Design: Just for Fun by Bob Gurr, a Book Review
by, 05-28-2012 at 09:26 PM
George Taylor and Jeff Heimbuch take a look at an Imagineering legend's autobiography. This one is designed for fun!
GEORGE: Bob Gurr is a very familiar name to MiceChat readers. If you delve into the history of Disney theme parks, you're going to see his name mentioned with Marc Davis, Roger Broggie, Rolly Crump, Claude Coats, Marty Sklar and many other Disney legends. If you've visited Disneyland or Walt Disney World, then you've experienced a ride vehicle or attraction that Bob designed.
As the adage goes, if it is at Disneyland and has wheels, then Bob Gurr designed it!
JEFF: At this point, after reading Design: Just For Fun, I'd even go so far to say that if it MOVES, Bob Gurr probably had a hand in it. I always knew that Bob worked on many of the classic Disney attractions on wheels, but after reading this book, I was amazed at the sheer amount of work Bob put into many of the Disney attractions we all know and love. He was certainly a true mechanical renaissance man!
GEORGE: We've been fortunate over the past few years to have so many memoirs and books about Disney legends seeing the light of day. Bob's book has been highly anticipated and it doesn't disappoint. Design: Just for Fun follows Bob through his entire career (and most of his life), chronicling every major attraction, ride vehicle and people mover that he designed. What I loved about the book is that Bob is truly thankful for everything that he has been able to do and that he did a great job of documenting his career through notes and photographs
JEFF: That's one of the things that strikes me about these Disney Legends. None of them realized that the stuff they were doing in the 1950s for Disneyland was going to have a lasting impression on not only America, but the rest of the world. To them, it was just a job where they got to really stretch their imaginations, go wild, and get paid for it every week. Luckily, folks like Bob had the foresight to document all of the projects they worked on for their own memories. Now, we're lucky enough that Bob is opening his own personal Disney vault, and sharing these fantastic stories with all of us.
GEORGE: I was surprised at how charming Bob's writing style is. I wasn't sure how interested I was going to be in the work he did for Universal and Steve Wynn, since I had never experienced them firsthand, but the stories were great and added to the whole experience. It was a lot of fun to see how he started at Disneyland as a young 'Car Stylist' and worked his way up by understanding to never tell Walt Disney "no". He said he always found a way to get it done and get it done right. Of course, if there was an issue with a vehicle or a design, he never stopped until it was good.
I was very interested in his designs for Walt Disney World since he is more well known for his Disneyland work. It seems like most of Bob's work was conceptual and geared towards mass transit. I laughed when I read about the DuoRail, since I had joked about that on Mice Chat for April Fool's Day. Still, some of his designs were fantastic.
JEFF: Going back to what George said about never saying "no" to Walt Disney, it really amazed me at how much stuff Bob taught himself on the job. Whenever Walt asked him to do something, Bob accepted, even if he had no idea how he was going to accomplish it. He would run out afterward, study up on the subject, and make it work. I think one of the best examples of that is the Matterhorn. For years, Disney fans and historians have debated over the layout of the tracks, and what the designers had in mind when they were planning it. It turns out that it was just Bob, teaching himself physics and trigonometry, making up the track over and over again until he got it to work. It's those little details that blow my mind, and show how, back in the day, Imagineers just dove into a project head first & said "Well, I think this will work. Let's try it!"
GEORGE: I think it is safe to argue that both of us highly recommend this book. Even if you are new to the world of Disney Geekiness, you will find yourself enchanted with Bob's tales. For the hardcore Disney geeks, like those charming guys on Communicore Weekly, there are fantastic tidbits throughout the book.
JEFF: I definitely recommend this book. Hearing first hand accounts of what is was like to work directly with Walt are few and far between nowadays, and Bob's stories offer a great glimpse of what working at the Studios and WED was like when the Old Man was still around. Though he does lean into some more of the technical aspects of his work at times (which, admittedly, I had to go back to read again just to make sure I understood what he was talking about), that doesn't take away from the enjoyment of the book. His easy-going style makes it easy to appreciate his work even more.
GEORGE: As a final caveat to our readers: this is an amazing book, but as it has a niche market, it has been produced in limited qualities. As we have seen with Disneyland, the Nickel Tour, the price has skyrocketed and made it almost unobtainable.
Do you have a favorite Bob Gurr designed attraction or vehicle?
Is there a Gurr-mobile that you have to ride every time you are in a Disney Park?
Bob Gurr Book Signing Luncheon - June 30th (pick up a copy of the book and meet the legend himself)
If you live in the Southern California area, you won't want to miss out on the Bob Gurr Book Signing Luncheon at the beautiful Anabella Hotel on June 30th tickets and books available HERE. The first 100 books sold for this event will be the red "Collectors" edition (which are very nearly sold out). Since all books will be picked up at the event, no shipping will be charged. That's Disney legend Bob Gurr + New book + Lunch + Plus great stories = Disney Nirvana (or should I say NERDvana).
To preserve an intimate feeling, this event will have very limited availability. Get your copy of the book, meet Bob Gurr and enjoy a delightful lunch at the Anabella Hotel's Tangerine Restaurant on June 30th, 2012 - TICKETS HERE.
By Jeff Heimbuch and George Taylor
The Disney Review is written and edited by Jeff Heimbuch and George Taylor
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to email us at [email protected] or Jeff[email protected]
You can follow us on Twitter @imaginerding (George) and @JeffHeimbuch
Other places you can find George and Jeff:
- The 626 (Jeff)
- ImagiNERDing (George)
- From the Mouth of the Mouse (Jeff)
- Everything Walt Disney World (George)
You can also see us EVERY week on Communicore Weekly on the Mice Chat Youtube Channel
Tickets are now on sale for the
COMMUNICORE WEEKLY 38TH WEEKAVERSARY
EPCOT 30 YEAR ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION!
Come celebrate EPCOT's 30th Anniversary in style with a live taping of MiceChat's Communicore Weekly! Join co-hosts Jeff Heimbuch & George Taylor, along with MiceChat's Dusty Sage, Kevin Yee, and the Communicore Weekly Orchestra, for a fun-filled night of fandom and frivolity as they tape a special hour long episode of the hit show, Communicore Weekly.
Join us on the evening of Saturday, September 29th 2912 in the Norway Pavilion Special Events Lounge in EPCOT's World Showcase for this one of a kind event!
Your ticket includes:
- Admission into the live taping of CW in the Norway Pavilion of EPCOT (note: admission into the park is NOT included)!
- Meet special guest, Ron Schneider, the original Dreamfinder!
- Decadent dessert reception!
- Short scavenger hunt hosted by Kevin Yee before the show will be available to those who would like to participate (prizes will be awarded)!
- Prizes, giveaways and more!
- The chance to be a part of EPCOT and Communicore Weekly history!
- Endless Five Legged Goats and perhaps even a real life Bathroom Break!
- Exclusive late night ride after park closing on a selected EPCOT attraction to cap off the evening!
For more tickets and more information, be sure to visit MiceChat.com/store!