I don’t own a whole lot of Disney books, believe it or not. I only own one copy of “The Unofficial Guide to WDW” for instance (the 2013 edition); prior to that I’d just take them out from the library periodically. For fun, actually. 😀
Anyway, in spite of my tendency to not buy myself Disney books, my husband knows to look for WDW themed items for gifts for me, and sometimes he has to get creative b/c I don’t look for them myself and have no idea what to ask for. A few years ago he picked out two books I ended up loving: The Imagineering Field Guide to Epcot and to Magic Kingdom.
If you take a look inside the two books on the Amazon links above you can get a vague idea of what they’re about, but it’s not really going to show you just why they’re so interesting. What the books do is they talk about the design of the parks from the Imagineers’ perspective – yes, that’s obvious – and then give you a lot of little insights into the designs.
Like the fact that everything in Future World East is angular and hard-sculpted, and everything in Future World West is free-flowing and rounded. Or that there is a “geographical and chronological transition” between The Haunted Mansion to Big Thunder Mountain, as the design of the areas flow from the Hudson River Valley in the early 1700s (Haunted Mansion) to a journey west across the United States, stretching up to the late 19th century.
The books are laid out section-by-section of each park with stories, concepts, details, histories… just everything. There’s a lot that hardcore Disney fans will probably know but there is so much that there may be things even they *don’t* know. I’m not going to suggest facts that people might not know yet because I think it would vary person-by-person and I don’t want to sound stupid. “Bet you didn’t know that John Hench suggested that Spaceship Earth be made in two pieces with the bottom part hanging from the top!” “Uh, DUH.”
Another feature of the books that I really like is at the beginning, the same in all titles. The first few pages of each book comprise a section called “Imagineering 101” and it just covers the history of Imagineering, Imagineering Lingo (very informative), and my favourite, WDI Disciplines. If you are interested in working as an Imagineer, this basically gives you a list of your job options. I’m not looking for a career as an Imagineer and yet I STILL love this part. It just gives such an amazing description of all the things that the Imagineers do. All this stuff you’d never realize. Like “Character Paint”. Guess what that is? “Character Paint creates the reproductions of various materials, finishes, and states of aging whenever we need to make something new look old.”
Also included are plenty of pictures, concept art, designs, blueprints, and quotes and quick facts. The whole thing is illustrated in a variety of ways, not only by visual images but with brief presentations. You know, I’m suddenly remembering how long it’s been since I read these…
So honestly – these are a great, great buy. I have no attention span whatsoever so the fact that these can be read bit by bit is a huge plus. Actually I read some of them aloud in the car once on the way to the beach! (I promise I was not driving at the time.) Of course, with recent park updates, they are not the most up-to-date information available but just for historical info and trivia, these books are top-notch.
Animal Kingdom and MGM/Hollywood Studios are also available. I haven’t read them but I can only imagine they’d be just as good. The cover price on my copies is $9.95 and on Amazon it looks like they’re around a dollar less than that!