Freedomland and Magic Mountain Book Reviews

Freedomland and Magic Mountain Book Reviews

Robert McLaughlin has authored five books that tell the story of C.V. Wood and how he tried to transcribe the success of Disneyland into other parks across the country. I reviewed the two books on Pleasure Island, here. Pleasure Island in Massachusetts wasn’t the first park that Wood got behind, that would be Magic Mountain in Golden, Colorado. Pleasure Island was next, followed by Freedomland in New York. By far, Freedomland was the most popular and will probably spur the most interest. Sadly, none of the Wood parks exist today, except for a part of Magic Mountain. But you need to read the book to see what survived and how.

Freedomland and Magic Mountain Book Reviews: Magic Mountain

freedom land and magic mountain books

Magic Mountain is part of Arcadia Publishing’s Image of Modern America series, which means many of the images are in color. McLaughlin has taken his obsession with Pleasure Island and created a tale of C.V. Wood’s machinations through these titles. Wood was one of the original planners of Disneyland and used that “title” to help create other Disneyland-style parks across the country. Magic Mountain tells the story of a theme park that grows and changes; originally dreamed up by Colorado businessman, Walter F. Cobb, Magic Mountain was a surprisingly short-lived park. You can see the similarities born of Wood’s intimate knowledge of Disneyland as well as the fact that Wood harnessed a lot of the creatives from Disneyland.

Magic Mountain is a charming and heart-breaking story of a park that just couldn’t live up to the financial burdens of a Disneyland-style park. Still, it’s a wonderful read that should considered the first book on the C.V. Wood series. MacLaughlin used contracts, news clippings and internal documents to help tell the story. One of the more interesting points is that guests were allowed to visit and walk around the park on weekends during construction. Purportedly, this was to generate excitement, but I also assume it was to help with backers and sales. Still, can you imagine walking around an under construction park?

Freedomland and Magic Mountain Book Reviews: Freedomland

freedomland and magic mountain book

Next up are two books on Freedomland. Both are by Arcadia Publishing, with the newest one part of the Modern Images of America series (with color images). McLaughlin has written two books that focus on the park through images, documents and maps. It’s very helpful to have these books on hand because they offer some rare and insightful views of the park.

The Freedomland park would be the last full theme park project that Wood worked on. He started on Six Flags on Texas but that was quickly tuned over to Randy Duell, who would design many more parks. But in the case of Freedomland, it’s not clear that its downfall had similar reasons as Magic Mountain and Pleasure Island; it’s surmised that the land on which Freedomland sat was much more valuable without the park.

freedomland and magic mountain book

McLaughlin is able to use the Freedomlanders employee training manual (created by Van Arsdale France) to discuss what happened during the first season of the park. Just like Magic Mountain and Pleasure Island, the similarities to Disneyland are uncanny and unexpected. It feels as if parts of Disneyland were lifted from Southern California and deposited in the Bronx. The photos, in many cases, are stunning and you long for a chance to stroll through Little Old New York or Old San Francisco. Or try out one of the dark rides to compare them to their cousins at Disneyland.

Freedomland and Magic Mountain Book Reviews

Overall, I enjoyed these books immensely and I am glad that I was able to learn so much more about C.V. Wood and the parks that he created. The books help to fill in the gaps about themed entertainment post-Disneyland and offer insight into the time period.

And it makes you wonder, if C.V. Wood had the drive and ambition to get these parks built, then why did they fail?

Are you going to pick up any of these Freedomland and Magic Mountain books?

FTC Disclosure: A copy was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review. This post contains affiliate links, which means that ImagiNERDing receives a percentage of sales purchased through links on this site. Thank you for your support!

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