We’ve collected dozens of books about Walt Disney World over time. When sharing Our Disney Theme Parks Library, I’ve provided the cautionary story concerning the many bins of books we’ve handled when transferring. However, we maintain shopping for extra, obsessive about outdated idea artwork, studying tales from Imagineers, and studying the historical past of our favourite locations. (Up to date July 22, 2023.)
Let’s begin with the newest replace, which is that A Portrait of Walt Disney World: 50 Years of The Most Magical Place on Earth is again in inventory on Amazon and is 40% off as of late July 2023, which is loads higher than you’ll get at Walt Disney World…if you will discover it in any respect now that the anniversary is over!
That is cheaper than it was final 12 months for Black Friday or Cyber Monday, and inside $1 of the all-time low value per Amazon value trackers. It’s doable that it’ll be cheaper this vacation season or as extra used copies enter circulation. However, it might simply as simply promote out once more tomorrow or exit of print and find yourself costing a fortune in a number of years. (There are tons of OOP Walt Disney World artwork books from a decade in the past that now price a whole lot!) As such, we extremely suggest ordering it ASAP. It’s top-of-the-line Walt Disney World books of all time, and properly well worth the cash!
Turning again to the overview, there are numerous Walt Disney World titles we love, however one of the best books have all the time skewed in direction of Disneyland and Imagineering. Walt Disney’s unique magic kingdom (decrease case) has obtained a treasure trove of deep dives into the park’s creation and historical past. Disneyland Nickel Tour, Disneyland: Inside Story, and Walt Disney’s Disneyland are a number of examples of extra exhaustive titles that enchantment to California’s extra ardent fanbase.
In contrast to Disneyland, most official books about Walt Disney World over time have been superficial memento guides geared toward being keepsakes from journeys. There have been robust area of interest titles, specializing in a selected park and even attraction. A few of that is by necessity, as Walt Disney World is extra sprawling than its California counterpart, and difficult to do correct justice in a single quantity.
About the one title to strive is For the reason that World Started, the twenty fifth Anniversary ebook by Jeff Kurtti. This has been a centerpiece of many Walt Disney World libraries for the final 25 years, and plenty of followers hoped that Kurtti would writer a follow-up to that title for Walt Disney World’s fiftieth Anniversary.
Admittedly, I used to be skeptical. Whereas Walt Disney World’s fandom resembles that of Disneyland extra with every passing 12 months because of Disney Trip Membership, D23, an growth of the native fanbase, and so on., the corporate nonetheless appears to view Walt Disney World largely as a spot for vacationers. To make certain, there are the merchandise deep dives, however they’re scattershot. Every little thing “huge” appears to go for the low-hanging fruit of informal guests.
Not so with A Portrait of Walt Disney World: 50 Years of The Most Magical Place on Earth. Whereas it’s a Disney Editions title, that is extra like one thing painstakingly produced by TASCHEN than the corporate’s publishing arm. It’s additionally not like the common espresso desk ebook. Though it’s a visible feast with uncommon idea artwork and pictures, it’s additionally extensively researched, sourced and cited. I don’t recall ever paging via one other espresso desk ebook with a dozen-plus pages of endnotes.
Greater than anything, this ebook strikes me as a ardour challenge–a love letter to Walt Disney World from authors Kevin Kern, Tim O’Day, and Steven Vagnini. These names ought to be acquainted to longtime members of the Walt Disney World fandom, as this trio has been concerned in all the pieces from the Archives to D23 to Imagineering initiatives.
The ebook begins with chapters concerning the historical past of Florida earlier than Disney and the Trip Kingdom’s Preview Heart, virtually as warning to informal guests paging via within the Emporium that that is no easy memento for remembering their as soon as in a lifetime journeys. This title is wholly devoid of regurgitated advertising and marketing copy and the identical generic inventory pictures you’ve seen recycled for many years.
Even one of the best Walt Disney World books usually focus an inordinate portion of their pre-1971 historical past on Walt Disney himself. To a level, that’s comprehensible. The inimitable American unique casts a protracted shadow, and his inventive imaginative and prescient for the Florida Challenge actually deserves consideration. Usually it appears like one thing aside from that, with extra generalized Walt lore borrowed from biographies to satisfy a web page depend.
The primary two chapters of this fiftieth Anniversary tome are as laser-focused as Walt Disney’s ambitions for his Florida Challenge, weaving historical past with amusing anecdotes with colourful quotes. It’s comparatively dense materials, however by no means feels that means. Moderately, the reader is pulled into the story of Disney and Florida, the surreptitious land acquisitions and the early years of improvement.
Even in case you’re accustomed to the story–and I’m properly acquainted with it–the framing right here is totally different, with extra element and descriptions instantly from these concerned. It reads much less just like the polished company historical past and extra like firsthand accounts, warts and all, informed over drinks. The events concerned come throughout as precise folks with personalities, which can be a refreshing change of tempo, and one which makes the historical past all of the extra engrossing.
One in all my largest frustrations with official Disney historical past is that it’s introduced as “company canon” that has been meticulously sculpted over time. Even the imperfections are calculated, an try to feign authenticity that rings hole. Walt Disney is the protagonist (and solely main “character”), and he’s a one-dimensional caricature of an actual one who speaks in sound bite-sized quotes. Normally, the result’s an attention-grabbing premise, however surprisingly stilted and superficial. (As a fast apart, this is the reason Walt Disney: An American Unique is his finest biography–it avoids these pitfalls.)
The primary two chapters of A Portrait of Walt Disney World: 50 Years of The Most Magical Place on Earth take what’s undeniably fascinating historical past and inform its story in an genuine and fascinating method, presenting new data and particular person accounts alongside artwork and pictures. It may appear easy and easy sufficient, however the authors’ decisions make a world of distinction. The tales are fascinating and are available throughout organically, ensuing within the first 73 pages studying like a page-turning novel. I used to be fairly stunned to look down and see I used to be already on web page 64 when the ebook “lastly” arrived at October 1, 1971!
All of that is aided by essays from some essential people who replicate upon bringing Walt Disney World to life. Dick Nunis, the previous Chairman of Walt Disney Points of interest and Disney Legend, displays on the choice to construct in Florida, surveying the location, and attempting to carry out rudimentary customer analytics.
Debby Dane Browne recollects her whirlwind expertise going from studying about hiring of “Disney Women” for the Preview Heart to changing into Walt Disney World’s first Ambassador to her recollections of opening day. Roy Patrick Disney, the grandson of Roy O. Disney, shares tales of his grandfather’s sacrifice and stewardship in making Walt’s dream a actuality. All through the ebook, these essays and quotes carry contemporary views to the fabric, and imbue the ebook with a way of humanity. (Some, like tales from John Stamos and Kevin Feige, hopefully make the title extra accessible to an informal viewers.)
Chapter 3 supplies the framework for the remainder of the ebook, drawing inspiration from the plaque below the Prepare Station: “Right here You Depart Right this moment And Enter The World Of Yesterday, Tomorrow And Fantasy.” This units the desk for subsequent chapters, which divide parks, resorts, lands, sights, and the remainder of Walt Disney World into 4 classes: Nostalgia (An Idealized Yesteryear), Fantasy (The Artwork of Make Imagine), Discovery (Journey and Exploration), and Tomorrow (A Step into the Future).
The ultimate two chapters are shorter, wanting again at previous celebrations and ahead to the World’s Most Magical Celebration. They’re nonetheless attention-grabbing, however are extra geared toward wrapping up the ebook with a fiftieth Anniversary presentation. They’re not as thorough because the three chapters that make up the core of the ebook, although.
The primary of these foremost chapters is Nostalgia, which gives examinations of Foremost Avenue U.S.A., Liberty Sq., Nation Bear Jamboree, Crescent Lake, Grand Floridian, Nice Film Trip, Tower of Terror, and extra. The Fantasy chapter is, naturally, dwelling to Fantasyland, plus Pandora, Star Wars, Maelstrom, nighttime spectaculars, and Figment & Dreamfinder.
The Discovery chapter gives perception into Adventureland, Previous Key West, Wilderness Lodge, River Nation, Fort Wilderness, Hurricane Lagoon, Disney Springs, it’s a small world, a lot of Epcot and most of Animal Kingdom. As with the opposite chapters, there are quotes and interesting anecdotes from key figures, resembling Aunty Kau’i, the longtime cultural ambassador and educator on the Poly.
The chapter about and idea of Tomorrow is maybe extra clearly outlined, with a transparent give attention to futurism and house. That is unsurprisingly dwelling to Tomorrowland, Spaceship Earth, Horizons, Up to date Resort, and the infrastructure that underpins the complicated grid of the Trip Kingdom of the World–transportation, power, Utilidors, DACS Central, and extra.
In the event you’re in search of a compendium of all issues Walt Disney World, these chapters would possibly disappoint. There’s nothing encyclopedic about this (that ebook already exists), which is the kind of factor you’d usually discover in a extra simple memento ebook.
Fortunately, the authors eschew such an method in favoring of providing attention-grabbing perception, anecdotes, and morsels of data that you just in any other case may not know. For instance, there’s no scene-by-scene description of Mickey’s PhilharMagic, however there’s a tidbit about Tinker Bell initially being the “featured foil” quite than Donald Duck. That is then a leaping off level for an extended passage concerning the long-extinct Mickey Mouse Revue. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh followers (do they exist?) could be dissatisfied that it’s solely given passing point out over the course of a pair pages about Mr. Toad’s Wild Trip.
You gained’t be misplaced if arriving to this ebook with zero familiarity with Walt Disney World, however there’s undoubtedly some background data that’s assumed all through the ebook. That is essentially the case, because the authors are tasked with the formidable problem of distilling 50+ years of historical past, parks, sights, resorts, and extra into just a little over 300 pages. With out query, the method they took was the fitting one.
In the end, A Portrait of Walt Disney World: 50 Years of The Most Magical Place on Earth is one of the best ebook concerning the Trip Kingdom of the World and one of many highlights of the whole fiftieth Anniversary celebration. Whereas there are a variety of wonderful topical titles centered on one thing particular, nothing earlier than has tackled Walt Disney World as an entire with such curiosity and perception. That is Walt Disney World’s “Nickel Tour,” which is the best reward doable. It’s going to be the memento that creates new lifelong followers amongst Walt Disney World first-timers, and the spark that units younger children on a lifelong profession path.
That is an unbelievable testomony to authors Kevin Kern, Tim O’Day, and Steven Vagnini. It’s evident their objective was a ebook by followers, for followers–and that’s precisely what they achieved, whereas additionally making it simply accessible. The authors managed to take such a sweeping topic and current it in “one thing for everybody” format. Whether or not you’re after a espresso desk ebook with stunning artwork and pictures or a riveting learn concerning the historical past of Walt Disney World, this has you coated. As ought to be evident from my effusive reward, A Portrait of Walt Disney World: 50 Years of The Most Magical Place on Earth is an absolute must-buy for all followers of the Florida parks.
A Portrait of Walt Disney World: 50 Years of The Most Magical Place on Earth retails for $60 and is out there from Amazon.com, within the parks, and at impartial booksellers. It’s steadily bought out on-line and at Walt Disney World, and sometimes backordered on Amazon. We extremely suggest shopping for is ASAP if you would like it in time for Christmas. Click on right here to buy A Portrait of Walt Disney World: 50 Years of The Most Magical Place on Earth. We obtain a small fee out of your buy, so shopping for via that hyperlink helps assist the location!
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