Saturday, July 12, 2008

Speaking of 25th Anniversaries...

Disneyland: The First Quarter Century. Walt Disney Productions, 1979; 122 pp.

I was looking back on my blog posts and I realized I hadn't reviewed any out-of-print books in a while! Oops. Today, we'll be taking another trip back into Disneyland's past with Disneyland: The First Quarter Century, a souvenir book issued in celebration of the Park's 25th anniversary.

Now, you may remember from our look at the first Disneyland guidebook in one of my first posts in this blog (and if you don't, may I refer you to the blog archives?) that Walt's little park only had a few attractions back when it opened in 1955. Disneyland did a lot of growing and changing from then until 1980, and this book's anonymous author (if anybody knows who the author might be, please let me know) does a wonderful job of chronicling that growth, and delves into what the Park meant to Walt and what it means to its many visitors today. The book is broken up into a couple of sections, such as "From Dream to Reality", where the author tells the story of Disneyland's conceptualization and initial construction, "The First Quarter Century", a chronicle of the Park's history, and "The Many Worlds of Disneyland", where some of Walt's quotes are combined with some scenic images of Disneyland and shots of guests enjoying the Park.

The book's an interesting read, but let's be honest here - most people who pick up this book are going to give the text a cursory glance at best and go straight to the pictures! And in my opinion, you're perfectly justified in doing so. The shots of the Park in this book - a combination of publicity photos and photos from Walt Disney Imagineering from throughout the years, plus what I assume were a few new professional shots taken just for this book - range from cute to stunningly beautiful. I especially enjoyed all the construction photos of the Park's attractions - I don't think it wasn't all that common to see construction photos in the media back then. I also had a fun time playing "Name That Imagineer!" as I looked at the photos of the folks at WDI (well , back then WED) working on creating some classic Disneyland attractions.

So, are there any drawbacks to Disneyland: The First Quarter Century? Well, if you're a devoted Disneyland fan, you're probably not going to learn anything new about the Park from this book ; if you're looking for a good official history of the Park with more information about what went into creating it, I'd recommend a book that came out from Disney a couple of years after this one called Disneyland: Inside Story by Randy Bright. A lot of the photos in this book are going to look familiar - many of them have been used often in the 24 years since this book was published in other publications and exhibits (in fact, I realized as I re-read this book for this review that I've seen several of them in the Disneyland: The First 50 Magical Years pre-show exhibit). Overall, though, I love this book - I think it set a standard for the Disney souvenir books that has been hard to match (although the most recent Disneyland souvenir book, Disneyland: Then, Now, and Forever, comes close).

Disneyland: the First Quarter Century is a wonderful photographic trip through the first 25 years of Disneyland's history. If you're just starting a Disney book collection, I'd recommend making this book of your first out-of-print book purchases; the book comes up for sale in used bookstores and for auction on eBay and other auction sites pretty frequently, and the price is usually fairly reasonable. If you've been collecting Disneyland memorabilia for a while now and you don't have this book, you've got a fairly big hole in your collection - start looking for a copy! Either way, be prepared to spend a couple of hours looking through this book once you open it up.

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