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The Top 8 Books on Disney and Creativity

The Walt Disney Company has been considered powerhouse in creative endeavors. With its innovations in animation, movies and theme parks, people associate the Disney brand with creativity. So, aside from my two books, “Disneyland Is Creativity” and “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity,” what are the best books about Disney and its creative process? Here are my Top 8:

“Brain Storm: Unleashing Your Creative Self” – Don Hahn gives readers practical advice for getting more creativity from life. He uses his life experience and his work at Disney to provide some of the best insights and most fun stories for creativity.

“The Imagineering Way: Ideas to Ignite Your Creativity” – The imagineers explore creativity principles and provide examples on how to add more creativity to your everyday life! Use it in conjunction with “The Imagineering Workout: Exercises to Shape Your Creative Muscles” and get your creative muscles in shape.

“The Imagineering Workout: Exercises to Shape Your Creative Muscles” – The imagineers give you some exercise to improve your creative output in this companion book to “The Imagineering Way: Ideas to Ignite Your Creativity.”

“One Little Spark! Mickey’s Ten Commandments and The Road to Imagineering” – Marty Sklar leads us on an exploration of the rules that imagineers follow to come up with and implement their ideas. Go inside the idea process with the experts at the Walt Disney company.

“Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration” – The section on Steve Jobs makes this book about Pixar and creativity worth the read. Ed Catmull does an outstanding job with this story of the Pixar Studios. Read my review at our archive website http://www.penguinate.weebly.com.

“Dream It! Do It! My Half-Century Creating Disney’s Magic Kingdoms” – Marty Sklar was a prominent imagineer who got his start writing for Disneyland before the park opened. “Dream It! Do It!” is Sklar’s autobiography as it relates to his work with the Walt Disney Company. Check out the review at our archive website http://www.penguinate.weebly.com.

“How to Be Like Walt: Capturing the Disney Magic Every Day of Your Life” – Pat Williams takes an honest and positive look at Walt Disney’s life. Williams pulls out creativity principles using Walt’s biography as the basis for illustrating those principles.

 “Walt Disney: An American Original” – Biographies are a great way to get inspired and to dig into what made someone creative. Bob Thomas’ seminal work on Walt Disney was released not long after Disney’s death. It is one of the most accurate portrayals of Walt’s life and how he accomplished what he did. Start here before looking at the more modern biography by Neal Gabler.

Tell us which book on Disney and creativity is your favorite!

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Disney Lego MiniFigs Series 1: Collectors’ Corner

Disney Lego Minifigs Series 1

(This article contains affiliate links. If you click on a link that goes to Amazon and purchase a product, you support our writing effort without having to pay more for the items you order. Thank you.) If you couldn’t tell by my numerous Disney blog posts or the books I’ve written about Disney (“Disneyland Is Creativity,” “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity,” “Penguinate! The Disney Company”), I’m a Disney fan. Maybe a little less well-known is I love Legos. They’re great for inspiring creativity, especially the basic sets that allow you to build what you imagine rather than following a set of plans and instructions. So, when I saw the Disney Lego Minifigs series 1, I looked at my budget and knew I had to have them.

Disney Lego Minifigs Series 1 Characters

Lego decided to start its series with three of the Big Five represented. Mickey, Minnie and Donald or among the 18 figures. They added Daisy to the group assumedly for symmetry in the release. In fact, only Maleficent and fan-favorite Stitch are without a partner of some sort. Buzz Lightyear has a Little Green Man, Aladdin has the Genie, and classic Alice has the Cheshire Cat. Grown-up Syndrome is ready to battle with the young Mr. Incredible, which I guess timeline-wise doesn’t really work. Peter Pan can take on his nemesis Captain Hook, and Ariel can sing for Ursula.

Appeal of Disney Lego Minifigs

Aside from the fact that they are Lego and Disney, the minifigs have an additional appeal of the blind draw. Not knowing what’s inside increases the anticipation. With each packet you open, you narrow down the one’s you want to get. Soon, you’re wondering if you’re going to get your 10th Syndrome, or if it will be one of the other three characters you need to complete the question. At the end, you hoping to get either the character you need to complete the collection or another of the best characters in it. When that final character is revealed… YOU WIN! It’s exciting and wonderful and fun. Some people would prefer to know what they’re getting, but others enjoy the thrill of the chase.

The Best Disney Lego Minifig

The blind draw gives the Little Green Man the advantage as the best Disney Lego Minifig in Series 1 because you can get a thousand Little Green Men and never have too many. It’s the only character where repetition doesn’t hurt, and in fact, it might help. Little Green Men always seem to travel in groups, except when they are selected by the claw. Some of the other characters seem to be available in other Lego sets if you can afford them. That makes Mickey Mouse a little less exciting though he appears to be in different outfits. The Cheshire Cat is cool, but I’m going to have to give the nod to the Little Green Man.

Collecting and Creativity

Why is collecting a part of our creativity? Ideas come from combining two or more things that haven’t been previously combined. Collecting allows us to have visual and tactile stimulation to improve connections. Oftentimes, people who collect items, don’t focus on just one thing or category. They tend to collect multiple categories of items over time. Perhaps, the most famous example of this is Ray Bradbury’s office at the beginning of Ray Bradbury Theater. He characterizes it as a place where he’ll never starve for ideas. Join us on Patreon for more creativity (and penguins)!

Did you collect and complete your Disney Lego Minifigs Series 1? What are you collecting now? Let us know in the comments.

Can you solve the Disney Lego Minifig Series 1 mashup?
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‘Ride of a Lifetime’ Offers Iger’s Lessons Learned at Disney

Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle

Disney CEO Bob Iger shocked the business world by announcing his decision to step down from the company’s top position. He led Disney through some of its largest expansions – both in terms of intellectual property (IP) through acquiring Pixar, Marvel, LucasFilm and 21st Century Fox, and parks built or expanded, including Shanghai Disneyland and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. In his book “The Ride of a Lifetime” (affiliate link), Iger allows the reader to see what he has learned during his tenure at the Disney Company, where he started at the bottom and worked his way up.

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The ABCs of Creativity: Vision

Vision can be the way you perceive things. No one sees the world exactly like you. Your life experiences have given you a unique way of viewing situations. The only way that anyone can begin to understand what you see in the world is if you share your vision.

A vision can also be the goals that you want to achieve or the way you see the future. You might look toward a utopia. You might see problems with the drainage system and possible solutions. You might have the key to opening up a new discipline. But this only happens after you develop your vision and show it to people. If you aren’t able to tell people about what you want to achieve on a grand sale, you are unlikely to achieve it.

You can use your vision to drive toward your vision, and creativity should be an important part of that drive. Walt Disney saw that there were no places where adults could enjoy spending time with children. He sat eating peanuts while his daughters took rides on the carousel in Griffith Park. His vision was a park that parents and children could enjoy equally together. Without either sense of vision, we wouldn’t have Disneyland or any of the other theme parks that came after it.

For more on creativity, order “Disneyland Is Creativity” and “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.” Get “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories” and improve your creativity for a better life and world. For more on the Disney company, get “Penguinate! The Disney Company.” Join us at Patreon for the “Secrets of Creativity” available only to our Penguinators.

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3 Disney-related Quotes about Curiosity and How it Improves Imagination

Partners statue in Disneyland

Popular wisdom holds that “curiosity killed the cat.” This phrase is used to warn people against being to inquisitive for their own good. If you don’t ask questions, you won’t find out any information that could get you dead. Eliminating curiosity is good for people or organizations with something to hide. It also good for those who want to exert dogmatic control on their followers. However, humans need to be curious. It improves imagination and leads to greater creativity.

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‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’: Music and Worry

Meeting Snow White at Disneyland's 25th anniversary

(This article contains affiliate links. If you order something using these links, it doesn’t cost you more, and I get a small advertising fee.) In 1937, Walt Disney released “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” The first animated feature was often known as Disney’s Folly. People said no one would sit through such a long cartoon. Some said people’s eyes would bleed if they watched that much animated film in one sitting. When it premiered at the Carthay Circle Theater, it was an instant hit. Celebrities cried. “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” became the highest grossing movie of all-time until “Gone with the Wind” knocked it off the top spot in 1939.

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Heroes of the Haunted Mansion: Ken Anderson

Ken Anderson was laid off by MGM in 1934. He was married and spent a month “living on the beaches and eating canned beans and what-not” (The Disney Family Album). He applied to the Walt Disney Company at the urging of his wife Polly even though his education was in architecture. Anderson’s additional accomplishments include work on “The Goddess of Spring,” “Ferdinand the Bull,” and “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”

Anderson was the first imagineer to really work on the Haunted Mansion as an attraction. Harper Goff did a drawing of a haunted house as part of the Mickey Mouse park Walt Disney was considering in 1951, and Marvin Davis gave a haunted mansion a place in Disneyland that never materialized.

In 1957, Anderson wrote his first storylines for the Haunted Mansion. He researched houses in the south and went to the Winchester Mystery House to look at group movements and timings. His storylines included a captain/pirate who killed his new bride, a ghostly family that kept the mansion from being renovated, a tour led by Walt Disney, and a mansion that used the Headless Horseman and the classic monsters of literature.

Anderson suffered a stroke after the release of “101 Dalmatians.” He lost the ability to move and was left blind by the stroke. He had “absolutely no control” over his body. He came back with the inspiration from a grove of trees and worked on Shere Khan for “The Jungle Book.”

Ken Anderson worked for Disney for 44 years. He is one of the few unsung heroes of the Haunted Mansion. Without his first treatments and ideas for the inside, we may not have the classic attraction that exists today. Let his example help you improve your work situation, perseverance and creativity.

Sources: “The Haunted Mansion: Imagineering a Disney Classic” by Jason Surrell.

“The Disney Family Album: Ken Anderson” aired on the Disney Channel in 1984. Accessed at https://youtu.be/mSPnwK2yPtQ

“Ken Anderson; Disney Art Director, 84” in the New York Times. Accessed at https://www.nytimes.com/1993/12/19/obituaries/ken-anderson-disney-art-director-84.html

For more on creativity and the Haunted Mansion, get “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity” online or at the Candy Cane Inn in Anaheim.

For more on Disneyland and Creativity, order “Disneyland Is Creativity.” For deep thinking about the Disney Company, check out “Penguinate! The Disney Company.”

You can also find more articles about Disney, Disneyland and creativity at our archive website, www.penguinate.weebly.com, and on our blog. If you would like to get even more articles about creativity, join our Patreon and become a Penguinator.

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‘The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity’ eBook Now Available at Amazon.com for Preorder

The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity cover

In case you missed it, “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity” is available for preorder at Amazon.com. The second book in the “Disneyland Is Creativity” takes a look at the Haunted Mansion’s history and structure and relates them to creativity principles to help you become more creative.

While the Haunted Mansion opened on August 9, 1969, it’s history dates back more than a decade before when Harper Goff drew the first haunted house concept in 1951 as part of a church and graveyard. The façade was finished in 1963, but it took 6 more years for the technology to develop and the concept to work. This delay allowed the Disney team to learn more as well as explore hundreds of ideas before choosing the right one. Creativity requires lots of ideas, time to be creative, and patience to choose the right idea to develop.

That doesn’t mean there weren’t failures. The Haunted Mansion was supposed to open in 1963 instead, Marty Sklar wrote a sign that said the team was busy gathering ghosts. A short-lived effect called “the Hatbox Ghost” didn’t work when the Haunted Mansion opened, and it was removed until the effect could be done correctly. (It was reinstalled in 2015.) Creativity comes with failures and mistakes.

Just in time to celebrate Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion’s 50th anniversary, the eBook is scheduled to be released June 1 and 2 to coincide with Lilac City Comicon 2019 in Spokane where I will be presenting “The Haunted Mansion: 50 Years of Creativity.”

The book tour will continue at City Cakes and Café in Salt Lake City. On June 7 to 9, we’ll be at Ogden UnCon where I will present “The Haunted Mansion: 50 Years of Creativity” on Sunday. Currently, our last scheduled stop will be at Amazing Las Vegas Comic Con from June 14 to 16.

Click on the link to preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity” in paperback. Get “Disneyland Is Creativity” in paperback here and in eBook on Amazon.

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Preorder ‘Penguinate! The Disney Company’

Book cover for Penguinate! The Disney Company

On April 14, 2019, my 8th book “Penguinate! The Disney Company” will be released on Amazon Kindle. (That’s just in time for my birthday!) “Penguinate! The Disney Company” looks at aspects of the company that Walt Disney would recognize. It includes thoughts on Disney Parks, Disney creativity, and Disney movies, including “Frozen 2” plots Disney probably never considered.

This wholly unauthorized look at the Disney Company is designed to help you think deeply and share your thoughts. The more you practice deep thinking, the more creative you’ll become. Preorder the Kindle version today at Amazon, or preorder the paperback here.

The Table of Contents:

Acknowledgements    iv
About This Book 1
The Disney Family 3
Walt Disney’s Road to Creativity 4
Diane Disney Miller, Grandma and Disneyland 6
The Disney Parks 8
Standing in Line Is Part of the Appeal 9
FASTPASS Is too Fast 10
FASTPASS, Reservations and Time 11
Why the Characters at the Parks Matter 12
Disney Parks Don’t Need New Rides to Increase Attendance 14
How Disney Can Save Itself and the World 16
The Disneyland Resort 19
The Birth of Disneyland 20
The Submarine Voyage (1959 to 1998) 22
Star Wars Land Vs. Tomorrowland 23
Put the ‘Tomorrow’ Back in Tomorrowland 26
Investing in Parks Is the Best Way to Deal with Crowds 28
Mickey Mouse Foods and Happiness 30
Disney California Adventure Is still No Disneyland 31
World of Color – Winter Dreams 2013 33
Eulogy for the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 34
Walt Disney World 35
Reflections on the College Program 2012 36
Why Would Walt Want to Build a City? A panel with Paul Anderson at Salt Lake Comic Con 2013 38
Walt Disney World’s Internal Communication 40
Walt Disney World’s External Communication 41
Walt Disney World and Change 42
Why MyMagic+ is Genius 43
Crew Spaceship Earth with Aaron Wallace and the Rest of Humanity 45
Critique of Epcot Misses Context 47
The American Idol Experience Will Suck You in like the TV Show 49
Disneyland Paris 51
Disneyland Paris 2015 Is Like Disneyland 2000 52
La Taniere du Dragon: Magic at Disneyland Paris 54
Disney’s Synergy 55
Disney Does the Dumb: No Longer Going to Infinity and Beyond 56
Disney/Fox Merger Sounds Death Knell for Small-Time Writers and Creatives 58
Did Disney Cut the Cord? 60
‘Agent Carter’ sets stage for Captain America vs. Batman and Superman 62
Let’s Get Dangerous: Disney Dominates Movies and Music 64
Why Fox’s Fantastic Four Flop Is Good News for Disney 65
Disney Jumps to Light Speed with Creative Properties 66
ESPN Fishes for Its ‘Little Mermaid’ 68
The Disney Princess Stories 72
The Saving of Snow White: Rethinking Criticisms of Disney Films 73
Dying Ugly: The Misguided Actions of the Evil Queen 75
Cinderella’s Choice: Rethinking Criticisms of Disney Films 76
‘Frozen’ 78
‘Frozen’ Warms the Heart 79
Hans: Clever Schemer, Opportunist, or Love Corrupted by Power 81
Scarcity Fuels ‘Frozen’s’ Fire 83
Possible ‘Frozen 2’ Plots 85
‘You Can’t Top Pigs with Pigs’: ‘Frozen 2’ on Thin Ice 89
‘Frozen’ vs. the Super Bowl 92
‘Frozen Fever’ opens for ‘Cinderella’: What’s at Stake? 94
The Rise of Olaf and Baymax 96
Disneyland’s Frozen Paradise 2015 97
How Disney Changed the Princess Story for Success in the Modern Age 100
‘Maleficent’: Visually Stunning, Epic Fantasy 111
‘Frozen’ and ‘Maleficent’ Create Instant Cliché 113
Evil Isn’t Complicated; It’s Easy 115
Maleficent Changes Her Character 117
‘Maleficent,’ Misogyny and Metaphor: Disney Hits a Cultural Nerve 118
An Alternate Ending for ‘Maleficent’? 119
Other Disney Films 121
‘Wreck-It Ralph’ Explores Ways to Fix It 122
Why Maui is the bad guy in ‘Moana’ 124
Disney Stuck in a Rut: Sequels Rule the Box Office 126
Keep Moving Forward with ‘Tomorrowland’ 128
‘Tomorrowland’ Brings to Screen What Theme Park Lacks 129
Society Needs Its Dreamers 131
What Kid’s See in Disney Films May Not Be What Adults See 133
Disney Products 135
Disney Products: D23Expo 2017 Explores Past and Future 136
Appendix 1: Other Disney Books to Consider 139
Appendix 2: Disney Vocabulary 141
About the Author 143
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Heroes of the Haunted Mansion: Yale Gracey

Yale Gracey joined the Disney Company in 1939 as a layout artist. He worked on “Pinocchio,” “Fantasia” and “the Three Caballeros.” In 1959, Walt Disney set Gracey up with Rolly Crump and gave them a large room on the second floor of the animation building. They were instructed to come up with effects for the Haunted Mansion.

As the son of an American Consul, Gracey grew up in various places and had to learn to entertain himself. He filled his days with “Popular Mechanics’ and the book set called “Boy Mechanic.” He also practiced magic.

Gracey had no formal training in special effects, but his curiosity often led to him building miniatures to see if he could get an effect to work. According to Bob Gurr (Kurtti, p. 72), Gracey was given the time and space to tinker without deadlines, and Walt was fine with whatever new thing Gracey invented.

Gracey projected the face of the Magic Mirror on everything in the room one day. It led to the development of the Madame Leota effect (Kurtti, p. 73). Gracey also put the Pepper’s Ghost effect to use in the Haunted Mansion to create the Ballroom scene. Gracey died under mysterious circumstances in 1983.

Gracey tried to do new things. He tinkered, and he followed his curiosity. You can do the same thing. Follow your curiosity and create something new.

Sources: “The Haunted Mansion: Imagineering a Disney Classic” by Jason Surrell.

Walt Disney’s Imagineering Legends and the Genesis of the Disney Theme Park” by Jeff Kurtti.

For more on creativity and the Haunted Mansion, get “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity” online or at the Candy Cane Inn in Anaheim.

For more on Disneyland and Creativity, order “Disneyland Is Creativity.” For deep thinking about the Disney Company, check out “Penguinate! The Disney Company.”

You can also find more articles about Disney, Disneyland and creativity at our archive website, www.penguinate.weebly.com, and on our blog. If you would like to get even more articles about creativity, join our Patreon and become a Penguinator.