Audioburst Search

S2E20: A Squalid, Catchpenny Business: The Origins of Disney Land with Richard F. Snow


This is what's ahead and I'm Steve Forbes. This week's episode is a little different than usual. And that's because I have a very special treat to share with you. It's a clip from another Forbes. PODCAST called listed. I did a show hosted by to sharpen humorous Forbes reporters by the names of a brown and Maggie McGrath. Abe and Maggie invited me you to join them for a special many so back in December. And I'm going to play a part of our conversation for you so you can get a taste of their whip smart irreverend reverend commentary on the Forbes List makers or in my case non list makers but I. I hope you'll enjoy listening to my interview with a special. I show guest someone who's worked with Forbes three years before he retired Richard Snow. Richard Snow is the former editor in chief of American heritage which we own for decades that gauge an author of several books. We're going to talk about his. Most recent one called Disney's Land Walt Disney and the invention of the Amusement Museum Park that changed the world. People don't realize that back in the early nineteen fifties US parks had terrible reputations in America. They they were filthy. The games were rigged. They cheated people. Hardly anyone wanted to go there and when you left you had lousy food allows the experience people thought Disney was crazy. But what this book describes how Disney conceived of the Modern Amusement Park. All the rides in that first Disneyland were invented by Disney. Virtually all of them. He laid out the park in a very careful way. Each page of this well written book will have you scratching your head. How could one man be so creative and tenacious? Every step of the way critics fought him and by the time the park opened open in the summer of nineteen fifty five Disney itself was on the verge of Financial Ruin Walt Disney had even borrowed money from one of his executives to help keep this project going and get it. Launched in the launch itself was something of a disaster nonetheless Walt Disney shows the road or the entrepreneur is never smooth one but by Golly when he ultimately succeeds all of us this includes billions of people around the world benefit benefit from it. Our special guest today is Richard Snow. Richard Welcome here. Thank you Steve. Richard Snow has one of the best books. Folks that came out of two thousand nineteen going into twenty twenty. It's called Disney's land. Walt Disney and the invention of the amusement park that changed the world. These Days Museum of Parks Everywhere Disney itself as parks at six sites. We take them for granted but Richards. Delightful well-written fascinating book shows. How radical the original Disneyland was? We utterly under appreciate the scope and scale of Walt Disney's breathtakingly ambitious and innovative vade of creation. Only dog genius could have done it. Not only Disneyland. Set off enormous changes in entertainment also affected positively ositive Louis the manners culture and in recent years even the architecture of the nation Richard snows uniquely qualified to tell this amazing and inspiring aspiring tail. He's written a number of highly acclaimed and award winning books on various aspects of American history as well as hundreds of articles is penned historical. Gl novels he did a screenplay about Coney Island for PBS documentary and even penned a narrative poem he was the longtime editor of the economy like American Heritage magazine which Forbes owned for some thirty years. You'll find this distinctive writing style witty and formative and wonderfully readable. He has CNO. He knows how to turn a phrase Richard. Let's begin by having you describing youthful visited Disneyland and it's powerful impact on you particularly leap mainstream. Oh yes indeed I was I was Born in one thousand nine hundred forty seven so I was kind of the great year for I. I think. A high watermark Western civilization and. I was So I was the prime target for Disney. During the long run up to the opening opening the park he sold. ABC Show which he didn't call the wonderful world of Disney or an hour with Walt. He called hold it simply Disneyland and it was basically You know you get ten minutes of Donald Duck and then forty minutes of what. We're playing advertisements for this park. That was taking shape and it had just the hypnotic influence on me that the parents in those years were wearing during television was having on their children. I never missed a show and I when I was Twelve I wiggled my parents in the sending me out to the West Coast where my and local lived and they took me to Disneyland in Nineteen fifty nine and certainly had high expectations of they were met and surpassed the they gave me a wonderful day. There I had the run of the whole park as one of the things about Disneyland is his parents could trust leaving their kill kids on the loose. That was very much part of Disney's plan. He wanted he wanted kids to be able to roam free and just as important important. He wanted adults to enjoy themselves. And at one point he said I think more adults are gonNA come here then children and that has sort of been the It's like two thirds one third of right on to this day anyway. This child was a you know I went on the teacup side and I went on the flying elephant in the jungle cruise elected all but right at the end when we were moving. Or when we're leaving you you you get to Disneyland and leave it. By what Walt Disney called Main Street which was his embellishments on what a small town assault city commercial block would have looked at the turn of the century but much enhanced and embellished with playful architectural details and stuff stuff all very intelligently done and drawn from done with great scholarship. And I remember sitting there as thus came down. The lights came on Horse Car Klopp past and I thought I want to stay in this place forever and in a sense I did did got me interested in American history. I was subsequently fortune off the land while I was still in college a job with American heritage I was was even more fortunate when Before company bought it and kept it handsomely afloat for years and so basically that trip. The Disneyland is put the bread on my table all my life. Let's go to Walt Disney's background is born in Nineteen. Oh one you describe him. In the book Have possessing a watchmakers precision and artists conviction and the recklessness of a Riverboat Gambler. Let's start with his childhood especially the the impact of railroads. Well yes he He had a he had a rough childhood. He his his father. You had a curious blend of socialism and a grim cotton mather. Calvinism of he started started as a farmer but he felt the fertilizing. Your field was like giving Jin to an alcoholic so he wouldn't and with the predictable result that they moved into the city. Bought a paper route and Disney at the age of Nine or ten with get up three in the morning and go along on these snow covered streets in the winter delivering papers and he said that sometimes the he the he'd get on a porch where toys had I've been left out his father didn't let them toys and he'd play with them before he had to go back to the route. And I do think that what what charges the best of Disney's cartoons is that combination of peril and comfort. He he knew how to he knew how to convey that because he lived it and a job he liked much better than delivering papers was a as a candy butcher. who was a the guy who moved up and down? The aisle selling a smokes and candy bars sandwiches on the train. Got To wear a uniform and from a very early age he was utterly in love with the railroad and as he said he ate up all the prophets in his father pulled off off the train but he never got trains out of his blood and Of all the different creation myths that surround Disneyland of certainly want. The most persuasive of them is that it was all inspired at the beginning. By his love of steam railroading and He went Dr School and but like many entrepreneurs he had setbacks he went bankrupt in nineteen twenty three years old recovered from that but then he had a terrible experience he invented a character called the lucky rabbit. An Oswald the lucky rabbit was a a great big hit and It established him. It was very popular and then as now the business was all in New York he went went from the West Coast where studio was to ask for a higher cut of the profits on this Oswald films and instead the heart handed guy in charge charge said. Nah We're going to cut your profits by third and Disney said. I'll take Oswald go someone where else and the guy the hell you will you sign this. I own Oswald stone from just like that. He had nothing and he went of. You take took a famous disconsolate. Consulate rail trip back across the country to the West Coast with his wife Lillian and he was sketching sketching and sketching and he of any came up with well. I've done a funny rabbit. Maybe I'll try a funny mouse. And he roughed out the mouse and showed it to Lillian. said he wanted to call it. Mortimer Mermoz and Lillian was what was generally horrified by the trip itself. But certainly thought that was that name was the kiss of death it sounded Fussy Highfalutin. Give them friendlier name and Disney. Let on Mickey and within a decade of the gossip columnist I had a hopper could write. The Mickey Mouse was the leading. Hollywood personality shows a touch of genius. Who would have thought taking a rodent and yes and not attractive? Rabbits no by circular drawing made a very friendly exactly yes he. The Mickey is an and composed entirely of circles which are softer than suggests fecundity so In his early forums he was much more rodent. Like it's interesting interesting to watch the first one mickey mouse cartoons. He's he's kind of a scruffy reprobate he knocks back beers he smoked cigarettes. He dances lascivious Lee with many. It's really strange but Zia as the years go by he softened until he came up until he actually sort of lost all personality Ali and became sort of a just a papal overseer of all the Disney enterprises but but money was When when he was at his peak in the late Twenties Twenties Thirties early forties he he? He was the Foundation on which all the other Disney enterprises were build but the alluding to something you said earlier you said in the book Something of Disney's childhood experienced charges the best of Disney's cartoons and imparts the the underline toughness that separates them from even their most successful rivals. It's why it's what fascinates children about them. There is real menace real danger along with the comedy yes and I and I very much believe that children For the most part aren't scared scared of being scared that you don't see too much of that in the first Disneyland rise well there's a scary witch but But but on the other hand Mr Toads wild ride where he steals his of his motor car and drive through the streets of London ends up with to- dead and in Hell which is which certainly surprised my twelve year old self again the Disney pushing the envelope yes. After World War Two Hollywood hated the rise of television they saw it as a threat and indeed shut down most of the movie houses in the country. 'cause people before World War to go to the movies four or five nights a week yes. TV killed it and Warner Brothers as you mentioned in the book banned television from Their studios nor would they show them in their in their movies. Are you have a rich person's living room no television in it and and and Disney made the point. The only Hollywood personnel says. Let's bring Hollywood to TV. which is what happened? As let's get the the origins of Disneyland his knee land Disney had been devastated by a strike of his animators before World War Two and never got over it and then after the war he went in for a brief while personal depression. thinking What do we do next? And he was always glomming onto this idea idea of a theme park Amusement Park. We call theme parks now and At the time people have no idea today amusement parks arx were then after World War Two disreputable dirty they. The games were crooked. The food was terrible. There's no real maintenance and his wife wife said the Disney. Why would you want to get involved in an amusement park? They're so dirty and not fun at all for grownups and his brother. Roy Roy College one of Walt's screwy ideas so Walk us through especially the pivotal. I was not farm. Where at least they ed one ride where I yes but then the pivotal railroad fair in Chicago when especially their Ansari Exhibits? He saw theme. He he saw something that just fired his imagination. That's at yes that's absolutely true. He Then late forties this the background. What was interested in trains as a hobby so he went out there depressed and by Golly this revived him? Yes it was was something put on by the American of the American railroad industry right right after at the end of the war where it was just the right time for Disney to go see it was in Chicago was done on. A very grand scale was You know the history of transportation starting with the I would burners and they all go back and forth on on the massive stage and Disney Disney. At that time all side from his love of trains he was sick of every he'd done everything he felt he could he. He was tired of animation. He'd brought it from a course novelty to a huge lead successful commercial artform. He as Steve said he'd been almost permanently embittered by studio studio strike and he'd been through World War Two where he'd spent four years making movies for the government with titles leg four methods of flush riveting and he was just sick of it when his One of the few close friends he had on his staff of who was also so was also a train. Buff said come while let's go to the Chicago Railroad Fair and he was enchanted by first of all the the the the he and his friend Ward Kimball the when the head of the fair found they were there let them drive the locomotives but what really stuck with with wall was not even seeing this wonderful pageant of American motive power but they had set up historic seen so main. Chicago's Chicago's main station. In eighteen. Eighty of a narrow gauge of mining train which went through in eighteen seventies town with our you know food was served by people with Bandannas and New Orleans is in the turn of the century in other words it prefigured in a sort of way exactly the experience that Disney was beginning to think he wanted to expand into he he was done with two dimensions. Now how you know. People that sat and watched his movies now he was looking towards something more people would be part of the action and he came back from the railroad fair right on the on on the on the train. Coming Back Oh west. He started the sketching out and ideas. For what I called Mickey Mouse Land But then then decided that sounded a little little too juvenile and limiting and a year or two later. He was Talking about Disneyland. Now the financing which like Snow White before and late thirties. Financing of Disneyland nearly only wreck Disney. Oh personally and the companies and He knew of people skepticism. His brother Roy said juniors got his hand in the cookie jar when Disney decided instead of going through the regular Disney Company. He'd have to set up another company because the corporation which is a publicly publicly-held company would never go along with it. So yes start an outside company you describe he hawked insurance. He sold his summer home and start pouring money into yes and it's his His brother Roy won't talk to him about it for a while and finally he went to who a banker friend of his who new Disney. And say you know his as Walpin after you for loan. The banker said Yeah he has Roy. Oh and you know what I gave it to him. And then Roy gradually discovered that the wallet hawked his Life Insurance and that was already deep in debt and he had managed so far to buy a hundred and sixty acres of farmland in the in the backwater town of Anaheim. MM which which Americans had heard of only because it was a laugh. Line on the Benny Comedy Radio Hour every so often. There be an announcement of trains. Trains leading for Anaheim and Cucamonga. Meaning to podunk towns that were nowhere and It was a but he was able to get the land he needed and he had spent eight hundred thousand dollars on that. Roy was not aww glad to to learn but by this time Roy understood the All of US business rested on Walt's imagination Shen He. He understood that at some point in the end the he gave in we. We have to do this together but you know that was great but how to do it together. How to get money and Disney had been being courted by television for years and years they all wanted Disney shows and Disney in nineteen nineteen thirty six? He broke with universal because they wanted him to sell television rights to his cartoons. This isn't a time when there were perhaps eleven hundred television receivers receivers in the world but Disney saw which way things were going and he wouldn't let go of it so he had a huge of a huge archive that television badly wanted and he said all right. I'll go to a television station. And they'll all give them a show and they'll l. pay for my park and he went to I two to the big stations NBC and CBS. And they all wanted it show but they wanted nothing to do with amusement park. Why get involved in this squalid catch? Any business owes no dice so as a last resort he went to ABC the WHO which was very much straggling or a runner up is called the almost broad company. Yes that's what. Yeah that that in the bud a bad joke she site one joke if if the US gets bombed though to ABC because they've never had a hit yeah that was how ABC was was viewed in the industry and the head of that a man named Leonard Goldens and realized the he needed Disney if he wanted to advance at all of as much as Disney Disney needed him and they struck a deal and Disney would give. The show was an hour long show and then when the park opened opened it would be covered in the largest live television broadcast ever mounted at that time which was an enormous undertaking and which absolutely locked them into an opening date of July seventeenth so Disney had exactly a year to build this park and what he'd seen in Chicago as you point out in. Your book was carefully landscaped. It was a narrative. And that's what he decided he needed for an park. Yes yes and e- and even he even worked this out to somewhat to his wife's dismay on With a beautiful little narrow gauge very small a steam railroad he built around around the home in homely hills he'd actually built the home to accommodate the railroad and it was a perfect little model of American. Can Steam. Locomotive could pull people on tiny boxcars but he'd also worked out the landscaping so that you would go from one mood as it were to to another that that that it wasn't just a trip around Disney's house it. It was a narrative there was scary tunnel. There was a there was a trestle wrestle. There was a ride with the story. It was a ride with a story and the story was told largely through landscaping which Took a very very strong. Long hold on amend was crucial to the development was park list. Gets to the miracle of a concept and getting it done there are no off Shelf Elf rides. He had create every single one. The only exception being the carousels which changed anyway yes and again everything everything in that park had to be invented inventing one ride is difficult enough but doing a whole arrange was awesome. And it's no one ever done anything like this and consequently what he was trying to sell it. No one understood it as as newsman parks of done well at the turn of the century pretty pretty well in the twenty s then came the depression no paint no maintenance then a lot of battering during the war years until just at the time Disney Disney was planning to build one of the amusement park. It's sunk to a native or in the it was on a a only a slightly more respectable business than aboard Delo. Oh so he had to not only make up everything out of whole cloth but he had to sell people on the idea that this was a project worth doing and towed cars TEACUPS Dumbo. They all had terrific engineering problems. Everything was simply. I made an extemporised. Nobody had had double the flying elephant ride before the museum parks at all as had what they call dark rides where a car fizzes to a tunnel and a cardboard cardboard skeleton lights up but Disney wanted his rides to tell stories so with the Peter. Pan Ride these. Little galleons were lifted by an overhead tramway and circle around London and then go out across the sea to never land. I mean this was. This was something that No Entrepreneur Entrepreneur had had dreamed of but beyond that his quest for detail. Which explains I think a great deal of the success of the the park? He was absolutely strict. That it be totally accurate Take the Jungle cruise putting in a sound system. Awesome for then a very elaborate a very elaborate sound system. It was all photo electric cells and And spools of tape ape that would activate a sea boats pass by so the animal would roar the right point and again Disney's obsession with detail. He had as background background noise. He had jungles recorded. Jungle sounds recorded in the daytime and night-time so after the sun went down you'd be hearing different birds swatting at you and and That was a very that was a very popular ride and enjoyed the heroic distinction of being the only one that didn't break down on opening day. One of the challenges was getting the water to stay in the rivers. Well yes see. The everything was difficult they had a year to build Jack and Bill Evans who had the the landscaping for Disney's trained in his home and he hired them to do that. And that was quite a challenge because the the jungle which had to go up in a year had the looked like it had been there since the last ice age received. This is Something very very interesting is People think of jungle as lush rush and being rich with the plant and where in the real world jungle architectural pretty boring. That's exactly that's the brothers said we breed the jungles and they are barring so they basically they got a whole Milan's different trees a the freeways that autopilot celebrated were creeping toward Orlando and They would drive ahead of them and buy up trees before the bulldozers could get them this. Something a part part of the improvisation is they needed grown trees for the whole part. Yes or the junk absolutely yeah and The the UH normal sellers ran out of them meow. You describe how they'd go to people's homes and say can we take you out for a certain money and then with the freeways would California's building these like four or five in these anyways and they instead of bulldozing down the trees let us come in. We'll take them out for. Yeah we'll we'll get rid of them and they got hundreds of trees that way and and say once A. They saw a magnificent Banyan tree in somebody's yard. Harper Goff was scout out with great trepidation went to the doorbell and asked the man if part with US Banyan tree in and said that ugly old bastard sturdy add tanker away. I'm sick of looking at her. So sometimes they got lucky and They they also and they also used whenever they could the orange trees that had been there which were for the first few years quite a pain in the neck because squads of people had to go through the jungle before the ride open plucking the oranges off off. So you wouldn't Be alarmed by seeing orange of suddenly. They're in the Mai Cong Delta one of the other Numerous improvisations was When and they had undesirable? Plants grow Like barnyard grass. They decided well. We'll we'll put exotic names on it and people think it's for real all weeds. That was that was when everything all the money and run out. They they they they had no more and they still had these hillsides of weeds. And that was Disney said wait these all have fancy Latin names but little plaques on them and people think they're getting educated and as far as I know nobody tumbled to the th they stayed there until legged afford to replace them Your book describes many. You've mentioned some of them many of them as in people that Disney hired and This gets the one of the great intangibles of great leadership is one way or the other. The right people get hired and one of them you've talked about as Ruth Show Horn who is a really scrubbers of master of horticultural. stagecraft describe her her Arroyo yes Disney One of the many parts of his brilliance was he he hired wonderfully all was he was not a warm arm boss. He tended not to have close friends among his high executives and he gets furious if they told him they couldn't do something but he was always was open to suggestion and he didn't mind if they tried something that didn't work and he had an eye and he. When the the Evans Brothers were very effective at building the jungle but he was less satisfied in the way they were they were doing the the plannings and the trees and the rest of the park and he came upon a really remarkable woman named Ruth? Shell Horn who had the wanted. The a landscape architect from the time she was was fifteen. And you know this isn't the twenties and the her her thirties and her parents didn't say don't be ridiculous. Take Home Mike anonymous so they actually sold their house so she could go to landscape architecture school and she became extremely successful and she was The much subtler in in in the placement of Greenery subliminal signals. She just didn't see plant. She saw it as conveying. Thank some exactly. Yes so that as you were going from the main street into the old west the landscape should get dryer the trees more gnarled and stunted also Disney was always eager to lead people on. He didn't want people to stand by wanted. The vesey as something that would draw them along. He called that weenies because he had rather undignified phrase that Park. People are discouraged from using but of what that came from was that he had the habit of coming home from work and eating raw frankfurter and taking another one and for his dog duchess and walking around the house. Dropping pieces office in Duchess would keep chasing after the mortals. And that's what ah so he called weenies would be the thing that you saw. That went made you want to go on to the next thing. So the steam locomotive will pull you in the main street and then on main street it would end with the sleeping beauty castle that That that was Well now as familiar as the Eiffel the tower to the to the whole world but But he didn't want it just to be a straight avenue with the castle looming at the end of it. He he wanted the planning. So that as you walk toward it you would see of glimpse of Rampart and then an enticing tower sort of botanical strip-tease Strip. Tease that the that that would draw you along and roof. Shell Horn was perfect at that and and the park to this day bears bears her imprint Yadda Yadda hard job. She was It was really a boys network there and here was this young woman telling telling the Evans brothers that they planted their trees in the long wrong place. She she said she got used to eating lunch alone. But Disney had Absolute confidence in her and of shadow shed a hard time but she stuck it out and the part of what makes Disneyland unique until this day is the the artful way in which she placed plannings to keep you interested among other things You mentioned a fella named Van are still France and personnel. which in most parks were just college? Kids hired college kids to run the till the a world in the design. The unique training program including the nomenclature customers were guests audiences. Knock crowds host listen hostesses described that and how ultimately as you go on the book permeated America. Oh It cer- it certainly did. Yeah Disney realized early on That you know if he's going to build this fantastic magical city state you know. He couldn't have a bunch of on-off Sullen in college. Students of running the rides. He had to have a workforce. It reflected the feelings of courtesy and festivity the hoped would be there there and he looked into a mandate venar stale France. Who the WHO train line workers on the war planes in World War? Two he was used to be was used to inculcating inculcating people and Disney hired him to train a workforce and France thought it through and decided that you had to the have a whole a whole new vocabulary. The they weren't customers. These were your guests. The rides weren't just rides. That suggests the till until the world these rides were attractions and everything was gentle down and slightly euphemize and that has bred in our lifetimes at at my supermarket. The When I'm next in line the woman at the cash register says following guests please this this this is This is very much taken over our culture and they always had to be bright friendly eager to chat and the the program worked awfully well. It's been It's been spread entirely through our corporate culture now so Getting to The opening day July Seventeenth Nineteen fifty five. They had opened not only because of the TV but because of the mountains of debt that Oh yes. If they couldn't get a summer season it was over absolutely absolutely in the end they were working right down to the last minute was having to make tough choices of everything worked against him toward the end that were biblical downpours of rain there The unions came and the the helpful advent of the unions. They plumbers strike and he had to choose between installing drinking fountains and restrooms and he said putting the restrooms people can drink Pepsi Cola. But they can't pee in the street and then when the television crews moved in there were actual fistfights between the workmen. Were trying to get finished. I and The crews were installing thirty cameras had been trucked in from all across the country. One of them. One of the workmen said to one of the television guys. Don't worry you'll have lots of action. The film will be pouring concrete and they damn near word when Disney Disney took his final tour of the park at midnight on July seventeenth before opening day. The asphalt still hadn't been laid on Main Street so oh you went to sleep to the sound of the that fresh asphalt being poured right out his window it came that close opening day as you point out in the book ninety million people tuned in probably the biggest TV show proportionately but population in his all even even years afterwards is it was more people watched it in the final episode of Masher. Even the Moonwalk is sort of fun to watch it. It's all available on Youtube and I mean it's sort of to see one of the hosts be called Ronnie and the very young Ronald Reagan loops down. The platform. Rain House was art linkletter. Who is then the most famous entertainer I and it's a tremendous tribute to the people who were jiming around these cameras? That would setting tubs of smoking. Dry Hi is to keep them from burning out. The show goes smoothly and the certainly makes you want to go to Disneyland. Certainly made me WanNa go to Disneyland but Behind the camera cameras everybody everybody who was there disaster yup they referred to it forever as black Sunday as you point out the crowds or too big every ride but one broke down. The toilet stood more. The food ran out. Oh yeah the food ran out all at noon and then I'll and And that that newly really laid asphalt suck the shoes off the women's feet as they were walking down main street and At for Walt himself was seen running an emergency urgency supply of toilet paper one of the one of the restrooms and so the terrorists coverage was dreadful. It was awful. Well right from the start. They they'd invited eleven thousand people and possibly as many as forty thousand showed up this That that that that year of the show had I had done. Its work there. There were tens of thousands of counterfeit tickets were printed. Some of entrepreneurs had put up ladders on the Far Lauren to the park and charge people five dollars a pop to climb up and drop down inside every everybody agreed. It was a absolutely miserable. What it is a stashing is what Disney did and the aftermath? I the day after people still came paying customers. Yes I'm so they get some money in but even though as you say in the book only eighty percent of the work had been done this news team getting the culture he created did mine line hardwork. They would make this were. That's right in here. Was Disney showing a terrific resilience He came once or twice. Licensed life close to having a breakdown but when the hammers were really put to him he always rose to the occasion and he started an intense publicity campaign on a very Franklin he he he took small numbers of the press around. And you'll know here's what went wrong and here's why it's not going to go wrong again. And and yes. Instead of fighting the Presi decided to woo them. Yes things got better see. Here's what we're doing. Yes bring him on his son Yes yes and and and added admitting that had the the admitting that has been awful mess as opposed to trying to pretend that they misunderstood it and I think it was just two months after opening the millionth visitor stepped in and at that time I mean there was still an awful lot to do but by that time it was clear that this wasn't isn't going away and that that that it was that it was going to survive and thrive and would make quite a stamp on the public psyche forever after one thing Closing you did get right. was What was called the Mickey Mouse Club? Huge success on TV and You Point the book millions of kids but in bars people come in have a few POPs in the bar watched the Mickey Mickey Mouse Club and sing the mess clips. Yes and Stab Bill Walsh again. The producer was astounded. He was in some dive near Grand Central Station and suddenly guys that sat down their drinks and they were standing up with their hands over their hearts than seeing. See you real soon. It well like Disneyland itself. It had adult. It had a catch the peel to every age and sadly human nature being what it is Disney success lawsuit. Yes opprobium The Culture Mavens such as they were a lot of them just ripped him him apart. Oh that at started. Very early of some of the Nation magazine said the Disneyland was heart of darkness where Disney traffics traffics in trinkets and evil. somebody called it the perfect small model of a perfect fascist state. There's a there's the idea that Disney Disney was playing a trick on them that that he was trying to make them think the world was like this and hence it was false and mirror Tristesse but aroused as as anything radical article even in kindly way like this of it aroused fierce Resistance and On the other hand and it was quite a surprise. When James Rouse gave the The noted architect yes. He gave a annual of speech to a group of architects in which he said. I'm going to surprise you with this but I think the single most successful piece of urban design in the last half century is his Disneyland. It so perfectly does what it sets out to do that. Anyone can learn from it and people have begun to learn from it. What what's what's not quite know? Now that again the the that that stretch of main street so enchanted me I will. I was not alone and and people began to come back from there again. Thank you know this this old general store this department store this why this is just like the ones in Disneyland. Anyway this this son and it started a downtown revival that continues to this day. Richard Snow. Thank you very much. The books called Disney's land. Well worth a read and cheaper than going to Disneyland. Oh by a long long-shot thank you. Thank you Steve. I hope you enjoyed my conversation with Richard Snow about that extraordinary ordinary man. Walt Disney and his invention Disney land. The book is in stores now and online. It's called Disney's land. Well worth three leading. Even if he visited Disneyland or Disney world or one of the other global parks. You'RE GONNA find this book. More thrilling more entertaining than the rides themselves. And now a treat my special listen of the week which is called listed you can find it on apple podcast spotify spotify Google podcast or wherever you download or stream your favorite podcast. Content listed is all about Forbes signature lists this and each week co host. A Brown and Maggie McGrath. Sit Down with different list. Allah gist that is members of Forbes teams of intrepid Trepca reporters who meticulously tracked the lives of the rich and powerful and interesting. Some of the famous figures already discussed in the podcast by these expertly. astrologists include Connie West. Mackenzie Bezos and George Lucas listed is now in its second season and back in December December. I was invited by Abe and Maggie to be their guests for a very special many sewed. I am Forbes reporter after all and they asked me to share. There's some of my best tips for conducting great interviews. Then we ran through some of the shows segments. which is you'll hear? Offer irreverend commentary on the people people on the Forbes list or in my case not on them by keep trying someday by Golly. Oh make that list but now even if I'm not on it you're going to enjoy this segment. Were one two three four four three one. Hi Steve Are you. I'm good how are you doing. Great thanks for joining us on listed. If you could pick any list go on which one would be top Bernie deejays. I'm realized long ago that is not my thing. I'll let others provide the music. Listen to it while. See if you've also you know at one of our talk to the people who appear on our lists and we want to know a little bit more about how you talk how you prepare to talk to the world's rich and powerful powerful. This is something that Maggie and I have been a little bit of. You've done so much more of it. How do you prep before talking to these people? He do it like you would a final exam. You examined. most pieces about them interviews. They've given books they might have written interviews online. And then you figure out. What is the theme that you're going for? What are you looking for what he hoped to get from it? Then you recognize as soon as the interview begins. It'll take a course of of its own in a few prepped. It right you can go from subject to subject or go off. Course that you would planned but as Maggie Margaret Thatcher he said if you know your brief You can easily do that and Key thing is to get them to feel comfortable talking. So Steve Have you did you ever have you ever had an interview in which you felt overmatched by the other person on the other end at the beginning of my career. Yes because they knew more than I did. And that's tell you a painfully learn and And many of these people you hope they know more than you. You're talking to a physician. Talked to Dr Oz ause the other day and heart surgeon noted heart surgeon also big TV personality. But I hope he knows more about medicine than I do so so you shouldn't go into an interview being inhibited. By the fact that the person on the other end knows more than you which you're going in for you're unless you're playing the Gotcha game is you're trying to get information from them or insights from them. That people might be interested in not your peers. One of the dangerous. Is You try to appeal to your peers. What the people you hang around with? What would they think? That's not maybe the audience you it should be aiming at. Do you have an interview. You are most proud of I've interviews. That have been Nerve wracking prepping for People like even Evan Longoria or Kim Kardashian people like that you You wonder how it's going to go Chelsea handler. What would she do These were mostly at the women's conference's but you're always going in with trepidation. And the worst thing you can do with an interview unless unless it's a thirty second quickey on one quick question is thinking you don't have to really prep for it if you don't have that anxiety level level. Something's going to go wrong big time. Should we move onto segment. I think so. We have lots of segments that we brainstorm just for this special crossover episode episode. Because we are thrilled to have you here. Steve and I'm really excited for this segment. It's called the Moby Dick Prize. Who is the one that got away the person that you never got to interview but have always wanted to and still possibly Lake Hudson Day? Well can't do this one unless you believe in the afterlife but Do you WANNA try. Yes and deliver make news but Would have been Steve Jobs. We never got on the right wavelength with Steve Jobs and For a variety of reasons never worked out and Even though you know this is one of the things you have to recognize about human nature. Are you take somebody like jobs if you took away his name and gave his personality traits to Human Resources Department. They'd say get rid of this person. Don't WanNa see him because he had all the attributes you don't want putting people down stealing. Hi Dear is impossible to work with. And he gets fired from his own company before the age of thirty and And but the thing is he. He painfully learned out to be an effective leader. Painfully you also at the next segment. This segment is called. Father doesn't know best rest and dad. I'm not smiling. Because that's true but grin on your he was looking at a skeptically Chelsea. The segment is so Steve. Your Father Malcolm was famous for making Forbes. What it is today so what Abe and I wanted to know is if Malcolm ALCOM hadn't become a magazine mogul what other job would? He have been good at well. He is one of those who could Go no into a situation and figure out how to make something out of it and and and an innovative way and eh Eve had plenty of setbacks along the way as somebody who swings for the fences but He was willing to try things. I mean you take motorcycles and they have told you the story in the past that In his in his mid late forties. And somebody WHO's working with them. We had company loans in those days. Ask for a loan to buy motorcycle. My father said are you out of your mind. You'RE GONNA kill yourself and I'm not going to finance your injury or your death. No no loan The kid ended up buying it anyway and live nearby where we lived and brought brought up by one weekend. My father was willing to try anything and So he tried it in the next day he bought two of them and then eventually eventually and then eventually dealership didn't work out very well find wholesale but Got to the point. Where as he got older older he wrote it more and more and he started commute from New Jersey? Lived about fifty miles from New York City where we were back then. He would start commuting on the motorcycle and then even worse. He started driving around the streets of New York. UNIM- OTR cycle and so you had generational role reversal. You had the kids stand to the father can be dangerous. You can hurt yourself you know what are you doing. And of course the ignored it and he had several no accidents but He is a kind of person where if unprecedented crisis came up or situation came up. He could count on him to figure out try to improvise away. All right. See if this is the last one. This is called friendly fire. There's no such thing. Okay well hopefully this this is. We've talked about some of your best tips for interviews. What makes for a good conversation an inciteful conversation? We now want to throw all of those rules out the window and ask you as many questions as we can Dan in thirty or sixty seconds or until eboni run out of or revoke. Can you give us a sixty second clock okay. Rivas nodding her head river you ready. Are you set had. Okay go coke Pepsi Coke Favorite Day of the week Monday chocolate or vanilla. Both last song you listened to Rolling Stones get but no satisfy bourbon or Scotch. Obviously Scotch favorite season spring. There's hope that the Yankees might yet win a out missed red wine or white wine red even though I do it because I'm told it's healthy now. Some are saying maybe it's not so healthy but I prefer the healthy version cake or pie. Life cake Thanksgiving or Christmas Christmas presents. Lucky number seven. I pet dog dog name Russell and Robert Russell Rip. Steve Thank you so much for joining us. Good to be with you. Thank view because you were semi Nice. Go Eagles semi nice well. We can't all have Forbes family family manners. This is true. This is true. Steve Thank you so much. Thank you thanks to you again. You can subscribe to listed on Apple Apple spotify Google or wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks for listening to what's ahead. I'm Steve Forbes looking forward forward to next week and if you could rate reviewing subscribe to this show we at Forbes sure would appreciate it

Coming up next