Book Review: Disneyland from Windows to Happily Ever After

Author: Jeff Kurtti
Binding: Hard Cover (w/jacket)
Pages:160
Publisher: Disney Editions
ISBN: 978-1-4231-2905-9
Product Dimensions: 11.2 x 10.5 x 1 inches
Price: $24.95 US
Synopsis: A coffee-table book of evocative photography that gives a nice overview of the history of Disneyland. Disney Editions approached Jeff Kurtti about putting together a new hardcover that could be used to commemorate the Park’s 55th anniversary and that would be a book for the next generation of Disneyland fan.
  Circa 1957
Before and after
Review: I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is what it portends to be: an editorial and pictorial summary of Disneyland park from the beginning to the present. And by the present I mean just before the opening of Cars Land in Disney California Adventure. We only get concept artwork for that attraction, which isn’t a bad thing!
The book is divided into 7 main sections covering from 1952 to the present, with each section covering about a decade.
We are treated to images of old rides, concept art, construction photos, and parades and events of past and present. A nice all round look into the history of The Happiest Place on Earth.
Conclusion: I would give this book 4.5 stars out of 5 and note that this would be the ultimate keepsake for anyone who is visiting Disneyland for the first time, like my wife and I were just this past January. But even old time Guests will get a nostalgic kick out this book.
The only downside I could mention is that the writing gets a bit formulaic at times and comes off as a bit of an advertisement from the Disney corporation. But that’s probably just a bit jaded coming from someone who has read an incredible number of these types of publications.
And speaking of negativity, on to our next review:
 Author: Chuck Snyder
Binding: Soft Cover
Pages:26
Publisher: Disney Editions
ISBN:978-142310671-5
Price: $6.95 US
Review: This caught my eye immediately and I bought it without even opening it. That was a mistake. Definitely a good idea for a book, but very poorly executed!
Each of the windows featured in the book has a brief blurb about the recipient and an accompanying photograph. Unfortunately, the text is basic (which in fairness, that’s all such a small book has room for) and the photography is beyond amateurish. I’m sorry, but there’s no other way to say it.
Conclusion: I’d give this book 2 out of 5 stars because it only whets the appetite and leaves you feeling cheated. This is a case where ‘go big or go home’ applies.
One last review to end this post on a more positive note:
Author: Jeff Kurtti
Binding: Soft Cover
Pages:64
Publisher: Disney Editions
ISBN: 978-142312906-6
Price: $7.95 US

Review: This is a much better effort. It closely resembles the souvenir guides that have been a staple at Disney theme parks since the beginning. It’s primarily a pictorial effort which is fine by me! I would also say that it would be a good second choice if the same author’s book Disneyland Through the Decades (reviewed above) is too big or expensive for you. There is some duplication of images between the two books.

Conclusion: I would give this a 5 out of 5 simply because it does exactly what it is supposed to do. It gives a nice overview of Disneyland, in pictures, that a Guest can take home to remember the highlights of his visit.

Book Review: Design – Just for Fun

Author: Bob Gurr
Binding: Hard Cover
Pages: 218
ISBN: 9780615553740
Publisher: APP-GurrDesign Publishing
Price: $58.95 US
Collector’s Edition: 0574 of 1000, signed
Synopsis:
The most thorough behind the scenes stories ever told about Themed Entertainment design at America’s favorite destination resorts – Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Universal Studios Tour, Spectacular Las Vegas and more.
Legendary Imagineer Bob Gurr, as Principal Designer for hundreds of Themed Entertainment projects, takes the reader behind the scenes:
• Learn how Disneyland developed the first Monorail in America.
• See how Universal Studios Tour Animated King Kong came to be.
• A Pirate Battle Show and Sinking Ship in Las Vegas – how did they do it.
• Get the story of the animated Abraham Lincoln at the NY World’s Fair.
• Meet the team behind the Los Angeles Olympics Flying Saucer.
And so much more… with a foreword by Marty Sklar.
Review:
I have to start off by saying that this book is for hardcore Disney fans ONLY! So if you’re a completest, and by that I mean someone who just has to know everything about everything, than this book is for you. Gurr holds nothing back in this tell-all book. And by that I mean he tells us about every bolt he used to create most of Disneyland’s most iconic attractions.
I admit I was geeking out when I started to read this book, but then I just got bogged down by the sheer detail that Gurr shares. It makes this a very hard read. To be honest, I read at least five other Disney-related books while reading this one, because I just had to take a break!
That being said, Gurr’s down to earth style of writing makes the book easier to get through. It’s just Bob talking with Bob’s personality clearly showing through. And that’s not a bad thing! Of course, if you’re a literary critic, than the grammar, spelling, and unnecessary repetition might drive you to distraction. But if you’re able to lighten up and just read along for the ride, it’s an entertaining enough book.
The real beauty of this book is in the pictures. These provide exclusive glimpses into the world of early Disneyland design, as well as into many post-Disney projects that Gurr was involved in. Such as King Kong at Universal Studios. Yes, he did once work for the enemy.
Conclusion:
With heartfelt apologies to Bob Gurr, I have to give this book 3 out of 5 stars. I enjoyed the read overall, but as I say, it’s not a book for everyone, and not an easy read. It’s unlikely to appeal to non-Disney people, and so I can’t rate it higher. But of course, as I said earlier, Disney completists will love it and rate it much higher!
I will say that the last section Adventures of Bob’s World was a great and fun way to end the book, and I found myself smiling and laughing as I read these parting shots.
I was fine with the fact that I had to buy this book from APP-GurrDesign to review it

Book Review: Who’s Afraid of the Song of the South?

Author: Jim Korkis
Publisher: Theme Park Press (Editor – Bob McLain)
Type: Soft Cover
Pages: 276
Price: $19.95 US (Kindle $7.99)
ISBN: 978-0-9843415-5-9
Press Release:
Disney historian and best-selling author Jim Korkis is not afraid of the classic but forbidden Disney film Song of the South.
So who is afraid of it?
The Disney Company, as Jim explains in his new book Who’s Afraid of the Song of the South? And Other Forbidden Disney Stories, available now from Theme Park Press. In his book, Jim provides the first definitive account of the film, its history, its production, and the controversy that still surrounds it. Is Song of the South racist? Is it inappropriate for modern audiences? Why has Disney refused to release the film theatrically since 1986? Using a multitude of sources, including personal interviews with those who worked on the film, Jim examines every aspect of Song of the South’s troubled and troubling history: the problems writing the screenplay, the background of the live actors, how the animation was created, Walt Disney’s personal contributions, why the film remains controversial today, and every other aspect of the film you can’t but should see.
The book features a lengthy foreword by Disney Legend Floyd Norman, Disney’s first black animator and storyman.
Who’s Afraid of the Song of the South? isn’t just about the film. Jim also shares seventeen amazing — and equally forbidden — stories the Disney Company wishes were never told. You’ll learn about Disney’s sex education film, Walt’s plan for Mickey Mouse to commit suicide, Tim Burton’s depressed stint at the Disney Studios, Ward Kimball’s UFO obsession, Walt’s owl nightmares, the Disneyland Memorial Orgy poster, and lots more.
Jim’s authoritative but friendly and accessible style makes Who’s Afraid of the Song of the South? a treat not just for film buffs and academics but for Disney fans everywhere.

Review:

When I read books on Disney or Disney history, I usually end up learning a lot of things I already know, albeit in a new and/or entertaining way. So I’ve come to accept this and not judge a book to harshly for that fault. After all, I’ve read so many books on Disney by now that I challenge any author to surprise with me something new!
So in that regard, I have to say: ‘Thanks for the surprises, Jim!’ Mr. Korkis has put together a very entertaining book that connects all of the little bits of information you may already know about Song of the South, and adds them to a whole bunch of new stuff you don’t know. And context is everything, and is what this book delivers in spades!
If you’re a Song of the South fan (and who isn’t?) and like me are ready to march on Disney’s corporate headquarters to demand a BluRay release, you must read this book first!
But wait, that’s not all! The second section of the book (explained above in the Press Release) is just as entertaining. Suicide, UFOs and orgies. Need I say more?
Everybody says that ‘I couldn’t put it down’ when reviewing a book, but in this case, it just happens to be true! Jim Korkis is one of those writers who manages to get volumes of facts across while never losing sight of the entertaining value of the printed word.
Conclusion:
I don’t often give a book 5 out of 5 stars, but in this case, I’m going to. I can’t think of any way that this book could have been better. Pictures maybe? Actually, Jim’s writing is so colorful, pictures wouldn’t have augmented the book at all. Final words: Buy it!
I’d like to thank Theme Park Press for making me pay for this review copy
LOL – It was worth it!

Book Review: Walt Disney’s Nine Old Men

Walt Disney’s Nine Old Men
The Flipbooks
 Author: Pete Docter
  • Hardcover: 1408 pages
  • Publisher: Disney Editions; Gft Dlx edition (Mar 12 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 978-1423151050
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 14.7 x 17 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 2.7 Kg
  • Price: $60.00 US / $60.00 CAN

Content:

This box set of nine flip books pays tribute to Walt Disney’s original animators–the Nine Old Men: Les Clark, Eric Larson, Frank Thomas, John Lounsbery, Ward Kimball, Ollie Johnston, Mark Davis, Wolfgang Reitherman, and Milt Kahl. Each flip book features an iconic scene from an animated Disney feature in its original line-drawn form, having been selected from among a wide range of films for great movement and classic characters. The films include Alice In Wonderland, Dumbo, Fantasia, Peter Pan, Bambi, Lady and the Tramp, 101 Dalmatians, and Pinocchio. Such iconic clips from the reel of Disney animation history include: Lady and the Tramp’s moonlit spaghetti dinner; Sorcerer Mickey’s ordeal with a horde of mops; and Thumper’s announcement that a prince has been born!
In addition to the flip books, the box contains a booklet providing additional information about the artists
Review:
This is a different kind of book set. It doesn’t take more than a few minutes to flip through the nine books and to catch a glimpse of what an animator sees when proofing his work. But it’s a few minutes well spent!
Pete Docter obviously put a lot of love into this publishing project and it shows. The introductory booklet provides a wonderful insight into each of the nine men featured along with a ‘remembrance’ from a modern animator currently working for Disney.
We’ve all heard of Walt Disney’s nine old men, but now we can really get to know them!
Docter concludes the booklet with a section describing The Animation Process.
Conclusion:
Again, this is a very special book set, and as such won’t appeal to everyone. For the Disney or animation fan, it will be a welcome addition to any existing library. But it doesn’t take long to flip through it, literally, and so some may question the value at $60.00 US.
I would give this release a 4 out of 5 stars, mainly because of the value issue for the general public. And even many Disney readers may end up looking at it once and rarely again. But for the Disney fan, obviously it will rate higher!
I’d like to thank Disney Publishing Worldwide for sending me this preview copy. 

Book Review: Poster Art of the Disney Parks

Authors: Daniel Handke and Vanessa Hunt

ISBN: 1423124111

On Sale: 09/11/2012

Price: $40.00 US / $44.00 CAN
Ages: All

Imprint: Disney Editions

Description: Anyone who has ever walked through the gates at a Disney Park knows that there is a magical experience waiting to be had on the other side. Poster Art of the Disney Parks is a tribute to the colorful attraction posters depicting all the wonderful rides and shows created for Guests by the Imagineers.
Review: This is a beautifully illustrated 146-page large format book with high gloss paper. The images of attraction posters are clear and bright. A feast for the eyes, to be sure!
After the introduction by Tony Baxter, there are 9 chapters: Here You Leave Today…, Main Street, U.S.A., Adventureland, New Orleans Square and Liberty Square, Frontierland, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, Tokyo DisneySea, and Disney California Adventure. The book ends with some acknowledgements and an Index by Artist.
What I like about how the chapters are broken down is that each covers the best of the poster art from all Parks around the world. This isn’t just a North American peek at the posters, but truly an International look.
So just what will you find inside the pages of Poster Art of the Disney Parks? Tony Baxter, in his introduction, says: “Many of the reproductions presented in this book qualify as great illustrations, while others define the word ‘poster’…” I couldn’t agree more!
Walt Disney intended the entrance to Disneyland to be like the lobby of a theatre, and so we understand why he lined the walls with attraction posters. They were meant to whet the appetite of the attendee for what was to come.
Each chapter has a few pages of text to explain something about the area of the Park represented, and some stories about the posters therein. This part of the book is valuable for Disney fans everywhere! Another feature of the book that I appreciated was the pages and pages of proposed attraction posters that never made it to the silk-screening process. We get a nice look at the rough layouts.
I’ll conclude my review with some fun facts:
  • Disneyland used silk-screening to render each poster, but Walt Disney World favored a 4-color lithography process.
  • An average poster could have 60 colors, take a month to complete, and cost over $30,000 just in the labor alone!
  • The poster program ended in the 1990’s but started up again in 2001 for the Tokyo DisneySea Park, thanks to the digital age.
Those are just a few of the fascinating facts you’ll learn in this book.
I’d give this one 5 out of 5 stars, which I hardly ever do! Normally, there is always something that the publisher could improve on, or something else that could have been included. But honestly, I can’t think of one thing that could have made this book any better!

 

I’d like to thank Disney Publishing Worldwide for sending me this preview copy.