Bibliography: Walt Disney World History

I have posted this previously at 2719 Hyperion, the other Disney blog that I co-manage. I have added a new review since then and wanted to repost it here. Enjoy!

A frequent request we receive at 2719 is for books about the history of Walt Disney World. While there isn’t one book that covers it completely, there are several titles you can digest that will give you a very good picture. There are a lot of titles available and they come from different sources; check out the ones that look most interesting.

The definition of a bibliography is:

a complete or selective list of works compiled upon some common principle, as authorship, subject, place of publication, or printer.

This bibliography is by no means a complete list of books available on Walt Disney World; I have only added books that I own. Feel free to leave a comment if I have missed something good!
You can always keep up with the Walt Disney World-related titles we have reviewed by clicking here.

General Interest
The books included in this set focus on more than just Walt Disney World. I consider each title an essential part of any Disney enthusiast’s library.

The following titles are specific to Walt Disney World and cover more than just an attraction. The Kurtti, Koenig and Beard titles are a must!

  • Beard, Richard F. Walt Disney’s Epcot Center: Creating the New World of Tomorrow. 1982. This is the book that every fan of Epcot should own. An amazing amount of conceptual artwork and photos of the park during its first few months. In-depth information on the pavilions and anecdotes from the Imagineers. There are three editions: a pre-opening, post-opening and a short version. The difference in the post- and pre- is whether some of the pictures are in-park photos or close-ups of models.
  • Gordon, Bruce; Kurtti, Jeff. Walt Disney World Then, Now, and Forever. 2008. Theme Park Exclusive. Gordon and Kurtti have written a history/souvenir guide for Walt Disney World. It does act more like a family scrapbook than a history book, until you delve into its pages. You can read my review here.
  • Mannheim, Steven.Walt Disney and the Quest for Community. 2003. This book could almost be considered a biography of the Epcot that could have been. Mannheim writes a very through-provoking and enjoyable work on Walt Disney’s plans for EPCOT Center and how they germinated and became reality (or didn’t, in some cases). You can read my review here.
  • The Story of Walt Disney World, Commemorative Edition. Various Years (1971, 1973, 1976). An official publication that looks at the first few years of Walt Disney World. It focuses on the building of the Magic Kingdom, the resorts and the rest of the vacation kingdomBulleted List. It has a great stylized map and lots of pictures.

Attraction Specific

There would be no Walt Disney World without these artists.

Detailed-inspired travel guides, academic treatises and amazing photographic titles. Usually more of a time-capsule than a history title.

  • Childs, Valerie. The Magic of Disneyland and Walt Disney World. 1979. I reviewed the book here. This work is mainly a pictorial essay about Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Geared mainly for park detectives and people who visited the parks in the 1970s. You can read my review here.
  • Hannaford, Dee. The Gardens of Walt Disney World Resort. 1988. One of the most beautiful coffee-table books ever produced about Walt Disney World. Amazing photographs of the gardens and natural areas help to create a snapshot of Walt Disney World Resort in 1988. Absolutely gorgeous and belongs in every collection.
  • Imagineering Field Guide Series: Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdomand Disney’s Hollywood Studios. 2005-2009. Written by The Imagineers, this series of guidebooks discusses some of the details and histories of the parks. They are designed to be taken into the park with you; hence the artwork can be fairly small, but exciting.
  • Marling, Karal Ann. Designing Disney’s Theme Parks: The Architecture of Reassurance. 1998. Marling presents a series of academic articles written by historians, critics and architects that look at the development of the Disney theme park. Wonderful photographs.
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9 thoughts on “Bibliography: Walt Disney World History

  1. Perhaps I could add one more book about Disney World history to your list, specifically Epcot history. It’s my own Building a Better Mouse. It tells the tale of the hundreds of mostly young, mostly bright and all embarrassingly idealistic people who worked on Epcot, and gives a unique insider’s perspective on what it was like to be in the trenches as a Disney Imagineer in the early 1980s, from pixie dusting – when new employees are indoctrinated into all things Disney – through the craziness of the engineering design process, right up until the last frantic dash to opening day.

  2. Steve, Thanks for the comment! I have had the book for a while, but I wasn’t familiar with it. I cracked it open this morning and started reading it. It looks fantastic! I can’t wait to really get into it and see what you have to say.

  3. Holy cats, it’s Steve Alcorn. Wow.

    Allow me to second his nomination of “Building a Better Mouse”. Pure EPCOT Center, too – I really wish there were more books out there like it. Good stuff. Oh, the million questions I could ask…

    Good list, George. I’ve been meaning to do something like this myself. Yet I have a huge backlog of new releases to review… ack!

  4. HA! It’s been a while since I read the book and I had forgotten that was in there! I didn’t even think to check when I was desperately looking for citations last night.

    I just checked the book and found the passage – it’s funny that the bathrooms had their own parade control systems. I remember when I did WDWCP in 1996 there were still component racks in EPCOT Computer Central labeled for “Equatorial Africa”. They had switched out a lot of the equipment for newer, more compact devices but they still had the giant binloop tables for the Future World attractions. Sigh…

  5. Thanks for reposting this. Your book posts are always great, and always remind me that no matter how many books I have there are always (too many) more that I “need.” I just added a few more to my Amazon shopping cart.

  6. I also recommend VINYL LEAVES by Stephen M. Fjellman, which contains some fascinating information about the infrastructure of the park including the central kitchen and the garbage and water systems.

  7. Steve, just finished the book last night. It was amazing! I will never look at any Epcot Pavilion (especially the American Adventure) the same way again. What a marvel of modern engineering.

    Kudos on a well-written and exciting read about the creation of Epcot.

  8. Thanks, George. Its a good thing we wrote most of that book back in the 80s, because David and I had forgotten a huge poportion of the stories in there!

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