Spinning Disney’s World: Memories of a Magic Kingdom Press Agent
By Charles Ridgway
With a love of Disney history and a want to learn more about the behind-the-scenes of Disney, I was very enthusiastic about picking up Charles Ridgway’s book. Ridgway, who I am lucky enough to write alongside for the Disney Dispatch (Click to see his articles), worked for several decades in the Public Relations department for the Disney Company and wow does he have stories to share!
He first tells about his time as a reporter for newspapers in California and his experience covering the opening of Disneyland. Readers then find out how Charlie went about getting his position within Disney’s public relations office and all of the challenges faced within the business. We follow him from his early days in Disneyland, through his Florida move and work at Walt Disney World and Disneyland Paris, all the way up to his Media Guide writing for Tokyo Disneyland and his retirement.
The layout of this book is really casual and almost conversational in tone, which at times can make you feel like Charlie is jumping from topic to topic, but he has a knack for bringing it around full circle by the end of the chapter. The book is broken up into chapters, but each chapter just flows so well that, before you know it, you have read four chapters without even realizing it!
The historical details in this book are seen from a perspective not usually witnessed by everyday people, which brings out the uniqueness of this book even more. Witness the opening day of Disneyland from the perspective of an optimistic journalist, walk down Main Street of construction-heavy Walt Disney World without getting your shoes muddy (like Charlie did) and learn about the opening of EuroDisney from the perspective of the media.
When Charlie talks about his times working with Walt Disney, the reader almost feels like they are in the moment with them. Reading this book, I felt like I knew Walt personally and was sitting down, reminiscing with Charlie about working with him, even though I was not even thought of during the lifetime of Walt. I just love the way that Charlie can grab your attention and relive moments in time with you, making you feel like you were there. The amount of detail given helps the reader to paint a vivid picture of the events.
This book not only entertained and informed me, but it even made me change my way of thinking. No longer will I refer to Disney parks as “theme parks” after a comment that Charlie made in his book that really hit home for me. There are even some well-known names and ideas in the parks that were created, sometimes out of the blue, by Charlie himself, which may surprise readers. Charlie is not only a Disney employee, but he is a Disney fan, and that is what makes all of the difference.
This book was an absolute joy to read, I loved it from cover to cover and would suggest it to anyone who has a passion for Disney and a love of learning. To purchase this book, you can visit amazon.com or the publisher’s site, Intrepid Traveler.
I would like to close this post out with a thank you, a thank you to Charlie. Thank you for sharing your passion, knowledge and general love of Disney with all of us fans, we are forever grateful for what you have shared!