11.11.2009

Walt Disney's Imagineering Legends and the Genesis of the Disney Theme Park / Jeff Kurtti : 5 of 5

Believe it or not, this book was actually part of last year's Christmas haul, so I figured I better get down to business and read it before the new onslaught of books arrives on Santa's sleigh! Right away I need to say that this is one of the most entertaining books on Disney Imagineering that I've read (and I have a lot on my bookshelf), mainly because of its unique way of focusing on the Imagineers themselves as real people with real lives, rather than only looking at their Disney career accomplishments. Each chapter looks at a set of Imagineers organized by artistic discipline (such as mechanical, musical, or even executive management), and each person is introduced with comments about their childhood, schools they attended, and other biographical notes. By reading about each person, you really get to know their particular strengths that made them succeed in such innovative work, as well as their personalities (even when they aren't so rosy, such as Marc Davis' semi-famous attitude toward Claude Coats, both of which made the Haunted Mansion the incredible attraction it is today). I loved reading about lesser known artists such as Bill Martin, who designed the complex layouts of so many Fantasyland dark rides, or Harriet Burns, the first female Imagineer who paved her own way in this emerging world (and now I'm extra happy that I have her autograph on one of my Disney prints!). With each chapter I was more amazed at how hard these people worked during their long careers, several right up until just a few weeks before they passed away, showing their dedication to Disney entertainment as a positive force in the world. This book is deceptively long, absolutely packed with fascinating, detailed text that kept me constantly mesmerized. I could easily start reading it again the moment I finished, and I'm sure I would find something new! Walt Disney's Imagineering Legends is definitely required reading for Disney theme park fans like me.