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  • REALITYLAND by David Koenig

    I just finished reading this book on the history of Disney World and I would recommend it to anyone interested in the resort. It's organized into chapters on the chronological events that occurred, pretty much right up till about two years ago, with interspersed chapters on other types of information, like accidents, deaths, and crimes that occurred at or about the resort.

    Major players in the story are Roy Disney, Card Walker, Michael Eisner and Frank Wells, and Roy E. Disney. Walt is, for most of the story, a sort of ghostly presence, his memory and his wishes alternating between being inspiring and paralyzing to his successors.

    It details construction of all four theme parks as well as many of the hotels and the water parks, and chronicles their opening travails and triumphs, as well as hitting on the relationship to Universal Studios and to the surrounding communities and businesses that rose with Disney's coming, and occasionally fell in the face of competition from Disney.

    I pretty much couldn't put this book down. I borrowed if from the library, but I believe it will be a book I will purchase for my personal library.

    Has anyone else read it?

    Last edited by Dustysage; 12-19-2007, 10:27 AM.

  • #2
    Re: REALITYLAND by David Koenig

    Haven't read it yet, but plan to.

    I've always loved David's books.

    -Dusty
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    • #3
      Re: REALITYLAND by David Koenig

      Does Mr. Koenig have a good relationship with Disney? It didn't seem like the sorts of things that Disney would necessarily want published, yet it didn't reflect too badly on the company, in my opinion, unless implying that they are any less than perfect and infallible would be considered "badly"...

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      • #4
        Re: REALITYLAND by David Koenig

        I am SO glad to hear this is a good read, because I ordered it for a dear friend's birthday!! He's a WDW person and I am more the DL person. I loved the Mouse Tales books.

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        • #5
          Re: REALITYLAND by David Koenig

          Um, this book is exactly like the "Mouse Tales" texts, so if you loved those, you'd love this.

          But frankly, it's very poorly written. Adjectives are removed; there's precious little 'story' to elaborate on. All nondescript blips of this problem and that. No names, no filling out anything but the implications of problems the sister park has.

          Sorry, I had to say something. I know you guys are smart enough to read it anyways and I know you will appreciate it, but I, for one, was struck by his style of writing by this, his fourth book I've read. See? Even though the text wasn't exemplar, I still read four (!) of his books, for the subject matter meant more to me.

          The book is a bit of a 'list' by an insider. Facinating for people on these boards--but beyond that--not so much.

          Grant you, I'm a hard person to please, being a reviewer (and apparently a bad one--I'm not doing it any more, eh?) for movies and theatre prior.

          Frankly, what would interest me more is if Mr. Koenig put himself in the tale a bit. Right now, he's removed as if just reporting, but I wanted to see the faces of those he interviewed at least once. I wanted to see if they were making up these stories to get attention or if they hated the park or if, deep down inside, for all their bad experiences, they still have affection for all things Disney.

          Sorta like us.

          Just my opinion.

          Peace,
          Roo
          husband, petowner, wordsmith, imagineer, martialist, playwright, traveller, ardent, wit, critic, barista, Taoist, superhero, fortuneteller, reader, fidget, teacher, dreamer, author, blogger, ghosthunter, voter, patient, bear, gourmand, Floridian, friend

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          • #6
            Re: REALITYLAND by David Koenig

            I'm reading it right now and have enjoyed what I have read.

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            • #7
              Re: REALITYLAND by David Koenig

              I'm also in the middle of the book. It's okay. I've already ready many of the stories in the book.

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              • #8
                Re: REALITYLAND by David Koenig

                Originally posted by Roo719 View Post
                Um, this book is exactly like the "Mouse Tales" texts, so if you loved those, you'd love this.

                But frankly, it's very poorly written. Adjectives are removed; there's precious little 'story' to elaborate on. All nondescript blips of this problem and that. No names, no filling out anything but the implications of problems the sister park has.

                Sorry, I had to say something. I know you guys are smart enough to read it anyways and I know you will appreciate it, but I, for one, was struck by his style of writing by this, his fourth book I've read. See? Even though the text wasn't exemplar, I still read four (!) of his books, for the subject matter meant more to me.

                The book is a bit of a 'list' by an insider. Facinating for people on these boards--but beyond that--not so much.

                Grant you, I'm a hard person to please, being a reviewer (and apparently a bad one--I'm not doing it any more, eh?) for movies and theatre prior.

                Frankly, what would interest me more is if Mr. Koenig put himself in the tale a bit. Right now, he's removed as if just reporting, but I wanted to see the faces of those he interviewed at least once. I wanted to see if they were making up these stories to get attention or if they hated the park or if, deep down inside, for all their bad experiences, they still have affection for all things Disney.

                Sorta like us.

                Just my opinion.

                Peace,
                Roo
                I can appreciate that. I read a lot of fiction, and not too much non-fiction, but I thought of this as a rather straightforward chronology of the events leading up to and including the construction of the parks at Disney World. I found the "list" chapters where he talked about events, crime, accidents, etc, to be interesting but sort of secondary to where my interest was focused. I don't know if it's good non-fiction or bad, but it held my attention.

                I did note problems with the writing itself in places, but thought it might be due to a lack of proper editorial oversight. I really don't know how this book got from manuscript to hardcover edition, but it did seem as if it could benefit from some thorough copy editing. I didn't think these problems affected the subject matter too much...for me, anyway...

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                • #9
                  Re: REALITYLAND by David Koenig

                  I really enjoyed it. I was already familiar with the general story of how WDW got built, but there was a lot of extra details in this telling of the story. Who knew there were so many problems with the construction employees stealing?

                  I hope he does a follow-up along the lines of Mouse Tales with more of the stories on the day-to-day things that have happened at WDW. This book is primarily a history lesson.
                  My Micechat cruise trip report, Part 1:http://micechat.com/14795-disney-wonder/

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                  • #10
                    Re: REALITYLAND by David Koenig

                    Does this book go into details about what Walt wanted for the Magic Kingdom? The radical differences b/w Walt's EPCOT and WDW's EPCOT are fairly common knowledge for Disney fans, but there isn't too much information out there about what Walt wanted the Magic Kingdom to be. I know he was more interested in EPCOT, but I am sure he would have wanted the Magic Kingdom to be a unique and original park, not a bizzaro Disneyland.

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                    • #11
                      Re: REALITYLAND by David Koenig

                      Originally posted by GhostHost2 View Post
                      Does this book go into details about what Walt wanted for the Magic Kingdom?
                      Not really. It mentions that they wanted different dark rides for Fantasyland, but Disney decided stick with the tried and true.

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                      • #12
                        Re: REALITYLAND by David Koenig

                        Originally posted by GhostHost2 View Post
                        Does this book go into details about what Walt wanted for the Magic Kingdom? The radical differences b/w Walt's EPCOT and WDW's EPCOT are fairly common knowledge for Disney fans, but there isn't too much information out there about what Walt wanted the Magic Kingdom to be. I know he was more interested in EPCOT, but I am sure he would have wanted the Magic Kingdom to be a unique and original park, not a bizzaro Disneyland.
                        If one looks at the map of the theme park area in the "EPCOT film" (this map is featured at Disney's Hollywood Studios at "One Man's Dream") the map of "Disneyland East" is pretty much a roof plan of Disneyland circa 1966.

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                        • #13
                          Re: REALITYLAND by David Koenig

                          Originally posted by Melonballer View Post
                          Not really. It mentions that they wanted different dark rides for Fantasyland, but Disney decided stick with the tried and true.
                          But it was the Disney company that decided on using the same dark rides, not Walt himself right? I am going to read the book eventually, but I need to finish His Dark Material Books II and III, and Neal Gabler's Walt bio first.

                          Originally posted by lazyboy97O View Post
                          If one looks at the map of the theme park area in the "EPCOT film" (this map is featured at Disney's Hollywood Studios at "One Man's Dream") the map of "Disneyland East" is pretty much a roof plan of Disneyland circa 1966.
                          Thanks for the link.

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                          • #14
                            Re: REALITYLAND by David Koenig

                            Originally posted by GhostHost2 View Post
                            But it was the Disney company that decided on using the same dark rides, not Walt himself right? I am going to read the book eventually, but I need to finish His Dark Material Books II and III, and Neal Gabler's Walt bio first.
                            Correct, but Walt did not really have any plans for the theme park. I believe the different dark rides idea may have been post-Walt itself.

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                            • #15
                              Re: REALITYLAND by David Koenig

                              Originally posted by GhostHost2 View Post
                              But it was the Disney company that decided on using the same dark rides, not Walt himself right? I am going to read the book eventually, but I need to finish His Dark Material Books II and III, and Neal Gabler's Walt bio first.
                              I didn't pay close attention to this, and have returned the book to the library, but IIRC, they made the decision to use the same rides because of time constraints and cost reasons. I think they (Walker and Roy Disney) originally wanted to develop different rides but didn't have the time if they wanted to open on schedule.

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