cover image Spinning Disney's World: Memories of a Magic Kingdom Press Agent

Spinning Disney's World: Memories of a Magic Kingdom Press Agent

Charles Ridgway. Intrepid Traveler, $24.95 (240pp) ISBN 978-1-887140-67-6

Author Ridgway spent four decades pushing Disney on millions of consumers worldwide, and this collection of ""war stories"" from the front lines of perhaps the biggest marketing success in history brims with insider info, but without once betraying the Disney name. It's to Ridgway's credit that his fondness for his subject-he writes kindly of almost everyone he met and worked with-doesn't detract from the integrity or appeal of the material. Occasionally, Ridgway's admiration for Walt Disney dips into adoration, but it's a sentiment that feels genuine-even if it is echoed throughout the company as detailed here, despite its size, its power and (largely unmentioned) accounts to the contrary. Fascinating asides delve into the personalities that fueled Disney's dream, as well as the newspeople and celebrities involved in Ridgway's PR efforts. Among numerous charmers, Ridgway's best story chronicles the intense, hilarious effort to train 50 newborn ducklings to ""follow"" the Donald Duck character in a 50th Birthday Parade. Other tales include the orchestration of parades and VIP galas; the impetus, construction and opening of attractions at both parks (including Ridgway's accidental early outing of the ""Florida project""); and the arrival of Michael Eisner and Frank Wells. Entertaining throughout, Ridgway's prose is fluid and gentle, reflecting that sense of wholesome delight common to Disney creations, making this a rare behind-the-Mouse-ears expose that's a real crowd-pleaser.