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Disney's Land: Walt Disney and the Invention of the Amusement Park That Changed the World

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  303 ratings  ·  63 reviews
A propulsive history chronicling the conception and creation of Disneyland, the masterpiece California 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
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published December 3rd 2019 by Scribner
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Average rating 3.89  · 
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Justin Brendel
Sep 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc-netgalley
Richard Snow was quite ambitious with this informative book. There is so much information in here, but it doesn't read like a book report. The book is laid out in chronological order, from Walt building a train set on his property, to dreaming up the park, to opening day and beyond. They created so many parts and vehicles just from ingenuity. The imagineers have big shoes to fill when Walt just tells them to figure it out.

A good book with a lot of snippets from the park. Good writing, good
Online Eccentric Librarian
Aug 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
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This is definitely one of the better histories of a Disney topic that I've read in a long time. Any good biography of a person or place requires a careful mastery of balances - how much information, how it is written, if the author has a bias or agenda, and if the book provides good information/perspective. There are many Disneyland books out there but author Richard Snow gives us a biography of the park that hits all
Susan Morris
Jan 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this nonfiction account of Disneyland - not just its building, but also Walt’s dream and long road to realizing that dream. I’m a self-professed Disney fan, and this was full of fascinating info - Ronald Reagan was one of the hosts of the live program on Disneyland’s chaotic opening day, and at one point scaled an 8-foot fence to make it his next shot in Frontierland! I’ve only been to Disneyland one evening almost 30 years ago - need to return some day! (Own)
Mary Pauline M
Dec 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone from the casual Disney fan to expert
I really enjoyed every minute reading Disney's Land. This book was packed full of Disney history and was presented in an easy format where it felt like I was actually ' there '. Having read a few other book on Walt Disney, I can say that this one was enjoyed the most. Whether you are a casual Disney enthusiast or a veteran fan, you're sure to pick up a lot from reading Richard Snow's book.
Jonathan David Botchlett
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 ...more
Jan 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
"To all who come to this happy place: Welcome."

I'll never forget my first trip to Disneyland in California. I was fifteen years old and was visiting the park on a trip with my high school band. Because we were performing in the park, our bus went through a security checkpoint that dropped us off in the backstage area located in the back of the property. My first views were not of the historic walk down Main Street USA leading to Sleeping Beauty's Castle. Instead, I exited the utilitarian
Dec 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
More than you likely ever wanted to know about the creation of the renowned theme park, Disneyland, California. Seriously.

Dozens of books have been written about Disneyland as well as Walt Disney but the author puts together a story that tells of the deals and contacts that kept the dream moving forward towards reality. Walt dreamed big and many of the attractions (the word 'rides' was not to be used) were created by some very innovative individuals and companies. t's not like Walt could go out
Cozy Cat Reviews
Dec 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the best history of Walt Disney and the creation of Disneyland that i have read over the years. As a life long Disney fan I was thrilled to receive this for review. Thank you with gratitude to the publisher and to Net Galley for the opportunity. My review opinion is my own. This review will be cross posted across platforms. I highly recommend this amazing body of work for all Disney fans.

What I found most profound here is the absolute perfection of the author's detail of every aspect of
Dec 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dec-2019
Disney's Land tells the complete story of Disneyland from concept to the present day. This novel is one of the best histories of Disneyland that I've read (and there are quite a few out there.) The tone of the book is so friendly and readable that you feel as if you are listening to a friend tell the story.
One fact I hadn't heard before reading this was that Walt was pretty bored making cartoon movies and wanted a new challenge. I also diagnosed Walt with ADHD just by reading his behavior
Dec 30, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 stars: as a lover of theme parks, especially Disney’s, this book seemed right up my alley, and I quickly snatched it off the shelf. However, I found Snow’s approach to be at times overly detailed (most park nerds I know aren’t particularly in it for rambling discussions on mid-century train models, but maybe I’m wrong) and at others not detailed enough (re: the chapter spent dedicated to describing Dateline: Disneyland which is a video easily found online, without much commentary). The ...more
Nov 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: edelweiss, 2019
Thanks to the publisher, via Edelweiss, for an advance e-galley for honest review.

Clearly meticulously researched, this was a genuinely interesting history of the building of Disneyland- from the factors that influenced Walt's desire to build the park, to the realities of building something like this on a never before seen scale, to the let-downs at the opening of the park. This story will appeal more to those who are already fans of the theme park or Disney generally.
Dec 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in2019
This was a lot of fun to read, and just super interesting all around. I'm now going on the hunt for a book about how Disneyland became what it is today (the changes & expansions & the development of rides etc)
Jim Swike
I wanted to know how Walt Disney built the first Amusement Park. I learned some, thought i would learn more. Maybe you will feel differently. Enjoy!
Nov 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Thank you to Richard Snow, Scribner & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

"The Main Street lights coming on at dusk looked just as good to me in 2019 as they had in 1959, easing my gloomy wonder that sixty years had disappeared since Uncle Win and I had together watched them shine."

I had fun with this novel. I am a huge Disney fan and it was easy to see that I would enjoy this. Richard Snow really went in depth about the stories and information about Disney
Book Him Danno
Nov 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Are you a Disney Fan you will want to pick up your copy of Disney Land. If you know the history of Walt Disney this book will really not bring too much more information out but you will still enjoy the little bits that people have come to know as Disney Land as well as the man Walt Disney.

Richard Snow gives readers a chronological order of Walt and his life along with the creations of the different Theme Parks that have changed the world of theme parks.

The author did a wonderful job of giving
Ray Palen
Dec 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
"I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing --- that it was all started by a mouse."

"Disneyland is like Alice stepping through the Looking Glass; to step through the portals of Disneyland will be like entering another world."

Those quotes, of course, come from the oft-quoted Mr. Walter Elias Disney. Personally, I grew up watching Mr. Disney come into my home every Sunday night on television, which continued for years after his death. He was iconic, extremely recognizable, and I came to
...more Biography & Memoir
"I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing --- that it was all started by a mouse."

"Disneyland is like Alice stepping through the Looking Glass; to step through the portals of Disneyland will be like entering another world."

The above quotes, of course, come from Mr. Walter Elias Disney. I grew up watching Walt Disney on television every Sunday night, which continued for years after his death. He was iconic and extremely recognizable, and I came to refer to him as Uncle Walt. My first
Jan 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book was SO interesting! I learned so much about Walt Disney (a hard-to-please perfectionist), about amusement parks pre-Disney (shady, sketchy, dangerous, dirty), about just how nuts everyone though Disney was to create Disneyland (they legit thought he had run out of good ideas and was going to bankrupt his company and himself), and about how it looks to define an entire industry (there were no 'theme parks', so Disney was making it up as he went along, setting an international standard ...more
Jan 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
I ended up reading this book all out of order. I was on the wait list at the library, and my turn came just before Christmas. After reading the first few chapters, I set it down and went back to Jane Austen’s Emma. It seemed well researched, but the sentence structure in the early chapters was sometimes hard to follow, and I was more interested in the building of the park than the inspiration for it, which takes up the first 50 pages or so. I measured my interest in the subject against the time ...more
Carol Peckham
Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Richard Snow is not only an engaging writer, he's also a master at describing how transformative technologies and inventions happened in 19th and 20th century America, and he makes this fun to read (even for those of us who recoil at screwdrivers and exposed wiring). Snow has achieved this in earlier works (Iron Dawn about the Merrimac and the Monitor, I Invented the Modern Age about Henry Ford's Model T), and he does it again in Disney's Land. His subjects are not always the most appealing. ...more
Paul Miller
Dec 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Confession - I love Disney. So naturally I was drawn to a well-reviewed, new book about the origins of Disneyland. What I expected was yet another paean to Walt’s genius… a comfort food type of read for my last book of the year. Instead, I got a nuts and bolts treatment of how Disneyland wasn’t “Walt’s dream” miraculously come to life - yes, he had a singular visit but it was arrived at through a lifetime of experiences - his own, ones borrowed from others, and a network of risk-takes he ...more
William Dury
Jan 01, 2020 rated it liked it
Engrossing narrative of the conception, planning and building of Disneyland. Disney incorporated the park separately from the film studio and went into television in order to finance and advertise it. Mr. Snow puts us in the carpeted rooms where it was financed and the concrete floor workshops where it was discussed and designed.

Disney himself is a chain smoking, tightly wound man, sparing with compliments, but loyal and with a capacity for work only exceeded by his capacity for risk and his
Joe Kessler
Dec 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
This is an informative history of the creation of Disneyland, with a few significant caveats. First is the scope: author Richard Snow mentions that his subject was intended by Walt Disney to be a continual work in progress, and indeed, it has continued to undergo modifications and expansions through today -- yet the book arbitrarily stops after the first five years of operation. Snow also includes several seemingly valid criticisms people have made about Disney (as a person, as a company, and as ...more
Jan 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Most Disney Parks fanatics like myself probably would have heard most of the anecdotes and stories in this book at some point or another, but Snow does a great job at compiling everything into a chronological account. It's fascinating to read about the amount of detail that Disney and his team put into every aspect of the park, including making sure that the ballast that the Disneyland Railroad rested on matched the track, engine, and rolling stock smaller scale. It was also interesting reading ...more
Craig Amason
Jan 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this approach of telling the life of Walt Disney in the context of his most ambitious and perhaps most successful project quite clever. It is well written and entertaining, revealing fascinating points of interest about Disney and the creation of his theme park. Richard Snow obviously admires Disney and credits him for changing the way the world thinks about so many topics including entertainment, amusement parks, and even customer service. However, I was also struck with how Disney's ...more
Mike Kennedy
Dec 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Very interesting book centers mostly around Walt Disney and his time building Disneyland. Mr. Snow did his research on this book. He had a lot of great stories and plenty of information for the reader. He gives you a brief background on Walt’s history, before diving into Walt’s inspiration for Disneyland.

It was every interesting to learn about the risks Walt Disney took to open this park. The timeline of the build was also captivating, and it seemed to read almost like a thriller, hoping the
Jan 10, 2020 rated it liked it
"Disney's Land" tells the story of how Disneyland went from dream to reality... and everything in between.
Most of what is here has been written about or communicated before: Walt Disney and his vision, focus and absolute commitment as well as the story of the park itself. So you probably will not have any new discoveries if you are a Disney fan.
I enjoyed the chapters on the park itself that detailed the parks actual opening and the 'things that went wrong' on that first day and the weeks to
Dec 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: net-galley
4 out of 5 stars

[[I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]]

This was a very thorough and informative history of Disney Land. There were some facts that I already knew, but there were other facts that were brand new to me, which I smiled at and enjoyed. There were parts that were very heady and full of information, but it flowed well. There was also some information about trains and the process of making the cars for
Bob Henry
Jan 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was my first book of 2020. I found “Disney’s Land” delightful, while full of nostalgia and well-written history. Historian Richard Snow crafts each chapter as an experience both with the park and the men and women who made it a reality. Taking moments along the way to watch some of the early film on YouTube, I realized Richard Snow had captured in words a behind-the-scenes view of the art and the artist. While acknowledging the big dreams and lofty goals of Walt Disney, his artists and ...more
Jennifer Schultz
Read if you: Want to learn more about the improbable origins of Disneyland.

When Walt Disney proposed the idea for an amusement park, people thought it was an odd idea. In the 1950s, amusement parks had the reputation of being old, dirty, and not much fun. But Disney was used to people rejecting his ideas, so he paid them no mind. Disneyland revolutionized amusement parks (and created the "theme park") and the amusement/theme park experience.

Although there are some minor quibbles to be made
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