5 stars – I’ll definitely be reading this more than once
Koenig, a freelance writer and editor, became friendly with many part-time employees of Disneyland in Anaheim. When they joined a major strike in 1984, Koenig was inspired to write this book. Drawing on interviews and extensive research, Koenig describes in detail Walt Disney’s plan and the goals for his amusement park; the behind-the-scenes mechanisms of the attractions; the selection, training, and expectations of the employees; the persona of the Disney characters; profiles of guests (both welcome and unwelcome); the tragic accidents that have occurred and the lawsuits that ensued; and the spinoffs throughout the world.
Calling all die-hard Disney park fans – this book is for you!
I’ve been to Disney World and Disneyland often enough now that I’ve developed a fascination with the behind the scenes stuff – what secrets lie behind the attractions and what goes on behind stage to put on this lavish and magical production that the guests see when they visit?
This book lets you in on a lot of those secrets – and at times (many of them) is laugh-aloud funny (so try not to read it on a crowded train!). I found myself reading great chunks of the book aloud to my husband who wanted to know what was making me laugh so much.
As the description above suggests Koenig covers off a wide range of subjects in this book – and it’s jam packed full of interesting information.
We all know the reason why Walt wanted to build Disneyland (“to create a first class theme park, clean tasteful, logically planned and fun for both children and adults”) and many of us know about that fated opening day in 1955 when 28,154 guests flooded the park; half the attractions broken down, they ran out of food and drink, and ladies found their high heels stuck in the Main Street tarmac which melted under the heat of the sun. But did you know that the line for the Jungle Cruise used to house live alligators, but they had to be removed because guests thought they were animatronics and kept poking them with sticks and feeding them popcorn? Or that when the park closed at night the rats would swarm the park – the measures undertaken to try and get rid of them are quite hysterical!
You’ll learn about the infamous Club 33, and what it’s like to be a Cast Member (the good bits and the not-so-good bits), the strike of 1970 that changed the culture of the park forever and the day that riot police were forced to storm Main Street to keep the peace.
Koenig also covers the various accidents and deaths that have occurred throughout the years – and in most cases I was shocked at how guests could be so careless yet attempt to sue Disneyland for their resulting injuries.
All in all this was a really enjoyable read – I learnt a lot about what it took to build the park, and while it is hilarious at times some of the content is serious and thought provoking.
So if you like me have visited the parks so many times that you’re ready to take a peek behind the scenes you need to read this book.
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