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  • Disney's Land

  • Walt Disney and the Invention of the Amusement Park That Changed the World
  • By: Richard Snow
  • Narrated by: Jacques Roy
  • Length: 12 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Americas
  • 5.0 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A propulsive and “entertaining” (The Wall Street Journal) history chronicling the conception and creation of the iconic Disneyland theme park, as told like never before by popular historian Richard Snow.

One day in the early 1950s, Walt Disney stood looking over 240 acres of farmland in Anaheim, California, and imagined building a park where people “could live among Mickey Mouse and Snow White in a world still powered by steam and fire for a day or a week or (if the visitor is slightly mad) forever”. Despite his wealth and fame, exactly no one wanted Disney to build such a park. Not his brother Roy, who ran the company’s finances; not the bankers; and not his wife, Lillian. Amusement parks at that time, such as Coney Island, were a generally despised business, sagging and sordid remnants of bygone days. Disney was told that he would only be heading toward financial ruin. But Walt persevered, initially financing the park against his own life insurance policy and later with sponsorship from ABC and the sale of thousands and thousands of Davy Crockett coonskin caps. Disney assembled a talented team of engineers, architects, artists, animators, landscapers, and even a retired admiral to transform his ideas into a soaring yet soothing wonderland of a park. The catch was that they had only a year and a day in which to build it. 

On July 17, 1955, Disneyland opened its gates...and the first day was a disaster. Disney was nearly suicidal with grief that he had failed on a grand scale. But the curious masses kept coming, and the rest is entertainment history. Eight hundred million visitors have flocked to the park since then. In Disney’s Land, “Snow brings a historian’s eye and a child’s delight, not to mention superb writing, to the telling of this fascinating narrative” (Ken Burns) that “will entertain Disneyphiles and readers of popular American history” (Publishers Weekly). 

©2019 Richard Snow (P)2019 Simon & Schuster Audio

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  • Jonathan David
  • 07-12-2019

Okay, but better books on the subject

Although the summary promises “told like never before” a fair amount of this book is a rehashing of stories and information that is found in more original and entertaining sources. While it’s a decent book overall, but those with any basic knowledge of Disney history will find this books retreads familiar ground. In reality almost divided into 5 separate parts: 1) A brief history of Walt Disney’s career, 2) A brief history of pre-Disneyland amusement parks, 3) The building of Disneyland 4) The opening of Disneyland 5) A brief description of Disneyland’s early years and it’s impact.

Section 1 is truncated version of the more entertaining and detailed biographies of Walt Disney. It’s hits all the high points of Disney’s pre-Disneyland career. This can be a bit boring for those familiar with Bob Thomas or Neal Gabler’s books.

Section 2 is a brief history of early amusement parks like Coney Island. It then describes Walt’s formation of the idea of Disneyland. This actually quite interesting and new material.

Section 3 is where the book begins to bog down. Much of what appears here can be found in a new streaming documentary, books by John Hench and others.

Section 4 dealing with the opening of Disneyland is perhaps the most tedious. Much of this part of the book is dedicated to a word for word recitation of what occurred in the Dateline Disneyland program that aired on ABC. You are better of just finding the original program and watching it.

Section 5 is about Disneyland’s impact and detractors. There’s really no information about Disneyland after the death of Walt. Instead it focuses on the academic impact of the park of the amusement park business, architecture, city planning, culture and its impact.

While overall the book is okay. I think there are plenty of well written books on the subject including Sam Greenaway’s book.

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  • Joe
  • 03-09-2020

This is not the Disneyland book you are looking for.

“The Disneyland Story” by Sam Gennawey is a better rendition of the Disney Story.

Jacques is fine, not great, but that could be the way Snow presents the story.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 16-06-2021

great history

loved it. great story on the history of the park and how Walt came up with several ideas

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  • Anonymous User
  • 21-09-2020

Not meant for audio

I loved the concept. I’m a big Disney fan and love their history. Was excited for this. But listening to it, it was so hard to follow who was speaking. It felt like the book was nothing but quotes from other people but it rarely attributed who was speaking, making it difficult to follow. The story also felt like it jumped back and forth on the timeline, further adding to the confusion. I think all the content is there for a great story but framing and context need some adjustments.

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  • Lady Pamela
  • 11-07-2020

Enter Title Here...

Snow covers Walt Disney's dream of Disneyland from initial pipe dream to the "The Happiest Place on Earth". It's largely about the people who, one by one, built Disneyland as Walt came up with new ideas. 70 years later, those people have faded into somebody else's memory. I thought that the Linkletter 1955 TV introduction took a bit longer then it deserved. I thought the discussion of Walt's trains noteworthy.

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  • John Holder
  • 11-07-2020

Good for beginners to the history.

It's a good book, don't get me wrong. Towards the end of the book they mention reading and being inspired by Sam Genneweys Disneyland Story, but in the end don't really do much to separate themselves from that more comprehensive book. In a marketplace full of Disneyland books, it's just another one. It's not bad, if you've never read a book about Walt or Disneyland history, it cuts out some fat. But I like the fat.

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  • Joel Mark Witt -
  • 15-04-2020

Fantastic history of Disneyland - great attention to detail

I have many Disney books in my collection. This is one of the better ones. Snow gives a great attention to details. Great read!

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  • Marie Wittmann
  • 17-01-2020

Very interesting content

Lovely story about the creation (idea, construction, challenges, etc.) of Disneyland, theme park that inspired many more parks to be created.

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  • Sebzee77
  • 14-09-2020

Worth A Listen

I enjoyed this book. Yes, the narration is quite monotone, however, it didn't bother me at all. There are A lot of interesting facts and snippets of information, some I already knew some I didn't, if you're interested in Disney at all, I would recommend it.

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