Book Review: All Aboard

All Aboard:  The Wonderful World Of Disney Trains, by Dana Amendola

In reading this book I was made aware of something that I had not noticed or thought of before but which in retrospect seems obvious, and that is the importance of trains to Disney.  I must admit, speaking personally, that while I am by no means hostile to trains that I cannot really be called a huge fan of them.  I will ride them so long as they are an inexpensive travel offering but they are by no means fast (at least in the United States) and I am by no means romantic about train travel in the way that Disney is.  And I’m okay with that.  This book was certainly very informative in discussing the vital importance of trains to the Disney culture in a variety of ways, and that is something worth knowing about, but this book will likely be even more enjoyable for readers who are bigger fans of either trains or Disney than I am.  If you want detailed information about trains and how they relate to Disney’s operations on the broadest scale on several levels, this book does a great job at showing just how important trains were to Walt Disney and the company that he made.

This book is about 200 pages long and is divided into six chapters.  The foreword by John Lasseter and introduction show that the love of trains is deeply related to Disney culture and those who help to share it with the larger society.  After that the author spends some time about Walt Disney’s time on the railroad and how it shaped his view of the importance of networking with important people (1).  This leads to a look at the birth of Mickey Mouse and the importance of the train to the Disney ethos from the very beginning of Walt’s animation work (2).  The next and largest section shows trains in Disney films, and demonstrates that trains were so important to a wide variety of Disney works and Pixar films including such classics as Victory Through Air Power and the Aristocats as well as more forgotten films like Planes and even flops like the live-action version of The Lone Ranger (3).  After that the author talks about the passion for trains that was shared by four important Disney figures (4), the not-so-hidden secrets of Disney trains, including the trains used in the various Disney parks (5), and a very brief discussion of trains in the American vernacular (6).  After that the book ends with an index and acknowledgements.

What is it that made Walt Disney and so many of the people who succeeded him at his company so passionate about trains?  I must admit that I am by no means romantic about trains, but a large part of that is because trains are so narrow and constricting in their infrastructure.  One can fly anywhere there is open air, can walk anywhere there is ground one can pass over, can ride a horse or donkey over the same, or swim anywhere there is water, or travel in a boat anywhere the depth of the water is sufficient for the boat one is on.  But one can only go by train where rails have been built, and railways have always been a sort of infrastructure that has most often benefited corrupt monopolies and oligopolies like Disney it must be admitted.  My own interest in freer and less constricting means of transportation means that trains are something I rarely appreciate given that they only rarely serve my own personal interests.  That does not make me hostile to trains, but it does mean that the appeal to trains for Disney is something that I can understand but do not share.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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