Author Marcy Carriker Smothers had an ongoing internal dialogue with the late Walt Disney as she wrote his new book about the Disneyland walking tour from the distinct and knowledgeable perspective of the park founder.
“I can’t write about Walt or read Walt without his voice in my head,” Carriker Smothers said in an online video interview. “It’s like this conversation, if you will. This is my attempt to honor Walt.
Smothers would “talk shop” with Walt Disney as she decided whether or not to include the details of her research in the new book, “Walt’s Disneyland: A Walk in the Park with Walt Disney.”
“My barometer for what to include in the book was, ‘Does that make me laugh out loud? Does that make me cry? Does that make me smile? ‘ Carriker Smothers said. “All of these things are part of the conversation or the inner dialogue.”
The new 192-page Carriker Smothers paperback guide from Disney Editions goes on sale Tuesday, November 16.
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“Walt’s Disneyland” covers familiar terrain from a unique Walt Disney perspective with layers of fresh detail, long-lost secrets, hidden places, little-known facts, and rarely-seen photographs that should delight even the most Disneylanders. jaded who think they have read and seen it all before.
Quotes and photos in the book were pulled from hours of research and hundreds of sources, including the Walt Disney Archives, the Walt Disney Imagineering Resource Center, the Walt Disney Family Museum, and the Walt Disney Hometown Museum.
The book is filled with rare photographs of Walt Disney riding his attractions and walking on construction sites at Disneyland, as well as hand-drawn sketches by Walt Disney himself of the additions he envisioned for the theme park of. Anaheim.
Carriker Smothers worked at Disneyland while writing the book so she could feel the energy of the park and listen to what visitors had to say about Walt Disney.
“When I write at Disneyland, I always listen to the guests,” Carriker Smothers said. “Walt’s subject comes up all the time and in different ways. Whether it’s parents teaching their kids who Walt Disney is or people saying Walt played a part in this attraction. His name buzzes all the time in his beloved Magic Kingdom.
When Carriker Smothers wasn’t in a library, she spent her time writing at Disneyland – turning on her laptop on a park bench in Main Street USA, Mark Twain’s Landing Riverboat, at Cafe Orleans in New Orleans Square , next to the Casey Jr. Circus Train in Fantasyland, outside the Enchanted Tiki Room, and in Walt Disney’s personal lodge at the Golden Horseshoe.
“It gives me the feeling of Disneyland,” Smother said. “I can share this energy that we all feel when we are there. “
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“Walt’s Disneyland” is filled with rich details about the park that most die-hard fans have never encountered before, and first-person testimonials from those who have personally known and worked with Walt Disney.
“Each layer of backstory lets you understand Walt a little bit more,” Carriker Smothers said. “Any detail – and Walt loved the details – only adds to the story and makes it better.”
The book tells the story of Walt Disney sneaking through the Fairmont amusement park in Kansas City with his childhood friend William Rust.
“He made me promise never to tell the story while he was alive,” Rust said in the book. “He thought the kids could use the excuse that if he could do it, then they could try to enter his park without paying.”
Carriker Smothers pays off the charming childhood chicane story with a full circle – all courtesy of The Walt Disney Archives.
Decades after Kansas City’s park-shopping delinquency, an 8-year-old boy named Mike wrote Walt Disney an apology promising to never sneak into Disneyland again – with two quarters attached to the letter as a reward.
“I hope you don’t get mad at me,” Mike wrote in the letter included in the book. “I’m sorry and thought Disneyland was really cool.”
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Walt Disney was so astride the trash that he would pace the distance between the trash cans based on how long it took him to eat a hot dog, according to the book.
“He wanted to be sure there would be no reason to drop packaging on the floor,” Carriker Smothers writes in the book. “Walt was determined to keep Disneyland spotless.”
The otherwise ordinary drinking fountain tucked away in the back corner of the park’s central street is an important part of Disneyland history, according to the book. The demo wall recessed behind the water fountain was moved to the middle of Main Street USA during the construction of Disneyland for reference by the masons.
“Note that the patterns of the bricks are far from the same, as they represent the different styles found on the walls and around the windows on the street,” writes Carriker Smothers.
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The book reveals that the remains of a forerunner of Club 33 reserved for private members can still be found on either side of the Plaza Inn from a hidden refuge called Hideout where Walt Disney entertained VIPs. The Hideout’s original triptych windows can still be seen opposite the Disneyland First Aid Station, while the Hideout’s stained glass door can be seen next to the restrooms on the Tomorrowland side of the restaurant.
Turns out, Walt Disney wasn’t the only person with an apartment in Disneyland. Golden Horseshoe star Wally Boag also had an apartment in a park above the River Belle Terrace restaurant, according to the book.
“Walt was so kind to take care of his performers and he insisted on providing us with great accommodations,” Boag said in the book. “He wanted to make sure that we had a comfortable place to relax between the five or six shows we did each day.
Many small touches and details hand picked and collected by Walt Disney are scattered around Disneyland. Curious fans can still find Welte Orchestrios – huge coin-operated instruments with wind pipes, drums and cymbals bought by Walt Disney – in the Main Street Penny Arcade and the Frontierland Pioneer Mercantile, according to the book.
“Walt’s Disneyland” traces the history of the park from the start of construction to the founder’s last day at Happiest Place on Earth. The book includes what is believed to be Walt Disney’s last photo taken at Disneyland – at a Medal of Honor ceremony he hosted at the park on October 14, 1966, two months before his death.
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“Walt’s Disneyland” has been an exciting project for Carriker Smothers – who previously wrote “Eat Like Walt,” which took readers on a food tour of Disneyland from Walt Disney’s perspective. The books allowed Carriker Smothers to delve into the park’s vast history and get to know Walt Disney posthumously, just like one of the characters in his fairy tales.
“When I was writing the book, I was living with him and we were talking shop 24 hours a day,” Carriker Smothers said. “All my writer friends say they live with their characters. It turns out that mine is a real human being.