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The Disneyland Story: The Unofficial Guide to the Evolution of Walt Disney's Dream Paperback – November 26, 2013
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--Rachel Young, Pasadena Now
"The book [The Disneyland Story] relies heavily on quotations, which adds to its credibility and readability. Many of the quotations, but not all of them, include endnote numbers. So the book has an answer for you if you wonder, Where and when did that person say or write that?"
--Werner Weiss, Yesterland.com
"...Gennawey's book is "unofficial" in its content (but it's not a travel guide). There's nothing [that] should embarrass anyone, but it includes people and stories that you would not read about in Disney publications. For example, C.V. Wood, Disneyland's first general manager, has been all but erased from official Disney history. There are great descriptions of attractions that were announced but never built. And the story of how the land was chosen and acquired for Disneyland has never been published in this detail."
--Werner Weiss, Yesterland.com
"Don't let the title "unofficial" deter you in the least. This work exceeds anything Disney has ever formally put out. For that matter, in its total form it may exceed everything Disney has put out. There's just so much."
--J. Jeff Kober, DisneyatWork.com
"The great thing about this book [The Disneyland Story] is the mix of technical details about things like specs on the locomotive engines, Autopia cars, and Monorail designs, blended with anecdotal stories and quotes from many different sources, so there is something for everyone here. The book is peppered with "tips" and trivia along the way as well."
--Susie Prendergast, The Mouse Castle
"The book [The Disneyland Story] is incredibly exhaustive and takes us through Disneyland's history through the growth of the beloved park. It's laid out in large blocks of years that showcase the development of the park through major attractions and shows. What's fascinating is that Sam was able to delve into the political machinations with the city councils of Burbank and Anaheim to show how Walt's ideas were stymied as well as passed unanimously. The larger civic and community roles that Disneyland has played are usually not recounted, which makes this book so valuable. Kudos to Sam for including an almost rapacious bibliography and for having the decency to cite his references. Not many authors do that. This one is a must have for Disneyland fans!"
--George Taylor, MiceChat.com
From the Back Cover
For Disney fans everywhere, here's the inside scoop of Walt Disney's greatest creation. The Disneyland Story skillfully recounts how the world's first theme park was conceived, nurtured, and grew into a source of joy and inspiration for visitors.
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I've read through a couple of official and unofficial books, like Disneyland: Dreams, Traditions and Transitions , The Disneyland Encyclopedia, Disney U, The Disney Way, The Art of Being Unreasonable; even books about Arrow Dynamics (the company that built most of Disneyland on opening day) and others devoted to various aspects of Walt Disney (the man and the corporation). Every book has, in a way helped me understand a bit more about how the mind of a genius works.
I bought this book based on recommendations I found here. And boy, am I glad I did. I'm a fan of reading. I'm a fan of Disneyland. This book is heaven. The best there is. No comparison to anything else on the market.
There's just no way to understand the depth and scope of this book without reading it. Do you think you know everything about the park? Ha! I did, and I didn't. It's chock full of facts, facts, facts, interesting trivia, insights on park design, the internal struggles around the company (yes, you'll learn why C.V. Wood left the company - it just had to happen), the meetings and discussions that ended up with the attractions we have today and the evolutionary process that turned them into masterpieces. The way the men and women who built the park used all their ingenuity to build something that only existed on their imaginations. And then, the growth, stagnation, growth of the park. How the trains came to be, why the Viewliner showed up (and what engine it used), the entire list of Mark cars on the Autopia, who really designed and built the subs and - are they really subs? What happened the first time the Castle was opened to check if an attraction could be installed, what really was Project Disneylandia, what attractions did Walt built that were real duds, the early accidents at the park, how did they place the Mark Twain on the river bed... it's all there.
If you ever had a single doubt about why things were built the way they were, or interesting trivia (where was Walt's and Lillian's favorite place to take a stroll at night when DL closed? I didn't know. Didn't have a clue!) this is the book you just have to own. The author didn't just write an interesting story - he crafted one of the most loving and interesting tributes to Disneyland I've ever seen. You'll want to read several chapters again, just in case you missed one tiny detail.
I read and love the usual DL history sites (Yesterland is my favorite) and if you think this book merely rehashes the existing info, think again. Trust me, you are NOT going to be disappointed. This has become my favorite one on the subject, and although I bought it on Kindle, I'm going to get a printed version. I enjoyed it so much I want to have it physically.
Truly. If you love the park, you cannot afford to be without this book. I highly, highly recommend it.
Gennawey tells the entire history of Disneyland, from its earliest conception in the mind of Walt Disney, all the way up to 2012. The book shows the obsession to detail of a true fan, but Gennawey presents his history objectively, without judgment. This doesn't read like an Internet obsessive's guide to the good old days followed by where things went wrong. Instead, we get a true sense of how the park has always been a growing, evolving thing. There were attractions that Walt Disney championed at opening day that failed to catch the public's imagination. There are more recent additions, created long after Walt's passing, that because hugely popular. Gennawey treats all those stories equally.
While he doesn't seem to have an ax to grind as far as favoring nostalgia over innovation and change, he doesn't shy away from problems, either. This is particularly evident in the details of the park's ongoing negotiations with the City of Anaheim and its residents, trying to work out the best deal for a business that has tremendous impact on the community around it. As a Disney fan, I was more interested in the history of the park, but Gennawey keeps the politics to a minimum, getting the important information across without getting caught up in dry minutae.
Overall, this sums up the approach to the book: we get a timeline for new attractions opening, and details about them as they open, but things are kept brief enough that the story keeps moving along. If the book is lacking in anything, it is in illustrations, presumably due to this being an unofficial publication. However, Gennawey creates enough images through his prose that we can almost see the park in the eyes of our minds.
Fans looking for a guidebook to Disneyland will be better off with other publications, as will fans looking for an opinionated document written to advance a specific point of view. What readers will find here is an interesting recounting of the development of what has become, for many visitors, a magical place. He doesn't skimp on the park's successes, and it's fascinating to see how a place that means so much to so many people developed the way most businesses do, driven by ordinary men. A definite must-read for people who want to see the evolution of Disneyland over the decades.