• Disney's Land

  • Walt Disney and the Invention of the Amusement Park That Changed the World
  • By: Richard Snow
  • Narrated by: Jacques Roy
  • Length: 12 hrs and 1 min
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (212 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A propulsive and “entertaining” (The Wall Street Journal) history chronicling the conception and creation of the iconic Disneyland 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 world still powered by steam and fire for a day or a week or (if the visitor is slightly mad) forever”. Despite his wealth and fame, exactly no one wanted Disney to build such a park. Not his brother Roy, who ran the company’s finances; not the bankers; and not his wife, Lillian. Amusement parks at that time, such as Coney Island, were a generally despised business, sagging and sordid remnants of bygone days. Disney was told that he would only be heading toward financial ruin. But Walt persevered, initially financing the park against his own life insurance policy and later with sponsorship from ABC and the sale of thousands and thousands of Davy Crockett coonskin caps. Disney assembled a talented team of engineers, architects, artists, animators, landscapers, and even a retired admiral to transform his ideas into a soaring yet soothing wonderland of a park. The catch was that they had only a year and a day in which to build it. 

On July 17, 1955, Disneyland opened its gates...and the first day was a disaster. Disney was nearly suicidal with grief that he had failed on a grand scale. But the curious masses kept coming, and the rest is entertainment history. Eight hundred million visitors have flocked to the park since then. In Disney’s Land, “Snow brings a historian’s eye and a child’s delight, not to mention superb writing, to the telling of this fascinating narrative” (Ken Burns) that “will entertain Disneyphiles and readers of popular American history” (Publishers Weekly). 

©2019 Richard Snow (P)2019 Simon & Schuster Audio

What listeners say about Disney's Land

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Okay, but better books on the subject

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 opening of Disneyland 5) A brief description of Disneyland’s early years and it’s impact.

Section 1 is truncated version of the more entertaining and detailed biographies of Walt Disney. It’s hits all the high points of Disney’s pre-Disneyland career. This can be a bit boring for those familiar with Bob Thomas or Neal Gabler’s books.

Section 2 is a brief history of early amusement parks like Coney Island. It then describes Walt’s formation of the idea of Disneyland. This actually quite interesting and new material.

Section 3 is where the book begins to bog down. Much of what appears here can be found in a new streaming documentary, books by John Hench and others.

Section 4 dealing with the opening of Disneyland is perhaps the most tedious. Much of this part of the book is dedicated to a word for word recitation of what occurred in the Dateline Disneyland program that aired on ABC. You are better of just finding the original program and watching it.

Section 5 is about Disneyland’s impact and detractors. There’s really no information about Disneyland after the death of Walt. Instead it focuses on the academic impact of the park of the amusement park business, architecture, city planning, culture and its impact.

While overall the book is okay. I think there are plenty of well written books on the subject including Sam Greenaway’s book.

10 people found this helpful

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This is not the Disneyland book you are looking for.

“The Disneyland Story” by Sam Gennawey is a better rendition of the Disney Story.

Jacques is fine, not great, but that could be the way Snow presents the story.

2 people found this helpful

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Enter Title Here...

Snow covers Walt Disney's dream of Disneyland from initial pipe dream to the "The Happiest Place on Earth". It's largely about the people who, one by one, built Disneyland as Walt came up with new ideas. 70 years later, those people have faded into somebody else's memory. I thought that the Linkletter 1955 TV introduction took a bit longer then it deserved. I thought the discussion of Walt's trains noteworthy.

2 people found this helpful

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fascinating and detailed

I am not a Disney fan and have been underwhelmed by the parks but I found this book fascinating. It gave me a whole new level of respect of what was achieved in the building of Disneyland.

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Very thorough, definitely in the top 3.

A very well put together compendium, and a silky smooth 12 hour yarn. I listened to it while building a frame for my 6 foot Abraham Lincoln audio animatronic blueprint, which came out far more detailed and perfected than previously planned, because Walt's story inspires inspiration itself. This telling of it deserves more eyes and ears. If you're new to Disney History, start here. If you're a Disney History veteran, there will be at least one thing you haven't heard before.

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Like the park itself

Wait for 20-30 minutes for an exciting fact, seemed a bit disjointed, but I learned some interesting things. Overall I liked it, but it was quite long and meandering.

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A good True Story

I really enjoyed this book especially since I grew up around theme parks and I had your passes for 10 years as a last-ditch effort to all the Disney parks not to mention other ones I really love the information💕🤗

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Interesting and Insightful

Loved it start to finish. Some almost seemed written through the eyes of a child with great attention to the concept of the then present days reality of life. Inspires me to listen to more books about all things Disney.

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great history

loved it. great story on the history of the park and how Walt came up with several ideas

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Not meant for audio

I loved the concept. I’m a big Disney fan and love their history. Was excited for this. But listening to it, it was so hard to follow who was speaking. It felt like the book was nothing but quotes from other people but it rarely attributed who was speaking, making it difficult to follow. The story also felt like it jumped back and forth on the timeline, further adding to the confusion. I think all the content is there for a great story but framing and context need some adjustments.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-02-22

Brilliant

For any Disney fan, those interested in Disney history and the development of Disneyland, this is a must listen.
Well written and well read, I throughly enjoyed “Disney’s Land” and can’t recommend it enough.

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  • Sebzee77
  • 09-14-20

Worth A Listen

I enjoyed this book. Yes, the narration is quite monotone, however, it didn't bother me at all. There are A lot of interesting facts and snippets of information, some I already knew some I didn't, if you're interested in Disney at all, I would recommend it.