There’s been so much written about Disney history in books, magazines, and countless online sites. The Universal theme parks are quite different. They’ve had frequent ownership changes in recent years and haven’t sold the legacy in their marketing. Author Sam Gennawey’s recent books are helping to fill in the gaps of our knowledge. Universal vs. Disney provided a detailed look at the conflicts between the two companies. With his new book JayBangs, Gennawey dives further into Universal’s past through the eyes of one of its key figures.
On the latest episode of the Tomorrow Society Podcast, I spoke to Gennawey about the book and what interested him about Jay Stein’s story. We also discussed the very different approaches of Universal and Disney over the years and how they’re evolving. Gennawey has written books about Disneyland and the original EPCOT plans, so he also knows a lot about the Disney parks. It was refreshing to hear a fresh take on how both organizations function today. Particularly in Florida, their histories intersect in fascinating ways. Universal’s growing momentum is pushing Disney to be more proactive, which should be a bonus for theme parks fans.
This episode was Gennawey’s second appearance on this podcast. I spoke to him back in September 2015 about his background with theme parks and Universal’s growth since Harry Potter opened. That conversation is a great companion piece to our latest chat. Gennawey is an urban planner by trade, and that knowledge gives him a unique perspective on how each park functions. He looks at the parks as more than centers of entertainment.