Designing Disney
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Designing Disney

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4.26 of 5 stars 4.26  ·  rating details  ·  269 ratings  ·  19 reviews

Designing Disney sets into history and puts into context the extraordinary contributions of the late John Hench, who, at the age of 94, still came into his office at Imagineering each day. His principles of theme park design, character design, and use of color made him a legendary figure, not only for Disney fans but also for students and aficionados of architecture, engin...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published January 6th 2009 by Disney Editions (first published October 2003)
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Ian
While the book is peppered with insights, it's really, really, really incoherent. I can't tell if it's because Hench is insane, or if it's because he's insecure about the points he's making, and therefore fluffs them up into Highfalutin Language.

At the beginning, for example, he states that the three basic components of themed design are Story, Character, and Color. He never goes on to explain why he believes that Color is as important as Story, or why it's more important than, say, Architecture...more
Andrew Frueh
As a Disney nerd, I'm ashamed to admit I had not heard of John Hench prior to reading this book. However, I now have a much greater appreciation for what a unique talent he is. Probably the most enjoyable aspect of this book is its wealth of concept drawings created by Hench for various attractions at the parks. Hench began as an animator, so his skills as a draftsman are very impressive. But his concept drawings even go beyond that, they are absolutely full of life and creativity.

In addition t...more
Matt
Reading John Hench’s Designing Disney: Imagineering and the Art of the Show reminded me a bit of my trip to Las Vegas last December. Although we usually think of Imagineering in terms of Disney theme parks, the core ideas of the job apply to most anywhere people gather to relax and have fun. In that respect, Vegas must be the biggest example of Imagineering on Earth. While exploring the various casinos, I was very aware of how everything was designed in a way to create a world away from the worl...more
Kyle
This book is worth a read by any Disney fan worth their salt. Ever wonder why the Haunted Mansion looks so foreboding? Why they lay things out the way they do at the parks? Hench gives fascinating insight into the design philosophy at Disneyland.

Really, it's like diving into the guy's head and digging around for a while. I'm no good with design, but it's so much fun to read his clear passion for the subject that the book is hard to put down. I recommend it even if you just have a passing interes...more
Cale
This is the best design book I've read. John Hench's style is very forward, and full of personal reminiscences of a man who stood next to Disney and Dali, and is a key to many of the designs in Disney's history. He opens the door into his mind, showing us not only what he did, but why, and how it all came together. Filled with sketches and notes about attractions built and only dreamed up, it's a wonderful trip to take. And the graphics are beautiful as well. A well put together, fascinating boo...more
Dan
This book was enjoyable on several fronts. The pictures (especially Hench's drawings from the late 50s and 60s) are gorgeous. The chapter on using color was a revelation. And the reminiscences of Walt Disney and Imagineers Hench worked with over a long career are nuggets of gold. I read the first half of the book on the plane coming back from DisneyWorld, so it is not a ponderous tome. But I chose to slowly savor the remainder of the book. That's the only reason it sat in my "currently reading"...more
Craig Williams
If you've ever been to Walt Disney World or Disneyland, you know the attention to detail that goes into everything created there. This book is a pretty good overview about all the work that goes into making dreams possible. If you want a book about the Disney parks history, this probably isn't a good choice, but if you want to learn about how Imagineers create color schemes and archive them, as well as plan layouts, and scale and model everything that will be built, then this is the perfect book...more
MissM
Wonderful and interesting book full of amazing archival photos, drawings and sketches. The only reason it's not 5 stars is because it was a little surface. I would have loved MORE details, MORE depth and MORE behind the scenes info. There was some and I learned a few things (tough for a Florida Resident Annual Passholder who really knows her Disney trivia!) but I could have gone for even more.

Still, it's a really cool book and worth being on the library shelf of any Disney fan.
John
One of the very best books about the design philosophy of Disney Imagineering, written by a Disney Legend. John Hench, whose work at Imagineering included work on signature attractions like the Cinderella Castles at Orlando and Tokyo, Space Mountain, and many others, records here his thoughts on design, theming, and the audience relationship. Seldom have I felt so much as if I were being given a personal glimpse of an artist's self-understanding. The book is a joy to read.
Rebecca
I enjoyed this very much. It's a rare look inside what makes the Disney theme parks so amazing ---a first hand account of the Imagineering creative process by one of the oldest Disney Imagineers still actually in the business--John Hench. Interesting discussions of design techniques and color theories for creating immersive story worlds.
Ashley FL
Interesting book by a man who spent his career helping create the Disney theme parks. I would have liked it more if it hadn't been so DisneyLand-centric. Also, it is pretty out-of-date now, so many of the rides and items discussed have been changed.

Definitely would be a fun read before visiting.
Simone

Part of my pre-Disney reading. This is mainly sketches with thoughts thrown in. I really like the shots of the old school - 70s era Mickey Mouse costumes, which look so human because it was just a head with a human body underneath. Some interesting information and beautiful photos.
Karen
I have yet to find a Disney book detailed enough for me but I really enjoyed the perspective of this book since the design of Disney is one of the aspects of the parks that interests me the most. I also really liked all of the concept art. I just want it to go on longer.
Karl


This is like the how-to book on designing a world of Warcraft zone. One of two, but I can't recall the name of the other.
Brian
Again, It has been my dream to be an Imagineer since age 5. Hench was one of the best
Mark
Technical & philosophical but readable musings on how art direction works for WDI.
Christopher
Absolutely fascinating. Loved the concept sketches from the 60s in particular.
Elly
Jul 12, 2008 Elly marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Written by a wonderful donor to the ADA.
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