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Three Years in Wonderland: The Disney…

Three Years in Wonderland: The Disney Brothers, C. V. Wood, and the Making…

by Todd James Pierce

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An outstanding narrative about the creation of Disneyland, primarily focusing on the business/financial side of its creation and the leadership of its first General Manager, CV Wood. Since removed from all official accounts of the building of Disneyland, Wood was largely responsible for getting the park open in an almost miraculous one-year time frame and for creatively bringing many sponsors on board, but his somewhat underhanded and almost certainly illegal approaches to problem solving irritated Walt Disney to the breaking point, and Wood was let go a few short months after the park opened. I've read several accounts of the creative challenges that building Disneyland entailed, but no other book details the real estate deals and business partnerships that went into the building of the "Happiest Place on Earth". If you are a Disneyland enthusiast like me, this is a must read. ( )
  5hrdrive | Dec 20, 2016 |
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The success of Disneyland is largely credited to Walt and Roy Disney, but there was a third man instrumental in the development of the park: a fast-talking Texan, C.V. Wood. In the early 1950s, the Disney brothers hired Wood and his team of economists to develop a land-use and feasibility study for an amusement park in Southern California. But Wood quickly became a central figure in the new Disney project. In 1954, Roy hired him as Disneyland's first official employee, its first general manager, and appointed him vice president of Disneyland, Inc. Wood was a brilliant project manager, but he was also a bit of a con man. He was a smooth talker, a man drawn to dirty jokes, an executive in the entertainment business who saw money as more important than art. His personality was in many ways opposite of Walt's. As relations soured between the Disney brothers and Wood, some of his con man instincts returned: Wood began to siphon money from the Disneys into his own bank account, extort funds from Disney lessees, and use his VP position for personal benefit. In compelling detail, Pierce lays out the struggles and rewards of building the world's first cinematic theme park. This early experience between the Disney brothers and Wood is an untold story of Hollywood history. Pierce has interviewed people who enjoyed long careers at the Walt Disney Company and those who helped open Disneyland but did not remain.… (more)

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