Having enjoyed Chris Strodder’s earlier book, The Disneyland Encyclopedia, I looked forward to seeing The Disneyland Book of Lists, his new compendium of Disney lore, trivia, history, and insider info. To further test this new book’s depth, I enlisted the aid of a friend. Manny Mendoza has been a Disneyland aficionado for more than four decades. The holder of an annual passport that he never allows to expire, he visits the Magic Kingdom at least four times a month. He’s a walking reference book of Disney trivia and insider info.
Manny took The Disneyland Book of Lists, with him on his last visit to Disneyland. He cracked it open over breakfast on Main Street.
“It’s good, fun reading,” he said. With nearly 250 lists on topics from history (“15 Historic Disneyland Firsts”) and geography (“The 16 Tallest Structures in Disneyland History) to attractions (“The Names of the 14 Jungle Cruise Boats” and shops (“13 Disneyland Shops and Their Most Expensive Items), the book is engaging whether you read it cover to cover or browse by random page.
After a more leisurely breakfast than usual (because of the book), Manny checked out some of the locations mentioned in lists. Using “18 Sound Effects You Can Hear Only by Standing in the Right Spot,” he heard Snow White singing while he stood near a wishing well in Fantasyland. He also listened to realistic sounds emanating from the second floor of the dentist’s office on Main Street.
When a friend who was about to visit Disneyland for the first time called seeking tips, Manny referred to “A Dozen Disneyland Night Sights” to share a dozen suggestions for where to be after dark. His favorite? Main Street at twilight, when the lights come up as the sun goes down.
“The book allows an insider to be even more of an insider,” he said. He went on to say that the book would be especially good for an annual pass holder. “When the honeymoon’s over,” he said, “the book gives you more to appreciate.”
It’s easy to be impressed with the attention to detail in The Disneyland Book of Lists. Its 360 pages are crammed with fascinating tidbits. Even what would usually be called an index becomes worth reading because of its title: “A List of 2,242 Proper Nouns in this Book.” I was particularly captivated by factoids about Walt Disney in lists like “10 Pieces of Advice Walt Disney Ignored Before Opening Disneyland” and “A Dozen Sites Walt Disney Considered Before Building Disneyland.” How different Disneyland would have been if Disney had taken the advice of “experts” and spent no money on “non-revenue-generating structures like Sleeping Beauty Castle.” It was also fun to imagine how different the landscape of Los Angeles would be if Disneyland had been built where Dodger Stadium now stands.
I can mention only a few of the many topics this book covers. As an infrequent visitor to Anaheim’s main attraction, I am surprised that I was as enchanted by Strodder’s book as my insider friend. For me, it is a delightful peek into the world Walt Disney created and the company that keeps it evolving. For my friend, it adds depth and detail to a subject he knows well.
“I’d give it five stars out of five,” Manny said. I would, too.