Monday, December 7, 2015

Between Books - On the Disney Beat

On the Disney Beat: Over 30 years of Chronicling the People and Places in Walt’s World by Chuck Schmidt collects the author’s recollections of covering Disney as both a newspaper reporter and blogger.  Schmidt provides an overview of his journalistic career starting as a copy boy at the Staten Island Advance, a position on the bottom of the ladder which would eventually lead to positions as reporter and editor.  Serving as Sunday news editor, Schmidt decided to write travel features on Walt Disney World.  These articles would kick off meaningful relationships with Disney Legends including Charlie Ridgeway and Marty Sklar and executives such as Jay Rasulo.  On the Disney Beat is a result of these relationships and interactions with chapters including profiles and interviews of these and other Disney personalities such as Tony Baxter and Bob Gurr along with descriptions of press events that he attended.  The book also contains images of some of the items given to Schmidt at press events. 

For me that piece that I found the most interesting was the press events.  I had read about these events from the Disney side in Charlie Ridgeway’s memoir.  But here Schmidt takes us into these events on the side of the participant.  It becomes clear fast that these events took great care to pamper the attendees.  And it becomes equally clear that these events created a great amount of good will.  Schmidt takes us beyond the design of these publicity events to an understanding of their effectiveness.  We also get to know Ridgeway and his spirit through one who interacted with him, and with effectiveness of his personality shines outward.  

The other “star” of the book for me is Marty Sklar.  Sklar along with being a featured personality in the book also wrote the “Forward”.  Through Schmidt the reader gets to experience a growing relationship and friendship with the Disney Legend.  And it is clear that Schmidt has great respect for Sklar.  The Legend’s personality feels generous and fun-loving as the reader dives into the Sklar focused chapters.  

Another enjoyable account is how Schmidt came to learn of a shared connection with Rasulo.  This connection leads to an interview with the executive.  And one has to wonder if you could still setup an interview so easily with a high level company executive today.

On the Disney Beat is clear and easy to read.  It does provide a variety of topics with Schmidt’s passion for Disney being the heart of the book.  Personally, I would suggest picking up a Kindle copy just to save a few dollars.  And for me it is the kind of book that would be easy to read on a phone since one can easily drop in and out of chapters due to the variety. 

Chuck Schmidt in On the Disney Beat gives us a look into Disney publicity events as a participant.  And he details how he became a friendly with a number of Disney personalities.  In many ways readers will either be jealous of the adventure or follow along vicariously through Schmidt as he interacts with many of our heroes.  

Review Copy Provided by Theme Park Press  

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