Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World

This is the book I've been reading lately during my mornings. It's actually my daughter's book, purchased during our June trip to Florida, and she found it so fascinating that I just had to read it too. I was skeptical at first because I fancy myself a pretty knowledgeable Disney World visitor, having been to the park at least 5 times in the past 20 years.

I've also read several Walt Disney biographies as well as related books and seen documentaries about how the parks were built, etc. So I just didn't think there was too much more for me to learn. But I was very pleasantly surprised. This book, The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World, by Susan Veness is packed full of little known information, much of it in plain view if you visit the park, if you only knew what you were looking at. Almost every ride/attraction has hidden meaning. Everything is done on purpose so if you see a name on a window of one of the upstairs "offices" along Main Street, this book will tell you it's one of the original imagineers that designed it. At Star Tours in Disney's Hollywood Studios, you may hear a page for "Egroeg Sacul" which is "George Lucas" spelled backwards. This book is packed with such tidbits.

The book is divided into 4 sections, one for each of the major parts of Walt Disney World. Each section also includes a timeline from the moment it was conceptualized through now (2010) and lists all of the changes that happened along the way. Since I've been so many times it was nice to remember some of the stuff that is no longer there. But it was also nice to see how the imagineers incorporated a now defunct attraction into an existing one. And finally, it was very interesting to read about ideas that didn't make it...and why. For example there were plans at the Japan pavilion in EPCOT's World Showcase for a "Mt Fuji Rollercoaster" but it was nixed by the sponsor, Kodak, so as not to promote rival Fuji Film.

And tons more like that. The amazing thing about this book was that I'm not sure it's available at Disney World itself. We bought our copy at Borders just before we got on the plane so that makes me wonder if Disney doesn’t really want all of this Hidden Magic widely known. But if that is the case, I can't see why because this book is very flattering towards Disney and would seem to be a nice companion for the visitors.

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