Travels with Walt Disney: A Photographic Voyage around the World – Jeff Kurtti (Disney Editions)

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Mark Twain famously said that travel was fatal to narrow mindedness and believed that if a person didn’t venture beyond, or dream about the world outside of, the confines of their birthplace during their lifetime, then they would remain ignorant to the beauty and possibility offered by the world.  This idea almost certainly gave rise to the adage about travel broadening the mind, and it was a view that Walt Disney also whole heartedly believed in and he spent both a huge swathe of his professional, and what little time he could spare in his personal, life crossing the States of his home country and the oceans and skies of the world to see, and experience for himself, what lay just beyond the horizon and learn all he could about people, places and everything in between. Like Twain before him, Disney was a visionary whose limitless imagination and creativity was further inspired by the journeys he undertook during his life.

And in Travels With Walt Disney, noted and acclaimed Disney historian Jeff Kurtti successfully explores and charts, through a collection of initimate and otherwise photographs that cover the entirety of Walt Disney’s life and a narrative explanation of their relevance and importance, the effect and impact that his adventures, expeditions and journeys had on Disney, his work  and his family. From his earliest days in Marceline that helped to forge his passion for trains, to the fateful trip that led to the creation of Mickey Mouse, his fundamental involvement with the Winter Olympics of 1960 and his international voyages to film sets near and far, Travels With Walt Disney paints a faith, affectionate and incredibly engaging and revealing picture of a man who was constantly looking to push his intellectual boundaries further by getting to know, and coming to appreciate, all that he possibly could. 

Kurtti’s prose is inviting and interesting and his usage of brief and revealing accounts of Walt Disney from the people who knew him best help to illustrate the setting, time and place of each chapter of Disney’s travels. But the real power of this book lies in the copious and beguiling collection of photographs that litter its pages. It’s here, in these images of a life well lived and spent, that Disney’s evolution as an individual following his own path is captured, as the boy he was eventually becomes the man who was destined to change the world.  It would seem that Mark Twain was right about travel, and that it helped to shape Walt Disney and transform the way he saw everything, and in doing so honed his legacy and vision for, and of, the future. Keep a space on your Disney shelf free; you’re going to need it for this incredible book. Tim Cundle

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