Three Years in Wonderland: The Disney Brothers, C. V. Wood, and the Making of the Great American Theme Park

By Todd James Pierce

While the good fortune of Disneyland is essentially credited to Walt and Roy Disney, there has been a 3rd, in general forgotten dynamo instrumental to the advance of the park―fast-talking Texan C. V. wooden. Three Years in Wonderland provides the never-before-told, complete tale of “the happiest position on earth.” utilizing info from over 100 unpublished interviews, Todd James Pierce lays down the arc of Disneyland’s improvement from an idea to a paragon of entertainment.

In the early Nineteen Fifties, the Disney brothers employed wooden and his group to increase a feasibility research for an entertainment park Walt desired to construct in southern California. “Woody” speedy turned a critical determine. In 1954, Roy Disney employed him as Disneyland’s first legitimate worker, its first normal supervisor, and appointed him vice chairman of Disneyland, Inc., the place his authority was once handed purely by means of Walt. an excellent undertaking supervisor, wooden used to be additionally a con guy of types. formerly, he had solid his collage degree. A smooth-talker interested in Hollywood, the 1st basic supervisor of Disneyland valued cash over paintings. As kinfolk soured among wooden and the Disney brothers, wooden discovered inventive how one can raise his source of revenue, leveraging his place for private reputation. finally, tensions on the Disney park reached a boiling aspect, with Walt challenging he be fired.

In compelling aspect, Three Years in Wonderland lays out the struggles and rewards of establishing the world’s first cinematic subject park and convincing the yank public $17 million leisure park was once the perfect position for a relations holiday. The early event of Walt Disney, Roy Disney, and C. V. wooden is without doubt one of the so much attractive untold tales within the heritage of Hollywood. Pierce interviewed dozens of people who loved lengthy careers on the Walt Disney corporation in addition to dozens of people who―like C. V. Wood―helped strengthen the park yet then left the corporate for stable as soon as the park used to be entire. via a lot study and lots of interviews, Three Years in Wonderland bargains readers a unprecedented chance to face shoulder-to-shoulder with the boys and girls who outfitted the best-known subject matter park within the world.

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The 3 males from WED attended basically to meet representatives from businesses that manufactured rides for amusement parks, hoping to develop a workable plan to create custom rides for Walt’s park, whereas the two men from SRI attended to gather more information for their feasibility report. On the first day, Irvine talked to a number of sales representatives, most of whom had booths, and tested their brochures. a few businesses displayed pattern vehicles, mostly kiddy cars and roto-planes, designed for the type of corner amusement parks that were popping up by the hundreds in postwar suburban neighborhoods. A few companies had previously contacted Walt Disney Productions by letter or phone, hoping to win contracts to provide rides, as it was once more often than not recognized that Walt was once now in the company of outside amusements. At one booth, Irvine observed images of a steamboat equipped by means of Arrow Development, which was one of the companies who had previously contacted the studio. The photos, presented with a soft focus, showed a Mississippi steamboat propelled by a paddlewheel. It used to be demanding to gauge its distinct dimensions, yet in phrases of design, the boat used to be very close to the type Walt wanted for his frontier river. Irvine talked to one of the 4 joint vendors of Arrow Development, a guy named invoice Hardiman, who told him that the boat had only been recently finished and therefore they did not but comprise it in their brochure. larger caliber pictures might be prepared quickly. ahead of leaving, Irvine obtained the touch names and the handle for Arrow improvement. Luckily, the company was located in California, a quick flight from Los Angeles. In many ways, the WED men felt out of place at the conference, which was more or less a fraternity of amusement-industry pros who had identified each one different for years. The convention tradition was once extra business-oriented and much less inventive than the studio tradition they were accustomed to in Hollywood. But toward the end of the week they were able to persuade seven men central to the industry to attend an evening presentation in their hotel suite to review the overall concept of Disneyland. 31 Though the WED team believed that they were luring the industry men with the promise of Chivas Regal, fine cigars, and caviar, the men mostly came because they were curious about this thing now being called Disneyland. During the presentation, the WED team, assisted by Woody and Buzz Price, outlined their plans, as they existed in late 1953, for an amusement park by showing artists’ renderings and sketches for person rides and Herb Ryman’s bird’s-eye map of the park. The attendees, such a lot of them millionaires who owned carnival-style enjoyment parks with bare-bones mechanical rides, included Harry Batt (owner of New Orleans’ Pontchartrain Park), William Schmitt (owner of Chicago’s Riverview Park), Ed Schott (owner of Cincinnati’s Coney Island Park), and George Whitney Sr.

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