Four Decades

Hopefully you haven’t got book fatigue from all my recent announcements. As you recall, a few months ago I released Walt Disney World Hidden History (an update to 101 Things You Never Knew About Walt Disney World), and more recently, I announced the 2010 Walt Disney World Earbook, a compilation for the historical record of all the additions, removals, and changes to the parks in the calendar year, complete with full-color photos.

There’s another project I was working on in 2010: a compilation of essays called Four Decades of Magic: Celebrating the First Forty Years of Disney World. Colleague Chad Emerson, who wrote the recent Project Future, a history of WDW, has pulled together an awful lot of Disney fan authors to contribute a chapter or two for a book commemorating the Magic Kingdom’s anniversary. Full disclosure: I contributed two chapters myself (on the ride remnants and the tributes to company insiders), though I don’t get any royalties for sales of the book.

It’s a hefty tome, at 375 pages, but the investment of time is well worth it. A lot of the authors are fellow bloggers and Disney authors—you’ll recognize many of them. And the topics speak for themselves:

  • The Sunset Boulevard that never was, is, and never will be
  • When is the 3 o’clock parade? Then, now, and forever
  • Tomorrow’s windows: looking back at Horizons
  • A Brief history of the future: from EPCOT to Epcot Center
  • The Walt Disney World monorail system
  • Spaceship Earth
  • Much ado about Hoop-Dee-Doo
  • The 65th Year for Mickey, the very first visit for kids
  • Walt Disney’s EPCOT and the hart of our cities
  • Joe & Carl: two men who built the world
  • Disney brings sports to the world
  • Whatever happened to Beastly Kingdom?
  • Magic of the night: the evolution of Disney World’s nighttime fireworks displays
  • For your pleasure: the mythology and reality of Pleasure Island
  • The relative truth about If You Had Wings

  • Thunder Mesa and the Western River Expedition: A neverending story
  • History of the Hoop Dee Doo musical revue
  • History of the Main Street Electrical Parade
  • History of the Contemporary & Polynesian resort hotels
  • Walt Disney World resorts that never were
  • Goodnight, George: A ghost story
  • Another magic corner of the world
  • EPCOT 1939
  • The Carousel of Progress: what would Walt think?
  • An island filled with tropic beauty, colorful birds, and the mystery of Ben Gunn’s buried treasure
  • Honoring the cast: insider tributes & homages
  • Theme park archeology

There aren’t too many pictures – it’s not that kind of book – but you can appreciate it with very little further commentary from me about the contents. Looking at this list of chapters, would you know in advance what each section holds? I didn’t. It’s no exaggeration to say that I learned things myself in reading this book. Quite a few things, in fact, and I think you will, too.

An unrelated photo update: the Toontown buildings are gone, and now the sign is also
being dismantled. All the characters, save Minnie, have already been removed.

An unrelated photo: these new 3D lenticular placemats are only $2.95! A screaming bargain
by Disney standards, and a quality souvenir – maybe even a wall decoration in our house.

40x40 Fan Meet

The fan celebration rolls on; this next Saturday will be the Liberty Square Riverboat. We’ve started to treat the Saturday meet like performance art—last week we ate chili dogs before we went to Stitch’s Great Escape. This next week we’ll find a way to re-enact Tiana’s Showboat Jubilee. Bring beads or purple flags, maybe? Or just show up as yourself. It’s all in good fun. If you can make it, see you Saturday at 2pm at the Enchanted Grove.

Chili dogs all around!

Expedition Everest, Part II

A few weeks ago, I ran the first part of a photo essay of Expedition Everest, the points to which was to reaffirm that Everest still has a lot of strong points, despite the still-broken yeti. That caveat remains true, incidentally, even after the recent annual passholder party. You could almost use the same sentence structure in talking of the two things, in fact: “It is a great ride [free party], but too bad they don’t have a functioning yeti [exclusive merch for sale]”.

Here’s the remainder of the Everest photos. Enjoy!

The peaks of this shrine line up with the mountain peaks.

Exciting kinetics from the ground.

I like the quiet ride through greenery at the base.

Up the lift we go, through a shrine.

Originally, there was fog here at the top of the mountain.

The sometimes-broken eagle at the ‘dead end’.

Inside the cave.

It’s a long way down, and there’s only one way out!

After the drop, you swoop back up into the mountain.

We burst back into sunlight and race around in circles before meeting the yeti.

Kevin Yee may be e-mailed at [email protected] - Please keep in mind he may not be able to respond to each note personally. FTC-Mandated Disclosure: As of December 2009, bloggers are required by the Federal Trade Commission to disclose payments and freebies. Kevin Yee pays for his own admission to theme parks and their associated events, unless otherwise explicitly noted.

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Kevin's Disney Books

Kevin is the author of many books on Disney theme parks, including:

The Unofficial Walt Disney World ‘Earbook 2010 is a photo-rich volume of 70 pages that park fans will find especially useful if they want to know what’s changed at WDW since their last visit.

History was on my mind as I composed this book. As you might expect, there is a section on additions, another on removals, and a third on events. But I wanted to make sure to include some prices from January 2010 in the book, the better to capture in future years (and future generations?) exactly what it costs to buy admission, parking, a night at each level of hotel, or such food items as a turkey leg. I also wanted to provide a bit more specificity to the unfolding of events, so the various additions and removals, as well as smaller alterations and debuts, are laid out in a timeline broken down month-by-month.

In short, the book is designed to appeal to those folks who are similarly history-minded, as well as those who are hungry to know what changed at Disney World since their last visit. Or perhaps it’s a worthwhile keepsake for anyone who DID visit in 2010—it captures what was new, after all.

Also recently issued...

Walt Disney World Hidden History: Remnants of Former Attractions and Other Tributes:

As the title implies, this is all about those little things in the parks that have significance to insiders and long-timers, but are never explained or highlighted. When a ride closes, sometimes pieces or props from that ride are folded into the replacement attraction (think of the World of Motion car seen in the queue of Test Track). Other times, designers intentionally craft a tribute to the previous ride—an example of that might be the carving of a submarine in the cement tree created for Pooh’s Playful Spot where the 20,000 Leagues subs used to be.

The other kind of homage in the parks concerns not rides, but individuals. The designers, artists, engineers, executives, and people important to Disney’s history often provide the inspiration for names and titles used at the attractions. Sadly, these are almost always unheralded. All of these remnants and tributes are normally left for the truly obsessed to spot piecemeal. They are usually not even discussed in the official Disney books and tours. This book sets out to change that, and catalog all such remnants and tributes in one spot.

The final result is 225 pages of hyper-detailed historical factoids. Broadly speaking this is a “trivia” book, but remember that it’s a particular kind of trivia. You’ve known before that the Walt Disney World theme parks wove a thick tapestry of details and backstory into a seamless (and peerless) experience. But armed with the specifics of homages and tributes, you’ll become aware that the parks are even more alive, and layered with meaning, that you could have ever imagined.

Might this be an ideal present for the Disney fan on your shopping list? If so, please have a look.

Also written by Kevin...

  • Your Day at the Magic Kingdom is a full-color, hardcover interactive children's book, where readers decide which attraction to ride next (and thus which page to turn to) - but watch out for some unexpected surprises!
  • Mouse Trap: Memoir of a Disneyland Cast Member provides the first authentic glimpse of what it's like to work at Disneyland.
  • The Walt Disney World Menu Book lists restaurants, their menus, and prices for entrees, all in one handy pocket-sized guide.
  • Tokyo Disney Made Easy is a travel guide to Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySeas, written to make the entire trip stress-free for non-speakers of Japanese.
  • Magic Quizdom offers an exhaustive trivia quiz on Disneyland park, with expansive paragraph-length answers that flesh out the fuller story on this place rich with details.
  • 101 Things You Never Knew About Disneyland is a list-oriented book that covers ground left intentionally unexposed in the trivia book, namely the tributes and homages around Disneyland, especially to past rides and attractions.
  • 101 Things You Never Knew About Walt Disney World follows the example of the Disneyland book, detailing tributes and homages in the four Disney World parks.

More information on the above titles, along with ordering options are at this link.