Yesterland

18 New Books for
Disney Park Fans


Books for your 2019 wish list
New Books for Disney Park Fans

Every year, there’s a new crop of books for fans of Disney parks, Disney Imagineering, and Disney history. A “roundup” of books that Yesterland readers might enjoy has become an annual tradition. This 2019 edition features 18 books—the most ever.

Once again, the emphasis is on the parks—their secrets and history, the creative process at WDI, and “behind the scenes” insight—but not guides for tourists.

These are books I want to read, not books I’ve already read. The order is based on the publication date.

To learn more about each book, click on its Amazon link. Read the publisher’s description and reader reviews. If you decide to buy, choose between the printed book and the Kindle edition.

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 Amazon.” That means I benefit financially if you buy any of these books (and any other items at Amazon) after entering Amazon through these links.

Werner Weiss, Curator of Yesterland, November 29, 2019



  New Books for Disney Park Fans, 2019

Freedomland U.S.A.:

The Definitive History

by Michael R. Virgintino

Publisher:
Theme Park Press

Publication Date:
January 28, 2019

 

The first book in this “roundup” isn’t about a Disney park at all. It’s about a failed theme park in the Bronx. Freedomland U.S.A. was built by C. V. Wood, who billed himself as the “master builder of Disneyland.” It opened June 19, 1960—slightly less than five years after Disneyland. It was supposed to be the Disneyland of the East.

Michael R. Virgintino set out to write the definitive book about Freedomland U.S.A.—its history, what the park was like, and why it shut down forever at the end of its 1964 season.


  New Books for Disney Park Fans, 2019

The End of the Original Disneyland Hotel

 

by Donald W. Ballard

Publisher:
independent

Publication Date:
April 17, 2019

 

The Disneyland Hotel has its own rich history. The hotel was developed and nurtured by entrepreneur Jack Wrather, not by Walt Disney. The Walt Disney Company didn’t buy it until 1988.

Don Ballard is the author of two previous books about the history of the Disneyland Hotel:

This time, Don has focused on the period when the hotel transitioned from Wrather Corporation to The Walt Disney Company, and how that changed the hotel.


  New Books for Disney Park Fans, 2019

Walt Disney and the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair:

Great Moments

by Andrew Kiste

Publisher:
Theme Park Press

Publication Date:
April 28, 2019

 

Walt Disney and his WED Enterprises team developed four attractions for the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair. They went on to be some of the biggest hits at the Fair, and they all continue to exist at Disney parks in some form today.

One of these was the theater show for the Illinois “Land of Lincoln” Pavilion—Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. That’s the focus of the first in a new series of books from Andrew Kiste about Walt Disney’s 1964-65 New York World’s Fair. Kiste dug through archival documents at the Illinois State Archives and even interviewed employees of the pavilion.

According to Theme Park Press, “The use of an animatronic Lincoln, only one hundred years after his death, was fraught with controversy, technological setbacks, and procrastination by the Illinois Commission on the New York World’s Fair.” This book promises to be fascinating.


  New Books for Disney Park Fans, 2019

The Backstories and Magical Secrets of Walt Disney World:

Volume 2: Adventureland, Tomorrowland, and Fantasyland

by Christopher E. Smith

Publisher:
Theme Park Press

Publication Date:
April 29, 2019

 

In this follow-up to The Backstories and Magical Secrets of Walt Disney World: Main Street, U.S.A., Liberty Square, and Frontierland (Volume 1) (2017), Christopher Smith continues to share “the intricate, enriching, and sometimes humorous backstories of Walt Disney World, including storytelling elements, queues, and the ‘real histories’ behind each ride, show, and building.”

I have not read Volume 1 or Volume 2, but I like the concept of this series.


  New Books for Disney Park Fans, 2019

Bob Gurr: Legendary Imagineer

Life and Times – Disney and Beyond

by Bob Gurr

Publisher:
independent

Publication Date:
May 1, 2019

 

Back in 2012, readers grabbed up Imagineering Legend Bob Gurr’s wonderful book, Design: Just for Fun (Yesterland book review for more about this book). Gurr wrote primarily about his professional career at Disney and afterwards, accompanied by well-chosen photos and drawings. The book is now selling at astronomical collector prices.

Gurr’s new book is billed as a companion publication to his earlier one. That doesn’t mean it’s a reissue or an update—or even that the format is similar. A friend who has the book told me it’s text, not a combination of text and images. Gurr tells stories about his professional experiences and also shares his philosophy of life.

I assume it’s worth reading, but I wish Gurr would also republish Design: Just for Fun. (I’m glad I have my copy—and I’m not selling it.)


  New Books for Disney Park Fans, 2019

The Unofficial Walt Disney World 1971 Companion:

Stories of How the World Began

by Jim Korkis

Publisher:
Theme Park Press

Publication Date:
May 2, 2019

 

In the first of four books by Jim Korkis in this ”roundup,” the popular Disney historian looks at how 27,400 acres of Central Florida forests, swamps, and pasture land became Walt Disney World, and what the “Vacation Kingdom of the World” was like in 1971.

If you would like a similar book about Disneyland instead of (or in addition to) Walt Disney World, Korkis wrote The Unofficial Disneyland 1955 Companion: The Anecdotal Story of the Birth of the Happiest Place on Earth (2016) for you.


  New Books for Disney Park Fans, 2019

The Amusement Park:

900 Years of Thrills and Spills, and the Dreamers and Schemers Who Built Them

by Stephen M. Silverman

Publisher:
Black Dog & Leventhal

Publication Date:
May 7, 2019

 

Walt Disney reinvented the amusement park when he built Disneyland, but his park was built on a tradition of earlier destinations, such as the 1893 Chicago World‘s Fair, Coney Island, Steeplechase Park, Dreamland, Euclid Beach Park, Cedar Point, and Palisades Park. Then, Disneyland spawned new parks, including SeaWorld, Six Flags Great Adventure, Dollywood, Universal Studios, Walt Disney World, and Ferrari World. All these parks and others are featured in The Amusement Park by Stephen Silverman.

This book promises “a rich, anecdotal history that begins nine centuries ago with the ‘pleasure gardens’ of Europe and England and ends with the most elaborate modern parks in the world.” According to the publisher, “it‘s a history told largely through the stories of the colorful, sometimes hedonistic characters who built them.”


  New Books for Disney Park Fans, 2019

Secret Stories of Extinct Disneyland:

Memories of the Original Park

by Jim Korkis

Publisher:
Theme Park Press

Publication Date:
May 25, 2019

 

The second book by Jim Korkis here, Secret Stories of Extinct Disneyland: Memories of the Original Park, was featured in its own Yesterland article when it came out. But it also belongs in this “roundup.” Just by reading the book title, you can tell why Yesterland readers are likely to enjoy it.

Disneyland has been changing from the day it opened—with Walt Disney himself almost immediately adding things and removing others. Although Korkis experienced much of extinct Disneyland personally, his books always represent his lifetime of Disney research.


  New Books for Disney Park Fans, 2019

Cleaning the Kingdom:

Night, Day, Past and Present

 

by Ken Pellman and Lynn Barron

Publisher:
independent

Publication Date:
July 10, 2019

 

Ken Pellman and Lynn Barron, who used to be custodians at Disneyland, have written a follow-up to their well-received 2015 book, Cleaning the Kingdom: Insider Tales of Keeping Walt’s Dream Spotless. They’re also the duo behind the Sweep Spot podcast.

According to their Facebook page, “Whereas the first book largely consisted of the personal memoirs of the authors, who worked in Disneyland Day Custodial Sweeping from 1990 to 2007, the second book goes back to the origins of Disneyland Custodial with a chapter on the people who built the operation from the spotless ground up. It also takes a look at Night Custodial and Bussing, includes personal recollections of interacting with Walt Disney, eyewitness accounts of significant events in Disneyland history, and catches up on what has happened at Disneyland since we left the employ of Disney.”


  New Books for Disney Park Fans, 2019

Growing Up in Disneyland

 

by Ron DeFore

Publisher:
Waldorf Publishing

Publication Date:
July 15, 2019

 

Imagine it’s 1957 to 1961 and your father is a popular and respected actor who also owns a restaurant in Disneyland’s Frontierland. Now imagine that you and your brother are kids who accompany their father to Disneyland most weekends and have free rein of the park, onstage and backstage. (Things were different at Disneyland in those days.)

That was the world of Ron DeFore, whose father was Don DeFore, a familiar face in movies and on television and owner of Don DeFore’s Silver Banjo Barbecue. Ron and his brother Dave have regaled audiences at the D23 Expo and other Disneyland groups with accounts of their experiences. After each presentation, they would hear, “You should write a book!” Now that book finally exists.


  New Books for Disney Park Fans, 2019

Disney Never Lands:

Things Disney Never Made

by Jim Korkis

Publisher:
Theme Park Press

Publication Date:
August 2, 2019

 

It’s time for the third book by Jim Korkis in this “roundup.”

Disney Never Lands: Things Disney Never Made was also the subject of a Yesterland article when it was published. The book is about Disney destinations, theme park lands, TV programs, and films that the company planned, but that never saw the light of day. Korkis details over two dozen projects. Each has its own chapter filled with quotes, facts, and why it didn’t become a reality.

It’s a fascinating topic, and, knowing Jim, I’m sure it’s a fascinating book.


New Books for Disney Park Fans, 2019
 

Marc Davis in His Own Words:

Imagineering the Disney Theme Parks

by Pete Docter and Christopher Merritt

Publisher: Disney Editions

Publication Date: September 3, 2019

I have Marc Davis in His Own Words in an unopened Amazon box just a few feet away for me. I’ve been looking forward to it since co-author Chris Merritt gave a terrific presentation about Marc Davis and the upcoming book at the D23 Destination D event at Walt Disney World in 2016. I’m afraid that if I open the box, I’ll lose myself in the two-volume set and I won’t finish the article you’re now reading, which is already behind schedule.

After more than 30 years animating Disney features, Marc Davis transitioned to WED Enterprises in 1962 and became an Imagineering superstar. Davis put his wit, whimsy, and delightful character designs into Disneyland’s iconic attractions of the the 1960s, such as Pirates of the Caribbean, and later attractions, such as America Sings.

The set features Davis’ work from the 1960s through the 1980s—in other words, his work as an Imagineer, not his work as an animator—including more than 1,500 pieces from the Imagineering archives, most of which have never been published. And it features Davis’ own words from many hours of interviews that Merritt did with Davis.

The two-volume set lists for $150—a realistic price for a high-quality, two-volume boxed set—but the Amazon price can be considerably lower. (I grabbed it for $79.86, but there’s no guarantee it will ever be that low again.)


  New Books for Disney Park Fans, 2019

Magic Journey:

My Fantastical Walt Disney Imagineering Career

by Kevin Rafferty

Publisher:
Disney Editions

Publication Date:
September 10, 2019

 

What do Toy Story Midway Mania, Test Track, Twiiight Zone Tower of Terror, Muppet*Vision 3D, and Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway have in common? Add Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach to the list. And Cars Land too. You could add many others.

The answer is Imagineer Kevin Rafferty. As the blurb for the book says, “Kevin Rafferty has conceived, designed, written, and overseen the creation of some of the Disney parks’ most memorable attractions.”

And now he has written a book, published by Disney Editions Deluxe. (I’ll be interested to see what Rafferty has written about Enchanted Tiki Room Under New Management, another of his projects.)


  New Books for Disney Park Fans, 2019

The Art of Disney Costuming:

Heroes, Villains, and Spaces Between

by Jeff Kurtti and the Staff of the Walt Disney Archives

Publisher:
Disney Editions

Publication Date:
September 17, 2019

 

I wasn’t sure if I should include The Art of Disney Costuming: Heroes, Villains, and Spaces Between. Although the book includes “show wardrobes sported at the Disney Parks by Audio-Animatronics figures and Cast Members,” its primary focus seems to be films and television, with a case study of Cinderella’s ball gown.

I’m including it anyway because the co-author is Jeff Kurtti, who has written some of the best Disney books ever. He shares the author credit with the staff of the Walt Disney Archives, with access to its amazing collection. Hardcover books from Disney Editions Deluxe are always gorgeous.


  New Books for Disney Park Fans, 2019

The 55ers:

The Pioneers Who Settled Disneyland

by David Koenig

Publisher:
Bonaventure Press

Publication Date:
October 1, 2019

 

The 55ers: The Pioneers Who Settled Disneyland celebrates Disneyland’s original employees of 1955. Disneyland did not yet call its employees Cast Members, but they were cast in their roles, much like actors in a movie. The press release from the publisher puts this way: “Walking through Disneyland, you’ll spot Cast Members dressed up as cowboys in Frontierland, jungle explorers in Adventureland, and small-town shopkeepers on Main Street. But, back when the park first opened in 1955, the employees weren’t pretending. They were true-to-life characters, hand-picked for their amazing backgrounds.”

Author David Koenig is well-known in the Disney fan community for his MiceChat columns and for Mouse Tales: A Behind-The-Ears Look at Disneyland (1995) and other books about Disney parks.

The 55ers features more than 300 never-before-published images, most of which were provided by the original Disneylanders themselves.


  New Books for Disney Park Fans, 2019

The Vault of Walt Volume 8:

Outer Space Edition: Out-of-This-World Stories of Walt Disney, Disney Theme Parks, Films & More

by Jim Korkis

Publisher:
Theme Park Press

Publication Date:
October 20, 2019

 

Now we’re at the fourth book here by Jim Korkis. It’s the latest volume in his The Vault of Walt series—collections of short, self-contained chapters reflecting Korkis’ incredible knowledge of Disney history and his entertaining style.

This time, the focus is on Disney and space travel—“over three dozen tales of both fact and fantasy about outer space from Disney’s films, theme park attractions, comics, and elsewhere.”

From the “Man in Space” episodes on the Disneyland television series in the 1950s to this year’s openings of “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge” on both coasts, Disney has a long history with space. I’m especially interested to know more about “the many different versions of the Epcot Space Pavilion that were never built.”


  New Books for Disney Park Fans, 2019

Travels with Figment:

On the Road in Search of Disney Dreams

by Marty Sklar

Publisher:
Disney Editions

Publication Date:
November 5, 2019

 

Disney Legend Marty Sklar, who passed away in 2017, worked for Disney for fifty-four years. He was Walt Disney’s personal writer and eventually became president of Walt Disney Imagineering.

Travels with Figment: On the Road in Search of Disney Dreams is Sklar’s third book since retiring from Disney. It’s about his travel experiences during his long career with Disney.


  New Books for Disney Park Fans, 2019

Disney’s Land:

Walt Disney and the Invention of the Amusement Park That Changed the World

by Richard Snow

Publisher:
Scribner

Publication Date:
December 3, 2019

 

The blurb at Amazon promises, “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.”

I did not recognize the name Richard Snow. It turns out Snow “spent nearly four decades at American Heritage magazine, serving as editor in chief for seventeen years, and has been a consultant on historical motion pictures, among them Glory, and has written for documentaries, including the Burns brothers’ Civil War, and Ric Burns’s award-winning PBS film Coney Island, whose screenplay he wrote. He is the author of multiple books, including, most recently, Disney’s Land.”

Wow! Those are impressive credentials.


Would you like to read about other books from recent years? Then check these Yesterland lists:

 

Click here to post comments at MiceChat about this article.


DVD: Disneyland Secrets
Book: Extinct Disneyland
Home


© 2019 Werner Weiss — Disclaimers, Copyright, and Trademarks

Updated November 29, 2019.