Authors on Architecture: Universal vs. Disney


Every year Disney and Universal theme parks attract millions of people seeking thrills, shows and a good time with family and friends. When they walk through the entrance gates, however, most of those visitors aren’t thinking about the personalities behind the parks, how they came to be created and the relationship between the two companies that have come to dominate the international theme park industry.

Someone who has given a lot of thought to those subjects is author and Disney historian Sam Gennawey, who recently wrote a book titled Universal vs. Disney: The Unofficial Guide to American Theme Parks’ Greatest Rivalry (Unofficial Guides, 2014). At an event co-sponsored by the Southern California Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians (SAH/SCC) and Glendale Library, Arts, and Culture, Gennawey will share his insights on the history and development of some of America’s greatest theme parks, as well as focus on the processes, personalities, and politics behind these ever changing businesses.

An added bonus for those who attend this event is the venue itself. According to the SAH/SCC, “Glendale’s Brand Library & Art Center was designed by Nathaniel Dryden in 1904. Modeled after the East Indian pavilion at the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago, this exotic—now iconic—landmark is one of the more fascinating structures in Southern California. It was recently restored by Debra Gerod, FAIA, Partner at Gruen Associates, in close collaboration with preservation architect Fran Offenhauser, Principal of Offenhauser/Mekeel Architects.”

Whether you’re a theme park fan, a SoCal history buff or an architecture aficionado, the story that Sam Gennawey tells at the Brand Library is sure to intrigue. After the presentation, the book will be available for sale and signing by the author.


When: Saturday, April 25, 2015 from 1:30-3:30 pm

Where: Brand Library & Art Center, 1601 West Mountain Street, Glendale, CA

Cost: Free

Reservations Required: Honored on a first-come, first-served basis; to register, email or go to

Sam Gennawey Books: