Kernersville man may be world's biggest Disney nerd
George Taylor doesn’t mind if you call him a Disney nerd. He wears the title so proudly, you may as well fit him for a pocket protector, a piece of black tape across the bridge of his glasses, and a pair of Mickey Mouse ears.
In fact, if this amiable Kernersville man isn’t the biggest Disney nerd on the planet, he’s a threat to steal the crown any day now. Who else do you know that collects not only Disney-related books — he’s believed to have the largest private collection of Disney books in the world — but also Disney park maps, coffee mugs, neckties and even napkins?
“Yeah, the non-Disney fans look at me funny and sort of scratch their heads,” Taylor acknowledges. “They can’t figure out why I’m so obsessed.”
To other Disney fanatics, though — that is, to his fellow nerds — Taylor is a Mickey messiah. A Goofy guru. The wizard of Walt.
His home features a distinctively Disney-esque decor, from the large, framed Walt Disney World map in the living room to the bathroom skylight that features cutouts shaped like the head of Minnie Mouse.
Don’t worry, though. He doesn’t have “It’s A Small World” playing continuously throughout the house — or at least he didn’t when we visited.
Still not convinced of Taylor’s Disney geekiness? Well, several years ago, he and his brother Andrew, who lives in Jamestown, created ImagiNERDing, a website devoted to what they call the “theme parkeology” of Disney.
“We focused on the nerdy little details that you might miss in the history of the parks or that people might not be aware of,” Taylor says. “We were just interested in trying to educate people.”
The website’s name is a takeoff from Imagineers — a blend of imagination and engineering — which is the name given by the Walt Disney Co. to its employees who design and create the Disney theme parks.
Taylor also writes columns and reviews for MiceChat, one of the most popular Disney-related websites on the Internet, and co-hosts a video/podcast called “Communicore Weekly,” which also focuses on all things Disney. On iTunes, the 15- to 20-minute show has been downloaded as many as 120,000 times a month, making it one of the most popular Disney podcasts available, Taylor says.
In his spare time — whenever that might be — he’s also a consultant for Fairy Godmother Travel, a Texas-based company that helps people plan Disney vacations.
“I’ve just always loved Disney,” explains Taylor, who is the assistant director of the Randolph County Public Library in Asheboro.
“Of course, I grew up watching Disney cartoons and Disney movies, but my first real memory of Disney is back in the ’70s, seeing the old View-Masters. I remember seeing an image of the Haunted Mansion — it was the famous ballroom scene with the dancing ghosts — and it captivated me.”
Ironically, though, he didn’t actually pay his first visit to Walt Disney World until 1994, when he was 23 years old.
“My wife (Teresa) had been many times in the ’70s and ’80s so it was old hat for her, but she knew I wanted to go, so for our one-year wedding anniversary we went down for a week, and it changed everything for me,” Taylor says.
“I couldn’t believe a company could build this monument to Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse and it was basically like a city that’s twice the size of Manhattan. It blew my mind.”
On that first trip, Taylor bought a souvenir guide, which became the first book in his Disney-related book collection that now includes nearly 700 volumes, some of them rarities. The books run the gamut, from park histories to books that focus on the magic of Disney animation.
“It just snowballed,” he says, “and from what I can tell, I now have the largest privately held Disney book collection in the world.”
Since that first trip in 1994, Taylor has been another 25 or 26 times, he says. And every time he goes, he finds something new to share with his fellow Disney fanatics.
“Most people wouldn’t care that much about most of it,” he says, “but to us Disney nerds, it’s important.”
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Here are a few of the sites where you can develop an appreciation for George Taylor’s knowledge of all things Disney: