So, in case it wasn’t obvious enough, I love Disneyland. And I love any book that really showcases the history of Disneyland, especially when it’s big and includes lots and lots of pictures. So Chris Nichols’ latest book, Walt Disney’s Disneyland was literally a dream come true.
Nichols’ book covers Disneyland from its infancy through current projects in over 300 pages, most of which are glorious pictures. But before diving into the grand history that is Disneyland, Nichols’ offers a mini biography of Walt and the start of the studio, giving the readers a solid foundation for going into the creation of Disneyland.
After becoming an established film producer where Walt created beloved characters, he began to dream of an amusement park, and Nichols describes these early notions, showcasing evidence as far back as 1939. More sincere ideas were shared in a 1948 memo that gives I think a perfect description of what Walt envisioned and went on to create when Disneyland first opened, “I don’t want to just entertain kids…I want them to learn something about their heritage.”
Many know that Griffith Park served as inspiration for Disneyland, but that wasn’t the only thing that lead Walt down the path of being a pioneer in the amusement park business, and Nichols talks about the wide range of places and events that inspired Walt. But not only was Griffith Park one of several inspirations for Disneyland, Walt wanted it to be a part of it in a way. Walt originally wanted his amusement park to be next to the Walt Disney Studio in Burbank and actually connect to Griffith Park’s Live Steamers, however, as we know today, that didn’t happen, and Nichols elaborates greatly on the decision to put Disneyland in Anaheim.
Once Walt decided upon Anaheim, struggles ensued to fully give birth to the Disneyland we know and love today. Nichols weaves a story of how Walt worked with sponsors and the unique approach with the still relatively new medium of television to fund Disneyland.
After covering the process of building Disneyland, the next chapters focus on each of the original lands, followed by the changes and expansions that the park has experienced and continues to experience as I type.
Nichols writes in a friendly, easy to read way, that in some ways feels like a delightfully fun documentary on Disneyland. It is also full of anecdotes of those who knew and worked with Walt, providing the perfect glimpse into those early days. The book is massive, measuring at 13 by 9 and 1/2 inches and just over an inch thick, and filled with stunning photos and concept art, many of which I have never seen, making each page turn a delightful experience. And despite its size, due to the ease of Nichols’ words and the abundance of pictures, it is an extremely quick read, and can be read in one sitting or over the course of two or so evenings.
At the end of the day, Walt Disney’s Disneyland is a must own for anyone who calls themselves a fan of Disneyland.
You can purchase Walt Disney’s Disneyland on Amazon.
Disclaimer: I was not approached by the author or publishers to write a review Walt Disney’s Disneyland. I wrote this review of my own accord.