by: Charles Ridgway
Disney Legend Charles Ridgway looks back on over forty years of working with the Mouse, from Disneyland, to Walt Disney World, to Euro-Disney and beyond. Filled with light-hearted and hilarious reminiscences of famous people and outlandish publicity stunts, this memoir will delight Disney fans young and old.
An official “Disney Legend,” newsman Charlie Ridgway started covering Disneyland before it opened. A few years later, he hired on as a publicist for Disney and spent the next forty years cooking up ways to get “the Mouse” free publicity. For Donald Duck’s fiftieth birthday he trained 50 white Peking ducks to waddle behind Donald down Main Street, U.S.A. He helped open new Disney parks in Orlando, Paris and Hong Kong. Along the way he rubbed shoulders with presidents and princes, helped usher in the era of electronic newsgathering, and was on a first-name basis with every great journalist of the last half of the twentieth century. In this engaging and light-hearted memoir, Ridgway shares the special magic that makes Disney’s world universally beloved. This paperback edition includes a new foreword by Rick Sylvain, the current head of PR for Walt Disney World and Charlie’s hand-picked successor.
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 exposé that’s a real crowd-pleaser.
Format: Hardcover – Used
Publisher: Intrepid Traveler, T.H.E.