Book Review: Going to Disneyland

Every so often, a book crosses your path that just blows you away, and this new “for kids” guide to Disneyland is one of those. From the moment the cover graces your eyes, you’ll be sucked in and fully convinced. But don’t take my word for it. Have a look:


My eye was drawn to the cute illustrations first, then to the eye-grabbing photos. After that amazement, I realized there was a hand-drawn monorail at the bottom, too, and around that point I realized the entire layout had a real expert’s hand at work.

This is just the start. There are 188 pages here, and my breath was taken away when I realized almost every page had an original illustration on it… and these were professional-quality illustrations. I’m tempted to invent a category here like “American Chibi” (Chibi being the Japanese style of overly simplified, unrealistically large features, and emphasis on cute). These illustrations do simplify, but they don’t exaggerate head size or super-large eyes. In fact, the eyes are just as likely as not to be screwed shut in a manner that suggests joy and happiness. It’s incredibly convincing. I’m tempted to predict that the author/illustrator, Shannon Willis Laskey, has fashioned for herself a “calling card” with this book that could get her hired by Disney or other studios. It’s that good.

And how is it as a guidebook? Pretty good, actually. It sets out to be something for an audience who otherwise has very little: kids themselves. The illustrations help, in a Small World kind of way, but the book is also an activity book, and it kind of shines in this regard as well. Here are SOME of the activities you’ll find:

  • character quote guessing game
  • be a movie critic to the Main Street cinema shorts (assign stars to your review)
  • scavenger hunt for the popcorn wagon dolls
  • Star Wars character quiz
  • Storybook Land boat names scrambled
  • costume quiz
  • autographs
  • scrapbook
  • and honestly dozens more

The book prides itself on offering tons of “fun facts” as you journey around Disneyland. As something of a Disney historian, I can verify that there aren’t any mistakes made that I could find. If I had any (mild) criticism of the book, it might be that these fun facts are probably a mismatch for the book’s audience. Kids young enough to want a costume quiz won’t care about Imagineers X Atencio and Bill Evans, and kids who DO care about remnants and tributes, the focus of books I’ve written too, won’t much find the layout ideal for them. But this is small potatoes in the larger scheme of things.

The reality is that this book is an absolute bargain at $23 (or even less sometimes at Amazon). Disclosure: I was sent a review copy, but I do not always offer such glowing praise, and I would happily recommend this purchase regardless.

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