Theme park books, which are well written and fun reads typically combine personal stories with business insights. I recently discovered a book that does just that. So far I have kept my 2013 resolution to read at least a book a month. I recently completed a Disney Legend and Imagineer’s biography, another Disney Legend’s book on design, a fascinating book about the story behind Twitter, and a disappointing biography about Jeff Bezos and Amazon.com.
Theme Park Books
I picked up It’s Kind of a Cute Story by Disney Legend Rolly Crump and Jeff Heimbuch after meeting Rolly at the MiceChat booth at the D23 Expo in August. It has since become one of my favorite theme books thanks to being written in an unconventional and informal style that recounts stories in bite size chapters. The conversational style of the book was difficult to get used to, but ultimately I came to enjoy it, as it feels like having an extended conversation with Rolly. The entire book is filled with fascinating stories about Walt Disney, the development of Disneyland, the 1964/1965 New York World’s Fair, Knott’s Bear-y Tales, and many other smaller projects that Rolly worked on in his 50+ year career.
Designing Disney, by Disney Legend John Hench, is another one of those great theme park books, which can be a resource for any designer no matter what industry they are in. For over 65 years, John Hench worked at Disney, first in animation, then in Live Action and finally in Imagineering, where he spent the majority of his career. He was responsible for the design of Cinderella Castle at Disneyland, Space Mountain, EPCOT, and countless other classic attractions. In Designing Disney, Mr. Hench takes you behind the scenes of his detailed design process that has influenced how Imagineering still creates attractions to this day. The fascinating chapter on how Imagineers consider color in their design process is worth the price of the book. Another good resource for learning more about John Hench’s design process is the 1978 New West article, “Disneyland is Good for You”, written by Charlie Haus.
Hatching Twitter, by New York Times Columnist Nick Bilton, is an entertaining and comprehensive read on the founding, drama, and success of Twitter. I thought I knew the story of Twitter quite well after following the behind the scenes spectacle of the company quite closely since I signed up for the service way back in June 2007. Bilton was able to dig up new stories and create a complete timeline of the company through original reporting and interviews with all of the founders. The book is a quick and gripping read thanks to its narrative style that resembles a crime novel more so than a business biography.
I purchased One Click: Jeff Bezos and the Rise of Amazon.com by Richard L. Brandt two years ago. I had trouble reading more than a few pages at a time until this month when I forced myself to sit-down and finish it. One Click is a disappointing read that contains little depth or original reporting. The incredible story of Amazon.com and the eccentric personality of Jeff Bezos should have produced a much more interesting and entertaining book. The recently released The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone has received much better reviews and is on my reading list for next month.