Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Disney (Almost)

Think you know everything about the Disney company?

Believe me you don’t.  And this book will prove it.  Disney A to Z: The Official Encyclopedia offers more facts about the company and its long history than you could possibly remember.  Whether you give it as a gift to the Disney fanatic in your life or you use it to stump the most ardent Disney know-it-all, it is a treasure trove of information.

The 5th edition cover of Disney A to Z looks much more encyclopedic than the previous 4th edition cover
The 5th edition cover of Disney A to Z looks much more encyclopedic than the previous 4th edition cover

Title: Disney A to Z: The Official Encyclopedia, 5th Edition
Author: Dave Smith
Cost: $40 (but on Amazon at the time I wrote this it was only $25.47!)
Age: 12 and up – the die-hard Disney fan
Publisher: Disney Editions (DPW)
Genre: Non-fiction, history

Everything from theme parks to movies to TV and more are included and will you keep you busy for hours on end as you make your way through the Disney universe.  You’ll come across things you haven’t thought about in a long time and things you never knew were associated with Disney.  Ironically, Disney’s vast collection of publications is not included in the encyclopedia. Considering the thousands of print publications over the years, it would probably more than double the size of this already massive volume. But I had more fun going through the book than I thought.

Walt's entry is like a mini biography, but kept short and sweet
Walt’s entry is like a mini biography, but kept short and sweet with a personal flair

This 5th edition updates the previous one with 10 years of new material. (Weird technicality – their was a 4th edition printed just last year but only available to Sam’s Club members and with a completely different cover.  Not sure why only Sam’s Club members had access to it or why they did it or how different the two editions are but this one is being released everywhere and includes entries up to summer 2016).  I looked up the Disney films and it goes all the way up to Queen of Katwe.  It’s probably also the longest listing in the book spanning nearly 9 full pages of entries!  The book truly is an encyclopedia with listings arranged alphabetically in columns and with photos in black and white.  But the style of writing is far more interesting and personal than the typical encyclopedia.  Chalk that up to Disney Legend and author Dave Smith who’s passion for Disney history makes him the most appropriate writer for this book.

I took it upon myself to see if there was something I could find not included in this book and I did find one thing missing – Descendants: Wicked World.  Given the 7,600 entries that ARE included, there are bound to be a few things not listed.  Dave admits to the difficulty in keeping up with the pace of the company especially since he retired back in 2010.  He even gives out a mailing address to offer suggestions for additional entries (a very cool guy).  Still, there are numerous interesting entries I would never have guessed are part of the company’s history.  Here are a few:

  • Felicity is listed in Disney A to Z which surprised me but found out (not from the book) that it was co-produced by Touchstone Television, a division of Disney
  • Disney made an educational film called Everything You Wanted to Know About Puberty for both boys and girls in 1991.
  • The matador in Ferdinand the Bull was a caricature of Walt Disney
  • Thurl Ravenscroft might not be a name you know, but you certainly know his voice if you’ve been to Disneyland.  He is the lead singing bust in Haunted Mansion, Fritz in Enchanted Tiki Room, and Buff in Country Bear Jamboree among others
  • Willie Aames is the first entry in the book and Zuri’s Sweets, a shop in Harambe Market at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the last

Disney A to Z is thicker than a phone book, as heavy as a door stop, and as packed with information as a hard drive.  It’s also tons of fun to read.

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