- 2011

I felt the Future World section was very comprehensive. The World Showcase discussion is naturally less so. It is kind of depressing to see how little this side of the park has changed over the years. It is not like Disney is filling in the suburban cul-de-sac of nations. The author does a good job describing each pavilion in detail with a complete design history, which I enjoyed.

What I enjoyed the most was what was not built. This was the Epcot theme park that could have been but was never realized. Imagine a Rhine River Ride in Germany, the Meet the World show in Japan, the India, Turkey, or South Korean pavilions. There is the story of how we really got Via Naploi and why there are Danish bathrooms next to Norway.

My biggest complaint about the book is its title. This book does not feel or function like an encyclopedia (as its name would imply). There is a certain expectation that comes with that term. Call me old fashioned but The Disneyland Encyclopedia by Chris Strodder is the shining example of this kind of book.

Link: The Epcot Explorer's Encyclopedia: A guide to the flora, fauna, and fun of the world's greatest theme park!

In the interest of full disclosure, the author kindly sent me a copy of the book in digital form for the purposes of this review.

The DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining
Steps to a Stress-Free, Personalized Plan
By AJ Wolfe - E-Book only

The e-book is divided up into two sections. There is no doubt about it; Disney has made where to have lunch and dinner a complex project prior to your trip. The first section is a five-step program that is supposed to make the process more of a pleasure then a pain. The second half is a very comprehensive listing of everything you need to know.

The five-step program is a must for any first time traveler. Briefly, the five-steps are deciding your budget, creating a calendar, making your plan personal, learning about new restaurants, and how to narrow down your choices. The process is logical. Even veterans will get a lot out of this section. This book will save you money. It also demystifies the process making planning fun. At the end of each section is a checklist. The book includes worksheets for budget, brainstorming, booking, and a calendar as well.

One of the most frequently asked questions about dining at Disney World deals with the Disney Dining Plan and how best to utilize it. With Disney frequently tossing out free dining, visitors have to consider the consequences. This book deals with the topic in a very comprehensive manner and will answer a lot of questions for those considering the program, including sample price comparisons.

There are some other features that I enjoyed. Scattered throughout the book are Top 5 lists that are very helpful and spark some debate. The book covers the bars and lounges including Ye-Haa Bob, Jellyrolls, House of Blues, and Raglan Road. I did not realize that there were three dining places on property open twenty-four hours a day. I loved the EPCOT section describing that rite of passage known as drinking around the world. On a personal note, AJ mentions Carl the Bartender at the UK pavilion! Wonderful and legendary chap who introduced me to what he calls the Carl Special. For solo travelers, there is a section about the best places with views and people watching.

Dislikes? I like real books. Call me old fashioned, but I just haven't dived head first into electronic books. For me, without having to power up something, I would think this is the ideal book for the airplane on my way to Florida. I know. I need to get over it.

Bottom line: I want to go back to Walt Disney World! And eat!!

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LINK: DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining (Enter SAMLAND during checkout for a 20% discount)

Celebrating the First Forty Years of Disney World
A collection of essays
Compiled by Chad Denver Emerson - 2011

The Sunset Boulevard that Was, and Never Will Be


His parade essay will become the first stop for anybody doing serious research about WDW entertainment. Like most of the essays in the book, there is a serious academic level of detail and completeness. Disney has rarely given up this much information about its past. If you are a fan of the parades, this essay is sure to jog some pleasant memories.

A Brief History of the Future: From EPCOT to EPCOT Center

The Walt Disney World Monorail System
Spaceship Earth

Love the Walt Disney World monorail system? Are you the type of person who goes on a round trip just for the fun of it? And then you stay on for another ride? I have the feeling that Jason does that frequently. This is one of the most comprehensive looks at the monorail ever to be published. Then Jason does the same thing for Spaceship Earth. Your head will explode with details.

Much Ado About Hoop-Dee-Doo

History of the Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue

The 65th Year for Mickey, the Very First Visit for Kids

The Carousel of Progress: What Would Walt Think

Joe & Carl: Two Men Who Built the World

There are some very important people in the history of Disney that really deserve a closer look. Didier has done that for Joe Fowler and Carl Bongirno. Admiral Fowler is the better known of the two. He is legendary man that got things done. Without him, Disneyland and Walt Disney World would not have been built. Carl was right there with him at Walt Disney World. This essay is a reminder of just how much of an engineering marvel the Walt Disney World property really is.

Disney Brings Sports to the World

Once again, we are treated with another comprehensive review of the history and development of a major WDW facility. This time we get a close up look at the Wide World of Sports facility.

Whatever Happened to Beastly Kingdom?

Once upon a time, there was going to be a whole new land called Beastly Kingdom. Holmes tells the tale of what could have been. So what would it have been like and what happened? Just know that the next time you see a dragon embedded on the back of bench it will all make sense. Plus, the unicorn maze would have been awesome.



For Your Pleasure: The Mythology and Reality of Pleasure Island

Jim is the ultimate collector of Disney stories. This man is on a mission to chronicle everything before it is lost. Thank you Jim. His essays are like the mortar between the bricks. They add texture and context to more familiar pieces of Disney lore.

The Relative Truth About If You Had Wings
Thunder Mesa & the Western River Expedition: A Neverending Story

Mike also tackles the great unbuilt WDW attraction called the Western River Expedition. The attraction was fundamental to the development of the western edge of the Magic Kingdom. Mike does a brilliant job telling a story that has been told many times before. He finds a fresh edge. Interesting essay.

History of the Main Street Electrical Parade
History of the Contemporary & Polynesian Resort Hotels


Walt Disney World Resorts That Never Were

So Chuck talks at length about the two opening day resorts. Lou Mongello takes us on a fanciful journey through the lobbies of the resort hotels that never were. When Walt Disney World first opened, the Imagineers had some rather ambitious plans. This essay looks at a remarkable collection of themed resorts that did not get off the drawing board. The reasons for why they did not happen are a fascinating story. WDW would be a much, different place if these projects had been implemented.

A Ghost Story
Another Magic Corner of the World

EPCOT 1939


George wins the award for the longest title. I am a big fan of George. His focus is on the long and twisted history of the little island in the middle of Bay Lake that Walt noticed while flying over the property. That island was the piece of the property that cinched the deal. From its earliest days to today, this is one spot on the Walt Disney World property that has seen plenty of change. What does the future hold? And remember the idea for Myst Island? George does.

Honoring the Cast: Insider Tributes & Homages
Theme Park Archaeology

Leave it to Kevin to use a microscope and identify the amazing array of tributes to those who made WDW what it is today. In his first essay, he becomes the theme park Indiana Jones and uncovers the mysteries of the ages. He would go on to expand on this idea and has completed a full length book called Walt Disney World Hidden History.


LINK: FOUR DECADES OF MAGIC - Celebrating the First Forty Years of Disney World

By Kevin Yee

Quibbles? The 72-page book is not inexpensive. The cost of full color photos throughout the book naturally upped the cost of production. However, compared to the cost of the Disney annual guidebooks, the price is in fact pretty consistent.

I hope this becomes an annual tradition for Kevin, and if so, I would like a subscription please.

I received this book at no charge from the author for the purposes of this review.


We invite you to join Sam and MiceChat at the Huntington Gardens in July
  • David Sloane, Professor, USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development
  • Hassan Haghani, Community Development Director, City of Glendale
  • Vaughan Davies, Principal and Director of Urban Design, AECOM
  • Neal Payton, Principal, Torti Gallas and Partners
Cost is $40; for students with valid student ID, $20

Fee includes coffee and pastries, lunch, parking, and day pass to the Huntington

Seating is limited; please RSVP to:
Alice Lepis, Secretary
alepis@prodigy.net (preferred) or at 818.769.4179 no later than
Tuesday, July 5, 2011