introduction begins with the usually private Stein approaching Gennawey:

I am 78 years old, Sid is 80+, Lew is dead, Jules is dead, Drabinsky is in jail, Katzenberg and Spielberg probably don’t want to be interviewed; Eisner will probably say I’m lying when he learns what I could show you. You be the judge. I’m determined to get history right. Would you like to interview me and examine my evidence as to what happened? Let me know.

I am very eager to read JayBangs.

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Walt’s Words:

Quotations of Walt Disney with Sources

by Jim Korkis

Publisher: Theme Park Press

Publication Date: Oct. 16, 2016


Mark Twain, Abraham Lincoln, and Walt Disney might be the three most quoted Americans. Perhaps you have at least one of the Walt Disney quotation books by Dave Smith—Walt Disney: Famous Quotes (1994) or Quotable Walt Disney (2001).

Does the world need another book of Walt Disney quotations? The answer is yes.

Not only has Jim Korkis collected many quotations that appear in no other collections, but he has researched and included the source of each quotation. That makes a huge difference. Knowing where, when, and why Walt said something makes those words meaningful and inspiring—not just random snippets divorced from their context.

At first, I wasn’t sure if I should include this book in a list that focuses on theme parks. The book includes a chapter of quotations specifically about Disneyland, but the real reason goes beyond that. Walt Disney’s ideas and personality are a significant part of Disneyland’s DNA.

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Maps of the Disney Parks:

Charting 60 Years from California to Shanghai

by Kevin & Susan Neary, Vanessa Hunt

Publisher: Disney Editions

Publication Date:
Oct. 18, 2016


The final title in this list is the only one published by Disney.

I love illustrated maps. I have a bunch of Disneyland wall maps from over the years, and I’ve been looking forward to Maps of the Disney Parks. I haven’t seen the book yet. However, I’m concerned that the early reviews on Amazon are mixed, with some reviewers who love it, but others saying it was not what they had expected.

I’ll probably buy the book. The text should be interesting, in any case. And if some of the details are too small in book form, I can get out the bin with my wall maps.


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Book: MORE Secret Stories

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Updated October 14, 2022