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Every Guest is a Hero: Disney's Theme Parks and the Magic of Mythic Storytelling

General Information:

Media Type: Book
Type: Other
Release Date: 2013-11-22

Geek's Thoughts: All disneygeeks have heard the Imagineering mantra that its story, story, story when it comes to Disney Parks and attractions. But what does this mean? On the surface it means there is a history to the space, attraction, park that puts it in context. But if you delve deeper what is it that makes these attractions instantly understandable at a subconscious level and keeps us coming back for more? In Every Guest is a Hero, Adam Berger takes us on an in-depth analysis by exploring mythic storytelling and how it is utilized by Imagineers in their craft. At the heart of his analysis is the Hero’s Journey as described by mythologist Joseph Campbell. If that name sounds family he is most famous for the phrase “Follow your bliss”. The hero’s journey can be boiled down to four phases Separation, Descent, Ordeal, and Return and these are all hard wired into all of us.


The first part of the book is almost academic in nature. The thesis is laid out in several chapters and supported with examples from Disney parks around the world and from many periods in the company’s history. These range from contemporary examples such as the Be Our Guest restaurant and Mystic Manor to early Disneyland Jungle Cruise and Peter Pan. Each phase of the journey as well as related mythic storytelling structures are examined.

The second part of the book takes an in depth look at ten attractions from Disney parks applying what we learned in the first part. The attractions covered are: Mission: SPACE, Pirate of the Caribbean, Expedition Everest, Journey of the Little Mermaid, Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Radiator Springs Racers, Splash Mountain, Toy Story Midway Mania!, Test Track, and the Haunted Mansion

If you are like me and always looking for more information and insight into Disney attractions you will find this book a worthwhile read. Adam presents a strong thesis that is well documented and it is sure to help you think about Disney attractions in another way/on another level. While the first part of the book borders on being academic (especially to an engineer like myself), understanding the journey has a payoff when it comes time to walk through the example attractions that were selected. If you are looking for more a nuts and bolts how attractions are made or what the attractions are this is not the book for you.

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