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!

Holiday Magic at the Disney Parks Book Review

Holiday Magic at the Disney Parks Book Review

Missing the holidays at the Disney Parks this year? Check out George’s review of Holiday Magic at Disney Parks, the new book by Graham Allen, Rebecca Cline, and Charlie Price. The new Disney book celebrating Christmas and Halloween at the Disney Parks features over 1,900 photos!

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!

Walt Disney Studios: A Lot to Remember book review

Walt Disney Studios: A Lot to Remember book review

The Walt Disney Studios: A Lot to Remember by Steven Clark and Rebecca Cline is a fall release for Disney and will be on every Disney fan’s holiday wish list. Each year, Disney usually releases one major book for the holidays and this is one of two this fall. (Super excited to see the Disney maps book!)

So, is the Walt Disney Studios book worth adding to your Disney book collection?

UPDATE (09/26/2016): The book has been recalled and copies are no longer being sold. As of this post, no additional release dates are available. All I can surmise is that there were a few mistakes in the text and captions for the photos. This book is now one of the rarest titles available!

It’s a coffee-style book and measures 10 inches by 13 inches. This gives plenty of room to showcase photos from almost 100 years of history. There are 160 pages, which offers the casual Disney fan a decent overview of the studio’s history and changes. After devouring the book, I do have to say that there’s not much new for the Disney enthusiast. Especially, if you’ve already invested time reading biographies and other books about animation. Obviously, the authors wrote for the lowest common denominator, which is apparent in the subjects that are touched. Disney historians will still need to buy this book, but they’ll enjoy the photos and the end pages the most, which feature the layout of the studios over the years.

Walt Disney Studios: A Lot to Remember, Table of Contents and Chronology

It’s arranged semi-chronologically and details the major events and productions of the studio. The first few chapters share the early days of the studio, including the time at Uncle Robert’s garage, the Kingswell property and the infamous Hyperion days. The earliest days prior to and during the Hyperion location are not very well documented and that’s what I’m most excited to see. The first few pages offer some floor plans and make you think that the book is going to be different than it ultimately ends up being.

Once you get into the full production at the studio in the 1950s and 1960s, the focus of the book is on the projects and falls out of a strict chronological timeline. I’d still rather have space dedicated to the ensuing changes at the studios lot, not just the films that were produced there. There are some fantastic aerial shots over the years that chart the growth, but it just seems inadequate. The litany of films produced at the studios is incredibly impressive, but I just wanted more about the studio. Many of the films that I thought were filmed on location around the world were actually filmed on the backlot. Studio magic!

There are introductions to many of the key personnel that helped build and shepherd the studios. We get a glimpse of all of the major departments and their relations. Still, the focus quickly builds to cover the important films produced at the lot.

A few images from Walt Disney Studios: A Lot to Remember

Walt Disney Studios: A Lot to Remember for Theme Park Fans

The book offers slightly less than 20 pages dedicated to the creation of Disneyland, but there are some fantastic photos of various attractions and ride vehicles under construction. Most of the stories will be familiar, but the photos are the real treasures. In one instance, they built a testing tank for the Submarine Voyage on the back lot behind the Ink and Paint building. It’s amazing to think of the iconic Disneyland attractions starting life at the studio.

Walt Disney Studios: A Lot to Remember, final thoughts

People are going to love the book since it takes a general look at the studios and the productions. Many of the photos are new to the published world, which will thrill most fans. Also, it’s great to have a one-volume history of the studios, despite the semi-flashy and corporate nature of the book.

Ultimately, I found the book to offer amazing photographs and a decent history of the Walt Disney Studios; I still wanted the authors to nerd out a bit more, but you can’t please everyone. There’s no index or bibliography, which does compromise the historical value of the book, unless you consider it a primary source and you trust the authors.

So, I do recommend the book for everyone, despite the minor shortcomings. The book will please all levels of fandom; just the nerdier ones will desire a bit more.

What do you think about Walt Disney Studios: A Lot to Remember?


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!