As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a Disney collector but a low-key one. I don’t have room for big collections so anything like plush or pins or snowglobes or even cels is out. I do have a few here and there but they are in no way a collection. No, my collection is more about music and books and even in those areas I’m a little picky. I only have CDs with either original movie soundtracks or theme park music (no contemporary collections, no re-recordings, no random compilations). I like to say that this keeps my collection specialized but what it really does is keep it manageable: I only buy maybe two or three CDs a year!
The music collection, however, is a new pursuit for me – what I’ve been collecting for a lot longer are Disney books. Like with the music, I have set up boundaries though so I focus on the non-fiction books: biographies, company history, business books, that sort of stuff. But I also have a lot of those gorgeous souvenir books, beautiful volumes full of photos and usually hardbound. I always try to buy a theme park one when I’m there (so I only have the souvenir books of the years I’ve visited a park) but I’ve recently started purchasing older books, mainly focusing on WDW.
There is something very interesting about looking through what is basically a glorified travel brochure but while getting the feeling of travelling back in time. One of my favourite books has a lot of photos of Horizons and whenever I see those I can still hear the beautiful score of the now-defunct attraction in my mind. These books bring back to life a World that sometimes no longer exists, except in my memories.
Recently, when I went through those old boxes in the loft I stumbled across what is perhaps one of my most cherished of those old souvenir books: The ‘It’s a Small World’ souvenir pictorial. I don’t remember purchasing it, as it is dated 1974 and I was only 3 years old at the time, so my parents must have bought it. It features the attraction as it is in Disneyland (not WDW) and it is filled with beautiful photos, amazing backstage facts and a lot of useful background information. There are even photos of Walt in there, for the opening ceremonies of IASW!
I remember having this book for ever, basically and even though at times I thought that it was a bit old and perhaps I should throw it away, I never did. I must have read it a bout a million times and I loved looking through the pictures, imagining what it must be like to work as one of the imagineers that built the attraction or even as one of those people present in the opening ceremonies. I can safely say that this was my first Disney book, my first collectible and my first brush with the company that would become my obsession and (briefly) my employer in the coming years.
It is quite telling that this book was among my prized papers, like journals and scrapbooks, as opposed to my books because when I moved to the UK it was more of a part of my personal treasures rather than my collectibles. When I found it up in the loft, in the box among my personal stuff, I decided that it was time that this piece took its place among my other Disney books. I then took a chance to look through it for what must have been the one-millionth-and-one time and, once again, was transported back in time – not just to the time when the book was published, but to the days when I was younger and would spend hours lovingly looking through this book.
However many books I buy none will ever be as special as this one is for me – my very first brush with Disney greatness.