Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Just read: Mouse Tales by David Koenig

This is an unauthorized history of and look behind the scenes at Disneyland; it's obvious Koenig has done a lot of research (both in books and from interviewing a lot of former and current Disney employees) and that Koenig has a lot of affection for Disneyland.

I've only been to Disneyland once (last summer, sneaking away from Worldcon), so I'm certainly no expert on it. But a behind-the-scenes look at any big amusement park (or other business strongly focused on keeping the customers happy) is interesting simply because interesting things happen to people in places like that, and Koenig does dig out a lot of good stories.

(I note that some people claim that Koenig is either peddling deliberate falsehoods or has been hoodwinked by hoaxers. Obviously, these people are ignoring the events backed up by legal records, since as the deaths, accidents and other mishaps, and also that they are unaware of the things that young energetic people will get up to when working together in a high-energy situation. Sure, I wouldn't be surprised if a couple of the stories in here are apocryphal, but I expect that things like them did happen.)

I'm quite interested in books about things that don't work out according to plan -- whether they're physical-failure books like Petroski's To Engineer Is Human or why-do-people-act-like-that books like Underhill's Why We Buy. And this is very much in that vein; Disneyland has been engineered and designed over the years, to eliminate all randomness or error...but, where you have people, you'll have the unexpected. So this book is of interest to more than just people who grew up in Southern California and went to Disneyland all the time -- though I do expect they'll love it, and were probably the first audience (it's published by a very small, SoCal press).

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