Book Review: Poster Art of the Disney Parks

Through Disneyland, Walt Disney wanted to transport park visitors to a different era filled with joy and free from the harsh realities that daily life brings. To set the tone, he found attraction posters to be a gateway for children and adults to connect with happy memories of the past and fun-filled potential for the future. Although the process of screen printing to bring these posters to life was not cheap, Walt felt it was essential to give guests the full experience – combine the posters with the attractions themselves and those of all ages would find themselves immersed in their surroundings at all times, with little opportunity for the mind to wander away from enjoying “the happiest place on Earth.” Disney Editions has released “Poster Art of the Disney Parks” to celebrate that aspect of visiting the parks and it is without a doubt a must-have.

Written by Danny Handke and designed by Vanessa Hunt, the lavish 144-page book is filled with attraction posters from Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland. The hardcover is primarily divided like the parks, into various themed areas – Main Street, U.S.A., Adventureland, New Orleans Square and Liberty Square, Frontierland, Fantasyland, and Tomorrowland. Each chapter begins with text by Handke explaining the themed land and a look back at a selection of the notable posters created for its attractions. Given that this is a book focused on spotlighting posters, there is an ample amount of history provided before the text gives way to the art itself, which consists of almost 300 pieces.




Art by Paul Hartley (1966). Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.

The beautiful artwork is inspirational, for they are a vehicle into the design of the attraction, along with a view into the creative imagination of the artists. In a quote from the book, John Lasseter, Chief Creative Office of Pixar and Disney Animation and Walt Disney Imagineering Principal Creative Advisor, notes his fondness of the posters:

“The posters from Disneyland had such a huge impact on me as a kid. I can’t imagine Disneyland without them. Seeing them as you entered the Park – coming in though the outside gates, going into Main Street through the tunnel underneath the railroad tracks – built this tremendous sense of anticipation. You couldn’t wait to get in that Park and ride those rides.”

Art by Ken Chapman & Marc Davis (1969). Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.

In addition to Lasseter, it seems that the posters had a strong influence on other Pixar employees as well. Many at the studio are big Disneyland fans (the Emeryville campus is about a 6-7 hour drive from the Disney Resort) and have clearly been inspired by the Park’s posters over the past few decades. You can even spot an homage to the 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea attraction poster in the background of a scene in Monsters, Inc.:

©Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Art by Bjorn Aronson (1955). Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.

Additionally, Pixar artists have sometimes been recruited to develop poster concepts. The great Ralph Eggleston, who had been at Pixar since 1992 and went on to direct For The Birds (easily one of the animation house’s best shorts) designed the poster for 2007′s Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage at Disneyland:

Art by Ralph Eggleston (2007). Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved. (Photo by Loren Javier)

The book also includes an introduction by Imagineering Senior Vice President of Creative Development Tony Baxter and looks at the posters of recent additions to the Disney Parks roster, Tokyo DisneySea and Disney California Adventure. The posters created for Cars Land attractions perfectly encapsulate the rides and channel the rich history of the Disney Parks posters:

Art by Greg Maletic (2010). Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

“Poster Art of the Disney Parks” is an oversized book, so fitting it onto your bookshelf may be a challenging task. That will likely pose no problem to most, as you will want to leave this one on your coffee table, always within your reach. It will leave you in awe of the artwork filled with memories and inspiration and like Disney Parks, will have “you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy” (-Walt Disney).

Art by Collin Campbell (1967). Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.

“Poster Art of the Disney Parks” is now on sale only at Disneyland and Walt Disney World for the suggested retail price of $40. It will be available nationwide on September 4th. You can pre-order it from Amazon, which currently has it priced at $24.94.

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