Sunday, July 3, 2011

Book Review: Disney's America on Parade

Disney's America On Parade - A History Of The U.S.A. In A Dazzling Fun-filled Pageant Text by David Jacobs. 1975. 143 pp.

"America On Parade" ran from June 6, 1975 to September 6, 1976 at Walt Disney World and from June 12, 1975 to September 12, 1976 at Disneyland. Bob Jani, entertainment head, led a group of Disney designers to create special floats and costumes (the characters with the big heads) to celebrate America's Bicentennial. The book, Disney's America On Parade, is part history book and part look at the creation of the floats and characters.

The Introduction to the book (six full pages) is the only section that discusses the parade. The rest of the book is written as a primer for anyone looking for more information about the first 200 years of America's history. I would hazard a guess that it is geared towards the sixth through eight grade history student. Seriously, it is a history text.

Beside being one of the longest and largest parades in Disney history, "America On Parade" showcased a few technical milestones, including a new way of using audio with the floats. From the Introduction:

To make the most of the recorded music, the Disney engineers devised a system whereby selected units broadcast from their own loudspeakers while others broadcast their signals to radio receivers along the parade route; then the signals are rebroadcast through loudspeakers in fixed locations. The radio-transmitted signals and the signals broadcast from the units themselves are perfectly synchronized, and make music that is almost symphonic in its constancy and pacing.
By far, the best feature of the book is the images. Concept art, maquettes and in-park photos appear on almost every page. In addition, there are three fold out pages that show the parade in action at Disneyland. Here are a few images from the book:


This was an actual float used in the parade!





Everyone loves food in a parade, right?

This book isn't for everyone. If you are a completist or have an interest in parades at Disney, then you need to grab a copy now. It is a fun way to see how Disney portrayed American history, especially how the pilgrims punished people. Otherwise, you can enjoy a lot of the scanned images by searching online.

For some great images of the parade, visit the Disney's America on Parade page at Werner Weiss' Yesterland.


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