Disney Theme Park Books

Disney theme park books

There are many Disney Parks books that focus on Disneyland, Walt Disney World, and Walt Disney Imagineering. This post reviews many books in our Disney library, and provides links for finding (usually) inexpensive copies of the books. Over the years, I’ve spent more money than I care to think about building my collection of Disney titles. My collection contains mostly official Disney releases, and, as the title indicates, focuses on titles that have a theme park connection.

My Disney library is light on biography and prose-heavy titles; most books in my collection are coffee table books with strong visual elements. These are just the types of books I prefer; your tastes may vary. I can only imagine the thousands of additional dollars I’d have to spend for a truly exhaustive collection of all Disney books!

Many of these books are out-of-print, so they can only be purchased on the secondary market. Luckily, you can still find many of them on Amazon.com for prices ranging from $.01 to a few dollars (click each title for current prices on Amazon.com).

Unfortunately, a few of them cost far more than that, but values on most of these rarer titles only continues to rise, so consider buying to be a “pragmatic investment” if you need to justify a purchase! First, I’ll give an overview of titles in my collection from Walt Disney’s Original Magic Kingdom, Disneyland, then offer titles from its younger sibling, Walt Diseny World, and finally conclude with assorted titles.

Disney Parks Books


These books focus solely on Disneyland. They may touch upon other parks briefly, but their impetus is Disneyland.

Disneyland Then, Now, and Forever – This is a great place to start your collection, so I’m leading with it. It’s not the best title on the Disneyland list (I’d rank it #4), but it’s relatively inexpensive and offers some information about extinct attractions that pre-dated present favorites at Disneyland. My personal favorite is the “What was there before Big Thunder Mountain,” which covers an especially intriguing attraction to me: the Mine Train Through Nature’s Wonderland. It’s not as comprehensive as some of the titles that follow, but it’s a great way to get your feet wet.

Disneyland the Nickel Tour: A Postcard Journey Through 40 Years of the Happiest Place on Earth – Unquestionably the best book about Disneyland, Nickel Tour is humorous, detailed, fun to read, and a great resource. Unfortunately, it’s also rare and incredibly expensive. That said, I think it’s well worth the money, as hard as that is to believe. Look up other reviews (many of which note the price) and try to find me a single person who says that Nickel Tour isn’t worth it. I doubt you’ll be able. I was skeptical myself, but I’m very glad I forked over the money for this wonderful title. The premise of Disneyland Nickel Tour is brilliantly simple: use a complete set of Disneyland postcards (and other photos) as a vehicle for telling the story of Disneyland. That said, it’s the execution that really shines. The authors spent over a decade, on and off, researching and writing this title, and it really shows. Laden with their unique brand of humor, I’ve found this voluminous 392-page title to be quite the page turner. The current market price for Nickel Tour will only increase in the coming years (it has already increased since I purchased it in 2011) as both authors are deceased and the publisher is out of business. It’s very unlikely that any reprints or future editions will be written.

Disneyland: Inside Story – Prior to Disneyland Nickel Tour, Imagineer Randy Bright’s Disneyland Inside Story held the crown as the best and most comprehensive Disneyland book ever written. At 240 pages, this book presents quite the history, along with some exceptional photos. Although the book was written in the late 1980s, surprisingly, it doesn’t feel incomplete as to Disneyland (it obviously doesn’t cover Disney California Adventure). It can be a bit on the pricey side, but it’s another title that is well-worth the money.

The Art of Disneyland – The Art of Disneyland is another expensive title that is an essential for any Disneyland collector. For that matter, it’s an essential for any Disney collector. Seeing the early art in this title gives me goosebumps, and reading the story of Herb Ryman being told be Walt that he was going to draw the now-famous concept art for Disneyland always brings a smile to my face. The Art of Disneyland is a visual treat with its amazingly detailed concept art, just don’t be surprised if once you open it you can’t put it down. My favorite portions of the book (unsurprisingly) involve the various incarnations of Tomorrowland. Although I did laugh at the authors’ positive remarks about the warm colors in Tomorrowland ’98. They were joking, right?!

Disneyland, Memories of a Lifetime – This book is one of the best of the newer titles. Author Tim O’Day knows his stuff, and presents his knowledge well (as you know if you’ve ever seen him host a Disney panel). This title has some of the best photos out of all of the books here, too. From a historical perspective, it doesn’t hold a candle to Disneyland Nickel Tour or Disneyland Inside Story, but it’s a valuable title, nonetheless.

Disneyland Dreams Traditions and Transitions – This is another title that I found surprisingly good. It’s not as good as the upper echelon, but the photos are pretty good and unique from other Disneyland books, and the accompanying text is good. Plus, it’s relatively inexpensive, so you really can’t go wrong with this title.

Disneyland Hotel – The Early YearsAs soon as you open this book, you can tell it was a passion-project. It’s such a niche title, but it is so incredibly well-researched and presented that I think it could be of interest to most Disney theme park fans. I’ve never stayed at the Disneyland Hotel, but I found myself really intrigued by its incredible history. Kudos to Mr. Ballard for creating this title!

Disneyland the First Quarter Century – The First Quarter Century is fairly similar to The First Thirty Years, which is also very similar to The First Thirty-Five Years. Each title does differ slightly from one the others. The photos in these are unique and offer a nice snapshot in time of Disneyland just before the halfway point of its existence. Text is okay, too. Since the photos and text is largely the same in all of these titles, there’s little sense in owning all three.

Disneyland: The First Thirty Years – Very similar to the other two collector’s books that bookend it, but this is probably my favorite of the three. It seems to have slightly better photos and I really like the cover. Lame justification, but it is what it is. It’s cheap, so it’s not a bad idea to pick it up even if you own the others.

Disneyland: The First Thirty Five Years – Apparently nothing happened in five years, as this book is nearly identical to its predecessor. I haven’t gone through and counted, but I’d say 80-85% of the content is duplicative. Still, a cheap title for completionists.

Disneyland – There’s Magic In The Stars – Celebrating 45 Years Of Magic – I list this book last not because it’s the worst, but because it has suddenly become prohibitively expensive. I purchased it from Amazon for $9.99. Now, it’s exponentially more. If you see it for $20 or less, grab it. It’s actually a good title with plenty of unique photos, so it’s worth monitoring if you can’t currently find it for a reasonable price. It’s just simply not worth the nearly $100 sellers want for it now.

Walt Disney World

These are the Walt Disney World-centric titles in my collection. Some deal with Disneyland as a prefatory background, but none of them focus on the original Magic Kingdom or any other parks.

Since the World Began: Walt Disney World – The First 25 Years – Not the best Walt Disney World book (#3rd overall), but a cheap way to start your collection. It’s detailed with plenty of interesting text, and features an awesome snapshot in time during a great time in Walt Disney World history (1996). It includes fairly common information, but also more detailed information such as the rationale behind the coloring on the roadway signs at Walt Disney World. I upgraded my copy from the softcover to the hardcover version because I enjoy this book so much.

Tom's Picks:  The Art of Walt Disney World

The Art of Walt Disney World – This is by far the best book on this list, but it is a tad pricey. The book features mostly concept art and explanations thereof, much of the art predating the Resort itself, and much also never coming to fruition. I consider those shots perfect visual explorations. The art in the book is large while the text is kept small (as it should be), and the layout is wonderful. I found myself wanting to race through the book to find certain art I knew was there (based on online reviews) only to stop and carefully gaze at breathtaking artwork I’d never seen. The “re-readability” factor of this book is incredibly high, and it would make the perfect coffee table book for any fan.

Gardens of the Walt Disney World Resort – Not to be confused by a newer title with a similar name (Glorious Gardens), this book is absolutely amazing, and shows just how beautiful Walt Disney World once was with its many gardens and water fixtures. I gush over this book at length in my full review of it.

Disney Parks Library

Walt Disney’s Epcot: The New World of Tomorrow – Any fan of EPCOT Center owes it to themselves to have this book in their collection. There are actually four versions of this book and they’re dramatically different from one another.  There are two large ones that are 240 pages each and two smaller ones  that are 127 pages each. The biggest difference between the larger books is when they were produced, either pre-opening or post-opening of EPCOT Center; they also have different titles (EPCOT v. EPCOT Center in the names). The pre-opening versions contain more photos of models, whereas the post-opening version contain photos of actual pavilions. The 240 page version is obviously the better version to get, but it’s difficult to determine which you’re getting until it arrives at your doorstep. Luckily, these are cheap-enough that it’s not overly expensive to order a few copies until you get the ones you want. I’m still trying to complete my collection of the variants of this book. Only one to go!

Walt Disney World: A Magical Year By Year Journey – Another great option because of its price and due to the time period in which it was produced (1998), this book has become a real favorite of mine as a Wikipedia-style source of background information concerning attractions, and a timeline of the resort in general. Most of the photos are overly-staged or edited “Guide Map Style” pictures, but they’re cool and different, nonetheless.

Around the World with Disney – This book is an interesting departure from the standard souvenir books produced each year, as it compares and contrasts attractions from the global parks to one another with a strong emphasis on Walt Disney World. It’s not necessarily a Walt Disney World book per se, but it seems there’s an emphasis on the Florida parks. It hasn’t been out of print for more than a few years, but it’s surprisingly cheap given its out-of-print status and unique nature. I haven’t seen too many copies of this pop up on eBay, which is usually indicative of a shortage. I’d snatch this book up now, as it wouldn’t surprise me if it hits $50 or more in the next couple of years.

Walt Disney World Then, Now, and Forever – One of the more recent titles, this is one of the rare titles that showcases current attractions and extinct attractions that were previously there in their place. The Disneyland version, review forthcoming, is far superior, but this book is no slouch in its own right. This version focuses primarily on the “Now” whereas Disneyland’s focuses primarily on the “Then.” This one was co-authored by the now deceased Bruce Gordon (buy any book you can bearing his name–they’re all gems), which means it has shot up in price since going out-of-print. Even though it was released in 2008, copies of it regularly sell for $50.

Walt Disney World 15th Anniversary Edition – The proper title of this book is simply “Walt Disney World” but I added the 15th anniversary portion to differentiate it from 1993’s book by the exact same title. This is a souvenir book in premise, but the photos are gorgeous and this book probably has the coolest cover of any souvenir book ever released. If you only buy one title between this, The First Decade, and 20 Magical Years (as all feature fairly similar photos) make it this.

The Making Of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park – This book, by Joe Rohde’s wife, is far more text-heavy than any of the other titles on this list. The author had amazing behind the scenes access during the construction of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and this book reflects that. It’s not a mere touristy fluff piece. It contains very interesting photos and descriptions of the park. Any fans of Animal Kingdom, or anyone who wants to appreciate the park more, should check this out.

Walt Disney World: The First Decade – The content of this book is fairly similar to the 15th anniversary edition, but it does contain some really cool photos, notably of Cinderella Castle. If you must have a complete collection (like me), make sure to pick this up, but if you’re a casual collector, owning this or the 15th anniversary version is probably sufficient. The obvious advantage to the 15th anniversary edition is that it includes EPCOT Center.

Walt Disney World Resort 100 Years of Magic – 100 Years of Magic is incredibly similar to the Souvenir for the New Millennium title. Very similar. Near the same number of pages, 80% of the same photos similar. They basically have different covers and layouts. Luckily, they’re both really cheap and easy to find.

Walt Disney World Resort: A Souvenir For The New Millennium – Nearly identical to 100 Years of Magic. Can be purchased cheaply, but only purchase if you’re a completionist.

Walt Disney World (1993) – Fairly unique photos (including a hilarious one of some tourists wearing decidedly 90s Little Mermaid shirts) in a book organized by attraction, this book is one to definitely check out. Features fairly in-depth coverage of The Disney-MGM Studios and the Vacation Kingdom.

Walt Disney World 20 Magical Years - This title is pretty similar to the 15th anniversary title, but does feature some new photos. Because it’s relatively cheap, I think it’s also worth picking up. There is another title, released the year before this, simply called Walt Disney World with a white cover, the Castle, and fireworks, that I’ve heard is almost identical to this. I haven’t been able to acquire that version yet.

Disney Theme Parks & Imagineering

These are books that might cover Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disney Resort, and/or Hong Kong Disneyland. Basically, books that can’t be specifically placed on only either list above. Plus, some excellent titles on Walt Disney Imagineering.

Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind the Dreams Look At Making the Magic Real – I honestly don’t have the superlatives to describe this book. Quite simply, it will change the way you look at the Disney theme parks. It includes information about the design process, why certain details are significant, and how things in the parks came to be (or didn’t come to be). Had I found this back in 1996 when it was released, I honestly think I might have pursued a different career path. As it stands, it’s one of the titles to which I turn when I want to be inspired, and it has never let me down. Every Disney theme park fan should own this book.

Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind the Dreams Look at Making More Magic Real- The 2010 follow-up to the above title, this is another must purchase. It’s currently around $32 on Amazon for the hardcover edition (as compared to $60 in Walt Disney World or Disneyland), and it’s worth every penny. The 1996 original was due for a follow-up, considering that Disney California Adventure, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Tokyo DisneySea had all opened since then. It covers these parks and other newer developments wonderfully. It illuminates the design-process, the rationale behind specific details, and provides stunning fold-outs and ‘different’ page-types within the book. I’m actually a bit shocked that it sells for only ~$30. If you only buy two books on this entire list (including the Walt Disney World and Disneyland-specific titles), these two Imagineering: Behind the Dreams titles should be the two you purchase. They are absolute MUST-OWN titles.

Poster Art of the Disney Parks – The newest entry in my collection is one of the best. Much like the Behind the Dreams books listed above, Poster Art is an oversized coffee table book by Walt Disney Imagineering. Unlike the broadly focused Behind the Dreams books, Poster Art narrows its focus to a single topic: Disney theme park posters. More than just a catalog of posters, this book shares concept art, artist quotes, and other information concerning the technical and artistic process. These posters are a sterling example of the creativity and attention that goes into theme park creation, and this book is sure to give even the most ardent Disney fan a new appreciation for the posters that make them smile each time they enter the parks.

Designing Disney’s Theme Parks: The Architecture of Reassurance – If you purchase the two Imagineering titles above and find yourself wanting something more, this is the title to which you should turn. It is considerably more academic in nature, with more text and fewer diagrams and photos than in other books, but don’t let that scare you away. Editor Karal Ann Marling and the essays in the book provide a very thought-provoking, but not unapproachable, glimpse into the design of Disney. It seems to be a more objective title than others on this list that focus merely on the “magic” of Disney. It still does skew heavily toward the positive, but that’s okay by me. If you’re reading this list and searching for Disney books, chances are that you don’t think Disney is a heartless bastion of consumerism that is destroying the world. This is my “sleeper hit” of the list; I really enjoy this book for its depth.

One Day at Disney – Conceptually, I love this book. It’s one day in the worldwide Disney theme parks, presented as the day unfolds around the world. It’s visually engaging because  contrasting photos are presented next to one another. While it’s daytime in one park, it might be nighttime in another. This adds a real hook. The photos, largely, are beautiful, too. The text only really offers explanatory captions, which is absolutely fine. My only qualm with the book is that it acts as if these photos are all from one single day in March. That is simply untrue. Some of these photos are in other Disney books on this list that were published decades apart. Otherwise, it’s an amazing book. I paid nearly $50 for my copy, but I see that it’s now as low as $3. (Ouch.)

The Magic of Disneyland and Walt Disney World – I expected very little from this book by Valerie Childs. It was a $.99 purchase, just something to fill out my bookshelf. I was floored when I found a plethora of unique and well-composed photos and a rather nice book. Don’t expect an amazing book, but for the low prices, it’s well-worth purchasing!

The Imagineering Field GuidesImagineer Alex Wright has done an excellent job with these titles, and they are great take-to-the-park books for guests who want to a bit more background information about the parks or the “why” behind the attractions and lands. I’ve found the Disney’s Animal Kingdom title the most illuminating, but you really ought to purchase all four titles if you’re going to Walt Disney World or the Disneyland title (hopefully a Disney California Adventure version is on the way once the overhaul is complete!) if you’re heading to Disneyland Resort. These titles provide a great in-park companion to supplement the two larger Imagineering titles above.

Designing DisneyJohn Hench is a Disney Legend, and easily one of the greatest Imagineers of all time. This book is a thoughtful examination of how he and others designed the parks. For only around $17 new on Amazon, it’s a must-own for all fans. It’s approachable-enough for the Disney newcomer, but still has enough depth to satisfy a die-hard fan. Hench himself has always perplexed me. I’ve long been under the impression that he, and others, designed Disneyland on an instinctive, gut level. With this in mind, a lot of his later writings have come across to me as ex post facto intellectual justifications for why these gut decisions were made.

Walt Disney’s Imagineering Legends – Jeff Kurtti authors this title that offers mini-biographies of a number of early Imagineers who all had ties to Walt Disney, in some way, and provides anecdotes, quotes, and some background information about each and how they worked in the grand scheme of the design of the theme parks. Definitely a worth addition to any collection.

The Haunted Mansion: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies – If an attraction-based film is what it takes for more books like this to be written, I hope Disney keeps churning them out. This is an incredibly detailed and well-written book that covers the Haunted Mansion attractions in all of the worldwide parks inside and out. Best of all, it dispels a lot of fan-generated myths about the Haunted Mansion.

Pirates of the Caribbean: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies – Same idea and quality as the Haunted Mansion book, this is another must own. My only complaint: where is my Country Bear Jamboree book, Mr. Surrell?!

The Disney Mountains: Imagineering At Its Peak – Another Jason Surrell-penned title, this book doesn’t have the same must-buy status of the others. Primarily because it’s now out of print and costs well over $50 on the secondary market. My main criticism here is that the book seems somewhat unbalanced and not as probing as the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean titles. To be fair, the former are focused on one attraction, whereas this was focused on multiple mountains, so it necessarily couldn’t have been as in-depth as those titles. There is a lot of concept art, which is great, but the mountains in this book existed at the time of the publication, so more photos would have been appropriate. Still a great book. If you can find a copy for $25 or less, pounce on it.

Disneyland Paris: From Sketch to Reality – This book is right up there with Disneyland Nickel Tour, which is incredibly high praise. For a while, it was cost-prohibitive for me, as list prices soared above $500. Prices have since come down, and I finally purchased it. This book is a big part of the reason why we visited Disneyland Paris. Enough said.

Independent Titles

Many other books in my collection are independent titles produced by third party publishers (ones that Disney doesn’t own). With the proliferation of self-publishing and the interest in the Disney theme parks, in general, it’s not pragmatic to list every Disney book I own here. Here are the highlights:

Disney WarDisney War sparked my fascination with the workings of The Walt Disney Company. Reduced to its most basic terms, it covers the rise and fall of Michael Eisner, culminating in the “civil war” within Disney between Eisner and Roy E. Disney, as the latter undertook his “Save Disney” campaign. It’s my understanding that James B. Stewart was granted unprecedented access to write a book on the Eisner regime before this campaign began unfolding, so he was there to witness it all. It reads almost as a Shakespearean tragedy, and proves that sometimes the truth is more compelling than fiction. I purchased the copy pictured above for $.01 on Amazon.com. Easily the best penny I’ve ever spent!

Walt and the Promise of Progress City – Author Sam Gennawey details the plans for EPCOT as envisioned by Walt Disney before he passed away. This vision was one for an actual community, which was starkly different from the theme park that was eventually built. The author is an urban planning expert, and his knowledge and painstaking research on the title shows.

Hidden Mickeys Guides – The Hidden Mickeys Guides (to Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and Disney Cruise Lines) are books that are really fun to take on your trip to give the experience some extra dimension. I only own the Walt Disney World guide, and mine is the second edition. I can only imagine what the newer editions contain!

Project Future: The Inside Story Behind the Creation of Disney World – I have not yet made it finished this book, but I’ve found it very fascinating. That said, I’m an attorney and the book focuses on many of the legal aspects of Walt Disney World’s establishment.

‘Earbook – Kevin Yee’s yearly ‘Earbook series presents snapshots in time of Walt Disney World and the changes that have occurred to the Vacation Kingdom over the years. Someday these titles will be invaluable to historians.

The Walt Disney World Trivia Books – Lou Mongello does an excellent podcast, and his trivia books provide the same kind of historic/’did you know’ content you might find on his show.

Want List

These are books that I don’t (yet) own, but would like to purchase at some point in the future.

Building a Dream: The Art of Disney Architecture – I’ve flipped through this a couple of times at Disneyland and it looks intriguing, especially if Disney architecture interests you, but the $60 price scared me away. It’s $40 new from Amazon, so I’ll probably purchase it soon from there.

Disneyland Through the Decades – This is another book I flipped through at Disneyland but have yet to purchase because of price. Jeff Kurtti is one of the more notable Disney authors, but I have to admit that I wasn’t that impressed with what I saw in this book. It looked fairly superficial with a lot of uninspired photos. In fairness to the author, it wouldn’t surprise me if this is what Disney dictated that the book be to appeal to a more mainstream audience. I’ll purchase it because I’m a completionist, but it didn’t seem like anything special to me.

Four Decades of Magic: Celebrating the First Forty Years of Disney World – Another book about which I’ve heard great things, I’ll probably purchase this book in the next few months.

CAUTION: When buying Disney theme park books, make sure the item listing includes a photo. This is why I like Amazon.com so much–they have photos for most listings, unlike half.com and many other websites. Most of these books do not have ISBN numbers and have similar-sounding names, and are thus prone to being mis-listed by sellers if there is no photo on the item page. I’ve received the incorrect book a couple of times. The Disneyland Resort: Pictorial Souvenir above is one such example. No, seller, it’s not “basically the same thing” as Disneyland: Memories of a Lifetime. 

Reviews from a HUGE library of Disney Parks books, including where to find CHEAP old books!

The books discussed here aren’t the only ones in my collection, but they’re the ones that I’ve found the most worthy of discussion. I have several other souvenir books and miscellaneous biographies (most of which I have yet to read!), so if you have questions about other titles not listed here, ask!

Your Thoughts…

Which books in this list do you own? Do you have any favorites? Which Disney theme park books do you own that aren’t listed here? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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44 Responses to “Disney Theme Park Books”

  1. Wendy says:

    Great timing on this post! I’ve really been itching to expand my Disney book collection lately and this will be a GREAT resource. Of the ones mentioned, I only have the MK Imagineering Field Guide, Lou’s trivia books, and WDW Then, Now, and Forever. I’ve got some work to do!

  2. Great list and even better photographs of the books.

  3. Brandon McCain says:

    I have read a book that i think you might enjoy and thats The Kingdom Keepers by Ridley Pearson. i have only read 4 out of the 5 and they have been great storys and has some hidden secrets of walt disney world in it.

  4. Andrea says:

    I also have a WDW book collection! I have 2 WDW books that are very similar to some that you listed, but not quite the same. I bought both books, separately, at thrift stores.

    One is a 20th Anniversary souvenir book. It is pretty much the same as the 10th and 15th anniversary books, plus and minus a few pictures. The cover of it is my favorite of all the souvenir books!… A photo of many characters in front of Cinderella castle, surrounded by drawings of different park icons(incl. Figment) in metallic blue ink, and “20 Magical Years” and stars in twinkly silver ink.

    The other one is a 25th anniversary book. It seems to be an updated, more 90s themed version of the 10th and 15th anniversary books, but almost all the photos are newer and it profiles MGM and Epcot in more depth, as well as waterparks and DTD. I think it has the same picture of guests wearing very 90s Little Mermaid shirts! (in a shop, with a CM showing them a different shirt). The cover is blue with a drawing of Sorcerer Mickey and other character in front of Cinderella’s carriage, and the Castle, Spaceship earth and the Earful tower in the background. It says “twenty-fiver years” at the top.

    Here are the covers:

  5. Darrin Kosanovic says:

    Tom, I own 96% of these books and you are absolutely right about the top picks.but I have to say you should get the Disneyland Paris book (probably in the late 90s or early 2000s). I bought it when it went on sale in the Disney catalog getting the gold edition($100.00) and it is the best book I ever picked up. The pictures are well worth the price I payed And it came with 4 lithographs ) . Great article!!

  6. Hilary says:

    My bookshelves are weighed down by a number of these! Including the Disneyland Paris book, which is indeed beautiful. I did think of you when I read about the reprint! There’s also a new book about to be published to celebrate the 20th Anniversary (I believe it goes on sale next week).

    Just got hold of a second hand copy (missing the dust jacket but, aside from that, in great condition) of Disneyland: Inside Story, after Tom recommended it on Twitter.

    Also purchased The Art of Walt Disney World & Building A Dream: The Art of Disney Architecture while I was at WDW last month. So, of course, I paid full price but vacation money doesn’t count, right?

  7. Great work! That is the kind of information that should be shared around the web. Disgrace on Google for now not positioning this post higher! Come on over and consult with my web site . Thanks =)

  8. @WToddShirley says:

    Disneyland Hotel – The Early Years is being reprinted. Visit http://www.magicalhotel.com for ordering info.

    Happy buying!!!


    • Don Ballard says:

      We have been given permission by Disney to do a reprint of Disneyland Hotel The Early Years 1954-1988. We also have Disneyland Hotel The Little Motel in the Middle of the Orange Grove which has an amazing record of history and photographs on the Hotel in the 50’s. Both at our website.

      • Tom Bricker says:

        Thanks for dropping by, Donald!

        I forgot to add the newer book of yours to my “want list,” but it’s definitely one I want. I’ll make that addition shortly.

        In the meantime, you can find it here: http://www.magicalhotel.com/

  9. I enjoyed Project Future, but felt it just scratched the surface. I was left wanting more.

    We have been buying the Art of… books that coincide with the movies, which are filled with early concept art and background details.

    There are two books that were released via Disney Cruise Line, the first
    Disney Magic: The Launching of a Dream, Talks about the birth of DCL and the conception of the Disney Magic. And just released last year, Welcome Aboard! The Creation of the Disney Dream which continues the story with the introduction of the Disney Dream. Both are good reads for cruise line junkies. The first book features some early concept designs Imagineering came up with for the design of the ship before they settled on the Classic ocean liner design.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I had never thought of books about DCL. Since Disney considers it part of Parks & Resorts, so should I. I’ll check those out. Thanks for the heads up!

    • Trey says:


      I’m not sure if you’ve read it, but Walt and the Promise of Progress City is an interesting take on the history behind Walt’s research and progression from building, theme park, and city planning. If you haven’t read it and are interested in how Walt wandered into the realm of city planning, it might be worth a read! I’m actually planning to pick up a copy of the book that the author claims is the only city planning book Walt read. It sounds like it was the heaviest influence on his ideas for EPCOT.


      Great, very comprehensive list. I hadn’t heard of Walt and the Promise of Progress City until it was recommended by a Reddit user who many theorize to be a recently retired famous Imagineer. I highly enjoyed the book and look forward to others on your list. Cheers!

  10. Julia says:

    I really enjoyed The Disneyland Encyclopedia, very thorough. I just wished it had more pictures.

  11. Evan C. says:

    Great article Tom! A great reference to begin my
    collection. My question was, being that you mentioned
    getting those books really cheap, what is your cutoff on
    quality level (acceptable, good, like new, etc.)?
    Again, awesome work and thanks!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I will usually roll the dice on ANY quality if the price is right, but I’ve ended up with books I had to resell myself because of that.

  12. Scott Baxter says:

    Tom, you included one of the books on Disney gardens in the list and mentioned the other. Of the two, which would be more useful to an active gardner hoping to incorporate into her own yard’s landscape a little of what makes the Disney gardens so nice? My wife spends all day and into the night out in the yard, digging into the dirt, and I’ve thought of getting her one of these books.

  13. John T says:

    Excellent review Tom. I have just received my copy of Disneyland Paris from sketch to reality and have to say it has become an instant top of my list Disney book.

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  16. What a wonderful collection, I have many of these as well. I loved it when they released a book each year about the park that was the first thing I would pick up on each trip. Wish those would come back.

  17. Phil says:

    The Art of Walt Disney World is currently $30 in the two outlet stores near WDW! Beats paying $150 over at Amazon.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Wow, great tip! I wish we lived closer to those outlets!

      • Phil says:

        I also paid the princely sum of £1 sterling for my Pirates of the Carribean book, but that hardly makes up for the airline passenger duty tax levied on flights to the states…

  18. Drew says:

    What about that womderful book: The Unofficial Guide: The Color Companion to Walt Disney World?

  19. Amy says:

    Great info! I have just ordered 7 of these and can’t wait to get them. I was wondering if there is a book that has pictures of the architectural building process of the Magic Kingdom. I would love to see the step by step creation of the utilidors and what we see now. Thanks for the awesome website and info!

  20. David says:

    Awesome info! Thanks!
    I am wondering if anyone has advice as to what book I should purchase that’s close to Fall 2010 in WDW. I have collected many Disneyland Souvenir books almost each time I was there, but didn’t find one when in WDW in 2010. Any advice?

  21. Jeff says:


    Are you aware of any English-language books that focus on Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea? I’ve been struggling to find more extensive information before a trip I’m making this fall and would love to find a book…in a language I can actually read!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I’ve found a few souvenir books, but they wouldn’t help with trip planning. There are a couple of planning books out there, but I’ve never read them. Make sure to drop me a line after your trip. I’d love to hear about it–seriously.

  22. DRToohey says:

    Great list! I have Designing Disney and it’s fantastic and I got Disney War a few weeks ago and am itching to start it. And now I think I’ll know what I’ll be asking for if any family has no clue what to get me for Christmas.

    If I may make a suggestion (since you seem to enjoy your Disney books), I would strongly recommend “Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination” by Neal Gabler. I am almost done with it now and it may be one of the most fascinating biographies I’ve ever read and a must-read for any Disney fanatic. It paints a great portrait of Walt as both a complicated and not-perfect figure but simultaneously dispels a lot of the negative rumors that have haunted his legacy. It also just puts you in awe of how Disney Studios came to be, survived and flourished and eventually became the Disney Company. Plus, you’ll be spouting new Disney trivia to everyone you talk to.

  23. Rico says:

    Great article, thank you! Like many of your readers, I have a good number of these books too. My all time favorite:’DL Paris from Sketch to Reality’. Last year I bought ’20 Years of Dreams’, a nice companion ($) to the above mentioned tome. I’m a HUGE Epcot fan and fondly remember the 1967 model atop DL’s Carousel of Progress; so recommend ‘Celebration the story of a town’. Lots of great photos. Also the 2011 ‘Walt and the Promise of Progress City’. Question: I have the 2007 edition of ‘The Disney Mountains: Imagineering @ it’s Peak.’ Do you know if this was updated? Seems I heard that somewhere, but can’t find anywhere. Thanks from Washington’s Olympic Peninsula.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I’ve recently added both Disneyland Paris books you mentioned to my collection (haven’t had the chance to update this page yet!), and you’re right, both are great. I don’t believe Imagineering at its Peak has been updated.

  24. Gareth says:

    Very interesting reading Tom. Having been on the hunt for a few disney related books a number of these have poped up along with others you didn’t talk about. So have decided to take the plunge and get a few. The only down side I’ve found is that the ones I would really like don’t come cheap, either through the conversation from dollers to pound sterling or I get stung on the postage. But I’m sure with a bit of searching and patients I’ll build my self a lovely collection. Keep up the good work.

  25. GiggleGoddess says:

    What’s the best book that compares all the Disney theme parks (Euro/Disneyland/WDW/Tokyo/etc) over the years? Is there anything like it out there?

  26. Maureen says:

    Hi Tom :) Couple questions…. I have a couple Walt Disney Biographies but purchased them (years!) ago, Walt Disney – An American Original and Walt Disney The Triumph of the American Imagination (Neal Gabler). Gablers is one I put down being I continually found myself drifting. I since have gone on to other “Disney” books.. wondering if you have a favorite Walt Disney Biography you could recommend. Also, in reference to Walt and the Promise of Progress City …. do you think this book is worth purchasing and reading? I am just about to finish Dream It! Do It! and my take on the book very closely mirrors yours :) Thank you for your time :)

  27. Michelle Vicky says:

    I own the Haunted Mansion book, bought it as a “present/souvenir for my young daughter ..actually it was for me ..love it ..this is the one thing I wished I bought more of on my two trips ..thanks for the tips on purchasing at Amazon. One book that I should have purchased when I saw it at Pop Century Resort in 2012 was one about the behind the scences people …whose name could be found on the display windows etc. That one I wanted to serve as inspiration for my kids to dream big ..however on my trip in 2013… I stayed at a different resort and did nit get time to go back for it ..May be next time .

  28. Jeff says:

    Tom, have you looked into Walt Disney’s Railroad Story by Michael Broggie? There’s a lot of early DL pictures I’ve never seen anywhere else in that book. Also, at some point I picked up an incredible 24 page book created for the opening of Expedition Everest which details the behind the scenes prep work of the Imagineers for that ride.

  29. Hey Tom,

    I love this post. It’s so thorough and I’ve put a few of the titles on my to-read list. I was wondering if you’ve ever heard of Walt Disney’s America? There seem to be two books with this title. The one I am talking about was written by Christopher Finch and was published in the late 1970s. It’s about Walt’s vision of America in his movies and theme parks. I just picked up a copy at a local used bookstore. I’m looking forward to reading it!

  30. Rodney says:

    That is a great tip especially to those new to the blogosphere.
    Short but very accurate info… Many thanks for sharing this one.
    A must read post!

  31. Adam Berger says:

    Great list, Tom. Like many of the others posting responses, I also own a great many of those titles and I agree with your descriptions. May I suggest another book I think you would like a lot? It goes under the “Independent Titles” heading. It’s titled “Every Guest is a Hero: Disney’s Theme Parks and the Magic of Mythic Storytelling”:


    Here’s what Melody Malmberg, the author of “Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind-the-Dreams Look at Making MORE Magic Real” had to say about it:

    “Want a great way to view Disney theme parks? Every Guest is a Hero provides a unique lens–Joseph Campbell’s pioneering work on storytelling–that helps explain just how and why the parks continue to exert such a hold on audiences worldwide. After reading this book, you will see the parks in a new light.”

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