REVIEW: Imagineer Kevin Rafferty Wows with Autobiography “Magic Journey”

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You probably don’t know the name Kevin Rafferty, but you’ve experienced his work. An Imagineer with forty years at Disney, Rafferty has conceived of or worked on such theme park favorites as the Tower of Terror, Cars Land, Typhoon Lagoon, MuppetVison 3D, and Mickey’s Philharmagic, but now he’s produced something a little different – an autobiography.

“Magic Journey: My Fantastical Walt Disney Imagineering Career” is a brilliant look at the Disney theme parks from the mid-1970’s to the opening of Cars Land through one man’s eyes. Ever the show writer, Rafferty spins a yarn chock full of good humor and just like a great theme park ride, his stories take you down paths you can hardly believe. And what a ride it is!

Steve Kirk and Kevin Rafferty work on Tony Solaroni

Leaving seminary school in 1974, Kevin washed dishes at Disneyland, served at Club 33 and then acted as a go-for at WED to Imagineering legends such as Marc Davies and Harper Goff. That’s just the first 40 pages, and he’s not even an Imagineer yet!

Rafferty is also refreshingly candid about his personal creative journey and the inner-workings of ride development. With insight you might not expect from a book officially published through Disney, he not only covers the popular attractions, but digs deep into never realized ideas, like “Dick Tracy’s Crimestoppers,” and missteps such as “Enchanted Tiki Room: Under New Management.”

Kevin Rafferty chats with Mr. Potato Head himself, the late great Don Rickles.

And in no way does Rafferty hold the reader at arm’s length. This is an intimate look at a creative life with all the sweaty pitch meetings, water cooler musings, and long work nights laid out to bear. The book is better for it. The origins of famous attractions are certainly interesting, but Rafferty gives us a broader look of the hard work and determination it takes to get to opening day.

Find “Magic Journey” at Amazon, Disney Books, or Books-A-Million.

Note: A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

About the author

Nathan Hartman

A sunshine state resident, Nathan is an avid Disney parks wonk as well as a university film professor.

Twitter: @somestuffisaid

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