Here is a look at another item in My Imagineering Library: Dream It! Do It!: My Half-Century Creating Disney’s Magic Kingdoms by Marty Sklar, former Imagineer and Disney Legend.
A great Disney book by a true Disney Legend!
Marty Sklar started his career with Disney in 1955, one month prior to the opening of Disneyland. He remained with the company until retiring in 2009, and is the only Disney employee to have participated in the design and opening of all 11 currently operating Disney theme parks (Disneyland, Disney California Adventure, Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Hong Kong Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo DisneySea, Disneyland Paris, and Walt Disney Studios Park). Though he started in marketing, he quickly found a home at WED Enterprises / Walt Disney Imagineering where he eventually ended up leading the organization for more than 30 years until his transition to “Ambassador for Walt Disney Imagineering” leading up to his retirement in 2009.
This book is a “memoir” of the author’s 50+ years working for Walt Disney Productions/The Walt Disney Company, and includes chapters about the development of all of the theme parks, as well as a chapter about the author’s time at UCLA and his association with Coach John Wooden. It also includes “Mickey’s Ten Commandments”, a list of ten key principles for theme park design that have become legendary in their own right. The book also includes 3 additional lists of “Mickey’s Ten (more) Commandments”, focusing on leadership and followship. Because of the close working relationship the author had with Walt Disney, this book provides an intimate look at the impact of Walt’s death on the company.
The role that Marty Sklar has played in the success of the Walt Disney Company and Disney Theme Parks can’t be understated. In his early days at WED, Marty wrote many of Walt Disney’s speeches, presentations, and film scripts, including the script for the Epcot film (which was the last film Walt recorded before his death in December 1966). It was Marty Sklar who coined the famous definition of imagineering: “the blending of creative imagination and technical know-how.” Later he was pivotal in the design and creation of Epcot and every other Disney theme park since.
As a fan of Disney theme parks in general and Imagineering in specific, buying and reading this book was a no-brainer for me. Despite that, I was initially somewhat skeptical about this book, thinking that it wouldn’t provide the level of detail and insight that I like most in books about Disney parks and Imagineering. I was worried it would be a white-washed memoir that would retell the stories found in the other books in my Disney/Imagineering library. I needn’t have worried at all.
After reading the introduction, I was hooked. While many memoirs like this tend to gloss over details and omit “unpleasant” or controversial stories, this isn’t the case with this book at all. This book is a welcomed addition to my library, and one that I expect I will read and re-read again and again.
If I have one minor quibble with the book it’s the lack of an index, which would be helpful in finding stories about the many people that the author worked with during his time at Disney.
I strongly recommend this book to any fan of Disney theme parks. You won’t be disappointed!
Thoughts? Tell me what you think in the comments!