- File Size: 2738 KB
- Print Length: 258 pages
- Publisher: Theme Park Press (December 15, 2014)
- Publication Date: December 15, 2014
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00R34KWS6
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #168,244 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Walt Disney and the Promise of Progress City Kindle Edition
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|Length: 258 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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I found this book to be absolutely fascinating and eye-opening. As a frequent visitor to Disneyland, I’m very familiar with Main Street USA, the “land” at the entrance to the park. It has an old-timey, classic appeal and as you walk down the street, toward the Sleeping Beauty Castle, it’s a comforting and calming experience. Sam Gennawey explains many of the architectural tricks and cues that help create this experience for guests, and as I read I found a new appreciation for the care and attention to detail that Disney and his Imagineers devoted to the appearance and layout of the buildings. As Gennawey continued to other areas of the park, I mentally followed in his footsteps. He also talks about some of the innovations Disney brought to his theme park, like the dedication to preventing litter and maintaining the appearance of the buildings, and how his ideas spread to other parks and eventually became standard practice.
I also loved reading about lesser-known Disney projects. We’re all familiar with the phenomenal success of Disneyland, but I’ve only heard of his proposed Mineral King project in footnotes or asides. It was a proposed ski resort, to be located near Sequoia National Park in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. I hesitate to call it “Disneyland in the mountains” but in many ways that’s exactly what was planned. The resort was to be an entertainment destination, with wilderness lectures, outdoor activities, restaurants, a conference center, and planned ‘attractions’ similar to the ones at Disneyland. The project was eventually shut down by the United States Forest Service after protests and a lawsuit filed by the Sierra Club. As a Disney fan, I’m so curious about what Mineral King would have been like, but as a Sierra Club member I’m also horrified at the thought of the impact of the described resort on the environment just outside one of the most beautiful parks in California. It would have been interesting, but I’m glad the decision was made not to go with the Disney proposal.
Of course, most of the book is devoted to EPCOT. I really enjoyed Sam Gennawey’s projection of what EPCOT would look like if it had been completed; it’s a great thought exercise that showcases Disney’s creativity and his forward-thinking. I certainly enjoy the EPCOT theme park and what it offers today, but neither it nor the Disney city of Celebration really encapsulates Disney’s vision. Anyone who has enjoyed walking around Disneyland or the Magic Kingdom, admiring the architecture and the themed lands, will learn a lot from this book. Those who are curious about the urban planning and want to explore a centrally-planned city will also find it difficult to put this book down.
This book leads the reader through a history of various projects that Walt Disney (and the Disney company) were involved in over the years that formed and informed the ideas and plans developed for Disney World, EPCOT, and Progress City. These projects included the Animation studio, Disneyland, Walt's Holmby Hills home, the 1964 World's Fair, the Mineral King Resort, and others.
I especially liked the explanations of urban planning concepts and how they were used/manifested in Disney's various projects.
My only quibble (and it's very minor) is that in his "speculative 1982 visit" to Disney World and Progress City, the author assumes that it would have been built just as presented in the EPCOT film. I suspect that many aspects might have changed (as Walt himself predicted in the EPCOT film). I certainly understand why he did this, since planning and work on the project likely stopped shortly after that film was made (which was only 2 months before Walt's death), and the plans in the EPCOT file represent the last know vision for Disney World. As I said, this is a VERY minor quibble.
I strongly recommend this book to any fans of Disney parks or Walt Disney. You will learn something new from this book. I can almost guarantee it. This is definitely going in my "read this again" pile.
Note: This review was written for the original printing of this book, published by Ayefour Publishing.