Archive for the ‘Alex Wright’ Category

Book Review – The Imagineering Field Guide to Disneyland

November 30, 2008

The latest behind-the-scenes pocket-sized sneak peek into Walt Disney Imagineering is another treat for all Disney fans.

By Blake

Originally posted November 30, 2008.

I’m really liking Disney Book Group lately, particularly Disney Editions. Not only have they continued to release their successful Disney-related novels, but recently I’ve begun to see a very steady increase in their backstage books for fans that give them a look behind the Disney magic. Out of this wonderful crop of Disney fan books include the amazing Imagineering Field Guide series. The Imagineering Field Guide to Disneyland follows behind the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom as the fourth volume in a very satisfying book series that began in fall 2005.

Each installment if filled with eye-pleasing art, little-known secrets, and many, many tidbits of trivia facts. Although I thought that the Disneyland volume might be a bit similar to the Magic Kingdom book (since the two parks contain many of the same attractions), it thankfully wasn’t. The Imagineering Field Guide to Disneyland is its own book in its own right and, although at times a few stories and facts are repeated, it’s mostly not a twin at all.

Some of the very interesting trivia pieces we learn this time around include:
15 attractions that were open on opening day – July 17, 1955 – are still open today.

  • The Opera House on Main Street has held 5 different attractions, making it the most-recycled building in the park.
  • Walt Disney insisted that the windows on Main Street be ground level so that children could easily see inside them.
  • Orange trees in Adventureland were removed and then planted upside-down when the park first opened in 1955 (the park was a mass of orange groves prior to its opening).
  • For the second Indiana Jones film, Steven Spielberg had crew members come to Disneyland to record sounds from Big Thunder Mountain Railroad to use in the movie!
  • Thurl Ravenscroft (a.k.a. Tony the Tiger and the singer of “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch”) voices many different Disneyland attraction characters, including Fritz in The Enchanted Tiki Room, a singing tombstone in The Haunted Mansion, a singing pirate in Pirates of the Caribbean, and many others.
  • Several “credit” windows stray from Main Street, including one for Fess Parker (the actor who played Davy Crockett in the Disneyland television series) in Frontierland and a fictional one for the Three Little Pigs in Toontown.
  • Voice actor Paul Frees lends his voice to both the Auctioneer in Pirates of the Caribbean and the Ghost Host in The Haunted Mansion.
  • Pirate sails seen over a rooftop of a building in New Orleans Square actually don’t belong to a ship at all – they’re built in to the roof, but you can’t tell from the ground! This was done to add more theming to the land, but the construction of an entire new ship wasn’t needed in this case.
  • Christopher Robin was discreetly not included in Disneyland’s version of The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh attraction because of the ride’s location in Critter Country.
  • The Imagineers felt that any characters other than “critters” would take away from the proper theming of the land.
  • The Dumbo the Flying Elephant attraction was originally going to have guests ride in flying pink elephants (from the “Pink Elephants on Parade” sequence of the film) rather than on Dumbo himself.

These and MANY other wonderful little-known secrets are filled all throughout The Imagineering Field Guide to Disneyland. Together with short making-of stories for each attraction of how it came from conception to reality, as well as great art pieces, the book is quite marvelous indeed. Although it’s credited to be written by “The Imagineers,” its actual author is Imagineer Alex Wright, who also wrote the preceding three volumes in the series. Any Disney fan will find this and all other three Imagineering Field Guide books amazing. Even though I’ve never visited Disneyland, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I highly recommend it for any Disneyphile. It’s just pure fun.

How do I rank The Imagineering Field Guide to Disneyland? (Bolded is my choice.)
  • Utterly repulsive
  • Blech
  • Not good
  • Good
  • Very good
  • Brilliant

The Imagineering Field Guide will most likely please: Disney Fans – Young Adults – Adults

By Blake; originally posted November 30, 2008. All images (C) Disney.