A propulsive history chronicling the conception and creation of Disneyland, the masterpiece California theme park that became at once the greatest piece of urban design in the United States and the world's most prosperous tourist attraction, as told like never before by popular historian Richard Snow.
When Walt Disney imagined a theme park where “his audience 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,” there was nothing like Disneyland in the world. Now, sixty years later, theme park rights have become a staple of every entertainment contract. On the way to achieving greatness, Walt Disney, his brother Roy, and a small group of artists, engineers, and designers (none of whom had ever built a theme park) endured setback after setback and engineered their way over and through countless impasses with a signature on-the-fly approach, culminating in an opening day in July 1955 that was nothing short of a disaster.
This is a spectacular story of error and innovation, a wild ride from a vision to the realization of an iconic cultural landscape. It reflects the park’s uniqueness, but just as strongly that of the man who built it with a watchmaker’s precision, an artist’s conviction, and the desperate, high-hearted recklessness of a riverboat gambler.
Richard Snow spent nearly four decades at American Heritage magazine, serving as editor in chief for seventeen years, and has been a consultant on historical motion pictures, among them Glory, and has written for documentaries, including the Burns brothers’ Civil War, and Ric Burns’s award-winning PBS film Coney Island, whose screenplay he wrote. He is the author of multiple books, including, most recently, Disney’s Land.