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

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  1,460 ratings  ·  256 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 wo
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published December 3rd 2019 by Scribner
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Average rating 3.98  · 
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 ·  1,460 ratings  ·  256 reviews

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Scott (on temporary hiatus)
Jul 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"You can dream, create, design, and build the most wonderful place in the world - but it requires people to make that dream a reality." -- Walt Disney

I suppose that for the majority of us on this site we sort of take for granted that Disney's parks have always seemed to be in existence. They're just a couple of examples of pop cultural-related slices of Americana that now seem like they've been around forever, both physically and in our imaginations. (Having family in California, I have been for
Feb 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Richard Snow covers Walt Disney's dream of Disneyland from initial pipe dream to the "The Happiest Place on Earth". Snow details the massive undertaking Disney and his core people took on by giving a self-imposed deadline of two years. My favorite parts were all the engineering and construction techniques they pioneered to make Disneyland happen, like the first use of fiberglass in boats and cars. You have to remember at the time, there had never been an amusement park of this scale. Disney's me ...more
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 stori
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 buildin
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)
Jonathan David
Dec 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
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 o ...more
Mar 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic book. I had to return it early, but put myself back on the list to recheck out the audio book and finish. I am so glad I did. To hear about the business trials and troubles along the way is fascinating. Knott's Berry Farm was the only thing close to Disneyland at the time, and he took it to a whole 'nother level. I think about how this was all executed in the 50s, post war mad men energy and ambition. There's a movie to be had in this story. I'm sure Walt would like it that way? ...more
Aug 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
This was a great road trip audiobook because it was like two vacations in one: wherever you're going, plus Disneyland.

Snow has put together a balanced history of the park starting with a few chapters of Disney's career and early film successes. He nails both depth and breadth in sharing the park's vision, design, construction and opening, covering everything from financing to engineering & ride design to corporate deals to in-depth portraits of key players on the project.

The narration was grea
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. ...more
Lady Brainsample
3.5 stars
Solid Disney history, but Defunctland does it better.
Aug 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5 rounding up. Listened to the audiobook (mostly in the car on a road trip). Probably would have enjoyed it more if I had read an actual book, but I still got a lot out of it and learned a ton about Disneyland and the life of Walt Disney. Some parts were a bit tedious, especially in audiobook form (like the couple chapters that more or less described entire hour long TV episodes), but overall it was very interesting and often highly inspiring. I loved learning about the horticultural/landscape ...more
Shauna Birkett
Jan 22, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My boyfriend is a Disney person and his family thinks Disney World is better than Disneyland and although I'm not a fanatic like they are, I loved Disneyland and wanted to read this to have content to talk with my boyfriend about. It didn't disappoint. I'm all like "did you know the Matterhorn cost x amount of dollars to build?" etc.

The book is good! There are too many names to keep track of for me, but I did enjoy learning about everything it took to make this place happen. It's really inspiri
Jan 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book is the most in-depth book I’ve ever read about the making of Disneyland. The main bits I knew, but there were whole chapters dedicated to parts of the construction process that I knew nothing about! It was so interesting.

Jan 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars to a fascinating, thoroughly researched history of the Disneyland story, from pipe dream to reality and beyond. It's hard to believe there were only 87 hotel/motel rooms in Anaheim when Disneyland opened in 1955. I grew up with Davy Crockett, the Disneyland TV show beginning in 1954 and the early Disney cartoon movies. Living on the East coast, I never went to Disneyland as a child, but this book was definitely nostalgic in many ways, and I learned so much. ...more
Charlene Dapelo
Mar 08, 2020 rated it liked it
Interesting book. A bit slow but worth reading. I admit I skipped a few pages.
Mar 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I have only ever been to Disneyland, I have never been to Disney World, and for the life of me I cannot remember my visit to it, it was soooo long ago. So when I saw this book I wanted to check it out because the idea of the book fascinated me, how Disney built Disneyland.

And it didn’t disappoint, started a little slow, but once we get into it, the story was outstanding, detailing how it came to be, the issues it had being built, the strong personalities who clashed during the making of it, the
Sep 07, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
Although this book contains some necessary biographical details on Walt Disney, the person, dating back to his childhood, it is very specifically a history of the creation and early days of the Disneyland park itself, as the title suggests. The meat of the book focuses on the year leading up to the park's opening, in July 1955.

It is hard to imagine now, seeing what a corporate behemoth Disney has become (and how successful their parks have been, especially in the U.S.), but the idea of Disneylan
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
May 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
I have nostalgic ties to Disneyland. Though I never went there as a kid (that would be Disney World) my mom and her siblings took a road trip to go to Disneyland in July 1955 from East Texas the week the park opened. Years later I would chose to go to Disneyland for my 21st birthday instead of a bar, and I went back in 2005 for the 50th anniversary year of the park. There are lots of people out there with stories like mine. I feel that Disneyland in particular is very woven into the local cultur ...more
Feb 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Walt Disney shifted the paradigm of amusement parks from sleazy beachfront places like Coney Island, to a clean family-oriented environment providing several hours of happy respite from everyday life. While he maintained concrete business sense, he also had a vision of the world of entertainment that he never wavered from, despite everyone around him telling him his idea would never fly. Not only did he prevail to build his dream, but he did so in a year and a day from start to finish. The book ...more
Zandt McCue
Jun 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This was fantastic.

Read as part of my research into a passion project I've been toying with for a couple of years now, Disney's Land surpasses everything else I've previously come across on the subject. I devour information on theme parks. Particularly Disney. This happens through books, youtube videos, documentaries, and even working at Disney World. As it happens, I was always wondering what I was missing. Stories are easily repeated until they become trivia. Disney fanatics love blurting them
Feb 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
For those who are interested in Walt Disney and the development of Disneyland in California, this is an interesting and well-researched book. While I have only been to Disneyland in California once, I lived in Florida before Disney World even existed and have been to that park more times than I can count, so I have a keen interest in Disney. I am also old enough to remember Walt introducing his television shows and the original Mickey Mouse Club. At times, the book drags a bit, and it is hard to ...more
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
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
Jenn of The Bookish Society
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 descri
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 autho ...more
Bryce Pinder
Jun 14, 2021 rated it liked it
Disney Land can have all my money. There's a lot behind how the park came to be, not all of it thrilling, but overall fun read. It's a story of doing something new and amazing when no one else thinks it'll work and accomplishing something great against overwhelming obstacles. Also interesting to learn more about Disney as a leader - not as loving and happy as you'd expect but sure knew how to get stuff done. ...more
Nov 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, edelweiss
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) ...more
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