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Building A Better Mouse: The Story Of The Electronic Imagineers Who Designed Epcot Paperback – October 1, 2007


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Building A Better Mouse: The Story Of The Electronic Imagineers Who Designed Epcot + Theme Park Design: Behind The Scenes With An Engineer
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Editorial Reviews

Review

About halfway through reading Building a Better Mouse, I realized that I would never look at any theme park attraction the same. If you are a fan of Imagineering, theme parks or Disney, then you will love this title. --2719 Hyperion

About the Author

Steve Alcorn is an entrepreneur, engineer, inventor, author and teacher best known for his involvement in the theme park industry. In 1982 he joined Walt Disney Imagineering (then known as WED Enterprises) as a consultant, where he worked on the electronic systems for Epcot Center. During his two years with Imagineering he designed show control systems for The American Adventure, wrote the operating system used in the parkwide monitoring system, and became Imagineering's first Systems Engineer. In 1986 he founded Alcorn McBride Inc. The company's show control, audio, video and lighting equipment is used in most major theme park attractions around the world. Mr. Alcorn is the author of several novels available at themeperks.com. Through Internet instruction provider Education To Go, Mr. Alcorn teaches online classes at over 1000 universities and colleges worldwide. He also teaches a survey class in Theme Park Engineering at themeparkengineering.com David Green is the president of Monteverdi Creative, Inc. (www.montverdicreative.com), which provides creative and technical design services to companies in the entertainment industry. In addition to his three years at WED working on Epcot, Tokyo Disneyland, Fantasyland Rehab and Houston WEDWay Peoplemover, David spent another 11 years at other divisions of The Walt Disney Company. He is a trained journalist and published author in non-fiction, fiction and poetry. Since founding Monteverdi Creative, David's clients have included DIRECTV, Technicolor, Pioneer Home Digital, Visual Terrain, Smart Design, Thinkwell, Dedica Group, Concrete Pictures and others.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 140 pages
  • Publisher: Theme Perks Press (October 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0972977759
  • ISBN-13: 978-0972977753
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,260,556 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Steve Alcorn is the CEO of Alcorn McBride Inc., a company that designs products used in nearly all of the world's theme parks. He is the author of a half dozen books, including historical fiction, romance, and young adult novels, and the non-fiction books Building a Better Mouse and Theme Park Design.

In the past decade Steve has taught more than 10,000 aspiring fiction writers through the online learning programs of 1500 colleges and universities worldwide. Find out how to enroll in his classes at writingacademy.com

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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See all 22 customer reviews
This book gives one of the best behind the scenes looks at what it took to bring the park to life.
S. Kinsey
Being an engineering student I picked up this book. what an interesting read although may get a bit technical at times i loved it.
Franklin Kamuran
This was an amazing read from beginning to end and during the final pages I had felt like I had been on their journey with them.
D. Jeffrey

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By a VINE VOICE on January 1, 2009
Format: Paperback
I am obsessed with Disney theme parks, and the original EPCOT Center has always been my favorite. Even so, I was wary about buying this book written by electrical engineers because I thought it might prove dry and technical. I was only half-right. Parts of this book are indeed complex for someone like me--an English and history major--who knows nothing about engineering. In particular, the one chapter which deals with the design of the underground carriage for the American Adventure was painful and almost made me shelve the book for a while. I am so glad I stayed with the narrative. In the end, while the technical bits here and there may be difficult to grasp, they do not make up the bulk of this book at all. What emerges here is a charming, breezy narrative about fun and idealistic young men swept up in extraordinary events.

The reader should be at least somewhat familar with the layout of the original EPCOT Center to fully grasp this text, but if you are interested in the nuts and bolts history of theme parks, this makes for a bit of excellent light reading. It's a pretty short book, but I was pleased to see how detailed the authors were in describing their work environments at WDI and at "ground zero" in Florida. I felt like I was there with them, and I especially appreciate the little details -- how employees would fight over souvenir buttons and shirts, and how enjoyable the annual open house day was for families. Those are magical little moments that really make me appreciate the results at EPCOT even more, and I'm glad to see them documented. (I really, really wish a lot more ex-imagineers would write books like this!)

If you're an EPCOT Center, Disney, theme park, or engineering fan, please give this book a shot, and if you're not technically minded (like me), just breeze through the occasional dry parts. But stay with the narrative. There's magic within.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Timothy D. Swieter on December 30, 2009
Format: Paperback
When I was young and eagerly wanting to be an Imagineer/theme park designer, books like this didn't exist. I read everything I could on theme parks and their design. Now I am a theme park engineer and I still read everything. My friends wrote this book and it includes a lot of details about my boss, so I am bias, but this book gives a great account of what the 'golden era' of theme park building was like. Any fan of EPCOT or Disney or Imgaineering will be sure to enjoy this book - written by the folks that created the magic (and still are creating it today)!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By D. Jeffrey on November 11, 2009
Format: Paperback
This has to be the best book ever written on the creation of a Disney Theme Park. This was an amazing read from beginning to end and during the final pages I had felt like I had been on their journey with them. For an overview of the construction and development of the entire Walt Disney World Resort check out Realityland: True-Life Adventures at Walt Disney World Please Purchase both of these books for yourself or the Disney Fan on your list this Holiday season. In these uncertain economic times we need to support the little guy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Anacon on October 19, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you are a Disney Theme park fan and want to know how the Disney parks were built, this book is a must. A fast read at 131 pages, Steve describes his experiences working on Epcot. More specifically, designing and installing the carriage system for The American Adventure. Knowing what I now know, the show will never be the same. It seems when Disney builds new theme parks there is a lot of chaos and red tape to contend with and this story takes you through the daunting tasks that Steve's team was charged with. Some of the book is technical and some terms are not explained, but you get a good sense of what it was like to work for WDI (WED) in this time period as well as what it is like to install cutting edge shows on a grand scale with limited time and big expectations. He also gives the reader a good idea what it was like at WDW in the early 80's. No pictures, text only.

Steve, you guys did a great job on the show. Thank you for all your care and hard work. This is a very special show. The engineering at the Disney Theme Parks is part of what makes these attractions so fascinating to me.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Robertsonics on November 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover
"Building a Better Mouse" is a lively look at the often-shrouded world of building theme parks and of Imagineering in particular. The authors, with the unique vantage point of having lived through it, recount the trials and pitfalls of undertaking the massive design and construction project that was EPCOT Center with a team of freshly minted engineers. Much of the book is derived from notes and first-person recollections of the electronic engineering crew responsible for the computers systems that control the park, and the occasionally harrowing account of meeting an opening day deadline makes for great reading.

If you are fascinated by all-things-Disney, or enjoy "Soul of a New Machine" type narratives, then this book is for you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Robert Rowan on October 24, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was initially disappointed by what was not included in Building a Better Mouse, but was soon taken in by the unexpectedly compelling story of the construction of EPCOT Center mostly from the perspective of the electronic engineers in California who designed the systems that operated the attractions in the park, primarily the American Adventure. When I first purchased this book and read it (a year and a half ago) I hoped to read about all the pavilions in their early days and see pictures of EPCOT Center being built. This book does not attempt to take on the ambitious task of documenting all of the construction of a park as vast as EPCOT Center. Instead, the book attempts to put you in the shoes of some of the people who helped bring that park to life and does so effectively. Perhaps it shouldn't be surprising, given Disney's history of impressive storytelling, that the authors would know how to tell a tale.

The book is rather short, with only 130 pages of text, and the edition I read would have been considerably improved by the addition of pictures and diagrams to better tell the story. There is a new "30th Anniversary" version of the book, which includes a note that it is now "with Photos," so if you are considering purchasing the book, then I recommend the newer version [Note: At last check, Amazon was selling both versions of the book for the same price]. Continuing my list of gripes is that with two different authors it can sometimes be difficult to know which one is telling the story, but my biggest complaint with the book is the casual use of first names. Whether it be Mark, Marty, Jane, Brian, Jenny, or a host of other names I often felt as though I should have known who people were as they appeared in stories.
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