Richard Snow tells the remarkable story of how Walt Disney’s focus and self-confidence helped him create the famed amusement park in the face of a backlash from family and friends

This is not the first time a book has been written on Walt Disney and one of America’s great masterpieces, Disneyland. But what historian and author Richard Snow brings in his new book, Disney’s Land: Walt Disney And The Invention Of The Amusement Park That Changed The World, are minute details of ambition that turned hundreds of acres of Southern California orange groves in Anaheim into a fairy-tale castle, which Disney called “the happiest place on earth". It was a place, as Disney imagined, where people “could live among Mickey Mouse and Snow White in a world still powered by steam and fire for a day or a week or forever".

The book is filled with anecdotes of how the businessman strategically planned Disneyland. In the beginning, for instance, you learn that one of Disney’s daily ritual after returning from his movie studio was feeding his poodle, Duchess, a “wienie", or a cold frankfurter, by leading it from room to room while throwing pieces on the floor. He used a similar strategy to attract the visitors: placing visual delights throughout Disneyland like the Moonliner, the Sleeping Beauty Castle, or the Mark Twain riverboat. Disney’s close ones, however, were not a fan of his ideas. But he persevered and financed the park against his own life insurance policy. Disney’s Land is more than just the story of Disney’s determination to build Disneyland. It’s a reminder that you need to be a little crazy to make dreams come true.

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