Walking through Disneyland, you’ll spot cast members dressed up as cowboys in Frontierland, jungle explorers in Adventureland, and small-town shopkeepers on Main Street. But, back when the park first opened in 1955, the employees weren’t pretending. These were true-to-life characters, hand-picked for their amazing backgrounds.
Now for the first time you can get to know these fascinating personalities in a new coffee-table book, “The 55ers: The Pioneers Who Settled Disneyland” by David Koenig.
You’ll meet close to 700 Year One cast members from every department in the park, including:
• Disneyland’s notorious first general manager C.V. Wood and his “Texas mafia”
• Vesey Walker, the bristly conductor of the Disneyland Band and the 16 often-crazy musicians who followed him,
• The always-too-serious Marshal Lucky and his never-serious-enough nemesis, the villainous Black Bart,
• The adorable sweeper Trinidad,
• K-7 the Kaiser Spaceman,
• The original Jungle Cruise skippers,
• The Merlin’s Magic Shop magicians,
• The Puffin’s bakers,
• The Hobbyland model airplane flyers
• The Golden Horseshoe can-can dancers,
• Plus the very first nurses, security officers, firemen, wranglers, ticket sellers, newsboys, switchboard operators, ride operators, and many, many more.
The book features hundreds of never-before-published images, most of them provided by the original Disneylanders themselves. The candid photos provide peeks inside a number of long-vanished areas of the park, including the Sunny-View Jams & Jellies shop, the Plantation House chicken restaurant, and the Adventureland Bazaar.
The book is nearly 300 glossy, black-and-white pages, oversized at 8.5 by 11. The full-color dust jacket features original art by renowned animator Mike Peraza.
“The 55ers” is a true labor of love and gratitude, to recognize those trailblazers who first called Disneyland their home. According to David Koenig, author of Mouse Tales and Realityland, “Over the past 30 years, more than 1,000 Disney cast members have shared their wild anecdotes with me for my books and articles. What it took years for me to realize was that the cast members themselves were the best stories of all.”
Sadly, many of these first-year cast members have since passed. And a number of them had never been interviewed about their life at Disneyland before or since. David's desire was that this incredible group of people not go unrecognized or forgotten. Now you can help make this dream a reality and become one of the first to receive an autographed first-edition of “The 55ers.”
Please be a part of our pre-publication sale. It will help us gauge overall demand for the book and, ideally, be so successful that we can justify a large first print run. This would reduce our per-unit production cost to a level that will enable us to sell it at a retail price of $55. Which would be really cool. To thank backers and achieve our goals even quicker, we’ve added some heavily-discounted packages.
And, as the campaign takes off, we will be announcing additional “Stretch Goals” to reward our backers:
$12,055 – Minimum level to fund the campaign.
$20,055 – End sheets. This level will allow us to add printed end sheets featuring even more Disneyland images from 1955
$50,055 – To be announced...
Risks and challenges
No risks, only rewards!
Printing art book-quality is expensive. Really expensive. So we want to make sure we’re not printing way too many copies (or way too few). This KickStarter campaign will help us gauge interest so we can accurately forecast the size of the first print run.
No matter the level of success of the campaign, the book will be published on its announced schedule—the only unknown will be the retail price. We would love to be able to price the book at $55 each for everyone, which would require this campaign to be wildly successful.
If demand is lower, we will print fewer, at a higher per-unit cost and, consequently, a higher retail price.
- (30 days)