by Alice McNutt Miller
Kevin Yee has written an enjoyable guide to the “hidden history” of Walt Disney World (with a bonus chapter on “History at Universal Studios Florida”), pointing out tributes to Disney personalities, park milestones and opening dates and remaining bits of now-defunct attractions. The book is organized by theme park and has helpful appendices that include the operational dates of now-gone attractions, and the individuals listed on the various windows of Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom. A person could easily use the book on a “live” tour through each of the theme parks, searching for these interesting historical tidbits (unfortunately, I have not been able to do this yet!). Disney Imagineers left a huge number of homages to themselves, to Imagineers who had gone before them, and to previous Disneyland and Walt Disney World attractions scattered throughout the parks. This book will lead the reader on a voyage of discovery of intertwined historical references and remembrance of things past.
I found the book’s descriptions of “reused” or “repurposed” items particularly interesting. Yee describes a number of animatronic figures that show up in different guises in different attractions. For instance, the ghostly old woman in the rocking chair in the Ballroom scene in the Haunted Mansion is the same figure as the grandmother in the Carousel of Progress, and many of the animatronic figures in Epcot’s Spaceship Earth are copies of figures in the Hall of Presidents in the Magic Kingdom. It is a great testament to the ingenuity of the Disney Imagineers that they are able to find multiple uses for these complex (and expensive!) figures.
I also enjoyed the descriptions of old attractions, how they have changed into newer ones, and what they left behind. A good example is the section where Yee describes the changes that have occurred over the years in the “Journey into Imagination with Figment” attraction at Epcot. I must admit that this attraction continues to befuddle me. I know that it has loads of enthusiasts, but I just don’t get it. After reading Yee’s description of the changes in the ride, and the elements remaining from earlier versions, I still don’t get it. However, I will look for the references to one of my all-time-favorite childhood movies -- “The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes” -- the next time I ride.
Here are the things that I liked about the book:
• It was obviously well-researched, and had tons of very interesting information, particularly for those who are either interested in the park histories, or who may be finding themselves missing a now-defunct attraction.
• The entries were laid out generally in order of proximity within each theme park, so finding them should be relatively easy.
• The book was fun to read, even at home when I was not able to actually look at the item being described.
However, I did find the subject headings a bit difficult to follow. Some refer to the attraction or building, some to an event, some to a particular person such as an Imagineer. I would have preferred more consistency in the labeling.
This book is definitely for: Those who want quick, concise historical information on “hidden” remnants and tributes scattered throughout Walt Disney World. This is the type of book that deserves to be taken to the parks with you, so that you can dip into the interesting trivia as you tour.
This book may not be for: Those who want more in-depth historical information on attractions, buildings, artwork and other structures, or Disney personages. While there was lots of basic information, I found myself wanting more in some instances. That may need to be the subject of a future book review...
Happy digging everyone!
“Walt Disney World Hidden History: Remnants of Former Attractions & Other Tributes” by Kevin Yee is available on Amazon through the AllEars.Net store HERE There is also a Kindle version of the book.
EDITOR'S NOTE: AllEars.Net received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author.
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