Imagineering Field Guide to Disney California

Written by George Taylor. Posted in Buena Vista Street, Cars Land, Contests and Events, Disney, Disney Parks, Disneyland Resort, Features, Fun, The Disney Review

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Published on June 28, 2014 at 1:00 am with 21 Comments

George: I’ve been a huge fan of the Imagineering Field Guide series since their inception in 2005 with the first Magic Kingdom title. I own all of them and consult them regularly for various projects and articles. They’re probably the best resource for theme park nerdiness outside of Communicore Weekly (the Greatest Online Show™). Once Disney put the final touches on Disney California Adventure, it was time to release the Imagineering Field Guide to Disney California Adventure!

Jeff: The guides are a handy size, so theme park nerds (much like us) can keep them in their back pocket while exploring the Parks. The idea, of course, is the experience the lands you read about, while learning some insider information about them. The Disney California Adventure guide follows the same formula as the previous guides, and takes you land by land, breaking down the design aspects, and helping to explain some of the Imagineering terminology.


George: One of the tag lines for the series is like it’s having an imagineer in your pocket. Although that might seem uncomfortable at first, it makes sense with these books. It really is like you have an imagineer strolling down Buena Vista Street with you or showing you some of the details in Radiator Springs. As Jeff mentioned, the guide does tame some of the loftier terms and breaks them down to make them easier to understand. The guide also does a great job of pointing our and highlighting a lot of those great little details that makes a Disney park stand out from the rest.


Jeff: Exactly. They do an excellent job of explaining specific terms or design process that the reader may not know, and then go on to show an example of it used in the Park. The only downside to this is that if you own all the other volumes, you may be re-reading some of the same material twice. But it all comes together nicely. Of course, I like it best when they are pointing out Five Legged Goats, the hidden details of the Parks. While they don’t use that term in the book, we all know that is what they are referring to!


George: One of the great things about the guide is how they handle the lands. They often start with a big picture look at the area and then drill down and showcase those great little goats, er, uh, details. It makes sense and the guides are always high on my list of recommended books because of their attention to the details of the details! My biggest complaint with the series, though, is that I want larger versions of the concept artwork they feature.

Jeff: How about an Art of The Imagineering Field Guide series? I’d be down for that! But, the bottom line is that the Imagineering Field Guide to Disney California Adventure is great for new Disney fans and veterans alike. You will definitely learn a thing or two, and have a deeper appreciation for things in DCA than before!

Have you read any of the Imagineering Field Guide series? What do you think about the book?

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By Jeff Heimbuch and George Taylor

The Disney Review is written and edited by Jeff Heimbuch and George Taylor

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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.

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  1. Can’t wait to see this one. I’m getting ready to design a letter plaque for the Park so it will come in handy!

  2. I have all of the Imagineering field guides, including this one. They are a lot of fun and really explain many design details. The illustrations are small because the book is small, but there are a lot of them-many concept drawings and elevations.

  3. I never thought they were gonna make an Imagineering field guide for DCA!!! I’ve been waiting forever to get my hands on one

  4. I enjoyed the Imagineering Field Guide to Disneyland quite a bit, even though some of it came off sounding a bit more like it was written by marketeers than Imagineers. I’ll have to get a copy of this one too, as a companion, especially since Ashley and I lack a lot of the reference points to make sense of many parts of DCA (like, we’ve been to Hollywood, but never to a seaside pier amusement park or Yosemite). Thanks for posting about it!

  5. Can’t wait to walk the the park with this!

  6. Looks like a fun read!

  7. i have to admit, i own all the books in the series released so far, but i don’t refer to them or re-read them. most of the content is covered elsewhere, and in greater depth. that goes for concept art; except for a few pieces here and there, there’s nothing new. now, this is if you already have a bookshelf full of every title ever released about imagineering or the design of the parks.

    also, the design of the books themselves is awful. just look at that table of contents page! stripes, circles with strokes, more than a dozen colors, screened-back images behind IMPACT BOLD with drop shadows? it’s like the layout was made by a meme generator. yuck.

  8. I own all the others and like them, though I do wish they went into more depth. Even so, I’m happy this is coming out for DCA.

  9. Looks like an awsome book! Gonna try to win it!

  10. I also would like to win it. Spent too much after the last Top 10. lol

  11. I could really use this book. I have all the Disney World books in this series and haven’t been to the west coast since 2001 when DCA opened.

  12. Hi George, Hi Jeff,

    Great review about a great book!

    The Imagineering Field Guides are among my favorite books in my Imagineering library. I think they are right up there with “Designing Disney” by John Hench and Jeff Kurrti’s “Imagineering Legends” books in terms of the insight they provide into the process, art, and craft of Imagineering.

    I’ve read, and re-read all of the books in this series multiple times (often just before a visit to the parks) and find I get some new insight or distinction almost every time. I’m working on an index of the (revised) Magic Kingdom guide, and am finding that the closer you look at these books, the more you find.

    One of the essays I particularly like in the DCA field guide is on page 49: “It’s All About Story” / “A Story by Any Other Name…”. This essay explores the idea of “story” and how it’s used by WDI as a broad term to mean many different things depending on the context. Given the controversy about “story” among some online fans, this was a welcome look at the subject.

    Thanks for the review!

  13. This should be great. can’t wait

  14. Can’t wait to add this to my collection. I have all the others.

  15. This looks awesome!