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10 of Chris Queen's Greatest Hits

April 12, 2014:

3. Ten Books Every Disney Fan Should Read

You won't really understand Walt Disney until you start reading...

The Walt Disney Company has provided quality entertainment to generations of fans for almost nine decades now. No other company has done what Disney did with such excellence -- from animation to live-action films to television to totally immersive theme park experiences.

Disney fandom requires a certain level of passion, but there are some whose devotion to all things Disney rises to another level. I call them "Disney Nerds," lovingly so, because I consider myself one. Actually, I debated whether to use the term. I prefer "Disney Aficionados," but worried it sounded too pompous.

Whatever you call us, I've compiled a list of ten essential books for Disney Nerds. Think of this list as summer reading for the die-hard Disney fan. The books you'll see in this post run the gamut from theme park guides to historical chronicles to the ultimate biography of the man himself, Walt Disney. Each book will expand your knowledge (and hopefully love) of Disney culture in its own unique way.

Get ready to dig in and feast your eyes on some great Disney reading. For the list, I've tried to choose books that are readily available, and have provided links to order or download them for Kindle apps where applicable. So here we go.

10. The Imagineering Way: Ideas To Ignite Your Creativity by The Imagineers

Obviously the Disney company holds creativity in high regard, and the Imagineers serve as the gatekeepers of Disney's creative efforts. The discipline of Imagineering (a hybrid of imagination and engineering) covers a broad range, from painting and lighting to research and master planning.

If you're anything like me, you often wonder how the Imagineers do what they do, holding such high standards of creativity on a consistent basis. The Imagineers have peeled back the curtain just a bit to reveal the secrets to igniting creativity in their book The Imagineering Way, and they have managed to create an invaluable bit of reading for people in creative fields.

In typical Imagineering fashion, each chapter takes on a different format: one author may write a personal anecdote, while an artist might draw a comic panel that says something about creativity. Some chapters offer practical ideas, while others serve simply to encourage. Representatives of different fields of Imagineering show up, from show writers to landscapers to executives.

With its lighthearted tone and loads of inspiration packed into a small package, The Imagineering Way is an essential read not just for Disney fans but for creatives of any kind. The Imagineers also published a companion volume titled The Imagineering Workout which offers exercises to help stretch those creative muscles.

9, 8, 7, 6, & 5. The Imagineering Field Guides by The Imagineers

Not only do the Imagineers want us to ignite our creativity, but they also want us to see the Disney parks -- at least the American ones -- through their eyes. You may think I'm cheating by putting all of these books together in one entry, but I can't separate them. The interested newcomer and the seasoned Disney traveler alike will find a wealth of fascinating and fun information in The Imagineering Field Guides.

The Imagineers have published five books in the series: The Imagineering Field Guide to the Magic Kingdom, The Imagineering Field Guide to Epcot, The Imagineering Field Guide to Disney's Hollywood Studios, The Imagineering Field Guide to Disney's Animal Kingdom, and -- so you West Coast Disney fans won't feel left out -- The Imagineering Field Guide to Disneyland.

You won't find your typical travel guide information (starred restaurant reviews, parade times, and the like) in these books; instead, you'll learn a little about each attraction in the parks, as well as some history, trivia, and glimpses into the processes and tricks of the trade the Imagineers use, such as Audio Animatronics and forced perspective.

The authors aim to enhance guests' enjoyment of the parks with the information they arm us with. They start out by tying each park back to Walt Disney's original vision for the parks, and then they break each park down by land, highlighting attractions and some of the more interesting features throughout the parks. I've read all five of them several times, and I always walk away enjoying and understanding the parks I love even more.