Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway
Photo: Disney

7 Books Every Disney Parks Fan Must Read

The Walt Disney Company has a storied history when it comes to theme parks. In fact, Walt Disney first dreamed up the idea of Disneyland while on an outing with his daughters at a small park in California.

Now, with six theme park resorts around the world, Disney has created an empire with some of the most dedicated fans on the planet. One thing those fans might enjoy just as much as seeing Mickey Mouse at Magic Kingdom (and while COVID-19 restrictions at Disney prevent some of us from traveling there) is reading and learning more about the parks they love, the people who create the Disney magic everyday, and even how to take their park experience to the next level.

We’ve rounded up seven of the best Disney books for theme park fans. These books will take you back in time to when Walt Disney was still alive, behind the scenes to learn about Disney’s epic holiday decor and events, and even into your own closet for a bit of style inspiration.

Magic Journey: My Fantastical Walt Disney Imagineering Career by Kevin Rafferty

If you or your kids are really into Walt Disney Imagineering, this Disney book is a must-read. Kevin Rafferty worked with WDI for 40 years before getting ready to retire. The projects he worked on are some of the most beloved at Disney parks around the world, including Cars Land at Disney California Adventure, Toy Story Mania at multiple Disney parks, and Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The book takes readers into the everyday life of an Imagineer with behind-the-scenes photos and personal stories from Rafferty.

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

Robert Iger was the CEO of The Walt Disney Company for 15 years before stepping down for a new role in the company in 2019. In his book, The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company, Iger talks extensively about his upbringing, time at ABC working in the sports media department, and working his way up to CEO of one of the largest entertainment companies in the world. Iger’s memoir is deeply personal with stories about hardships in the company and how he handled them, along with great achievements like Disney+. Even though this Disney book is marked as a leadership book, it’s a great read for anyone who’s interested in more of the business side of The Walt Disney Company.

Holiday Magic at the Disney Parks: Celebrations Around the World from Fall to Winter by Graham Allen, Rebecca Cline and Charlie Price

Expected to debut in October 2020 is Holiday Magic at the Disney Parks: Celebrations Around the World from Fall to Winter. If you love the holidays at the Disney parks and hotels or on the Disney cruise ships, this is the book for you. A team of three Disney experts traveled the globe to all of the Disney theme parks to see how they celebrate holidays like Christmas, New Year’s and Halloween. The book is filled with thousands of photos, some of which are as old as Disneyland Park from its very first holiday season in 1955.

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

Imagineering legend Marty Sklar worked on many projects in his lifetime with The Walt Disney Company. Sklar started his career as Walt Disney’s speech writer before going on to become the president of Walt Disney Imagineering. This Disney book combines all of his memories from his time with WDI, working directly with Walt, and executing some of the biggest projects the company has ever seen. There are extensive retellings of the day-to-day operations of Imagineering, building Epcot, and working at Disneyland.

One Day at Disney: Meet the People Who Make the Magic Across the Globe by Bruce Steele

Thousands of people across the world make up the team that Disney calls cast members. These people work in the parks, at studios, in office buildings, and even make your favorite Disney films. One Day at Disney takes a small glimpse into the everyday lives of the people who work for The Walt Disney Company in some form or fashion. Each page features a different person, what their role in the company is, and what it’s really like working for Disney. If you loved the One Day at Disney documentary or short films on Disney+, this book is the perfect companion because it features some of the same people, but goes deeper into their story.

Ink & Paint: The Women of Walt Disney’s Animation by Mindy Johnson

Before there were theme parks, there was a small animation studio where Walt Disney created animated feature films like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Alice in Wonderland, and many more. Ink & Paint: The Women of Walt Disney’s Animation is about the women behind the scenes at the animation studio who were in charge of cleaning up drawings, adding color to them, and in turn making the films come alive with the beautiful artistry we know today. One notable woman the Disney book discusses is Mary Blair, one of Walt’s favorite ladies in the ink and paint department. You might know Blair from her iconic coloring of Alice in Wonderland, or as the person who created the colorful design of the it’s a small world attraction at Disneyland Park.

DisneyBound: Dress Disney and Make It Fashion by Leslie Kay

Leslie Kay is the founder of the blog DisneyBound, which shows people how to dress as their favorite Disney characters using what they might already have in their closet. DisneyBound: Dress Disney and Make It Fashion has hundreds of character-inspired looks from Star Wars and Marvel, to Pixar and princesses, and everything in between. The book is perfect for anyone who wants to try DisneyBounding but gets overwhelmed by trying to look through thousands of Instagram photos of the fashion trend, or someone who is wanting to add a bit more Disney flair to their everyday wardrobe.

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Megan duBois
Megan duBois is a freelance writer who covers theme parks, cruising, food and drink, and family travel. Her work has appeared on Buzzfeed, Popsugar, Insider, Orbitz, The Daily Meal, Family Vacation Critic, TravelPulse, and more. Megan has been quoted as an expert and thought leader on theme parks for Forbes and other outlets. Follow her on Instagram @MinglingwithMickey and Twitter @Megand513 for theme park travel tips and tricks, and email her at megand513 [at] gmail [dot] com for story ideas.