Book Jeff

12 Books for Christmas 2022

Welcome to the final “WEDnesdays With Walt” email for 2022. I’ll be taking a two-week break for Christmas, including a trip to Orlando/Universal, and getting things set up for a successful 2023!

Before saying goodbye and taking off, I want to leave you with my traditional end of year “12 Books for Christmas” list. Of course, most of these are Disney books, and a few focus on leadership or personal/professional development. The Wisdom of Walt combines both, so I always like to include a mix of both on this annual list. Here goes (in no particular order):

The Best Disney Books

Walt’s Apprentice: Keeping the Disney Dream Alive by Dick Nunis. Disney fans have been waiting forever for Dick Nunis, aka “The White Tornado,” to tell his story. For twelve years, he worked directly with Walt (starting before Disneyland opened), and then stayed for another thirty. More than any other individual, he might be most responsible for getting Walt Disney World open on time in 1971. A must read!


The Imagineering Story: The Official Biography of Walt Disney Imagineering by Leslie Iwerks. The Imagineering Story is easily the best Disney history series on Disney+. I have watched it repeatedly. Having a book version is even better!

Oh, and Leslie is Ub Iwerks’ granddaughter—the main man (other than Walt) behind Mickey Mouse.


Disney’s Land: Walt Disney and the Invention of the Amusement Park that Changed the World by Richard Snow. I’m not going to lie…I’m jealous. I love this book, and I especially love Richard Snow’s reflective writing. This is now my favorite Disneyland book, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

If you can only buy one Disney book this year, buy this one!


Walt’s Disneyland: A Walk in the Park with Walt Disney by Marcy Smothers. Marcy is best known for her book Eat Like Walt. I can’t really recommend a cookbook…in my defense, how much “cooking” does ice cream really need? However, this is a historical look at Disneyland, and it’s outstanding. Best of all, Marcy doesn’t smother the reader with endless text but, instead, fills her book with narrative and poignant pictures and timeless quotes. Another great pickup!


A Portrait of Walt Disney World: 50 Years of the Most Magical Place on Earth by Kevin Kern, Tim O’Day, and Steven Vagnini. Unfortunately, Walt Disney World’s fiftieth-anniversary celebration was somewhat stunted due to COVID-19 and the worldwide pandemic. Take heart, however, because the “official” celebration lasts a full eighteen months. Pick up this coffee table book before March 2023 and you can still participate in “The Most Magical Celebration on Earth.”


Poster Art of the Disney Parks, 2nd Edition by Danny Handke and Vanessa Hunt. This is another coffee table type book. I immediately ordered the 1st edition when it came out a couple of years ago. Why? Because I love, love, love Disney Park posters. I have canvas versions hanging in my house and would love to buy more if I had more wall space.

The 2nd edition has more than a hundred new pages, so it’s almost a new book. I might need this one, too!

Walt Disney’s Disneyland by Chris Nichols. This is a BIG book! I wish it had been available when I was first developing my History of Disneyland class and/or writing The Wisdom of Walt.

It’s an amazing combination of Disneyland history, Southern California history, and photojournalism.



DisneyWar by James Stewart. Published in 2005, this is anything but a “new” book. In light of recent events, Stewart’s story is more relevant than ever. If you remember the so-called “Disney decade,” wonder what really happened during the Eisner era, and are curious about corporate intrigue, this is your book.


Who’s Afraid of Song of the South? And Other Forbidden Disney Stories by Jim Korkis. It wouldn’t be a Disney Christmas book list without Korkis. He is easily the most prolific Disney writer I know, so picking just one book from the many he has available is always a challenge. With Splash Mountain scheduled to close in January (don’t get me started), now is a great time to learn about the controversial movie that inspired a timeless and classic attraction.


Dreamers Do: Walt Disney’s 10 Steps to Making Your Dreams Come True by Gene “Gin” Ano and Genesis Ano. This is a “bridge book” as we transition from Disney to personal/professional development. This book, released last December, combines both. Another unique feature is how it combines the writing of a father along with the reflections of his daughter and how much Disneyland and Walt Disney World mean to them both.

Oh, and the Foreword author is a good guy, too….

Will by Will Smith and Mark Manson. To some readers, seeing this book on my list might seem like a “slap in the face.” I get it. And yes, I went there! I finished Will just weeks before the Oscars last spring and loved it. Regardless, I still do. It’s an all-in-one biography, memoir, goal-setting/mindset book. It doesn’t hurt that a favorite author of mine, Mark Manson, co-wrote it. Lastly, if you can listen to the audio version, then I highly recommend you do that…the voiceover work add tremendous value.


Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You about Being Creative by Austin Kleon. I heard this book recommended in my mentorship community, The Phoenix Club, and loved it. It only takes about an hour to read, yet I have so many notes and takeaways.

If you want to create more in 2023, start here.


That’s it from me in 2022. Thank you for being a reader, a subscriber, a fan, and a friend. I couldn’t do what I do without you. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone. See you in 2023, the 100th Anniversary of the Walt Disney Company!

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