This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Disneyland related Little Golden Books! Earlier this year we started the SAT 6 Book Club series with a look at Disney Parks related Little Golden Books. Today we are back with a look at even more Disney Parks related books, and these are all DISNEYLAND related! Let’s kick it off with…
# 6 -Santa Stops at Disneyland
We’ll start off with one of the most recent additions to the Disney Little Golden Book series, with Santa Stops at Disneyland being released in September 2022. This is one of the very few Disney Parks related Little Golden Books that is both written and illustrated by the same person. In a nice touch, the author Ethan Reed was also allowed to put a note in to his kids on the title page, another Disney Little Golden Books rarity.
The story of the book is pretty simple, on Christmas Eve every year, Santa Clause (along with the elves and reindeer) take a trip to Disneyland.
Santa and the gang arrive just as the fireworks explode above Sleeping Beauty Castle. After the day guests leave the park, Santa and all his helpers first help decorate the park, a much needed help thanks to the recently implement Cast Member hiring freeze.
Santa drops off some gifts to the abominable snowman in the icy caves of the Mattherhorn bobsleds.
Santa decorates the entire park, including elements of Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, and Frontierland. The book has a lot of nice small touches, like the train and giant skeleton in Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
Santa leaves gifts for all of the inhabitants of Disneyland, including the hippos of the world famous Jungle Cruise, Winnie the Pooh (who of course gets honey,) Chip & Dale, and Mickey Mouse & Pluto. Overall it’s pretty cute story and would love to see a similar one for Disney’s California Adventure.
# 5 – Walt Disney’s Disneyland On The Air
So now that we’ve seen the newest Disneyland related Little Golden Book, let’s check out the oldest one…and for that we’re going all the way back to 1955 – the year Disneyland opened – for Walt Disney’s Disneyland On The Air. The title page for this book is a little bit odd, as for the writing it says “told by Annie North Bedford.” What?! Also, the illustrations were by “the Walt Disney Studio.”
The book centers around Donald and Mickey heading to Disneyland for a live TV show. The show was being filmed at the Opera House on Main Street USA, the oldest building in all of Disneyland (it was used as a workshop as the park was being built).
On the first page we also got a small note commemorating this as the first ever book of any kind featuring Disneyland. If that’s true this is pretty dang cool.
A red carpet is out for Donald and Mickey, as they are dressed “to the nines” for this big event. Notice the “off model” Mickey in the poster in the background. The humans also resemble what current theme park artists use for people in modern day concept art.
Donald was upset that he didn’t have his own dressing room or “make-up man.” Donald also didn’t get a script for the show, and Mickey kept telling him all the seats on set were reserved for others like Goofy and Minnie. Donald’s seat was actually in another room behind a plant. At this point you could understand why he would be a bit upset. It reminded me of a time we went to Sanaa in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge: Kadani Village and – despite the restaurant being EMPTY – the hostess walked us all through the restaurant and sat us right next to a server station. Growing up in a family of servers, I will very rarely speak up in a restaurant and just take things as they come, but this was ridiculous. I politely asked if we could instead sit at any one of the empty tables overlooking the savannah (and animals) outside. To this day I still can’t believe Disney did that (although in their defense, maybe they read my Disney Food Hall of Shame article and were giving me their review of it).
So anyway, back to the story. Donald was upset he wasn’t given a part to play in the show so he improvised some characters of his own…
…including pitching the idea of drawings guns on Mickey. This page probably isn’t drawn in 2022.
The show went off without a hitch, with Donald fuming backstage. At the very end, Mickey told the audience they were having a special quiz and asked all the audience members to write on a slip of paper who they would like to see “next week.” Goofy and Horace Horsecollar (now there’s a Disney character you don’t see every day) tabulated the results.
The winner? Donald Duck, who for the first time in his life was speechless.
Mickey also teases “Disneyland, starring Donald Duck,” and guess which book ALSO came out in 1955? That’s right…
# 4 – Donald Duck in Disneyland
I’m not sure how many Disneyland Little Golden Books lead straight into the next one, but this is certainly rare air here. Another interesting title page of credits including the same “Told By Annie North Bedford” (exactly how we saw it written in On The Air), Pictures by the Walt Disney Studio (whereas On The Air had Illustrations), and an Adapted by Campbell Grant. I have no idea what any of this means. Adapted WHAT?!!!
Anyhoo, this story starts out with Donald and his three nephews visiting Disneyland. Unlike many of the Disney Parks Related Little Golden Books, almost no effort was put into making a realistic version of Main Street USA and stuff is just put wherever the artists want.
Donald and the nephews split up, as he wanted to ride the Disneyland Railroad but Huey, Dewey, and Louie wanted more thrill rides. Donald lost track of the kids because he was buying four tickets for the train. This is a great look back at the history of Disneyland as, at the time, you DID need to buy tickets and the Disneyland Railroad was a C-Ticket attraction. The train conductor convinced Donald to hop on the train and he would be able to track down his nephews as they circled the park.
The Disneyland Railroad car Donald boarded was also a faithful recreation of the the type of train car Disneyland was using at the time which CLEARLY did have the best way for guests to view the park. You can definitely see why this design was quickly changed and has morphed into the experience Disney provides today.
While on the train Donald could see his nephews enjoying attractions such as the world famous Jungle Cruise. I liked they did the drawing below featuring the iconic “backside of water” gag, but they don’t point it out in the script. A rare bit of subtlety in Little Golden Books. Although to be fair, during the early years of Disneyland the Jungle Cruise was pitched to guests as an earnest voyage of discovery, and wasn’t a humor based attraction until several years later with the beloved additions by Imagineer Marc Davis.
Dewey was on a riverboat circling the Rivers of America, while Huey and Louie were enjoying a stagecoach ride as they were being chased by “wild Indians.”
Now I know Disneyland had attractions where guests could ride horses in a Western environment and also had a stagecoach attraction, but I can say with almost 100% confidence there’s absolutely no way that this happened on the ride.
Let’s head on over to a much less problematic attraction, Casey Jr.’s Circus Train.
Donald discovers Louie has commandeered a flying boat from Peter Pan’s attraction and is now flying over Fantasyland. In theory, Louie is still in the Peter Pan attraction because he is heading towards Capt. Hook in Never Land, but Louie is also waving to Donald on the passing Disneyland Railroad. Whereas the other attractions had some creative liberties, at this point the book just said “We’ll do it live!!”
Donald sees Huey on Autopia, but there is no way these cars go up to 14 mph.
Eventually the nephews all came back to Donald and said they were ready to ride the train with him, but at that point Donald was exhausted from passing through so many “exciting” attractions and just wanted to take a break… in Tomorrowland.
# 3 – Disneyland Parade with Donald Duck
For our next book we are going back to 1971 with Disneyland Parade with Donald Duck. Unlike most of the Little Golden Book series, the title page of this book doesn’t credit a single author or artist.
This is as close as we get to a credit to any human behind the creation of this book. While this is rare for the Disney Little Golden Book series, it’s unfortunately pretty much the norm for Disney (and Universal) theme parks. While there are some well known Imagineers and members of Universal Creative, for the most part all the things we love in our favorite theme parks are completely uncredited.
The story involves Donald and his three nephews running a bit late for the Disneyland parade. To add to the problem, Donald isn’t sure what he will actually DO during the parade. He comes up with an idea… buy a whole bunch of balloons. “The biggest bunch of balloons in the world!” I have to say the art in this book is “ok” but the way they chose to color it is just next level bonkers. You can see how the coloring just stops cold when it gets close to a character on the page, and at times looks like a kid did it (although I’m sure it was an artistic choice.)
Donald went to multiple Cast Members selling balloons, and he finally bought one too many…
It was up to Mickey Mouse to figure out a way to get Donald Duck, and he reached out to Tinkerbell. It’s interesting to note that at this time Disney referred to the character as Tinkerbell and not Tinker Bell, as it is now. Also interesting is the fact that Tink was “rather cross” at Mickey for waking her up. This is most likely not something we would see if the book came out today.
Can you imagine?!
While Tinkerbell was popping one balloon at a time, Donald had his own VelociCoaster Osprey moment, with a bird making a nest on his duck bill. This tickled Donald, causing him to sneeze and let go of the balloons. Thankfully the Disneyland fire department was down below to break Donald’s fall.
On the ground, Donald discovered that the guests were happy just to see him in the parade and he didn’t need a “gimmick” after all. The book also closes with a lesson that is not one the Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products team would want people to learn today as they pitch the latest “collectible” like Disney Munchlings (no, I’m not bitter about the line of Tsum Tsums being dropped, why do you ask?)
# 2 – Mickey Mouse and the Missing Mousekeeters
Mickey Mouse and the Missing Mouseketeers came out in 1956 and this time the story was adapted by TWO people. Still have no idea what this means as it relates to Little Golden Book author credits, but it does remind me of watching a movie and seeing like a dozen writers listed.
Our story is based on an episode of the Mickey Mouse Club television show being filmed at Disneyland. Production trucks are on Main Street USA, and the Master of Ceremonies – Mickey Mouse – has his hands full trying to keep everything on schedule.
Mickey wanted to make sure everything was going okay around the park, so he stopped by several attractions including the world famous Jungle Cruise.
A quick stop in Frontierland. As you can see in the picture below, the Walt Disney Studio artist had a challenging time drawing Mickey’s head seen from the back, just like I did in my Soarin’ Over Skyplex piece of Burgan Fine Art.
I think it just looks WEIRD to have the classic Mickey Mouse head on a skinny neck. But looking at the Little Golden Book drawn by the Walt Disney Studio artists, maybe I was more on model than I thought.
Things are going good in Tomorrowland, and we even get a taste of @bioreconstruct aerial photos with a look down at Autopia.
All of a sudden Mickey discovers all the people in Fantasyland are inexplicable sleeping. This includes a moment from Peter Pan’s Flight that Would Not Be Drawn Today.
Mickey is in a panic. The TV show is about to start and both Minnie Mouse and the Mousekeeters are nowhere to be found. Turns out they are also fast asleep. The Disney Villains were all still awake, including Captain Hook and Malificent.
Turns out the Wicked Witch gave everyone poisoned apples to fall asleep, just like Snow White. Mickey convinced Maleficent to take a bite of an apple, causing her to fall asleep. Seeing a fellow villain being enchanted made the Wicked Witch give up on her plan, so she ran off. Mickey still had to wake everyone up, and the only way to do that would be to kiss them all with The Kiss of True Love.
Mickey saved the day and the TV show went on as planned.
# 1 – Little Man of Disneyland
The Little Man of Disneyland book came out in 1955, but was re-released in 2015 as part of Disneyland’s 60th anniversary. While Walt Disney’s Disneyland on the Air may be the first book featuring the Disneyland park, this book actually precedes it as it shows the park of Disneyland being built.
Our story beings with Patrick Begorra waking up on a fine morning and not realizing his life was about to change forever.
Patrick lived at the base of an orange tree, and uninvited visitors were arriving to tear down the entire orange grove. I believe this is very similar to the plot of James Cameron’s original Avatar film, except in this case it’s Donald, Goofy, Mickey, and Pluto who are the bad guys.
Mickey Mouse plays the first ever “Do You Know Who I Am?!” card, one played regular today by Tik Tok influencers, various “Karens” at customer service, and theme park bloggers.
Patrick is not happy that the orange grove is about to be destroyed, and wants to know what is replacing it. He is hoping for something noble, such as a school.
No, Mickey explains, it’s going to be a theme park. Patrick is okay with these plans, but under one condition: the lads allow him the opportunity to build himself a snug little house inside the park.
Mickey agrees to the deal, and Patrick watches the entire Disneyland theme park be built from the ground up.
Eventually Patrick’s own tree was uprooted (hopefully not for something like Flying Saucers) and the Little Man packed up all his stuff to find a new home.
The book closes with the following passage…
…and why this book is so great is because Patrick’s house STILL exists inside Disneyland. There’s a lot of debate right now of the “Disney Difference” and whether or not that term comes with a negative connotation at this point, but this book reminds you there was a time when that term meant something and why the Disney theme parks connected with people in a way no one has ever done before. This is true Disney “magic.”
So there you have it: The SATURDAY SIX Book Club: DISNEYLAND Related Little Golden Books! See you next weekend for the latest installment of the SATURDAY SIX, where we’ll look at something fun from the world of Disney and Universal. If you enjoyed yourself, be sure to check out the THEME PARK ENJOYMENT INDEX, giving a monthly recap of all the theme park news you need to know (and a lot more you don’t need to know, but we’re gonna tell you anyway). You can also follow Your Humble Author on Twitter (@derekburgan).
If you enjoyed this article, you will surely like the following:
Special Thanks to The Elite Brandon Glover, Digital Maestro Scott Walker, the bio-est of all reconstructs @bioreconstruct, Captain Cruiseline Scott Sanders of the world famous Disney Cruise Line Blog, my personal protege Hunter “Elvey” Underwood, artist @SonderQuest, the mighty maven of merchandise Hedgehog’s Corner, the SAT SIX Fun Squad of Parkscope Joe and “the Dadalorian” Nick, hot shot Michael Carelli, charter member of the Universal Four @Nitro230, the permit princess Alicia Stella, master cartographer Tommy Hawkins, and Hermione Granger’s tutor Megan Stump for their invaluable assistance with this article. Absolutely no help was added by SeaWorld Influencer @SuperWeenieHtJr. The SAT SIX is inspired each week by goofballs Aengus Mackenzie and LitemAndHyde and you Potterheads will enjoy Meg’s other blog work over at the Central Florida Slug Club.
Coming on the next SAT SIX Book Club…COMICS!
There has been a lot of great theme park related comic books that have come out recently, including those for the Star Wars: Galactic Star Cruiser, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, and WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure. Not exactly sure when, but when we come back with another edition of the SAT SIX Book Club we’ll be covering those books and more!