Book Review: The Art of Toy Story 3 by Charles Solomon

The Art of Toy Story 3 by Charles Solomon. 176 pp. 2010.

Charles Solomon, an internationally respected animation historian and critic, has crafted a fantastic look at the creation of the final installment of the Toy Story trilogy. Solomon has authored several Disney-related titles and has contributed to numerous articles about animation. We have covered several of his titles at Imaginerding:

Charles Solomon is well-positioned to write a book about the creation of an animated film from Disney. He is one of the few authors/critics that has been allowed access to the Animation Research Library at Disney and his intimate knowledge of animation carries this book to higher levels.

The Table of Contents and Totoro!

The Art of Toy Story 3 is a beautiful book. Every time I read a book in the Art of… Series published by Chronicle Books, I wish that similar books had been published about all of the classic Disney films. The books in the series are beautiful and provide absolutely stunning artwork. In most cases, it is hard to distinguish whether the art or the included text is more important–both offer amazing insights into the creation of the films. This book does more than just provide artwork from Toy Story 3; it also provides a look at how the other films were created. In many cases, there are fantastic side-by-side images. Solomon was able to interview many of the artists from the previous Pixar films to discuss how the art and story have evolved.

A gorgeous full-color spread.
Early story board for the opening of Toy Story 3.

In the age where technological prowess is often trumped over the art of the films, it is a joy to see that the roots of such a technologically advanced art form still start with a pencil and paper. Solomon brings his view of traditional animation and applies it to the creative forces behind this computer-animated blockbuster.

Early concept art for the characters.

Throughout the book, Solomon brings to life the struggle that the artists had when dealing with bringing well-loved and well-known characters back to the screen. The Toy Story toys are characters that we have known for the past seventeen years. Even though technology has grown, the artists still needed to make sure that the toys looked and acted the way we have come to expect them to.

The differences that ten years make!

When creating a believable story, the artists of an animated feature have so many more details that need to be discussed that are completely in the hands of the animators and support staff. Besides dialog and character design, you have the opportunity to create new worlds. Especially new worlds that fit seamlessly inside the Toy Story universe. There is a lot of discussion in the book about lighting, colors and the emotional responses of color; there was quite a bit of red during the dump scenes and lots of yellows, blues and greens in Bonnie’s room.

What a difference between night and day!
Look! Totoro!

The Art of Toy Story 3 is just as enchanting as the film and adds so much more depth and detail to the characters and the stories behind the film. The anecdotes that Solomon presents about the filmmakers are wonderful and will be cherished by researchers and enthusiasts for years to come.

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

Book Review: Tale As Old As Time, The Art and Making of Beauty and the Beast by Charles Solomon

Book Review: Tale As Old As Time, The Art and Making of Beauty and the Beast by Charles Solomon

Tale as Old as Time: The Art and Making of Beauty and the Beastby Charles Solomon. 2010

Charles Solomon is a well-respected author and animation historian. The Disney That Never Was and Disney Lost and Found are two of his more recent Disney-related titles. Each one takes the reader on an amazing trip into the Animation Research Library (also known as The Morgue) to ferret out animation that never made it into production. Charles was approached by Don Hahn about writing a thoughtful and accurate portrayal of what it was like to produce Beauty and the Beast.

Charles succeeded and produced a beautiful look at a film that changed both the animation and the animators that created it forever.

With a film as wildly successful as Beauty and the Beast, you would think that there wasn’t much left to write about. Charles does a fantastic job of interviewing the animators and digging up storyboards, sketches and artwork that relate the story of creating the film. Living in a post-Beauty world, it is hard to imagine the effect this film had. Tale as Old as Time does a fantastic job of bringing that story to life.

Charles looks at the beginnings of this particular fairy tale and follows it all the way to Disney’s production on Broadway. The most touching parts of the work deal with the artists and their struggle to capture a story that would resonate on film. You gain a unique insight as to how a group of animators and producers came together to actualize such a moving and resonating film. One of the most telling aspects is when Howard Ashman and Alan Mencken are brought in to revitalize the project. It really is true that Ashman and Mencken gave the film its soul.

This book is an amazing companion to the Blu-ray release of the film. The documentary Beyond Beauty, that is featured on the second disc, follows a similar path as the book. They complement each other and provide hours of cognizance for the Disney enthusiast and Beauty and the Beast fan. Where the documentary diverges is the ability to see early animated cartoons and to see the passion that the production crew had. The book offers magnificent reproductions of the artwork and Charles’ amazing research and writing skills.

The artwork does steal the show yet not to the chagrin of the author. Beauty and the Beast is as compelling today as it was in 1991 and Tale as Old as Time reinforces the love that is held for the film. Production sketches, animated cels and background artwork fill every page. Some of the artwork provided is breathtaking.

Tale as Old as Time is perfect for the animation and Beast fan. And Belle fan. Heck, it’s a great read for everyone who has seen the film.


Book Review: Queens In the Kingdom

From the Archives:
Recently, Jennifer, from Broke Hoedown, posted a podcast episode (Those Darn Cats) about Gay Days at Walt Disney World. Two years ago, she posted this review on Imaginerding and I chose to dust it off and present it again. Unfortunately, it has not been updated since 2007, but there is a Kindleversion.


Jennifer, from the entertaining, insightful and often irreverent site Broke Hoedown, agreed to do our latest Be Our Guest Post. Instead of a regular article or post, I asked Jennifer to review Queens in the Kingdom,a gay and lesbian travel guide to Disney. Jennifer describes her blog:

She’s also noticed that most Disney fan sites require participants to keep everything PG at all times. Jennifer herself is rated NC-17, and while she can keep it in check when she needs to, why bother in her own personal blog? She hopes that a few people here and there might enjoy her blog, but doesn’t promise that it’ll always be appropriate reading for children. She’s also not the type to keep her political opinions to herself, so they’ll show up here too.

I have been a fan of Broke Hoedown since we started Imaginerding. Jennifer has been blogging for a long time! She is also one half of Those Darn Cats, a semi-weekly podcast that, in their own words, rambles. But it is always a lot of fun!

I saw this book when it first came out, but didn’t pick up a copy until after I’d heard the authors on one of my favorite podcasts, WDW Today. I figured, hey, I don’t need a queer guide to the Disney Parks. I know how to tour the parks, Disney’s a fairly gay-welcoming destination, what do these guys have to tell me?
Well, as it turns out, they’ve got plenty to tell me, and you might just be interested in a bit of this yourself, regardless of your personal sexual orientation. Queens in the Kingdom should really be required reading for any irreverent Disney fan, for those of us with a slightly offbeat aesthetic. Obsessive Disney trip planners won’t find it a likely replacement for books such as The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World (my personal fave basic text for WDW trip planning), but should instead consider it a companion piece, for when you just need a bit more fabulous, a slightly less mainstream look at our beloved parks.
Queens in the Kingdom is an overview of Disney Parks worldwide, plus the Disney Cruise Line. Predictably, the Orlando and Anaheim locations comprise the vast majority of the content, with brief teasers about Paris, Tokyo, and Hong Kong. There are also brief reviews of other nearby attractions in Southern California and Orlando. Most Walt Disney World and Disneyland attractions are reviewed, as are many resorts and restaurants, with “Fairy Facts” dispersed liberally throughout the guide. Were it not for this guide, I might never have known that the Indiana Jones figure in the Indiana Jones Adventure attraction has nipples, and perhaps the world is a richer place because they have shared this information with us all.
On a sadder note, this guide is also where I learned that a group of (presumably gay) men were harassed by other Guests at my default Disney resort, Pop Century. I of course am hoping that this was an isolated incident. It does though provide a reminder that there are special travel considerations for same-sex couples (and individuals who are perceived as queer, regardless of their actual orientation), and this guide does provide those tips. Scattered throughout the book are tips about quiet places where one might have the privacy to hold hands or even share a quick smooch with one’s sweetie. While these tips may be appreciated even by the heterosexually-inclined, they’re more important for those for whom any publicly-displayed affection might trigger harassing or even violent reactions from other Guests.
The back pages of the book include a “Compare and Contrast” of the attractions located at both Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World. It’s a brief section, and Lord knows plenty of us have mentally constructed such lists ourselves, but the authors’ aesthetic provides welcome humor. The difference between Disneyland’s Astro Orbitor and Walt Disney World’s Astro Orbiter? One vowel, they tell us, and leave the rest open to debate.
Bottom Line: Important resources for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Disney travelers. An amusing and irreverent read for everybody. Hipster Disneyphiles, this should be in your bookcase!

Thanks, Jennifer! Be sure to stop by Broke Hoedown and leave her some Disney Geek love!


Book Review: Walt in Wonderland by Merritt and Kaufman

Walt in Wonderland: The Silent Films of Walt Disney by Russel Merritt and J.B. Kaufman. 1994, 176 pages (paperback released in 2000).


Tommy Tucker’s Tooth.
Before Mickey Mouse, these were the characters and films that represented the Disney name. You might be familiar with some of them and a few of them are only known through production notes, stills and roughed-out sketches. Merritt and Kaufman’s book is a historical, critical and very satisfying look at the silent films of Walt Disney. It might sound fairly flat to read an entire book on silent films, but it is engaging and very well-written. Not only will you gain insight into the creativity and themes that developed in the first films, but you will come away with a better understanding of the Company and early animation.
Russell Merritt, PhD., is currently an Adjunct Professor of Film Studies at UC Berkley. In addition to his writings on the silent films and Silly Symphonies of the Disney Company, he is considered an authority on D.W. Griffith. J. B. Kaufman is an independent film historian who has published extensively on Disney animation.
This title examines all of the known silent films produced by Walt Disney. Starting with the earliest work in Kansas City (1921) to the beginnings of Mickey Mouse (1928). This is the quintessential look at Walt’s silent films and should be in every researcher’s library. The authors have created a singular treatise on the evolution of Disney animated films from silence to sound.
In addition to covering the films, Walt In Wonderland is a fairly in-depth look at the beginnings of Walt Disney Productions. From the Kansas City Film Ad to Laugh-O-Gram Films to the first Disney Brothers’ Studio on Kingswell Avenue. There are stills from most of the films and a plethora of historical photos of Disney during his first years in the animation field. Scattered throughout the book are production sketches, scripts and early storyboards.
There are four main sections covered in the book: the importance of The Cat and Rabbit Years, the Kansas City Period, Alice Comedies and Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Each section looks in frank detail at the animation and state of the studio at the time. Often underlined is the importance of certain works in the overall scheme of the Disney creative canon.
Included is a complete list of all of the silent films made by Walt Disney from 1921 to 1928. Many times, the only information available was from eyewitness testimonies, sketches, summary sheets and the collection of private individuals.

It is hard to look at Disney’s work in silent animation apart from the blinding afterimage of Mickey Mouse, the Silly Symphonies, and Disney’s subsequent productions. Inevitably, the associations with Disney, the reinventor of fairy tales and amusement parks, the ubiquitous purveyor of American sweetness and light, affect what we look for when we watch the earliest films. Where did it all come from? Where are the clues that reveal Mickey and Snow White lurking in the wings? Were those bourgeois values always there, lurking below the surface like some Faustian devil, or did they only come later with prosperity and creeping middle age?
–p. 14.

Merritt and Kaufman do a fantastic job of answering the questions they pose. You will leave this book with a much greater and deeper appreciation for the strides made by Disney and his collaborators.

Book Review: The Disney War by James B. Stewart

Disney War by James B. Stewart. 580 pp, 2005 (Afterword 2006).

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.



Book Review: The Magic of Disneyland and Walt Disney World

The Magic of Disneyland and Walt Disney World by Valerie Childs. 1979, 96 pages.

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).

The real strength of this book is the photographs that appear on every page (except the introduction). The book is presented much like the souvenir guides to the theme parks; lots and lots of pictures. The first seven pages present a very generic version of the company history outlining the major events that led to the creation of Disneyland and Walt Disney World. The rest of the book is comprised of photographs that alternate between Disneyland and Walt Disney World. If nothing else, it will test your historical knowledge of the parks.
I liken the photographs to a time capsule from the late 1970s; not to mention the fashions, but the fact that many of the attractions and features have changed over the past 30 years. A few of the photographs would seem to be stock photos, but many are taken from such unique vantage points, that you might wonder where the photographer was standing. The photographs are dated and the work does have the look of a book from the 1970s. Many of the pictures are clear, but some have that grainy, yellow look to them. I think the images speak for themselves.
Tom Sawyer Island (Disneyland)

The Olde Worlde Antique Shop (Magic Kingdom)

The Walt Disney World Railroad
A majority of the pictures feature guests and characters, almost like your own vacation scrapbook. You do get some interesting glimpses of carpets, finishes and areas with much less vegetation than today. It also seems that Disney was not as scrupulous in the images that were allowed to be presented. This book is a great resource for us park detectives that spend time analyzing each photo for various details. 

Tomorrowland (Disneyland)

The Admiral Joe Fowler (Magic Kingdom)
Bottom Line: There is nothing revolutionary about this title but it is a fun trip down memory lane. If you were never able to visit Disneyland or Walt Disney World in the 1970s, then you will love the visions of the parks from that time period. I would recommend this book if you can find a copy for a relatively cheap price or in the bargain bin. It is a must-have for the enthusiasts interested in what the parks looked like in the 1970s.


Book Review: The Art of Mickey Mouse

The Art of Mickey Mouse, Artists Interpret the World’s Favorite Mouseby Craig Yoe and Janet Morra-Yoe. 1991, 144 pp. (No pagination.)

For this review, I am discussing the 1991 edition. The 1995 edition seems to be more readily available on the second-hand market and is much less expensive.

Craig Yoe has been a toy designer, VP for the Jim Henson Studio, animator and studio owner. He was part of the creative team that created The Muppet-Vision 3D attraction. Janet Morra-Yoe is a photographer, sculptor and fashion designer. The book originated from the Yoes when they thought about Mickey’s popularity in pop culture. They took their adoration of Walt’s mouse and began asking world-famous artists to contribute unique interpretations of Mickey.

Author John Updike provides the seven-page introduction to the book. Mr. Updike discusses his love of Mickey and shares his thoughts on the Mouse’s enduring popularity. The introduction provides the only academic reference in the text–the artwork is really what is important.

It is obvious to the casual observer that the first edition, published in 1991, is really centered on contemporary pop artists. A lot of the artwork contains colors that reflect the times; it is obvious that popular tastes change over the years, especially dealing with pop artists. Much of the artwork is representative of the artists during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. What is obvious to me, is that the artists in question have a deep and abiding love for Mickey Mouse and his affect on culture. They have created some amazing pieces of art that showcase our favorite mouse. Yes, some of the art might seem dated, but they still honor Mickey.

Beyond discussing my favorite pieces, there isn’t much else to say about The Art of Mickey Mouse. About 25% of the art is astounding and looks good over 15 years later. The rest are political, extremely 80’s or just strange. Artistic expression abounds! A few of the artists included: Andy Warhol, William Steig, Charles Schultz, Maurice Sendak, R. Crumb (Rolly Crumb) and Peter Max. Over 100 pieces of art are presented.

In reviewing a work like this, the images can say far more than I can.

Untitled by Hajime Sorayama

Model Sheet by Ward Kimball

Mickey, the Dragon Slayer by Michael R. Hague

Mickey’s Mission by John Ceballos

The First Temptation of Mickey by William Joyce

Untitled by Keith Haring

Bottom Line: The Art of Mickey Mouse is a fun book, but offers little for the theme park or animation fan. If you are a hard-core Mickey fan, a fan of 1991 artwork or the artists featured, then you must have this book. If you can find a cheap copy of the book, I could almost see buying a few copies and framing some of the pieces. There are several editions available, make sure you order the large format one.


Book Review: Walt Disney World Then, Now, and Forever

Walt Disney World Then, Now, and Forever by Bruce Gordon and Jeff Kurtti. 2008, 184 pages.

This book is a theme park exclusive; getting your hands on a copy might be a little more expensive than other Disney-related books. Unless you are visiting or have a friend there, you will have to pick it up on the secondhand market, which will increase the price. If you are able to visit Walt Disney World, you might need to ask a castmember to get it for you.

Bruce Gordon and Jeff Kurtti should be very familiar authors to Disney enthusiasts. Before Bruce passed away, he was an Imagineer and had created a solid body of work that will be treasured for years to come. Jeff is a Disney historian, author, consultant and award-winning producer. Bruce and Jeff worked together on the book until Bruce’s passing. Jeff finished the title for the July, 2008 release.

The format for this book is based on the impressive Disneyland Then, Now and Forever title that was released in 2005. Throwing out the traditional souvenir guidebook format, the authors chose another path. This book reflects the feeling of a family scrapbook–not just your most recent vacation, but a lifetime of vacations to Walt Disney World. They share the photos and text based on larger themes, as opposed to theme park or resort: imagination, traditions, surprises, adventure, wonder, movies, thrills, music, innovations and dreams & makers. Looking at the resort in this light allows the authors to connect attractions in different ways, instead of geographically.

This book shines as a souvenir guide that highlights the aspects of past vacations. The layout is very appealing and contemporary. It sets itself above most other Disney-related guides through the design and presentation. The book conveys a lot of energy and excitement. The writing is crisp and informative. It is a very general overview of Walt Disney World and a lot is covered in minor detail. There are plenty of photographs from throughout the resort’s history–a few which were new to me.

One of the weaknesses of the book is that 184 pages is not enough space to dedicate to the history and current state of Walt Disney World. You get the feeling that a majority of attractions and resorts get glossed over. This has to be from a space and money standpoint. I imagine that a Walt Disney World version of the Disneyland book would need to be close to 500 pages or sold as four to five volumes. I can imagine that Bruce and Jeff had some difficult choices to make about what to include–overall, I agree with everything presented; I just wish there had been more.
Naturally, I wanted to compare this guide with the Disneyland version. Although the books have similar approaches, themes and DNA, they are covering resorts with differing audiences and histories. Both do an excellent job of catering to their intended audience. The Disneyland version offers more for the hardcore Disney enthusiast and the WDW version is geared more for the lay Disney fan.

Bottom Line: As presented, Walt Disney World Then, Now, and Forever is a fresh breath in the line of souvenir guides. It is rather light-weight on the hidden details and minutiae, but serves the purpose of being a vacation scrapbook very well. I would recommend this book to the completists or if you are looking for a very general look at Walt Disney World. It is a light read that is easy to digest. The pictures are beautiful and you will enjoy this title many years from now.

Other Walt Disney World books I have reviewed:

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

Book Review: Disneyland, Then, Now and Forever

Disneyland Then, Now, and Forever by Bruce Gordon and Tim O’Day. 2005, 192 Pages.

This book quickly jumped into the list of my favorite Disney-related books. Published to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Disney’s inaugural park, Disneyland Then, Now and Forever looks at the history of Disneyland with a rather unique twist. It replaced the traditional souvenir guides that you could purchase at the parks. Earlier guides were presented as a companion to your vacation. Usually, they saw minimal changes throughout the years. In this instance, it is so much more.

The unique aspect is that it takes us through the past five decades of Disneyland Resort. Not only do we look at the attractions, but we see the traditions of Disneyland as they have changed and progressed throughout the years. This book is also one of the first sources to show you what attractions existed before the current ones.

Take the section on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, for instance. It covers every attraction that stood in that area since the beginning of the park: Big Thunder, Mine Train Thru Nature’s Wonderland, Rainbow Caverns Mine Train and the Stage Coach and Pack Mule trails. Full-color, full-page photos that show the attractions, the ride vehicles and the landscaping. It is a wonderful way to look at Disneyland–you get a better sense of how the park was arranged and how it has evolved through the years.

What was there before Big Thunder? Nature’s Wonderland.

As a Disney enthusiast, my only criticism is also one of the book’s main strengths: the layout. Like previous publications that Bruce Gordon has created, Disneyland Then, Now and Forever is artistically and stylistically beautiful. The modern page layouts are inviting and attractive. The information is presented in a readable and entertaining format. Yes, the artwork presented is one-of-a-kind and was never before published–but I kept longing for larger shots and less large-scale pictures that got lost in the fold. I know, I can’t have everything!
It is almost shocking to run across a shot of Tomorrowland with wide avenues and not a current building in site. Seeing where the park has been and where it is now is wonderful; I can almost imagine the excitement that guests of the past felt walking towards the Moonliner Rocket.

The book offers plenty of surprises: concept art, the infamous ride posters, rarely seen photos, some intriguing secrets and some less secret secrets. All-in-all, this book offers something for everyone. Even if you are a Walt Disney World only fan, seeing Disneyland presented with such love and excitement will open your eyes to the Magic Kingdom’s older sibling. Remember, there would be no Walt Disney World without the successes of Disneyland.

The authors take us on a journey through most of Disneyland’s history. Throughout the journey, we share snapshots as if in a scrapbook of our vacations. We see how Disneyland has grown and how it has changed. Some moments are wistful and some are potent. But honestly, was the Dairy Bar any different from Club Cool at Epcot? All of the current attractions (from the 50th Anniversary) are covered–there is more presented than just Disneyland’s history. This is quite a remarkable look at an amazing theme park.

Bottom Line: Anyone who has spent time at the Disneyland Resort needs Disneyland Then, Now and Forever on their bookshelves.It is not as comprehensive as The Nickel Tour or Disneyland: Inside Story, but it offers a very accessible history of Disneyland. It is a nostalgic and heart-warming trip through Disneyland’s first 50 years. You won’t regret owning this book–there has not been anything else published like it.
Other Disneyland books I have reviewed:

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

Book Review: The Mouse Machine

The Mouse Machine: Disney and Technology by J.P. Telotte. 232 pages, 2008.

The Mouse Machine was a book that I was very excited to start reading. With a lot of books, you have a certain notion of what to expect between the covers; at first, this book disappointed the theme park fan inside me. When I really got my teeth into it, I realized that this is a work geared towards two types of people: Walt Disney (Company) enthusiasts and animation/film buffs. The theme parks are covered, but in the audio-animatronics area, mainly. Most of the work is dedicated to covering the advances that the House of Mouse created or stumbled upon during its sojourn into popular culture.

Obviously, several high points in the Company’s history take precedence: sound, color, multi-plane and special effects are all covered in great detail. The book takes a while to get going and I was tempted to put it away several times. I am glad that I continued. After the first several chapters, you get used to the academic style and start to enjoy and think about the concepts. Telotte’s intent was to create a work that showed how the technological leaps were not only to heighten the art form, but also acted as a link to technology and popular culture.

The aim of this book is to follow the company’s lead in this regard, to offer a selective look at some of those, often-unseen–or unconsidered– technological supports or developments that, in film, television, and the theme parks, have been crucial to the success of the Walt Disney Company and, at times, also a clue to its limitations.
–pp. 2-3.

Ub Iwerks and Walt garner special focus, but Telotte also looks at the other pioneers in the various film departments. A lot of time is spent in looking at the development of the animated shorts–how they changed the industry technologically and artistically. Telotte does seem to have a fondness, not only for technology, but for popular culture. The other major section of the book concerns the development of special effects for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. He also looks at the development and similarities between 20,000 Leagues and The Black Hole. He offer his thoughts on why the first was a success and the latter, a failure. When Telotte discusses the major technological advances of the company, he does hit all of the milestones of the animation and film development. In the chapter on the theme parks, the focus is on a few of the modern attractions, like: Dinosaur, Alien Encounter and the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular. Most of the seminal theme park attractions are mentioned in passing or as antecedents with nothing more notable than as technological steps. Telotte tries to show the reader how society accepts the technology of the theme park attractions as part of the show instead of just as technology.

The chapter titles give a good impression of where the title takes us:

  1. Sound Fantasy
  2. Minor Hazards: Disney and the Color Adventure
  3. Three Dimensional Animation and the Illusion of Life
  4. A Monstrous Vision: Disney, Science Fiction, and CinemaScope
  5. Disney in Television Land
  6. The “Inhabitable Text” of the Parks
  7. Course Correction: Of Black Holes and Computer Games
  8. “Better than Real”: Digital Disney, Pixar, and Beyond

There is much more to the work than I could cover in a review. Telotte advances many thoughts and concepts that lead to more critical thought about the company. Comparing what Telotte has written to the majority of the Disney literature and you find a competent and exciting work–you just need to get used to the writing style. Most works cover just the people and the art, while we see another side of the company through The Mouse Machine.

Bottom Line: This book is for the animation/film and Disney Company enthusiast. The tone is very heady and academic; most theme park-only fans will not find much of interest. Overall, Telotte adds a very solid work to the body of knowledge on the Walt Disney Company. I am glad I have the book and it adds new perspective to how we think about the monumental progress that the Walt Disney Company is known for.