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The Best Books About Disney and Disney World

Growing up I tried to get my hands on as much Disney and Disney World content as humanly possible. Watching videos, discovering blogs and interacting on message boards really helped pass the time in between Disney World trips. I wasn’t a big reader when I was younger but I realized that if it was a good book about Disney or Disney World I would devour it. It soon became one of my favorite mediums for getting Disney content. Now, there are a ton of Disney and Disney World related books out there (in fact Disney even has its own publishing wing). So, weeding through them all to determine what are the best and worst can be a challenge. Here I have compiled the best books about Disney, in my opinion. I’ll be updating this frequently but here’s what’s making the list right now.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means I make a small commission if you buy from them, at no additional cost to you. But I only recommend books that I have read and throughly enjoy. That way you can know that the below will be great reads!

Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind the Dreams Look at Making the Magic Real

This book and its updated version (Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind the Dreams Look at Making More Magic Real) are actually written by the Imagineers. The Imagineers are the individuals responsible for actually creating the attractions, shows, buildings, hotels and everything else in the parks. They’re real-life magic makers. The first edition of this book was actually my first dive into Disney books. And after all these years it still remains one of my favorites today.

Now this book is massive. Not really in page number but in physical size. It will be a great coffee table book but the size also makes it great. Inside you learn the stories of how some of the most iconic attractions came to be. Rich photography, drawings and behind the scenes shots would make even the slightest Disney fan geek out. The size of the book just makes the images pop that much more. This is a must have for ever Disney Parks fan.

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Check out this video where I review some of the books on this list


Realityland: True-Life Adventures at Walt Disney World

This book is fantastic and it focuses on the building and creation of Walt Disney World. It starts all the way back when the 47 square miles that we now know of as Disney World were just swamp and forests. You’ll learn all the stories about what it took to convert all that land into the most popular vacation destination in the world. You’ll discover the mishaps Disney ran into opening their first hotels that they fully owned and operated. And it even dives into the construction and creation of EPCOT Center.

Get this book to learn about all the ins and outs of the creation of your favorite place and to gain a greater appreciation for what it actually took to build this place.

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The Disney Mountains: Imagineering At Its Peak

Some of Disney’s most iconic attractions focus around a central theme. Mountains. Space, Splash, Big Thunder and Expedition Everest are some of the most well known and beloved Disney attractions. Now former Imagineer, Jason Surrell, wrote this book along with several other books about Disney attractions (see Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean). What I love about this book are the backstories you learn while discovering what it took to build such incredible attractions. Early artwork and renderings only add to and help you understand the full picture. Plus, it’s pretty cool to learn about some of the lesser-known Mountains Disney has created and even some of the Mountains that never came to be.

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Walt Disney’s Epcot Center: Creating the New World of Tomorrow

Now this one can be a little tricky to access but if you can find it at a reasonable price I highly recommend picking it up. Walt had lofty ambitions for Epcot Center when he first conceived the idea. While his full dream never came to be the Epcot we got is still a remarkable place. This book is great because it’s really stuck in time. It was published the same year Epcot opened so it really focuses on what it took to build the place. It’s also cool to explore some of the attractions that no longer exist. Being able to experience what Epcot looked like during its opening is pretty spectacular and worth the price of the book alone.

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Dream It! Do It!: My Half-Century Creating Disney’s Magic Kingdoms

This is the first book on the list that actually reads like a book. All the ones before it really focus just on illustrations and have stories throughout. This book is really the memoir of one of Imagineering’s most important figures. Marty Sklar had an incredible career working for the Walt Disney Company. One that included working in PR at Disneyland when it opened, writing scripts for attractions and for Walt’s TV specials and then eventually becoming President and Principal Creative Executive of Walt Disney Imagineering. If you want an inside look into how Disney Imagineering works than THIS is the book for you.

The stories Marty tells are unbelievable. From working with Walt to working with some of America’s top executives to secure sponsorships, Marty interacted with some really special people. What I love about this book is that it explores someone not named Disney who had a tremendous impact on the organization. It’s easy for us to think that Walt did everything. When in reality, the team he assembled was just as incredible as he was in many ways.

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The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company

If you want to learn about the more recent history of the company this book is for you. It mainly focuses on the business side of things, but it’s very cool to learn the stories about how Disney purchased Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox. Plus, as head of one of the biggest media brands in the world for 15 years, Bob Iger has some great stories to share on leadership that anyone can benefit from learning about. Pick this up if you’re interested in all those big deals and if you want to learn from a very smart and successful man.

Read my full review of this book here.

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DisneyWar

A word of warning. You’re going to need some serious free time to get through this bad boy. Clocking in at 608 pages of pure text DisneyWar can get repetitive and drag on at times but the behind the scenes stories it tells are pure entertainment bliss.

DisneyWar focuses on the Eiser period of the company. It starts with the appointing of Michael Eisner as Disney Chairman and CEO and it ends with his downfall. In between that is nearly two decades of unparalleled success, expansion and growth followed by a downturn that almost destroyed the company. Now this book is much more about Disney corporate than the parks, in fact very little is mentioned of the parks in the grand scheme of things. But, what you get is a look inside one of the World’s top companies during incredible success. The research that James B. Stewart compiled for this book is unprecedented and there are too many great stories to count.

Read my full review of this book here.

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Disney Trivia

There are a plethora of Disney trivia books out there. You’ll probably learn something new in each and every book but you could never hope to get through them all. So here are three of different varieties that you might want to pick up.

The Walt Disney World Trivia Book: Secrets, History & Fun Facts Behind the Magic

Lou Mongello is the man and the godfather of Disney World podcasts. This book dives into some awesome stories about Disney World and will help you appreciate the place even more.

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The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World

Many trips I spent with this book pulled out in the parks. I love this book because it’s great to read before, during and after a trip. It goes land by land in each park so you can almost read it like a map. While you wait in line for an attraction you can pull this out, read up and then discover the hidden secrets as you ride the ride.

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Hidden Mickeys: A Field Guide to Walt Disney World’s Best Kept Secrets

It’s a little known fact that Mickey is hidden all throughout Disney Parks. It can be in a painting, in rock work or even with different elements coming together. Steve Barrett has been researching and compiling the Hidden Mickeys for years. So much so that he has 8 versions of his classic book. Pick up a copy and start looking for Hidden Mickeys.

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Walt Disney: An American Original

The story of Walt Disney is about as American as you can get. He came from nothing but that didn’t stop him from chasing and capturing his dreams. There are so many biographies to choose from but this is really the ultimate classic about Walt. You’ll learn about the trials and failures he encountered along the way to creating one of the World’s most beloved brands.

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Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World

Now I know a lot about Disney World. In fact, I know a lot more than the average park guest. Yet, each time I open the Unofficial Guide I learn something new though. Disney World is a World and you’ll never know everything about it. Each year a new copy of the Unofficial Guide is released and it becomes the definitive go-to book for planning a Disney World trip. It’s not meant to be read page by page (but you can do that) rather you might use it as a reference book. Either way, it has the most current information about Walt Disney World.

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Yacht Club to Diamond Mine: My Journey to Working at One of Walt Disney World’s Most Popular Attractions

Shameless plug alert! Because I am in fact the author of this book. If you don’t know I used to be a Cast Member at Walt Disney World. I worked front desk at the Yacht and Beach Club resorts and as an attractions Cast Member in the place where a million diamonds shine. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.

If you’ve ever wanted to know what it was like to be a Cast Member, what the day to day looked like, what it’s like backstage, what it’s like living in Disney World or what it’s like making the magic each and every day, then this is the book for you. I loved writing it, and with all the stories and insider information in it, I think you’ll love it too.

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So those are all the books we’ve got…for now! There are a ton of them still on my reading list. As I check them off I’ll be sure to update this page and add in new ones if I think they are worthy of making the list.

Do you have a favorite Disney book that didn’t make the list? Let me know by emailing me your favorite at conor@www.vacationkingsoms.com. I might include it in a special “WDW Opinioneers Picks” section of the list.


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