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Recommended Reading – Disney Books that You Can Really Use!

I teach organizational communication at a state university. I am going to incorporate a section on Disney this coming semester. While it is nice to have books about Disney organizational culture, I would love to find some primary source info.

I have found the book “Be Our Guest” put out by the Disney Institute – but I want more if possible.

Is there any place/source to find training material, pamphlets, books, etc that cast members receive when they train?

I would especially love to know how to get my hands on the “Traditions” seminar material to show my students the picture Disney paints and the emphasis they place on their organizational culture.

Thanks in advance for any help you can offer.



Thank you for the question. As you may know, I am a Disney book addict and collector, and your question leads me to recommend some of the titles that I have truly enjoyed throughout the years. Many of these books are ones that I continue to refer to, and have read numerous times.

While Disney does not normally disseminate their propriety information and training materials, you might also want to try the Disney Institute (http://www.DisneyInstitute.com). There, they offer training classes using the entire Walt Disney World Resort as a living laboratory. You get to go into backstage areas of the Resort and learn from Disney leaders who share the Company’s business practices with your for use in daily life and business. Disney Institute programs provide a unique opportunity to “experience the business behind the magic” of Disney’s core business strengths: Leadership Development, Quality Service, Customer Loyalty, Organizational Creativity, and Teambuilding.

As far as recommended reading goes, I would suggest the following titles, all of which I have found valuable in different areas and concepts.

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The Imagineering Way: Ideas to Ignite Your Creativity (Hardcover) – Famed for making dreams come true, the Disney Imagineers are world renowned for their incomparable creativity and their ability to turn fanciful ideas into reality. How do they do this? By approaching all projects, problems, and questions with the knowledge that they will undoubtedly accomplish the task set before them. Now for the first time, the Imagineers offer a detailed look at their principles and processes that allow Disney to do what it does so well. Beyond paper and canvas, beyond wood, steel, and concrete, there is magic at the heart of every Imagineering project. In The Imagineering Way, the Imagineers reveal the secrets to creating an environment that fosters explosive creativity, with clear examples of how to adapt the most creative thinking in the world to your home and work life. The difference between the Imagineers and the rest of the world is that the Imagineers assume they can do what they dream.

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The Imagineering Workout: Exercises to Shape Your Creative Muscles (Paperback) – Interactive, ingenious, and practical exercises to stimulateyour imagination and inspire new ideas The Imagineering Workout will get your imagination into the best shape it’s ever been, with interactive, ingenious, and practical exercises that will stimulate and strengthen ideas, tone your creative muscles, and, most important, inspire new approaches.

This book is one of my personal favorites and is a great companion to The Imagineering Way – Lou Mongello

Book Cover Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind the Dreams Look At Making the Magic Real (Paperback) From Booklist

“Imagineering” is a coinage of the Disney corporation that denotes the combination of imagination and engineering it employs to create the attractions in its theme parks. This big, lavish artbook spans four decades of imagineering, from the relatively unsophisticated rides, such as Main Street U.S.A. and the Matterhorn, with which Disneyland opened in 1959, to the high-tech, special effects-inspired rides at Disney-MGM Studios (many concepts that never got off the drawing board also appear). It takes readers through the entire imagineering process, from original idea, through blueprints and scale models, to actual construction-all illustrated by hundreds of concept sketches, character designs, architectural drawings, and other artwork. It goes to show: the Disney crew puts impressive effort into providing simple fun for tourists. Chock-full of the behind-the-scenes info and trivia Disney fans love, the book is a fascinating display of state-of-the-art theme park development and stimulating incitement for Disney-bound vacationers who want more than travel guides will give them.

Book Cover The Disney Way (Hardcover) – “I dream, I test my dreams against my beliefs, I dare to take risks, and I execute my vision to make those dreams come true.” -Walt Disney. Walt Disney’s dreams, beliefs, and daring gave birth to captivating characters, thrilling theme park attractions, and breathtaking tales that have inspired the imaginations of generations of children and adults. Disney also launched an entertainment and marketing empire whose influence is felt around the world, and whose success provides a model of business excellence that can guide any company. Each principle is then examined in detail by illustrating the principle at work at Disney as well as at other successful companies. Capodagli and Jackson have spent their careers studying Disney and teaching this unique management method to others. As consultants to companies ranging from Illinois Power to Bristol-Myers Squibb and Whirlpool, they have used the Disney principles again and again, and have seen them yield startling performance improvements. They have distilled this wisdom in THE DISNEY WAY. In this book, you’ll learn how to: Give every member of your organization the chance to dream, and tap into the creativity those dreams embody; Treat your customers like guests; Build long-term relationships with key suppliers and partners; Dare to take calculated risks in order to bring innovative ideas to fruition; Align long-term vision with short-term execution. And more. No fairy dust. No magic wands. No wishing on a star. Just sound, effective management principles that stem from Walt Disney’s values, vision, and philosophy. Lists of questions to ask and actions to take, along with real-life examples, will help you adapt the Disney Way to suit your company’s needs. From the hiring and training of employees to the realization of a creative concept to exceptional customer service, every aspect of the Walt Disney Company is linked to Walt Disney’s vision.

Book Cover Inside the Magic Kingdom : Seven Keys to Disney’s Success (Hardcover) Now an insider takes you inside the incredible Disney service culture and presents simple, powerful concepts in a fun, memorable way. – From Booklist : Those who worry that corporations have become excessively big and powerful must still admit that firms such as McDonald’s, Wal-Mart, and Disney have got at least one thing right. They know how to keep the customer satisfied and coming back for more! Connellan, a senior principal in a consulting firm specializing in customer loyalty and coauthor of Sustaining Knock Your Socks Off Service (1993), holds up Disney in particular as exemplary. Here he re-creates a fictional visit to Disney’s Magic Kingdom to bring to life examples of the customer service concepts Disney practices. Connellan was neither encouraged nor authorized by Disney management to write this book, but he did attend a Disney University seminar in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, to learn more about the “Disney approach to leadership, people management, [and] service quality.” David Rouse

Book Cover BE OUR GUEST: Perfecting the art of customer service (Paperback) – Whether they are called clients, customers, constituents, or, in Disney-speak, guests, all organizations must best serve the people who purchase their products and services or risk losing them. Now, for the first time, one critical element of the methods behind the magic that is the Walt Disney World Resort-quality service-is revealed in Be Our Guest. Even before Tom Peters and Bob Waterman profiled Walt Disney World Resort in their groundbreaking book In Search of Excellence, the most popular resort destination in the world enjoyed a reputation as a company that sets the benchmark for best business practices. Be Our Guest outlines proven Disney principles and processes for helping your organization focus its vision and align its people and infrastructure into a cohesive strategy that delivers on the promise of exceptional customer service.

Book Cover How to Be Like Walt: Capturing the Disney Magic Every Day of Your Life (Paperback) – An inspiring biography of one of the most influential and beloved figures of the 21st century, based on more than a thousand interviews. “I’ve read every book that has ever been written about Walt Disney, going back to some that were published in the 1930s. [How to Be Like Walt] is by far the most enjoyable to read of them all!” Tim O’Day, Disney Scholar “How to Be Like Walt is a fitting tribute to Walt’s memory and an important contribution to the Disney legacy . . . Now more than ever, we need people with the qualities Walt had: optimism, imagination, creativity, leadership, integrity, courage, boldness, perseverance, commitment to excellence, reverence for the past, hope for tomorrow, and faith in God.” Art Linkletter How to Be Like is a “character biography” series: biographies that also draw out important lessons from the life of their subjects. In this new book-by far the most exhaustive in the series-Pat Williams tackles one of the most influential people in recent history. While many recent biographies of Walt Disney have reveled in the negative, this book takes an honest but positive look at the man behind the myth. For the first time, the book pulls together all the various strands of Disney’s life into one straightforward, easy-to-read tale of imagination, perseverance, and optimism. Far from a preachy or oppressive tome, this book scrapes away the minutiae to capture the true magic of a brilliant maverick. From the Inside Flap :”I´ve read every book that has ever been written about Walt Disney, going back to some that were published in the 1930s. [How to Be Like Walt] is by far the most enjoyable to read of them all!” -Tim O´Day, Disney Scholar… “How to Be Like Walt is a fitting tribute to Walt´s memory and an important contribution to the Disney legacy . . . Now more than ever, we need people with the qualities Walt had: optimism, imagination, creativity, leadership, integrity, courage, boldness, perseverance, commitment to excellence, reverence for the past, hope for tomorrow, and faith in God.” -Art Linkletter

Book Cover The Disney Way Fieldbook: How to Implement Walt Disney’s Vision of “Dream, Believe, Dare, Do” in Your Own Company (Paperback) – Business people around the world raved about The Disney Way and Fortune proclaimed it, “so useful you may whistle while you work.” Now, authors Bill Capodagli and Lynn Jackson are back to deliver a comprehensive, step-by-step implementation plan based on Walt Disney’s principles outlined in the best-selling The Disney Way . The Disney Way Fieldbook provides action plans for instilling Disney’s vision into any company, complete with diagnostic exercises, practice sessions, proven advice, and insightful questionnaires. Packed with universally applicable tools and techniques, the book also features inspiring quotes from Walt Disney himself and little known facts about his extraordinary empire.

Book Cover Disney Magic: Business Strategy You Can Use at Work and at Home (Paperback) – Walt Disney created cartoons, animated features and feature films, and his most successful venture was the creation of Disneyland. This book, by a Disney outsider, is an independent examination of Disney’s most powerful success secrets. It focuses on how Disney achieved financial success, and on the Disney company’s amazing management techniques. Use these methods at home or in your business.