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"Imagineering Legends" is the ideal gift for the Disneyana fan on your Christmas list

Jim Hill

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"Imagineering Legends" is the ideal gift for the Disneyana fan on your Christmas list

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"There can be only one ..."

And -- no -- I'm not channeling for the Highlander here. I'm talking about the real budgetary challenge that many consumers are facing this holiday season. Where -- instead of heaving multiple presents at friends & family as they have in years past -- they can now afford just one Christmas present per family member this year.

Well, if you find yourself in that situation and have a Disneyana enthusiast on your holiday shopping list, let me save you a lot of fretting and unnecessary trips to the mall. If you want to buy this person the one gift that is sure to make them happy on Christmas morning, get them a copy of Jeff Kurtti's latest, "Walt Disney's Imagineering Legends and the Genesis of the Disney Theme Park" (Disney Editions, August 2008).


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Okay. I know. "Legends of Imagineering" is somewhat infamous among Disney fans because its publication date got pushed back a number of times. But quality takes quite a while to produce, folks. And Kurtti has definitely delivered a quality product here.

Don't believe me? Alright. Then let's throw this 146-page hardcover open to any random page. Like -- say -- Page 99.


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Where you'll find a photograph of Walt riding the WEDway PeopleMover prototype back in 1966. "What's so cool about that?," you ask. Well, Disney died in December of 1966. So this is as close as the Ol' Mousestro ever got to experiencing Disneyland's Tomorrowland '67, that "World on the Move." Which makes this picture kind of poignant.

Better yet -- how about that picture on Page 7 -- which shows the late Ken Anderson hard at work in his office at WED. And what's this Disney Legend working on? Well, if you peek over Ken's shoulder, you can see that it's Epcot's never-built Africa pavilion.


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Mind you, "Legends of Imagineering" allows you to see some of Ken's work that actually did make it into a Disney theme park. Like the concept paintings that he created for one of Disneyland's first dark rides, "Snow White's Scary Adventures."


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But the author's real emphasis here isn't on art. But -- rather -- artists. Those talented men & women who translated Walt's whims into reality. You'll find the usual suspects, of course. Legendary Imagineers like Marc Davis. But Kurtti still finds unique ways to pay tribute to this huge talent. Take -- for example -- the photo below.


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"What's so unique about that?," you query. "It's just Marc and some other Imagineers standing in front of some concept art for 'Country Bear Jamboree.' " Ah, but those just aren't any Imagineers. The man directly to the right of Davis is Al Bertino, the longtime WED employee whose long face & portly physique provided the inspiration for CBJ's star player, Big Al.

"Walt Disney's Imagineering Legends and the Genesis of the Disney Theme Park" is the sort of book that both Disney novices and Mouse House experts can enjoy. As you page through Kurtti's clever collection of stories, you may find yourself marveling at one of Marvin Davis' original site plans for Project Florida ...


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... or just giggling at this photograph of Marty Sklar and John Hench. Where you want to scope out that early, early model of the EPCOT Future Theme Center, but your eye keeps getting drawn back to Marty's aggressively plaid jacket.


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Me personally, what I enjoyed most about "Walt Disney's Imagineering Legends" is that Kurtti goes out of his way to pay tribute to WED's unsung talents. People like Buddy Baker who wrote the score for many of your favorite Disney theme attractions. Shows like "it's a small world," "The American Adventure" and "The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh."


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So -- again -- if you're struggling to find that perfect gift for the Disneyana enthusiast on your holiday shopping list, you really can't go wrong with a copy of "Walt Disney's Imagineering Legends and the Genesis of the Disney Theme Park." Loaded with informative and entertaining stories -- not to mention loads of seldom-seen paintings & photograph -- this is one present that the Disney dweeb in your family will love to find under the tree.

And speaking of holiday shopping ... If you'd like to show your appreciation for all the great stories that you regularly read here on this website, then why not start out your next Amazon shopping spree by clicking on the banner above? That way, JHM gets a teeny tiny chunk of whatever you spend.

Happy Holidays!

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  • I must agree with you Jim. Jeff Kurti's book is wonderful. However there are two other books that I'd like to mention. One is The Art of Disneyland. If you want to see an interesting re-paint concept for Disneyland's Tomorrowland circa 1980's then get this book. We know that Tomorrowland was painted in shades of beige at that time. But how about Kelly Green and Gold? Oakland A's fans would have thought they had died and gone to heaven! The other book that I will mention is Spinning Disney's World by Charles Ridgeway. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised to see that one of the reviews on the back of the book jacket is by our very own Jim Hill! This is a very funny and touching book.

  • I have the book, too, and it's one of my favorites.  I did a review of it for art class, I liked it so much.

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