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On the Shelf – Creating Epcot’s American Adventure


Building a Better Mouse

In the 1980’s, ground was broken for what was to become Walt Disney World’s second theme park. EPCOT Center, as it was known at the time would become the largest construction project. Employing over 10,000 construction workers from 18 unions, covering over 300 acres, and costing $1.4 billion, EPCOT’s construction was a once in a lifetime event. A completely unique theme park built on a surprisingly tight timeline, many guests do not realize that EPCOT Center’s creation was fraught with drama, disorganization, and labor disputes. This month’s book gives readers a chance to view Epcot like never before, from the eyes of two young Imagineering electrical engineers.

Written by Steve Alcorn and David Green, Building a Better Mouse: The Story of the Electronic Imagineers Who Designed Epcot, offers up a truly realistic summary of what it was like to work for Walt Disney Imagineering in the 1980’s. Beginning with the initial excitement of joining the Disney team to designing Epcot’s electronics and culminating with the incredible chaos surrounding the construction, Alcorn and Green excel at capturing a gritty reality. This is not to say that the book is full of negative Disney trashing and should be avoided at all costs. In fact, it is quite the opposite. True, events are not sugar coated or coated with pixie dust – but they are represented in such a conversational way that it is easy for the reader to empathize with the authors.

Alcorn and Green take readers on authentic journey of what it was like to design the highly sensitive electrical engineering for Epcot’s American Adventure pavilion. The majority of the detailed text is approachable, written in a relaxed tone. Thankfully, the material is not bogged down with technical jargon as I did become a little confused when the authors spoke about designing or installing electrical boxes, but that is due to my own naivety and not a fault of the authors. I learned a surprising amount of “inside” information and am still shocked by the utterly tumultuous construction site.

If you are interested in expanding your Epcot knowledge and looking for a read that gives you a “down in the trenches” view,  then Building a Better Mouse: The Story of the Electronic Imagineers Who Designed Epcot is the book for you. I guarantee you will never look at World Showcase the same again.


(Photo from author’s collection)


To learn more about Erin and read her recent posts for WDW Radio, visit her author page by clicking the link on her name at the top of this post.



About Lou Mongello

Lou Mongello is a former attorney who left the practice to pursue his passion, and is now a recognized Disney expert, author, speaker, and host of WDW Radio. Learn more…

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