Walt Disney World Books

I’ve added more titles to the Walt Disney World bibliography. A more recent listing can be found at Mice Chat.

A frequent request at Imaginerding 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!

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.

  • Smith, Dave. Disney: The First 100 Years. 1999. An essential part of every collection, Disney Archives Head Smith has put together a chronological look at the Disney Company.

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. You can read my review here.

  • Gennawey, Sam. Walt and the Promise of Progress City. 2011. An urban planner by trade, Sam is uniquely qualified to trace the development of EPCOT Center. This books looks at how Walt evolved his plans and what EPCOT Center might have looked like if plans had progressed. You can read my review here.
  • 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 kingdom. It has a great stylized map and lots of pictures.

Attraction Specific

  • Jacobs, David. Disney’s America On Parade – A History Of The U.S.A. In A Dazzling Fun-filled Pageant. 1975. It is hard to believe that Disney released a book that focuses solely on a parade! This is a wonderful mix of history, concept art and photographs of the long-running and well-loved parade at Disneyland and Walt Disney World during the country’s bicentennial. You can read my review here.
  • Leaphart, David. Walt Disney World Railroads Part 1: Fort Wilderness Railroad. 2010. David has compiled an monumental and magnificent look at the Fort Wilderness Railroad. A must for any fan of Fort Wilderness, trains or early Walt Disney World anecdotes. Visit the author’s website for more information. You can read my review here.
  • Leaphart, David. Walt Disney World Railroads Part 1: Fort Wilderness Railroad Gallery Companion. 2010. A companion guide to David’s work on the Fort Wilderness Railroad. More pictures than you can shake a stick at!

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.

  • Fjelmman, Stephen J. Vinyl Leaves: Walt Disney World And America. 1992. Vinyl Leaves is a rare book in the fact that it takes a detailed look at Walt Disney World from 1988-1992 and details almost every attraction. It is presented as a sociological/anthropological look at Disney and America, but the descriptions of the parks are the strongest points. The index is astounding and will be referenced for years to come. 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 (Alex Wright is the main author), 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.
  • Justice, Bill. Justice for Disney: Animator, Director, Imagineer. 1992. Bill was a pivotal person in the development of animatronics and a few early Walt Disney World attractions. It is a very charming memoir and offers something for everyone. You can read my review here.

October 2011 marked the 40th anniversary of the opening of the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. The Vacation Kingdom has seen a lot of changes over the past four decades and the editorial staff at Imaginerding wants to celebrate the unique and rich history of the resort with a series of posts. 

A very special thanks to Celeste Cronrath for designing the series of logos for our posts. Make sure to follow her on Twitter.

Don’t forget to stop by our site and leave some Disney Geek love!


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