When I first dreamed of writing a book about Disneyland, I really only knew two things. First, I didn’t want to write another Disney history book. Those already existed, I had read almost all of them, and knew that I couldn’t do better than what was already available. I also didn’t want to write another Disney business book. Those, too, already existed. Plus, I have never worked for Disney and am in education, not business.
Instead, I wanted to marry two different markets—our love for Disney and the Disney Parks with our need for personal growth and development. If you want to know what your passion is then ask yourself this question, What am I willing to read 500 books on?
Now no worries. In order to pursue your passion, you don’t actually have to read 500 books. But knowing what subject(s), in theory, that you at least would be willing to read 500 books is a great compass for pointing you toward your passion. Over the past twenty-five years, I have read 500 (or more) books on Walt Disney, Disneyland, Walt Disney World, leadership, success, personal growth, and personal development.
The Best Disney Books
This is the first Disney book I ever read. Koenig claims that Mouse Tales is the most successful theme park book ever written. He is probably right. It started my obsession.
The Disneyland Story
The Disneyland Story is the main textbook for my History of Disneyland class at California Baptist University. Every summer Sam gives a guest lecture in my course. My students love Sam and this is easily one of their favorite college textbooks.
How to Be Like Walt
How to Be Like Walt is the book closest to what I wanted to write with The Wisdom of Walt. Pat Williams takes Walt’s story and applies it to your story. Additionally, Williams is Senior Vice President for the Orlando Magic. He has an afternoon radio show in Orlando and I was honored to be a guest on his show. At 5’ 8” this is the only call I will ever get from an NBA team.
In Service to the Mouse
Jack Lindquist was Disneyland’s first marketing manager and eventually worked his way up to President. I somehow missed this book when writing The Wisdom of Walt. If you can only read one Disney book, read this one. It’s that much fun.
Secret Stories of Walt Disney World
Jim Korkis is an endless source of Disney history. He is a prolific author and picking just one Korkis book is nearly impossible. Secret Stories of Walt Disney World was invaluable to me in writing my Walt Disney World Book, Beyond the Wisdom of Walt. Highly recommended.
The Disneyland Encyclopedia
I love bathroom books and The Disneyland Encyclopedia is just that. As a reference book, be careful with this one. You go to read one article and an hour later you find yourself in way too deep.
The Best Personal Development Books
If you are a leader, run a company, or work in management, Lee Cockerell’s book Creating Magic is a must read. Lee is the former Executive Vice President of Operations at Walt Disney World Resort, and will show you how to bring the magic of Disney to your company or team.
If you have an idea, a goal, a dream, or a crazy thought but don’t know where to start then I recommend that you start with START. Per his book Finish, Acuff will tell you that finishing is harder than starting. But you can’t finish what you haven’t started so I recommend you start 2019 with START.
Jon Acuff will challenge you to get started. Stephen Guise shows you how to keep going. People often ask me “how long did it take you to write your first book.” The answer is 20 years and 142 days. The only part that mattered was the 142 days. Mini Habits turned my two decades of procrastination into a finished book in just under 6 months.
The Traveler’s Gift
The Traveler’s Gift is a unique book. It takes you on a time travel journey. Along the way you will meet historical figures who challenge you to think about where you are and where you want to be. A great read.
The War of Art
We all want to think that our challenges and obstacles are unique to us. They aren’t. Every person wanting to take their life to the next level struggles with the same inner demons. Pressfield makes it clear that the only thing holding you back—is you.
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Walt Disney most wanted to be remembered as a storyteller. He built Disneyland for the purpose of telling stories. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years reminds us of the importance of story and challenges you to go out and live your own great story.
“There is more to treasure in books than in all the pirates’ loot on treasure island and at the bottom of the Spanish Main…and the best of all, you can enjoy these riches every day of your life.”