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MouseStation 31 - Neal Gabler talks about Walt Disney

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Run time 0:43:26

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This week's feature has Steven Ng talking with Neal Gabler, author of Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination, about Walt Disney. Also, David Koenig talks about his new book, Realityland: True-Life Adventures at Walt Disney World.


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Steven chatted with MousePlanet columnist David Koenig, who talked about his latest book, Realityland: True-Life Adventures at Walt Disney World, which will be officially released on October 1, though preview copies were available at this past weekend's NFFC convention in Anaheim. David talked about some of the key decisions leading to the creation of the Reedy Creek Improvement District and the decision to go ahead with Epcot.

Mark and Mike are both looking forward to reading the book, especially after talking with David while he was still working on writing the book.

Next, Steven was able to talk with Neal Gabler, author of Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination, about Walt Disney. The book is 663 pages of text with 200 pages of annotations, but it reads as if it's much shorter.

Gabler had unprecedented access to the Disney Archives, and read every document that Walt ever wrote, in addition to interviewing many who knew Walt. He approached the book with an attempt to be completely even-handed in his portrayal of Walt. He wanted his focus to be on the man who changed the way that we think about the world.

Gabler holds that Walt Disney made people think that they had the power to control their world. While there is much beyond our control in the world, Disney showed that there we could exert control over certain parts of our world, especially inside his theme parks.

Walt showed remarkable resilience when he suffered failure early in his life, and bounced back from those hard times to create the entertainment empire that endures to this day.

Gabler talked about the differences in how the Disney studio approached things under Walt as opposed to the other studios of the time. He talked about how Walt would get frustrated when control was somewhat taken from him by investors concerned about their money and would change his focus to another area where he could have more freedom to create without oversight. Over time, Walt's focus shifted from animation to Disneyland to EPCOT.

Today's Epcot theme park barely has a passing resemblance to the city of EPCOT that Walt wanted to build. Gabler described some of what Walt was trying to accomplish with the city, and how he planned to address some of the problems that he saw in urban life.

When Walt died, the company realy had nobody that could fill his shoes, and it fell into a "What Would Walt Do?" mentality. Gabler talked a little about what happened to the company after his death.

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Thanks to our audio engineer and sound editor Steven Ng.

Special thanks to Kim Petersen, NFFC Vice President, Public Relations.

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The MouseStation crew (@MouseStation) currently consists of Mark Goldhaber (@MPMark) and Mike Demopoulos (@MPMike).