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Maps of the Disney Parks: Charting 60 Years from California to Shanghai (Disney Editions Deluxe) Hardcover – October 18, 2016
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If you are looking for a book that contains all the park maps from all Disney parks from 1955 to today, this book is not for you. If you're looking for something to kill some time while you're on the toilet, this book might fit that bill. But, it would be an expensive toilet read.
Seriously, if I had paid the full $30 retail price, I'd be mad and sending the book right back to Amazon. There are a lot of really good books out there about a Disney park history. This is not one of them
I was relieved to see that others had expected something different just like I had.
50% of the book is made of gorgeous, well-curated, glowing aerial concept art of Disney Parks – that special sort of concept art Disney artists do so well, showing just enough to romanticize the place while keeping the details soft. There's lush, beautiful artwork of Disneyland Paris seen from the sky; concept art of Hong Kong Disneyland's new mini-lands; everything in the book about New Fantasyland or Shanghai Disneyland is in the form of (beautiful, high quality) scans of famous (and readily available) concept art.
30% of the book is filled with one-off "novelty" maps, like the cartoon-ified, caricature map of Disney California Adventure produced solely to hang on construction walls during its rebirth; delicate, elegant "souvenir" maps of DisneySea meant to be purchased in a gift shop in large format.
A further 15% is populated by a lot (maybe too many) of the "in-universe" maps: the "map" of the Hundred Acre Wood that serves as the backdrop to the loading area in Tokyo's Hunny Hunt ride; the exaggerated cartoon "map" of your "sailing route" in DisneySea's Sinbad's Storybook Voyage; the "map" of Vulcania that hangs in the Nautilus' map room in Disneyland Paris' walkthrough attraction; the elegant map of the world in the ceiling of Tokyo's Teddy Roosevelt lounge. And while those are maps, and they are in Disney Parks, it feels as if they should be relegated to their own chapter, because they're not what you and I had in mind when we looked at this book.
You and I came here for what's squeezed into the remaining 5% of the book – Disney Parks guide maps... y'know... the ones your pick up at the turnstile on your way in (or, for many of us, on the way out). So many of us make a hobby of collecting these maps not just as souvenirs, but as works of art. We use them to trace parks' growth over time. And I suspect *most* people who pre-ordered this book a year in advance like I did were expecting it to be a comprehensive collection of those guide maps for each Disney Park through its history.
Chapter 1 - Disneyland Park
Chapter 2 - Magic Kingdom
Chapter 3 - Epcot
Chapter 4 - Tokyo DisneySea
What you and I were looking for was to trace these parks via their guide maps. Take DIsney California Adventure (would've been Chapter 8, by my count?). Sure, start off the chapter with some concept art and give me a history of the park's development. But then, I want the map – the guide map from the turnstile – that guests picked up in 2001. Then I want to turn the page and see the 2004 map and I want text to point out what's been added, subtracted, and changed at the park (and thus, to its map). Then I want to see 2007's. Then 2012's for the Grand Re-opening. Then today's. Right? I want to trace the parks' life through its guide map art. I suspect that's what you wanted, too.
Yes, this is a book worth having in your collection. But it's NOT what you imagine it will be. Text is very, very minimal (an opening page for each chronological chapter, then simple citations of artists and year for each map included in that decade+ period) and within the broad range of each chapter, you'll zoom indiscriminately from continent to continent. Pages 82 - 83, Tokyo Disneyland "fine art" souvenir map; 84 - 85, Blizzard Beach map; 86 - 87, Animal Kingdom aerial concept art; 88 - 89, Tom Sawyer Island Explorer's Map...
Is this book worth having in your collection? Yes. It's a fair price for a beautiful book of artwork. And *if* this book were called "Aerial Concept Art of the Disney Parks," people would've known what they were getting and this would be 5-stars across the board as a well-curated collection of art with minimal text. As it is, you and I came here for a collection of Disney Parks guide maps, and this is not that.
My biggest complaint is actually that the authors really needed a copy editor. The text is full of awkward phrasing and grammatical errors - no real excuse here as the main feature is clearly the artwork and there's comparatively little text.