Best Disney Books of 2012

Written by George Taylor. Posted in Features, Imaginerding

Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Published on December 31, 2012 at 4:01 am with 11 Comments

2012 was a great year for Disney-related books. In addition to Disney Publishing and D23 titles, we saw a large number of small press and self-published books hit the market. Some were good, some were bad and a few were spectacular. I looked at all of the Disney-related books I’ve read over the past year and I’ve got a handful of awards to give out, including: Best Reference Book, Best Fiction, Most Gorgeous and Worst Book.

First up, I’ve got four books that have won the Honorable Mention for 2012.

Honorable Mention for Book of the Year

The Fairest One of All: The Making of Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs by JB Kaufman

By far, the most exhaustive and enjoyably book ever written about an animated film. This book is more than just a look at the creation of the groundbreaking film, but it also shows how the Walt Disney Studios evolved before and during the production. Kaufman is a well-respected animation and Disney Studios historian. This book is for the animation fan or anyone interested in the Studio during the production of the film.


 Honorable Mention for Book of the Year

Epcot: The First Thirty Years: An Unofficial Retrospective by Jeff Lange and Kevin Yee

This is a very interesting book. There are a lot of photos that you can’t find anywhere else and no one knows Walt Disney World history like Kevin and Jeff. The present almost 500 full-color photos in the book. They also do a great job of presenting Ecot history without getting too nerdy. The book is fairly expensive but if you’re going to pick it up, make sure to get the color version. Any fan of Epcot needs to won this book.

I asked Kevin Yee, one of the most prolific Disney authors, what it’s like to self-publish Disney-related materials.

Disney doesn’t like to work with independent publishers, so you’re on your own for a lot of things. You learn not to use certain kinds of photos (any live action “rubberhead” characters and anyone from the performing union on stage).

You do need to mind your Ps and Qs in print. I do my editorializing online, but in print stick much closer to “the facts”. It keeps me out of trouble!

While it’s freeing to publish your own work, that also means you’re operating within constraints having to do with time and money. You have to do every part of the book yourself (or hire someone to do parts).

Honorable Mention for Book of the Year

From Dreamer to Dreamfinder: a Life and Lessons Learned  in 40 years Behind a Nametag by Ron Schneider.

Ron Schneider has had an amazing career in and out of Disney. He’s a fantastic storyteller and it shows in his memoir. Besides telling his life story, Ron also dishes a lot of advice for budding actors, storytellers and theme park entertainers. Dreamfinder fans will love this book as will anyone with an interest in theme park history and themed entertainment. It truly is a fascinating read.

Honorable Mention for Book of the Year
Bob Gurr, Imagineer and Disney Legend takes a look back at his career with Disney and many other entertainment venues. There are tons of photos, drawings and concept art throughout the book. Bob had an amazing career and is full of life. If you’re a fan of Disneyland and pretty much anything on wheels at Disneyland, then you need to add this book to your collection!

Reference Book of the Year

The Disneyland Encyclopedia: The Unofficial, Unauthorized, and Unprecedented History of Every Land, Attraction, Restaurant, Shop, and Major Event in the Original Magic Kingdom by Chris Strodder

Besides having the longest title of the year, Chris’ book is an amazing trove of information on Disneyland. It’s an extremely thorough and well-researched look at Disneyland with information you won’t find in any other singular source. A must have for Disneyland fans!

Fiction Book of the Year
Our Kingdom of Dust by Leonard Kinsey
Leonard Kinsey, known for the Dark Side of Disney, published a work of fiction centering on a young man and his attempt to rediscover his happiness from his childhood. It’s a fantastic look at the human condition and Leonard regales us with a stunning work that offers convincing characters in an environment we all know and love.

The “Could Have Been Better” Award

A Disney Sketchbook by Ken Shue

I was really excited by this book and enjoyed it. Imagine a book that’s been handed down through the years in the Animation Department that is filled with informative and beautiful sketches. We see the development of Disney artists and Disney characters. Still, I would have loved to have seen more information about the individual artists. A great book for animation and character fans.

 Most Gorgeous Book of the Year
The Art of Brave by Jenny Lerew
The book is gorgeous. I tend to love the Art of… books published by Chronicle books and this might be one of my favorites. The artwork is stunning and you learn so much about the development of a CGI film. It does the film justice and makes you appreciate the movie even more. If you loved the film, then pick up this book!


Worst Book of the Year
I’m a huge fan of souvenir guides and this is the first one that Disney has produced in several years. Sadly, it departs from the guides of the 1970s and 1980s and lacks any charm or interest. A definite pass.

Runner Up Best Book of the Year
 Poster Art of the Disney Parks by Daniel Handle and Vanessa Hunt


This is an amazing book that everyone loves. It would have been the Book of the Year if it weren’t for another book. The images in the Poster book are gorgeous and the authors present a lot of detailed information on the creation and evolution of the posters. It’s a stunning work and something that You will cherish for years to come.

 The Best Book of 2012

It’s Kind of a Cute Story by Rolly Crump as told to Jeff Heimbuch

I’m biased about this book, but even if I weren’t so closely involved with it, it would still be the best Disney-related book of 2012. Jeff Heimbuch is my writing partner here at Mice Chat and my co-host on Communicore Weekly (the Greatest Online Show™). The book is beautifully designed and showcases Rolly’s art in a magnificent way. Jeff took Rolly’s stories and anecdotes and weaves a tale of Rolly’s life that shows a unique outlook on the Disney Company and Walt Disney. This book is a must have for any Disney fan.

2012 Publisher of the Year

It’s no surprise that Bamboo Forest Publishing has three of the best books of 2012. Leonard Kinsey, the publisher has a deep love of Disney and really cares about the books he publishes and the authors. He has set the bar high with his releases and even Disney Publishing/D23 could take a lesson or two.

As we’ve seen with the indefinite delay of Amid Amidi’s Ward Kimball bio, the Disney Company simply refuses to release non-sanitized, non-whitewashed, non-pixie-dusted books. As a result, they’ve unwittingly created a niche market for people who love Disney, but are bored by the official company publications. Not that Disney doesn’t release good books, because they do, but it’s sort of like eating cake for every meal, every day; eventually you get sick of cake and want a slice of pizza instead! So, I guess Bamboo Forest is the greasy pizza to Disney Publishing’s light and fluffy cake.

Congratulations to the winners! Let’s see what 2013 brings!

So, what was your favorite Disney-related book of 2012? Was there one I missed?

ImagiNERDing is written and edited by George Taylor

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to email me at [email protected].

Be sure to visit for Disney book reviews and more!

You can follow me on Twitter @imaginerding or like Imaginerding on Facebook.

I am one half of the incredibly talented, handsome, charming, sanguine, lucent, refulgent, beguiling, hilarious, perturbable, welcoming, sentient, loquacious, side-splitting, mesmerizing, scintillating, lustrous, invigorating, incandescent, inescapable, rollicking, perceiving, wayfaring, devastating, steadfast, cinematic, whelming, imposing, irrefutable, breathtaking, carefree, witty, sparkling, joyful, indulgent, coquettish, snarky, historically accurate, festive, award-winning and intelligent duo behind Communicore Weekly (the Greatest Online Show™). You can find them on the Mice Chat Youtube Channel.

About George Taylor

George has been obsessed with Disney theme parks since the first time he saw a photo of the Haunted Mansion in the early 70s. He started writing about Disney in 2007 and has amassed one of the world's largest Disney-related libraries.

Browse Archived Articles by

  • mratigan

    Fantastic article
    glad i have 50% of the books
    i really want art of brave and the fairest one of all

    • George Taylor


      The Fairest One of All is amazing. It would have won book of the year if not for the Rolly Crump book or the Poster book.

  • QuiGonJ

    Bob Gurr’s book “Design: Just for Fun” didn’t make the list? i thought it was a great account from the man who created most of what we love in the parks.

    • George Taylor

      Thanks for catching that! I had it in the original draft and it didn’t transfer for some reason.

      Thanks for the comment!

      • QuiGonJ

        Glad I could help! =)

  • Malin

    This reminds me of some of the books still present that I need to pick up. I kind of cheated with some of the books including Jeff’s and downloaded them on to my Kindle Fire. Myself the Parks Poster book is the book of the year. Enjoyed Kevin’s and Jeff Lange Epcot book too but kind of wished it was printed on better paper.

    • George Taylor

      The Poster book is amazing.

      Have you read Rolly’s book, yet? I’m glad to see a smaller publishing house release an amazing book.

      Thanks for the comment!

  • Rideongprcs

    I just finished reading the Rolly Crump book and it is by far my favorite. It is like listening to a private conversation about working at WED and with Walt.

  • horizonsfan

    I can’t wait to check out some of the books mentioned that I don’t have yet. I’m thrilled that I received both the Poster Art of the Disney Parks and It’s Kind of a Cute Story as gifts this Christmas. I haven’t read them yet, but I’m really excited to dig into them.

    Great list!

  • LeonardKinsey

    Thanks, George! It’s honestly an honor to be on your list at all, much less multiple times.

    When the year started I had no idea I’d end up publishing three more Disney books, and I certainly didn’t think I’d be working with the likes of Ron Schneider and Rolly Crump (and some weird skinny dude named Jeff Heimbuch). To be honest, it’s been a ton of work, and I probably have quite a few gray hairs from the stress of dealing with proof revisions, ultra-tight deadlines, and shipping delays. But being able to do right by people who have written such amazing books, and who have inspired me with their work over the years, has been a wonderful experience. Totally worth it, without a doubt.

    And hopefully, if all goes well, Bamboo Forest will have a few more contenders for your list next year!


    • Sulley86

      I just got my signed copy of “It’s Kind Of A Cute Story” the other day! I just wanted to say thank you to you, Leonard, and Jeff and Rolly for putting together such a beautiful and entertaining book. It seems like you are the Tarantino of Disney books, 4 for 4. Keep up the good work, and I look forward to your future publishings!