Daily Figment 117 – Book Review: The Disneylands That Never Were

I posted a book update about The Disneylands That Never Were back in November.

I had a few people leave some Disney Geek Love (comments!) and they were really interested in my opinion of the work. I started reading the book one morning while I was waiting for my wife to pick me up at the car dealer (long story–don’t ask). I was only there about fifteen minutes before she picked me up. Once we were on the way, I told her about my trepidation of reviewing the book. A lot of negatives popped up in the first couple of pages and I was a little shocked.

I really liked that Mr. Finnie was able to compile all of the best rumors, attractions plans, hotel ideas and miscellaneous concepts from 32 other sources. This is a quick and relatively painless (not withstanding the need for an editor) read that will make you truly pine for what could have been.

The book has 247 pages (including the biography) and is printed in a large-type format, which was my first concern. My guess is that there is really only about 150 pages worth of actual text. Mr. Finnie writes in a very conversational style–normally I would consider that a plus, but the writing comes across as if he was speaking and someone was dictating. To me, this speaks of a very poor editor. When I investigated a little further, I discovered that the booked was published through lulu.com, a self-publishing and printing house. I have nothing against self-publishing (or vanity presses), but please have someone proofread your work. Many sentences acted more like speed bumps and caused consternation.

The Librarian in me immediately checked the back of the book for a bibliography, end notes or some other messages from the author. He lists a biography but there are no notes. This is a big no-no because you can’t tell whether Mr. Finnie is borrowing, surmising or quoting. In all honesty, I felt like I was reading a poorly-written Jim Hill article. Lots of smoke. Nothing to back it up and you weren’t quite sure if he was making it up or passing along a slipshod rumor overheard at a bar.

Now, I did enjoy a lot of the book for the Blue Sky ideas that the Imagineers presented over the years. I was reminded of things that I had read in other books over the years. If you want a quick education (for your Disney Geek training, of course) and can get past the poor grammar and sentence structure, then you will enjoy the book. If you have read Walt Disney Imagineering: a Behind-the-Dreams Look at Making the Magic Real, the Art of Disneyland or books by Jason Surrell and Jeff Kurtti–then you will have seen all of this material presented in a much more enjoyable format and with pictures!

So, what is my final recommendation? If you have read a lot of the Walt Disney biographies or the books mentioned above, then you don’t need this book. If you want to learn about the Imagineers’ ideas that were never realized and you can wade through a poorly written book without losing your mind, then pick up a copy. But in the end, I can’t fully recommend it. There are too many other great books about Disney too read that you will enjoy so much more!

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5 thoughts on “Daily Figment 117 – Book Review: The Disneylands That Never Were”

  1. Thanks for the honest review George – I’m an editor my trade so it sounds like it would have me pulling my hair – and a red pen – out! I’ll go and take a look at the other books you’ve mentioned instead!

  2. mrs s – It was tough to get through. Since Lulu lets you publish whatever you want, I would assume that there was not an editor involved. Although the acknowledgments page listed two people that may have read it first AND that it was posted on a website/blog for everyone to read.

    Kevin – thanks for stopping by! The typeface was very large, indeed. It almost seemed to detract from the book. Just like the kids writing the term papers and want to use font size 14 or 16 to take up more space.

  3. Hey George,

    Thanks for taking the bullet and reading this so we don’t have to. Your review pretty much scans with everything else I’ve seen about the book. Which is a shame – it sounds like a good concept. Wasn’t one of Jim Hill’s dozen or so promised projects a few years ago going to be a book like this?

    One of the reasons I started my own blog was that I’m obsessed with finding primary sources and with so much Disney ‘history’ on the web you can’t tell truth from fiction. Less careful Disney fans can act like a raging game of “telephone” and too often you see things you know are false being presented as fact.

    There’s nothing wrong with wild rumors, as long as you present them as wild rumors. This distinction is often missed and, again, why I started blogging myself.

    Of course it’s also why it takes forever to write a post… stupid fact checking… grumble grumble…

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