Book Review: The Magic of Disneyland and Walt Disney World

The Magic of Disneyland and Walt Disney World by Valerie Childs. 1979, 96 pages.

Valerie Childs wrote this picture-laden look at Disneyland and Walt Disney World in 1979. Although it was not an official publication, it was endorsed by Walt Disney Productions and WED Enterprises. She wrote another edition in 1982 (but dropped the Walt from Walt Disney World).

The real strength of this book is the photographs that appear on every page (except the introduction). The book is presented much like the souvenir guides to the theme parks; lots and lots of pictures. The first seven pages present a very generic version of the company history outlining the major events that led to the creation of Disneyland and Walt Disney World. The rest of the book is comprised of photographs that alternate between Disneyland and Walt Disney World. If nothing else, it will test your historical knowledge of the parks.
I liken the photographs to a time capsule from the late 1970s; not to mention the fashions, but the fact that many of the attractions and features have changed over the past 30 years. A few of the photographs would seem to be stock photos, but many are taken from such unique vantage points, that you might wonder where the photographer was standing. The photographs are dated and the work does have the look of a book from the 1970s. Many of the pictures are clear, but some have that grainy, yellow look to them. I think the images speak for themselves.

Tom Sawyer Island (Disneyland)

The Olde Worlde Antique Shop (Magic Kingdom)

The Walt Disney World Railroad
A majority of the pictures feature guests and characters, almost like your own vacation scrapbook. You do get some interesting glimpses of carpets, finishes and areas with much less vegetation than today. It also seems that Disney was not as scrupulous in the images that were allowed to be presented. This book is a great resource for us park detectives that spend time analyzing each photo for various details. 

Tomorrowland (Disneyland)

The Admiral Joe Fowler (Magic Kingdom)
Bottom Line: There is nothing revolutionary about this title but it is a fun trip down memory lane. If you were never able to visit Disneyland or Walt Disney World in the 1970s, then you will love the visions of the parks from that time period. I would recommend this book if you can find a copy for a relatively cheap price or in the bargain bin. It is a must-have for the enthusiasts interested in what the parks looked like in the 1970s.


7 thoughts on “Book Review: The Magic of Disneyland and Walt Disney World

  1. Before I knew anything about “finding” books about Walt Disney World…this book sat on my dad’s home office book shelf for as long as I can remember…we’re talking very early 80’s. I would lay on the floor and just pour over these photographs for hours! Back before VHS or the internet, this book totally transported me back to our family trips down south! That very same copy now sits on my bookshelf and it’s always a warm monorail ride to Memory Lane whenever I open it!

  2. George – your comment “but many are taken from such unique vantage points, that you might wonder where the photographer was standing” is right on. From the last shot one is led to believe the Joe Fowler riverboat actually ran counter-clockwise. I think that’s the prize image, right there and wonder if it was taken prior to October 1971.

  3. Great review, George. This is actually one of my favorite books (like you, I like books with lots of pictures LOL). And even from a “research” standpoint, getting great photos like the one you showed of Ole World Antiques (you would have been like a bull in a China shop there), are valuable.

  4. I love these old books. While many offer great pieces of insight into the era, like you, I find the photographs the most interestign. It may be the fact that I love the horticulture elements so much, that it is great to see what has grown, overgrown, or been kept trimmed over time. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Nice post, George. I’ve had my copy of this book SINCE the 1970s and, as a kid, I enjoyed making a game of identifying each photo as either DL or WDW. Since I wouldn’t actually make a trip to Florida until the 1990s, the images of Walt Disney World were a marvel to me. I recall the big 2-page spreads of the Polynesian Village Resort boggled my 10-year-old mind!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *