A title so clever it deserves to headline the review all by itself. I’m a big fan of clever people and apparently Rebecca Cline and Steven B. Clark just gained a new fan. The title of their co-authored book, The Walt Disney Studios: A Lot to Remember is the best way to summarize this compiled history of one of the world’s most famous homes of film-making. Referencing both the place (the studio “lot”) and the volume of history that has happened on the property, it is a wonderful homage to all that has happened so far in the storied past of this illustrious studio.
Title: The Walt Disney Studios: A Lot to Remember
Author: Rebecca Cline and Steven B. Clark
Cost: $60.00 USD
Publisher: Disney Editions
Genre: non-fiction, history
Becky and Steven are both highly credentialed in Disney lore. Becky is the current Director of the Archives and is no stranger to chronicling Disney history both as a speaker for the company and in the written word. Steven, who began his career with Disney as a “RO” (ride operator) at Disneyland has worked for the company in different capacities and is credited with founding D23: The Official Disney Fan Club among many other things. He is also no stranger to chronicling Disney history having co-authored Disney: The First 100 Years with Dave Smith and working on other pieces as well. Together the two bring their sizeable knowledge, love of Disney, and access to some rarely seen pieces into this fascinating book.
To be honest, I was expecting a more dry retelling of many of the same stories you’ve like heard if you’re a Disneyphile. I feel like I’ve watched so many Disney retrospectives, Disney specials, and reflections on Walt Disney’s life that there isn’t often anything new. But this book offers details and stories about the life of the studio and the people who make it up beyond just Walt himselfheme (although don’t worry there is plenty of Walt in here). It’s an honest and frank look at life at the studios told by the people who worked there. Personally, I loved the stories of the Walt Disney Studio Restaurant and the ways Walt tried to create a certain atmosphere for his employees. It was interesting to see early layouts of the Hyperion studios, the menu from the first restaurant, and early photos of studio life. The pictures gave such a great sense of history and of being included in the behind-the-scenes action going on while Walt was there.
The book however isn’t a history book per se. It isn’t a tale told completely chronologically. It starts off that way, leading up to the development of the Burbank studios and then it veers in a different direction. We first follow the studios animation history including some of its rockier moments all the way through Walt’s passing. Then, it goes back in time and dedicates different chapters to different divisions within the company. There are chapters on live action, television, and even theme park development (yes, quite of bit of Disneyland was actually built and designed on the studio property).
As you would expect from a Walt Disney Archives / D23 project, this book is a labor of love and filled with a wealth of information. Most appreciated by Disneyphiles and lovers of history, the price point will likely keep away casual fans, but if you need a gift for that super Disney fan in your life (or maybe you are that person), this is something they will love!