BOOK: The Disney Book, by DK Books

Dec 07, 2015 2:34 am

From time to time, BrickJournal is given the opportunity to review items that may be of interest to LEGO fans. One of the more frequent items we get to review are books. As such, the books are looked at both as gifts and potential use by LEGO fans.

Book Review:


The Disney Book:

A Celebration of the World
of Disney
DK Books

200 pgs, $30.00

The Walt Disney Group has been around for more than 90 years, and there have been many publications that have taken a look at the history of the company. Some have looked at movies, while others have looked at the theme parks. Very few have given an overall view of the company, until DK Books’ The Disney Book: A Celebration of the World of Disney.

This book, authored by Jim Fanning, is an overview of the company from its beginnings to the present with photo and art from the Disney archives and studios. 200 pages isn’t much space to talk about a large company like Disney, but Fanning does an admirable job.

The first section of the book is a timeline of the Disney company. Highlighted with each year is a list of movies produced and other achievements, including theme park openings and staff changes. Through it you can see that Disneyland opened in 1955, and Seal Island, a True-Life adventure (documentary) was produced in 1948. Decades are given a 2-page spread, with some historical context given.

The next sections are stories of the different parts of Disney, starting with animation (Drawn Disney), live-action production (Disney in Action), and theme parks (Experience Disney). There are some items in the Disney portfolio that are not mentioned, such as Marvel Films, ESPN, Disney Theatrical Productions, and Disney Cruise Line. Some of this is understandable (how does one fit in a sports channel into the above categories?) but some is odd (the Marvel movies have become a different brand of Disney that has earned billions, so shouldn’t be in there somewhere?)

The beginnings of the company are reflected in the Drawn Disney section. Walt is introduced, then Mickey Mouse. Photos and art show how Walt started up his company and made it grow from a animation company that made movie shorts to animated movies. In these pages, there are things that will appeal to any Disney fan - from behind-the-scenes photos of animators to spreads devoted to the animation desk (which, surprisingly enough, deserves a separate spread) and Disney collectibles. There’s also a spread devoted to hidden visuals in Disney movies, and later, in Pixar “Easter eggs.”  All of the Disney Princesses are also featured - what’s interesting is seeing how they become more progressive as time passes: Elsa and Anna from Frozen are much different in attitude from Snow White. The section closes with a look at the Disney video game Disney Infinity, where all of Disney’s characters can interact together.

A spread from the book.

The second section takes a look at the live-action movies that have been produced by the Disney Company, including classics like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and comedies like The Absent-Minded Professor. While this section isn’t as large as the Drawn Disney section there is just as much depth - there is a spread on a storyboard from Mary Poppins, and a feature on television. There’s also a spread on stop-motion animation that centers on Tim Burton’s work. Closing this section is a feature on the recent Disney movies inspired by Disney animated features, including Cinderella.

The final and shortest section is Experience Disney, which is about the creation of the Disney Parks. Here, the book’s voice gets disjointed - instead of going chronologically as the previous sections did, this one starts out with a look at attraction posters. From there it goes to a spread on Imagineering, then the building of Disneyland. Attractions and collectibles are featured, then Walt Disney World is shown, then Animal Kingdom…then Epcot? (This isn’t the construction order of Walt Disney World - it was Walt Disney World [Magic Kingdom], then Epcot, then Disney-MGM Studios - which isn’t included - and then Animal Kingdom) 

The section then goes into the expansion of the parks overseas, but again, it’s disjointed. California Adventure is not mentioned, and the international parks are not identified as their own. The common rides in the parks (Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean) are given spreads. It would have been better to keep consistency with the previous sections and gone chronologically and moved the features on attraction posters and attractions afterwards.

For those wanting to find a specific thing, there’s an index that is pretty extensive. For those Disney fans who want something unique, there’s a filmstrip included with the book from the movie Brave. What could have been a really nice bonus tying the book to the filmstrip would have been a spread that showed the process behind making that clip, from storyboarding to pre-visualization to rough to render. That would have been a flourish.

The Disney Book: A Celebration of the World of Disney is exactly that. Overall, it’s a great book that I would recommend strongly for the timeline alone. The book is a pretty good look at the company Walt Disney made, and has some great photos and information for both the casual and not-so-casual Disney fan. 

For the LEGO fan, this book is a nice general reference for inspiration, but is much more suited as an overview. 

You can buy this book at your local bookstore or order this book online from Amazon, from DK Books, and from Barnes and Noble.

Text and Photography reproduced by permission of DK, a division of Penguin Random House, from The Disney Book (2015). © 2015 Disney.