• Book Review: The Disneyland Encyclopedia

      Like most people who grew up in southern California, I've visited Disneyland numerous times over the years. Even though I am familiar with some of the park’s secrets, like “hidden Mickeys” and the face of the Wicked Queen that appears every few minutes at a window in Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, I had no idea there could be enough history, secrets, fun facts, and insider tips to fill an encyclopedia. All I could say was, “Wow!” as I turned the pages. Because one word, even when spoken repeatedly with enthusiasm, does not a book review make, I turned to a friend who I knew could explain exactly why this new updated third edition of The Disneyland Encyclopedia by Chris Strodder deserves all my “Wows” and so much more.

      Manny Mendoza first went to Disneyland when he was seven. “It was love at first sight,” he says. “Back then, I loved the Easter Parade. In high school, it was a great places for dates.” And then there were grad nights, birthdays, holidays, vacations... These days, Manny has an annual pass, so he visits whenever the mood strikes him—like when I asked him to check out The Disneyland Encyclopedia. Manny took the book with him on several recent trips. When I spoke to him afterward, he had plenty more to say in addition to “Wow!”

      “It really added enjoyment,” he said. “The book gives information on all the creative minds that built Disneyland—things you would never know otherwise.”

      In addition to detailed descriptions and histories of rides, lands, shops, food, entertainers, little-known secrets, landscaping, and all kinds of fun facts, the book includes the history of all the parades and fireworks shows. “Did you know that next to the U.S. military, Disney is the largest purchaser of explosives in the world?” Manny asked me. That’s only one of hundreds of questions the book answers—questions you’d never even think to ask.

      For example, you’d never know that the Haunted Mansion reflects the different styles and sensibilities of two Imagineers, one who leaned toward the funny and whimsical, and another whose tastes ran to scary. You’d walk right by the historic Dominguez palm tree without knowing that it belonged to the family that owned the land before Disney bought it. You’d never notice the tiny door in a tree near the Indiana Jones attraction. It’s the entrance to the home of Patrick Begorra, a leprechaun immortalized in the children’s book The Little Man of Disneyland.

      “I liked learning all the history,” Manny said, “and the personal details about the Imagineers who designed the rides and features of the different lands.” He also enjoyed the maps that included both historic and current features.

      “This is a great addition to your library if you’re a Disney fan,” Manny said. He plans to keep his copy on his coffee table. People won’t be able to resist picking it up and random-paging it, he predicts.

      I have a feeling he’ll need to keep an eye on it and make sure it stays on his coffee table. This is a book that can turn a casual reader into a serious aficionado. Disneyland reigns supreme in the theme park universe, uniquely deserving of the attention of a skilled chronicler. Chris Strodder is that chronicler, as The Disneyland Encyclopedia so brilliantly attests. Packed with everything you ever wanted to know about the Magic Kingdom, this book delivers Disney delight on every page.

      The Disneyland Encyclopedia: The Unofficial, Unauthorized, and Unprecedented History of Every Land, Attraction, Restaurant, Shop, and Major Event in the Original Magic Kingdom
      by Chris Strodder (Also available as an e-book)