Each year, there are more and more Disney- and theme park-related books published. As a theme park nerd, this makes me very happy, but it also means there’s a lot of wheat to separate from the chaff. And that’s part of why ImagiNERDing exists; I always want to present a fair and unbiased look at Disney and theme park books.
With the ease of self-publishing, it means that everyone can tell their theme park story or create their own Disney book. This is a double-edged sword: not only do we get an enormous amount of material, but it also means that quality control (editing, proof-reading, copy-editing, design, etc.) is often neglected. Regardless of the content, grammar, spelling, and style are all important and are a big part of whether a book makes my list.
Books, Books, and More Books from 2020
What follows is the list of my favorite books from the past year in chronological release date.
Rolling Through the Years: a Cedar Point Atlas & Chronology by Ken Miller—This is the ultimate history of Cedar Point and might be one of the greatest amusement park books ever written. It’s a huge book and is the most comprehensively detailed book about Cedar Point. And I always recommend that Disney park fans spend time visiting regional parks, like Cedar Point, because they offer a look into the growth and development of themed entertainment.
The Disney Monorail: Imagineering a Highway in the Sky by Jeff Kurtti, Vanessa Hunt, and Paul Wolski—talk about the ultimate release for fans of Walt Disney and the history of the monorail! The book takes us on a trip through the different iterations of the monorail through history (no, Disney did not invent the monorail) and the development of monorails at Disney parks. Every Disney fan needs to own this!
Holiday Magic at the Disney Parks: Celebrations Around the World from Fall to Winter by Graham Allen, Rebecca Cline, and Charlie Price—this is a book that Disney fans have been waiting years for. It’s a massive book that looks at all the how the holidays are celebrated in all of parks, resorts, hotels, and cruise ships. There is a smattering of history, which is nice, but the majority of the 1900 photos are from the past few years. This is an important release, especially concerning the lack of celebrations happening in the parks in 2020 and for the many fans that aren’t able to travel. I enjoyed the book, mainly for the photos, but really with there had been more of a vogue on the history of the holidays in the parks.
Polishing the Dragons: Making EPCOT’s “Wonders of China” by Jeff Blythe—Polishing the Dragons is a perfect example of how small and independent publishing houses can offer incredible content that is well-written, well-designed, and, fortunately, well-edited! Disney fans will relish every sentence and they will devour Jeff’s book about the making of the Circle-Vision film. Seriously, I’m still amazed that there is a whole book dedicated to one subject. The book is awesome.
Boundless Realm: Deep Explorations Inside Disney’s Haunted Mansion by Foxx Nolte—I’ve known Foxx for more than ten years and her blog has been one of the main inspirations for what I do at ImagiNERDing. The Haunted Mansion is a fan favorite and the attraction has been plagued by a lack of a stated backstory. Foxx takes us very deep to explore all of the influences of the Imagineers that led them to make the spooky house on the hill. This book is amazing and deserves to be in every Disney and theme park fan’s collection.
There you have it: my favorite books from 2020. I’m often asked what my favorite book of the year is, and I’ve offered the ImagiNERDing Book of the Year in years past. But this year, there are so many books that deserve the title that I can’t make an effective choice. If you’re on a limited budget, the Disney Monorails, Polishing the Dragons, Imagineering an American Dreamscape, and Boundless Realm, are all fantastic titles that shed light into Disney history from vastly different points-of-view and offer a wonderful reading experience.
What Are Your Favorite Books from 2020?
FTC Disclosure: In some cases, a copy might have been provided by the company for the purpose of 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!
Disney Publishing sent a review copy and I couldn’t wait to make a preview video for you.
Holiday Magic at the Disney Parks Video Review
If you won’t be able to visit this parks this year, is this book a good substitute?
This large-format coffee table-sized book will enchant you with photos from Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disneyland, and more. It’s hard to imagine that Disney could capture all of the magical details of their celebrations worldwide. They cover the twelve parks, cruise ships, resorts, and shopping districts. There is something for every fan of the parks, including a rich look at the history of the holidays starting at Disneyland.
The price tag seems hefty at first, until you crack it open and leaf through the pages. You’ll notice that there are four to five pictures per page. And at 384 pages, that’s almost as many photos as I take each visit!
Along with the Disney Monorail book, you have two fantastic reads for this holiday season. Are you going to get both? As a general rule, Disney books have small print runs and go out-of-print fairly quickly. If you wait too long, the price will skyrocket.
Are you going to order the holiday book for yourself or as a gift?
FTC Disclosure: A copy was provided by the company 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!
My first visit to ICE at Gaylord Palms in Orlando featured A Christmas Story and I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to this seminal holiday event in the Central Florida area. The A Christmas Story film is as much a holiday tradition as trimming the tree and hanging the lights, so I couldn’t wait to experience the nine degree weather and what the artisans created.
You’ll shoot your eye out, kid!
ICE at Gaylord Palms: My First Visit Video!
What did you think about the A Christmas Story ICE display at Gaylord Palms?
There is quite a lot to do at the Gaylord Pams this year, including an escape room. You can enjoy snow-tubing, an arcade, story-telling, hot chocolate and many other family-friendly activities. Don’t forget to check out the schedule for the Cirque du Soleil Unwrapped Dreams performances, as well.
Don’t forget to bring a toboggan and gloves! It is cold and you do want to spend time checking out the amazing ice sculptures without rushing.
Honestly, I wasn’t prepared for how spectacular the ICE display truly was. The details were astounding and I couldn’t get over how well the scenes captured the magic of the Christmas Story movie. Make sure you’ve got enough time planned to spend at least 45 minutes in the ICE area.
Have You Visited ICE at Gaylord Palms? Is it one of your holiday traditions?
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Celebrating the holidays at Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas is just as spectacular as everyone says it is. And to prove it, Dollywood has received industry awards for the Christmas Event and shows. Dollywood won Golden Ticket awards ten times for the Best Christmas Event and the nine wins for Best Shows. With over four million lights on display, it is impressive and heart-warming. It’s also a great way to create lasting holiday memories this season.
Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Video
Have you had a chance to experience Christmas time at Dollywood?
In addition to the wonderful shows, you can also enjoy the second season of the Parade of Many Colors.
Dollywood continues to provide guests with classic Christmas entertainment which brings the holidays to life! Based on the timeless holiday story of love and generosity, It’s a Wonderful Life follows small town businessman George Bailey as he discovers the true value of life, family and friends with a little help from his guardian angel, Clarence. One of Dollywood’s greatest entertainment offerings, Christmas in the Smokies, returns to D.P.’s Celebrity Theater and serves as the headline show for the festival. Guests can celebrate the joy of the season while a cast of singers and dancers performs hometown holiday favorites accompanied by a band of live musicians!
And there’s even a special surprise from Rudolph at the end of the evening as you exit the park.
“There is no time of the year that is more special to me than Christmas. Some of the best memories of my life are from my time spent with family and friends celebrating Christmas together. It’s when we all come together to enjoy sweet traditions and the warm love of family and to have those special experiences we’ll always remember.
“Now when we were growing up, we never could have imagined millions of Christmas lights or even a life-size Rudolph. But I know the families who come to visit my Dollywood this Christmas will leave with wonderful memories they’ll treasure forever—just like me and my family.” —Dolly Parton
Are you going to visit Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas? Do you have a favorite Dollywood Christmas tradition?
Dollywood Insiders Ticket Offer!
Occasionally, there are special Dollywood Insiders offers and the latest one is for $5.00 off tickets purchased online at Dollywood.com. Use the code DWINSIDERS12 when you buy your ticket. Don’t forget that you have to print the ticket and take it with you. You can also upgrade this ticket to a season pass (and Christmas time is the cheapest time to buy a season pass).
Going back though Disney magazines and newsletters, you run into a lot of different things. How Disney handles the holiday season throughout the years through the covers of it’s publications can offer some insight.
Disney News was the official magazine for the Magic Kingdom Club.
Walt Disney World ‘s “Christmas Holiday Parade” is literally fantasy in motion – a moving world of brilliant colors, beautiful music, and famous Disney characters.
The holiday season gets an measure of color and gaiety when the Toy Soldiers march in Walt Disney World’s annual Christmas Parade.
So, what was the Magic Kingdom Club?
Well, it was sort of like a loyalty or reward program that was created in 1957. The Magic Kingdom Club offered discounts to large employers, the military and industries in Souther California. It went nationwide with the opening of Walt Disney World in 1971 and would soon become the largest leisure employee benefit program in the country. It was replaced with the very short-lived Disney Club in 2000.
Eyes and Ears is the official cast member publication of Walt Disney World. It’s an amazing research tool. Once you hit the very late 1970s, the production value of the newsletter increased drastically and the covers started having full-color art.
Pinocchio, Figaro and Jiminy Cricket wish us Happy Holidays and grace the December 22, 1978 cover.
What could Mickey’s present be?
Mickey is waiting on opening a present on the cover of the December 21, 1979 issue. The tag says do not open until Winter 1980. Not to ruin the surprise but this has to be an engine for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
The December 25, 1981 issue has Goofy and Pluto delivering holiday presents. No, I won’t say anything about the discussion about Goofy and Pluto both being dogs.
The December 1972 edition of WDW News offers the front-page spread on the Magic Kingdom’s holiday season, which started on Saturday, December 16. The hours changed from 9:00am-7:00pm (December 1-December 15) to 8:00am to 12:00am (December 16-December 30).