George’s Favorite Books of 2020

George’s Favorite Books of 2020

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.

Haven’t Quite Finished It Yet…

My Favorite Books of 2020?

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 Monorail Book Preview!

The Disney Monorail: Imagineering a Highway in the Sky Video Book Preview!

¡Por favor manténgase alejado de las puertas!

Love Disney monorails? Then you need to check out this book preview of The Disney Monorail: Imagineering a Highway in the Sky by Jeff Kurtti, Vanessa Hunt, and Paul Wolski. The review copy just showed up and I set up the video camera to give my fellow ImagiNERDs a first look at this highly-anticipated new Disney book.

Is this going to be the ImagiNERDing Book of the Year?

Check Out My Video Preview of the New Book About Disney Monorails

Make sure to check out these other books by Disney historian, scholar, and all-around great guy: Jeff Kurtti.

Vanessa Hunt has contributed to the Disney Parks literature, as well!

Are you going to pick up the new Disney Monorail book?


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!

The Art of Disneyland Video Review!

The Art of Disneyland Video Review!

The Art of Disneyland is a much sought after book by collectors and fans. Published in 2006 to help celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Disneyland, the book flew under the radar and was only sold at the park at first. Eventually, it made its way to the second-hand markets (like amazon) and the price skyrocketed. I’ve seen it go as high as $400.00, but recently, it’s been around $125.00.

What Makes The Art of Disneyland So Special?

At the time of publication, much of the concept artwork and paintings had never been seen before. The presentation by Kurtti and Gordon left fans and enthusiasts stunned. The only book to come close is the sister publication: The Art of The Walt Disney World Resort.

Check Out My Video Review:

Do you own this title? What is your favorite Disneyland book?

From my 2007 review of the book:

The Imagineering roll call is inspiring: Ken Anderson, Claude Coats, Mary Blair, John Hench, Harper Goff, Marc Davis, Peter Ellenshaw, Sam McKim, Herbert Ryman and so many more. Seeing all of this artwork in one place, by so many different artists, is like having a conversation about what Disneyland might have been. But then we actually know how it turned out. Most of the artwork is so true to what was developed, though. If you have ever spent any time at Disneyland, you will enjoy this book.

Yes, this is concept art from The Art of Disneyland. It features a large show building with a runaway mine cart ride (like Temple of Doom), a version of the current Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye, and a section or two in which the Jungle Cruise can be seen. This would have changed the landscape of theme parks forever!


FTC Disclosure: In some cases, a copy might have been provided by the company for the purpose of this review (but not on this post). 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!

Art of Walt Disney World Resort Book

Art of Walt Disney World Resort Book by Jeff Kurtti and Bruce Gordon

I’ve had a request to do a page-by-page look at The Art of Walt Disney World Resort by authors Jeff Kurtti and Bruce Gordon. The book was released in 2009 and immediately became a collector’s dream. Jeff and Bruce presented a book that curated images, concept art, paintings and more about the development of Walt Disney World. And not just the first few years, but also the 1980s and 1990s.

The coffee-table sized book presented many images that had never been seen before. It was also presented in a different format to showcase the stunning art.

Check out my video featuring The Art of Walt Disney World Resort book

What do you think about the Art of Walt Disney World Resort book?

The book includes concept art by: Tony Baxter; Mary Blair; Collin Campbell; Marc Davis; R. Tom Gilleon; Paul Hartley; Sam McKim; Dorothea Redmond; and Herbert Ryman.


Art of Disney Costuming by Jeff Kurtti

Art of Disney Costuming by Jeff Kurtti

I’ve got a sneak peek of a new book by Disney historian and author, Jeff Kurtti. Disney sent a review copy of The Art of Disney Costuming, and I wanted to share my first look at this new book with you!

What do you think about this new book release that looks at Disney live-action costumes from the movies, television and the a few from the parks? Is this a book that you’re going to pick up?


What Do You Think About The Art of Disney Costuming?


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!

Art and Making of The Lion King by Michael Goldman, a book review

The Art and Making of The Lion King by Michael Goldman, a book review

The Lion King, undoubtedly, is the most successful 2D animated film and has become a cultural touchstone for many generations. I received a review copy of The Art and Making of The Lion King by Michael Goldman and I was curious as to how it would touch on all of the aspects that brought the 2019 Jon Favreau production to life. After the, um, interesting Favreau adaptation of The Jungle Book (2016), I had no idea what to expect from his Lion King film.

I waited until after I saw the film to crack open the book. Upcoming trailers ruin the films for me and I won’t say much about the movie, except that I left the theater incredibly underwhelmed and disappointed. There were some highlights, including the use of technology, but I wanted more of an adaptation instead of a scene-by-scene remake of the animated film.

But Let’s Talk About the The Art and Making of The Lion King Book

The book is large and follows the loose format of other Art and Making of… titles. Jeff Kurtti’s involvement at project producer surprised me; in hindsight you see how he directed the book to reflect the artistry of the film. The Lion King (2019) disappointed me on so many levels and I tired to view the book objectively, without the film coloring it.

There are 224 pages that make up the ten chapters of the book. It is a large book, measuring 10″ X 12″, which allows Disney to present many of the images across the gate-fold. Disney also includes a large number of photos, which showcase the artistry. The book is a showcase of the art and artists.

The first chapter talks about why Favreau and Disney looked towards The Lion King animated film for their next project. The second chapter covers the historical and cultural importance of the 1994 film. The groundbreaking technology is the focus of the third chapter, which leads into the general production of the film. The next six chapters share the different aspects of the filmmaking process, from the voice acting, character development, music and more. The last chapter discusses Disney’s relationship with the natural world, including conservation efforts and the Disneynature film series.

Each of the major characters in the book has a few pages dedicated to it. Goldman walks us through the design of the character and how a photo-realistic character differs from an animated one. Goldman includes the voice actors, with a look at their careers and how they became part of the productions. Some of the voice actors are reprising their roles, while many grew up as fans of the 1994 film. Reading how the designers had to offer a unique visual for each character was compelling. It’s much more difficult than designing an animated troupe.

Who Is This Book For?

If anything, the real treat of the book is learning how much Favreau and his team used real-world filmmaking techniques to create the film. They didn’t just sit down in front of a computer and create all of the scenes virtually. Award-winning cinematographers created shots used in live-action films and translated them into virtual shots. The production crew also used virtual reality equipment to set up and explore scenes. Once in the virtual world, they manipulated camera angles and lighting. It was fascinating to get glimpse of how Disney is pushing the boundaries of filmmaking again.

If you’re a fan of the 2019 release of The Lion King, then this is a must-have purchase. You will love the art, the interviews with the production staff, and the tale of the journey of the film. General fans of Disney won’t find any new information about the previous iterations of The Lion King (animation, Broadway, etc.). Animation fans will enjoy the book for its look at how a modern film is made, particularly one that juxtaposes live-action and computer graphics.


Special thanks to Wes B.,  Aaron R. and Nicole S. for supporting me on Patreon.


Buy Your Own Copy of The Art and Making of The Lion King!


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!

Essential Walt Disney World Books: Then, Now, and Forever

Essential Walt Disney World Books: Then, Now, and Forever

Let’s continue my series of Essential Walt Disney World books with a wonderful read by Bruce Gordon and Jeff Kurtti. Released in 2008, Walt Disney World: Then, Now, and Forever is not your traditional guidebook. Check out my video review of the Disney World history book to find out more.

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

Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube Channel for more videos on Disney history, Universal, theme park books and more!


Have you read Walt Disney World: Then, Now, and Forever? Let me know what you think!


Join me on Patreon!

Special thanks to Wes B.,  Aaron R. and Nicole S. for supporting me on Patreon.

Check out the ImagiNERDing Patreon page to be part of the ImagiNERD community. Get special updates, behind-the-scenes information and more!


FTC Disclaimer: 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!

Video Preview: Practically Poppins In Every Way!

Love Mary Poppins?

Coinciding with the release of Mary Poppins Returns, author Jeff Kurtti dives deep into the history and lore to bring us Practically Poppins in Every Way: A Magical Carpetbag of Countless Wonders.

Is this the ultimate Mary Poppins book? Check out my video sneak peak to get a glimpse.

The YouTube video for my sneak preview of Practically Poppins in Every Way: A Magical Carpetbag of Countless Wonders by Jeff Kurtti.

Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube Channel for more videos on Disney parks, Universal, theme park books and more!

What did you think about the book? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Join me on Patreon!

Special thanks to Wes B. and Aaron R. for supporting me on Patreon. https://www.patreon.com/imaginerding Check out the ImagiNERDing Patreon page to be part of the ImagiNERD community. Get special updates, behind-the-scenes information and more!

Disney Christmas Card Book by Jeff Kurtti Sneak Peek!

Disney Christmas Card Book by Jeff Kurtti Sneak Peek

My review copy of From All of Us to All of You:The Disney Christmas Card book by Jeff Kurtti showed up and I did first-look video. Check it out!

 

What do you think about the new book? Is this going to be on your holiday list?


FTC Disclosure: A copy was provided by the author 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!

Don’t forget to stop by my YouTube channel to subscribe and leave a comment! I post semi-weekly videos about Disney, Dollywood, Carowinds, theme park history, roller coasters and Disney books.


Join me on Patreon!

https://www.patreon.com/imaginerding

Check out the ImagiNERDing Patreon page to be part of the ImagiNERD community. Get special updates, behind-the-scenes information and more!

Travels With Walt Disney Book Review

Travels With Walt Disney Book Review

Travels With Walt Disney: A Photographic Voyage Around the World by Jeff Kurtti is that rare book that offers new insight as well as new images of Walt Disney. In today’s over saturation of media, that’s a pretty impressive feat. Kurtti’s new book is going to quickly become a fan favorite by offering such an intimate look at Walt Disney and his travels around the globe.

Taking  look at the table of contents for the book shows that Kurtti takes broad look at Walt’s life and career, starting with his first travels and ending with people that traveled to Walt’s Magic Kingdoms. The design of the book is pretty fantastic. The table of contents is presented as an itinerary on company letterhead. Throughout the book are special details that refer directly to the company during Walt’s life.

The book serves two purposes: a loving photographic look at Walt’s  travels and historical insight into the man and his work. Most fans will walk away in awe of everywhere that Walt traveled and who he took on trips with him. Even extended business trips were taken his his wife, daughters and family friends. Imagine being a girlhood friend of Sharon or Diana and going to Europe with Walt Disney!

I will admit that there were many photos that I had simply never seen before, especially candid shots of Walt and his family in Europe. Throughout the book are illustrations by Chris Kawagiwa that help tell Walt’s life stories. For instance, there are illustrations of Walt’s arrival in Hollywood and other times/places when photos weren’t available. It’s a small touch, but really adds to the charm of the book and helps relate to Walt’s beginnings as an illustrator.

Travels With Walt is more than just a photograph book. Kurtti has curated a collection of photos which he’s illustrated with text that helps define why the photos are important. There’s also an index (yay!), notes (double yay!) and a bibliography (triple yay!). I’ve mentioned this before in reviews, but having notes and a bibliography is crucial for a work of this caliber. He’s left a trail of his research for future historians and writers.

Even the hardcover of the book has a charming mid-century design!

Kurtti manages to relate a lot of Walt’s life through the book, including some unexpected travels, like Smoke Tree Ranch and his honeymoon. We also get to go along with Walt and Ward Kimball as they visit the Chicago Railroad Fair, an obvious influence on everything Walt would later do. It’s an impressive amount of text, photos and information in 150 pages. Kudos to Jeff for creating a work that’s going to resonate with so many people.

Travels With Walt Disney is a wonderful and heartfelt look at Walt’s life and work through his travel with family, friends and co-workers. Fans are going to devour this book and cherish every page. Kurtti shares a level of intimacy with the Disney family that we haven’t seen anywhere else.

Travels With Walt Disney Sneak Peek Video

Title: Travels With Walt Disney: a Photographic Journey Around the World
Author: Jeff Kurtti
ISBN: 978-148473768-2
Release Date: April 3, 2018

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!