The way John Hench introduces the challenges of designing each element of Disneyland is remarkably informative and humble at the same time He never comes across as a condescending know it all, and yet his expertise shines through walking through each element of the theme park, hitting on each of the highlights.
I find his teachings in character consistency , color emotion evocation , storytelling, and place milieu applicable not only to theme park creation, but also to my work in app development, user interfaces, character design, technical problem solving, and creative storytelling He teaches down to the details while staying general enough to transcend boundaries of profession and discipline He draws from familiar examples Mickey s characteristics, Disneyland rides like Space Mountain but shines a new light on them, showcasing their stories in the mold of challenges turning the 2D of animation into the 3D of walkaround park counterparts, and devising the proper settings in which to show each character At first, I thought the text was too dumbed down and basic to be enlightening, but as John Hench stringed together basic examples to concoct complicated solutions like his way of fitting buildings into Main Street, spewing water from a fountain, or breathing new life into a derelict theme restaurant I quickly realized that this was not a dumbing down it was well written simplicity, breaking a grueling task down into its understandable, applicable constituent parts and lessons It was a joy to read, and something I ll carry with me and recommend to colleagues for the rest of my life.
Great and informative, however, many areas seemed repetitive and not as in depth as the title suggested Fantastic nuanced stories from the early days of Disneyland Walt Disney World.
I actually haven t read it
Inspiring perspective re the methodology and process of imagineering, applicable elsewhere.
Artists can always profit from lessons delivered by the masters, and, often times, the lessons transcend the different artistic forms Musicians can learn from writers Painters can learn from architects Dancers can learn from sculptors As John Hench says in this book, The rules of art are the rules of life The things that make art work do so because art in all its forms is both a reflection and an expression of human experience Given all of that, plenty of books have been written about the Disney empire s business model This is the first I ve had the opportunity to read that has delved into what drives the creative side of one of Disney s greatest artists It s a peek behind the curtain with one of the men who went back almost to the very beginning If there was an authority on Disney s artistic design concepts both for animation and the amusement parks John Hench was probably it The book is not a long read, and it certainly left me wanting to know about the details of Disney artistic philosophy I would have welcomed depth, to be sure But there are some brilliant and thought provoking insights provided here that all artistically inclined people can learn from, such as genuinely appreciating liking your audience and doing your best to see things from their perspective Walt himself used to walk through Disneyland in disguise in order to interact directly with its attendees , the vital importance of paying attention to small details like proper period doorknobs cash registers to keep with the theme of attractions, shops restaurants , and the invaluable nature of trial and error experience like the 26 attempts at finding the right shade of pink for the castle in Disneyland Paris Hench is, as many masterful artists tend to be, somewhat enigmatic and ambiguous But, his insights and stories are well worth reading I came away with a new found understanding and respect for the attitudes and artistic worldview that created some of the world s most famous cultural icons, and any artist looking to glean a bit of inspiration can definitely find it here.
Which brings me to this book Amongst Disney Imagineers, John Hench had the most durability having served at Disney for an astonishing 65 years and was the one whose ambition and scope most resembled Walt Disney s own He s the one responsible for conceptualizing much of Disneyland s Tomorrowland original and 1967 remodel , the Enchanted Tiki Room and Main Street U.
A Beautiful achievements all, and all the impressive when one realizes the work encompasses architecture, signage, interior design, costumes and even the floors below guests feet The proof of this is displayed throughout the book in fabulous renderings that called to mind the work of Syd Mead.
The renderings are really what makes this book special Unfortunately the great imagery is offset with lousy, unprofessional looking fonts Hench s text itself co authored with Peggy Van Pelt is rather rudimentary and textbook like I would picture the ideal audience for this book as young would be Imagineers in their teens Despite those disappointments, there are a lot of great anecdotes in here I was especially fascinated with how Hench and his fellow Imagineers explored color possibilities for a hotel exterior in Disneyland Paris by factoring in the area s climate and lack of sunlight at various times of the day Tiny details like that are something that an ordinary theme park guest would never consider, but added together they complete the immersive experience All in a day s work for Mr Hench Scrubbles.
net review, May 9, 2010 As a Disney nerd, I m ashamed to admit I had not heard of John Hench prior to reading this book However, I now have a much greater appreciation for what a unique talent he is Probably the most enjoyable aspect of this book is its wealth of concept drawings created by Hench for various attractions at the parks Hench began as an animator, so his skills as a draftsman are very impressive But his concept drawings even go beyond that, they are absolutely full of life and creativity In addition to the drawings, Hench does an excellent job of explaining the thought process used for creating new attractions There are so many details in the Disney parks that most guests pick up only subconsciously But when Hench points out all these different facets, you can t help but admire the genius in it The design techniques he describes are valuable not only for theme park design, but for any creative industry Hench worked directly with Walt Disney from the creation of Disneyland onward His obvious admiration for the man still comes through in his writing And his stories of working with Walt are a pleasure to read.
Designing Disney Sets Into History And Puts Into Context The Extraordinary Contributions Of John Hench, Who, At The Age Of , Still Comes Into His Office At Imagineering Each Day His Principles Of Theme Park Design, Character Design, And Use Of Color Have Made Him A Legendary Figure, Not Only For Disney Fans But Also For Students And Aficionados Of Architecture, Engineering, And Design Designing Disney Reveals The Magic Behind John S Great Discoveries And Documents His Groundbreaking Work In Several Key Areas, Including The Values, Attitudes, Aesthetics, And Logic That Went Into The original Design Concepts For Disney Theme Parks Hench Details The Essence And Various Meanings Of Colors And How They Work In The Parks, And Lets The Reader In On How And Why Of The Disney Character S Inherent Popularity Their Timeless Human Traits, Archetypal Shapes And Gestures That Suggest Their Qualities Graphically, And Their Emotional Resonance In Our Lives While the book is peppered with insights, it s really, really, really incoherent I can t tell if it s because Hench is insane, or if it s because he s insecure about the points he s making, and therefore fluffs them up into Highfalutin Language.
At the beginning, for example, he states that the three basic components of themed design are Story, Character, and Color He never goes on to explain why he believes that Color is as important as Story, or why it s important than, say, Architecture After alluding to the significance of Color for most of the book, when he finally reaches the chapter where he explains how Color can be used as a language, it s full of insights like, Green reminds the audience of nature To me, the most revealing part of the book was the sentence, A line is a recording of action, which expresses the revelation of life Hench never qualifies its relevance to anything else in the book, and if you think about it for than three seconds, it doesn t make sense, but there s a poetry to it which can be rewarding, in and of itself.
I was excited for this book, because I m always interested in an Imagineer s view of the Disney Parks, and of course John Hench is one of the greats The book features amazing concept are of attractions past and present, along with many that were never built Sadly, the text is a jumbled mess.
The book is full of headings about the value of color and story , each followed by paragraph after paragraph of whimsical nonsense.
It would have been great to hear some stories from WED Enterprises and from the creation of iconic rides, or some real insights about Hench s approach to theme park design Sadly, there s almost none of those, and the book only earns a second star because of the great artwork.