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!

Poster Art of the Disney Parks Book (2016 Costco)

Poster Art of the Disney Parks Book (2016 Costco)

I picked up the Poster Art of the Disney Parks Book (2016 Costco) and posted a video review/unboxing on my YouTube channel. I have the 2012 edition and I love it. There isn’t much new except for the six posters included with the Costco edition. Check out the video to see what is featured on the six exclusive poster prints.

Check out my Poster Art of the Disney Parks Book (2016 Costco) Video Review and First Look!

 

I picked ups the book for $14.99 at Costco and it’s definitely worth that price, even if you own the 2012 version. You might just have to have a friend pick one up for you if you don’t have a Costco near you or a membership.

Are You Going to Pick Up a Copy of the 2016 Edition?


Make sure to check out and subscribe to my YouTube channel for more videos on theme park history, Disney books and visits to theme parks like Busch Gardens Tampa, Universal Studios Florida and Epcot!

2016 Best Disney Books from ImagiNERDing

2016 Best Disney Books from ImagiNERDing (Including the 2016 ImagiNERDing Book of the Year!)

Check out my 2016 Best Disney Books of the year! Every year, I take a look at all of the Disney-related books that have been published during the calendar year and that I’ve reviewed. I’ve reviewed 56 books in 2016, including many that were released over the previous years (so, many of those don’t count for this award). The best Disney books run the gamut from animation to theme parks to history and from large and small publishers. The books are presented in no particular order!



2016 Best Disney Books: Walt Disney’s Silly Symphonies: a Companion to the Classic Cartoon Series by Russell Merritt and JB Kaufman

The first section of the book is a, history of the Silly Symphonies animated shorts. About 30 pages are dedicated to looking at the cultural effect of the animated shorts as well as how they evolved as the needs of the Disney Studios changed. We’re introduced to a lot of key players who would go on to leave a lasting mark on animation forever. The section dealing with the shorts is incredibly comprehensive—even the price of the negative was included. Merritt and Kaufman provide all of the basic information that you’d expect, usually over a page and a half per animated short. There’s a lot included and the information on the Silly Symphonies truly makes this book an essential purchase and a one-of-a-kind research tool.

2016 Best Disney Books: The Disney Story: Chronicling The Man, The Mouse & The Parks by Aaron H. Goldberg

The Disney Story: Chronicling the Man, the Mouse & the Parks by Aaron H. Goldberg is a book that takes us on a journey through the high marks of Disney history through the eyes of the media. This is a fantastic title for anyone who wants a good overview of Walt and his entertainment empire. The Disney Story isn’t just a book for people who are new to Disney history, but for anyone who is interested in learning more, especially in a non-confrontational and non-academic tone. (Seriously, some Disney history books can be a little overwhelming for the lay person.) Goldberg has also presented the book in two fairly unique ways: he has reprinted articles from media outlets verbatim and he is offering the Disney Story website as a larger repository of articles. Goldberg includes original scans of the articles for further reading at the website.

2016 Best Disney Books: Drinking at Disney: A Tipsy Travel Guide to Walt Disney World’s Bars, Lounges & Glow Cubes by Drunky and Rhiannon

Drinking at Disney? Someone has finally published the book that everyone has been thinking about writing forever! We’re talking about Drinking at Disney by Drunky (seriously, that’s his name) and Rhiannon. It’s a guidebook from Bamboo Forest Publishing that covers every single drinking location at Walt Disney World. It includes full bar menus as well as tips and tricks for your visit. The reason to grab this new book is simply to have an amazing resource for enjoying libations at Walt Disney World. And it’s an astounding reference guide. It’s funny, charming, slightly sadistic and quite sardonic.

2016 Best Disney Books: Maps of the Disney Parks: Charting 60 Years from California to Shanghai

The book is broken down into six major sections that closely follow the operating decades and major developments. The book is large and the publishers took great advantage of the physical size of the book when reproducing the maps. And, of course, that’s what people want to see. Many of the maps take up one entire page and a lot of the artwork actually covers two pages. Remember the Disneyland Fun Maps? You’ll find reproductions of many of them by Sam McKim and, most recently by, Nina Rae Vaughn. They also take a section of the map and blow it up on the following page to give you a better view of the art that went into the map. There’s a lot of concept art, which makes the book different from what most people expected.


2016 Best Disney Books: The ImagiNERDing Book of the Year!

The award for the 2016 ImagiNERDing Book of the Year goes to…

Drinking at Disney by Drunky and Rhiannon!

Congratulations to Bamboo Forest Publishing for creating an informative, funny and extremely entertaining guidebook to Walt Disney World.

What’s your thoughts on the 2016 Best Disney Books?


Maps of the Disney Parks Book Review

Maps of the Disney Parks Book Review

The Maps of the Disney Parks book and the recalled Walt Disney Studios book have been two of the most anticipated books of the year. With the absence of the Disney Studios book due to a mysterious recall, this means the Disney maps book has to be the de facto holiday present for most people.

I could end the review here and just yell for everyone to go out and buy it. But, I’ll spend some time digging a little deeper into the book.

Seriously, guys, this book is worth it!

Yes, that line is intentional. Read on!

Maps of the Disney Parks: Charting 60 Years from California to Shanghai

The book is very hefty, and that’s the first thing that you notice. It feels solid and well-constructed. The front cover is surprising, since the book opens in a non-traditional and charming way (at first). The front cover is bisected and both sides open out. It reminded me of opening a map and really is a wonderful design choice, but not a good choice for a book. Once you start to leaf through the Maps of the Disney Parks book, you’ll realize that the cover makes it a bit awkward. The book does feel like it’s enclosed in a heavy slipcover. There is no book jacket which is probably good for future collectors.

The Maps of the Disney Parks Book: What’s on the Inside?

The content that was pretty amazing. It’s not what I would’ve done with the book but it’s pretty darn astounding nonetheless. Noting the table of contents, the book is broken down into six major sections that closely follow the operating decades and major developments.

The book is large and the publishers took great advantage of the physical size of the book when reproducing the maps. And, of course, that’s what people want to see. I’m sure most theme park fans have maps as treasured mementos. Long before we had the Internet, I can remember just staring at maps of Kings Island for hours trying to plan my next trip.

Many of the maps take up one entire page and a lot of the artwork actually covers two pages. Remember the Disneyland Fun Maps? You’ll find reproductions of many of them by Sam McKim and, most recently by, Nina Rae Vaughn. They also take a section of the map and blow it up on the following page to give you a better view of the art that went into the map.

There were quite a handful of maps that I’ve never seen before and they also offered a lot of preliminary drawings of the maps. It was interesting to see the  process of how they went from simple line drawings to fully-colored, published maps. I did love this aspect but I would’ve almost rather of had more maps or more close-up views of some of the other maps. I really appreciate the artistry that went into these but I would’ve rather of seen more maps overall.

There were some also fairly large reproductions of maps that I’ve usually only seen in a very small scale. There are three maps of the original plans for the parks near the Disney Studios that I’ve always seen fairly small. In the Maps of the Disney Parks book, the maps take up more than half a page.

This is not a joke but you will want to have a magnifying glass with you in order to take advantage of the book. You will get lost in the finer details of the maps. You will spend hours going over the maps marveling at the minutia.

So yes, go out and buy this book. You might actually want to get two copies of it because this one is spectacular. As I mentioned earlier in the review, I think I would’ve created the book it differently; I would’ve spent a whole book just looking at the changes to the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. In this case Disney gives a great overview of all the maps in the history of their parks and some beautiful artistry. Grab your copy of the Maps of the Disney Parks book, now!

Title: Maps of the Disney Parks: Charting 60 Years from California to Shanghai
Author: Vanessa Hunt, Kevin Neary and Susan Neary
ISBN: 978-1484715475
Release Date: October 18, 2016

What do you think about The Maps of the Disney Parks book?


Check out my unboxing and first look at The Maps of the Disney Parks book!

 

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!

Poster Art of the Disney Parks, a book review

Poster Art of the Disney Parks, a book review

The Poster Art of the Disney Parks was released in 2012 and it was that rare book released by Disney completely galvanized everyone’s attention months before its release. The last book to even come close was Walt Disney Imagineering from 2010. When Poster Art of the Disney Parks was announced, speculation ran high and people wondered if this book would live up the the nostalgia and the vision of the famous Disney attraction posters.

Poster Art of the Disney Parks by Danny Handke and Vanessa Hunt

What makes the Poster art of the Disney Parks so satisfying is that Disney thought about the end product, the subject, the fans and the enthusiasts while putting it together. It is a large-scale book (11″ X 14″), which makes for eye-popping and big reproductions of the posters. Sometimes I offer a caveat with a review, like it is only for the hard-core nerds, but this book really offers something for everyone. Case in point: my wife was looking at the book and thought it was spectacular and she is not into Disney stuff like I am (she humors me, though).

Table of Contents of the Poster Art of the Disney Parks

The Poster Art of Disney Parks is divided into nine chapters that cover all of the Magic Kingdom-style parks together, based on land. There are two chapters devoted to Tokyo DisneySea and Disney California Adventure. The few posters featured for the other parks, like Epcot, are inserted into an appropriate chapter. The authors, Danny Handke and Vanessa Hunt, are Imagineers and Disney fans. Danny has worked on many attractions and a Mr. Toad attraction poster. Vanessa works in the Walt Disney Imagineering Art Library and often curates exhibits. Both were fantastic choices to write this book.

The first chapter lays the groundwork for the book, looking at how the posters used to be produced, including concept art and production works. The fantastic Monorail poster from Walt Disney World is used as an example of the older screening process. It is amazing to see how they were produced; obviously these must be considered works of art. There is some behind-the-scenes information about how the posters evolved and changed as different processes developed. There was a major dearth of attraction posters from the beginning of EPCOT Center until the development of Disneyland Paris (EuroDisney). The cost of screening the posters became very prohibitive and it wasn’t until computer artistry made the process simpler and cheaper that the poster program was revised.

With Disneyland Paris, Imagineers Tony Baxter and Eddie Sotto wanted to bring the posters back to create that Disneyland feel. The computers also allowed the posters to be incredibly complex. It is amazing to see the change from the bolder and simpler designs of the 50s, 60s and 70s with the posters from the 90s and beyond.

One of my favorite parts of the book is the notation of the artists that created the works. Any Disney researcher knows that identifying artists can be problematic if not impossible. Very few posters displayed are without an artist. With 142 pages, there are a lot of posters and it is great to see old favorites and once that we haven’t seen before or in a long time. The inclusion of the overseas parks is nice, to see how divergent messages are created.

This is a book that every Disney fan needs to own!

Do you own the Poster Art of the Disney Parks? Which is your favorite attraction poster?