Jack Lindquist within In Service to the Mouse: My Unexpected Journey to Becoming Disneyland’s First President shares experiences from his 38 years of marketing and leading Disney parks. The book chronicles his experiences from the opening day of Disneyland (as a guest), an entry level employee, his various roles marketing Disneyland and eventually being named the first President of Disneyland in 1990. The book consists of five sections that represent different periods of Lindquist’s Disney career. Within each division are chapters consisting of two to eight pages focusing around one theme or in some cases one anecdote.
This memoir shares the tales of a Disney legend and treasure. Lindquist represents part of a group that remembers Walt Disney the person and helps link the parks and movies under the Disney brand to the man and innovator. Personally I love reading these sort of memoirs. As Lindquist notes his time for remembering is getting shorter daily and I love that these stories are being collected so my children and their children may better know Walt Disney the man and the men who helped create the initial magic of Disneyland. The chapters are short and easy to read. They benefit from chapter titles and editing that keeps each chapter focused around that title. In many ways the text is very similar to Charles Ridgeway’s Spinning Disney’s World in the sort of stories told, in fact both men mention each other and have some overlapping memories. But In Service to the Mouse benefits from better organization. Lindquist is very honest about successes and failures. For example he notes his personal belief that a second park needed to be opened in California but adds that Disney’s California Adventure Park was a failure and why. He also laments bad choices in merchandising and pricing while also adding that while the Michael Eisner and Frank Wells regime repeatedly raised park prices it was due to the undervaluing of Disneyland tickets in the years before they joined the company.
I really enjoyed this memoir. It provides insight into key historical moments in Disney history while also sharing humorous stories that Lindquist experienced. Personally I loved Lindquist’s stories around discussions with foreign nations about sponsoring Epcot World Showcase Pavilions filled with misunderstandings and government politics, his interactions with Michael Eisner and Lindquist’s role with acquiring the Anaheim Angels for Disney. The memoir made me nostalgic for a Disneyland that I never visited, lamenting the loss of the Juniors pricing category as I prepare to pay adult prices for a child on future visits (allow me to step off my soap box now). Lindquist successfully gives life to a Walt Disney I never met, a Disneyland I never visited and a Mickey Mouse that Lindquist gave over 38 years of his life to serve.
Postscript: Typically I would not comment on customer service. However, I cannot ignore my experience purchasing In Service to the Mouse. Instead of purchasing the book from Amazon.com or another retailer I chose to buy the book directly from http://www.inservicetothemouse.com/ due to the opportunity to buy an autographed copy for my collection at a reasonable price. I was quite surprised a few hours after ordering to receive an email with a $5 refund. I was told in the accompanying note that in a few days that they were launching a holiday sale and they were allowing me to purchase the book at the discounted price. Honestly, I was fully prepared to pay the full price of my original purchase and would not have been angered by seeing a discount a few days later. But the small refund gave me an example of the type of magic Mr. Lindquist spent 38 years creating.