Monday, November 25, 2019

THEME PARK BOOK CORNER: "Walt Disney and the Quest for Community" by Steve Mannheim

This is not my first attempt at reading this - I did some time ago long before Distwitter as I was barrelling through literature during my tenure at MSU. However, now I've picked up on even more than I did then about the history of EPCOT Center, the subsequent theme park, and of course Walt's vision having done my own extensive research through the years, aging, and so on. You have not come here to read a review of me, though. You came for a review of the book.

It's a short book - only about 120 pages with a huge section of footnotes and a biographical essay at the end. It's classic academic text from a historian: little in the way of opinion, citations for everything that isn't, little to no speculation that's unwarranted. That immediately puts a damper on where the book could have gone, but leaves it lean, mean, and packed with facts. By the time you're done digesting it, you should feel fairly comfortable understanding where Walt's beliefs were on why he was doing EPCOT, what inspired him to make the decisions he did about it's early design, and how incredibly far he was from actually achieving any of the intended goals related to the project. In fact, if there is any conclusion that you can take from this book, it is that Walt and no one but Walt really had any individual vision for EPCOT. He gave people ideas and took feedback. He certainly had people draw sketches of the layouts and planning and greenspace. He approved models. He allowed for input, but the entirety of the project was truly Walt's.

Monday, November 18, 2019

THEME PARK BOOK CORNER: “The Great American Amusement Parks: A Pictoral History” by Gary Kyriazi

Going back to the 1970s, the next book reviewed is Gary Kyriazi’s tome, “The Great American Amusement Parks.” The 1970s were really the first period which sees multiple books on the industry published, and Kyriazi’s is an example of a book that isn’t particularly heavy on text. If you’ve read the first couple primers I’ve brought up in prior reviews, you know most of the background information that Kyriazi is going to reveal already. Anyways, Citadel Press put this book out in 1978, and it is nice and chunky, filled with glossy black and white shots of rides from bygone eras.

Monday, November 11, 2019

THEME PARK BOOK CORNER: The American Amusement Park Industry… by Judith A. Adams

I opened the blog up with a review of the first history told of the Amusement industry from William Mangels, and this, the second review, is essentially of the spiritual successor. Released in 1991, Adams book is still the closest thing we have to a contemporary analysis of the industry over 20 years onward. The timing of her book was fortuitous: arriving at the death of many traditional parks and at the point in which the regional themers were becoming entrenched and maturing, she writes of an industry much different from that seen in the 50s. Also, because her book is more recent, it is easier to point out flaws or inconsistencies, something that Mangels’ text and its near biblical importance to future researchers doesn’t have.

Adams’ preface describes the book’s three most formative themes: the importance of the 1893 Columbian Expo in Chicago, the reliance on the “future utopian” ideal, and the effect of societal change on the industry. Theme one and two are effectively tied at the hip given the “White City” of the Columbian Expo. The third part, while it is touched on at times, does not get to heavily leaned on. If anything, Adams is more open to looking at social critique rather than change either enacted by or affecting amusements.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Parkscope Unprofessional Podcast Hour #183 - A Horror Nights Second Opinion

We're not letting Halloween go without a fight as Joe is joined by Alex and Dan to discuss Halloween Horror Nights 29. We will cover their second opinions of the event, including Dan's thoughts on attending the event for the first time. Plus some discussion on the Kings Dominion coaster leak.

Monday, November 4, 2019

THEME PARK BOOK CORNER: “The Outdoor Amusement Industry…” by William Mangels

Back in 2014, I had started on a blog to provide detailed reviews of books on theme parks - not just coffee table books filled with pictures, but academic tomes, histories, and so on. And then I got busy (usually writing here) and it became a secondary concern at best. I've decided to port over the old reviews here and then provide you, our few and proud readers, with fresh reviews of books ranging from early 20th century academia to travel guides and much much more. Some of these are from my personal collection: others are made available to me thanks to the super rad university I work at. But some have never seen a review hit the light of day on the internet for a general audience until now. 
And for that all important first post, I didn’t think there was any better tome of information to start with than this – one of the first books to ever discuss the topic of amusements, William Mangels’ “The Outdoor Amusement Industry: From Earliest Times to Present.” This was printed all the way back in 1952 – yes, 62 years ago, pre-Disneyland. The topic is broad – outdoor amusements means a lot of different things, and Mangels attempts to give a brief history over the course of 206 printed pages about all of it.