This is primarily a construction saga, albeit a highly readable one set in an anxious nation that didn’t know it needed Disneyland until Walt provided it ... No detail is too small for Snow ... therefore a disappointment that [Snow] includes only an alphabetical list of books and articles instead of endnotes, especially in a narrative full of reconstructed scenes that cries out for firmer sourcing ... Snow also includes remembrances of the Disneyland from his childhood that would be perfectly at home in an afterword, but he lodges them distractingly in the second chapter. And for a book, like many others of its historical genre, that purports to show how its subject 'changed the world,' he gives only brief treatment to the multiple criticisms of Disneyland and its effect on American life. Some of these attacks come from academic reactionaries, certainly, but the park’s social legacy calls for more conscientious treatment than three pages, which is significantly less attention than Snow gives to Walt’s extended haggle with television networks. Despite these minor shortcomings, the pacing is well-timed ... a worthy peek behind the drapes.
Disney’s Land is Snow’s exhaustively researched, jam-packed chronicle of how Walt Disney conceived and created a new kind of amusement park ... It’s an extremely entertaining story, if one occasionally crowded with an abundance of detail and minor characters. At times, the book’s narrative feels as if it’s in danger of being overrun by a swarm of midcentury white male engineers: Mad Men with slide rules. But this is part weakness, part charming; how else would readers learn about how carousel horses are made, or that the original Dumbo ride was meant to carry visitors in flying pink elephants, before that reference to drunkenness was squashed for not being too wholesome? ... More troubling are Disneyland’s (and Disney’s) politically incorrect elements ... One wishes for more authorial context, and even judgment, but Snow seems inclined to defend Disney on this score, quoting from PR fluff to make the case ... Too bad about the past, which remains vexing, and in this otherwise excellent book, imperfectly addressed.