Reviews - Books, DVDs and more Archives

August 28, 2011

The Lion King in 3D

In the years before VHS tapes and DVDs, the Disney Company would re-release their animated films into theaters every seven years. It was believed (correctly so) that during that time interval, a whole new batch of Disney fans would enter movie-going age and want to see earlier classics. But home video changed all that. Why would you spend money to see a movie in a theater when you could see it at home multiple times for $20? So for the most part, the re-releasing of movies in theaters stopped. But a new technology is changing this. We will once again be able to see Disney classics in theaters - at least for the next couple of years.

It is now possible to convert two-dimensional animated films into 3D. I was invited to a press event today where I was treated to a preview showing of The Lion King in 3D. It was outstanding! I was very impressed! I don't know how they do it, but the effect is superbly executed. I've seen other Disney films that were created in 3D from the get-go, and it would be difficult for most people to tell the difference between these "originals" and movies that have been converted.

On Friday, September 16, Disney will re-release The Lion King in 3D in theaters across the country for two weeks only. This film is a masterpiece. Watching movies at home is nice and convenient, but it can't compare to seeing a film on the big screen and sharing the experience with others. I know you've all seen The Lion King a dozen times, but you might want to see it again in 3D.

For you home-theater buffs, The Lion King will be released in Hi-Def and Blu-ray 3Dβ„’ on October 4th. For more information, click here.

The Lion King in 3D

March 8, 2010

Windows On Main Street USA

Have you ever wondered about the names and advertisements that appear on the windows above Main Street? Have you ever wondered if they were/are real people, and if so, what did they do to have their names immortalized? If yes, then a new booklet entitled "Windows on Main Street" might be of interest to you. This paperback answers those questions and sheds some light on a few Disney legends. The Introduction, by author Chuck Snyder, explains the significance and honor of being selected and the Foreword, by Marty Sklar, examines the criteria required to be chosen.

Window on Main Street Cover

The main body of the book discusses the "cream of the crop" - the big names at Disney who helped create the Magic Kingdom and Disneyland. A short bio of these is presented along with a picture of their window. Next to each name is a notation as to which park(s) their window can be found.

Windows on Main Street Sample Page

At the end of the book are two maps of Main Street, one of Disneyland and one of the Magic Kingdom. Also listed are ALL the names that grace these windows with numbers corresponding to the maps for easy reference.

Windows on Main Street Maps

This book is not intended to be a detailed reference guide. It's meant to offer high level biographies for some of the Disney greats. Far more in-depth information can be found with a simple search of the internet. But most of us aren't going to do that. And if you have a particular name in mind, the maps in this book make locating that person and easy task. If you want information about someone not highlighted in the book, just stop by City Hall and ask. In most cases, they can look up the person and give you some background.

Should you buy this book? Maybe. If you're a regular reader of my column and like Disney history, then I think you'll find this book of interest. But if you're a hardcore Disney fan and want extensive information, then you're going to be disappointed. I would describe this booklet as a very nice and informative "fluff" piece. This paperback book is reasonably priced at $6.95. I purchased mine on Main Street, but I have seen it at other locations around property.

October 27, 2007

Book Review: Realityland

Realityland: True-Life Adventures at Walt Disney World by David Koenig

Realityland Book Cover

It's easy to find information about Disneyland's inception and design. We've all seen the film clip of Walt telling the story about sitting on a park bench as his two daughters rode the merry-go-round and he thought to himself that there should be a place where parents and their children could enjoy an afternoon together. I've read a number of books about Disneyland, its construction and early years. But when it comes to the history of Walt Disney World, they're really isn't all that much information out there.

Realityland: True-Life Adventures at Walt Disney World helps fill that gap. For the most part, the book starts after Disneyland has already been built. It describes the search for the perfect location to build "Disneyland East." It goes into detail about how the company was able to secretly buy forty-three square miles of land in Central Florida. The nightmares of constructing such are vast complex are explored. And the frustrations Disney experienced during the first few years of operation are presented.

Ever wonder why Walt's vision of EPCOT was never brought to fruition? Ever wonder why Disney only built three hotels until Michael Eisner came along? Ever wonder why the Swan and Dolphin hotels are located where they are? Ever wonder why all the shops now carry the same merchandise? This book answers these and many other questions.

But to tell a "complete" story of Walt Disney World, tales of its darker side must also be told. This book explores some unpleasantries that I'm sure the Disney marketing team would prefer not be brought to light. Many of the injuries and deaths that have occurred here are chronicled. The imperfect personalities of a number of the company's executives are put under a magnifying glass. Decisions to sacrifice "show" for money are presented.

Did I like this book? Yes. I enjoyed it very much - especially the sections that followed the history of Walt Disney World - good and bad. However, I felt the author sometimes went to great lengths to put Disney in a bad light. Take for instance, Chapter 8: Crash Mountain. This chapter describes many of the accidents and deaths that have occurred at Walt Disney World. After reading several pages I thought to myself, "All right. I get it. People can and do get hurt at Disney World. Enough already."

I suspect that Mr. Koenig feels he presented a fair balance between those accidents that were Disney's fault with those that were brought on by the guest's own carelessness. I'm not so sure it was all that balanced. Overall, Disney was made to look bad. A similar chapter, later in the book, goes into detail of why security is needed in the parks. Although not as heavy handed as Chapter 8, once again I felt the scales were purposely tipped away from Disney.

I would be the last person to think Disney perfect. Often in the book I thought to myself, "That can't be true." But then I remembered back to the nine years I worked at Disneyland and thought, "Well, maybe it can be." But I don't think Disney is as bad as the book makes them out to be.

Should you read this book? If you're like me, and want to know everything you can about Walt Disney World, then by all means pick up a copy. I know a lot about the "World", but I found this book packed with fresh information. I kept saying to myself, "I didn't know that."

However, if you're a person that believes all of the stories that the Disney marketing people spin, (and you want to continue believing them) then you might want to steer clear of this book. Often, when I'm waiting in line for an attraction, I can't help eavesdrop on other people's conversations. When I hear them wax poetic about how everything here is perfect, I roll my eyes and think, "If you only knew." It's these people who shouldn't pick up a copy.

Disney's single greatest asset is their fantastic reputation. And it's well deserved. But the Disney organization is made up of flawed people, just like the rest of the world. This book explores the good and the bad, albeit tipped to the dark side - thus the title Realityland. If you can accept that Disney has some blemishes and can get over a slightly biased take, then you'll enjoy this book. I did.

Realityland: True-Life Adventures at Walt Disney World by David Koenig is published by Bonaventure Press and sells on Amazon for $18.45.

October 22, 2007

Book Review – The Disney Mountains: Imagineering at Its Peak

I recently purchased and read "The Disney Mountains - Imagineering at Its Peak" by Jason Surrell. I had read two of his other books, "Pirates of the Caribbean: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies and "The Haunted Mansion: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies.

I thoroughly enjoyed both of these books as they were packed with a collection of stories and information that I had never heard before. Both of these books offered an in-depth look at the planning and imagination that goes into creating an "E" ticket Disney attraction. It was because of these two books that I pre-ordered and eagerly awaited my copy of Mr. Surrell's latest book "The Disney Mountains: Imagineering at Its Peak." Note: All three of these books are printed in paper-back form and measure 8Β½ x 11 inches.

The Disney Mountains Book Cover

"The Disney Mountains: Imagineering at Its Peak" describes the creation and building of the many man-made mountains that Disney has built around the world. Starting with the world's first steel-tube rollercoaster, the Matterhorn at Disneyland and ending with their latest creation, Expedition: Everest, each mountain (or mountain genre, like Space Mountain) is given its own chapter. The forward by Marty Sklar is especially entertaining. This book is an easy read as it is only 128 pages and is chock full of illustrations.

I have to say that I was a little disappointed when I had finished reading this book. The first chapter, which is all about the Matterhorn, was informative and provided me with new information that I wasn't already aware of. Also, the chapter about the various Space Mountains was good as was the story behind the never-built Western River Expedition. In all three cases, I knew much of the information presented beforehand but I also learned some new facts from reading this book.

But other chapters, like the ones that described Mount Prometheus at Tokyo DisneySea and Typhoon Lagoon & Blizzard Beach in Florida were lacking in content. In fact I felt the information about Typhoon Lagoon & Blizzard Beach was little more than a rewording of the Disney press releases that circulated at their openings.

In Mr. Surrell's own words, Mount Prometheus is "The Jewel of Tokyo DisneySea." This mountain contains two "E" ticket attractions, a restaurant, a magnificent playground, a full-sized model of the Nautilus, and a third attraction (a boat ride) passes beneath it. Yet, Mr. Surrell only allots four pages to this mountain - half of which are illustrations. On the other hand, he devoted twenty pages to Expedition: Everest - which as good as it is, it's just one attraction. I can only guess that he felt American audiences wouldn't be that interested in Disney's foreign parks. If this is the case, he's wrong.

Would I recommend this book? Probably. If you're a "beginner" Disneyphile you will definitely find the information presented here of interest. If you're and "intermediate" or "advanced" Disneyphile, you will probably be disappointed in the lack of depth this book offers - especially if you enjoyed his previous books about Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion. However this book does contain a wonderful collection of illustrations and artist concept drawings that make the price of the book worth it.

This book is published by Disney Editions sells for $13.57 on Amazon.

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This page contains an archive of all entries posted to The β€œWorld” According to Jack in the Reviews - Books, DVDs and more category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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