Kenversations™: Jack and the Bean Counters
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If you're theme park nerd, especially a Disneyland enthusiast, interested in the history of Anaheim, or a marketing professional, Jack Lindquist's book, In Service to the Mouse, is well worth a read. My wife bought me this book as a Christmas present, and I eagerly read it.
I went to work at Disneyland in 1990, the same year that Jack was given the title "President of Disneyland" as The Walt Disney Company continued to add titles throughout the corporation to reward executives and make the organization more understandable to those in other corporations.
This was a book that was on my seemingly ever-growing list of Disney/theme park media to buy and read/watch/whatever. I seem to have much less time to actually read/watch/whatever these days, since I have a full-time job that has nothing to do with Disney or theme parks, a wife to whom I am a husband & boyfriend, and two young children to whom I am a father and "no"-saying ogre. That seems to go along well with not having the cash to acquire so much of that media as I tend to my responsibilities as a husband, father, and homeowner. (And there's the dog, too, who also takes time & money and never seems to score free meals from Italian restaurants.)
Fortunately, I was able to read this great memoir, which has conveniently bite-sized chapters.
I already mentioned that I became "a part of the magic" in 1990, but before that, I was an annual passholder for five years. This meant that I was around, either as a guest or a cast member, for many of the events explained and recounted by Jack. I was taken back in time to those years. Of course, Jack went to work doing marketing and publicity for Disneyland in 1955, long before I was even born (years before my parents were even adults), so he filled in some gaps in my knowledge of some events for which I was around, and some for which I wasn't. I've heard Jack speak at least a few times when and where he was sharing a story or two, but there were stories in the book I'd never heard or read before, as well as a rumor or two I'd heard "back in the day" that Jack confirmed.
Jack connects the reader to old-school Disney, back to when Disneyland was born and Walt's professional empire pretty much consisted of Disneyland (just the original park, not even the hotel), WED Enterprises, which had designed Disneyland, and Walt Disney Productions, consisting of the Burbank studio with its animated features & shorts, and fledgling forays into live-action feature films and television (and the associated music and merchandising). Jack's perspective is from a perch in Anaheim as Disneyland grows and assists in the 1964 World's Fair, the initial creation Walt Disney World Resort, the addition of EPCOT Center, and the acquisition of operations in Long Beach, California (and subsequent exit from those operations). He even sheds light on how The Walt Disney Company came to buy the Angels Major League Baseball team.
We get some fascinating - and at times humorous and harrowing - insights into the creation of EPCOT Center, specifically attempts to secure World Showcase participation from various countries. But alas, there wasn't a word about the creation of Tokyo Disneyland, and I can only conclude that Jack had no involvement in that at all. Considering that was happening about the same time as the creation of EPCOT Center, that's understandable. However, there also isn't anything about Euro Disneyland (now Disneyland Paris) even though some of Jack's management team while he was Disneyland President was busy in France working on that. There isn't a word about the bitter 1984 Disneyland Cast Member labor strike, either, although we get some of the sordid details of the infamous Yippee invasion and the law enforcement response.
Some other things we do get to hear about include: the creation of the Magic Kingdom Club, Date Nite at Disneyland, the Disneyland Ambassador role, Club 33, Grad Nite, the creation and introduction of Disney Dollars, the Pigskin Classic college football game, and Blast to the Past, although nothing is said about Circus Fantasy and State Fair, similar promotions during the same time period as Blast to the Past. We get details about the Disneyland presence at the 1960 Democrat National Convention, the 30th Anniversary (1985) Gift Giver Extraordinaire, the Children's Miracle Network Telethons, and how Fantasmic! got its name, but nothing is included about the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, the creation of Small World Meadows Ampitheater/Videopolis, the Main Street Electrical Parade, the 60-hour public parties in September 1986 (premiere of "Captain Eo") and January 1987 (grand opening of Star Tours), the private party for Elizabeth Taylor's 60th Birthday, the construction and promotion of Splash Mountain (which included the McDonald's "Splash For Cash" promotion that, due to construction delays, ran months before the attraction opened), how Disney's purchase/ownership/rebranding of KHJ into KCAL-TV Channel 9 was used to the advantage of Disneyland, the dreadful Afternoon Avenue Fantasyland overlay, the attempted & scrapped purchase of Jim Henson properties (including the Muppets) and the promotions planned around that, the 35th Anniversary promotions (Party Gras and the Dream Machine), the Disney Decade announcements, the ambitious but ill-fated Person of the Century Poll, or the creation of Mickey's Toontown.