Dream It! Do It! by Martin Sklar – book review

Dream It! Do It! (The People, The Places, The Projects): My Half-Century Creating Disney's Magic KingdomsDream It! Do It! (The People, The Places, The Projects): My Half-Century Creating Disney’s Magic Kingdoms by Martin Sklar

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As I’ve not spent too much time on the history of the Disney world (deliberate lower case), I have no idea how much of this is new, but it is an interesting memoir collecting a few inside stories from Sklar’s 54 years with Disney. A bit non-linear at times (jumping from Disney World to Disneyland to the 1964-65 World’s Fair and in and out and back and forth), a reader can get a little idea as to late-Disney, post-Disney, Eisner, et al and the task of building an empire. A few nuggets:

– Walt was not a boss who wanted a “yes” at all costs. He just didn’t like “no.”

– “Marc [Davis, animator, on a storyboard for a park show],” Walt said, “I have a whole floor of finance people and accountants upstairs who are going to tell me what the cheapest way to do something is. What I pay you for is to tell me the best way!”

– [Walt, on his vision] The way I see it, Disneyland will never be finished. It’s something we can keep developing and adding to. A motion picture is different. Once it’s wrapped up and sent out for processing, we’re through with it. If there are things that could be improved, we can’t do anything about them anymore. I’ve always wanted to work on something alive, something that keeps growing. We’ve got that in Disneyland.

– [From an early Florida press conference, and the future Walt Disney World and EPCoT] “I would like to create new things…you hate to repeat yourself…I don’t like to make sequels to my pictures. I like to take a new thing and develop something…a new concept.”

– Michael Eisner (3/3/88): “We are committed to acting as though we know what we are doing”

– Marty Sklar to his team (7/6/87): “Remember: every day is the only day many of our guests will ever visit one of our parks!”

On top of the insider access value to aficionados my takeaways are the first ten of “Mickey’s Commandments” that Sklar assembled for his Imagineers, yet with universal applicability:

1. Know your audience: Identify the prime audience for your attraction or show before you begin design.

2. Wear your guests’ shoes: Insist that your team members experience your creation just the way guests do it.

3. Organize the flow of people and ideas: Make sure there is a logic and sequence in your stories and in the way guests experience them.

4. Create a wienie (visual magnet): Create visual “targets” that will lead visitors clearly and logically through your facility. [read the book…you’ll see what he means]

5. Communicate with visual literacy: Make good use of color, shape, form, texture—all the nonverbal ways of communication.

6. Avoid overload—create turn-ons: Resist the temptation to overload your audience with too much information and too many objects.

7. Tell one story at a time: Stick to the story line; good stories are clear, logical, and consistent.

8. Avoid contradictions—maintain identity: Details in design or content that contradict one another confuse an audience about your story or the time period it takes place in.

9. For every ounce of treatment, provide a ton of treat: In our business, Walt Disney said, you can educate people—but don’t tell them you’re doing it! Make it fun!

10. Keep it up! (maintain it): In a Disney park or resort, everything must work. Poor maintenance is poor show!

Sklar added thirty more Mickey commandments that are just as good, but you can read the book for those…

A nice read.

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