Book Review: Kevin Yee's 'Walt Disney World Hidden History'
Let's face it, unless you're going a local going to a Halloween event, October's not a huge month for theme park visits. Summer's over, and the holidays remain weeks away. But theme park fans won't little things like work and school commitments keep them from at least thinking about their favorite places. That's why this is a perfect time of year for a book like Kevin Yee's Walt Disney World Hidden History
The second edition of Yee's collection of Disney theme park trivia adds 164 new entries, cramming 132 photo-filled pages with even more details about and the history behind the resort's attractions.
It's exactly the sort of stuff that can keep a theme park fan engaged between visits. Read through the nuggets that Yee has collected, and just imagine how you'll go looking for many of these details on your next trip. As Yee, a former Disneyland cast member, writes in the afterword,
The Disney attention to detail is legendary, and rightly so. Only by exposing the level to which these details are researched, sought after, refined, and finally implemented can we begin to understand the richness of the tapestry at a Disney theme park. The persuasive tricking of our senses, the completely believable immersion into fictitious realms, and the unconditional suspension of disbelief all owe their existence to such details that seem, at first glance, to be mere adornments, or perhaps indulgences by the artists.
Don't be fooled. It's the details at Disney that render the experience magical. To know the details is to examine the magician's trick hat — you will have a fuller understanding of what's going on and what to watch for, and it will only increase your enjoyment of the effect.
A few of my favorites items from the book:
- In Backstage Magic with Mickey Mouse, four knickknacks on a bookshelf represent the four parks: books shaped like the Magic Kingdom's castle, a crystal ball for Epcot's Spaceship Earth, a Sorcerer's Hat for the Studios, and metal tree for Disney's Animal Kingdom.
- Yee details how Disney Imagineers have duplicated Audio Animatronic figures throughout the resort. For example, the ghostly woman in rocking chair in the Haunted Mansion attic is the same figure as the grandmother from Carousel of Progress. And several of the U.S. presidents in the Magic Kingdom's Hall of Presidents also appear in Spaceship Earth. James Buchanan is Gutenberg! Who knew?
- After reading the book, you'll understand a ton of references in the Swiss Family Treehouse to actors who appeared in Disney's Swiss Family Robinson film.
- You'll also discover several references to former attractions in the parks, such as a "Fun to Be Free" sign on Test Track that referenced the former World of Motion's theme song.
- And here's one that I didn't know before (but probably should have noticed), the trail station in the heart-wrenching "Two Brothers" montage in Epcot's American Adventure (and Disneyland's Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln) — the one where the coffin of one of the brother "comes home" was photographed at... the Frontierland railroad station in Disneyland.
At the end of the book, you'll also find a complete list of all current and past Walt Disney World attractions, and their years of operation, as well as a complete list of all individuals honored with windows on Main Street USA. Kevin was kind to send me a copy of the book for review, but you can pick up a paperback for $24.99 or an eBook version for $6.99.
What are you reading these days?
Just testing the comments on the new design.
Here's a test response!
Nice design. I like it.
Wow. TPI just took a quantum leap in appearance. It has a more professional look now.
Something looks different about you TPI. Did you change your hair?
Just got this book on my iPad with my new Kindle Unlimited subscription, very excited to read it now.
Definitely something I have to swoop up. He also does a weekly video now on InsideTheMagic where he shows some hidden stuff.
That sounds like a book I must read...the book I'm reading now is the The Unauthorized Story of Walt Disney's Haunted Mansion by Jeff Baham-if you're a HM fanatic like me, you will love all the stories that went into what makes this one of the best...if you can believe it, there are still some Imagineers who aren't happy with the way the Haunted Mansion turned out!
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