Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Andy published this review on August 7, 2007. I recently finished the book and realized that I could not say it any better than Andy did over a year ago. My contribution is the Bottom Line.
There has been so much talk lately about the rekindled flame between Disney and Pixar with some even referring to Lasseter as 'Uncle Lasseter'. I am a true Lasseter believer but have so much caution for coronating him after reading Disney War, by James B Stewart. The references to Eisner being the second coming of Walt early in his tenure at Disney are prevalent in the media at the time. Certainly the buzz on the internet recently has often fallen in the vein ofJohn the Saviour. This book serves as the grandest of cautionary tales, carefully laying out the history of failure at its most visible levels.
Those who know me well know I have been obsessed with this book recently. At over 590 pages, it felt like a relationship. Admittedly, one of my longer relationships.
In the past few months I have read five or six books about Disney, ranging from biographies to field guides, and none of them has captivated me like this book. James Stewart displays an amazing ability to make the non-fiction seems like fiction. Chapters flushed with facts and details are steadily crafted in a digestible and organized manner, sometimes a problem for non-fiction works. Most of all though, the sheer volume of insider information that you feel privileged to read is overwhelming. In the end, the book serves as a scathing indictment of Michael Eisner. Stewart completely reveals the arc of Eisner, painting him early as the genius that saved Disney, and then as any tragic Shakespearean character, as one who lets power intoxicate judgment. The following passage illustrates some of how deep this feeling of coronation ran in Eisner as Stewart recalls a conversation he had with him in his final years as CEO and Chairman:
After some more conversation, and just before we leave for dinner, Eisner gets a pen and a piece of paper. "Disney is a French name, not Irish," he reminds me. "Now look at this." He writes "D'Isner," "Deez-nay," as the French would pronounce it, "is Eisner without the D."
Uh, Mr Eisner, Walt is tired of turning over in his grave. Would you please refill your prescription for crazy pills and stop playing Boggle with the alphabet to tie yourself to the Disney family? Thank you....Oh yeah, back to the book.The book is divided into three sections: The Wonderful World of Disney, The Disenchanted Kingdom, and Disney War. No explanation needed to reveal the general tone of each section. This is the simplest way to describe the arc of Eisner's career. As a testament to Stewart, I felt each section was more addictive than the previous. The deep, detailed accounts of his relationships with Katzenberg and Ovitz dominate the landscape and present him as neurotic and uncontrollable.
What made the deepest impact was the pointed way in which Stewart revealed the flaws of Eisner as he became more entrenched in defending himself. Earlier Daily Figments have pointed to some of the brilliant things he did, such as saving the Imagineers from the chopping block. (Ed. note- Splash Mountain is the Thriller of attractions) The following passage does the opposite, truly showing how Eisner failed to consider any threat to his throne:
In the course of renegotiating the Disney relationship with Pixar, Roth presented Eisner with a proposal that would both solve the issue of succession (Ed note- Eisner would not name a President to succeed Wells and therefore, no successor to himself.) and address the faltering performance of the animation division. It was admittedly bold: Disney should buy Pixar (as it could have done years earlier) and merge its own animation division into it. "Make it all digital," Roth urged. "That's the future." As part of the deal, Eisner should make Steve Jobs, Pixar's chairman, president of Disney. "Jobs is a darling of Wall Street," Roth argued, "And you'd get John Lasseter, the greatest creative mind to ever come out of Disney."
The idea went nowhere.
At any time in the buildup to Eisner's ousting, any person could see the merit in this idea. Eisner could have written himself another ten year contract based on this move alone. But as all tragic characters falter, so goes the phrase, "L'etat, c'est moi".
I have heard other Geeks say they have hesitated on reading this as they are uncomfortable with the Disney dirt. Please, read away as this book only made me understand the depths of stewardship we have in protecting Disney. As brother Roy campaigned for "Save Disney" to out Eisner, he was exercising his ability to shepherd Disney back into the greener pastures of creative content that had become barren under Eisner in his later years. I know you will enjoy this read, although you may be sad when it ends its relationship with you. After 590 pages, this is how you treat me???? Another relationship ended.Bottom Line: This book should be required reading for anyone interested in deciphering the Eisner years at the Walt Disney Company. I never had the feeling that Stewart had an agenda, per se, but that he was amazed at what happened within the board room at Disney. It does read like a corporate thriller with very familiar characters throughout. Some of the decisions that Stewart discusses boggle the mind--you wonder what was Eisner thinking? This is a title that most public libraries will have on their shelves.
Friday, December 26, 2008
- Didier at The Disney History Blog shares a story from Jim Korkis about Walt's involvement with Toys for Tots.
- The next issue of the Passamaquoddy Enquirer is available now. Get your copy before they run out!!!
- Foxxfur at Passport2Dreams links us to her new article at Widen Your World.
- The Disneyana World blog posts a few shots of a 1978 shopping bag. Great graphic!
- Major Pepperidge at Gorilla's Don't Blog has a few 1971 construction shots of the Contemporary.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
While so many people are enjoying time at home, I wanted to remind everyone about Fromage Homage. I talked about the site here. It is a great wiki site where you can document the little tributes, crates, windows, gags and other ephemera in the parks. Make sure you sign up and contribute today! Foxxfur has been adding a lot of content for the Liberty Square area of the Magic Kingdom.
Three titles arrived this morning fresh from Santa's sleigh!
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
You can see that Imagineering and/or Park Operations can and will change things!
Sunday, December 21, 2008
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).
Friday, December 19, 2008
- Daveland posts some great black & white Tomorrowland shots. I love seeing interior shots from the early days. He also posts a great Disneyland update at the end of this post.
- Doc Terminus from Passamaquoddy posts #13 of his Top Ten With Tim list.
- Vintage Disneyland Tickets has a 1967 Aerial shot of Disneyland for us.
- Didier from the Disney History blog shares an interview with the author of the upcoming Hippo in a Tutu book.
- Cory from The Voyages Extraordinaire posts a photo essay on Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant.
- Wade Sampson at MousePlanet tells the story of the Roger Rabbit that almost was.
- Doc Terminus from Passamaquoddy ventures into the Peter Ellenshaw Museum once again.
- Richard from Photos From the Parks shares a photo essay about the Liberty Belle. He also posts some rarely seen photos of BTMRR.
- David from Vinatge Disney Collectibles posts images and paraphernalia from vintage Macy's parades.
- Pete Emslie at Cartoon Cave presents a Happy Birthday tribute to Leonard Maltin.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
You can see from the two shots above, that a lot of land was cleared after 20K was removed. The top photo is a recent satellite image and the shot on the bottom is a circa 1999 aerial photo from:
Sunday, December 14, 2008
The E-Ticket began publication in 1986 by Disneyland fans and brothers, Leon and Jack Janzen. Leon passed away in September 2003 and issue #40 was their last one together. Jack has produced 5 issues since then, with the final one on the way.
The E-Ticket is one of my favorite publications. The Brothers Janzen were obsessed with Disneyland--in a good way, of course--and their proximity to Disneyland allowed them to reach many Imagineers throughout the years. The magazine is filled with interviews, ride histories (and layouts), collectibles and wonderful photographs. One of my favorite recurring segments is Wings-Over-Disneyland where they feature an aerial shot of the park.
The articles are a step above most books and blogs due solely to the level of research. Besides a handful of bloggers, no one has written anything that comes close to the level of the Janzens for their research and academic style. The E-Ticket is a treasure to the hardcore Disney Geek. It is truly a one-of-a-kind resource.
Over the years, the early issues have become very scarce and very expensive. The Janzens have released two CDs that cover the first 16 issues and they are still available through their website. Various issues are still available in print (starting with issue #25) and well worth the cost. I am very excited to get my hands on volume one of the CD and five additional back issues. I own volume two, as well, and it is a treasure.
Visit The E-Ticket web site to order available back issues and the two CD-Roms.
Friday, December 12, 2008
- Matterhorn at Stuff From the Park posts scans a 1960 Sansei Amusement catalog. You can see how much Disney influenced the world with Disneyland.
- Vintage Disneyland Tickets shares a 1964 Disneyland map and a special surprise.
- Jeff pepper from 2719 Hyperion posts a Santa-related snapshot. And a Mickey-related Christmas Freeze Frame.
- Daveland takes us on a tour of the new Sleeping Beauty walkthrough at Disneyland.
- Didier at The Disney History blog shares information on a new book. Didier interviews the head of the Animation Research Library, Lella Smith.
- Ray at Grumpy's Hollow posts a sneak peak at his new article for Celebrations Magazine #2.
- Hitchhiking Ghosts shares a Pirates of the Caribbean book and a page image. I need to get this one!
- Ryan at the Main Street Gazette takes a look at The Cameraman at Disney's Hollywood Studios.
- Cory from Voyages Extraordinaire posts an excellent essay on Sleepy Beauty.
- Wade Sampson at MousePlanet weighs in with a look at the casting of Song of the South.
- Stephen at ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Animation Archive shares a scan of Disney's Artist Tryout Handbook.
- FoxxFur at Passport2Dreams offers some great insight into authorship, creativity and the Haunted Mansion.
Live from Walt Disney World:
Ray from Grumpy's Hollow and Ryan from the Main Street Gazette are live blogging at this weekend's MouseFest celebration. Check out their posts and see if you recognize anybody.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Check it out and leave him some Disney Geek love.
I had a request from a reader for information about the upcoming The Art of Walt Disney World book by Jeff Kurtti and Bruce Gordon.
Anyway, I'm wondering if you'd happen to have any info on that "Art of Walt
Disney World" book that was supposed to come out a while ago. I haven't been
able to find any info on it anywhere. I know it's supposed to be exclusively
sold in the parks, but I've yet to see it anywhere. Any idea what the status is?
I contacted Jeff Kurtti about the book and he responded that the book was waiting to go to the printers and should be available soon. As amazing as The Art of Disneyland is, this book should be amazing. The only drawback is that it will be a theme park exclusive, like Walt Disney World Then, Now and Forever.
Author Adam Goodger sent me a note about his new book called Imagineering The Way: The Unofficial History Of The Magic Kingdom.
The book is available in electronic download or as print-on-demand.
This is not a guide book, although it would be a great resources to take to
the parks. It is designed to be an accessible look at the history of the Magic
Kingdom. The book begins with the creation of Walt Disney World. How it came
about, how Walt bought the land and why the idea for Walt Disney World came
about in the first place. We visit Disney World's first press conference, the
preview centre and the park opening days. As well as the history of how the park
came about it also looks back at admission and how that has changed, from the
original admission price, the ticket books all the way to the multi-day tickets.
As well as the history of Phase 1 the book takes an in-depth look at
each land, ride, show and attraction including a specific chapter on
Cinderella's Castle. Each chapter focuses on a specific land with each of its
rides, shows and attraction, both past and present, given a detailed overview.
Each ride, show or attraction that warrants a ride-through or show
transcript is given one (including Big Thunder Mountain). These include both
past and present attraction at the Magic Kingdom.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
So, the China Pavilion opened without a major restaurant?
Dave Smith writes:
It seemed a little odd that World Showcase opened with China but no Chinese Restaurant, because of the popularity of Chinese cuisine. The omission was remedied three years later, and the resulting restaurant has been honored with awards for its blend of Chinese cuisine from many of the provinces.The Lotus Blossom Cafe opened in September of 1985.
--Disney A to Z, the Official Encyclopedia. p 359.
You can see the other Way Back posts here.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Image Courtesy Brian Fee
In researching the segment, I used several resources:
- Walt Disney World the First Decade (My book review)
- Walt Disney World, 20 Magical Years
- Since The World Began: Walt Disney World: The First 25 Years
- Walt Dated World
- Widen Your World
Thanks, as well, go to Foxxfur at Passport2Dreams for some much needed inspiration and background info.
Don't forget to check out my other appearances on the WDW Radio Show.
Friday, December 5, 2008
- Hans Perk at A Film L.A. shares a video of the Sherman Brothers receiving the National Medal of Arts.
- Big Brian at Mousin' It Up has a detailed look at the Friendships, including the varying paint schemes.
- Mike at News + Notes links to an interactive tour of Walt's Disneyland apartment.
- Jack Spence takes us on a tour of the new exhibit at Morocco.
- Foxxfur at Passport2Dreams posts Park Mystery #7. File this one under Obsessive (but cool).
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Another shot from the Flickr collection of Jeff B. This one features the fountain from the Imagination Pavilion in EPCOT Center in 1983.
Don't forget to click through and leave Jeff a comment.
Catch his other photos that I have featured here.