SAMLAND: California Living

Written by Sam Gennawey. Posted in Features, Samland

Tagged: , , ,

Published on December 19, 2013 at 2:00 am with 12 Comments

This week is a little bit of this and a little bit of that. I will start with a brief excerpt from The Disneyland Story: The Unofficial Guide, then try and impress you with some of the reviews that I have received so far. After that I will let you know about a terrific book from a good friend and then a personal note reflecting upon my last three years here at MiceChat.


An Excerpt from The Disneyland Story: The Unofficial Guide

In September 1960, Walt started to explore other ideas that would enhance the Disneyland experience. The area around the park was growing rapidly and without any consideration for the beautiful aesthetic he was trying to achieve inside of the berm. WDP controlled 133 acres adjacent to the park. A study by Economics Research Associates (ERA) considered opportunities such as a convention facility with an auditorium, more restaurants, and an idea proposed by Disneyland marketing director Ed Ettinger called California Living.

Postwar Southern California had grown rapidly, and a lifestyle had developed that combined an outdoor orientation and informality. To exploit this trend, the Los Angeles County Arboretum had added two residential garden displays in conjunction with Sunset magazine in 1958, and attendance had more than doubled. Inspired by the Arboretum’s success, Walt in 1960 was considering a continuing exhibition at Disneyland that represented the best of living in California. The project was described as “a show, an idea mart, and a merchandise mart on themes and products related to the home and leisure pursuits, combined in a comprehensive and integrated exhibition and display.” Approximately 8–12 model homes would have been built representing the various regions of the state, including the beaches and the mountains. Guests would experience first-hand the active California lifestyle.

California Living would include more family-style restaurants themed to match the type of food served. The interiors would include dioramas and “other techniques” to enhance the theme. There would be a California Arts and Crafts area with products on display and for sale. Projected attendance was 1 million guests at opening, with an admission charge of $1.50. A 1,000-seat auditorium was also under consideration as part of the project.

REVIEWS: The Disneyland Story: The Unofficial Guide to the Evolution of Walt Disney’s Dream

  • “Sam takes his passion for Disneyland, his training as an urban designer, his ability to dig deep into the research, and his flair for telling a great story  and combines them in this wonderful book.”
    RD Flores
  • “The best history of Disneyland to date and probably for many more years”
    Didier Ghez
  • “Don’t let the title “unofficial” deter you in the least. This work exceeds anything Disney has ever formally put out. For that matter, in its total form it may exceed everything Disney has put out. There’s just so much.”
    J. Jeff Kober,
  • “This is probably one of the most researched, quoted and sourced book about Disneyland history I have ever read.”
    Jan Vincent

REVIEW: Every Guest is a Hero by Adam Berger

Adam and I are personal friends. I have known about this book for some time and found, upon first reading, that it had exceeded my already lofty expectations. I read the book in draft form and was so pleased that I provided a blurb, which is included in the book. Here goes:


“Every successful Disney attraction and themed environment is built from a recipe using the timeless elements of storytelling that have bound humanity together for eons. Walt Disney knew how to do this intuitively, taught his designers how to do it, and now you will be let in on the secret. Adam Berger brings together the observations of Joseph Campbell and applies them to the world of the theme park, forever changing the way we perceive those magical places.”


Adam has done something very important. He goes right to the heart of what makes things work and why they don’t work. Samland has been about exploring the timeless way of building and Adam has done the same for timeless storytelling. His book has been picked up by one college I know for a textbook. It is a delightful read and stars his adorable son on the cover. If you want to be an Imagineer, are an Imagineer or enjoy playing armchair Imagineer then you will want a copy for your collection.



It was Werner Weiss’s idea. As many of you know, Werner is the curator of Yesterland. Yesterland is the oldest Disney website out there. He was doing Disney on the web before Disney was doing Disney on the web. Over the years we have become good friends and it was his idea that I should write for the guys over at MiceChat some three and a half years ago.

I met with Dusty Sage and Fishbulb and immediately knew that I would have a welcome home on the internet if I could just come up with something every week. When I started, I was one of three regular weekly columns. Now there are something like 43. In fact, there is so much good stuff on MiceChat it is no wonder it has become a huge success. A well deserved success. And I have loved riding on their coattails. Honestly folks, if you are a theme park writer and are looking for a place to get your message out to a wide audience, this is the gig to get. Thank you for the soapbox Dusty.

However, writing a weekly column, writing another book, promoting a current book (thank you to all who have purchased a copy), working full time, and trying to have a life is not as easy as I first thought. Therefore, I will not be able to continue visiting with you every week going forward, but will rather write when there is something to be said. I am sure that something somebody says during the holiday season is bound to spark a new column very soon.

Dear MiceChat readers. I cannot thank you enough. I hope you have enjoyed your visits to Samland, there’s still much more left for me to share . . . just not EVERY week. The park will be reopening in 2014.


Thank you for your kind support of my books folks (which make great gifts by the way)

Amazon link. Barnes and Noble link.
Twitter – samlanddisney
Facebook – Sam Gennawey
Linkedin – Sam Gennawey

About Sam Gennawey

Sam Gennawey is an urban planner who has collaborated with communities throughout California over the course of more than 100 projects to create a great, big, beautiful tomorrow. Sam is a member of the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles Regional Planning History Group, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving municipal, county, and private sector planning documents from throughout Los Angeles County. Sam is the author of Walt and the Promise of Progress City which you can find on Amazon.

Browse Archived Articles by

  • Sam, I loved your book. There are a lot of folks who are receiving it for Christmas this year. Thank you for helping simplify my shopping.

    While I’m very sad to see Samland leave its Thursday spot, it’s good to know that you’ll still be around with semi-regular content. Samland will forever be one of my favorite columns.

  • indianajack

    Your column Sam is one of my favorites on MC. Please contribute as often as you can, as I’m sure many of us will miss your erudite and compelling Thursday columns.
    Best wishes…

  • TCadillac

    Thank you for your contributions Sam! Samland and Yesterland are my two favorite features on Miceage. Your feature on the Disney Ski Resort that never was ranks up there as one of the best Disney related articles I have ever read.

    • Dizzey


  • Country Bear

    I always enjoy your articles Sam as they are insightful and inspiring. I look forward to your upcoming articles in the new year.

    Thanks for all the great reads so far Sam!

  • ralzap

    Great articles. You will be missed, but I completely understand. I keep wondering how you folks do it. What a niche, planning for people.

  • Awe_inspired

    Thanks Sam! I’ve really enjoyed reading your pieces. Good, good stuff. Best to you.

  • rstar

    Thank you for your dedication, Sam. I have enjoyed your hard work, almost as much as you have enjoyed doing it, I’m sure! I’m looking forward to hearing from you soo! ~Bob

  • rstar


  • DisneylandManFan

    Your columns have been a most valued asset of Micechat since Day One. Enjoy your life, Sam! Follow your dreams! And keep all of us in the loop of all that you do concerning our shared love of Disney. I’ll miss your regular writings. But, it’ll also make me all the more anxious for the times when you do share with us all that you wish to tell. All in good time, Sir. All in good time. 🙂

  • DobbysCloset

    Your perspective, Sam, combining urban design knowledge with love of Disney Theme Parks is so unique. You’ve taught me so much. I will continue to look forward to your writing when and wherever I find it…like magic.

  • TheKramer

    Sam, “trying to have a life” is overrated! I have enjoyed your work and will continue to do so, I am sure, even if it will be a bit less frequent from now on.