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Ken Reviews: Imagineering Legends and the Genesis of the Disney Theme Park
Page 1 of 2

by Ken Pellman (archives)
August 25, 2008
Ken reviews the eagerly anticipated new book by Jeff Kurtti, Walt Disney's Imagineering Legends and the Genesis of the Disney Theme Park.

Ken's Reviews
Walt Disney’s Imagineering Legends and the Genesis of the Disney Theme Park
by
Jeff Kurtti

Purchase at The Laughing Place Store

Full disclosure: I’m a Disney shareholder, former Disneyland Cast Member, and I personally know some of the people quoted in this book. I came of age with the intention of becoming an Imagineer, going so far as to forge a major in “Thematic Environmental Design” at a university. As part of my studies, I interned for what was at the time Walt Disney Imagineering’s biggest independent competitor. Over the years, I have been interviewed for two different positions with WDI.

Now that I’ve got that out of the way…

Summary: This book should be a mandatory addition to the coffee table or bookshelf of anyone who seriously appreciates theme parks, especially Disney theme parks, or cares to know why they have the look and feel that they do. Anyone interested in the creative process, organizational leadership, or the personality of Walt Disney may also gain some insights.

Walt Disney’s Imagineering Legends and the Genesis of the Disney Theme Park by Jeff Kurtti

Hardcover
157 pages of content
Disney Editions/A Camphor Tree Book
ISBN 978-0-7868-5559-9
9 1/2” x 11” x 5/8”

Contents:

  • Foreword – Growing Up With Imagineering by Martin A. Sklar
  • What is Walt Disney Imagineering?
  • The First Imagineer: Walt Disney
  • Chapter One – The Prototype Imagineers: Harper Goff, Ken Anderson, Herbert Ryman, Sam McKim
  • Chapter Two – The Executive Suite: Richard F. Irvine, Bill Cottrell
  • Chapter Three - The Place Makers: Marvin Davis, Bill Martin
  • Chapter Four – The Story Department: Marc Davis, Claude Coats
  • Chapter Five – Master of Mixed Media: Morgan “Bill” Evans, Rolland “Rolly” Crump, Yale Gracey, Blaine Gibson
  • Chapter Six – The Model Shop: Fred Joerger, Harriet Burns, Wathel Rogers
  • Chapter Seven – The Machine Shop: Roger Broggie, Bob Gurr
  • Chapter Eight – The Music Makers: Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman, Buddy Baker, George Bruns, X Atencio
  • Chapter Nine – The Unofficial Imagineers: Ub Iwerks, Bill Walsh, James Algar, Ward Kimball
  • Chapter Ten – The Renaissance Imagineer: John Hench
  • Bibliography and Acknowledgements
  • Index

There is probably nobody better than Jeff Kurtti to author a book like this. He collaborated in the past with authors Bruce Gordon and David Mumford, both of whom left us way too young. Imagineer David Mumford left us after a serious illness. Bruce Gordon, who was no longer with Walt Disney Imagineering and was working with the Walt Disney Family Foundation, died suddenly late last year. It is my prayer that Mr. Kurtti lives to a very ripe old age.

Gordon and Mumford played a role of Imagineering and Disney theme park historians, as well as ambassadors to the enthusiast community, such as with their popular presentation at National Fantasy Fan Club conventions. Kurtti’s work with Disney and other companies (and Mumford and Gordon) has placed him in a great spot to keep putting out books that will pass along this kind of fascinating information. I can still remember a presentation that Jeff Kurtti gave me as part of a personal tour I took of WDI while I was a high school kid.

From the 1950s through the mid-1980s, when the Disney theme park style was being generated and established with the original Disneyland park, the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT Center parks at Walt Disney World Resort, and the original Tokyo Disneyland park, there weren’t websites and cable channel programs featuring interviews with Imagineers. While anyone today with cable television might know who Tony Baxter and Joe Rohde are, some of their Imagineering predecessors are known only to entertainment industry folks and Disney fans, though some of them made brief appearances in television shows hosted by Walt Disney to promote new Disneyland projects.

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